Liam Walsh reports on a forgettable day for the young Robins as they lost out to Plymouth at the weekend
Plymouth Argyle eased through the weekend's Youth Alliance league fixture by routing Cheltenham Town 4-0 at Seasons Training Ground on Saturday.
Both teams struggled to adapt in blistering conditions, evidently turning the match into a long ball battle.
A spectacular 25 yard volley started things off in the 18th minute, with the Pilgrims player hammering home after a free-kick had been cleared by the Robins back line. The strike left the Cheltenham keeper Harvey Rivers no chance, as it was thumped into the bottom left corner for 1-0.
This obviously wet the away side's appetite, and their hunger paid off in the 23rd minute, as a long clearance travelled over the Robins defence, leaving a Plymouth forward one on one with Rivers, with the latter bringing him down inside the penalty area The young Pilgrims had the chance to make it 2-0 inside the first half hour and they made no mistake with the penalty leaving Rivers without a chance again.
With the Robins stunned, it was down to a defensive error by Plymouth to create an opening for the side being led by Jamie Victory. The Pilgrims defender misjudged a centre by Danny Reynolds, only for Kirkpatrick-Jones to blaze over.
Quickly after some smart build up play from Plymouth's midfield finished with their number 9 being taken down in the Robins penalty area after a fine through ball. A change of penalty taker, surprising some spectators at Seasons, didn’t make any difference as the spot-kick was smartly driven home to really punish the Robins with a 3-0 scoreline.
The Pilgrims sensed there were more opportunities coming their way and it wasn't long before they had a fourth. An in-swinging corner hitting Rivers' post late on in the first half and subsequently left Plymouth with a golden chance to make it 4-0, with the Pilgrims sliding home from 10 yards.
No changes were made by the home side at half time, leaving the starting 11 to get themselves out the mess they had created and whatever was said during the break instantly got the Robins fired up. A good early spell down the right hand flank involving Craddock and Kirkpatrick-Jones, with Jones fizzing a cross into the area although no one was at the back post to slam home.
Kirkpatrick-Jones seemed to prove he was the man to force the Robins into the game, taking on the Plymouth left back, floating a cross that was headed out, leaving Adam Powell to try his luck from afar, only for his shot to rise over the bar.
On 54 minutes a quick free kick was taken by Reynolds, sending Bowen down the left flank with the pacey forward cutting the ball back for Kirkpatrick-Jones, only for him to shoot wide of the goal.
The introduction of Jamal Lawrence lifted the home sides advantage, his pace triggering a sense of nervousness in the Plymouth back line and Lawrence’s direct approach resulted in Cheltenham getting frequent free kicks, but none of them came to fruition. With the game coming to a close, and the Robins chasing a consolation goal, the last chance of the match summed up the home team's day, Jamie Goodwin controlling with his left, shifting the ball on to his right, but his tame shot was gathered easily by the away keeper.
Jamie Victory was gracious in defeat as he encouraged his young Robins to learn from what was a stop-start afternoon.
"We always like to get the ball down and play good possession football, but our application was not there today (Saturday)," he explained.
"A key attribute in a footballer’s locker needs to be being able to adapt in all weather conditions. The wind seemed to disrupt a few of us, allowing Plymouth to take the initiative and get on the front foot early on".
A number of the youth team will take on Gloucester City in the County Cup this evening. For more information on that game away at Evesham United, click here.