Port Vale 1-3 Plymouth Argyle: Pilgrims clinch League One title

Port Vale 1-3 Plymouth Argyle: Adam Randell, Joe Edwards and Finn Isaac Azaz goals see Steven Schumacher’s Pilgrims clinch the League One title from Ipswich with 101 points

  • Plymouth Argyle secured the League One title with a 3-1 win against Port Vale 
  • James Plant gave the hosts an early lead but the visitors hit back with three goals
  • Win sees the Pilgrims finish first ahead of Ipswich, who drew 2-2 with Fleetwood 

So much has been said and written about Plymouth Argyle’s promotion rivals but this was their day and their moment as green dreams came true.

Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and others may have the history and the bigger budgets but Plymouth have beaten them all emphatically this season.

Smashing a century of points with this final afternoon win over Port Vale, Steven Schumacher’s team are back in the Championship for the first time since 2010 – and as champions.

It is an incredible achievement in a notoriously difficult division which has come to resemble a graveyard of former Premier League clubs.

Even more so given the position of the Devon club a decade ago when, amid crippling financial issues, Argyle only stayed in the Football League because relegation rivals lost on the final day.

Plymouth Argyle secured top spot in League One with a 3-1 win against Port Vale on Sunday

Steven Schumacher’s side finished first after Ipswich could only draw 2-2 away at Fleetwood

The Pilgrims, as ever, were backed by a vociferous following from the south-west at Vale Park

With the shrewd leadership and financial backing of owner Simon Hallett and the intelligent, data-driven approach of Schumacher, they have have slowly climbed their way back to the second-tier.

A party that began when they secured promotion alongside Ipswich last weekend continued in a packed away end at Vale Park as goals by Adam Randell, Joe Edwards and Finn Azaz saw them from behind after James Plant’s early opener.


Port Vale (4-3-3): Stone; Worrall, Smith, Donnelly (Cass 64), Benning; Plant (Shorrock 79), Ojo, Conlon (c); James A. Wilson (Taylor 64), Butterworth (Pett 57), Massey (Proctor 78).

Subs not used: Stevens (GK); Politic.

Goals: Plant 3.

Interim Manager: Andy Crosby.

Plymouth (3-4-2-1): Burton; James S. Wilson, Scarr, Gillesphey; Edwards (c), Houghton, Randell, Mumba (Grant 84); Wright (Matete 72), Mayor (Azaz 45); Ennis (Hardie 61).

Subs not used: Parkes (GK); Lonwijk, Cosgrove.

Goals: Randell 34, Edwards 38, Azaz 61.

Yellow cards: Azaz 81.

Manager: Steven Schumacher.

Referee: Simon Mather.

Attendance: 11,998 (3,926 away).

It continued long afterwards as the champagne was sprayed and the trophy lifted, Plymouth’s win here rendering whatever Ipswich did at Fleetwood irrelevant in the title picture.

And it’ll last the weekend with tens of thousands expected to line the naval city’s streets for an open-top bus parade on Monday. A second Coronation for the weekend, if you will.

The four thousand Plymouth supporters who’d been up since silly o’clock to make the 245-mile trip to the Potteries certainly made their presence felt.

The car park outside the away end was a sea of green as they partied at 10am to tunes pumped out by a DJ. Once inside, they cheered anyone in their colours who emerged for the warm-ups and then cheered them back inside again.

But the Green Army were silenced – for a short time at least – when Plant stormed through to score for Vale inside the opening three minutes.

It owed everything to the vision of Danny Butterworth in midfield, spotting Plant’s run beyond Macaulay Gillesphey down the right channel and playing the perfect pass.

Plant got the better of Plymouth goalkeeper Callum Burton in the one-on-one to delight the Vale fans.

Plymouth took some time to get going. Their first opportunity of note wasn’t until the 18th minute when Bali Mumba headed back across goal and wide from Callum Wright’s cross.

But two well-taken goals in the space of five minutes flipped the game on its head and restored Plymouth to the summit.

On 34 minutes, Argyle attacked down the left and Niall Ennis did just enough to keep the move flowing inside the box as Vale tried to scramble it away.

The ball sat up perfectly for Randell on the edge of the box and he crashed it into the bottom corner.

That sparked pandemonium, with a pall of green smoke briefly shrouding the away end, and that excitement had barely died down when Plymouth took the lead.

This time they attacked from right to left, with Mumba working the ball on to Callum Wright, whose low ball across the Vale box was tempting.

Just as it appeared to elude everyone, Plymouth’s captain Edwards arrived at the back post to fire into an ever-narrowing gap.

After James Plant put Vale ahead inside three minutes, Adam Randell equalised for the visitors

A goal from Plymouth captain Joe Edwards (right) saw them go in 2-1 up at the half-time break

Substitute Finn Azaz (right) then put the icing on the cake with a third goal after the hour mark

At the final whistle, Plymouth celebrated raucously with their 3,926 fans who made the trip

Even though Ipswich were only drawing at this point, Plymouth knew they might need an insurance goal and made the early second-half running.

Randell curled an inswinging corner into a packed six-yard box and keeper Aiden Stone punched clear, before Mumba cleared the crossbar with a shot a few minutes later.

Edwards then cleared the bar from point-blank range after good work by Finn Azaz, the Argyle midfielder getting a ticking off from the referee after claiming it should have been a corner. Just after news filtered through that Fleetwood had equalised at 1-1 against Ipswich, Plymouth added their third.

It was a cracking finish by Azaz, lifted high into the net from just inside the area after Wright cut inside on the right. He was possibly fouled but the referee played advantage and his pass found Azaz to score.

Matty Taylor had a stoppage time header ruled out for offside but it would have been mere consolation anyway. That was that. Plymouth are champions – and in what style.

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