Plymouth Argyle u-18s 1 Gillingham 2
Plymouth Argyle’s youngsters completed their league fixtures with this home defeat by the Gills on the main pitch at Home Park.
Victory would have seen the young Pilgrims recover to a position in the top half of the Merit League One but such was the tightness of the competition that defeat left them third from bottom.
The young Greens only had themselves to blame for this defeat as they had enough of the play to have beaten the Gills – instead it was two moments of poor defensive play that was punished by the visitors.
Argyle started the contest well with Alex Battle denied by the braveness of visiting goalkeeper Lou Cathorall who dived at the strikers feet as he burst into the area.
Top scorer Alex Fletcher then saw his header plucked out of the air by Cathorall before Ryan Law’s angled volley flew just over the Gills crossbar.
Gillingham came more into the game with front players Leroy Hlabi and Noel Mbo both causing problems for the Argyle defence.
It was Mbo who seized upon some slack Argyle play in midfield to burst forward into the area only for Michael Cooper to race out quickly and deny the visiting striker.
Fletcher then had the ball in the back of the Gillingham net only to have his effort ruled out for an earlier foul before midfielder Dan Rooney’s mazey run ended with his vicious drive turned over by Cathorall’s fingertips.
Fletcher almost struck, in the first minute of the second half, but his angled drive flew across goal and just wide. It was Gillingham who struck, a minute later, when Bradley Stevenson intercepted a slack pass to race in on goal and his vicious shot took a deflection before speeding past the helpless Cooper.
Mbo almost curled a fine shot into the far corner of the Argyle goal before Hlabi capitalised on more hesitancy in the home defence to fire low past Cooper at the near post.
The home side came back in the later stages of the game with full back Harry Hodgesís volley flying into the side-netting before they finally found the back of the net 12 minutes from time.
Impressive midfielder Rooney swapped passes with Ryan Law before hitting a fine drive into the far top corner of the net but that was to be the only time that Cathorall was beaten.
Plymouth Argyle: Mike Cooper, Harry Hodges, Ryan Law, Harry Downing, Callum Rose, Jordan Bentley (Billy Craske h-t), Dan Rooney, Matt Ward (Michael Peck 73), Alex Fletcher, Alex Battle (Luke Jephcott 67), Cameron Sangster.