Northampton Town 0
by CHRISTOPHER PARSONS
THIS may have been billed as a 'relegation six pointer', but Argyle manager Carl Fletcher will undoubtedly be happy with one from this dogged npower League 2 game at Sixfields.
Both sides huffed and puffed but neither could find quite what was needed to get in front.
It was the Pilgrims who came the closest, though, when Paul Wotton's phenomenal free-kick smashed against the underside of the wood work.
Fletch often says that he does not like his players to leave anything on the pitch, and nobody could have been accused of that here. They battled, they worked and they pressed, they just could not find that goal.
With several players back from injury, Argyle manager Carl Fletcher used the opportunity for a change in formation to match that of the Pilgrims opponents.
A 4-1-4-1 was the preferred line-up, with Paul Wotton recovering from a back injury to slot in as the holding midfielder.
Joe Lennox was the only player sacrificed with Alex MacDonald slipping in for him on the right wing, leaving Juvhel Tsoumou as the lone striker.
Nick Chadwick returned as a substitute whilst new signing Steve Fletcher travelled, but was sadly not fit enough to warrant a place on the bench.
In the build up to the match, Carl Fletcher had talked warned his side that this Northampton team would be very different from the one beaten 4-1 at Home Park in November and as early as the second minute, he was proved right when Toni Silva just failed to get the right connection on Ben Harding's dangerous left wing cross.
That little effort was followed up by a thunderous Michael Jacobs free-kick, struck so ferociously from 25 yards that Jake Cole could only push it clear.
Adventures into the Cobblers' half were few and far between for the Pilgrims in the first 30 minutes, but they did have one effort; Tsoumou miscuing a smart long ball from Onismor Bhasera.
But as the half went on, Argyle began to commit more men to the attack, and had another chance ten minutes before half-time when Bhasera could not quite guide Tsoumou's flick-on goalwards.
Then, as the first-half drew to a close, the same two players co-operated again, Bhasera flicking through a pass from Robbie Williams for Tsoumou to fire at 'keeper Matt Duke.
After the break, shooting towards a massive 1,000+ away support, Argyle started to threaten further.
MacDonald, who had not seen a whole lot of the game in the first-half, controlled well on the right before cutting in and unleashing a thunderous drive just over the bar.
Five minutes later, Argyle were gifted another chance when Tsoumou did well to win a corner off Clarke Carlisle. Wotton delivered, Tsoumou had a shot blocked before Blanchard's deflected effort was gobbled up by Duke.
But following that little flurry of chances, Northampton again began to go forward with determination, with Kelvin Langmead's header just a whisker away.
To combat the pressure, Fletcher threw on Ashley Hemmings for Bhasera and Chadwick for Tsoumou.
Hemmings' first meaningful contribution led to the Pilgrims' best chance of the match so far when his quick feet drew a foul, on the angle, 25 yards from goal.
Wotton stood over the ball and hammered a screamer towards goal that cannoned off the underside of the bar.
The Green Army thought it was in, the bench thought it was in, the players thought it was in, but sadly, lady luck was determined to keep it out.
Going into the last few minutes the Pilgrims were on top and again had another shot blocked when Conor Hourihane, who had been fantastic throughout, saw his curling effort deflected wide.
Three minutes of injury time passed without incident as the Pilgrims recorded their fifth point from a possible nine.
Northampton Town (4-1-4-1): 33 Matt Duke; 14 John Johnson (capt), 25 Clarke Carlisle, 28 Kelvin Langmead, 3 Anthony Charles; 5 Ben Tozer; 24 Toni Silva (10 Adebayo Akinfenwa 68), 27 Ben Harding, 22 Lewis Guttridge, 17 Michael Jacobs; 9 Brett Williams. Substitutes (not used): 2 Lewis Young, 6 Byron Webster, 13 Neal Kison, 23 Lewis Wilson.
Booked: Tsoumou 3, Blanchard 56.
Argyle (4-1-4-1): 23 Jake Cole; 2 Durrell Berry, 5 Darren Purse, 22 Maxime Blanchard, 3 Robbie Williams; 19 Paul Wotton; 32 Alex MacDonald (15 Luke Young 83), 8 Simon Walton (capt), 20 Conor Hourihane, 14 Onismor Bhasera (31 Ashley Hemmings 63); 9 Juvhel Tsoumou (29 Nick Chadwick 68). Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu (gk), 11 Warren Feeney.
Booked: Carlisle 14.
Referee: David Phillips.
Attendance: 6,718 (1,172 away).