Big Match Preview: Plymouth Argyle home
Posted: Tuesday, August 8th 2017
Tuesday, August 8th 2017
Another electric first-half display served to completely shatter Plymouth Argyle’s hopes of a Carabao Cup upset at Ashton Gate.
Four of City’s five goals without reply were scored in the opening period, as Jens Hegeler, Nathan Baker, Korey Smith and Freddie Hinds all breached a much-changed visiting defence.
Substitute Jamie Paterson added City’s fifth with a picture book goal to cap another impressive performance from Lee Johnson’s energetic young side.
The head coach handed a debut to teenage striker Hinds and a second debut to the returning Baker, who only missed the season opener against Barnsley through suspension.
Starts for Zak Vyner, Hordur Magnusson, Gary O’Neil and Callum O’Dowda took City’s total number of changes to six, compared to Plymouth’s nine.
City started quickly enough on Saturday but came out of the traps with even more gusto against sorry Argyle.
It took just two minutes for the deadlock to be broken, and in rather untidy fashion. A game of pinball in the Plymouth box saw O’Neil keep the ball alive before Hegeler’s scuffed shot into the turf somehow found its way through a crowd of bodies and into the net.
It was a nightmare start for debutant goalkeeper Robert Te Loeke, who soon had to be alert to keep out a rasping drive from former Plymouth loanee Bobby Reid.
City were merciless. By the 19th minute it was 3-0 – a full 11 minutes earlier than Saturday.
Baker may have been signed for his defending but it was he who doubled the lead when he headed home O’Dowda’s corner from six yards.
Five minutes later, Smith was joining in, ending his near three-year wait for a goal and scoring at Ashton Gate for the very first time.
City’s captain for the night may argue it was worth the wait as he curled a delicious shot in off the inside of the post from 25 yards.
Chances kept coming. Hegeler struck the outside of the post from another O’Dowda cross, while Reid attempted to find the far corner but opened up his foot too much and the chance went begging.
A boisterous away following of nearly 2,000 humoured themselves by ironically cheering every complete pass made by the men in green, to which the City supporters joined in.
There was one nearly moment for the Pilgrims, as Graham Carey’s deep free kick was nodded back across goal and met by Yann Songo’o, whose looping header had to be tipped over by Frank Fielding.
But City were far from finished and perhaps the best of the lot would arrive before the interval in the form of a moment to savour for young Hinds.
O’Neil’s pass was backheeled by Josh Brownhill into the path of Hinds, who dropped a shoulder to buy himself a yard of space and unleashed a vicious dipping shot that flew past the hapless Te Loeke from 30 yards.
Visiting boss Derek Adams had to do something to stem the tide and at half-time made a double substitution, while Johnson could afford to give a rest to Reid as Paterson took over up front.
Joe Morrell replaced Smith just shy of the hour to make only his second City appearance four years after his first.
With City already safely through, the second half was naturally slower paced, though Paterson and O’Dowda were narrowly off target with shots from the edge of the box.
Johnson’s third and final change was to introduce Lloyd Kelly, another of the City young guns to make his debut, in place of Hegeler.
Meanwhile, Plymouth were just grateful the red tirade had relatively soothed, although their problems mounted when substitute Oscar Threlkeld hobbled off just 21 minutes after coming on.
After O’Dowda’s free kick was well held and Brownhill stung the palms of Te Loeke, Paterson was about to rival Hinds for goal of the night.
It owed much to the good work of Vyner, who had only just embarked on a lung-busting run from the halfway line into the Argyle box.
This time it was rather more intricate from the Academy graduate, who traded passes with Brownhill before teeing up Paterson, whose sweeping first-time shot lofted over the rooted Te Loeke and dipped just in time to find the net via the underside of the crossbar.
The perfect end to a five-star display.
Photography by JMPUK.