Plymouth Argyle 0-2 Fleetwood Town
Two stunning strikes from David Ball secured three points for Fleetwood Town in their first away fixture of the new Sky Bet League 2 season.
The Cod Army were beaten 2-1 at Plymouth Argyle in last year’s campaign, but Graham Alexander’s new-look side, led by Ball, struck twice in the first half to build on the opening-day win against Dagenham & Redbridge.
Ball’s first effort was a neatly-taken strike from outside the box, before his second, sweetly-struck curling effort into the top corner of Argyle’s goal.
Alexander had renamed the side that beat Dagenham & Redbridge at Highbury on the opening day of the season. Junior Brown came in for the injured Gareth Evans, Ryan Crowther replaced Matty Blair, and Steven Schumacher returned in place of Stewart Murdoch.
Evans, Blair and Murdoch had all started the Capital One Cup defeat at Notts County on Wednesday, but Alexander looked to use the depth of his squad ahead of the trip to the West Country.
His five-man midfield brought the best out of Ball, who found the Pilgrims’ net inside ten minutes for his first league goal of the season.
The striker picked up the ball in space on the edge of Argyle’s penalty area before driving a powerful low shot, off his weaker right foot, which beat Jake Cole at his right-hand post.
It was the perfect start for the travelling Cod Army, and barely two minutes later, Ball was at it again. This time, the 23-year-old chested the ball down onto his left foot outside the box, before an unstoppably curling effort past Cole and into the top left corner.
He may have even scored a hat-trick within 20 minutes, as Antoni Sarcevic found him inside the area on the left. Ball evaded one challenge but could only place his effort wide of the far right post.
Plymouth tried in vain to pull one back before half-time but, much to the frustration of their supporters, Scott Davies was in the way to deny Reuben Reid one on one and Neal Trotman in the box.
The second half became a lot cagier, with Liam Hogan being booked as the Pilgrims searched for a way back into the match.
The home side made a treble substitution in a desperate attempt to find a way back, but the closest they came was Andre Blackman’s effort which whistled over the crossbar.
Town’s Junior Brown fired an effort straight at the Argyle goalkeeper, before nobody could get on the end of Ball’s inviting cross from the left. Ball also saw a first time effort from Ryan Crowther’s cross curl wide of the target.
In the end, it was a comfortable victory on the road for Fleetwood, who now look forward to Burton Albion at home next Saturday.
TEAM: Davies, Hogan, Roberts (c), Cresswell, Jordan, Crowther, Schumacher, Hughes, Brown, Sarcevic, Ball
SUBS: Howell, Murdoch, McLaughlin
UNUSED SUBS: Lucas, Pond, Matt, Blair
ATTENDANCE: 7,280 (90 Fleetwood fans)