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Plymouth Argyle 0 PNE 1

8 August 2012

Another goal from trialist Akpo Sodje and a penalty save from trialist goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson saw North End to a 1-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle.

David Amoo and John Welsh got first starts in North End shirts, whilst Andy Procter returned from injury in a side that saw Jack King and David Buchanan complete 90 minutes.

And it could have been more as North End should have been awarded two clear cut penalties, but a clean sheet and a positive display rounded off Graham Westley's pre-season fixtures at Home Park.

Amoo, soon announced himself as some fantastic front play allowed the No.7 the opportunity to thread the ball - under immense pressure - into the right hand channel ten yards out where Akpo Sodje slammed the ball past Jake Cole into the bottom right hand corner after only four minutes. 

Welsh too wanted to make sure he was noticed and a surging run from midfield in the tenth minute allowed him to burst towards the edge of the box and fire a half volley powerfully goalwards, but unfortunately it was straight down the throat of Cole who claimed at the second attempt.

Trialist goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson was called into action for the first time on 14 minutes and he showed great bravery to come out and head the ball away under pressure from Gorman after a back header from Chris Robertson denying a goalscoring opportunity.

midway through the half North End had a double chance to extend their lead, firstly good play down the left involving Buchanan and Amoo gave Will Hayhurst the chance to drill the ball across the box, but unfortunately no one could get on the end but a Plymouth defender, conceding a corner. From the corner the ball eventually found Amoo who looked to be in the clear, but he couldn't dig the ball out from under his feet and eventually the Pilgrims defence recovered to clear. 

North End showed the real pace now in the team on 34 minutes as Jeffrey Monakana broke from deep in his own half after a Plymouth corner. He showed a clean pair of heels to the home side before a superbly weighted through ball for Amoo to run on to. He ran down on Cole, but his shot was straight at the keeper who saved well.

With a little over five minutes left in the opening period left Matt Lecointe had a great chance to level the scoreline as he found space in a right hand channel with no-one around him. Tomlinson came out and the young forward tried to chip him, but the keeper leaped high enough to safely grab it.

In the final seconds of the half a John Welsh free kick deep to the back post was headed up in the air by Jack King. As it fell it came to Chris Robertson, who managed to volley goalwards, but Blanchard was able to throw his body in the way and the ball ricocheted into the keeper's gleeful hands.

North End had the ball in the back of the net as early as three minutes into the second half, Lee Holmes, one of four interval changes putting a dangerous ball into the six yard box and Paul Huntington firing home, but the referee saw an infringement and awarded the home side a free kick.

Another sub, Graham Cummins, saw a snap shot saved by Cole moment later as the blue clad Lilywhites looked to assert themselves on the game. And with nine minutes of the half gone Cummins could and should have been awarded a penalty after being almost rugby tackled to the ground near the penalty spot by Darren Purse, but for some reason the officials were unbelievably unmoved!

This decision was compounded at the other end when the referee did point to the spot after Johnny Gorman was upended in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Nick Chadwick, a Pilgrim sub, stepped up to take it and fired hard and low towards the bottom right hand corner, but Stuart Tomlinson guessed right and made a fine strong handed save.

North End could have had another penalty as the game entered the final 15 minutes as Chris Beardsley was clearly pulled back as he turned away from a defender - the referee and assistant again somehow failing to see the obvious.

A brilliant set piece move then followed for the Lilywhirte as Scott Laird set up Keith Keane in a right hand channel and he delivered a pin point ball into the box, but it was inches away from being converted at the back post. 

: Tomlinson, Robertson (Huntington, 46 (Robertson, 69)), Amoo (Holmes, 46), Sodje (Beardsley, 60), Buchanan, Monakana (Laird, 65), Procter, Welsh (Keane, 46), King, Hayhurst (Cummins, 46), Wright. Subs Not Used: Holroyd, Etheridge.PNE Line-Up

The home side a couple of late shots from distance, but North End kept tight to gain a clean sheet and a victory to take into their opening competitive game against Huddersfield.

: 1,504 (63 away)Attendance

: Mr L Swabey Referee

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