No late slip-ups this time as Plymouth Argyle beat Doncaster Rovers 3-1
Plymouth Argyle secured their first League One victory of 2022 by coming from behind to beat Doncaster Rovers 3-1 bottom of the table at the Eco-Power Stadium.
This time there was no late Pilgrims collapse like there had been in their previous game, the 3-3 draw against Fleetwood Town in midweek.
Argyle, however, had to come from behind, having fallen behind only in the 10th minute on a goal scored by Branden Horton.
The visitors were indebted to keeper Mike Cooper’s excellent saves as Doncaster had the better of a chance to score in the first half.
However, the sides tied at 1-1 at the break after a 23rd-minute equalizer from Luke Jephcott, in his 100th appearance for Argyle.
Doncaster started the second half well but, against the run of play, skipper Joe Edwards took the lead for the Pilgrims in the 63rd minute and from there they took control of the game.
Substitute Jordon Garrick scored a third goal with one of his first touches in the 79th minute as Argyle ended a three-game league run without a win.
Their starting line-up showed two changes from the draw against Fleetwood, and both players entering the squad were former loan signings from Doncaster.
Midfielder Jordan Houghton returned after suffering a bruised and swollen ankle while forward Niall Ennis, who scored his first goal of an injury-hit season at Fleetwood, was up front with Jephcott.
Panutche Camara and Jordon Garrick descended on the substitute bench, which also included the fitness duo of Ryan Hardie and Danny Mayor.
Former Argyle striker Kieran Agard started on the bench for Doncaster as he was replaced in the squad by 19-year-old Mipo Odubeko, a new loan signing from West Ham United.
It was such a windy afternoon in South Yorkshire that some perimeter advertising boards had to be removed before the game as they kept being knocked down.
When the action began, it was Doncaster who had the first scoring chance of the contest.
The hosts triggered Argyle’s offside trap when midfielder Matt Smith cleared and his powerful shot was cleared away for a corner by Cooper.
The Argyle keeper produced an even better save soon after after defender Macaulay Gillesphey drove deep into visitors’ territory.
Smith and striker Joe Dodoo combined to set up Odubeko, who was unmarked and saw his fierce shot pushed over the crossbar by Cooper.
Argyle conceded the game’s first goal in the 10th minute as their recent poor defending from crosses in their own penalty area was evident.
An initial header from Odubeko was not cleared and Horton applied the finishing touch from close range.
Doncaster had the chance to double their lead in the 17th minute when Smith again exploited Argyle’s weakness on the left side of their defence.
Smith came forward and crossed low in the center of the goalmouth, the ball eventually falling on Josh Martin.
The Doncaster midfielder decided not to shoot for the first time from a tight angle and cut inside, but his goal attempt was then blocked by James Wilson and cleared.
Argyle was in desperate need of inspiration and it came from the combination of Ennis and Jephcott in the 23rd minute.
Ennis pulled away from an opponent close to the boundary line and fed the ball back to Jephcott, who had a typically clinical first finish in the back of the net.
It was the third game in a row the 22-year-old scored in and made his 100th appearance for Argyle.
Pilgrims midfielder Adam Randell curled a free kick 25 yards over the crossbar before Doncaster needed a goal-line clearance from Martin after a corner from Houghton was missed by goaltender Louis Jones.
Doncaster skipper Tommy Rowe drilled a low shot into the Argyle net in the 31st minute but his celebrations were immediately cut short as an offside flag had been raised a split second earlier.
An oblique drive from outside the Rovers penalty area by Ryan Broom flew low before Wilson received the game’s first yellow card for a foul on Martin.
Cooper safely held a ranged strike from Martin before Ennis had the chance to give the Pilgrims the lead.
The striker was picked out by an excellent cross from wing-back Conor Grant – another former Rovers loanee – but he couldn’t control the ball properly and Doncaster was able to clear his lines.
With the game now much more open than when it started, Rovers had another good chance when Dodoo and Smith combined to create a shooting chance for Odubeko, but he kicked the ball too high.
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Doncaster then besieged Argyle’s goal on the stroke of half-time but did not get a second goal.
A shot from Odubeko was cleared away by Cooper as the goalmouth scramble ended with defender Joseph Olowu collecting the ball over the bar just a few yards away.
The Mayor was an Argyle substitute for Randell at the start of the second half, but Doncaster continued to take the game from them.
Rovers had plenty of possession around the visitors’ penalty area but couldn’t find a way through the backline, although Cooper had to hit a looping header from Scarr over his own bar after a corner.
Panutche Camara was a 55th-minute substitute for Argyle for Broom as manager Steven Schumacher looked for ways to get his side firing on all cylinders.
Doncaster captain Tommy Rowe wasted a great chance to put Rovers ahead after charging into a clearing attempt from Gillesphey but, from an excellent position inside the box, fired over the closed off.
It was a real disappointment for Argyle, and they capitalized on it by taking a 2-1 lead in the 63rd minute.
Gillesphey slotted in an inviting cross from the left and Edwards sent a header into the net and into the far corner of the net for his second goal in as many games.
Rowe had another excellent chance for Doncaster shortly after, but his ferocious strike clipped Cooper’s left post and ran out of play for a goal kick.
Jephcott nearly scored again in the 74th minute when the mayor broke a left and sent the ball back to him, but his first shot bounced off the near post.
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It was Jephcott’s last involvement in the game as he made way for Garrick, while Agard was part of a double substitution by Rovers at the same time.
Camara trailed a shot wide of goal for the Pilgrims, with a slippery Ennis unable to turn it into the net, but Garrick made it 3-1 in the 79th minute with a flare from a shot high into the net.
It was a sixth goal of the season for the loan signing from Swansea City and put Argyle in a commanding position.
Unlike Fleetwood, where they also led 3-1 in the closing stages, the Pilgrims comfortably saw out the rest of the game to secure a sixth away league win of the season.
ARGYLE: Mike Cooper; James Wilson, Dan Scarr, Macaulay Gillesphey; Jordan Houghton; Joe Edwards, Adam Randell (Danny Mayor h/t), Ryan Broom (Panutche Camara 55 min), Conor Grant (James Bolton 90 min); Luke Jephcott (Jordon Garrick 75 mins), Niall Ennis.
Subs: Callum Burton, Ryan Hardie, Romoney Crichlow.
DONCASTER: Louis Jones; Kyle Knoyle, Ollie Younger, Joseph Olowu, Branden Horton (Ben Jackson 75 mins); Matt Smith (Adam Clayton 87 mins), Ethan Galbraith, Tommy Rowe; Mipo Odubeko (Charlie Seaman 87 mins), Joe Dodoo, Josh Martin (Kieran Agard 75 mins).
Subs: Jonathan Mitchell, Aidan Barlow, Lirak Hasani.
ARBITRATOR: Martin Coy
PRESENCE: 6,493 (749)
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