Heartbreak for Stevenage as Plymouth beat them 4-2

Derek Adams

Derek Adams - Credit: Archant

Stevenage were undone in an enthralling encounter at Home Park with Plymouth Argyle winning 4-2 to secure the double over Darren Sarll’s men this season.

Yet against the side second in the league Boro put in a superb attacking display only to come up short in a frantic finale in which they were hit on the counter-attack with the game finely poised at 3-2.

Both teams had plenty of chances but it was Plymouth who took the most of theirs. And although it will be scant consolation for Sarll, his Boro side did win admirers for their swashbuckling approach after they had fallen behind to the fifth goal of the game nine minutes in the second period.

With Tyler Walker’s return to parent club Nottingham Forest together with Harry McKirdy (Aston Villa) and Jack King (Scunthorpe United) also leaving Boro this week Sarll was left to make a few adjustments to the team that sunk Newport County 3-1 the previous week.

There was a return to the starting XI for Luke Wilkinson while Rowan Liburd came in for only his second league start of the season to partner Matt Godden up front.

Godden scored a hat-trick last week against Newport and he took just a couple of minutes to get on the scoresheet against Plymouth.

It was a Steven Schumacher free-kick which Wilkinson headed back across goal. Liburd flicked out a leg to steer the ball goalwards and Godden got the final touch to put Boro ahead.

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Plymouth were soon on the attack themselves and went close but for a fantastic stop by Jamie Jones.

Dangerman Graham Carey found space on the edge of the box and opted for a low, driven effort towards the far corner but Jones got down to direct the ball away from goal

Jordan Slew then headed over as the home side pressed and they finally got on the scoresheet with 10 minutes of the half remaining.

Boro conceded twice from set pieces in October as Plymouth beat them 2-1 at the Lamex, and they did so again here when a corner from the right was diverted towards goal. Jones made the save, but Slew managed to force the rebound over the line.

It was soon 2-1 to the home side and Slew was involved again. His run down the left saw him pick out Connor Smith. With Schumacher unable to intercept at the near post the ball rolled through for Jake Jervis to blast into the net.

Pett, Liburd and Godden were then involved in another attack as play swung from one end to the other, only for there to be a block on the line by the hosts.

However just before the break Stevenage equalised from a free-kick. Schumacher took it, almost 30 yards out, and it caught out McCormick and squirmed past him for 2-2

Schumacher and Kennedy both had chances early in the second half, but the former’s was straight at McCormick while the latter volleyed wide from 12 yards.

Plymouth made it 3-2 shortly afterwards in bizarre fashion. Oscar Threlkeld beat Kgosi Ntlhe on the right and crossed low for Arnold Garita, only for the forward to produce a howler of an air kick two yards from goal.

Yet as he was contemplating just how he’d missed it, the ball bounced out to Carey whose fierce shot from just outside the box hit Garita as he attempted to get out of the way, and the ball bounced off his back and past Jones into the goal for the lead.

Plymouth then hit the bar when Ntlhe let Jervis get in front of him only to miss following a wonderful cross from Carey out on the left, with Fraser Franks giving his left-back an earful for letting his man get in behind.

Boro made a double change with Ryan Loft and Michael Tonge coming on for Liburd and Ntlhe, with Gorman moving to left-back, and Loft was soon in the thick of the action.

With the visitors breaking from midfield Pett teed up the on-loan Spurs striker but he fired straight at McCormick with space either side of the keeper. But with Pett following up Boro looked destined to score, but somehow the winger’s cushioned volley went over the bar from 14 yards out.

Pett then went a little closer but this time was denied by the woodwork. He struck the bar from the edge of the box, but when it looked like Godden was perfectly placed to put away the rebound somehow McCormick got in the way and forced the ball off target.

But for all of their pressure Stevenage just weren’t able to get the all-important equaliser, and they were hit on the counter attack as Plymouth scored a fourth.

When a ball in from the right found substitute Nathan Blissett, the striker prodded the ball goalwards only for Jones to make a save. But with a couple of Boro players back on the line attempting the block, the ball came out to an unmarked David Goodwillie and he managed to squeeze the ball over the line to finish the game at 4-2.

Plymouth Argyle: McCormick, Songo’o, Bradley, Fox, Threlkeld, Smith, Carey, Jervis (Tanner 76), Purrington, Slew (Blissett 89), Garita (Goodwillie 72). Subs: Sawyer, Bulvitis, Dorel, Sokolik.

Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Franks, Wilkinson, Ntlhe (Tonge 63), Kennedy (Lee 77), Pett, Schumacher, Gorman, Liburd (Loft 63), Godden. Subs: Day, McAnuff, Cowans, McKee.

Att: 8,137 (99 away)