Rotherham United 1
by CHRIS PARSONS
ARGYLE’S Football League status remains very much in the balance after a 1-0 defeat to Rotherham United.
Kieran Agrad’s scored the Millers’ decisive goal against the run of play in a second-half that the Pilgrims looked to have control of.
Argyle threw the kitchen sink at their visitors but just could not find a way through.
Disastrous results elsewhere leave the Pilgrims just two points and four places from a spot in npower League 2 next season, thus making next Saturday’s game at Rochdale one of the most important in the club’s 126 year history.
Barnet beat Wycombe, Accrington beat Bristol Rovers, Wimbledon drew with Gillingham, Torquay beat Morecambe and York beat Southend. It could hardly have gone worse.
A point at Spotland would probably be enough, so long as Wimbledon don't win 15-0 but defeat and a draw at Bootham Crescent between York and Dagenham could prove horrific.
It is going to be a long week...
Argyle manager John Sheridan made just one change from the side that had beaten Chesterfield on Tuesday evening.
Right-back Durrell Berry, who had made his first start since February 16 at the Proact Stadium, was again rested in favour of Frenchman Maxime Blanchard.
The Pilgrims lined up in what has now become their familiar 4-5-1 formation, with fans favourite Andres Gurrieri behind lone striker Reuben Reid.
Just as they had against the Spirites, Argyle started strongly and had their first chance to take the lead inside the first five minutes when Bhasera’s dangerous low cross was snuffed out by Craig Morgan just millimetres before Reid could apply a finishing touch.
Both sides had a lot to play for and, inevitably, tackles of a robust nature were raining in leading to bookings for Rotherham’s Alex Revell, Kieran Agrad and Kári Árnason within the opening 25 minutes.
The Pilgrims continued to look the more threatening side and enjoyed another half-chance when Gurrieri was narrowly beaten to Reid’s neat through-ball by Millers’ ‘keeper Scott Shearer.
But it was on the stroke of half-time that the first genuine goalscoring opportunity for either side came about, when Lee Frecklington was thwarted by Jake Cole at the back post.
That was to mark the end of a quiet first period in which Argyle had looked the strongest, but failed to work Shearer.
After the break, Rotherham looked to have shifted up a gear and within minutes of the restart, Revell had toe-poked a close-range flick-on just wide of the post.
But Argyle were by no means resting on their laurels and created a chance of their own soon after when more good work from Bhasera produced a delivery headed narrowly wide by Reid.
Rotherham were having all sorts of problems with containing Argyle’s left side as just moments later, Bhasera again showed a clean pair of heels to Johnny Mullins before pulling back for Reid to fire over.
But 14 minutes from time, it was Rotherham who took the lead when a Joe Skarz free-kick was flicked-on into the path of Agard, who headed past the incoming Cole from close range.
Sheridan reacted almost immediately, replacing Curtis Nelson with Nick Chadwick and switching to a 4-3-3 formation. Tyler Harvey then joined the action just moments later.
Thus began a camp out in the Rotherham half in which the Pilgrims tried desperately to level proceedings. Hourihane shot over, Bhasera saw a pile-driver blocked away, Chadwick’s header was plucked out the air by Shearer before a goal mouths scramble put hearts firmly in mouths.
You think this was stressful? Just wait until next week...
1 Jake Cole; 4 Maxime Blanchard, 15 Paul Wotton, 5 Guy Branston, 14 Onismor Bhasera; 7 Paris Cowan-Hall (28 Ronan Murray 51), 6 Conor Hourihane (capt), 27 Andres Gurrieri, 17 Curtis Nelson (9 Nick Chadwick 79), 18 Joe Bryan; 24 Reuben Reid (29 Tyler Harvey 80). Substitutes (not used):
2 Durrell Berry, 8 Luke Young, 20 Rene Gilmartin (gk), 26 Anthony Charles.
Nelson 75, Gurrieri 90
Rotherham United (4-5-1):
1 Scott Shearer; 6 Johnny Mullins, 3 Claude Davis, 20 Craig Morgan, 37 Joe Skarz; 22 Kieran Agrad, 4 Kári Árnason, 10 Michael O'Connor, 27 Lee Frecklington (33 Liam Ridehalgh 88), 15 Ben Pringle; 9 Alex Revell (16 Kayode Odejayi 90). Substitutes (not used):
2 Dale Tonge, 7 Lionel Ainsworth, 17 Daneil Nardiello, 19 David Noble, 21 Andy Warrington (gk).
Revell 10, Agrad 19, Árnason 23
10,648 (850 away)