Niall Ennis celebrates his first of the season

Report | Forest Green Rovers 0 Argyle 3

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Forest Green Rovers  0

Argyle  3

Azaz 18, Mumba 27, Ennis 61

Argyle emphatically bounced back from their midweek loss in London with a never-in-doubt win in Nailsworth, defeating Forest Green Rovers 3-0 at The Bolt New Lawn.

Finn Azaz continued his strong start to the season by grabbing the opener on 18 minutes with a fine strike on the edge of the box, assisted by Bali Mumba. Azaz returned the favour nine minutes later, setting up the wing-back to make it 2-0 with a fierce shot.

The Greens remained in control after the break, and put the game beyond doubt in the 61st minute – Niall Ennis finishing off a rapid counter attack to net a deserved first goal of his campaign.

Looking for better fortunes in their throwback away kit, Argyle made five changes to their starting line-up. Manager Steven Schumacher brought in Matt Butcher, Danny Mayor, Niall Ennis, Nigel Lonwijk, and Brendan Galloway for Jordan Houghton, Ryan Hardie, Macaulay Gillesphey, Morgan Whittaker, and the suspended James Wilson.

The hosts, who had an unexpected midweek break due the postponement of their game against Accrington Stanley, showed a more settled line-up. Their single starting XI change saw David Davis come in for Armani Little.

Something had to give here; the Pilgrims were yet to score a point on the road this season, whilst Forest Green’s only home league game ended in defeat to Ipswich Town. The home side made the first effort to change their fortunes, as smart play on the right flank allowed Reece Brown to fire off a shot in the second minute, but Mike Cooper was equal to the effort.

Argyle responded with patient possession leading to a swivel and shot from Ennis, which drifted wide, but Forest Green showed their threat once more. A great delivery from Regan Hendry was volleyed just past the far post by Oliver Casey.

The Greens struggled to get their playmakers involved in the opening throes, but once both Finn Azaz and Danny Mayor got a chance to show their ability, the game changed. Both of those creative players played their part in an excellent opening goal for Argyle.

Lonwijk, stepping out of defence, slipped a pass into midfield for Mayor, who cut a brilliant ball down the left flank for Bali Mumba. The wing immediately looked up and picked out Azaz, taking up his usual spot on the edge of the box. The Aston Villa loanee controlled and nonchalantly swept the ball into far corner – his third goal of the season.

Schumacher was complimentary of Forest Green’s style of play in the build-up to this game, and they showed glimpses of that after conceding. Corey O’Keeffe drifted inside to force Cooper into action again, and another good move was thwarted by Galloway, performing well in his first start for 271 days.

But the hosts had no answer to the ever-impressive Azaz, whenever Finn found space – as he did to create Argyle’s second goal. Azaz anticipated a defensive header to pick up the ball, and spotted the run of Mumba on the right-hand side. Latching onto a flicked through ball, Mumba cracked a shot into the same corner as Azaz’s opener, as they reversed roles to make it 2-0 before half an hour.

Argyle had a chance to make it 3-0; an Azaz corner caused problems, ending with an Ennis overhead kick collected by Luke McGee. The attacking threat of Schumacher’s side, along with their effective high press, almost nullified Forest Green until the break. In stoppage time, though, the Sky Bet League Two champions had their best opportunity of game, working an opportunity on the left for Brown, but Cooper’s good stop was followed by a typical sliding intervention from Dan Scarr.

The home side called upon the Premier League experience of Connor Wickham upon the restart, replacing Josh March, with Sean Robertson also joining the fray at half-time for Kyle McAllister. Argyle, though, resumed their role of the more dangerous side. A recycled free kick saw a towering Lonwijk header set up Scarr, whose thunderous strike was save excellently by McGee. Seconds later, another dangerous cross was poked back across goal by Ennis, but no Argyle player was on hand to tap home.

The sold-out away support of the Green Army were loving their side’s display, but would have been very keen to see them acquire more breathing room with a third goal. Sure enough, on the hour mark, their team obliged, with Ennis netting the goal his performance deserved. A wonderful ball over the top from Butcher set Mayor down the left flank, who found an unmarked Ennis with a first-time ball. A calm first touch was followed by a simple finish, and the Greens looked home and dry with 29 minutes to spare.

Shortly before that goal, Rovers captain Jordan Moore-Taylor was forced off through injury – a change that his teammates never seemed to adjust to. Mayor teased Forest Green’s back line again, flicking a ball across the box that rolled agonisingly to safety.

Argyle’s bigger concerns in the second half were the fitness of their own players. A thigh injury for Ennis curtailed his excellent display, replaced by Morgan Whittaker. A knee knock for Mayor also looked troubling at first, but the Pilgrims’ No. 10 soldiered on for a spell, until Jordan Houghton replaced him. Lonwijk also required medical assistance towards the end – perhaps understandable, with it being the Dutchman’s first league start. 

Wickham forced a sharp stop from Cooper with 15 minutes to play, but Forest Green’s threat flickered out in the final goings. Argyle had the control and confidence to see out a comfortable win, notching their first league points on the road this season.

Forest Green: 1 Luke McGee, 2 Corey O'Keeffe, 5 Oliver Casey, 6 Baily Cargill, 7 Ben Stevenson, 8 Regan Hendry, 15 Jordan Moore-Taylor (c) (10 Armani Little, 58), 17 Kyle McAllister (19 Sean Robertson H-T), 26 David Davis, 28 Josh March (21 Connor Wickham H-T), 29 Reece Brown (14 Jamille Matt 71). Substitutes (not used): 24 Lewis Thomas (gk), 16 Jacob Jones, 27 Harvey Bunker.

Booked: Hendry 74

Argyle: 1 Mike Cooper; 21 Nigel Lonwijk, 6 Dan Scarr, 22 Brendan Galloway; 8 Joe Edwards (c), 20 Adam Randell, 7 Matt Butcher, 17 Bali Mumba; 18 Finn Azaz (9 Ryan Hardie 71), 11 Niall Ennis (19 Morgan Whittaker 71), 10 Danny Mayor (4 Jordan Houghton 78). Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 3 Macaulay Gillesphey, 31 Luke Jephcott, 42 Jack Endacott. 

Booked: Mumba 84

Attendance: 3,404 (estimated 1,224 away)

Referee: Darren Drysdale

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