FIFTEEN YEARS on, the story was not so very different to last time, in as much as it was non-stop Plymouth attack against an obstinate Derby defence with the visitors' goal enjoying something of a charmed life. But whereas on that occasion the Pilgrims, who went on to reach the semi-finals, deservedly earned a second bite at the cherry - Steve Cherry, to be precise - this time the Derby goalkeeper, the erratic Mart Poom, was to be spared such an ordeal because of his team's unusually sharp opportunism.
In a season when Derby's lack of finish has cost them their place among the Premiership's pacesetters, this will have been the most pleasing aspect of their win for their manager, Jim Smith. That and the fact that they had survived without seven first-teamers.
If goalscoring is all about confidence then Deon Burton, standing in for the suspended Paulo Wanchope, will have received an appropriate lift with his brace here, while Dean Sturridge certainly ought to take some encouragement from his contribution. On Saturday he was Plymouth's chief tormentor.
It was the sort of cup tie that had Argyle fans pining for one of their old favourites, the legendary Tommy Tynan. What profit their current commercial manager would have made of a 16-5 corner count in Plymouth's favour. Smith admitted: "Their delivery from corners and set pieces was excellent - we had to defend well."
Unfortunately for Plymouth they were undone too early by Sturridge, who skipped past a defender to deliver the cross from which Burton headed home unchallenged at the near post after 15 minutes, and then six minutes later forced Paul Wotton into a reckless challenge from which Stefano Eranio prospered from the spot.
Nothing if not game, Plymouth maintained their all-out assault on the Derby goal, and Poom's handling was such that the visitors were never completely secure. When he came and missed, dropping a golden opportunity into Lee Phillips' lap, the young striker somehow failed to locate the empty net. However, the Estonian redeemed himself with a double save from Wotton and Earl Jean shortly before half-time.
Eranio's second shot from the spot, after 52 minutes, struck the post, but seven minutes from time Plymouth had well and truly gone for a Burton as the Jamaican international punished slack defending to shoot high into the home net.
Goals: Burton (15) 0-1; Eranio (pen 21) 0-2; Burton (83) 0-3.
Plymouth Argyle (4-3-2-1): Sheffield; Aston, Heathcote, Wotton, Beswetherick (Marshall, 66); Mauge, Barlow, Hargreaves; Jean, Phillips (McCall, 66); McCarthy. Substitutes not used: Sweeney, Bastow, Dungey (gk).
Derby County (3-5-2): Poom; Carbonari, Prior, Elliott; Kozluk, Laursen, Carsley, Eranio (Harper, 79), Bohinen (Hunt, h-t); Sturridge, Burton. Substitutes not used: Launders, Bridge-Wilkinson, Hoult (gk).
Referee: E Wolstenholme (Blackburn).
Bookings: Plymouth: Ashton, Wotton, Mauge. Derby: Burton, Hunt.
Man of the match: Sturridge.
Attendance: 16,730.Reuse content