Plymouth's experience tells as they see off challenge of Exeter
An experienced Plymouth Argyle reserve team emerged 3-1 victors in a behind-closed-doors derby friendly at Devon rivals Exeter City.
The Pilgrims fielded a strong side, including captain Paul Wotton, experienced midfielder Dominic Blizzard and the returning Curtis Nelson.
Exeter's side was made up of under-21 players, with midfield playmaker Matt Grimes and defender Jordan Moore-Taylor the most senior members of the hosts' team.
The game was played in driving rain and a strong wind at City's Cat and Fiddle training ground, a wind into which Exeter played in the first half.
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Grimes went close with a fine shot from distance, but Jake Cole was equal to it in the Pilgrims' goal.
However, Argyle soon went in front as Maxime Blanchard rose to head a quickly-taken free-kick over the head of home goalkeeper Christy Pym and into the net.
Exeter had chances to level, but Tom Nichols struck a post with the best of their chances. Argyle also came close to adding to their tally, with impressive front-runner Tyler Harvey hitting the crossbar from Isaac Vassell's cross and then striking the outside of a post with a wind-assisted effort from 25 yards.
Chances were more sporadic in the second half, with Exeter seeing plenty of the ball, but they rarely troubled the Argyle defence.
Substitute Connor Riley-Lowe then conceded a penalty when he felled Vassell inside the box and Harvey sent Pym the wrong way from 12 yards.
Riley-Lowe's afternoon took a turn for the worse soon after when he inadvertently turned a low cross by Andre Blackman into his own goal to make it 3-0, but Tom Nichols pulled a goal back for the Grecians late in the game with a penalty.
"It was a good work-out," Argyle first-team coach Sean McCarthy said. "It was quite an experienced team and a couple are coming back from injury.
"This was Paul Wotton's second game back [from injury], we had some youngsters out there was well who had some game-time, so overall it was very good.
"Curtis Nelson had 45 minutes at Torquay last week and an hour today, so that was another positive for us. We scored three goals and it is up to the lads to show the gaffer in games like these what they can do to get in the team."
Exeter were coached by Rob Edwards, who felt his young side would benefit from playing against players such as Blizzard, Nelson and Wotton, who have a wealth of first-team experience.
"It was a good work-out, but a disappointing result," Edwards said. "I have to remind myself – as well as the players – that it's not all about the result, although we wanted to win and we definitely wanted to win against our local rivals.
"There were some good performances and a lot to work on. I saw a lot of good things."
Exeter City (4-3-3): Pym; Dawson, Tillson, Moore-Taylor, Wannell; Byrne, Grimes, Rigg; Reid, Nichols, Chamberlain.
Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): Cole; Blanchard, Richards, Wotton, Blackman; Lane, Nelson, Blizzard, Gurrieri; Harvey, Vassell.