by RICK COWDERY
AS any Argyle fan of recent standing knows, every point is a prisoner and this one is safely behind bars.
Given results elsewhere, another two would have made it a sweet Valentine's Day, and Argyle fans will point to a remarkable miss just before half-time by Alex MacDonald as the moment their hearts were broken.
That would be extremely harsh on the young Scot, who ran his legs off in the cause and was deservedly the sponsors' man of the match.
It also ignores that fact that the Pilgrims were lucky not suffer heartache as Barnet twice hit the woodwork and made Jake Cole the busier of the two goalkeepers.
The Argyle starting line-up had showed two changes to the one that last took the field ten days previously, paving the way to a 2-2 draw against Southend United, but only one from the XI that finished the dramatic match.
Two of the substitutes that day retained their position in the stead of the men they had come on for: point-saving goalscorer MacDonald took the place of fellow loan forward Juvhel Tsoumou, while, in midfield, Conor Hourihane, was preferred to skipper and virtual ever-present Simon Walton.
The third game-changer against Paul Sturrock's Shrimpers, Joe Lennox, was confined to quarters with illness, which allowed Luke Daley a return to a match-day squad.
A measure of the changes that have swept through Home Park this season can be gauged by the fact that, Darren Purse aside, the lowest numbered shirt among the starters was 14, whilst the highest of those among the substitutes was nine.
The captain's armband returned, after an absence of nearly four years, to Paul Wotton, on his 399th league appearance for the Pilgrims.
Barnet also showed two changes from their previous game, the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Southern Area Final, second leg, at Swindon, which they lost 1-0, and 2-1 on aggregate.
They were at the back, where Arsenal loan player Sead Hajrovic replaced Michael Hector, and in midfield, where Jordan Obita came in for Mark Byrne.
Argyle survived an early scare when Izale McLeod, the division's leading scorer, fired into the side netting after racing alarmingly clear, before settling to their task.
Hourihane responded for the Pilgrims, curling in a low sweet left-footed free-kick given when Luke Young had been tripped just outside the penalty area after bursting through threateningly.
Goalkeeper Dean Brill saved, then fumbled, before regaining his composure to prevent MacDonald from snaffling up the loose ball.
Obita zinged a Barnet free-kick from a similar position which went just the wrong side of the post from his point of view. Cole seemed to have it covered.
The visitors improved by inches when midfielder Clovis Kamdjo bustled his way to the edge of the Argyle penalty area and let off a right-footed drive which hit the inside of Cole's post only because the shot was always curling way from goal and rebounded to safety.
Young then headed away a dangerous cross by Holmes from more or less under his own crossbar, before Cole was obliged to tip a header from Mark Hughes over the frame of the goal as the Bees maintained their pressure.
Young relieved the stress with a just-wide poacher's attempt after centre-backs Dennehy and Downing got in each other's way and presented the ball to him, while Nick Chadwick did not make the best of a quick ball forward from Paul Bignot.
After that, matters went a bit quiet until time added on at the end of the first half, when Barnet's central defensive pairing again made a hash of a regulation interception.
Their hesitation allowed MacDonald a clear, short, run at goal, and he lifted the ball over goalkeeper Brill alright enough but, amazingly, poked it wide of an otherwise unguarded goal.
When the half-time whistle went, seconds later, the relative silence that greeted it can probably be at least partly explained by the stunned incredulity that the Pilgrims were not a goal to the good.
The Green Army soon found their voice at the beginning of the second half, their volume levels dictated by (or maybe dictating?) some enterprising attacking play in which Purse hit the crossbar with a near-post header from Ashley Hemmings' corner.
Barnet were trapped in their own half for long periods and, when they did break out, it was largely at the invitation of Argyle mistakes when enthusiasm breached the line of recklessness.
The Pilgrims had a massive let-off when Obita outrageously had a direct pot from a 30-yard free-kick, and even more outrageously nearly scored, the ball thudding back off Cole's crossbar with the Argyle goalkeeper - and everyone else in the ground - stock still.
Clear-cut opportunities were, however, at a premium for either side as the struggle for supremacy was confined to between the 18-yard boxes.
Wotton coaxed, cajoled and generally led from the front, nearly breaking the deadlock with a 35-yard free-kick that dipped too late to trouble Brill.
Substitute Byrne did likewise for Barnet, who followed up that close thing with a shot from Sam Deering that was pushed away for a corner by Cole.
That corner became two, then three, then four, as Argyle's defence came under the most severe pressure from the Bees' inswinging deliveries.
Cole saved from Byrne when Onismor Bhasera's mistake allowed Barnet more room to attack, and was forced into action again to deny Hughes at his near post.
Tsoumou was introduced into the action with ten minutes on the clock and immediately brought more urgency to the attack.
MacDonald had an angled shot kicked off the line by Hughes and Hourihane fired over as the Pilgrims tried to repeat their late, late show of their previous three home games.
It was not to be, and this agonising season goes on.
Argyle (4-4-2): 23 Jake Cole; 28 Paul Bignot, 5 Darren Purse, 22 Maxime Blanchard, 14 Onismor Bhasera; 15 Luke Young (9 Juvhel Tsoumou 80), 20 Conor Hourihane, 19 Paul Wotton, 31 Ashley Hemmings; 28 Nick Chadwick, Alex MacDonald. Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu (gk), 2 Durrell Berry, 7 Luke Daley, 8 Simon Walton.
Bookings: Purse 34, Blanchard 77.
Barnet (4-4-2): 1 Dean Brill; 16 Sead Hajrovic, 5 Darren Dennehy, 30 Paul Downing, 19 Jack Saville; 10 Sam Deering, 4 Mark Hughes, 21 Clovis Kamdjo, 37 Jordan Obita (8 Mark Byrne 69);11 Ricky Holmes, 23 Izale McLeod. Substitutes (not used): 12 Jordan Mustoe, 15 Andy Yiadom, 18 Liam O'Brien (gk), 25 Alassane N'Diaye.
Bookings: Dennehy 10.
Referee: Brendan Malone.
Attendance: 5,879 (83 away).