City 3 Plymouth 1

YOU could never accuse Plymouth's official twitter feed of being understated.

"Stand by for some super team news," they teased before the line-ups for Saturday's FA Cup tie at Valley Parade were made public.

The return of "super" Luke McCormick in the visiting goal was the big surprise; the rabbit out of the hat from Derek Adams, who had happily leaked a campaign of misinformation in the build-up about a keeper crisis.

Teenage novice Will Mannion was expected to be in the firing line for a City side hell-bent on revenge for that tough-to-take league loss on Plymouth's last visit three weeks earlier.

But he was already back with parent club Hull after an emergency stay which began and ended with a solitary Checkatrade Trophy outing.

Instead it was Plymouth first choice McCormick stepping between the sticks for the first time in three months; another seemingly impenetrable goalkeeping barrier standing in the way of City getting their Valley Parade form back on an even keel.

Adams might have thought he had triumphed in the managerial masterstroke stakes – but he was trumped by his opposite number.

Stuart McCall had cut a hugely frustrated figure in the aftermath of Argyle's smash-and-grab raid last month.

He may have played down any talk of revenge or payback in advance but do not believe a word of it. McCall was itching to set the record straight.

The league video had been scoured and clips closely examined – and McCall noted how isolated Charlie Wyke had been.

City's best scoring opportunity that day had come from the penalty spot after Romain Vincelot was pulled back while making a late burst into the box.

McCall therefore decided on this occasion to push his skipper into a more advanced position. The 'number ten' role was designated for the Frenchman, allowing him to pop up more often in threatening positions.

The Bantams boss was that confident in a tactical tweak the team had worked on for two days in training, he even tipped off Edin Rahic that Vincelot would score the opening goal when the chairman asked him the night before.

McCall had seen it coming – but Plymouth didn't.

In the manager's eyes, Vincelot is the best header of the ball at the club, and the spring was back in the captain's step as he leapt over Aaron Taylor-Sinclair to power home Tony McMahon's cross.

Scoring the first goal was key to the plan in drawing Plymouth out of their defensive shell and avoiding flashbacks of that painful afternoon when City had done everything but score.

So too was the idea of giving the visitors more of the ball; luring them forward so they were tempted to do more than just sit deep in serious numbers.

The ironic thing is how lively Plymouth did look going forward. Showing far more adventure than before, League One's bottom side played their part in a far more open and entertaining clash than most had anticipated.

Their more positive approach also played into City's hands by leaving space that had been denied the hosts by their stifling game-plan last time.

The other difference from before was that Jake Jervis had clearly left his predatory instinct back in Devon. Jervis had notched the only goal in the league win – on Saturday, he could have had two or three.

He should certainly have had one when McMahon's misdirected header aimed towards Rouven Sattelmaier turned into a perfect set-up for the striker to nod over the stranded keeper. Instead he looped the ball a yard or so wide with the net gaping.

Then there was the moment just before the break when Joel Grant's cross whipped past his nose with Jervis caught in two minds whether to go with his head or high foot – and connected with neither.

City will feel they have earned a break or two at Valley Parade. Good fortune has been in short supply in recent home games. A sense their luck had changed was confirmed with the second goal soon after the interval.

Yann Songo'o half-cleared a corner, Vincelot lashed at it with a first-time volley – and a shot that was clearly flying wide was deflected inside the near post by the right cheek of an unwitting Nathaniel Knight-Percival.

The announcer initially awarded another goal to Vincelot but the bright red mark on the centre half's cheek – and the hysterical reaction of his team-mates – made it clear who should get the credit.

"It was a good use of the face," smiled McCall afterwards. But for Plymouth it was no laughing matter, the earlier confidence clearly draining from their play.

Playmaker Graham Carey, on whose shoulders lie their best chance of avoiding an instant return to League Two, offered some hope of a comeback. But it proved an illusion.

Jervis was allowed room to cut across the edge of the box and feed the unmarked Irishman, whose shot flicked off a sliding McMahon and over Sattelmaier.

That could have been the signal for an uncomfortable final half hour. Instead it was the merest of glitches before City restored their two-goal cushion inside a minute.

McCormick's status plummeted from hero to zero, his superb first-half double save from Alex Gilliead and Wyke wiped away when he failed to deal with the same pair straight from the resulting kick-off.

Gilliead galloped down the right wing before delivering a low cross that the keeper should have gathered without fuss.

Yet somehow McCormick allowed the ball to squirm through his body and Wyke had his ninth goal of the campaign – and by far the easiest – with a tap-in from half a yard.

So not so super for Argyle, who maintained a woeful record of never having won a cup game in Yorkshire in 12 attempts.

City, on the other hand, can tonight look forward to their first appearance in the third-round hat under McCall's command.

They surely won't get that lucky to earn the trip to Manchester United that Rahic – and no doubt the rest of the country – is dreaming of.

Third-round draws have typically proved an anti-climax, with the likes of Bury, Millwall, Watford, West Brom and Luton hardly quickening the pulse.

But maybe this time with McCall, given how long he's had to wait, it will be different.