Fallon 38, Summerfield pen 52
RORY Fallon and Luke Summerfield have not always been the most popular players among the Home Park faithful - unfairly, I reckon - but they were the toast of the Green Army on Boxing Day.
Fallon's powerful first-half header and Summerfield's coolly dispatched penalty just after half-time brought to an end a six-match winless streak for the Pilgrims as Argyle registered the 1,800th win in their history.
It has been a while coming, but was nonetheless a most welcome Christmas visitor.
Both sides had shown considerable changes from their respective previous, losing, starting line-ups less than a week earlier.
From Argyle's point of view, the most significant inclusion was that of club captain Karl Duguid, whose absence had coincided precisely with the Pilgrims' six-match unbeaten run, and who, according to Luggy's programme notes, had been missed "big time". Simon Walton's three-match suspension facilitated the return of the skipper.
There was a first start, after ten substitute appearances and a midweek 'flu' scare, for young left- winger Craig Noone, while David McNamee's inclusion for a second home start since his summer move from Coventry meant Argyle lined up with a 'proper' right-back for only the third time this season.
His call allowed Chris Clark to resume on the right side of midfield, bumping Jamie Mackie on to the substitutes' bench alongside two other starters from the 2-0 pre-Christmas Day defeat at Barnsley, forward Steve MacLean and centre-back Krisztán Timár.
MacLean's place went to Fallon, who had been suspended for a return to Oakwell, and Timár's to Craig Cathcart, recalled prior to confirming the extension of his loan move from Manchester United next week.
On the subject of loan players, midfielder Jason Puncheon made the bench following his call-back from Milton Keynes Dons, which meant no place in the 16 for Jim Paterson, perhaps unfortunately in light of his part in a sterling second-half showing in South Yorkshire last time out.
Southampton had made four changes to the side that had lost 2-0 at home to fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest six days earlier, bringing back defender Olly Lancashire and midfielders Simon Gillett, Oscar Gobern,and Ryan Smith.
There was no place in the 16 for Green legend Paul Wotton, who has fallen out of favour with Dutch manager Jan Poortvliet following his summer release by the Pilgrims.
Noone made an almost immediate impact, beating his marker to cut a cross back for Summerfield, arriving, á la David Friio, late in then box and at pace. The delivery from the wing was a bit bouncy, however, and Summerfield could not keep his shot down.
Noone and Summerfield combined again for the former to drift over a cross to the far post which Fallon met full-meat on the forehead but could neither beat goalkeeper Kelvin Davis nor tee up Cathcart for a tap-in.
After the early flurry, there was little to warm the large Home Park holiday crowd, nor precious little encouragement from the packed stands for the players. Bit delicate from the previous day, maybe.
Davis was hot, though. Too hot for Clark and Fallon after Summerfield's chipped free-kick into the penalty area had caused panic in Saints' area. After beating out Clark's close-range header, the Southampton goalkeeper recovered superbly to claw away Fallon's even closer range goalward nod.
On the anything-you-can-do principle, the previously unemployed Argyle number one Romain Larrieu then marvellously parried a header by David McGoldrick from virtually on the goal-line after Smith's deflected cross had found the lone Saints' striker alone.
As half-time approached, the Pilgrims began to build up a little head of steam, with Noone always looking capable of producing the unexpected.
With such a slight frame, he seems an unlikely candidate for a long-throw specialist, and, while he is not exactly Rory Delap, it was from his attempted sling into the Saints' penalty area that Argyle took the lead.
His throw, aimed for Fallon, was intercepted by a visiting defender, but, rather than let the ball run for a corner, Noone nipped to the bye-line and crossed to the near post, where Fallon bulleted the ball beyond Davis: Noone, the lock-picker; Fallon, the ram-raider.
Making it to base-camp of half-time without conceding further was achieved with little fuss. Indeed, Larrieu's splendid stop from McGoldrick had been Saints' sole on-target attempt in the opening 45 minutes.
The Pilgrims ensured they would have to find at least three in the second half when Summerfield netted their second from the penalty spot six minutes after the break.
Kudos to Summerfield, who has taken a bit of a verbal battering from home fans this season, of course, but also to referee Roger East and Pilgrims Paul Gallagher. The former allowed the latter to carry on his threatening run into the penalty box and, when Fallon's shot was beaten down by the hand of a going-to-ground Lancashire, awarded the spot-kick.
It was only the Pilgrims second penalty of the season and, as with the first at Watford, was dispatched with aplomb by the young Argyle midfielder, though not before East had issued a yellow card to three Southampton players.
Noone departed soon afterwards, exhausted, spewing, but no doubt happy, to be replaced by Mackie, while Gallagher, who had taken a fearful whack in the first half, gave way to MacLean - not, this time, accompanied by cat-calls of 'You don't know what you're doing' directed towards the manager.
Saints were not for lying down and taking the beating, although Chris Barker might have felt like a lie-down after having to deal with a rampant Smith, and the visitors were invited on to Argyle by the familiar failing of the whole team falling further back to protect their lead.
Mackie could have settled the nerves with 15 minutes left when, after a quick counter, he cut expertly inside of Rudi Skacel and unleashed a powerful shot which forced Davis to make another heart-breaking quality save.
As it was, and despite Smith's best efforts, the Pilgrims did not need the cushion.
To foreign lands.
Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Romain Larrieu; 16 David McNamee, 22 Craig Cathcart, 19 Marcel Seip, 15 Chris Barker; 6 Chris Clark, 2 Karl Duguid (capt), 20 Luke Summerfield, 17 Craig Noone (25 Jamie Mackie 66); 14 Rory Fallon, 11 Paul Gallagher (9 Steve MacLean 71). Substitutes (not used): 5 Krisztián Timár, 7 Jason Puncheon, 8 Yoann Folly.
Booked: MacLean 79.
Southampton (4-5-1): 1 Kelvin Davis (capt); 23 Lloyd James, 24 Olly Lancashire, 30 Jack Cork, 7 Rudi Skacel; 39 Ryan Smith (41 Alex Pearce 87), 11 Andrew Surman, 22 Simon Gillett (35 Matt Paterson 58), 37 Oscar Gobern, 12 Lee Holmes (42 Kayne McLaggon 58); 17 David McGoldrick. Substitutes (not used): 13 Tommy Forecast (gk), 33 Joseph Mills.
Booked: Lancashire 51, Davis 51, Skacel 51.
Referee: Ray East (Wiltshire).
Attendance: 15,197 (830 away).
MATCH SPONSORED BY 50/50 LOTTERY