Home Park

Under-18s Report | Argyle 3 Cheltenham Town 2

Sync Fixtures

Argyle Under-18s completed a blockbuster second-half comeback to beat Cheltenham Town and progress into the area semi-finals of the Youth Alliance Cup.

Finishing the game with ten players, it was a tale of two halves for the Young Greens who fought back from losing positions twice before going on to score a critical winner in second-half stoppage time.

Caleb Roberts and Joe Hatch both scored within a frantic two-minute spell early in the second-half to get the Pilgrims back into the game, before Josh Bernard was the man of the moment, scoring in the sixth minute of additional time in what was a spectacular finale to the cup tie.  

This came after Jack Matthews was shown a red card by the referee for a professional foul with just under 15 minutes left to play.

Jamie Lowry made two changes to the starting line-up ahead of this game with Caleb Roberts retaking his place in midfield from Sam Lord and Joe Hatch leading the line replacing Henry Donovan.

The Robins did well to nullify the threat of the usually free-scoring Greens in the opening exchanges.

Cheltenham took the lead in the 18th minute when an inswinging corner ricocheted of a Cheltenham head and into the back of the net. The scorer did not know too much about it, but that would not bother him as he’d made it 1-0.

The Young Pilgrims had the chance to level the game when they were awarded a penalty towards the end of the first half. This came as a result of Roberts drawing a foul after some brilliant trickery inside the box.

Freddie Issaka stepped up from 12 yards, however his spot-kick was well saved, low to the right, by the Robins goalkeeper. With the Wales youth international denied from the spot, Argyle went into the interval a goal down. 

It did not take long for the second half to heat up. Cheltenham came close to doubling their lead when another corner threatened, finding a free man on the back post who saw his headed effort fly just wide of the post.

However, the referee was again pointing to the penalty spot in the 58th minute when Joe Hatch was played through on goal and tripped just inside the box.

Roberts stepped up to take this one after Issaka was denied in the first half. Roberts placed it down the middle, and with the keeper diving to the left the ball crashed into the back of the net and the game was level.

However, just moments later, Cheltenham pumped a long ball forward and caught Argyle’s defence off-guard.

The visiting number nine did well to shift the ball to his strong foot before drilling the ball into the bottom-left corner, beyond the grasp of Dan Holman.

The extraordinary game was far from finished, though. From the kick-off, Argyle themselves pumped a direct ball to Hatch, on the left. The striker took it down well and broke into the box before curling the ball around the outstretched goalkeeper and into the bottom-right corner, once again levelling the game.

Just as Lowry’s side were starting to gain some momentum in an effort to score that vital winning goal they were stopped in their tracks when they went down to ten.

Matthews tussled with the lively Robins striker off the ball as it was launched over their heads. With both players falling to the floor the referee judged the central defender to be at fault and brandished the red card.

The visitors, now with the momentum, pushed on in an attempt to win the game threating the Greens but also leaving spaces in behind them to be exploited.

Argyle came inches away from grasping the win in the 89th minute when Issaka intercepted a weak back-pass and slid the ball past the keeper, but just wide of the post.

With Argyle rueing their missed chanced at the other end, Cheltenham continued to push forward and probably thought they won it when their striker took aim from the edge of the penalty area.

The ball was hurtling toward the top-right corner, but Holman used his fingertips to push the ball over the bar and keep his side in the game with a magnificent save. 

Clearly spurred on by this, Argyle ventured forward one final time as penalties seemed inevitable.

The ball was swung toward the back post by Edworthy but over the head of everyone and seemingly going out for a goal-kick, but for Tegan Finn’s lung-busting run to keep the ball in play.

The ball was once again swung into the box where it was met by Bernard, flying through the air to score a diving header with seconds remaining on the clock.

The ten men of Argyle had defied the odds and taken the lead for the first time in the match in additional time, the perfect ending to a second half packed full of drama.

Just seconds later, the referee blew his whistle to signify full-time, an outstanding win for Lowry’s side that sees them into the next round of the Youth Alliance Cup.

The last-gasp win also means that the Young Greens retain their 100% record and extend it to eight games across all competitions.

Argyle Under-18s are back in action next weekend when they make the trip to South Wales to face Newport County in the Youth Alliance League.

Argyle: Dan Holman, Lewis Colwell, Harry Shield (Kieran Edworthy 65), Fin Wilkes, Jack Matthews, Cole Gibbings, Josh Bernard, Caleb Roberts, Joe Hatch (Henry Donovan 65), Tegan Finn, Freddie Issaka. Substitutes not used: Joel Sullivan, Jensen Ireland, Cole Fisher, Jack Flower.

Caps on sale