STRIKER Natasha Knapman took her tally to eight goals from the last three games as Argyle fans will wonder how they didn't see their team come away with a double figure win.

This was largely down to the heroics of goalkeeper Abigail Evans who, at times, was all that stood between Argyle’s eager strikers and an absolute goal-fest. Argyle started on the front foot and with wingers Amber Pollock and Ezme Wells hugging the touchline, it soon became obvious that the only tactic the visitors had was to play a high back line in an effort to catch Argyle offside.

This tactic came unstuck when in the fifth minute Pollock skinned her full-back to lay off a great pass to Knapman who fired into the corner of the net from eight yards. Unfortunately, the lead lasted just six minutes when Rianne Lewis was given the freedom of the park in the visitors first meaningful attack to loft goalkeeper Michaela Phillips from distance. Knapman then responded by having a shot diverted and, after Becky Atkins was fouled, captain Kate Middleton saw her free kick deflected wide.

Wells and Pollock continually had the beating of the St Nicholas full-backs but not the assistant referee’s raised flag, with the pair continually being frustrated by not giving themselves five yards to avoid the offsides.

Despite this, Argyle kept up the pressure with Wells cutting in to fire over the crossbar, then Pollock was upended leaving Middleton's free kick being headed wide by Kayleigh Brown. Evans then blocked another Wells effort in a double save before Wells cut inside again only to see her 20 yard effort bounce off the top of the crossbar.

A rare break from the visitors saw them shoot wide but back came Argyle with Pollock crossing to Knapman whose shot was blocked. Darcey Hepworth saw her cross/shot saved with Pollock also being denied by Evans.

Argyle were then denied a run on goal by Amber Pollock when the referee pulled the game back for a foul against St Nicholas which ended with Hepworth and Atkins being shown yellow cards for retaliation.

It took until a minute before half time for Argyle to increase their lead when a great through ball from Mollie Taylor allowed Knapman to race clear and delicately dink the ball over the advancing Evans to make it 2-0. Knapman completed her hat trick three minutes into time added on when she met another Wells cross with a powerful header.

The second half started in a sensational manner when, within a couple of minutes Danni Barr was fouled, leaving Knapman to take the penalty. The striker blasted the ball straight at Evans who parried the ball back to Knapman, who sliced the rebound over the crossbar.

Argyle were now in a rampant mood with Wells shooting wide after racing clear. St Nicholas continued to play a high backline as Knapman put through Brown but once again Evans stood firm. Argyle's next Brown corner was headed narrowly over by substitute Lucy Olde.

Olde headed another Brown corner over the crossbar with the alert Knapman chasing down a poor back pass only to be denied again by Evans. Pollock then just failed to make a decent contact to a great Barr cross. The elusive Wells was once again thwarted by Evans with a Kate Middleton goal bound header blocked but the avalanche of goals would not come.

Another Knapman shot was saved, while a rare St Nicholas attack saw the ball go safely over the Argyle crossbar. Knapman was then denied another goal for a dubious offside decision with Wells ending the game with another shot well saved by the St Nicholas goalkeeper who had a match she will remember for a long time.

Manager Dave Leonard's post-match comment was tinged with frustration as he said: “If we improve our decision making by 50 percent in the final third then we are going to trounce the opposition.

“I keep saying they have to believe how good they are as we are not being ruthless enough. It was an alright performance but we need to be more clinical with our finishing, which will come.”

Next up for Argyle, who are now second, is the visit of Brislington on Sunday.

Tavistock Community 2 Plymouth Argyle Reserves 1

This was not the result the young Pilgrims expected as they failed to build on last week’s big win. The match was a tight affair with not many chances in the first fifteen minutes.

Indeed, the first goal came from Tavistock's first corner when Robyn Hammond was not picked up at the far post to head home. Argyle eventually got their game going and drew level when a Katelyn McKane corner beat everyone to go directly into the net to make it 1-1 at half time.

Argyle started the brighter in the second half, missing two good chances to take the lead. However, they then conceded by giving the ball away, leaving Tavistock to break down the right wing before crossing for a good finish from Becky Turner to take a 2-1 lead. Argyle pushed for the equalising goal but as hard as they tried the goal would not come.

Argyle manager Gary Harris commented after the match: “Better ball retention is needed by the young squad of Pilgrims.”

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