Argyle fight it out for a draw at Torquay
TORQUAY UNITED 0 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0
IT WAS HONOURS even at Plainmoor as the first Devon derby of the season ended in a goal-less draw today, writes Chris Errington.
Torquay, still unbeaten in League Two this season, had the better of the first half.
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But the Pilgrims were much better in the second period and Gulls' keeper Michael Poke had to make an excellent save to keep out a header from striker Warren Feeney.
In the end, it finished a point apiece, and Argyle could take heart from their battling display.
It was their second clean sheet of the season in League Two, following their 0-0 draw at Dagenham and Redbridge on August 21.
Argyle's latest signing, striker Guy Madjo, started the Devon derby on the substitutes' bench.
Madjo has arrived on a one-month loan from League Two rivals Aldershot Town, completing his move on Friday night.
Injuries ruled out Paris Cowan-Hall (hamstring) and Rhys Griffiths (calf) for the trip to Plainmoor.
Onismor Bhasera was also absent because he was on international duty with Zimbabwe.
Argyle's starting line-up showed two changes from the 3-2 home win against Northampton Town last Saturday.
Joe Lennox came into the side for Bhasera, and Burnley loan signing Alex MacDonald replaced Cowan-Hall.
Torquay were boosted by the return of 5ft 5in speedster Danny Stevens, who was playing for the first time this season after a thigh injury.
There was a fiery start to the Devon derby, with Argyle's Durrell Berry and Conor Hourihane both booked inside the first eight minutes.
Berry clattered into Ian Morris while Hourihane made a very high challenge on Nathan Craig.
Neither Berry nor Hourihane could have any complaints about the yellow cards they received from referee Roger East.
MacDonald fired wide from a corner taken by Paul Wotton in the 14th minute but, otherwise, Torquay had the better of the early play.
Billy Bodin had one shot deflect wide for a corner before Ian Morris had a fierce strike from inside the penalty area parried away by Argyle 'keeper Jake Cole.
The loose ball broke to Gulls' captain Lee Mansell, but his follow-up attempt was bravely blocked by left-back Robbie Williams.
Mansell then saw a dipping 25-yard shot fly inches over Cole's crossbar in the 20th minute.
Argyle had a chance soon afterwards, which came after a Torquay corner was confidently claimed by Cole.
His long clearance saw Torquay left-back Kevin Nicholson misplace a header, under pressure from Lennox.
Feeney picked up possession and tried a shot from 30 yards which was pushed wide by 'keeper Michael Poke.
Torquay remained on top, with the lively Stevens having a strike blocked behind for a corner in the 42nd minute by a combination of Maxime Blanchard and Wotton.
However, the last chance of the first half went to Argyle, when a 20-yard free-kick from Williams was superbly saved by Poke.
Argyle made a good start to the second period, with MacDonald getting more of the ball in the attacking third of the pitch.
Feeney had a header from a Williams cross pushed away for a corner by Poke at his near post in the 58th minute.
Moments later, Poke made another good save after MacDonald set up Hourihane for a shot on target.
Madjo made his debut for the Pilgrims as a 66th minute substitute for Feeney, with the new recruit leading the attack in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Matt Lecointe and Andres Gurrieri also came off the bench for Argyle, with Luke Young and Lennox making way for them respectively.
The game was evenly poised entering the closing stages as both teams battled it out for superiority.
Bodin had a good chance for Torquay in the 89th minute but his goalbound shot was blocked by Berry for a corner.
TORQUAY: Michael Poke; Joe Oastler, Brian Saah, Aaron Downes, Kevin Nicholson; Billy Bodin, Lee Mansell, Nathan Craig, Danny Stevens (Niall Thompson 66 mins); Ian Morris (Ryan Jarvis 78 mins); Rene Howe.
Substitutes (not used): Daniel Leadbitter, Martin Rice, Thomas Cruise, Ashley Yeoman, Kirtys MacKenzie.
ARGYLE: Jake Cole; Durrell Berry, Darren Purse, Maxime Blanchard, Robbie Williams; Paul Wotton; Joe Lennox (Andres Gurrieri 76 mins), Luke Young (Matt Lecointe 57 mins), Conor Hourihane, Alex MacDonald; Warren Feeney (Guy Madjo 66 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Ollie Chenoweth, Curtis Nelson, Jamie Richards, Johnny Gorman.
REFEREE: Roger East (Wiltshire)
ATTENDANCE: 4,932 (1,514 away)
GOALS – Torquay: None; Argyle: None