Taylor 27, Carey pen 90
WHEN Graham Carey missed a penalty against Southend on Good Friday, he put it down to a lack of pressure. Argyle were cruising to victory, he got a bit casual.
So, Graham, here's the ball. It's the 90th minute of a match against one your nearest rivals in the Sky Bet League One table, and you have failed to convert three of your last four spot kicks. Did he miss?
Did he buffalo.
Carey caressed the ball in the opposite direction to the dive of Conor O'Malley, and Argyle had an extraordinary three points.
It was no ordinary game. Jack Marriott gave Peterborough the lead, before Argyle's Ryan Taylor levelled proceedings. Liam Shephard was sent off for an off the ball clash with Carey, and was followed by fellow defender Steven Taylor between the award of the penalty and the conversion.
On Monday, Argyle did not play, and watched play-off rivals pick up maximum points. This time, they prevented Posh from notching, and would subsequently learn that although Rotherham had inflicted a first loss to John Sheridan as Fleetwood boss, Portsmouth, Scunthorpe and Chalton had all drawn. Argyle, with six games to go, are fifth.
The arrival of Remi Matthews and his partner's baby meant that Kyle Letheren came into the Argyle starting 11 for the first time since November, with Michael Cooper called up to the bench. Lionel Ainsworth was absent from said bench, because of a back spasm, with Gary Miller coming in.
Considering the proximity of these two teams in the league, as well as a bit of lingering history between two feisty Scottish managers, there was always the danger that activity on the sideline would overshadow matters on the pitch, and the first sign of it blowing up came as early as the eighthj minute.
Graham Carey was played though in the right channel, and tried to cut inside the backtracking Anthony Grant, inside the area. The two tangled, and Carey went to ground. Referee Craig Hicks waved away a penalty claim, but debate raged on the touchline. While Derek Adams aimed his frustration at the referee, Posh boss Steve Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor tore into the fourth official, presumably asking why, if not a penalty, Carey was not cautioned.
After Hicks had a chat with the benches to ask for calm - it did not work - Peterborough reacted the quickest on the pitch. An up-and-under was judged better by the busy Marriott than by Sonny Bradley, and Peterborough's - indeed, the division's top goalscorer - followed by spotting a small gap left by Letheren and chipping into it to give Posh the lead.
Argyle were yet to settle when Chris Forrester shot over from 10 yards when unmarked, when he really should have done better.
The Greens, though, upped their game in the way they know best; through smart, intelligent, passing football. One such move allowed Bradley to come out from the back and shoot wide, and another led to a corner which, when partially cleared, saw Jamie Ness slice over.
Ness was soon on his back, having been taken out in an odd collision.with Steven Taylor. Argyle could have had two fouls, but Hicks played an advantage which did no favours to Ness. He headed a ball in front of an oncoming, off-balance, Taylor, who landed a clothesline that would not look out of place in Sunday's WWE Wrestlemania event. The caution he received was probably fair enough, as the incident was more reckless than nasty, but one sensed Ness might have a comeback in him.
But this was a tale of two Taylors. The one in Green and White had lasted 22 minutes in the season's opening game, at Peterborough. The broken ankle he sustained on that occasion kept him out for the next 20 of Argyle's Sky Bet League One matches, and his absence was arguably a very significant factor in Argyle's poor start to the season.
Fitting, then, that he should be the man to bring Argyle, level, making a superb angled run to the near post, and glancing home with his head, into the opposite corner of the net.
Of note, too, the provider. Of all of the celebrated aspects of this exciting Derek Adams line-up, perhaps one of the most unsung is the crossing ability of Gary Sawyer. We may take it for granted, but his team-mates do not. On seeing the ball go in, the elated Taylor's first port of call was his skipper, to offer thanks for the delivery. It probably ought to be noted, too, that in the earlier Posh contest that Taylor exited early, Sawyer scored, through little fault of his own, an own goal.
The Pilgrims kept up the first half pressure, with Bradley heading over from Carey's corner the best of a few half-chances. Ness, meanwhile, got a modicum of revenge by clattering Cooper, and going into the book.
Argyle began the second half in fine style, driving at Peterborough in numbers, and forcing the visitors onto the back foot. A tremendous move that saw numerous Argyle players involved in a patient build-up around the penalty eventually came to Lameiras, whose quick hit was deflected and spun onto the post, and away.
Zak Vyner got onto the end of a high cross and played back into a dangerous area, but found no-one there to convert, before Lameiras dazzled again to shoot low into the legs of goalkeeper Conor O'Malley.
Interspersed with actuall football action were niggles and overblown reactions to matters. Liam Shephard was booked in the latest game of Foul or Be Fouled with Jamie Ness. That caused a small amount of outrage, but not as much as the referee failing to give a free-kick for David Fox's admittedly wild challenge on Cooper. Cooper led the outrage, when suddenly recovering from whatever had kept him down for 30 seconds, and was cautioned for his reaction.
Suddenly, in the eyes of players supporters and - particularly - the Peterborough bench, every challenge was a foul, every foul a caution, and thus what was shaping to be a really good game was rather lost to the sub-plot.
In any good story arc, though, the sub-plot then affects the main narrative. Shephard was sent off for a collision, off the ball, with Carey, that referee gave after a long pause, possibly with the help of his assistants. Shephard was already on a booking, but this was notably a straight red card, presumably awarded for, in the officials' opinion, a deliberate arm to the face.
There remained 15 minutes of a buoyant 11 against an aggrieved 10, with the game getting inordinately stretched. Adams brought on Joel Grant for Makasi, and within second Lameiras had picked out Grant, who shot quickly on the turn, only to find the outstretched leg of O'Malley diverting the ball over the bar.
As the 90th minute approached, Argyle pushed again. Carey's cross towards Grant looped high in the air, and was challenged for by Oscar Threlkeld and Jack Baldwin. Threlkeld won the header, Baldwin flattened the brave Argyle full-back, and referee Hicks pointed to the spot.
Steven Taylor's attempt to ruffle Carey's feathers by walking across the kicker's path was given short shrift by Hicks, who dismissed Taylor for a second caution.
The Carey did what he does best.
Fifth, then, with six to go. No pressure.
Argyle (4-3-3): 25 Kyle Letheren; 18 Oscar Threlkeld, 22 Zak Vyner, 15 Sonny Bradley, 3 Gary Sawyer (capt); 14 Moses Makasi (16 Joel Grant 82), 24 David Fox, 6 Jamie Ness; 10 Graham Carey, 19 Ryan Taylor, 11 Ruben Lameiras. Substitutes (not used): 2 Gary Miller, 4 Yann Songo'o, 17 Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, 30 Paul Paton, 31 Michael Cooper (gk) 33 Cameron Sangster.
Booked: Ness 33, Taylor 88.
Peterborough United (4-2-3-1): 25 Conor O'Malley; 2 Liam Shephard, 27 Steven Taylor, 6 Jack Baldwin, 3 Andrew Hughes; 8 Chris Forrester (15 Joe Ward 66), 42 Anthony Grant; 37 George Cooper (10 Danny Lloyd 74), 18 Leo da Silva Lopes, 7 Gwion Edwards (20 Michael Doughty 85); 14 Jack Marriott. Substitutes (not used): 1 Jonathan Bond (gk), 16 Junior Morias, 21 Jermaine Anderson, 32 Lewis Freestone.
Sent Off: Shephard 75, Taylor 90.
Booked: Taylor 19, Shephard 54, Cooper 58
Referee: Craig Hicks.
Attendance: 10,923 (385 away).