Plymouth Argyle put their name back in the hat for the third round of the FA Cup.
The second-round tie saw the unstoppable force meet the immovable object as Lincoln City’s impressive away form was put to the test at Argyle’s Home Park fortress.
Goals from Luke Jephcott and Ben Reeves ensured the Pilgrims got their payback on the Imps after last month’s loss in League One.
Story of the match
In a half containing few clear-cut chances, it is vital to take the opportunities when they come.
Jephcott did just that, five minutes into the cup tie. The Argyle forward once again showed his clinical side, meeting George Cooper’s in swinging corner with a glancing header that stopped ex-Argyle loanee Alex Palmer in his tracks.
Lincoln almost offered an instant reply after Harry Anderson’s shot across goal was tipped into the path of Brennan Johnson, who couldn’t control the ball inside the six-yard box, allowing an easy collection for custodian Mike Cooper.
The Imps didn’t drop their heads despite conceding early, they had the majority of possession and caused problems for Argyle on the flanks. However, despite their chances they failed to get that vital equaliser.
Their best chance of the game came on the brink of half time. Robbie Gotts fired low from 30 yards forcing a diving save from Cooper, who pushed the ball into the path of Anthony Scully inside the six-yard box. The forward couldn’t get the ball down to his feet quick enough, though, and was pounced on by the 21-year-old ‘keeper.
Argyle saw much more of the ball at the restart and took advantage of being the first out the blocks.
An impressive strike from Ben Reeves gave Argyle a much-needed bumper. Cooper’s free kick was cleared as far as Frank Nouble, who cushioned a volley into Reeves on the edge of the box. The midfielder lined up his shot before rifling his volley past Palmer.
The Pilgrims’ second seemed to wake up the sleeping Imps, who failed to beat Cooper with another flurry of chances during their second wind.
Second half substitutions from Lincoln boss Michael Appleton saw his side go more attacking in a last-ditch attempt to get back into the game. By then though, Argyle had taken the sting out of the game and were solid at the back.
A series of half chances ensued, but none troubled the youngster in net.
Second half substitute Ryan Hardie fluffed his opportunity to score Argyle’s third after chesting the ball down in the box. His side-footed shot was too weak, however, and was cleared out of danger. This soon turned into trouble for Argyle as Lincoln hit the Pilgrims on the counter. Anderson’s attempt across goal was diverted away by the outstretched boot of Cooper, putting an end to Lincoln’s last chance of the match.
Takeaways from the match
Argyle can defend
While the Pilgrims’ defence can sometimes be shaky, the only thing that matters is you concede less than you score. Argyle did that today.
Plymouth showed real defensive resilience against a Lincoln side that were unrelenting for long periods of the match. They did the same on Tuesday against Peterborough United but did not get the result to show for it. Today in the cup, however, they have.
Appleton was vocal to the press pre-match that he would make changes for the cup tie and he delivered on that promise.
Lincoln had several chances to take the game by the scruff of the neck and maybe they would have with a full-strength side.
Gotts looked very good going forward, linking up well with Anderson down the right-hand side. He created several chances for Lincoln, sending a constant barrage of crosses into Argyle’s box.
The Leeds United loanee has only featured three times in League One this campaign, though, after today’s performance it will be very hard for Appleton to drop the 21-year-old.
The midfielder replaced absent talisman Danny Mayor and Argyle manager Ryan Lowe will be pleased with the 29-year-old’s performance. A lot of the play came through the summer signing and let’s not forget his fantastic volley that earnt Argyle their second of the match.
Reeves’ performance against the Imps will certainly create some selection headaches for Lowe next match against Rochdale on Tuesday.
Plymouth: M. Cooper (GK), Wootton, Canavan, Watts, Edwards, Grant (Camara 72’), Fornah, Reeves, G. Cooper (Opoku 80’), Nouble, Jephcott (Hardie 86’).
Subs not used: McCormick (GK), Aimson, Moore, Telford.
Booked: Canavan, Opoku
Lincoln: Palmer (GK), Anderson, Eyoma, Walsh (Grant 61’), Melbourne, Gotts, Archibald (Jones 68’), Edun, Scully, Johnson, McGrandles.
Subs not used: Long (GK), Montsma, Roughan, Hopper, Jackson.
Booked: Melbourne, Edun, Walsh, McGrandles