Rotherham United 2
Evans 52, 59,
Le Fondre 82, 87
by Mark Perrow
ARGYLE were handed a lesson in clinical finishing by Rotherham as npower League 2 football returned to Home Park.
Failure to capitalise on Will Atkinson's debut goal was punished by the Millers, always in the promotion picture come the end of the season at this level, who scored four times in 35 second half minutes thanks to two goals apiece from Gareth Evans and Adam Le Fondre.
Peter Reid made two changes from the team that snatched a late point from Shrewsbury on the opening day, with Simon Walton making his first league start of the new season and Hull loanee Atkinson handed his Argyle debut on the left wing.
Robbie Williams was sidelined through injury and striker Tom Hitchcock demoted to bench duty, meaning a more advanced role for Conor Hourihane, who provided the closest support for lone striker Warren Feeney.
Despite a bright start from the Pilgrims, it was Rotherham who were first to threaten.
Striker Lewis Grabban, last Saturday's match-winner for the Millers, fired narrowly wide before being presented with an even better chance moments later.
Fortunately for Argyle, his control let him down, the angle tightened, and Grabban sliced his shot wildly into the side-netting from inside the six-yard box.
Argyle continued to practice the values Reid has been preaching all summer, a passing game and the importance of maintaining possession, but it was the visitors who were carving out the better opportunities.
On 25 minutes, Argyle had left-back Ben Gibson to thank for a goal-line clearance after a right-wing cross was not dealt with by 'keeper Jake Cole, with the man on loan from Middlesbrough perfectly positioned to repel Chris Schofield's goalbound effort.
Undeterred, Argyle continued to play their football, with Hourihane revelling in his new role.
A cute change of direction opened up space to find marauding right-back Durrell Berry, whose dangerous cross looked destined for Feeney's head before a last-ditch glance robbed the Northern Irishman of a clear opportunity to open his account for his new club.
In the closing stages before half-time, confusion between Cole and Stephane Zubar led to a Rotherham corner, from which high-rising centre-back Michael Raynes looked certain to score.
He connected sweetly in heading the ball down into the ground, meticulously following each step of the coaching manual only to be denied by the sprawling Cole's big toe.
Raynes was dominant in the air again moments later, heading another deep corner back across goal, leaving Argyle relieved there were no grateful black-shirted recipients in waiting.
If Argyle's positive approach play had been largely toothless throughout the first half, it only took four minutes for the tide to turn in the second.
Atkinson's debut goal against a team he played three games for on loan last season was one to remember, cutting in from the left and beating two defenders before squeezing a fine low drive inside the near post from 20 yards.
But as is so often the case in football, you wait so long for a goal and two come along at once - or in this case three. Within 10 minutes of taking the lead, Argyle were behind thanks to two well taken goals from Rotherham winger Evans.
First, he accelerated away from Durrell Berry and planted a fine low shot across Cole into the far corner, before converting a delicious Le Fondre cross with a well placed header.
With Argyle on the rack and skipper Carl Fletcher withdrawn, the visitors sensed the killer goal and, after some slick approach play down their right, Jason Taylor's shot was blocked superbly by Berry with Cole's net ready and waiting to bulge for a third time.
Substitute Hitchcock, on for Fletcher to add more cutting edge to an Argyle attack starved of service, almost added more value to Berry's last-ditch block, but his swivelling shot was clawed away by Rotherham 'keeper Conrad Logan.
With Argyle pressing and Hourihane scheming, the midfielder was upset when he was barged to the ground but play was allowed to continue.
He was soon bordering on incensed when the ensuing move led to Rotherham's third, clinically converted by master League Two marksman Le Fondre.
Three minutes from time, Hourihane and Argyle's misery was complete. The Irishman could have no complaints at the officials when dispossessed cleanly on the edge of his own box, with Le Fondre again the beneficiary as he put the result beyond doubt with Rotherham's fourth.
A rude awakening for Reid's Rookies, who deserved better but must learn to be more ruthless in possession and less exposed without it.
Argyle (4-4-1-1): 23 Jake Cole; 2 Durrell Berry, 5 Stephane Zubar, 13 Ladji Soukouna, 19 Ben Gibson; 7 Luke Daley, 4 Carl Fletcher (capt) (10 Tom Hitchcock 68), 8 Simon Walton, 21 Will Atkinson; 20 Conor Hourihane; 11 Warren Feeney. Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu (gk), 6 Curtis Nelson, 18 Jordan Copp, 27 Matt Lecointe.
Rotherham United (4-4-2): 1 Conrad Logan; 2 Dale Tonge, 24 Michael Raynes, 5 Ryan Cresswell (capt), 3 Tom Newey; 11 Chris Schofield, 8 Jason Taylor, 4 Danny Harrison, 7 Gareth Evans; 23 Lewis Grabban (20 Chris Holroyd 85), 10 Adam Le Fondre. Substitutes (not used): 15 Mark Bradley, 18 Ben Pringle, 21 Andy Warrington (gk), 22 Troy Brown.
Yellow card: Newey 86.
Attendance: 6,015 (232 away).
Rotherham Matchday Menu
Reid's Post Match Verdict
'It's A Man's Game' says Reid
Atkinson On Debut Goal
'It Won't Happen Again' - Walts