Fyfield og 44
York City 0
by CHRIS PARSONS
LADY Luck made a dramatic return to Home Park to help the Pilgrims to their first three points since October.
Although Argyle more than deserved their prize, dominating the match throughout, it was their first goal that came around in somewhat fortuitous circumstances when retreating left-back Jamal Fyfield put a Luke Young cross through his own net just before the break.
Then, in the dying embers of the match, Nick Chadwick put a cherry on top, heading home from just six yards after York goalkeeper Michael Ingham could only parry Luke Young’s thunderbolt effort from the right.
There was no question, though, Argyle deserved the points. They worked tirelessly in midfield, controlled the possession and dictated the tempo to their opponents.
In defence, they never looked in doubt and although at times it may not have been the prettiest, frankly, who cares?
With Durrell Berry suspended and Alex MacDonald back in Burnley, Argyle manager Carl Fletcher was always going to have to make changes to the side defeated on penalties on Tuesday.
Darren Purse, himself returning from a three-match ban following his dismissal at Fleetwood, stepped back in to the centre of defence, pushing Curtis Nelson sideways to fill Berry’s vacant right-back spot.
Similarly, in midfield, Andres Gurrieri moved from the wing and into MacDonald’s hole behind the striker, allowing the fit-again Young to play in front of Nelson on the right-hand side of midfield.
Then, in attack, Welshman Rhys Griffiths, the only Pilgrim to convert his penalty on Tuesday night, was preferred to Chadwick.
Both teams were on a retched run of form with Argyle’s winless eight game streak nearly matched by their opponent’s one win in the same amount of matches.
During the first five minutes, form book manifested itself out onto the pitch with both sides struggling to join up passes.
Then, from nowhere really, Nelson carved out the first chance of the match, latching onto Young’s through ball to deliver a well-placed cross that Cowan-Hall headed wide.
Just seconds later, Mark Molesley tried his luck, keeping possession as we strode along the edge of the box before lashing an effort over the bar.
York’s Patrick McLaughlin was given the time and space to fire just wide from 25 yards before Argyle again threatened, this time when Maxime Blanchard just failed to make contract with Conor Hourihane’s dangerous in-swinging free-kick, delivered to the Frenchman at the back post.
But the best chance of the match so far came just minutes afterwards when Cowan-Hall latched on to York skipper Chris Smith’s weak back pass.
With a deft flick, he was around ‘keeper Michael Ingham but, with the ball in the air, could not administer the all important touch to poke the ball towards the gapping net.
After a quiet few minutes, in which Argyle kept possession but did not really threaten, Purse went close with an out-of-character lob, but saw his effort bounce off the top of the netting.
Cowan-Hall was looking particularly lively, and when he won a free-kick on the edge of the box, Young saw his curling free-kick sail just over.
Then, just as the half was petering out, lady luck finally smiled upon the team in green at Home Park.
After more hard work from Cowan-Hall, the Pilgrims won a corner from which Young delivered a dangerous ball to the back post.
With Griffiths, Purse and Nelson lurking, and the ball about to bounce, York defender Fyfield knew he had to do something to avert the danger, but, instead of hooking it away as he had obviously intended, he could only touch the ball into his own net.
After the break, the Pilgrims’ form continued and Gurrieri was unlucky not to double the lead when his shot from a swift counter-attack was well blocked by the recovering York defender.
Argyle were keeping possession fantastically well, denying their visitors of a kick in the midfield. With this mind, York opted for a changed just before the hour mark, sending on Jon Challinor and Jamie Reed to stop Gurrieri dropping in to pick up the ball.
But it was not working when 20 minutes from time, the tricky Argentinean fired a crisp drive millimetres wide of Ingham’s right-hand post.
The Pilgrims were clearly hungry for a second and it was Cowan-Hall again who tested Ingham, powering through the York back four to force him into a good save at his near post.
As is always the case when you have dominated a match and only hold a one goal lead, the crowd and indeed, some of the players, began to look a little nervy.
Then, with just one minute of normal time remaining, substitute Nick Chadwick sealed the deal.
See you in Exeter.
Argyle (4-5-1): 20 Rene Gilmartin; 17 Curtis Nelson, 5 Darren Purse (capt), 4 Maxime Blanchard, 14 Onismor Bhasera; 8 Luke Young, 6 Conor Hourihane, 27 Andres Gurrieri (16 Jamie Lowry 82), 30 Mark Molesley, 7 Paris Cowan-Hall (19 Joe Lennox 90); 10 Rhys Griffiths (9 Nick Chadwick 73). Substitutes (not used): 1 Jake Cole, 11 Warren Feeney, 23 Jamie Richards, 29 Tyler Harvey.
Booked: Gurrieri 82
York City (4-3-3): 24 Michael Ingham; 6 Daniel Parslow, 4 Chris Smith, 23 Chris Doig (3 Danny Blanchett 69), 16 Jamal Fyfield; 19 Michael Potts (7 Jamie Reed 56), 8 Scott Kerr, 26 Patrick McLaughlin (20 Jon Challinor 56); 17 Matty Blair, 9 Jason Walker, 10 Ashley Chambers. Substitutes (not used): 1 Paul Musselwhite, 5 David McGurk, 27 Tom Allan, 33 Alex Rodman.
Booked: Kerr 90, Smith 90, Parslow 90.
Referee: Tim Robinson.
Attendance: 5,881 (188 away)