Ryan Hardie celebrates scoring his second goal against Exeter


Argyle 4 
Whittaker 27 
Mumba 58 
Hardie 70, 84 

Exeter City 2 
Collins 25 
Nombe 52 

On a night of wind, rain and spooky tricks, Argyle and Exeter City served up a footballing treat to perfectly showcase the quality of Westcountry football. 

Archie Collins opened the scoring for Exeter in front of the Sky TV cameras, the lead instantly quashed by Morgan Whittaker. The Grecians edged in front again with a goal from Sam Nombe early in the second half but, once again, Argyle had the perfect answer, Bali Mumba rifling a brilliant equaliser from range. 

It was then over to substitute Ryan Hardie, who profited from two fine assists from Whittaker to take Argyle to a club record nine straight wins at home.    

Argyle manager Steven Schumacher made five changes to the side that started the win over Shrewsbury Town last week, Dan Scarr, Joe Edwards, Niall Ennis, Sam Cosgrove and Brendan Galloway coming in for Hardie, Finn Azaz, Matt Butcher, Nigel Lonwijk and Conor Grant. 

New Exeter boss Gary Caldwell opened his Grecians’ account with a fine draw at Derby County last week and the visitors had the first chance, Jay Stansfield swivelling in the box for a shot blocked by the legs of Scarr. 

On a breezy night at Home Park, the Greens survived a scare when Jack Sparkes whipped over a vicious cross and the ball looped up for Nombe to nod goalwards, where Mike Cooper was in the right place for a comfortable save. 

The Greens found some attacking rhythm with a weaving run and shot from Mumba, tipped over the bar by Jamal Blackman. The subsequent corner was pinged by Jordan Houghton to Whittaker, but the volley was too high. 

The game burst into life on 25 minutes, Jay Stansfield breaking down the left for Exeter and his fizzing low cross was easy for Collins to tap in at the back post, but the lead lasted less than 90 seconds. 

Mumba won the ball on the left, set it back for Adam Randell to clip in a low cross to Whittaker, who brought the ball under his Halloween spell with a lovely first touch and then speared a sweet finish into the bottom corner. 

Home Park was crackling with Devon passion and tremendous tracking back from Ennis thwarted a lively break down the right by Jake Caprice. Argyle settled matters with a spell of calm and considered possession. 

Honours even at half-time and everything to play for.  

In worsening weather, the Pilgrims restarted with more controlled possession, winning a corner that was flicked over the bar by James Wilson. 

The Grecians then regained the lead, Stansfield pinching the ball in a dangerous area and threading a clever reverse pass to Nombe, who rounded Cooper for a simple finish. 

Once again, Argyle responded, and this time it was something very special. Exeter cleared a corner to Mumba 30 yards from goal and he took a touch before unleashing a superb low strike that swerved in the wind before nestling in the bottom corner. 

It was a stunning strike and, despite the wind and rain, the Devon derby was delivering a cracker under the glare of a national TV audience. 

Hardie for Ennis was the first Pilgrim change and Argyle were on the charge, Mumba flashing over a low cross, cleared under pressure by Pierce Sweeney. Houghton’s corner was nudged wide by an onrushing Randell. 

The next twist in a fabulous game was a curling effort from Collins palmed away by Cooper. A minute later, Argyle took the lead for the first time. 

Houghton won the ball in midfield and immediately slipped a pass to Whittaker, who picked out Hardie in the box and the sub took a touch before slamming an emphatic finish into the roof of the net. 

The Green Army were bouncing but there was a brief moment of hush, as Harry Kite skimmed the bar with a tremendous long-range strike.  

The game was sealed with six minutes remaining, Hardie latching on to a fantastic through-ball from Whittaker and steering a composed finish beyond the advancing Blackman with the outside of his boot. 

A great goal to finish a great game. 

Argyle: 1 Mike Cooper; 5 James Wilson, 6 Dan Scarr, 22 Brendan Galloway; 8 Joe Edwards (21 Nigel Lonwijk 90), 4 Jordan Houghton, 20 Adam Randell, 17 Bali Mumba (15 Conor Grant 90); 19 Morgan Whittaker (7 Matt Butcher 87), 16 Sam Cosgrove, 11 Niall Ennis (9 Ryan Hardie 62). Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 44 Will Jenkins Davies, 48 Freddie Issaka.   


Exeter: 18 Jamal Blackman; 2 Jake Caprice (39 Cheick Diabate 64), 3 Jack Sparkes, 5 Alex Hartridge, 8 Archie Collins, 9 Jay Stansfield, 10 Sam Nombe, 12 Josh Key, 14 Tim Dieng (20 Jevani Brown 64), 16 Harry Kite (7 Matt Jay 78), 26 Pierce Sweeney (capt). Substitutes (not used): 22 Harry Lee (gk), 6 Redeem Harper, 15 Kegs Chauke, 19 Sonny Cox.   


Attendance: 16,567 (1,617 away) 

Referee: Charles Breakspear