Argyle’s youngster fell to a 2-0 defeat against Devon rivals Torquay United on Saturday at Elburton Villa’s Haye Road ground.
Pligrims Head Coach Paul Mariner was an interested observer during the first half before dashing off at half-time to begin his preparations ahead of the First Team’s Championship Championship clash with Preston North End later in the day, however head of youth Mike Pejic reckons the boss saw the best part of a disappointing performance by a young Pilgrims’ side.
Speaking to the club website, Pejic said:
“We knew from our two earlier games against Torquay that they would come at us – I warned our lads about it just before the game – and they did, however, I thought that during the rest of the first half we did quite well, Our approach work was good, but we let ourselves down by either a poor final pass or poor finishing.”
“Our performance in the second half was unacceptable, and I told the players that.”
Added the demanding former England international, who excluded only Jordan Trott, Connor Clifford and Raivo Varazinskis from his criticism.
Pejic’s starting line-up included only one second-year apprentice, centre-back Jordan Trott, and first-year professional striker Liam Head, as Ryan Leonard was nursing a foot injury and Sean Kinsella was rested after a tiring week at the Republic of Ireland’s under-19 training camp.
Three 16-year-old schoolboys – right back Jack Stephens plus midfielders Jordan Berry and Jared Sims – were again given the chance to continue their development with the under-18’s.
The youngsters opened brightly enough with striker Matt Rickard shooting wide when well placed and left winger Jake Baker blazing a shot over the bar before the visitors’ own schoolboy striker, Rob Wearne, put the Gulls ahead in the fifth minute.
The Young Pilgrims quickly regained the initiative. Midfielder Luke Young had a long-range effort well-saved, defender Curtis Nelson headed a Young free-kick over the bar, overlapping left back Connor Clifford had his shot blocked by their ‘keeper, and Head shot high from close range, as we dominated the rest of the first half.
Even straight after the changeover Head headed a cross from Rickard over the bar, before the visitors took control.
It took a goal-line clearance from Clifford to keep the visitors at bay but the reprieve was short-lived as skipper Ed Palmer powered home a 20-yard free-kick to wrap up the points for the Torbay club.