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 potential title celebrations, we decided to pick apart their season, game by game.

Part One can be found here.


Argyle Academy 3-3 Swansea City Academy:

Argyle’s Under-18s exited the PDL Cup on Saturday, despite an admirable result and resilient performance, coming from behind to draw 3-3 with Swansea City at Millennium Fields.

Fin Wilkes opened the scoring for the young greens on 20 minutes, following in Joe Hatch’s spilled effort, but Swansea turned the tables and got themselves in a winning position, leading 3-1.

Hatch fired home from the penalty spot to get Argyle back into the game, before Freddie Issaka drew his side level with ten minutes left on the clock. The winger’s volley deflected off a Swansea defender and into the back of the net, giving Argyle hope, but despite late chances to win it, it was not to be.

The draw means that Swansea qualify from the round-robin group stage as group winners. In a group that also included Cardiff City and Bournemouth, Argyle have come through unbeaten, with draws against the two Category 2 Welsh sides, and a win against Bournemouth.

Argyle must be prepared to kick-start their FA Youth Cup campaign when they welcome Crystal Palace to Home Park.

Argyle Academy 1-2 Crystal Palace Academy:

Argyle kick off their FA Youth Cup campaign by welcoming Premier League Division side Crystal Palace in seeking a place in the next round.

Unfortunately, Crystal Palace edged past Argyle in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at Home Park on Thursday night – by the narrowest of margins.

When Palace, fifth in the Premier League Under-18 league, took the lead on 10 minutes via George King, one could be forgiven for thinking that the South Londoners would prove too classy for the Pilgrims.

Although the Eagles had certainly started the better of the sides, and chances to increase their lead, the longer the first half wore on, the more likely Argyle looked to equalise – and they did, through Caleb Roberts, moments before the break.

After a game of end to end, Crystal Palace exploited their talent and sailed past Argyle with ease, therefore ending Argyle’s cup campaign before it could really get going. Palace advance, but manager Jamie Lowry and his staff should be very proud of the spirit and quality displayed throughout the side.

Argyle turn their attention to the clash with Sutton United forthcoming.


Argyle Academy 3-1 Sutton United Academy:

Argyle welcomed Sutton United to Millenium Fields in their Youth Alliance Cup game, seeking a win to send them to the area final.

Argyle’s Under-18s progressed to the area final of the Youth Alliance Cup with a 3-1 win against Sutton United on Saturday morning at Millennium Fields. Tegan Finn was the man of the moment, opening the scoring inside two minutes. He went on to score a second, and Argyle’s third, with just over ten minutes left to play. Freddie Issaka scored a sublime solo goal midway through the first half to take his tally to 11 for the season, three in three in the Youth Alliance Cup.

As the season has progressed, Tegan Finn has really started to shine when making appearances either off the bench or as a starter. On the other hand, Issaka is flourishing by the game, and getting ever better as the season progresses whilst also showing professionalism, maturity and leadership.

With this result, Lowry’s side return to winning ways and in turn book their spot in the Youth Alliance Cup area final against Portsmouth in the New Year.

However, before they can focus on this game, they must first turn their attention back to the league as they take on Newport County at Millennium Fields on Tuesday.


Argyle Academy 7-3 Newport County Academy:

Argyle welcomed Newport County to Millenium Fields in a game that involved goals, 10 of them to be precise!

Argyle Under-18s produced a showstopping performance to beat Newport County 7-3 in the Youth Alliance League on Tuesday afternoon. Both Joe Hatch and Caleb Roberts registered braces, while Josh Bernard, Sam Lord, and Freddie

Issaka also got their names on the scoresheet. Manager Jamie Lowry made two changes to the team that beat Sutton United in the Youth Alliance Cup on Saturday morning. Cole Fisher came into midfield taking the place of Fin Wilkes, who suffered an injury during the first half of Saturday’s game. Saturday’s star performer Tegan Finn was the other absentee from the squad, Lord his replacement. The Greens started the game as they intended to go on, taking the lead on 18 minutes. Cole Gibbings made a foray forward down the left-flank and whipped an excellent cross in towards the penalty spot, where Hatch was waiting. Argyle then ran rampant in the remainder of the first half, securing themselves another 3 goals, but it was not all swings and roundabouts as Newport snagged back one goal before the interval.

With the scoreline 4-1 at the break there was a feeling that this was one of the best performances of the season to date and that Argyle could go on to score more. However, Newport had shown the threat they carried on the break and Argyle had to be wary of this. Five minutes into the second half and Argyle had five, with Lord getting in on the action. He chased a long ball behind the Newport defence from Colwell before coolly chipping the ball over Needham who had rushed off his goal-line. the Greens striking first in the second half, and now boasting a four-goal lead over their visitors from South Wales who sit bottom of the league, complacency had possibly started to creep into their game. There was a warning sign when Preston-Watkins tested Dan Holman with a sighter just minutes before he would make it 5-2. Just after making it 5-2, Preston-Watkins struck again and made it 5-3, surely, they can’t throw this away? The game was put beyond doubt three minutes before full-time, when Roberts pushed the Greens three goals clear of Newport once again, making it 6-3. Substitute Henry Donovan did well to hold the ball up and progress it up the pitch before sliding it to Roberts who was poised on the edge of the penalty area. Once again, he shifted the ball to his trusty left foot and took aim, beating an unsighted Needham who found himself picking the ball out the back of his net.

However, They weren’t finished yet – as they scored their seventh of the game in the 88th minute. Ireland’s clearance turned into an excellent through ball which Bernard cushioned towards Issaka midway inside the Exiles half. Issaka raced away from two defenders and shot at an angle across goal, finding the bottom-right corner, another moment of magic from the Wales youth international. The final whistle blew for the last time this calendar year and there could not be a more fitting result and performance to go out on.

Over the Christmas period, it was clear that the next two-and-a-half weeks will be all about relaxation, recuperation and re-focusing on the remaining eight games in the Youth Alliance League and an area final against Portsmouth in the Youth Alliance Cup. The young Greens return to action on Saturday, 6 January when they travel up the M5 to face Forest Green Rovers.


Argyle Academy 4-3 Forest Green Academy:

Argyle welcomed Forest Green in the Youth Alliance Cup after the short trip down the M5, and the turn of the New Year brought fireworks!

Argyle prevailed in their fixture, running out 4-3 winners in the clash. Joe Hatch brought the Fireworks and set them off one after another by scoring all four of Argyle’s goals, and 3 of them being scored in the first half.

Forest Green’s early pressure paid dividend when, in the 13th minute, they took the lead through Alonzi. Once again, the striker was picked out well in the box and this time made no mistake, firing the ball past Dan Holman. It did not take long for the young Greens to get themselves back into the game, levelling just seven minutes later. Lewis Colwell played a teasing ball into the penalty area, which deflected off the back of Keon Sanniola and fortunately into the path of Hatch who lashed the bouncing ball past the Forest Green goalkeeper before he had a chance to react. Having scored an equaliser, the Greens gained momentum and continued in search of the goal that would give them the lead. Therefore, it was no surprise when Hatch had it made it 2-1 in the 36th minute. Sam Lord had done well to keep a ball in play that seemed to be heading out for a goal-kick. He drove to the bye-line and crossed low across the face of goal to Hatch who was able to just sweep the ball home from just a couple of yards out.

Argyle continued their positive spell at the end of the first half, both Josh Bernard and Colwell having chances to add to the Pilgrims lead. On the stroke of halftime Hatch completed his hat-trick and made it 3-1 to the young Greens.

The second 45 minutes started in the same way the first one ended: with a goal from Hatch. Lord sprang forward from a deep position to apply pressure to the Forest Green midfield, resulting in substitute Preston Mason losing possession just inside the Argyle half. Hatch unorthodoxly used his knee to bring Bernard into the game who had drifted infield from his wide-right position, and his chipped through ball caused the hosts all sorts of problems. Unsure of how to deal with it, Rovers captain Jesse Thompson seemed to try to head the ball down to regain control of it. However, Hatch was more than a match with the defender for pace and charged the ball down before Thompson could take a second touch. Hatch poked the ball ahead of him to set the bouncing ball in his path before hammering it over Godfrey’s head and into the roof of the net making it 4-1.

Thompson, the skipper, took aim with a volley from range which travelled through a crowd of players and ricocheted off Jensen Ireland, wrong-footing Holman and looping into the back of the net. Forest Green continued to apply pressure in search of the elusive equaliser; resolute defending from the young Pilgrims kept the score-line as it was. Matthews kept his team in the game when he made an outstanding recovery run to clear Bell’s dangerous cross away from striker Alonzi in the 86th minute. However, it would be last gasp heroics from Holman that would prove just as valuable as a goal in terms of keeping Argyle ahead. Colwell and Ireland were unable to clear their lines allowing Alonzi the chance to take aim from just outside the six-yard box. Holman, however, read the danger and rushed off his line, making a critical block with his leg to win his side the game.

The full-time whistle went, and Lowry’s men have now got three wins on the bounce under their names as it comes to the Business End of the Season.

Next up, they hosted the league’s second-place side Swindon Town on Tuesday afternoon in a top of the table clash that will have a decisive say in who will be top of the tree come mid-February. A pivotal and decisive game.


Swindon Town Academy 1-3 Argyle Academy

Argyle made the trip to Wiltshire to see a Top-of-the-Table clash against Title Contenders, Swindon Town. The ‘long’ trip up north was well worth it for Lowry’s men, running out a 3-1 win away, bolstering their hopes of the Title.

Joe Hatch continued his rich vein of goalscoring form, putting the Greens ahead early on before Josh Bernard made it two just minutes later. Swindon hit back on the stroke of half-time through full-back Joel McGregor, before Tegan Finn sealed the victory midway through the second period, scoring his sixth of the season. Jamie Lowry named an unchanged side from Saturday’s win against Forest Green Rovers. Fin Wilkes and Henry Donovan both returned to the bench. With both

teams occupying the top two spots of the Youth Alliance League, it was no surprise that the game had a very cagey start, neither side wanting to give anything away early on.

A game that was a must win for Argyle and a must win for Swindon, only one team came out on top, and that was the boys in green.

Argyle took a foothold further than Swindon in the Title race, but with the Devon Derby tie against Exeter City right around the corner, Argyle had no time to slip up.


Argyle Academy 1-2 Exeter City Academy:

In the second and final Devon Derby of the season, Argyle welcome Exeter City to Plymouth in search of another win to further bolster the status at the top of the table.

Despite a valiant effort from the Boys in Green, a last-minute Exeter City winner left Argyle deflated.

Pedro Borges gave the Grecians the lead midway through the first half from a corner. Tegan Finn would go on to level the game minutes after the interval, but it would be the visitors who took all three points when Kieran Wilson scored five minutes from time. Argyle manager Jamie Lowry made two changes to the team that beat Swindon Town in midweek, with Sam Lord and Cole Fisher dropping to the bench. In came Caleb Roberts and Fin Wilkes, the former having missed the past two games and the latter making a return from injury.

The Greens had chances to take the lead early in the game, Roberts picked the pocket of Harrison King in the middle of the park before laying it off to Finn who would set Joe Hatch away down the left. He called Dylan Shanahan into early action with a low shot across goal from a tight angle. Argyle’s next chance came when Josh Bernard whipped a free-kick into the penalty area from a wide-right position. It bounced just over the heads of Hatch and Cole Gibbings who were waiting on the back post. Had the bounce been slightly kinder, it would have been 1-0. Therefore, when Exeter took the lead just three minutes later it was a real kick in the teeth for the Pilgrims. Borges made himself a nuisance as the ball was swung into the box from a corner and managed to beat Dan Holman to it. It was not the cleanest of goals, with the ball bouncing off numerous Argyle players, before Borges finally turned it over the line.

This late heartbreak will have been an unfamiliar feeling to the side who have scored late goals themselves throughout the current campaign, but will have to take this result on the chin, as their attention turns to Cheltenham Town.


Argyle Academy 1-2 Portsmouth Academy:

Argyle clash with Portsmouth in the Youth Alliance Cup Area Final. Can Lowry and the Greens go all the way?

Well – no. Heartbreak for the youngsters, as Argyle succumb to a late Pompey winner.

Joel Sullivan gave the Greens the lead midway through the first half after a set-play, but the visitors fought back and equalised late in the second half when Kevin Bosaka volleyed in from a corner. Pompey would go on to win the game, scoring the winner in the first minute of second-half stoppage time through Sam Folarin. Jamie Lowry made one change to the side that lost against Exeter City in the Devon derby last time out. This was enforced as Caleb Roberts was on first-team duty, starting against Leeds United in Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup tie. Cole Fisher took his place in midfield. Freddie Issaka also was on first-team duty so was unavailable for selection.

For a game this important to both sides, as you could expect, the start to it was very cagey. However, Argyle did have the chance to take the lead early in the game. The Greens short corner routine caused chaos with Portsmouth unable to clear their lines. Joe Hatch capitalised and managed to stab the ball towards goal, forcing a point-blank save from goalkeeper Malachi Osei-Owusu.

Argyle made the visitors pay and broke the deadlock when they took the lead in the 31st minute in the aftermath of another corner. Sullivan flying to meet the initial cross into the box but missed it, landing at the back post. Hatch followed it in, forcing Osei-Owusu to palm the ball away from goal with his header but the ball sailed back into the path of Sullivan who guided it into the empty net.

Just before the interval, Argyle came close to doubling their lead when the Pilgrims threatened on the break. Hatch raced into the penalty area and forced a strong save from Osei-Owusu. The ball bounced around the six-yard-box and into the path of Finn who would have tapped the ball home had it not been for Bosaka making a last-ditch challenge to prevent the threat.

Having ridden out numerous waves of Argyle pressure, Portsmouth were clearly lifted and began to turn the screw in search of a way back into the game. It did not take the visitors long after this shift in momentum to level the game.

It would be another corner that came to fruition – unfortunately this one undid Lowry’s side; Bosaka being allowed too much space to volley an effort through a cluster of bodies and into the back of the net.

The equaliser saw Portsmouth continue to build momentum and Argyle looked nervy for this first time in the match. Holman did all he could to keep the Greens in the game when he pulled of a tremendous triple-save with just five minutes left to play as Portsmouth peppered the goal in search of a winner.

However, there was nothing Argyle’s keeper could do to prevent Folarin from giving the visitors the lead in the 91st minute. Mottoh glided past Lewis Colwell and Gibbings and made it to the bye-line before cutting the ball back to Folarin, who was not picked up. The midfielder took his chance, hammering the ball past Holman and into the roof of the net sealing defeat for Argyle and knocking them out of the Youth Alliance Cup.


Argyle Academy 0-0 Oxford United Academy:

Argyle’s Under-18s shared the points with Oxford United when they drew 0-0 in the Youth Alliance League on a fresh Saturday morning.

Two changes to the side that lost against Portsmouth in the Youth Alliance Cup the previous weekend. Jensen Ireland and Fin Wilkes missed out with Henry Donovan and Sam Lord coming into the side to take their places. With this change also came a tweak in formation; ditching the back three, Argyle had opted for in recent weeks and reverted to a four-at-the-back system, a formation he had seen much success with so far this season. Both Caleb Roberts and Freddie Issaka were unavailable as they made up part of the first-team squad that won away at Swansea City.

This was an off day for Lowry and his Greens as they unusually fired blank against Oxford. A game of missed and close-cut chances proved painful as Argyle could not manage to pick up 3 points in the league, therefore, putting pressure on themselves as Swindon are not out of the title race.


The Final Countdown:

There is just one game left for Argyle to prove themselves. A season of hard work comes done to the final day – tomorrow’s clash against Swindon Town.

Put simply; Argyle are sat at the top of the table with visitors Swindon in second. The winners take the league title.



Players to Watch:

Freddie Issaka – One of Argyle’s hottest youth talents on the scene currently, regularly getting minutes in the first team under Head Coach Ian Foster.

Caleb Roberts – Similar to his Youth partner, Freddie Issaka, Roberts has had spells with the first team and getting minutes with the first team under his belt, being his most recent outing for the 4-1 Defeat to Leeds United in the FA Cup.

Jack Matthews – Matthews has been an integral part of the title chasing team Lowry has put together and his efforts do not go unnoticed by First Team Head Coach Ian Foster by getting minutes against Leeds United in the FA Cup.

Tegan Finn – At only 15 years of age, Finn has shined in the Academy, being influential in scoring and assisting goals in the title charge. Given the right amount of involvement and carrying on the form he’s in whilst in the youth team, this is a Player to Watch, and we do not doubt that if he keeps it up, that in a few years’ time he will be in and around the first team, like Issaka and Roberts’ involvement.