Crewe Alexandra 1
by CHRIS PARSONS
IT was meant to be written, it was meant to be in the script but, as those with all things Green at heart have learned over the last few months, few things ever run like a fairytale.
After the future of the club was all but secured on Friday, today's game against Crewe was supposed to be all about the football with minds away from liquidation and extinction and firmly focussed on the pitch.
But it didn't quite happen like that.
After a lacklustre start, the Pilgrims conceded a Shaun Miller goal just before half-time and could never really recover.
They huffed and they puffed all they could but, alas, it simply wasn't enough as they slumped to their sixth straight home league defeat, equalling a record set by Jack Tresadern's Pilgrims, way back in 1947.
Boosted by the return of Carl Fletcher and Robbie Williams, Argyle manager Peter Reid had made three changes to the side that slumped to defeat to Gillingham seven days earlier.
Ben Gibson's suspension meant that Williams slotted in at left-back allowing Ladjie Soukouna to shift back to centre-back in place of the now departed Stéphane Zubar.
Meanwhile, Fletch claimed back his role in the midfield, allowing Conor Hourihane to push forward, to sit behind lone frontman Warren Feeney.
The visitors, who, prior to kick-off were the only side in the Football League without any points, had made just one change with winger Byron Moore making way for Danny Shelley.
The open exchanges were somewhat reminiscent of both side's start to the campaign with a lot of growl but very little in terms of biting. Argyle won a flurry of corners that came to very little whilst Crewe's long, diagonal balls behind right-back Durrell Berry looked to be their only outlet.
Despite the somewhat mundane start, the Home Park crowd, no doubt buoyed from Friday's good news, were on good form, reacting with affection to two tasty tackles involving Simon Walton and then Ladjie Soukouna.
They had further reason to shout just before the 20 minute mark when Walton's free-kick from the left flank looked to have been handled by Miller inside the area and in the Crewe wall. Walton and the nearby Will Atkinson were certain of the offence but the referee, on the wrong side of the incident, waved play on.
More head-tennis in the middle of the field followed before Crewe spurned a couple of chances to work Romain Larrieu, the first a speculative effort from Miller after a Walton mistake before a second, from Shelley, was deflected and ended up in the grateful Frenchman's arms.
But they had a real chance ten minutes before half-time when Shelley's free-kick from midway inside the Pilgrims' half, was inexplicably put over by the unmarked Ajay Leitch-Smith, attacking from the far post.
Then, just three minutes before the break, Leitch-Smith made amends, delivering a inch-perfect cross for Miller to bury into the top left-hand corner.
After the break and starring down the barrel of the aforementioned unwanted club record, the Pilgrims temporarily looked to impose themselves on the game. First, Hourihane lifted an effort just wide of the right hand post before Atkinson, fed in by Luke Daley, just failed to find a way past Steve Phillips in the Railwaymen's goal.
But following that, Crewe again showed how dangerous they could be when only a superb save Larrieu denied Miller his second of the afternoon from a Shelley corner.
With 25 minutes to go, Reid threw young Matt Lecointe into the fold and his arrival coincided with a period of Argyle pressure, the most promising peak of which was thunderous volley from Walton that swerved just wide.
To counteract this, Crewe threw on some youngsters of their own, changed to a 4-5-1 and set about seeing out the game by keeping the ball. They even had another chance to further their lead but substitute Antoni Sarcevic blazed over after Larrieu had parried Luke Murphy's earlier shot.
Argyle were running out of time and substitute Tom Hitchcock's promising header across goal was to be the last sortie of a disappointing afternoon for the Pilgrims.
Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Romain Larrieu; 2 Durrell Berry, 6 Curtis Nelson, 13 Ladjie Soukouna, 3 Robbie Williams; 7 Luke Daley (27 Matt Lecointe 64), 4 Carl Fletcher (capt), 8 Simon Walton (10 Tom Hitchcock 85), 11 Will Atkinson; 20 Conor Hourihane, 11 Warren Feeney. Substitutes (not used): 15 Luke Young, 18 Jordan Copp, 23 Jake Cole (gk).
Crewe Alexandra (4-4-2): 1 Steve Phillips; 3 Harry Davis (14 Antoni Sarcevic 77), 5 David Artell (capt), 6 Adam Dugdale, 15 Carl Martin;12 Danny Shelley, 7 Lee Bell, 8 Luke Murphy, 4 Ashley Westwood; 9 Shaun Miller (19 Max Clayton 69), 10 AJ Leitch-Smith (24 Caspar Hughes 69). Substitutes (not used): 13 Alan Martin (gk), 17 Kelvin Mellor.
Referee: Lee Collins.
Attendance: 5,720 (210 away).