Plymouth Argyle hold on for vital victory over Fleetwood Town in tense finale
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 2 FLEETWOOD TOWN 1
PLYMOUTH Argyle clambered out of the League Two relegation zone with a crucial win against play-off hopefuls Fleetwood Town at Home Park on Saturday.
The Pilgrims moved up from 23rd to 21st position in the table after their sixth home league win of the season.
Half Price Medium Cod, Chips & Mushy Peas @ Kingfisher Fish &...View details
Simply purchase a medium cod chips & peas and receive another portion for half price.
Terms: Terms: Offer valid only with this voucher. 1 voucher per customer. Not to be used with any other offer and not transferable to other menu items.
Contact: 01752 421044
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
However, the bottom five clubs are all on the same number of points, with Aldershot Town and Accrington Stanley in the drop zone.
Argyle took a 2-0 lead into half-time after a penalty from Paul Wotton and a fine finish from Crystal Palace loan signing Jason Banton.
Fleetwood piled on the pressure in the second period, creating a series of good chances.
Striker David Ball converted one of them in the 75th minute but, in a tense finale, Argyle held out for a vital victory.
They were indebted to some excellent saves from in-form goalkeeper Jake Cole.
Argyle were unchanged from the 0-0 draw against Bradford City on Tuesday, with Anthony Charles still sidelined by a groin injury.
That meant 35-year-old Wotton continued at centre-back with Guy Branston.
Fleetwood arrived at Home Park with the second best defensive away record in League Two this season.
They had conceded only 16 goals in their previous 18 fixtures on the road.
Fleetwood goalkeeper Scott Davies had also kept more clean sheets – 16 – than anyone else in the division this term.
There had been frequent and heavy squalls of hail and rain before the game but there was bright sunshine at kick-off.
Fleetwood had the first chance of the contest in the ninth minute when Ball fired wide after he was set-up by strike partner Jon Parkin.
Moments later, centre-back Nathan Pond got on the end of a free-kick into the Argyle penalty but his header was easily saved by Cole.
Parkin crashed the ball high over the bar in the 13th minute after Pilgrims' striker Reuben Reid miscued an attempted clearance following a short corner.
Argyle threatened for the first time when midfielder Andres Gurrieri saw his 25-yard shot deflect off Jamie McGuire for a corner.
Fleetwood could not clear the resulting set piece properly but a volley from Banton was too high.
Cole pushed away a 30-yard shot from Parkin, low at his near post, before Banton's goalbound shot was blocked by McGuire for another corner.
This time the ball was aimed deep to the far post by Gurrieri and Parkin conceded a penalty for a shove on Pilgrims' captain Conor Hourihane.
Banton wanted to take it but instructions came from the touchline that Wotton should assume the responsibility.
He did so with his typical conviction from the penalty spot, blasting the ball past Davies.
It was Wotton's first goal for Argyle since a 1-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town at Home Park on March 17, 2012.
Argyle doubled their lead in the 39th minute with a fine finish from Banton.
The loan signing from Crystal Palace dispossessed Fleetwood midfielder Paul McKenna and drilled a low left-foot shot into the net from 20 yards.
It took a stunning save from Cole to prevent Fleetwood reducing the deficit in the 44th minute.
Junior Brown got his chest to a cross from Ryan Crowther and looked certain to score, only for Cole to kick the ball away and over the bar for a corner.
Cole's heroics meant the Pilgrims maintained their 2-0 lead until the interval.
Fleetwood had a lot of possession at the start of the second half as they tried to find a way back into game.
Crowther and Parkin both had low shots from outside the penalty area saved by Cole.
Parkin then took a free-kick 20 yards out, and in a central position, after a foul by Argyle midfielder Lee Cox on Crowther.
The ball was drilled into Argyle's defensive wall by Parkin and it rebounded to Crowther, whose strike was blocked by Wotton.
Fleetwood applied some sustained pressure and the Pilgrims did not help themselves by giving the ball away cheaply when they did have it.
There was a massive let-off for Argyle in the 64th minute when Town midfielder Jamie McGuire headed narrowly wide of the near post after a cross from left-back Alan Goodall.
It was one-way traffic, with Fleetwood pushing forward relentlessly but Argyle stuck to their defensive task.
Paris Cowan-Hall and Nick Chadwick were sent on as 72nd minute substitutes for Gurrieri and Reid respectively.
Fleetwood finally reduced the deficit three minutes later with a goal from Ball.
He fired high into the opposite corner of the net from a tight angle after Branston could not clear his lines.
Cole then superbly tipped away a close range shot from substitute Barry Nicholson as Fleetwood chased an equaliser.
The visitors were reduced to 10 players in the 85th minute when McKenna was sent-off for a second bookable offence.
He tripped Cowan-Hall close to the touchline and left referee Trevor Kettle with no option but to brandish a red card.
Fleetwood had more late pressure, with Parkin shooting wide from a tight angle deep into stoppage time but it stayed 2-1 to Argyle until full-time.
ARGYLE: Jake Cole; Maxime Blanchard, Paul Wotton, Guy Branston, Onismor Bhasera; Andres Gurrieri (Paris Cowan-Hall 72 mins), Lee Cox, Conor Hourihane, Joe Bryan; Jason Banton; Reuben Reid (Nick Chadwick 72 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Luke Young, Rene Gilmartin (gk), Ronan Murray, Tyler Harvey.
FLEETWOOD: Scott Davies; Shaun Beeley, Nathan Pond, Rob Atkinson, Alan Goodall (Jean-Michel Fontaine 89 mins); Junior Brown, Paul McKenna, Jamie McGuire (Barry Nicholson 70 mins), Ryan Crowther (Gareth Evans 68 mins); Jon Parkin, David Ball.
Substitutes (not used): Anthony Barry, Jamille Matt, Ryan Edwards, David Lucas (gk).
REFEREE: Trevor Kettle (Rutland)
ATTENDANCE: 6,776 (62 away)
GOALS – Argyle: Wotton (pen) 25 mins, Banton 39 mins; Fleetwood: Ball 75 mins