A Natasha Knapman hat trick helped Argyle ladies put behind them the trauma of losing manager Dave Leonard in mid week to produce a workmanlike performance to see off a Maidenhead United outfit in their first match for a month. With their home pitch at Elburton Villa FC unavailable Argyle had to travel 40 miles to play this match at Bovey Tracey FC. Unfortunately Maidenhead could only muster ten players which meant Argyle having to play a team who tended to put every player behind the ball with one striker up. Argyle started on the front foot and after some early chances where Knapman’s delicate flick almost deceived goalkeeper Eleanor Parker and Tori Marks effort being blocked on the goal line, they took a 10th minute lead when Knapman controlled a cross before sending her looping 16 yard effort over Parker into the roof of the net. Argyle continued to push forward with lively wingers Ezme Wells and Tori Marks terrorising the visitors defence but desperate defending and good goalkeeping kept Argyle at bay. That was until three goals in five minutes put Argyle in the box seat. In the 32nd minute defender Mollie Taylor saw the defence open up in front of her so she surged forward before firing low into the far corner of the net. It became 3-0 a minute later. Predator striker Natasha Knapman ran on to a superbly flighted ball from strike partner Marks to beat the goalkeeper to force it into the net. It got even better when minutes later Danni Barr was given time and room to pick her spot when side footing the ball into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
The second half was less frenetic with Argyle continuing on the attack but the fluency wasn’t there. The only threat from the visitors came from Rachel Panting who wasted a number of good chances. Her best coming when after defender Rachel Javan slipped, Panting raced clear but goalkeeper Michaela Phillips who by then had been a mere spectator kept her concentration to pull off a superb save. Argyle kept up the pressure and after Becky Atkins replaced Kayleigh Brown on the hour mark Five minutes later Kayley Lane came on for debutant Zoe Cunningham who impressed with her strong runs and impressive play. Knapman completed the scoring in the 71st minute when after Ezme Wells was denied by Parker the striker pounced on the loose ball to role it into an empty net. With her job done for the afternoon Knapman was replaced by another debutant Rebecca Dandridge with fifteen minutes remaining. The substitute was denied a dream goal when she raced onto a Marks pass only to be denied by another good save from Parker. The ever elusive Tori Marks finding her route to goal blocked had the presence of mind to pick out Atkins on the edge of the penalty area to slam the ball into the net. This was a good result against a very sporting Maidenhead who never let their heads drop.
With Leonard stepping down Argyle had his assistant Travis Rowland in charge and he was delighted with the result. Rowland said: ‘It has been a difficult week for the girls but they are all determined to push on.’ Adding: ‘It was a bit weird really, I have been in the shadows for a number of years especially under Kev Rose and Lens (Leonard). I have learned an awful lot from both these two and it has been excellent schooling.’ Rowland continued: ‘Having not played for four weeks we were a bit rusty and lacking in match sharpness, but it didn’t take us long to get our rhythm back. Playing against ten players it is sometimes hard to break down a team who at times put everyone behind the ball so it was mentally tough to figure out how to break them down but the girls did really well.’