Accrington Stanley 0
MacDonald 3, 24
by CHRISTOPHER PARSONS
ARGYLE produced arguably their best performance of the season so far to thrash Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground.
It was vintage Argyle from the start, with Alex MacDonald firing the Pilgrims in front after just three minutes.
The Scotman, on loan from nearby Burnley, then doubled the lead before half-time, giving the Pilgrims a comfortable cushion on which build on during the second-half.
Having weathered a mini storm, Darren Purse headed in the Pilgrims third before, at the death, substitute Luke Daley made it four.
Having lost Jake Cole to a training injury in the week, Argyle manager Carl Fletcher was forced to make a change to the back four that had kept the Pilgrims' third clean-sheet of the season against Barnet on Tuesday.
Romain Larrieu was the obvious replacement for Cole, playing for the first time since the 3-1 Devon Derby defeat to Torquay at Plainmoor in November 2011.
Other than that, though, the team remained the same with Paul Wotton, on his 400th league appearance for the club, taking the armband once more.
Meanwhile, Accrington boss Paul Cook, taking charge of his first Stanley game, made two changes from their 1-0 defeat to Rotherham, a game he watched from the stands.
Danny Coid and Padraig Amond were the men to miss out, with Charlie Barnett and Craig Lindfield the two players given the nod.
The game was not even three minutes old when the Pilgrims opened the scoring.
Having pondered with the ball at his feet 30 yards from goal, defender Aristote Nsiala was caught in possession by MacDonald.
The Scot easily gained control of the ball, and laid it off wide to Chadwick who looked up before returning the favour, sliding in a pass that MacDonald stroked home with relative ease.
Because of the early goal, neither side had had the chance to find any rhythm, resulting in a few frustrating lumps forward and mis-placed passes.
It was Argyle who were looking the more meaningful, though, with their biggest outlet coming down Ashley Hemming's left-flank.
Twice the pacey winger twice won corners in the area in front of the Argyle fans and from the second, Darren Purse was unlucky not to get his head on Hourihane's floating delivery.
Then, just over 20 minutes after the opener, MacDonald doubled his and Argyle's tally with a fox-in-the-box bit of attacking play.
Having also had a hand in the first, Chadwick was again instrumental, striking a stinging shot from distance that had Stanley 'keeper Ian Dunbavin scrambling to reach.
He did manage to get there but could only parry the shot, presenting a bobbling ball for the onrushing MacDonald to poke home.
For the rest of the half, the Pilgrims kept the ball nicely when in possession and pressed their opposition high up the pitch when with out it.
Luke Young was again looking like one of the star performers, earning admiration from both sets of fans for his part in a number of moves.
The Pilgrims led Stanley by two goals to nil at half-time in the reverse fixture at Home Park back in October, only to eventually draw the match 2-2.
With that in mind, it was a relief when Peter Murphy's effort from distance trickled past Larrieu's right hand post in the opening minutes of the second period.
But, as time progressed, Stanley became more and more hungry for a goal and substitute James Devitt probably should have done better with his turning shot from the corner of the six yard box.
But Argyle were not going to lie down this time and Hemmings again looked lively, grazing a cross-come-shot against the crossbar.
Following this, Devitt again threatened, thundering a well taken volley towards goal. Luckily, Larrieu was more than equal to it and produced a save for the scrap-book to deny the on loan Hull youngster, just tipping his drive over the bar.
With Stanley applying more pressure, Fletcher reacted, replacing Ashley Hemmings with perhaps the more defensive minded Simon Walton, pushing MacDonald out wide and reverting to 4-5-1.
Although not directly, the move paid of within minutes as Argyle wrapped up all three points from a well worked free-kick.
Purse was the man on the moment, nodding home Hourihane's in-swinging free-kick from just three yards out.
Stanley were surely beaten now but nobody had told Devitt, who hammered a freekick from 20 yards against the Argyle crossbar.
But they must have realised when the clock struck 90, and substitute Daley fired home to complete a memorable victory in the north.
Accrington Stanley (4-2-3-1): 25 Ian Dunbavin; 12 Peter Murphy, 3 Dean Winnard (capt), 5 Aristote Nsiala, 14 Kevin McIntyre; 8 Charlie Barnett (17 Jamie Devitt 52), 11 Luke Joyce; 7 Craig Lindfield, 27 Bryan Hughes, 19 Micah Evans (18 Liam Willis; 21 Michael Smith (23 Padraig Amond 59). Substitutes (not used): 1 Sean Murdoch (gk), 2 Danny Coid,
Booked: Lindfield 32, Murphy 83
Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Romain Larrieu; 28 Paul Bignot, 5 Darren Purse, 22 Maxime Blanchard, 14 Onismor Bhasera; 15 Luke Young, 19 Paul Wotton (capt), 20 Conor Hourihane, 31 Ashley Hemmings (8 Simon Walton 68); 28 Nick Chadwick (9 Juvhel Tsoumou ), 32 Alex MacDonald (7 Luke Daley 86). Substitutes (not used): 2 Durrell Berry, 27 Matt Lecointe.
Booked: MacDonald 14, Chadwick 75
Referee: Mark Heywood