Argyle held to draw by Sturrock's Southend
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 1 SOUTHEND UNITED 1
ARGYLE did not make the most of their chances as they had to settle for a draw against Paul Sturrock's Southend at Home Park this afternoon, writes Chris Errington.
The Pilgrims played some good football, especially in the first half, but could only convert one of their opportunities.
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That was when on-loan Burnley attacker Alex MacDonald netted in the 50th minute.
Southend equalised five minutes later with a superb solo goal from on-loan Watford striker Britt Assombalonga.
The visitors had substitute Barry Corr sent-off in the 82nd minute after his challenge on Argyle captain Darren Purse.
But the Pilgrims could not capitalise on their numerical advantage and it remained 1-1 until the final whistle.
Argyle had suffered a setback before the game when on-loan Watford midfielder Ross Jenkins was ruled out by injury.
The 21-year-old had put in an impressive goalscoring performance on his debut in the 3-2 win away to Morecambe last Saturday.
Luke Young was recalled as the central midfield partner to Conor Hourihane in the absence of Jenkins.
There was one other change to Argyle's starting line-up, with Onismor Bhasera returning from injury to play on the left of midfield instead of Andres Gurrieri.
The Pilgrims had plenty of attacking options on the substitutes' bench.
Nick Chadwick and Rhys Griffiths were both back from injury, and manager Carl Fletcher could also call upon Gurrieri and Matt Lecointe.
Southend were without first choice 'keeper Paul Smith for a second successive match so Daniel Bentley, 19, continued to deputise for him.
Bentley made an early save from Argyle striker Guy Madjo as the home side started confidently.
Bhasera headed wide after a left-wing cross from Robbie Williams before the Zimbabwe international had a low 20-yard shot saved by Bentley.
There was another chance for Bhasera when he was off target with a diving header following a cross from MacDonald.
Southend had a couple of chances, with Argyle 'keeper Jake Cole saving from strikers Elliot Benyon and Assombalonga.
But the Pilgrims finished the first half strongly, with Madjo shooting off target and his strike partner Warren Feeney heading narrowly wide from an inviting MacDonald cross.
Argyle had dominated possession and created several chances but had not been able to take any of them.
Southend were second best, but they always posed a threat at set pieces.
Argyle's good play was finally rewarded when they took the lead in the 50th minute as MacDonald fired past Bentley after a cut-back from Madjo.
It was MacDonald's first goal since starting a second loan spell with the Pilgrims at the start of September.
Southend drew level within five minutes, though, as Assombalonga scored a superb goal.
The Watford loanee cleverly turned away from Purse and raced into the box before slotting the ball between the legs of Cole.
Argyle made a double substitution in the 65th minute with Paris Cowan-Hall and Griffiths replacing Feeney and Madjo respectively.
Almost immediately, Griffiths headed wide from a corner taken by Hourihane.
Argyle found it hard to play with the same fluency as they had done in the first half as Southend started to get on top.
The Blues had more of the possession and Assombalonga was a constant attacking threat.
However, Southend had Corr sent-off in the 82nd minute after a challenge on Purse, with referee Steve Rushton immediately producing a red card.
Chadwick replaced MacDonald as a stoppage time substitute nut a winning goal proved elusive for either side.
ARGYLE: Jake Cole; Durrell Berry, Darren Purse, Maxime Blanchard, Robbie Williams; Alex MacDonald (Nick Chadwick 90 +1 mins), Luke Young, Conor Hourihane, Onismor Bhasera; Guy Madjo (Rhys Griffiths 65 mins), Warren Feeney (Paris Cowan-Hall 65 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Ollie Chenoweth (gk), Curtis Nelson, Matt Lecointe, Andres Gurrieri.
SOUTHEND: Daniel Bentley; Sean Clohessy, Ryan Cresswell, Luke Prosser, Chris Barker; Kevan Hurst, Michael Timlin, John Spicer (Barry Corr 68 mins), Dave Martin (Ryan Leonard h/t); Britt Assombalonga, Elliot Benyon (Freddy Eastwood 64 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Anthony Straker, Graham Coughlan, Alex Woodyard, Ted Smith (gk).
REFEREE: Steve Rushton (Staffordshire)
ATTENDANCE: 6,269 (237 away)
GOALS – Argyle: MacDonald 50 mins; Southend: Assombalonga 55 mins