Development squad beaten by experienced Plymouth side

October 16, 2018

A brace from Gregg Wylde and a close-range header from Alex Fletcher proved to enough to consign Rovers’ Development Squad to a Central League defeat to Plymouth Argyle at Home Park.

With the hosts fielding a strong side that included a number of first-team squad members, Rovers named a starting XI that included goalkeeper Adam Smith. Rollin Menayese also featured, as Luke Russe was deployed a left-back for the fixture – with Deon Moore, who appeared last week’s in the Checkatrade Trophy victory over Yeovil, leading the Rovers attacking line alongside Cameron Ebbutt.

In terms of early chances in the contest, it was perhaps the home side that edged the early phase of the encounter. A set-piece from the left was curled to the far-post by Conor Grant, as Jordan Bentley leapt the highest but couldn’t keep his header on target from five yards out.

Rovers looked organised against the experienced attacking threats of Plymouth in the early exchanges. A driven cross from Wylde did cause concern, as the ball picked out Calum Dyson unmarked at the far post, but with the ball arriving at speed, the striker couldn’t get his shot away and Rovers recovered to edge the ball clear.

Midway through the first half, Adam Smith was forced into action, in what was the first test of the afternoon both goalkeepers. The move originated from Argyle right-back Harry Hodges darting inside the Rovers area to latch onto a diagonal pass, as the defender struck a driven attempt that was held by Smith, who dived his right to produce the stop.

The deadlock was broken on the half-hour mark, as a smart move from the hosts saw Ryan Law break free down the left and advance into a position to drift a cross into the Rovers penalty area. Law’s ball wasn’t cleared by the Rovers defence, as the cross was deflected to the feet of Gregg Wylde, who made no mistake in guiding a forceful finish past Adam Smith to open the scoring.

Just after the opening goal, there were more anxious moments for Rovers to ride out, as Antoni Sarcevic found himself free to launch a driven delivery across the face of the Rovers goal that was touched wide by Alex Fletcher, as the wideman arrived at the ball at pace and drifted his first-time attempt wide.

As the half-time break loomed, Rovers did create half-chances to restore balance to the scoreline. Deon Moore used his frame to edge an opportunity to break in behind the Plymouth defence, but just as it looked like the striker had a clear view of goal, a last-ditch challenge from Jordan Bentley snatched possession away from the forward.

Rovers began the second forty-five minutes brightly and tested Plymouth ‘keeper Mike Cooper on two occasions. Both opportunities came from Cameron Hargreaves, as the midfielder crafted two attempts from twenty-yards that forced the Plymouth goalkeeper to be alert – with the second attempt seeing the shot-stopper switching to his left to make a fine fingertip save.

Just as Rovers were enjoying a good spell in the encounter, Plymouth managed to double their advantage in the game. An inswinging corner from Conor Grant drifted into a congested penalty area, as Alex Fletcher guided home a powerful header that beat Adam Smith for pace at such close proximity.

The home side added a third goal with twenty-five minutes remaining. A glanced header from Antoni Sarcevic played in Gregg Wylde. The winger kept his nerve to entice Adam Smith off his line and managed to glance a side-footed finish out of the clutches of the Rovers ‘keeper and into the far corner.

Inside the final stages, Rovers did assemble chances to reduce the deficit. Deon Moore saw a delicate effort from the edge of the Plymouth penalty area bounce back off the crossbar. The striker was involved moments later, as he directed a close-range header again onto the crossbar, but the attempt was halted for offside.

Just prior to the final whistle, substitute Connor Jones fired a low shot towards goal that looked destined for the corner of the net, but a diving stop by Cooper pushed the shot around the post.

Rovers: Adam Smith (GK), Theo Widdrington, Alfie Kilgour, Rollin Menayese, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist, Cameron Hargreaves, Cameron Ebbutt, Trialist (69′ Connor Jones), Deon Moore, Scott Isherwood, Luke Russe.

Subs: Tom Mehew, Connor Jones, Ben Morgan, Osian Dillion.

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