SWINDON Town fell to a third straight defeat in all competitions on Tuesday night as they saw their EFL Trophy hopes ended at home by Plymouth Argyle.

Following League Two losses at home to Newport County and away at Bradford City, a change in competition for a heavily rejigged Swindon side failed to spark a turnaround in fortunes as they turned in a lifeless performance.

The defeat means Richie Wellens’ troops remain pointless in the Trophy after two group games and are therefore eliminated with one still to play – away at Bristol Rovers on November 12.

And with these two teams meeting again in the league at the Energy Check County Ground on Saturday – albeit with what will likely be vastly different line-ups – the result is a worrying precursor for Swindon.

Plymouth dominated the first period and a flurry of chances were rewarded with goals from Zak Rudden and Joel Grant.

The one-way traffic continued after the break and Joe Riley’s strike moved Argyle further clear to compound a miserable evening for Town.

Wellens made seven changes to the Swindon side that had started the previous 2-1 defeat away at Bradford in the league on Saturday.

New recruit Gabriel Zakuani, Ellis Iandolo, Lloyd Isgrove and Kaiyne Woolery were the only men to keep their places as the Town boss shuffled his pack.

Goalkeeper Steven Benda made his first start for the club since signing on loan from Swansea City over the summer, while Taylor Curran was handed a maiden appearance of the season.

On-loan Bradford striker Eoin Doyle returned after being forced to miss the match against his parent club at the weekend, while Tyler Reid, Danny Rose, Adam May and Michael Doughty were the other fresh faces to come in.

Swindon carved out the game’s first chance after four minutes as Doughty played a nice ball around the corner to Iandolo, who charged from halfway into the Argyle box before lashing into the side netting.

Town were almost caught out immediately afterwards as Benda failed to clear a cross convincingly, allowing Antoni Sarcevic to try an audacious lob over the backpedalling goalkeeper, which hit the crossbar and bounced over.

The early action was frenetic, and 10 minutes were still not yet on the clock when Doughty saw a curling free-kick from the edge of the box well saved low down by diving Plymouth keeper Mike Cooper.

The next chance came Argyle’s way but Rudden spurned a gilt-edged opening from close range after finding space from a corner.

However, Rudden atoned for his miss just a minute later, rising highest to meet Gary Sawyer’s cross from the left and plant a perfect header into the corner of the net to break the deadlock after a quarter-of-an-hour.

Plymouth were soon back on the attack and a clever free-kick routine saw Conor Grant rifle a shot from 20 yards that deflected narrowly over the top.

The visitors continued to push forward and it needed a good save from Benda to keep out a powerful drive from Joel Grant.

Argyle remained in the ascendancy and Conor Grant and Joel Grant both saw efforts cannon off Swindon defenders and deflect wide before the latter could only find the side netting with a snap-shot from close range.

Plymouth’s onslaught was eventually rewarded nine minutes before the break as Swindon were split open by Sarcevic’s surging run and through ball, which allowed Joel Grant to drill a shot beyond the dive of Benda and double the lead.

Town were then forced into a change before half-time as Curran was left in a heap on the floor following an aerial duel with Rudden and had to be replaced by Tom Broadbent, although the final few minutes of the first period passed without further alarm for the hosts.

Argyle remained on the front foot after the break and Sarcevic’s drive across the face of goal just eluded the outstretch leg of the diving Sawyer at the back post.

The problems continued for the home side and injury struck again nine minutes into the second half as Rob Hunt was thrown into the fray when Iandolo limped off.

Plymouth seemed determined to keep the foot on the pedal and Benda was forced to make a good stop to deny Sawyer.

Town were able to mount a rare attack on the hour as Isgrove nicked the ball off Sawyer before finding Doyle, although his shot from the edge of the box caused no real alarms for visiting keeper Cooper.

However, hopes of a home fightback were cut short shortly afterwards as Plymouth got their third goal when Riley smashed low and hard through a crowded box and into the bottom corner of the net.

The woodwork then denied the Pilgrims a fourth goal as Joel Grant’s powerful effort struck the post and span across the face of goal before being hooked away to safety.

Cooper saw some rare action at the other end as the game entered its final 10 minutes, clawing away an Isgrove header from underneath his own crossbar as the diminutive winger met a looping cross from substitute Scott Twine at the back post.

That was as close as the hosts came to claiming some sort of consolation on the night and no further chances were forthcoming as Town exited the Trophy without much in the way of resistance.

SWINDON TOWN (4-4-2): Benda; Reid, Curran (Broadbent 41), Zakuani, Iandolo (Hunt 54); Isgrove, Rose (c), May, Doughty; Doyle (Twine 71), Woolery. Subs not used: McCormick, Yates, McGilp, Sanokho.

PLYMOUTH ARGYLE (3-5-2): Cooper; Wootton, Canavan, J Grant; Riley, Sarcevic (Wilson 78), Edwards, C Grant (Randell 56), Sawyer; Rudden (Taylor 72), JV Grant. Subs not used: Aimson, Lolos, Palmer, Peck.

Referee: Chris Pollard

Attendance: Not announced