Plymouth Argyle striker Ryan Hardie scored a brace as the Greens disposed of their Devon rivals 4-2 in a highly anticipated clash at Home Park. The Grecians struck first blood after 25 minutes with Midfielder Archie Collins slotting from close range from a Jay Stansfield cross. However, just two minutes later Morgan Whittaker restored parity for the hosts in what was shaping up to be a tasty affair.
The sides went into the break at one a piece however it seemed Exeter were better value for their point at this stage, with the Argyle players seemingly a little rattled by the occasion. Exeter emerged from the break the stronger, and forward Nombe slotted in front of the travelling faithful after 52 minutes.
An inspired finish from Argyle wing-back Bali Mumba then brought the Pilgrims back on level terms for the second time with a sweet hit from well outside the box in the 58th minute.
The game then swung in Argyle’s favour as a clever substitution from Argyle boss Steven Schumacher saw pacey Scottish forward Ryan Hardie brought on in the 70th minute to run in behind the tired Exeter defence. A pinpoint pass from Whittaker led to a first time finish from Hardie to see the Pilgrims take the lead in the derby. The Grecians were not down and out and Harry Kite saw his shot crack off the crossbar five minutes later. However, it was the Pilgrims who stole the spoils and another late Hardie finish sent the majority of the 16,500 crowd into bedlam.
The game, which was played in front of the Sky Cameras, has been labelled by many as ‘A great advert for League One’ and led to shouts for more lower league football to be played live on television. September’s League One Player of the Month Whittaker was named Player Of the Match after his goal and two assists and later told Sky:
“I’m confident on the ball and feel I’m capable of creating things each game.
Just knowing you can do that and carry it forward helps with the games coming up. It’s massive.”
Steven Schumacher also praised his team’s performance and told BBC Sport:
“The character our players have shown again to dig each other out of a bit of a mess and produce moments of quality to go on and win the game, it’s really good and I’m so pleased for them.”