Torquay United 2
Bodin 58, Mansell 64
by RICK COWDERY
SOME of the younger Torquay United players' parents, never mind the players, were not born the last time - the only time before this winter - that the Gulls completed a league double over Argyle.
The current crop of Yellows took their place alongside the early 1970s generation with a victory that franked the 3-1 beating of the Pilgrims at Plainmoor in November.
Two second-half goals inside seven minutes from Billy Bodin, in the last game of his loan spell from Swindon, and captain Lee Mansell gave the Gulls an advantage they never relinquished despite a spirited late revival from a previously lacklustre Pilgrims.
Luke Young, with his debut goal for the club, reduced the deficit and heralded a late surge from Argyle, who were unable to conjure up an equaliser to extend their unbeaten run into the new year and to a sixth game.
Jake Cole, the defensive hero of the New Year's Eve goal-less draw at Aldershot, had passed an early fitness test to allow him to resume his impressive place between the posts.
Nevertheless, manager Carl Fletcher made one change to the side that had garnered four valuable points on the road since their previous home game the previous year.
That was on the right flank, where Young came into the side, swapping places with Will Atkinson, a virtual ever-present since his summer loan move from Hull City.
Torquay, making their first visit to Home park for a decade, also showed one change from the side that also experienced a 0-0 New Year's Eve stalemate, at home to Oxford United.
That was also on the right flank where Swindon loan player Bodin came in for Ian Morris, who was suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card of the season against the U's.
Torquay went into the game having been the last side to beat Argyle, way back in mid November, since when the Pilgrims had taken nine points out of 15.
However, the Greens' side that lined up for the first game of 2012 showed six changes from the one that had started the November defeat Plainmoor.
The game kicked off with Home Park three-quarters full and long queues still outside. A heady atmosphere was ramped up by a huge contingent of Gulls' fans, no doubt enjoying their side's current superior league position to their neighbours.
On the pitch, Argyle made a start as bright as the New Year sunshine, with former Torquay loan player Ashley Hemmings to the fore.
Torquay repelled the threat fairly comfortably, however, before fashioning two clear opportunities to take an early lead. First, Mark Ellis, United's Plymouth-supporting centre-back, rose unmarked to head Eunan O'Kane's corner wide; then, Taiwo Atieno span off Maxime Blanchard from Kevin Nicholson's cross, only to waste the chance his guile had created.
As well as losing ground, the Pilgrims lost one of their senior men when Nick Chadwick, playing the last game of his loan spell from Stockport, limped out of the action to be replaced by Craig Sutherland.
Not that Argyle's attacking areas were the focus of their play as the visitors continued to severely question their defensive qualities.
Danny Stevens shot tamely at Cole before the Pilgrims' goalkeeper showed that, injury or not, he remained in the tip-top form which he had showed two days earlier by turning aside another powerful header that poor marking had allowed Ellis.
It took Argyle, and the Green Army, a wee while to get into the game and, when they did, it was Hemmings who was chief prompter, whether it was on the flank or cutting in off it. For all the pressure, though, the shots and the crosses all fell short of their aim.
Torquay's attacks always looked more purposeful, and it needed stern defending by Durrell Berry to ensure that the lurking Stevens did not profit.
The Pilgrims responded with a decent chance of their own when Hemmings' cross found Warren Feeney in the box, the Northern Irishman heading wide.
The half ended as it had begun, with one of a series of tasty tackles that left a player grounded. Whereas O'Kane's foul on Onismor Bhasera earned him a yellow card, Young's similar recklessness 45 minutes earlier against Nicholson had gone unpunished.
Argyle immediately found themselves back under the cosh at the beginning of the second half. They conceded a free-kick to the dangerous Nicholson which they failed to clear, necessitating a brave header from Simon Walton to keep out Stevens' subsequent shot.
There were signs of Pilgrims' intent with Young being denied a run on goal by Mansell's perfect tackle, and Walton just failing to capitalise on Young's long through-ball.
In response, Torquay obliged Cole to make a couple of routine saves, from Stevens and Nicholson, before Bodin broke the deadlock.
The opportunity arrived by way of one of those seen-them-given-seen-them-not-given free-kicks after Conor Hourihane tangled with the goalscorer. The defending was a soft as the award and it allowed Chris Robertson's header to tee up Bodin.
The Gulls had the wind beneath their wings now and Atieno went close to capitalising on Steven's slid-through cross before Mansell double the visitors' advantage.
O'Kane was the supply line this time, taking the ball from a throw-in in Zoo Corner, making the byline, and pulling the ball back with such accuracy that Mansell had as much time as he needed to measure his finish and side-foot home.
Argyle sides of earlier in the season might have totally capitulated at this point, but Fletcher has instilled something into this Greens side that they do not teach you in Centres of Excellence, and, eight minutes later, they were back in the match.
The goal was one that might have been fashioned on the training-ground, Feeney's deep cross from the right being nodded back across goal by Walton and Young stealing in to convert with his head from unmissable range.
Suddenly, it was game on and United's Austrian goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik was called into meaningful action for the first time to keep out a drive from Sutherland after the Scot had whizzed past two markers before unleashing.
Young was played in by Bhasera, but prevented from an equalising double by Robertson's body-on-the-line block as the momentum stayed with the Pilgrims.
Ellis repeated the back-line heroics as the game entered injury-time, ensuring that the Gulls would not be denied a memorable victory.
Argyle (4-4-2): 23 Jake Cole; 2 Durrell Berry, 28 Paul Bignot, 22 Maxime Blanchard, 14 Onismor Bhasera; 15 Luke Young, 8 Simon Walton (capt), 20 Conor Hourihane, 31 Ashley Hemmings; 11 Warren Feeney, 29 Nick Chadwick (10 Craig Sutherland 15). Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu (gk), 3 Robbie Williams, 13 Ladjie Soukouna, 21 Will Atkinson.
Torquay United (4-5-1): 1 Bobby Olejnik; 18 Joe Oastler, 5 Chris Robertson, 4 Mark Ellis, 3 Kevin Nicholson; 15 Billy Bodin (16 Chris McPhee 89), 7 Lee Mansell, 22 Damon Lathrope, 10 Eunan O'Kane, 19 Danny Stevens (2 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner 84); 23 Taiwo Atieno. Substitutes (not used): 13 Martin Rice (gk), 17 Saul Halpin, 20 Tom Aldred.
Booked: O'Kane 45.
Referee: Tony Bates.
Attendance: 12,836 (1,938 away).