Dagenham & Redbridge 0
By Mark Perrow
RORY Patterson struck a vital winner early in the second half to turn Good Friday into a Great Friday for the Green Army and keep Pilgrim survival hopes alive with four games still to play.
Patterson later took Argyle's red card count to 12 for the season, but the Greens held on for a victory that brings Peter Reid's team to within five points and a game in hand of their opponents, who currently occupy the last survival place in npower League 1.
Having travelled with the squad and been expected to start, Rory Fallon was a late withdrawal through injury, leaving Argyle reduced to five substitutes. Perhaps surprisingly, his place was taken by Rory Patterson rather than Joe Mason in an otherwise unchanged Pilgrims starting line-up that saw Kari Arnason adopt Fallon's role as Green target man for the afternoon.
On a dry pitch hardly encouraging either team to pass the ball decisively, the opening exchanges were made up of countless high balls but very few chances. Home skipper Mark Arber was the first man to force a notable save out of either 'keeper, with David Button at full strength to claw his header to safety from Danny Green's deep free-kick.
Argyle responded with a couple of half chances, but Patterson and Carl Fletcher were left wishing shooting opportunities had fallen to their right side rather than their left, as both men skewed left-footed efforts well wide of goal.
Argyle were beginning to establish a form of control in a hectic first-half lacking a calming influence in midfield, and on 29 minutes visiting superiority looked certain to be rewarded until an acrobatic intervention from 41-year-old Dagenham 'keeper Tony Roberts.
The lively Yala Bolasie showed tremendous composure to chip the ball over left-back Femi Ilesanmi, before meeting the ball on the other side with a low volley that Roberts somehow tipped over the bar to preserve the deadlock.
Next to go close was Stephane Zubar, up from the back for Simon Walton's inswinging free-kick, but the Frenchman's header was well off target despite an encouraging shortage of red and blue shirts following his run.
However, after a period of sustained pressure, Argyle were fortunate to still be level at half-time. First, the visiting rearguard were indebted to Anton Peterlin's double block to deny Jon Nurse, before Nurse released strike partner John Akinde for the clearest opening of the so far, only for Button to spread himself and repel the danger.
If Argyle were guilty of a sluggish end to the first half, the same could not be said for the opening exchanges of the second. A positive burst from deep by striker-for-the-day Arnason earned a free-kick 30 yards out, from which Roberts got across to but could not keep out, sending the vociferous Green Army contingent into raptures behind the goal.
Three minutes later, Bolasie raced clear and unleashed a well-hit shot narrowly wide, with Roberts again struggling to cover his left-hand post.
If going behind had done little to provoke a response from the Daggers, the prospect of facing a two goal deficit certainly brought the hosts to life, as Button was called upon to produce a fine double save to deny Akinde and then Green after the centre of the Argyle defence went missing for the first time since the interval.
With Dagenham desperation reaching new heights, Argyle sensed an opportunity to steal a crucial second on the break. Another lung-busting Arnason surge culminated in the release of Patterson with only Roberts to beat, but the veteran stopper put to bed any question marks surrounding his reactions for the goal by narrowing the angle and denying the same man.
The home side were throwing everything forward but with a distinct lack of method in the madness. Argyle were content fielding too many aimless crosses, although numerous bouncing balls in and around Button's goalmouth did little to shed Green nerves, particularly after the late dismissal of the match-winner for a second bookable offence.
Dagenham & Redbridge (4-4-2): 1 Tony Roberts; 19 Abu Ogogo, 4 Scott Doe (5 Will Antwi 65), 6 Mark Arber, 29 Femi Ilesanmi (16 Bas Savage 81); 7 Danny Green, 20 Romain Vincelot, 33 Peter Gain, 17 Darren Currie; 8 John Akinde (21 Danny J. Green 76), 9 Jon Nurse. Substitutes (not used): 24 Billy Bingham, 30 Chris Lewington (gk), 35 Oliver Lee, 39 Marvin Morgan.
Argyle (4-5-1): 31 David Button; 2 Karl Duguid, 35 Curtis Nelson, 36 Stephane Zubar, 29 Jim Paterson; 21 Anton Peterlin (23 Krisztian Timar 90), 4 Carl Fletcher (capt);19 Yala Bolasie, 28 Simon Walton (20 Luke Summerfield 63);8 Rory Patterson; 11 Kari Arnason. Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu (gk), 16 Joe Mason, 34 Luke Young.
Booked: Patterson 21, Bolasie 82.
Sent off: Patterson 89.
Referee: James Linington.
Attendance: 3,559 (804 away).