A Reuben Reid hat trick helped Plymouth Argyle to an emphatic 3-1 Devon derby victory, to secure the local bragging rights for the second time this season.
Exeter City 1
Plymouth Argyle 3
7440 fans (1682 from Plymouth) crammed into St James Park in what was a feisty and atmospheric local derby. The Grecians went into the game having won only once in the last nine outings.
Manager Paul Tisdale rang the chances, switching to a three-man attack alongside side with Scott Bennett and Clinton Morrison alongside top scorer Tom Nichols. Meanwhile Argyle, fresh from three consecutive wins named an unchanged side.
As per the form book, it was the Pilgrims who dominated the early exchanges. Drew Talbot had the first chance of the game, forcing Christy Pym into a smart save. Indeed the visitors enjoyed the majority of the possession in the early exchanges, with both Bobby and Reuben Reid looking threatening. Only Jordan Moore-Taylor’s last ditch defending denied Plymouth on a couple of occasions.
However, Plymouth broke the deadlock on 26 minutes as Bobby Reid’s attempted shot fortuitously fell to Reuben Reid, who showcased real composure to slot home and send the visiting ‘Green Army’ into raptures. Argyle were most definitely good value for their lead, which they nearly double through Lewis Allesandra, only for Pym to deny him.
The lacklustre Grecians gradually improved as the half went on and found an unlikely equaliser before the break. The impressive Moore-Taylor sent in a tantalising low cross which found Arron Davies at the back post and the Welshmen slotted home to make it 1-1. The parity on the scoreboard was perhaps unrepresentative of a half which in truth Argyle dominated.
The second half began slowly but Alessandra sparked it into life, racing around City captain Matt Oakley. The 37 year olds lack of pace forced him to make a desperate challenge in the area, which led to a clear penalty. Reuben Reid duly converted to restore Argyle’s lead
Moments later the derby was sparked into life, as Olly Lee mistimed a rash challenge on Nichols. The referee instantly reached for his pocket and produced a straight red card, much to his disbelief and the home fans delight. A 22 player confrontation then followed, as both teams came to blows including both goalkeepers. Four players were booked in the process, which added extra needle to an already feisty encounter.
A buoyant City then thought they had levelled through Christian Ribeiro only to be denied by the offside flag. This disappointment was heightened moments later, as Reuben Reid completed his hat trick. Some suspect defending from Exeter, allowed Reid in behind, who scored at the second attempt past Pym and both Moore-Taylor and Oakley on the goal-line.
Despite the numerical advantage, the Grecians failed to create any chances of note in the dying minutes, with Plymouth’s defence standing firm. In fact Plymouth could have added another, as a mistake from Oakley gifted Ryan Brunt with a great chance to add the icing to the proverbial cake. However, Pym capped an impressive performance with another good save.
The game eventually finished 3-1, with 1600 fans returning down the A38 in great spirits. For City, it was a disappointing performance with limited attacking flair and defensive mistakes. Afterwards, a disappointed Paul Tisdale said: “If I want to sum it up, it was suicide to defend that way.”
City now sit 13th in the League Two table, 12 points above the relegation zone and 10 points from the play-offs, meanwhile Argyle lie 6th.
Freddie Turner- Online Sport Editorbookmark me