Access All Areas! – My Experience In The Plymouth Argyle Press Box

Yesterday evening saw my first venture into the world of professional sports media at the Plymouth Argyle vs Charlton Athletic Papa John’s Trophy game. 

My course-mate Xander and I made our way up to Home Park at roughly quarter past 6 and collected our ‘Access All Areas’ Press Passes from the Ticket Office.  

A short walk up some famous green steps in the Mayflower Grandstand and we were greeted by a sign directing us to ‘The Gordon Sparks Press Box.’ A very classy touch to name the Press Box after the late, great Sparksy who for many years graced us with his special commentary on BBC Radio Devon. 

After taking our seats slightly to the right of the halfway line we were soon greeted with the game’s team sheet and a complimentary pasty (I will leave you to guess which went down better!) 

Both sides went into the game on the back of win in their last Papa John’s Trophy game, with Charlton narrowly defeating Brighton and Hove Albion Academy in the 92nd minute to claim their spot in the Second Round. 

Argyle, however, had a much more comfortable group stage, and their 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace Academy saw the Pilgrims reach the Second Round unbeaten, and for the first time since the new format was introduced. 

My Pre-Match prediction was 2-1 to Argyle, with young Will Jenkins-Davies the player to watch.

We had a magnificent view of the action from the Grandstand, barring the occasional restricted view from the supporting pillars in place. The atmosphere was expectedly understated due to the ‘B-Team Boycott’ many fans carry out, due to them believing Academy sides should have no place in this competition and that the trophy is pointless and there should be a focus on the league. 

Both sides started the game quickly, with the young players keen to make an impact on their respective managers. It was Charlton who took the lead in the 8th minute through Daniel Kanu. An attack down the left saw a first shot parried but Kanu calmly slotted away the second attempt to put the Addicks in front. 

The game quickly turned on its head and Argyle equalized and eventually took the lead. Cosgrove slotted home the equalizer in 13 minutes after a defence-splitting run on the right, and Niall Ennis calmly rounded the keeper after a defensive mix-up from Charlton saw Argyle take the lead in 15 minutes. 

Argyle dominated the rest of the half and could have had 4 or 5 goals at half time, with the pick of the bunch being an Ennis header just before the interval. 

The second half was very much a muted affair after young Caleb Roberts scored for Argyle a minute after the restart. A proud moment for Roberts as he became the 5th Youngest goal scorer in Plymouth Argyle history. 

Roberts told Argyle post-match: “It’s a confidence booster, getting to play for the first team and getting minutes. Now we are through to the next round and hopefully that will be some more minutes.” 

The attendance was announced at 1394, with just over 100 away fans, not too shabby for a Tuesday night in the Pizza Trophy! 

Charlton scored a consolation with a little over a minute to go through Anderson, but it was not enough for the Addicks as the referee blew his whistle to see Argyle through to the next round after a 3-2 victory. 

Plymouth boss Steven Schumacher told Argyle post-match: “If we don’t take this competition seriously that would be one less chance for the young players to shine. Playing in the first team in a league game is a different kind of pressure.” 

By this stage we were happy for the final whistle, the Press Box is very exposed to the elements and the warmth of the pasty had long worn off! 

Nevertheless, it was an incredible experience to report on a game for the club I have supported since the age of 5. 

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