Chadwick sent-off as Argyle crash to defeat
PORT VALE 4 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0
MANAGERLESS Plymouth Argyle dropped into the League Two relegation zone after a heavy defeat at title-chasing Port Vale, writes Chris Errington.
The Pilgrims were playing for the first time since Carl Fletcher was sacked as their boss on New Year's Day.
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Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell took temporary charge of Argyle at Vale Park, in advance of the expected appointment of John Sheridan as manager next week.
Midfielder Jennison Myrie-Williams put second-placed Vale into a 32nd minute lead.
Then, immediately from the restart, Argyle striker Nick Chadwick was sent-off for elbowing Vale's Gareth Vincent.
It remained 1-0 until the break, but Vale were totally dominant in the second half against the dispirited visitors.
Tom Pope scored two goals to take his tally in League Two this season for the season to 23, and his strike partner Ben Williamson was also on target.
Results elsewhere meant the Pilgrims slipped to 23rd position in the table, above only Bristol Rovers.
Argyle's starting line-up showed one change from the 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers on New Year's Day, with midfielder Paul Wotton replacing striker Warren Feeney.
It was Wotton's first appearance for more than three months after a back problem.
Ironically, his last start for the Pilgrims came when they lost 3-1 against Port Vale at Home Park in mid-September.
Vale's side showed six changes from their 2-0 home defeat by Fleetwood Town on New Year's Day.
They had lost their previous three matches at Vale Park in all competitions – a couple of them in League Two and one in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Wotton was the holding midfield player in a 4-1-4-1 formation for the Pilgrims.
Argyle made a positive start, with skipper Conor Hourihane having an early header saved by Vale's Chris Neal.
Paris Cowan-Hall and Onismor Bhasera both had shots blocked one after another following a backheel inside the box from Luke Young.
Young was then booked in the 18th minute after a raised arm challenge on Vale centre-back Joe Davis.
Gradually, Vale began to apply some pressure and Myrie-Williams was their main threat.
Myrie-Williams fired across the face of goal after one excellent run and then set up Pope for a shot which he dragged wide of the target.
Vale took the lead in the 32nd minute and it was Myrie-Williams who grabbed the goal.
Myrie-Williams cut inside from the right and although Argyle 'keeper Rene Gilmartin got a glove to the low shot he could not stop the ball from ending up in the net.
From the restart, Vincent ended up in a heap on the ground in an off-the-ball incident.
Mathieson consulted with the fourth official, Matthew Bristow, before calling over Chadwick and showing the red card.
Chadwick protested his innocence but it was to no avail as he became the fifth Pilgrims' player to be sent-off this season.
Vincent had been involved in an almost identical incident when the Pilgrims had kicked off at the start of the game.
On that occasion, Mathieson and none of his officials saw any offence take place.
Cowan-Hall moved into attack for Argyle after Chadwick's dismissal and it remained 1-0 until the break.
Vale doubled their lead in the 55th minute when Pope soared above the Pilgrims' defence to head home from inside the six-yard area after a Vincent cross.
Williamson had a close range shot saved by Gilmartin as the home side pressed for further goals.
Midfielder Doug Loft then saw his fierce 25-yard shot tipped over the crossbar by the Argyle 'keeper for a corner.
Soon afterwards, Gilmartin made an excellent save to push away a close range header from Pope.
Gilmartin continued to be kept busy, beating away a shot from Pope before Williamson blasted his follow-up attempt over the bar.
Williamson did make it 3-0 in the 77th minute, though, when he was set-up by Pope, with Argyle waiting for an offside flag which never came.
The compliment was returned by Williamson in the 83rd minute as his pass released Pope and Vale's top scorer crashed the ball past Gilmartin and into the net.
Finally, after three minutes of stoppage time, Mathieson blew his final whistle to put the Pilgrims out of their misery.
PORT VALE: Chris Neal; Adam Yates, Liam Chilvers, Joe Davis, Robert Taylor; Jennison Myrie-Williams (Chris Birchall 79 mins), Doug Loft, Chris Shuker, Ashley Vincent (Ryan Lloyd 82 mins); Tom Pope, Ben Williamson.
Substitutes (not used): Louis Dodds, Clayton McDonald, Calvin Andrew, Ryan Burge, Richard Duffy.
ARGYLE: Rene Gilmartin; Durrell Berry, Curtis Nelson, Maxime Blanchard, Robbie Williams; Paris Cowan-Hall, Luke Young (Warren Feeney 67 mins), Paul Wotton, Conor Hourihane, Onismor Bhasera; Nick Chadwick.
Substitutes (not used): Jake Cole, Rhys Griffiths, Jamie Lowry, Matt Lecointe, Jamie Richards, Andres Gurrieri.
REFEREE: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)
ATTENDANCE: 5,168 (334 away)
GOALS – Port Vale: Myrie-Williams 32 mins, Pope 55, 83 mins mins, Williamson 77 mins; Argyle: None