Argyle power their way to victory at Barnet
BARNET 1 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 4
PLYMOUTH Argyle added to the woes of bottom-of-the-table Barnet with a convincing victory at Underhill today, writes Chris Errington.
The Pilgrims clinched their third win of the League Two campaign, and their second on their travels, after playing some positive, attacking football.
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Striker Rhys Griffiths put Argyle into the lead in only the second minute with a controversially-awarded penalty.
Defender Maxime Blanchard headed home a second goal before winless Barnet cut the deficit with a strike from David Stephens in the 16th minute.
Barnet had a good spell before half-time but, after a tactical switch, Argyle dominated the second half.
Winger Paris Cowan-Hall headed home a third goal in the 62nd minute before midfielder Luke Young completed the scoring with a free-kick deep into stoppage time.
Blanchard returned to duty for Argyle against Barnet after sitting out the previous two games because of concussion.
He renewed his centre-back partnership with captain Darren Purse, who had been suspended for the 2-1 home win against Aldershot Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last Tuesday.
On-loan Peterborough United left-back Scott Griffiths made his league debut for the Pilgrims.
The 26-year-old had played in the victory over Aldershot after signing on the morning of that match.
Argyle's substitutes against Barnet included summer signing Jamie Lowry.
It was the first time he had been in a matchday squad for the Pilgrims after recovering from an ankle ligament injury.
Barnet had appointed former Dutch international midfielder Edgar Davids as their joint head coach on Friday.
That ensured a lot of media interest in the Bees' game against Argyle, with reporters from national newspapers and radio stations in attendance.
Barnet gave a debut to another former Dutch international, striker Collins John, while former Argyle 'keeper Graham Stack was between the posts for them.
The Pilgrims played with the infamous Underhill slope in their favour in the first half.
And they took the lead in only the second minute when Rhys Griffiths slotted home from the penalty spot.
Barnet were furious when referee Fred Graham awarded the spot kick after a tackle on Argyle midfielder Luke Young by Mark Byrne.
Their protestations were in vain as Byrne was booked and then Griffiths slammed home the penalty.
The visitors went further ahead in the 12th minute when Blanchard headed home from an Alex MacDonald corner.
Blanchard was not picked up by the Barnet defence and powered the ball into the top left corner of the net.
John made an early exit on his debut for the Bees because of injury and was replaced by John Oster in the 16th minute.
The substitution was made before Byrne took a corner and when Argyle failed to clear their lines the ball was slotted home by Stephens.
Oster played in a deep midfield role, in front of the Bees' defence, with Jake Hyde as their lone striker.
The change of tactics suited the home side as they started to pass the ball around with a lot more confidence.
Under-pressure Argyle did have a chance to extend their lead in the 36th minute, though.
MacDonald's poorly struck 30-yard free-kick was almost redirected into the net by Rhys Griffiths, but Stack made the save, and it stayed 2-1 to the Pilgrims until half-time.
Argyle sent on Andres Gurrieri as a substitute for striker Guy Madjo at the start of the second period.
Gurrieri played behind Rhys Griffiths and his presence meant Oster did not get on the ball as much.
Rhys Griffiths fired wide from a tight angle before Gurrieri's fierce shot was superbly parried away by Stack in the 54th minute.
Argyle's good start to the second half was rewarded with a goal from Cowan-Hall.
It came in the 62nd minute when Cowan-Hall headed home from close range after a free-kick curled into the box by MacDonald.
Barnet had a chance to reduce the deficit when centre-back Krystian Pearce met a corner from Byrne but his header was cleared off the line by Young.
Argyle saw out the rest of the match without any more alarms and even added to their goal tally in stoppage time.
Cowan-Hall, who was a livewire all afternoon, was fouled 20 yards out by Barnet's Barry Fuller.
Young took the resulting free-kick and curled the ball into the top right corner of the net to wrap up an excellent afternoon's work from Argyle.
Barnet: Graham Stack; Barry Fuller, David Stephens, Krystian Pearce, Jordan Brown; Andy Yiadom (Anthony Edgar 73 mins), Clovis Kamdjo, Mark Byrne, Ricky Holmes (Jamal Lowe 81 mins); Jake Hyde, Collins John (John Oster 16 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Liam O'Brien (gk), Oliver Lee, Jon Nurse, Elliott Johnson.
Argyle: Jake Cole, Durrell Berry, Darren Purse, Maxime Blanchard, Scott Griffiths; Alex MacDonald (Joe Lennox 73 mins), Luke Young, Conor Hourihane, Paris Cowan-Hall; Rhys Griffiths (Nick Chadwick 84 mins), Guy Madjo (Andres Gurrieri h/t).
Substitutes (not used): Jamie Lowry, Curtis Nelson, Rene Gilmartin (gk), Jamie Richards.
Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)
Attendance: 3,229 (1,053 away)
Goals – Barnet: Stephens 16 mins; Argyle: R Griffiths (pen) 2 mins, Blanchard 12 mins, Cowan-Hall 62 mins, Young 90 +3 mins