Development squad hit for five by Plymouth

Feb 4, 2020 | Development squad, News

Rovers assembled a series of strong chances in the first half, with Luke Russe, Harry Warwick and Luca Hoole all going close to grabbing the first goal of the contest.

The young Rovers side paid the price of the not converting their chances and Plymouth grabbed five goals in a twenty-minute spell in the second half, before Kieron Phillips reduced the scoreline with two late goals.

The Development Squad named a similar starting XI to the side that faced AFC Bournemouth in the Central League Cup last week, with the likes of Luca Hoole, Tom Mehew, Luke Russe and Alexis Andre-Jr all featuring on the teamsheet.

Sam Matthews continued to get some valuable game time under his belt, as Kyle Bennett was also included in the starting XI for the fixture, alongside Michael Kelly.

Rovers started brightly, with Luke Russe bursting in behind the Plymouth back line to latch onto a ball over the top from Theo Widdrington. The tenacious midfielder managed to stay onside but was unable to direct any power on his volley to thoroughly test Mike Cooper in the Plymouth goal.

Russe’s chance signalled a strong spell for Rovers, who enjoyed the majority of the play in and around the Plymouth penalty area in the early stages. A well-worked phase of passing down the right opened the chance for Luca Hoole to dart into a threatening position after being played in by Matthews, with the defender placing an effort narrowly wide of the target from a narrow-angle.

While Rovers enjoyed the favourable share of the chances and possession, the youthful Gas outfit had to be alert to the direct approaches from visitors. Joel Grant was able to take down a chipped ball forward, but delayed his eventual shot, allowing Ben Morgan the chance to block his effort and divert the ball into the reaches of Andre Alexis-Jr.

As the first-half progressed, Rovers’ chances on goal became more clear cut. Theo Widdrington picked out the run of Harry Warwick with a well-placed lobbed ball forward, that ran perfectly for the striker. With a defender hot on his heels, the striker shifted direction and firmly hit a low effort that required a stop from Mike Cooper.

Cooper was certainly the busiest of the two keepers and again had to be alert as a swift break from Rovers saw Kyle Bennett slide through Luke Russe on goal. The midfielder made the choice to hit a first-time effort from 20-yards out, getting good power on his attempt that Cooper managed to steer wide with a strong hand.

In the minutes after the restart, Rovers had perhaps the best chance of the game, as Harry Warwick was played in on goal and managed to hold his composure to dig out a powerful close-range effort that was stopped by a reaction save from the Plymouth ‘keeper.

The chance sparked a positive period for the Gas and within a minute, Cooper was tested again. The opportunity came as Theo Widdrington broke forward and was allowed space to carve out a fierce attempt that had to be tipped wide of goal.

Rovers’ third chance in as many minutes came as Sam Matthews worked a free-kick towards goal, with the effort taking a handy deflection. Cooper was able to track the attempt and did just enough to turn the set-piece wide, with deadlock remaining in place.

Warwick would again go head-to-head with the Plymouth ‘keeper as the hour approached, with the striker again found by a disguised pass from Widdrington. Cooper darted at the feet of the Rovers man and did enough to block any attempts to shoot from the striker.

The missed chances for Rovers soon came back to haunt the young Gas side, who against the run of play, found themselves a goal behind on the hour mark when Kaladi Lolos converted a close-range header to open the scoring.

The visitor’s goal opened up a complete change in fortunes in the game and a matter of minutes later, Alex Fletcher pounced on a missed clearance by Ben Morgan to steer home a finish at the far post to add a second for the visitors.

With twenty minutes to go, Plymouth added a further two goals in as many minutes as Randell and Purrington added a four-goal lead for the visitors, with all the goals coming in a varying degree of close-range finishes.

Plymouth added a fifth goal inside the final ten minutes, with Fletcher pounced on a slack backwards header and help composure to plant a powerful finish beyond Alexis Alexis-Jr.

Rovers did manage to pull two goals as substitute Kieron Phillips tapped home a close-range rebound and followed it up with a powerful range header from Theo Widdrington corner.

Rovers:¬†Alexis Andre-Jr, Luca Hoole, Michael Kelly, Ben Morgan, Luc Noble, Tom Mehew, Luke Russe (C) (65′ Zain Walker), Theo Widdrington, Harry Warwick (Kieron Phillips), Sam Matthews, Kyle Bennett.