Feeney misses late penalty as Argyle draw at Accrington
ACCRINGTON STANLEY 1 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 1
SUBSTITUTE Warren Feeney missed a late penalty as Argyle fought out a 1-1 draw against Accrington Stanley today, writes Chris Errington.
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In an incident-packed match at a rain-swept Crown Ground, the Pilgrims took the lead in the 26th minute with a goal from Onismor Bhasera.
Accrington equalised seven minutes after half-time with an emphatic finish from former England striker James Beattie.
Feeney had the chance to restore Argyle's lead from the penalty spot in the 79th minute after substitute Paris Cowan-Hall was fouled by left-back Michael Liddle.
However, Feeney's spot kick was saved by Accrington's on-loan Leeds United goalkeeper Paul Rachubka.
Rachubka was then sent-off in the 89th minute for violent conduct after retaliating to a sliding challenge on him from Nick Chadwick.
The Argyle striker was also booked for his part in the incident, which sparked a melee inside the six-yard area.
The Pilgrims are now unbeaten in their last three league games and return to action on Boxing Day when Torquay United visit Home Park for a 1pm Devon derby.
Argyle's starting line-up showed three changes from the 1-1 draw away to Devon rivals Exeter City last Saturday.
Centre-back Maxime Blanchard was suspended and on-loan Bournemouth midfielder Mark Molesley had a hamstring injury.
Also dropping out was Argentine playmaker Andres Gurrieri, who was not even on the bench.
Coming into the Argyle team were Durrell Berry at right-back, Robbie Williams at left-back and Chadwick up front.
Chadwick partnered Rhys Griffiths in attack as part of a 4-4-2 formation.
The game went ahead despite heavy rain, with referee Mick Russell taking a long look at the pitch a couple of hours before kick-off.
The ranks of the Green Army were swelled by some Brighton and Hove Albion fans.
Brighton's game at nearby Blackburn Rovers in the Championship was postponed so some of their supporters re-routed to the Crown Ground.
There are close links between Argyle and Brighton after Fans Reunited days at both clubs.
The Pilgrims had the first chance of the contest, in only the second minute, as they made a positive start.
Midfielder Luke Young had a powerful 20-yard shot pushed away for a corner by Rachubka.
There was also an important early save from Argyle's Rene Gilmartin after the home team were a free-kick 25 yards out.
It was quickly taken by former Pilgrims' player Lee Molyneux while the visitors lined up their defensive wall.
Fortunately for Argyle, Gilmartin was alive to the danger and scrambled across to his right to stop the ball ending up in the net.
Gilmartin made another great stop in the 21st minute to deny Benin international Romuald Boco.
Accrington's 34-year-old former England striker Beattie went past Argyle captain Darren Purse and set up Boco for a shot.
The ball was destined for the net until Gilmartin used his 6ft 5in frame to claw it away.
Argyle took the lead in the 26th minute with a first goal of the season from Zimbabwe international Bhasera.
A 30-yard free-kick from Williams crashed against the right post and Bhasera tucked away the rebound as he followed up.
Accrington almost equalised on the stroke of half-time when midfielder Craig Lindfield got in behind the Pilgrims' defence.
However, Gilmartin came to the rescue for Argyle again as he kicked away Lindfield's low shot.
Bhasera almost got another goal at the start of the second half after a superb run from inside his own half.
His low angled shot flashed across the face of goal, with Griffiths sliding in and nearly getting on the end of it.
Accrington made a slow start to the second half but, against the run of play, drew level in the 52nd minute.
The Pilgrims could not clear their lines and Beattie showed his Premier League pedigree by smashing a shot into the net.
Accrington took encouragement from that goal and applied some sustained pressure.
Gilmartin made a superb save from a low free-kick taken by midfielder Luke Joyce and also blocked a follow-up attempt.
Then Beattie fired into the side netting from a tight angle after a cross from Molyneux.
Argyle sent on Feeney and Paris Cowan-Hall as substitutes as they found it difficult to retain possession, let alone create any chances.
The Pilgrims were awarded a penalty when Cowan-Hall was fouled inside the 18-yard area but Feeney's 79th minute spot kick was saved by Rachubka.
Accrington almost took the lead soon afterwards but Gilmartin made a fantastic save from Joyce's 20-yard free-kick.
The ball was curled towards the top left corner of the net by Joyce but Gilmartin, at full stretch, pushed it away.
Then, at the other end of the pitch, Purse's looping header hit the crossbar after a corner which was taken by Young.
There was controversy in the closing stages as Rachubka was sent-off after retaliating to a challenge on him by Chadwick.
There was a melee inside the penalty area as Russell struggled to control both sets of players.
However, it stayed 1-1 until full-time and Argyle could return to Devon with a hard-earned point.
ACCRINGTON: Paul Rachubka; Aristote Nsiala, Dean Winnard, Peter Murphy, Michael Liddle; Craig Lindfield (Andrew Dawber 90 +1 mins), George Miller, Luke Joyce, Lee Molyneux (Padraig Amond 75 mins); Romuald Boco; James Beattie (Marcus Carver 80 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Will Hatfield, Luke Clark, Bohan Dixon, Tom Eckersley.
ARGYLE: Rene Gilmartin; Durrell Berry, Curtis Nelson, Darren Purse, Robbie Williams; Joe Lennox (Paris Cowan-Hall 72 mins), Luke Young, Conor Hourihane, Onismor Bhasera; Nick Chadwick, Rhys Griffiths (Warren Feeney 60 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Jake Cole, Paris Cowan-Hall, Jamie Lowry, Matt Lecointe, Jamie Richards, Tyler Harvey.
REFEREE: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)
ATTENDANCE: 2,012 (272 away)
GOALS – Accrington: Beattie 52 mins; Argyle: Bhasera 26 mins