Middlesbrough v Argyle


Middlesbrough 0

Argyle 2
Sorinola 7
Hardie 31

Argyle responded to the rare disappointment of successive home defeats by delivering a supreme away performance at the other end of the country.

A trip to Middlesbrough is never easy, from south-west to north-east, but the travelling Green Army were rewarded with a fantastic Pilgrim performance on the road.

Matty Sorinola and Ryan Hardie notched the decisive strikes in a rampant opening half-hour, and the Greens could have scored a lot more before comfortably seeing out three very impressive points.

Argyle Head Coach Ian Foster made four changes from the midweek loss to West Brom, with Jordan Houghton, Julio Pleguezuelo, Mickel Miller and Soriniola replacing Bali Mumba, Lino Sousa, Alfie Devine and Ashley Phillips. Michael Cooper was on the bench, back in the squad for the first time since December.

The Pilgrims were bang on it in terms of tempo and intensity from the very first minute, Morgan Whittaker forcing some uncertainty in the home defence, quickly followed by Miller asking a customary question down the left.

Argyle were crawling all over their hosts and broke the deadlock on seven minutes, Sorinola following in to convert the rebound after an initial drive from Darko Gyabi had been parried by goalkeeper Tom Glover.

Boro looked shellshocked by the pace of Argyle’s passing and movement, Lewis Gibson and Jordan Houghton slicing through the home side with more precision play and the low cross from Sorinola just eluded the run of Hardie.

Whittaker then stung the hands of Glover and a rampant Sorinola had two shots blocked, as Argyle continued to dominate. When Boro did break with a searching pass for Marcus Forss, Pilgrim custodian Conor Hazard was alert to clear the danger.

A top tackle from Brendan Galloway thwarted Forss again moments later and Argyle switched momentum back in their favour with a clinical second, Gyabi feeding the pass to Hardie, who cut inside for a right-foot strike that gave Glover no chance.

Two minutes later, only a fabulous save from Glover prevented Adam Randell from notching a third. The overworked home ‘keeper next blocked a Whittaker drive to the near post, followed by another save to deny Houghton.

The only drawback from a relentless first-half display was that the game wasn’t already out of sight for Boro. Finn Azaz, who sparkled in two loan spells for Argyle, tried to lift his new club with an effort from the edge of the box that missed the target.

The pattern then returned to a familiar feel, as Hardie rounded Glover from another clever Gyabi pass but the experienced Paddy McNair found a goal-saving challenge. Houghton then drilled a low effort inches wide for the Greens.

Argyle introduced Joe Edwards and Devine for Sorinola and Whittaker in the final 20 minutes but Boro were still struggling to find any sort of attacking rhythm, as Sammy Silvera lashed a narrow-angle strike miles wide.

After such a sizzling hour going forward, the Pilgrims had understandably settled into a holding set-up, Hazard showing sharp reflexes to make a strong near-post save with his feet from a deflected drive.

Mumba, Phillips and Ben Waine for the excellent Gyabi, Hardie and Pleguezuelo was the next freshen up of the troops. Middlesbrough never stopped prodding and probing for an opening but this was a day that belonged to Argyle, as Devine forced one more top save from Glover in the final minute to sum up a top performance.

Middlesbrough: 23 Tom Glover; 3 Rav van den Berg, 4 Daniel Barlaser, 8 Riley McGree (29 Sam Greenwood 58), 12 Luke Ayling (15 Anfernee Dijksteel 80), 17 Paddy McNair, 18 Sammy Silvera (14 Alex Gilbert 80), 20 Finn Azaz (9 Emmanuel Latte Lath 58), 21 Marcus Forss, 28 Lewis O'Brien, 33 Luke Thomas (27 Lucas Engel 80). Substitutes (not used): 1 Seny Dieng (gk), 5 Matt Clarke, 49 Law McCabe, 59 Luke Woolston.

Booked: Ayling 37

Argyle: 21 Conor Hazard; 4 Jordan Houghton, 5 Julio Pleguezuelo (26 Ashley Phillips 85), 9 Ryan Hardie (23 Ben Waine 83), 10 Morgan Whittaker (16 Alfie Devine 73), 14 Mickel Miller, 17 Lewis Gibson, 18 Darko Gyabi (2 Bali Mumba 83), 20 Adam Randell, 22 Brendan Galloway, 29 Matty Sorinola (8 Joe Edwards 73). Substitutes (not used): 1 Michael Cooper (gk), 3 Lino Sousa, 11 Callum Wright, 15 Mustapha Bundu.

Booked: Miller 26

Referee: Sunny Singh Gill

Attendance: 25,578