by Rob McNichol
ARGYLE recorded only their second goalless draw of the season as they drew 0-0 in a rearranged fixture at Huish Park against Yeovil Town.
It was also only the fourth time in 32 Sky Bet League 2 matches that the Pilgrims failed to score, and that can be mostly put down to the exceptional level of work and commitment by the home side.
These qualities were not lacking in Argyle either, and in the end the honest endevour of both sides resulted in a stalemate that few could really complain about.
We possibly should have seen it coming. Yeovil, since the appointment of Darren Way, were unbeaten at home in eight, including five draws, while Argyle's streak of not losing on their travels stretches back to October. Their last two away trips had been draws, too.
Derek Adams made just one change to the side that started proceedings at Crawley three days previous. Jake Jervis came in for Craig Tanner in a like-for-like change on Argyle's right flank - the on-loan Reading man dropped down to the bench.
In the Yeovil team, a couple of familiar names. Ex-Pilgrims Ben Tozer and Ryan Dickson may have only made seven Argyle appearances between them - all Dickson's too - but being coming through the Home Park ranks and being born in Plymouth and Saltash respectively, would surely have been up for the chance to play their old, first club.
If they were not, their manager was. Darren Way, another Plymothian, never represented his hometown club, but has made no secret of his love for two sides in green and white. The bulk of his professional career has been devoted to Yeovil Town, but much of his heart resides in PL2.
It was nearly 7.10pm when a cheer was audible from outside the ground, and Argyle fans began to file in. Later, the supposed start time of 7.45pm had arrived by the time the players had even filed on the Huish Park turf. And if delays were de rigueur, Argyle were very fashionable, as they allowed Yeovil to have a hot start on a chilly Somerset evening.
Before ten minutes had elapsed on the scoreboard above the heads of the bulk of the 2,000-or-so-strong Green Army, Yeovil had two excellent chances to lead. First, the ball bobbled rather cruelly on Brandon Goodship as he shaped to shoot from about 12 yards, and his effort spun wide. Goodship was involved a few minutes later, knocked a partially-cleared free-kick back into dangerous territory, where captain Darren Ward's effort found the arms of Luke McCormick.
Argyle began to show their class, though, and after former Exeter goalkeeper Artur Krysiak did well to pouch a Gregg Wylde cross following a sweeping Argyle move, he was powerful to halt a sublime Graham Carey volley from a Ryan Brunt knockdown. Unfortunately for the Irishman, the sweet strike fell just millimetres wide of Krysiak's left-hand post.
At the other end, Yeovil made vociferous cries for a penalty when a goalbound effort struck Peter Hartley's arm. Referee Lee Collins was unsympathetic and waved away their claims. The Glovers were perhaps a little unfortunate - the ball did seem to make contact with Hartley's arm - but it was certainly outside of the area.
The game appeared tidal. After each side had a spell on top, it reverted back to Yeovil as the more dominant side, forcing a series of corners - none of which threatened - before they fashioned a chance from Argyle's misfortune. As Carey set off forwards he trod on the ball, and Liam Walsh was the gleeful recipient. He threaded a ball to Tahvon Campbell in a dangerous position, but the on-loan West Brom forward sliced into the side netting.
Yeovil kept up the pressure - thanks largely to keeping up a frenetic tempo - but did not carve any clear cut chances before the half-time interval. Neither, meanwhile, did Argyle, and it was the stands populated with lighter green that sounded the most optimistic when the whistle sounded.
For just a moment, 24 seconds after the interval, it seemed Adams may have made the most inspired substitution of all time. Bringing on Kelvin Mellor for Jordon Forster in a straight swap at right-back may not seem like the most obvious of pieces of offensive tactical genius, but when, straight from the kick-off, Argyle attacked down the left, there was a momentary chance. Wylde's cross found its way all the way to Mellor, timing his arrival to perfection. The timing of boot to ball was not so spot-on, and the ball went wide, but it signaled a sea change once again.
Argyle looked more lively in the opening seven minutes of the second half than they did for most of the first. Chances did not rain down on Krysiak - although the flak from the Green Army, aware of his red-and-white past, did - but territorially Argyle were taking over.
Two Yeovil players - Dolan and Campbell - went into the book for committed tackles that just got there a little late, with Argyle's new-found desire making them first to almost every ball. Mellor, joining in offensively again, then crossed for Carey, whose well-timed bullet header went not far over.
Wylde had a shot deflected wide, while Ward made a brave block to prevent Brunt's long-ranger testing Krysiak, as Argyle pressed on.
It was at the other end that the deadlock came the closest to being broken, however. Threlkeld had the better of Walsh in a speedy footrace, but the Argyle midfielder's header to McCormick was weak. Walsh sneaked in and got a shot away, but the Argyle keeper saved well. The loose ball then found its way to Goodship via a lax Mellor header, but the shot was high with the goal gaping.
Former Glover Reuben Reid came on with 25 minutes remaining, to the predictable warm welcome from the traveling supporters, and the less fond one from the hosts.
Yeovil's own switch, minutes earlier, seeing Ryan Bird coming on for Campbell, had galvanised them a little, and while flowing moves were not their stock-in-trade, a whole host of corners and free-kicks rained down on Argyle, who for their part defended them all superbly.
The changes made by each team showed desire to go and win the game, but attacking ambitions could not be converted by either side into anything resembling clear chances.
Argyle had the last, late flurry, as Carl McHugh's ambitious header from outside the area forced Krysiak into action, and Threlkeld's volley into the ground bounced over the Yeovil goalkeeper but onto the roof of the net.
Yeovil Town (4-3-3): 1 Artur Krysiak; 24 Connor Roberts, 26 Darren Ward (capt), 6 Jakub Sokolik, 11 Ryan Dickson; 4 Matthew Dolan, 2 Ben Tozer, 25 Liam Walsh (18 Simon Gillett 90); 19 Brandon Goodship (23 Harry Cornick 80), 39 Francois Zoko, 16 Tahvon Campbell (9 Ryan Bird 59). Substitutes: 8 Marc Laird, 12 Chris Weale (gk), 21 Alex Lacey.
Booked: Dolan 50, Campbell 52, Roberts 75.
Argyle (4-2-3-1): 23 Luke McCormick; 28 Jordon Forster (2 Kelvin Mellor half-time), 5 Curtis Nelson (capt), 6 Peter Hartley, 3 Gary Sawyer; 26 Oscar Threlkeld, 4 Carl McHugh; 14 Jake Jervis, 10 Graham Carey, 11 Gregg Wylde (9 Reuben Reid 65); 17 Ryan Brunt. Substitutes: 7 Daniel Nardiello, 8 Josh Simpson, 16 Ben Purrington, 21 James Bittner (gk), 27 Craig Tanner.
Booked: Nelson 34, Forster 38, Hartley 73.
Referee: Lee Collins.
Attendance: 5,788 (2,133 away).