Plymouth Argyle Ladies reached the final of the Devon County Women's Cup courtesy of a 9-0 home win against County Premier League side Exmouth Town, but in truth it was a poor display from the Pilgrims who never looked anything like their best against a team 4 leagues below them in the women's football pyramid.
Argyle were without Jemma Rose, Becky Atkins, Rachel Pitman (international duty), Kay Lewis (illness), long-term injury victim Hayley Stroud and Aoife Aherne (unavailable), and therefore gave opportunities to many fringe and reserve team players, who collectively seemingly had plenty to play for, with many big games for the club fast approaching over the coming weeks. However, the home side huffed and puffed throughout a muted first half which was was characterised by a general lack of energy and quality.
It took the Pilgrims over half an hour to break down a stubborn Exmouth side, but it took a moment of class from Nicky Lake, one of the few 'on form' Argyle players to evade 3 challenges and find top-scorer Chloe Roberts who sent a glancing header into the far corner. 5 minutes later Roberts added a second, before Lake grabbed Argyle's third on the stroke of half-time following a Laura Perrett corner.
The Greens performance level increased slightly in the second half, but in truth the 6 additional goals had as much to do with the away side's tiring limbs and injuries to key players than real quality from the home side. Substitute Paula Pearce grabbed a quickfire brace just before the hour mark to make it 5, Helen Kukor fired home the 6th, and Stacey Tonkin scored her first goal at this level to make it 7. Roberts finished the scoring with the 8th and 9th goals of the day to bring her tally for the afternoon to 4.
Argyle Manager Ryan Thomas was not looking best pleased at the final whistle. He said "many individuals would look at the scoreline and say 'give them a break - they won handsomely'. But with some massive games coming up for the club I wanted to see if certain individuals could play themselves into my thoughts. Many of them didn't, and the manner of our victory was very disappointing. We are trying to do things in a professional manner, so that we can drive women's football forward in the area, but myself and the players are far from happy with that display. If that had been a league game today, we would have lost and been out of the title race. The only positive I can take from today is that I now know what my best 11 is, and I look forward to many of those being available next week".
That game next week is in the SW Combination League against Forest Green Rovers at Bolitho Park. Kick off is 2.00pm, with entrance just a £1.