Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Argyle Res 2 Torquay Res 0

For once a series of random events converged to my advantage yesterday and after a morning gym session I was able to go to one of Argyle’s increasingly scarce reserve games to watch them in a match hastily arranged by our new manager John Sheridan.
It might seem unnecessarily anorakish for any supporter to go to reserve games but it is something that I have always quite enjoyed. The stress of an actual 1st team experience just isn’t there and it’s always interesting to see the fringe players ~ especially the youngsters. Admittedly modern reserve games don’t hold a light in comparison to the old days of the Combination League but they do possess a certain charm all of their own.
torquay reserves 001So, having been a few times in the dim and distant past, I wasn’t expecting much in the shape of refreshments to be available at the match, and I wasn’t disappointed, and knowing that post-gym hunger was sure to strike, and it did, I stopped off en route at the Congreve Gardens Pasty Shop in Honicknowle for an oggy along the way. And at only £2 they come highly recommended! You might need sat nav to find Congreve Gardens if you aren’t familiar with the area but it is worth the effort!
My time management was uncharacteristically excellent and at 1350, with the temperature gauge on my car registering a chilly 2 degrees Celsius, I was parked up at Argyle and on my way in for the scheduled 1400 kick-off. Unfortunately I was a little too late to collect a team sheet (always a useful aid when most of the players are less familiar than they might have been) and took my seat in the grandstand only to discover that they had kicked-off a little earlier which means that there will be a complete absence of any timings for the events in this report…
torquay reserves 005The next few minutes were spent unsuccessfully trying to hook-up to the stadium wifi and so I wasn’t exactly paying as much attention as I might have been when somebody was fouled and Andres Guerrieri, who figured strongly all afternoon, fired rather meekly into Torquay’s, defensive wall. That was just a shot across the bows though and the first major incident of the game occurred when Tyler Harvey was injured, leading to his substitution by a taller and leaner (than I remembered) Isaac Vassell, by a Kirtys (his spelling not mine!) McKenzie (who also featured prominently) tackle just to the left of the penalty area. My first impression was that a penalty should have been awarded (and you can see how close the foul was from the photograph) but the orange-bibbed black-clad referee (Torquay turned up wearing a black kit and there would have been a colour clash) decided that it wasn’t. Harvey received on-pitch treatment for quite some time and it looked like a serious injury had resulted from what was, to be honest, a fairly innocuous-looking routine foul. Anyway with everybody up and expecting the cross Argyle cunningly pulled the ball back and the on-rushing player, in acres of room, wastefully fired wide and low after scuffing his shot.
torquay reserves 007However the pattern of the game had now been set. Argyle were to dominate possession for virtually all of the game and a seemingly young Torquay side was left chasing shadows. It wasn’t long before the referee was called into action again and this time he did award a penalty after a clear foul on Vassell, who overall was the most threatening of Argyle’s front two alongside Matt Lecointe, by Torquay’s #16 Angus MacDonald (more of whom later). With the exaggerated care and precision that we have seen so often Argyle’s old warhorse Paul Wotton placed the ball on the penalty spot. After what seemed like an eternity he ran up, his right foot made a thunderous contact with the ball (one of the differences about watching a reserve game is that you can actually hear things like the sound of boot on ball ~ and, I swear, on this occasion feel the resultant shockwaves too!) and it was 1-0. The goalie didn’t stand a chance. No goalie on Earth would have done! I wonder if I’ll ever see Wotton do that again? Rather amusingly the tannoy sprang to life and the Fine Young Cannibals could be heard echoing around a nearly empty Home Park.
Argyle were well on top now. Some nice passing down the left created a crossing opportunity for Lowry  and Guerrieri, coming in from the right in a Lee Hodgesesque (who was there watching) fashion headed and missed when he should not have done. The half’s final action saw another flowing Argyle attack result in a late break from midfield by Sims, who looked to get forward whenever he could (whereas his partner Wotton, er, didn’t), whose low shot was brilliantly blocked by Rice the Torquay goalie only to rebound to Vassell who is, hopefully, disappointed with his supporting effort. They both should have scored.
So at half-time it was 1-0 and with a possible penalty that wasn’t given, Guerrieri’s missed header and the Sims/Vassell effort at the end it could easily have been 4-0. Chernoweth in the Argyle goal was, literally, a spectator.
torquay reserves 006 At half-time I eventually acquired a teamsheet which helped identify the less recognisable … The second half continued in much the same vein as the first: lots of Argyle passing and lots of Torquay chasing but largely with little end product until another probing Argyle move broke down only for the ball to fall beautifully for Lecointe on the edge of the box. Even though he was facing away from me I’m sure I saw his eyes light up and he smacked a shot at goal only to see it crash against the crossbar with the goalie well beaten. Still 1-0. Could now have been 6-0.
At which point what had been quite a relaxed and quiet game suddenly sprang to life. Some good trickery in the box by Vassell led to him squaring to Guerrieri who saw his shot well-saved. He should have scored. It could have been 7! Next up Sims and Lowry combined well on the left, Lowry broke into the box, there was a scramble with Vassell looking to pick up an easy tap-in but the ball popped up perfectly for Lowry to head in from close range. 2-0. And not before time. (A possible 8-0 by now!)
torquay reserves 009Next up some good close skill and a sharp turn in the box saw Guerrieri smack a low shot against the post (9?). Wotton, who had barely crossed the halfway line and had effectively turned the back four into a back five on the rare occasions that Torquay got forward, was replaced by River Allen. And it was River Allen who was to feature, although I suspect he wishes he hadn’t, next when Torquay’s Macklin absolutely crunched him for no apparent reason. Maybe all the ball-chasing had got to him. I don’t know. It was a horrible tackle and were it not a reserve team friendly I feel sure he would have been dismissed. Anyway that led to a bit of a melée in which Guerrieri’s handbag featured prominently on our behalf. Once it all settled down the referee booked Macklin.
Guerrieri was soon in the thick of it again. This time he was hacked in front of the dugout by Kirtys McKenzie who was booked. Guerrieri was promptly subbed. For his own good, I suspect, as much as anything because he was hardly Torquay’s most popular Pilgrim at that point and Josh Hutchinson came on.
torquay reserves 010Which is pretty much it except for a quite astonishing off-the-ball incident which saw several players from both sides brawling, for want of a better word, in the Devonport End goalmouth. None of the officials seemed to know who to blame, and I didn’t see what happened, and once it had calmed down the ref let everybody off but there was a post-match allegations that #16 MacDonald had spat in the face of Jamie Richards. There was never much danger of the referee playing much injury time!
torquay reserves 008In conclusion it was just about the most one-sided 2-0 win you could wish to see. It’s impossible to draw any conclusions about either of Argyle’s young full backs or goalkeeper as they simply were not tested at all; Blanchard and Richards strolled through the game comfortably; Wotton sat in front of them, gave the ball away a couple of times and absolutely creamed his penalty when the chance arose; Sims was tidy (as was Allen) and used the ball well; Lowry seemed all right foot (which is odd for a left-sided player) and his endeavour and positive approach deserved his goal when it came; Argyle’s Lowry, Guerrieri and Vassell were the biggest threats and might have put themselves in the reckoning for the next 1st XI; Lecointe seemed to be muscled off the ball rather too easily and rather too often.
An enjoyable afternoon ended with my feet feeling like blocks of ice and would have been more enjoyable had a hot drink been available somewhere in the ground!