Report | Swansea City 4 Plymouth Argyle 1
Dan Williams’ first senior goal and a quickfire hat-trick from Morgan Whittaker saw Swansea City get past Plymouth Argyle to reach the third round of the Carabao Cup.
Russell Martin’s side had looked to be on track when midfielder Williams saw his low, deflected shot find the net in the 29th minute, but they were pegged back after the break as Rhys Shirley finished from close range.
But the hosts avoided the nerves of a penalty shoot-out as Whittaker took aim from distance to find the net with a left-footed strike, before finished off a sweeping counter sparked by Jamal Lowe, and then steering in another in stoppage time.
The trio of goals had come in the space of just 11 minutes and it gave the former Derby man a slice of Swansea history as he became the first player to score a hat-trick for the club since Scott Sinclair in the play-off final at Wembley in 2011.
The League One visitors more than played their part in a hard-fought contest, but it was the hosts who prevailed with head coach Martin able to rotate his squad to some degree following a hectic few weeks.
The head coach had made seven changes from the win at Bristol City with Ben Hamer being handed his debut, with Ryan Bennett, Williams, Kyle Joseph, Yan Dhanda, Whittaker and Lowe also coming into the side.
It was a lively start, with Lowe breaking into the Pilgrims’ area at one end, before an important challenge from Jay Fulton denied Ryan Broom a shot on goal for the visitors.
Joseph then saw his header deflected wide after he rose to meet Jake Bidwell’s cross.
Bidwell then fired low into the arms of Callum Burton in the Plymouth goal, after reacting quickest to a knockdown from Bennett.
Another chance fell Swansea’s way in the 16th minute. Bidwell was freed by a raking pass from Joel Latibeaudiere and, when Joseph headed the ball down, Whittaker was waiting.
However, he could not keep his volley down and the ball spooned onto the roof of the net.
It was as good a chance as was created for as the hosts dominated the ball without crafting a clear opening.
Ryan Manning dragged an effort from distance wide before the Swans took the lead just before the half-hour.
The lively Joseph won the ball and Lowe then laid it off for Williams, whose low shot confounded Burton as it went through the keeper and into the net.
It was nearly 2-0 seconds later as Williams’ dinked pass found Lowe, whose ferocious half-volley hammered into the side-netting.
Whittaker then failed to get a proper connection on a lovely floated pass from Williams, who was playing with all the confidence and maturity he showed in his debut at Reading in the previous round.
The Swans led at the interval and nearly doubled their lead shortly after the restart, with Williams surging into the area and finding the head of Joseph. The wing-back’s powerful header appeared to be blocked by a Plymouth arm, but referee Robert Madley waved away the appeals.
But the visitors remained a threat on the break, with Ryan Law and Panutche Camara catching the eye.
And it required a superb double block from Bidwell and substitute Brandon Cooper to prevent Camara turning the ball in after good work from Broom.
But there was no let-off for the hosts when the Swans were unable to clear their lines, and a superb deep cross allowed Shirley to turn the ball in at the far post just a matter of minutes after coming on.
That set up the prospect of a penalty shoot-out with Plymouth growing in confidence and the Swans unable to break down a deep-lying defence.
Swansea pressed as Bidwell’s low cross was turned wide by Joseph, but they grabbed the crucial strike through a fantastic solo effort from Whittaker.
Receiving the ball around 30 yards out, he drifted infield and fired an unstoppable curling shot beyond the grasp of Burton and into the bottom corner in the 79th minute.
And the forward put the tie out of reach seven minutes later as Lowe charged forward from deep inside his own half to unselfishly square the ball to his attacking colleague, who rifled a shot high into the net.
But there was more to come in the final minute of the 90, Ethan Laird sprinting away down the right to pull-back to Whittaker, who beat a defender before prodding the ball into the corner to complete his hat-trick and become the first Swansea player since Sinclair to take home the match ball.
Swansea City: Ben Hamer; Joel Latibeaudiere, Ryan Bennett (captain) (Kyle Naughton 67), Ryan Manning (Brandon Cooper 46); Kyle Joseph (Ethan Laird 77), Jay Fulton, Dan Williams, Jake Bidwell; Yan Dhanda; Jamal Lowe, Morgan Whittaker.
Unused Substitutes: Lewis Webb, Joel Piroe, Liam Cullen, Ollie Cooper.
Plymouth Argyle: Callum Burton, Macaulay Gillsephey, Dan Scarr, Ryan Broom, Joe Edwards (captain), Ryan Hardie (Rhys Shirley 58), Adam Randell, Ryan Law (George Cooper 70), Panutche Camara (Jordan Houghton 61), Luke Jephcott, Ollie Tomlinson.
Unused Substitutes: Michael Cooper, Brendan Galloway, Finley Craske, Ethan Mitchell.
Referee: Robert Madley