Barrett breaks Argyle's hearts with late equaliser
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 2 GILLINGHAM 2
FORMER Argyle centre-back Adam Barrett saved League Two table-toppers Gillingham from defeat at Home Park this afternoon, writes Chris Errington.
The Pilgrims had seemed set for victory when midfielder Luke Young put them 2-1 up in the 80th minute.
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But Barrett denied Argyle what would have been a morale-boosting win when he headed home from close range in the 89th minute.
At least the result ended a sequence of four successive defeats for the Pilgrims in all competitions.
Argyle had opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a goal from centre-back Curtis Nelson, but the Gills replied through striker Ben Strevens before half-time.
Darren Purse returned from a toe injury to lead out Argyle against the League Two leaders.
His centre-back partner was Nelson, with 2011/12 player-of-the-year Maxime Blanchard dropping down to the substitutes' bench.
There was a change in goal with Rene Gilmartin taking over from Jake Cole.
Gilmartin was making his third appearance for the Pilgrims after his summer signing, but his first in League Two.
Also returning to the team were Paris Cowan-Hall, Rhys Griffiths and Conor Hourihane.
Cowan-Hall had scored coming off the bench in the 2-1 defeat by Burton Albion at Home Park on Wednesday.
Hourihane was paired in the centre of midfield with Jamie Lowry while Young moved to the left of midfield.
Argyle had been without Hourihane against Burton because of a one-match ban after his red card in the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Dorchester Town last Sunday.
Gillingham, boasting the best defensive record in League Two, were captained by Barrett.
They had a couple of early opportunities, first when Strevens was wide with an acrobatic overhead kick.
Gilmartin then pushed a header from midfielder Chris Whelpdale away for a corner, past his left post.
Griffiths had a header easily saved by Gillingham's Stuart Nelson before sending another one over the crossbar.
Nelson spilled a long-range strike from Argyle right-back Durrell Berry in the 30th minute but made amends by making a superb save from striker Warren Feeney's follow up.
At the other end of the pitch, Gilmartin pushed away a 20-yard drive from midfielder Charlie Lee, before the deadlock was broken by the Pilgrims in the 33rd minute.
Feeney had a shot blocked on the line from a corner taken by midfielder Jamie Lowry but Nelson was there to slot home from close range.
Argyle's lead lasted only five minutes, however, as Strevens drove the ball low past Gilmartin from inside the 18-yard box.
Strevens was not picked up by the Pilgrims' defence after the ball reached him from Whelpdale and he finished clinically.
It remained 1-1 until the interval after what had been an evenly contested first half.
Gillingham had an early chance in the second period when striker Deon Burton was on the end of a corner into the Argyle penalty area from Jack Payne.
Burton's scissor kick bounced down into the ground and then went narrowly over the bar.
Half-time substitute Myles Weston posed a threat for Gillingham wide on the left and Berry had to be alert to deal with him.
Argyle were struggling to put any pressure on the visitors' defence and Andres Gurrieri replaced Feeney in the 60th minute.
Gurrieri played on the left of midfield with Young moving to the right and Cowan-Hall was pushed into the attack with Griffiths.
It was not long before Griffiths made way, though, as Nick Chadwick came off the bench.
Scoring chances were few and far between as two hard-working teams cancelled each other out, but Gurrieri had an opportunity in the 75th minute.
His far post header was blocked behind for a corner off Gillingham right-back Matt Fish after a cross from Young.
That was part of a good spell from Argyle and they were rewarded with a second goal in the 80th minute.
The ball was laid off to Young by Chadwick and he strode forward before crashing a fierce 18-yard shot past Nelson.
Argyle seemed in control, but Gillingham equalised for the second time in the 89th minute.
A deep cross from Payne was headed back by Weston beyond the far post and Barrett dived in to head home against his former club.
ARGYLE: Rene Gilmartin; Durrell Berry, Curtis Nelson, Darren Purse, Onismor Bhasera; Paris Cowan-Hall, Jamie Lowry, Conor Hourihane, Luke Young; Warren Feeney (Andres Gurrieri 60 mins); Rhys Griffiths (Nick Chadwick 68 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Jake Cole (gk), Maxime Blanchard, Guy Madjo, Joe Lennox, Scott Griffiths.
GILLINGHAM: Stuart Nelson; Matt Fish, Tom Flanagan, Adam Barrett, Danny Jackman; Jack Payne; Chris Whelpdale (Danny Kedwell 69 mins), Charlie Lee (Myles Weston h/t), Romain Vincelot; Ben Strevens, Deon Burton (Adam Birchall 86 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Andy Frampton, Callum Davies, Lewis Montrose, Tommy Forecast (gk).
REFEREE: Andy D'Urso (Essex)
ATTENDANCE: 6,396 (377 away)
GOALS – Argyle: Nelson 33 mins, Young 80 mins; Gillingham: Strevens 38 mins, Barrett 89 mins