Battling Pirates Up To 4th As Plymouth Utd Run Out Of Legs
(Sunday 4th October 2015)
Hot on the heels of their first League victory of the season against Tamar View last week The Pirates took on Plymouth Utd B at Marjons looking to make it back to back wins. With the home side sitting in fifth place going in to the game it would be no easy fixture for Carpenter’s men who made a few changes to the line up from last week. Sam McGowan replaced Sam Bruty in central Defence, with Paul Millar moving in to a deeper role which saw Steve Tapper get his first Pirates start of the season in behind the front man Adam Smietanka, James Ewing Captained the side in Sam Bruty’s absence.
The game got underway, being played on the 3G surface in overcast & slightly chilly weather conditions. It was the home side who made the brighter start, forcing 3 early corners & with some dangerous wing play from the lively no11 creating some good early chances. Despite setting the early pace with the ball & attacking The Pirates at regular intervals the opening goal came on the counter attack, a quick break down the right hand side resulting in the wide man hitting the byline & pulling the ball low across the six finding the centre forwards well timed run & despite Dan Yeoman’s best efforts the ball was driven past keeper Liam Hooks into the bottom right corner. 1-0.
Going a goal down seemed to rouse The Pirates from their slumber, some good work & interplay from the attacking trio of Knight, Smietanka & Manolias was beginning to cause problems for the Plymouth Utd back line & at the turn of the 17th min it was the latter of the three players that would grab the equaliser. After some really good work & indeed skill on the right hand side of the pitch from Adam Smietanka, taking the ball past two players before sliding a perfect pass through to the unmarked Loreaz Manolias who took a touch & slid the ball low in to the far corner, its was 1-1.
With the game level The Pirates began to take over possession & their attacking intent was starting to show, Steve Tapper was starting to give some excellent hold up play & the industry of Michael Brown & Paul Millar working as a pair from a deep position was helping to win almost every lose ball in the midfield. A goal was inevitable & it duly arrived on 24th min, having forced a corner on the right, Loreaz Manolias’s delivery was superb & the man leaping highest was Callum Knight who’s header deflected in to the net off the unfortunate Defender, but the Away side didn’t care! 1-2.
A period of exchanges of possession would follow as Plymouth Utd tried to get back in the game, some tough tackles & in truth some cynical shirt pulls & ankle clips stopped Carpenter’s men playing their free flowing counter attack but on 40mins the Home side were powerless to stop The Pirates extending their lead just before the break. The inform Manolias took on his man & beat him down the left channel before slipping the ball across the box to the waiting Callum Knight, his clever skill beat the last Defender leaving him an open shot at goal, but the Keeper made a superb reflex save, however, on hand to poke home the rebound? The man that started the move! Loreaz Manolias tucked it away from close range for 1-3. Taking a two goal cushion in to the break was very much looking likely but just 2mins before the interval Michael Brown’s late challenge on the pacey Plymouth Utd front man was penalised & a penalty was awarded! A real blow given the run of play & as the spot kick was duly dispatched in to the corner it left The Pirates with some thinking to do as they went in to Half-Time with just the one goal lead despite dominating for long periods. 2-3.
The second half got underway, neither side making changes & it was The Pirates who went close first, Steve Tapper making his first start of the season with a header narrowly over the bar from a Manolias corner 2mins after the restart, 5mins later came a blow to the men in Green, Pirates Forward Adam Smietanka was forced off with injury after taking a heavy challenge in the centre of the park, his replacement was Dan Sanderson who took his place on the left side of the attacking three pushing Callum Knight through the middle as the central Striker. Having re-organised the team The Pirates struggled to find the momentum of the first half, Plymouth Utd seeing a lot of the ball in the opening 15mins of the second half & going close from two corner kicks & looking dangerous in the final third. Worse still further injury woes would hit Carpenter’s men on 60mins, Dan Yeoman was forced off with a twisted knee, an injury he picked up in the first half & was unable to run off despite treatment. Chris Stephens was introduced as his replacement which saw more positional changes as James Berntsen switched to the centre of the back four & Stephens slotting in at Right Back.
Predictably the Home side were very much on the front foot for the next 15mins or so, The Pirates heavily adjusted & rejigged line up were coming under severe pressure, Sam McGowan clearing off the line superbly after 71mins & Keeper Liam Hooks also seeing much more action as he was forced to punch clear several times from some good crosses, however it was the men in Green who would turn the tables on their opponents 2mins later. For the second time in the match a Loreaz Manolias corner was met by Callum Knight who rose higher than anyone to nod his second headed goal of the game & give The Pirates some breathing space once again with a two goal lead. 2-4.
With the two goal lead restored Carpenter made his final change from the bench, bringing on the always reliable Dave Isaacs for Steve Tapper to act as a screen in front of the back four & see out the game, but despite the largely Defensive move, on 80mins came an opportunity to move further ahead, Callum Knight was put clear through on goal but as he advanced into the box was taken out by the Keeper who was bamboozled by the Strikers quick feet! PENALTY! With current Penalty taker Adam Smietanka already subbed & off the pitch the responsibility was passed to Loreaz Manolias who was on a hat-trick, the young forward strode forward… Despite getting some good power behind the shot his spot kick flew over the bar! MISSED! The disappointment was short lived however, youngster Manolias completed a hat-trick of a different kind as for the third time in the game his superb in swinging corner was converted expertly by Callum Knight! His brilliantly controlled finish on the turn finding the net 2mins from time to complete his personal treble of goals & at the same time securing The Pirates the points in a hard fought encounter.
Manolias (17,40) Knight (24,73,88)
Berntsen (RB) Yeoman (CB) McGowan (CB) Ewing (LB)
Millar (MF) Brown (MF)
Manolias (RF) Tapper (CF) Knight (LF)
Isaacs, Stephens, Sanderson, Jones.
South Brent (A) Sunday 11th October 2015, Palstone Park
Man Of The Match
Man Of The Match: Sam McGowan
The Man Of The Match award this week goes to Sam McGowan. Having missed the last three games Sam returned to the starting line up today & was magnificent from start to finish. His aggressive, no nonsense style of tacking & strength in the air with headers built a platform for The Pirates to build on & ultimately secure the three points. Playing alongside the impressive Dan Yeoman, Sam showed excellent organisational skills & a real body on the line mentality to hold the Defence together, despite coming under pressure in the second half & having to readjust after injuries.
With Sam performing at this level on a consistent basis it is hard to see too many teams getting easy goals in the weeks to come & his attitude today stepping back in to the starting XI was exemplary.