Aldershot Town 0
by RICK COWDERY
ARGYLE took a massive, massive step towards securing their Football League survival with a gutsy win in front of a large Bank Holiday crowd.
Alex MacDonald's 14th-minute strike might have been hugely lucky - going in with the help of an equally huge deflection - but who really cares?
This team of Green-shirted believers, and their equally faithful followers, deserve every bit of luck going, and, anyway, as Gary Player once observed, the harder you work, the 'luckier' you get.
It was second successive agonisingly sweet victory of the score-first-and-hang-on variety at Home Park, but we are all used to that by now.
Argyle's starting line-up had shown two differences to the one which started Good Friday's 1-1 draw at Hereford.
Goalkeeper Jake Cole was ruled out with a groin injury, meaning a call to arms to assistant-manager Romain Larrieu for only his second start in 24 games, and his first since the season's stand-out 4-0 victory at Accrington.
Ollie Chenoweth was recalled from Truro City to fill the substitute goalkeeper's role.
The other change was on the left side of midfield, where Onismor Bhasera was recalled after two games on the substitutes' bench in place of Ashley Hemmings.
Similarly, Aldershot manager Dean Holdsworth had made two alterations to the Shots' 11 that had started their 2-1 defeat at Home to Port Vale four days earlier.
He recalled forward Wilko Risser and midfielder Peter Vincenti, who had both come on to decent effect against the Valiants, in place of Guy Madjo and Josh Payne.
Argyle buzzed around early on, a rain-laden wind whipping on to their backs, and both Maxime Blanchard, with a header, and Nick Chadwick, with a shot, were non-productive ends to their endeavours.
Larrieu had still not seen the ball before Argyle took the lead, although Le Keeper was prevented from being tested by Paul Wotton's Janner-hearted block on Aaron Morris.
Within a minute, the Pilgrims had their noses in front, thanks to MacDonald.
The young attacker cut in off his right flank and teased an opening for himself against full-back Anthony Straker, whose desperate lunge when MacDonald fired off his shot helped deflect the ball over the head of Aldershot goalkeeper Jamie Young.
It was the first league goal by an Argyle player against Aldershot for more than 37 years, when a Billy Rafferty strike had accounted for the Shots' previous incarnation.
The question was now whether Argyle would put the Green Army through the sweet agony of their previous home game when, having scored in the fourth minute against Bradford, they defended a one-goal lead for 91 minutes.
A shot from opposition midfielder Adam Mekki and a header by team-mate Daren Jones, both of which drifted narrowly wide of Larrieu's goal, suggested that might not necessarily be a winning tactic.
The Pilgrims' profligacy with possession did little to help matters, nor did being caught dwindling with the ball.
Any doubts about Larrieu's ability to turn it on after many more hours spent attending to his managerial responsibilities than on the training-ground - which, let us be fair, he probably shared - were dispelled ten minutes before half-time.
His save of Vincenti's shot from inside ten yards was quintessential Larrieu. Vintage Larrieu. Magnifique Larrieu.
He not only reacted with the sharpest of instincts to get a big mitt on the ball, he also somehow managed to flip it over his crossbar. It might not have been Irthlingborough 2001, but it was not far off, and it enabled Argyle to reach the interval with their slender lead.
Larrieu came out early from the break for extra kicking practice - under the watchful eye of former Pilgrims' custodian Rhys Wilmot - which was a pretty smart move, given the Pilgrims would be playing into a high wind, not to mention driving rain.
On the subject of driving, Wotton quickly won a free-kick on a forward burst from which Robbie Williams beat the defensive wall only to riffle the side-netting.
Williams then played himself into trouble at the other end, allowing Mekki to dispossess him and run in on goal, but Larrieu, after a little initial hesitation, rescued the situation with what was more a tackle than a save.
Aldershot's pressure on the Pilgrims prompted a change from the sidelines, with Juvhel Tsoumou replacing Chadwick.
The Germany-based forward had been on the pitch only seconds when Danny Hylton's free-kick was parried into the path of Mekki, who could not react to the opportunity and saw the ball bounce off his shins and wide of the goal.
There was another heart-in-mouth situation when Larrieu ca me to the edge of his area to collect a Shots' through-ball but was robbed by Hylton, who was denied the chance of a shot by Darren Purse's prescient defending.
Carl Fletcher then sent on Steve of that ilk, as Aldershot continued to make the most of the increasingly hostile elements at their back.
A long, long free-kick from deep inside the Shots half was carried on the wind to the edge of the Argyle six-yard box, where Hylton threw himself at the ball and knocked it on to the goalpost, the ball rebounding for a corner by way of the back of Larrieu's head.
It was fairly relentless backs-to-the-wall, faces-to-the-wind stuff when the guts of men like Fletcher, Purse, Wotton, Bhasera and the chronically underappreciated Simon Walton were called upon time and time again.
They - and their colleagues - answered every one of those calls.
We knew they would.
Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Romain Larrieu; 2 Durrell Berry, 5 Darren Purse, 22 Maxime Blanchard, 3 Robbie Williams; 32 Alex MacDonald (20 Conor Hourihane 87), 19 Paul Wotton, 8 Simon Walton (capt), 14 Onismor Bhasera; 11 Warren Feeney (10 Steve Fletcher 70), 29 Nick Chadwick (9 Juvhel Tsoumou 57). Substitutes (not used): 31 Ashley Hemmings, 33 Ollie Chenoweth (gk).
Booked: Williams 45, Feeney 54, Wotton 71, Bhasera 77.
Aldershot Town (4-4-2): 1 Jamie Young; 2 Ben Herd (capt), 5 Darren Jones, 28 Troy Brown, 3 Anthony Straker; 17 Adam Mekki (26 Mark Molesley 84), 25 Ben Smith (19 Reece Connolly 80), 15 Aaron Morris, 23 Peter Vincenti; 10 Danny Hylton (27 Guy Madjo 90), 38 Wilko Risser. Substitutes (not used): 18 Doug Bergquist, 31 Jordan Clement (gk).
Booked: Jones 42, Herd 90.
Referee: James Linington.
Attendance: 8,677 (344 away).