It has been quite a remarkable season for Phil Stokes’ Under 18s squad, as they have been battling out at the top of the Southwest Division as the season goes right down to the wire. So ahead of any title celebrations, we decided to pick apart their season, game by game. The future looks bright.


Cheltenham Town Academy 0-2 Argyle Academy

The academy kicked off their Southwest Division campaign by travelling to Gloucestershire to take on Cheltenham Town, and with fresh slate for the season opener, the academy picked up a comprehensive 2-0 victory with goals coming from Lewis Colwill and Josh Bernard coming either side of the half time interval.

As conditions were not the best, both sides found it a struggle to create any chances, but as the game furthered on forward, an individual moment of brilliance from Lewis Colwill gave Darren Way’s men the advantage, just before the half time interval.

Colwell picked the ball up just outside the penalty area before beating his man and breaking into the box. The wing-back then fired the ball into the roof of the net from close range, leaving the Cheltenham keeper no chance. 1-0 to the Argyle.

Cheltenham looked to find an instance response, and their effort to find the equaliser was shut out as Jenson Ireland conjured up a moment of brilliance at the other end of the pitch with a last-ditch challenge to shut out Cheltenham’s attack. Argyle then emerged from the changing rooms for the start of the second half and as conditions gradually started improving, Argyle wasted no time into finding their 2nd of the afternoon only 7 minutes after the 2nd half started, as Josh Bernard made it 2-0. It was not the prettiest of goals, but they all count, as a goal mouth scramble fell nicely to Bernard who was the coolest man on the field, as he powerfully placed a curling shot into the bottom right through a sea of Cheltenham and Argyle bodies.

After Argyle’s 2nd of the afternoon, they were still hungry to find their 3rd, two very good attempts by Kieran Edworthy and Jack Matthews arose but unfortunately couldn’t find the back of the net.

The goals from Bernard and Colwill were enough as the full-time whistle went in Gloucestershire and Argyle picked up the 3 points on the road and set their season off to the best possible start.


Argyle Academy 4-0 Forest Green Academy

Darren Way’s Argyle welcomed Forest Green hoping to make it two wins from two, and as Forest Green made the short trip down the M5, it turned out to be a very long afternoon, after Argyle dispatched a 4-0 victory with Freddie Issaka bagging a Hat-Trick amongst the goals.

Argyle had much of the threat throughout the game, as Caleb Roberts and Kieran Edworthy already knocking on the door, but their efforts went without reward, but the goal scoring started midway through the first half as Freddie Issaka was bundled to the ground in the Box, and the referee did not hesitate into pointing to the spot, penalty Argyle! Up stepped the Truronian Issaka, and he made no mistake, drilling the ball past the keeper to make it 1-0 to Argyle. Argyle went into the half time interval only 1 goal up, but as the teams emerged from the changing rooms, the goal scoring was not over. Jack Matthews and Caleb Roberts linked up perfectly which then was rolled out towards Issaka just outside the box and made no mistake in grabbing his second of the afternoon, with a perfectly placed finish from 25 yards out making it 2-0 to Argyle.

Argyle were not finished there as they were hunting for their 3rd of the afternoon, and it came through Issaka again. He was bundled to the ground again and Argyle claimed their second penalty of the afternoon, and there was no other man to take it other than Issaka. He dispatched it perfectly securing a well-deserved Hat-Trick and making it 3-0 to Argyle. As Argyle were sailing comfortably, Darren Way turned to his bench to bring some fresh legs on to make sure the game was well and truly out of sight, and the substitutes put a stamp on the game to well and truly kill off the contest. Joe Hatch linked up beautifully with Finn to roll the ball past the Forest Green keeper to make it 4-0 to Argyle.

After Argyle added insult to injury, the final whistle went as Darren Way’s men dispatched six goals whilst conceding zero, putting the league on notice that Argyle are not here to mess around.


Exeter City Academy 2-3 Argyle Academy

Darren Way’s men were looking to make it three wins from three as they travelled to our county neighbours in the first Devon Derby of the season.

It was a shock to Darren Way and the team as in the first half, as Exeter brought the game to them firing on all cylinders, and they reaped the reward as Exeter dispatched 2 goals past Argyle in the first half. Argyle were left shocked as this first half performance was very out of the ordinary, coming off the back of a 4-0 win against Forest Green the previous week.

Argyle went into half time 2-0 down, and looking for a response, Way rallied the team for the second half, and it paid off. Argyle’s comeback kick started with that man again, Issaka scoring a perfectly placed Free Kick to claw one back, Argyle were down still but were not out.

Issaka’s free-kick sparked Argyle into that second gear that Way was so used to and just 7 minutes after Issaka’s Free Kick, Argyle levelled the scoring to two apiece through Colwell as he ventured forward from his right-back position and lofted a pinpoint cross into the box from the right-wing. The perfectly weighted centre was met by Hatch who looped his header over the outstretched goalkeeper.

This was the Argyle that Way was used to, and the comeback was sealed as a hopeful cross from the left bounced over the head of Exeter’s full-back allowing Captain Colwell to lash a volley into the bottom-left corner from just outside the box.

Argyle had completed the comeback, and the hard work and effort was reflected in the team’s celebration as they all wheeled away in jubilation. As Argyle dug in to make sure the 3 points came back to Plymouth, the team showed maturity and professionalism for the remainder of the game and after all the hard effort Argyle showed to ride the game out, the referee put his whistle to his lips and blew for full time.

Argyle took 3 points and bragging rights back to Plymouth; Devon is green!

Argyle Academy 4-1 Bournemouth Academy

Argyle kicked off their Professional Development League Cup campaign by taking on Bournemouth in the 1st round.

Argyle are always looking to build momentum and fluidity in league and cup ties and the positive memo carried on as Argyle convincingly dispatched Bournemouth 4-1 with goals from Matthews, Bernard, and that man again, Freddie Issaka bagging a brace for Darren Way’s side.

Argyle’s first goal came only two minutes into the game as Bernard applied pressure to the Cherries’ backline which proved crucial as a mistake then opened the chance for Bernard who capitalised on the mistake and fired the ball into the top of the net to make it 1-0 to Argyle. The early pressure provided to be paying off substantially as only four minutes after the opener, Caleb Roberts’ corner was not dealt with by the visitors, causing a six-yard scramble, but at the end of it all, the cherries’ keeper was found picking the ball out of his net after Jack Matthews made it 2-0 to Argyle. Still being the first half, Argyle wanted to be out of sight and secure their spot in the next round as soon as possible. Pressure mounted on the Cherries as Argyle struck the woodwork three times in the remainder of the first half but could not add to the 2-goal cushion already applied.

Half time concluded and Argyle continued the second half just like they left the first half off, unfortunately without the goals to show for it although Joe Hatch making sure the Cherries’ keeper was alert to the ever-mounting pressure from the boys in Green. Finally, on the stroke of 70 minutes played, Argyle’s hard work and effort to find their 3rd paid off as Issaka bolted into the box, skipping past 2 players with ease but then bundled to the ground by the 3rd defender which left the referee with no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Issaka stepped up to dispatch the penalty, and made no mistake in doing so, sending the keeper the wrong was and making it 3-0 to the Argyle. Argyle were not finished there as Caleb Roberts made a dart into the box and was taken down which further led to Argyle’s second penalty of the game. With Argyle ready to put the game to bed, up stepped Issaka to take the penalty, and as cooly as you like, made it 4-0 to Argyle and out of sight of the wounded Cherries.

Desperate to keep a clean sheet, Argyle failed to do so as the Cherries clawed back one goal late on. The last-ditch effort from the Cherries to salvage anything from the game were dead and buried as the full-time whistle went, and Argyle sailed through to the next round. Darren Way’s men have upheld their 100%-win record by recording 13 goals in 4 games whilst only letting 3 in.


Darren Way joins Fleetwood Town:

After Argyle’s perfect start to the season, in the biggest shock of the opening of the season, Argyle announced that Under-18s Head Coach Darren Way had left his role as Manager for pastures new at Fleetwood Town, snapping up the Assistant Manager role for their First Team. Darren Way linked up with former teammate Lee Johnson to complete the Cod’s managerial team. Johnson and Way were teammates back at Yeovil Town, both being instrumental in the middle of the field under the management of Lee Johnson’s father, Gary Johnson, who is currently managing fellow Southwestern side, Torquay United.

Darren left Argyle on good terms and a fair number of commendations under his belt, such as winning the Merit League in 2020/21 and 2021/22. Whilst Argyle were on the search for a new manager for the Academy, James Bradley, formerly Way’s assistant stepped up to oversee the team in a Caretaker Role, whilst Goalkeeper Coach Rhys Wilmot backed Bradley for the interim.

Director of Football Neil Dewsnip further commented, “Darren has done a brilliant job with our Under-18s, and I would like to wish him all the best for his new venture, alongside Lee Johnson at Fleetwood.”

Argyle faced Newport County in the opener of the Youth Alliance Cup, will Darren Way’s departure shake the team up on the field?


Argyle Academy 3-0 Newport County Academy:

The departure of Darren Way did not affect the team when they welcomed Newport County in the Youth Alliance Cup, by continuing their 100%-win record across all competitions, with a convincing 3-0 win.

The game was meant to be played the week prior, but due to unplayable conditions in South Wales, the game was postponed and pushed a week back. The sides agreed mutually to play the game at Tavistock, which to Argyle’s delight, provided effective as they came out victorious.

It was not all sun and clear skies though as Argyle went down to 10 men via a Joe Hatch double booking, but the numerical disadvantage presented to Argyle did not bother them in the slightest. Right after the sending off, Argyle were awarded a penalty and Issaka, in true fashion, made no mistake from the spot to take Argyle 1-0 up. The numerical man disadvantage proved not to bother Argyle in the slightest! It was that man again, Issaka, by taking matters into his own hands to give Argyle a 2-goal lead as a Newport defender looked in control as the ball dropped from the sky, but Issaka’s pressure told. Freddie nipped in, got to the ball before goalkeeper and defender, and stroked the ball into the empty net. Despite Argyle having a 2-goal advantage, the player disadvantage may have proved costly, but with 5 minutes to go, Sam Lord rounded off the scoring by making it 3-0 to Argyle and secured their spot in the next round. After gliding past Newport, Argyle face Cheltenham Town’s Under-18s in the next round.


Argyle Academy 2-0 Portsmouth Academy:

As Argyle’s attention turned back to the Youth Alliance League for the visit of Southern Counterparts Portsmouth, the lads were hungry and eager to make it 4 from 4 in the League. Argyle made no mistake to make it 4 from 4 as they emerged victorious with a 2-0 win over Pompey.

The first half was oddly quiet for both sides, with neither side really having a cutting edge, but only 3 minutes after the restart for the second half, Cole Gibbings made it 1-0 to Argyle with a header at Point-Blank range from the corner. Then in the 63rd minute, it’s that man again, Freddie Issaka sealing the victory with a sumptuous solo goal. Pompey made matters worse for themselves in the first half as their central defender had no choice but to bundle down Fin Wilkes when he attempted to slip through Issaka. Argyle could have made it 3-0 deep into second half stoppage time when substitute Edworthy was on the end of a Harry Shield cross but hit the post. Argyle made it 4 wins from 4 to carry on their perfect start to the season, and with the short trip up the M5 to Bristol Rovers up next, the momentum is all in Argyle’s favour.


Bristol Rovers Academy 1-4 Argyle Academy:

Argyle kept up their flawless start to the season, by making the short trip up to Bristol for the welcoming by Bristol Rovers, and in true Argyle fashion, the youth sunk the Gas with a 4-1 win.

A brace from Josh Bernard either side of half-time and the other goals coming from young prospect Tegan Fin and substitute Kieran Edworthy was more than enough to sail past the Gasheads. Coming into the fixture, only one change was made, as Argyle Academy regular Caleb Roberts made way for Sam Lord, for his first start of the campaign.

Argyle made it known early on they were here for nothing less than 3 points, as on the stroke of only 10 minutes played, Argyle struck first as Bernard and Fin’s relentless press paid dividends and the former latching onto a loose ball and slotting it past the Rovers’ keeper. 1-0 to the Argyle. Just seconds later, Argyle gave away a cheap penalty, resulting in the Gas equalising from the spot. Furthering from the equaliser, Argyle grew into the game and just as the stroke of half-time approached, Argyle’s growth into the game paid off as winger Finn took a lovely shot to make it 2-1 to Argyle going into the break. As the teams came back out for the second half, it was a cagey affair to start off with, but substitute Edworthy coming on in the 67th minute, his fresh legs gave the squad a second wind, and with only 7 minutes left to play, the substitute himself made it 3-1 to Argyle as Bristol Rovers were running out of Gas. Furthering the 3rd, to sign seal and deliver the 3 points back to Devon, Bernard got his second of the game and made it 4-1 to Argyle.

Argyle sailing, the Gas, out of it. Argyle made their flawless start even sweeter, making it 5 from 5.

Argyle did not dwindle on the result too greatly, as attention immediately turned to the fixture with Cheltenham Town in the third round of the Youth Alliance Cup.


Argyle Academy 3-2 Cheltenham Town Academy:

Argyle welcomed Cheltenham Town in the third round of the Youth Alliance Cup and wanted to make sure that they make it 2 wins from 2 against the Robins.

It was a very unusual start for the Greens, as Cheltenham struck first in the 18th minute with an in-swinging corner ricocheting off a Robins head and into the back of the net. Argyle had a chance to make it 1-1 with a penalty, but Issaka’s attempt to equalise was thwarted by the Robins keeper. Argyle went into the interval 1-0 down, but this game was very much a ‘Tale of Two Halves’. Argyle got their second penalty of the game, but instead of regular taker Issaka stepping up, it was passed onto the shoulders of Caleb Roberts, and with a very persuasive thump down the middle, the score was even. As Argyle thought they had levelled things up and could grow into the game, Cheltenham took the lead again after catching the Argyle defence napping making it 2-1 to the visitors. Argyle’s 100%-win record in all competitions was in jeopardy. Argyle desperately in search of an equaliser came eventually after the ball was pumped up the field towards Hatch who took it down perfectly and bolted into the box which then resulted in a lovely, curled finish round the Robins’ keeper to make it 2 apiece.

As Lowry’s side was finding some momentum, it was dampened by Argyle going down to 10 men. Despite the man disadvantage, Argyle kept on the search for the winner and to keep their 100%-win record intact, and then in the dying seconds of the game, the heroics of Bernard arose, latching onto a cross with a diving header and putting it past the keeper to make it 3-2 to Argyle! Against all odds, Argyle prevailed and secured their spot in the next round and the 100%-win record was still intact. Argyle head to South Wales in the next Matchday to take on Newport County.


Argyle Academy 1-2 Newport County Academy:

Argyle made the trip to South Wales for the welcoming by Newport County, also looking for their flawless start to carry on, but all was not as plain sailing as Lowry foresaw.

Lowry made 5 changes to the starting 11 with the introductions of Sam Lord, Jensen Ireland, Joel Sullivan, Cole Fisher and Kieran Edworthy. Issaka’s absence was due to an international call-up from the Welsh Under-19s squad for their Euro qualification matches whereas Matthews missed out via Suspension.

Argyle took the lead in the 31st minute after some sharp and quick thinking from Ireland at a Free-Kick meaning Hatch had the ball on the edge of the box before Newport could react. Hatch played a pinpoint ball through the Exiles defence opening up Edworthy for a one-on-one. Edworthy’s initial attempt was shut out but with quick thinking the initial attempt was instantly forgiven as Edworthy nodded the ball into the back of the net.

Not long after going behind, Newport got themselves back into the game when they equalised through Preston-Watkins. The hosts worked the ball down the left flank before finding the forward inside the penalty area. He did well to beat his man and fire the ball past Dan Holman and into the back of the net.

The score was 1-1 at the interval; neither side could have had too many complaints.

Although Argyle’s best efforts to prevail against the South Wales outfit, Newport scored a winner in the last minute of normal time through substitute Alexander-Walker. The hosts countered after an Argyle attack, probing down the right before finding Alexander-Walker in the middle. He was in position to turn the ball past Holman from close range and secured the win for the Hosts.

Argyle tasted defeat for the first time this campaign, and no doubt left a bitter taste in the mouth to lose in such fashion.


Argyle Academy 1-1 Cardiff City Academy:

Argyle looked to get back to winning ways immediately after the shock defeat to the hands of Newport when Argyle travelled to South Wales again to face the Bluebirds in the PDL Cup. Argyle could not find a way to win, but the point was salvaged with a Caleb Roberts late penalty.

Lowry shook the team up again with the reintroductions of Harry Shield, Jack Matthews, Fin Wilkes and Freddie Issaka replacing Sam Lord, Jensen Ireland, Joe Hatch and Cole Fisher.

Cardiff came flying out the blocks creating a plethora of chances early in the game. Eventually, one of these chances was converted and the hosts took the lead on six minutes. Skipper Tanatswa Nyakuhwa won the ball back for his side inside the Argyle half before sliding in his teammate George who did well to pick out the bottom-right corner, evading the outstretched arm of Dan Holman. As Argyle were desperately looking to find an equaliser, in the 58th minute, the Pilgrims struck the woodwork for the second time in the game when Joe Hatch made an instant impact after coming off the bench just minutes prior.

As full time ever creeped up on Lowry and his side, Hatch chased a long ball into the Cardiff box. The young striker poked the ball around Armstrong who missed it, instead bringing down Hatch, forcing the referee to award a spot-kick. Roberts stepped up to take the pressure kick to bring his side level. He placed his penalty down the middle, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and scoring the equaliser that Argyle deserved. Argyle and Cardiff settled for a point in the PDL Group-Stages.


Argyle Academy 4-1 Oxford United Academy:

Argyle turned their attention back to the league for the battle against Oxford United, hoping to put their loss and draw behind them, and get back to winning ways.

They did so emphatically, with a 4-1 win over Oxford. A crazy 15-minute spell at the end of the second half saw the Young Greens come away with the 3 points. It was a birthday to remember for Caleb Roberts who, on the day he turned 18, scored a brace. His first came from the penalty spot and his second a result of the Greens relentless pressing. Josh Bernard got himself on the scoresheet with a well-taken volley and Joe Hatch scored the Greens third of the game and his third of the season in all competitions, as the Pilgrims completed a sensational turnaround.

Despite the heroics of the second half blitz, the visitors would throw the first punch in this heavyweight bout as Kasway Burton capitalised on a loose ball in the penalty area after Dan Holman parried a shot, the striker the quickest to react poking it past Argyle’s stopper.


Argyle Academy 0-0 Bristol Rovers Academy:

Argyle’s Under-18s played out a goalless draw against Bristol Rovers in the Youth Alliance League on a Saturday morning.

Manager Jamie Lowry made four changes to the starting line-up that beat Oxford United comfortably just under a fortnight ago. Jack Matthews, Joel Sullivan, Caleb Roberts, and Freddie Issaka came out of the squad. Toby Haley came into the team at right-back with the usual occupier Lewis Colwell shifting into central defence. Jensen Ireland also came into the heart of defence, Argyle therefore fielding a completely new partnership at the back. Cole Fisher replaced Roberts in midfield, playing alongside Josh Bernard. Finally, Tegan Finn played on the wing taking the place of Issaka who featured for the first team away at Leeds United.

The game started slowly with neither team creating many chances in the opening exchanges. It was a very even game, and a draw was probably fair. The most “Quiet Day at the Office” game so far.