Frustration for Argyle as they are held to a draw by Accrington
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 0
ARGYLE were held to a frustrating goal-less draw by relegation rivals Accrington at Home Park this afternoon.
The Pilgrims, playing for the second time under recently-appointed manager John Sheridan, put in a wretched display in the first half.
They did improve after the break, but not enough to get a goal and pick up three precious points.
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Argyle remained 22nd in the League Two table, but struggling Bristol Rovers and Morecambe both won away from home.
So the draw against Accrington did nothing to ease the Pilgrims' relegation worries.
Argyle had made three signings since their last game, a 2-1 victory over Morecambe at Home Park on January 12.
Two of them, defender Anthony Charles and forward Reuben Reid, were in the starting line-up against Accrington, but striker Gozie Ugwu had been injured in training.
Charles was at left-back and Reid, who previously played for the Pilgrims between 2006 and 2008, led the attack with Ronan Murray.
Centre-back Guy Branston and Murray were making only their second appearances for Argyle.
With Charles playing at left-back, Zimbabwe international Onismor Bhasera moved into a midfield role.
There was a lot at stake for both relegated-threatened teams and it certainly showed in a scrappy first half.
A lifeless Argyle carried no attacking threat and they were also indecisive in their defending.
Accrington were not much better, but former England international striker James Beattie did cause problems for the Pilgrims.
The 34-year-old headed off target from an early free-kick and later started an attack which ended with Romuald Boco shooting wide from close range.
Accrington finished the first half strongly with Beattie having two chances to put them into the lead.
First, he headed wide at the far post after a corner from Charlie Barnett in the 40th minute.
Soon afterwards, Beattie's glancing header was cleared off the line by Bhasera as it remained goal-less until the interval.
Argyle were forced into a substitution in the 43rd minute, however, when injured 'keeper Rene Gilmartin was replaced by Jake Cole.
It was Cole's first appearance since he played in the 2-1 defeat by Burton Albion at Home Park in November.
Argyle had a good chance at the start of the second period when Bhasera's hooked shot was touched around the post by 'keeper Cameron Belford.
There was a long break in play because of an injury to Accrington right-back Nicky Hunt and he was eventually stretchered off.
Argyle made their second substitution in the 65th minute when Luke Young replaced Maxime Blanchard in the centre of midfield.
Reid sliced a shot high and wide from a great position soon afterwards when the ball broke to him inside the penalty area.
Young fired over from 25 yards as, for the first time all afternoon, Argyle started to apply some pressure.
Charles headed the ball into the net in the 81st minute from a Murray free-kick but referee Mick Russell awarded a free-kick to the visitors for a foul.
Eleven minutes of stoppage time were added on after a series of injuries in the second half.
Neither team could make the breakthrough, although Cole made a superb save from Beattie's free-kick in the closing seconds.
ARGYLE: Rene Gilmartin (Jake Cole 43 mins); Durrell Berry, Curtis Nelson, Guy Branston, Anthony Charles; Paris Cowan-Hall, Maxime Blanchard (Luke Young 65 mins), Conor Hourihane, Onismor Bhasera; Ronan Murray (Tyler Harvey 90 +2 mins); Reuben Reid.
Substitutes (not used): Robbie Williams, Paul Wotton, Jamie Lowry, Andres Gurrieri.
ACCRINGTON: Cameron Belford; Nicky Hunt (Marcus Carver 61 mins), Dean Winnard, Peter Murphy, Michael Liddle; Craig Lindfield (George Miller 78 mins), Luke Joyce, Charlie Barnett, Laurence Wilson; Romuald Boco; James Beattie.
Substitutes (not used): Luke Clark, Bohan Dixon, James Gray, Andrew Dawber (gk), Lee Molyneux.
REFEREE: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)
ATTENDANCE: 6,509 (91 away)