SWINDON Town beat Plymouth Argyle 3-1 at Home Park on Tuesday night to all but book their place in the EFL Trophy knock-out stage for the first time since 2017-18.

An own-goal from Plymouth’s Macaulay Gillesphey set Town on their way before Kieran Agard equalised minutes later. However, Jayden Mitchell-Lawson and Harry McKirdy wrapped up victory late on.

Following a 2-1 win over Arsenal U21s in the first group game, Town’s second success means a single point against Newport County next month would be good enough for confirmed progression.

Town made seven changes to the starting XI that beat Forest Green Rovers 2-0 in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Saturday, but the most surprising name on the team-sheet was 43-year-old goalkeeping coach Steve Mildenhall – named on the substitute's bench in the absence of a professional back-up goalkeeper.

Mathieu Baudry came back into the side for the first time since limping off against Cambridge United in the League Cup in August, and Jordan Lyden started for the first time this season.

For Argyle, Ryan Lowe named a very strong side indeed with the likes of Danny Mayor, Panutche Camara, and Joe Edwards starting. Ex-Town loanee Jordon Garrick began the night on the bench.

Following an understandably tepid start at Home Park, Argyle had the ball in the net in the 10th minute when Danny Mayor's cross found Rhys Shirley at the back post. Shirly headed past Lewis Ward with Camara also in attendance, but the linesman had raised his flag for offside very quickly.

The visitors recovered from the early scare to get a grip on proceedings, and they took the lead themselves in the 20th minute.

Harry Parsons found space down the left edge of the box, and without much to aim at in terms of red shirts or the goal, the youngster simply hammered the ball into a sea of green bodies - it bounced off Gillesphey's leg and into the net.

Yet, no sooner had the 50-or-so away supporters settled back into their seats, Argyle pulled level. A superb ball in from the left by recent villain Gillesphey was prodded past Ward at his near post by Agard after getting in front of Baudry.

Argyle really should have gone ahead in the 38th minute after superb play from man of the first half, Mayor. He slipped Agard in down the centre, but one on one, Agard dragged his right-footed shot horribly and Ward watched on as it skipped by his right-hand post.

Enjoying a fine few days, the former Exeter City stopper – Ward – had to be at his best to deny Argyle a few more times before the break.

Mayor let fly from 25 yards, only for Ward to spring up to his left to turn it away. Moments later, Joe Edwards saw a near-post shot comfortably gathered by the man in all pink. It was Mayor once again just before half-time who stung the palms of Ward, but Town’s number one got down to his left well to push the ball to safety.

In the early stages of the second period, Town had a good chance to take the lead once again. Mo Dabre nicked the ball back high up and combined passes with Jayden Mitchell-Lawson down the left. The striker could have shot perhaps, but decided to fire it back into the path of Dabre who missed his kick at goal.

Following a speculative effort from Plymouth’s Adam Randell, Town went close again through Mitchell-Lawson when Swindon’s striker n almost squeezed a shot in at the near post.

Parsons slipped Mitchell-Lawson in down the right channel, and although the shot was straight at Burton, the stopper made a mess of dealing with it and scrambled it behind.

Moments later, Ricky Aguiar went on a mazy run through several green bodies before driving at Burton from inside the box. The stopper turned the latest effort behind a little more competently than the first though.

With around 15 minutes to go, Town hit the front once again. After Ward grabbed Will Jenkins-Davies' tame header goalwards from a corner, the Town stopper looked up and simply launched a long through out to Mitchell-Lawson down the right.

The striker showed his evident quality to power away from his marker and drill a shot into the far corner. He looked as though he might have let the chance go by at first, but he recovered really well to find the net.

Inside the final 10 minutes, substitute Harry McKirdy cracked a superb effort off the post from distance. Out on the left, McKirdy whipped an effort goalwards that crashed back off Burton's left-hand post before bouncing away.

He wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet though, McKirdy. Crichlow burst out of defence and slipped in Mitchell-Lawson down the left. He could have shot himself but was unselfish and squared the ball to McKirdy to tap home and wrap the game up for Swindon in the 84th minute.

PAFC starting XI: Burton, Gillesphey, Wilson, Edwards, Mayor, Agard, Randell, Law, Camara, Tomlinson, Shirley.

SUBS: Cooper, Hardie, Garrick, Pursall, Jenkins-Davies, Issaka, Roberts.

STFC starting XI: Ward, Hunt, Baudry, Odimayo, Crichlow, Lyden, East, Aguiar, Dabre, Parsons, Mitchell-Lawson.

SUBS: Mildenhall, Iandolo, McKirdy, Cowmeadow, Francis, Minturn, Winchcombe.