West Bromwich Albion 3
Cech 40, 86
IF all games were decided in the first 30 minutes of the match, Argyle would have nearly maximum points this season.
Argyle dominated the opening exchanges and rightly went ahead after just 12 minutes through Jamie Mackie, only for West Brom to restore parity when Shelton Martis pounced on a Romain Larrieu error from a corner.
Marek Cech's stunning strike gave the Baggies a half-time advantage but the Greens emerged from the break determined not to capitulate.
Karl Duguid hit the bar and substitute Cillian Sheridan forced Scott Carson into an excellent save before Cech sealed the win with his second, and Albion's third, four minutes from time.
Argyle manager Paul Sturrock made four changes to the side that lost at home to Sheffield Wednesday, and just two changes from the side that had beaten Bristol City so comprehensively in the midweek reserve fixture.
A new system, 3-4-1-2, as seen at Ashton Gate was in play with David McNamee and Chris Clark left out in favour of Karl Duguid and Réda Johnson who was making his full, competitive Argyle debut.
On the bench were the contingent of returning international players, including Rory Fallon, Krisztián Timár, Alan Judge and Cillian Sheridan. There was also a place, for the first time this season, for recovering striker Bradley Wright-Phillips.
West Brom were also awash with changes, the most notable being the exclusion of star man Robert Koren, on the bench in favour of Scotsman Graham Dorrans.
Argyle started brightly with some neat spells of possession but it was the Baggies who asked questions first, with the old enemy Roman Bednar finding space at the front stick to smash a shot across goal and out for a goal-kick.
Perhaps most pleasing about the opening ten minutes was the understanding that was developing between Alan Gow and Jamie Mackie with the pair combining on a couple of occasions to worry the home side's defence.
As it turned out, it was that combination that opened the scoring just a few moments later. After Steve MacLean had won the high ball with a clever flick-on, it was left for Gow to loop the ball over the defence and into the path of Mackie.
Right-back Gianni Zuiverloon did well to force Mackie wide but the Argyle #8 managed to get a shot under Scott Carson and into the back on the net from a narrow angle for his first goal of the season.
Argyle went painstakingly close to doubling their lead ten minutes later, a neat passing move resulting in a cracking chance for Gary Sawyer unmarked at the back post. He connected with it well but, unfortunately, his powerful header edged just wide of Carson's far post.
The football being played by Argyle suited the Premier League surroundings of the Hawthorns and the second goal would have been no more than they deserved, as they dominated possession in the West Brom half.
But they needed to stay focussed and almost paid the price on the half-hour mark, when Simon Cox's drive from the edge of the area pinged just wide of Romain Larrieu's near post.
After that chance, the onus switched to the home side and they were back in the game 11 minutes before half time, Martis capitalising on a defensive mix up to convert into the roof of the net from close range.
In the wake of the goal, Réda Johnson's debut was cut short when he suffered a knock and was forced to limp off. Chris Clark was the man sent on to replace him. Clark slotted into the middle, forcing Paterson out wide and Sawyer to centre-back.
Argyle were now under the cosh as the Baggies, roared on by a fantastic home support, pushed for the lead.
And they took it with five minutes until half-time, a terrific Cech drive from 25 yards beating Larrieu all ends up to nestle nicely into the top corner.
Argyle had gone from being in control to behind in just six minutes, a crying shame for the form shown earlier in the first half.
After three minutes of added time for Johnson's earlier injury, the ref blew for half-time. A much needed respite for the shell-shocked Pilgrims.
At the request of the referee, Argyle emerged for the second half in green shirts having finished the first in the usual away white. Would the change in strip force a change in fortunes?
After just a minute of the second-half, Cech had the ball in the back of the net for a second time but was judged offside. It took a long time for either set of players to realise the decision and perhaps quicker reactions would have resulted in a decent counterattack.
Argyle had a chance soon after when Steve MacLean won a free-kick on the right flank. Paterson whipped in the cross which was headed back across goal by MacLean. A goal mouth scramble ensued before Duguid's half-volley cannoned off the bar.
The two sides were exchanging blows evenly and it was Graham Dorran's who had Albions's best chance of the half when his low drive across goal was well saved by Larrieu down low to his right.
With the clock ticking, Luggy reverted to good old 4-4-2, with Krisztián Timár replacing MacLean and Sheridan replacing Luke Summerfield to enable Fletcher to push up into the midfield and Sheridan to join Gow up top.
But soon after, the game fell into a lull with Krisztián Timár's weak header the closest Argyle went to scoring.
After having a good game and being voted man of the match by the corporates, Albion midfielder Graham Dorrans disgraced himself and his team with a cheating dive that Tom Daley would have been proud on the edge of the area. The referee rightly booked Dorran much to the delight of Mackie who had run ten yards to reprimand the Scotsman.
Clearly unhappy with the act, Argyle pushed on and Sheridan was unlucky not to score after a looping header from the edge of the box almost evaded former England 'keeper Scott Carson.
But sadly, it was not to be Argyle's afternoon and with the next attack, Cech finished matters by getting between the two centre halves to nod in from close range.
The Hawthorns again became a cauldron of noise as their team played out the final minutes in relative ease.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): 19 Scott Carson (capt), 22 Gianni Zuiverloon, 24 Shelton Martis, 3 Jonas Olsson, 2 Joe Mattock; 4 Marek Cech, 17 Graham Dorrans, 21 Youssouf Mulumbu, 11 Chris Brunt (14 Jerome Thomas 77); 9 Roman Bednar (15 Chris Wood 70), 3 Simon Cox (7 Robert Koren 61). Substitutes (not used): 1 Dean Kiely (gk), 5 Leon Barnett, 18 Rueben Reid, 20 Filipe Teixeira.
Booked: Dorrans 82
Argyle (3-4-3): 1 Romain Larrieu; 11 Kári Árnason, 4 Carl Fletcher (capt), 22 Réda Johnson (6 Chris Clark 38) ; 2 Karl Duguid, 20 Luke Summerfield (21 Cillian Sheridan 65), 3 Jim Paterson, 18 Gary Sawyer; 9 Steve MacLean (5 Krisztián Timar 65), 26 Alan Gow, 8 Jamie Mackie. Substitutes (not used): 23 Kyle Letheren (gk), 10 Bradley Wright-Phillips, 14 Rory Fallon, 25 Alan Judge.
Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire)