Match report for Plymouth Argyle vs Rotherham United on 28 Apr 18
Grant 56, Carey pen 90
Rotherham United 1
STOP me if you have heard it. Graham Carey; last minute; penalty at the Devonport end.
You have heard it? Ok, you know the end then.
Carey's penalty, in stoppage time, won a game, and Carey's late winner sealed a precious win.
Elsewhere, Scunthorpe United and Charlton Athletic both won, meaning Argyle are not quite in the top six, but two more wins and Argyle will have their dream.
Rarely will there be visitors to Home Park will so little riding on a game. Rotherham, with two games to go, know their fate. They will finish fourth, whatever others do, and whether they win their last two games, or lose them both. But would such splendid isolationism bring a relaxed, free-flowing side, or a group with their eyes on play-offs, prioritising not getting injured?
Either way, all Argyle could do was play their game, and with the same 11 that started in a 1-1 draw at Rochdale on Tuesday night. The Pilgrims started the game in a similar vein to how they began that clash, with vigour and some pleasing-on-the-eye moves involving their front three.
Joel Grant had a shot deflected wide when cutting inside, not long after Carey found Lameiras with the second part of a sumptious one-two, with the Portuguese slamming a shot into the hands of Marek Rodak.
In between times, Rodak was swift to push over a superbly struck David Fox volley that it been five yards lateral, would have brought the house down.
Rotherham were not entirely quiet, with David Ball knocking in from short range, but soon curtailing celebrations when he saw the assistant referee's flag up.
The Pilgrims were broadly on top; a sweeping move that saw Jamie Ness beat a man and drag a right-footed shot wide epitomised their play, but it was Rotherham who broke the deadlock.
Argyle had a long spell in possession, moving from side to side, along the back four and into the midfield, but eventually Zak Vyner was a little too casual trying to flick a ball round the corner to Fox, and Rotherham broke away.
Ball was able to burst, then feed Towell, who firmly placed the ball past Remi Matthews.
The Millers, buoyed by the goal, kept up the pressure, with Ball then Ryan Williams having chances that Matthews found easy, but still had to deal with.
For Argyle's part, Grant's on-target header from an Oscar Threlkeld cross gave Rodak something to do, it may have been harder had it been from closer-range.
Carey was struggling to get into the game, but right on half-time he had his best moment. Collecting the ball on the touchline, he burst through two players, ran across the 18-yard line, and struck for goal. Such was Argyle's - and Carey's - luck, he slammed the ball straight into Antoni Sarcevic, making a decoy run.
A slow start to the second from both sides was a worrying sign for Pilgrims, with the only action of note coming when Williams tumbled in the area, but got booked for his theatrics.
Having tried to play to the strengths of their front three, Argyle finally got their breakthrough playing the old-fashioned way. Having switched away from the right flank, where former Ben Purrington had bested him, Carey popped up more centrally to flick on a long ball forward, and bit of persistance from Lameiras got the ball to Grant.
The Jamaican forward still had a bit to do as he pushed forward with the ball, and with Lameiras making a run to his left, but Grant kept calm, worked the ball onto his right foot to give himself an angle, and drove low past Rodak.
The noise in Home Park rose, exponentially. Argyle buzzed and tried to provoke a second, but after a couple of attacks where the ball would not quite fall for a Pilgrim in the box, Rotherham reminded everyone of their threat, with first Anthony Forde's deflected effort being tipped over by Matthews, then Towell hitting through a crowd to find his shot pouched.
After each team made a sub - Lionel Ainsworth for Sarcevic, Jon Taylor for Forde - Rotherham caused a major fright as Michael Smith looked be in, with a clear shot on goal, but Sawyer recovered sufficiently to prevent the chance.
As Argyle looked to break forward, substitute Taylor twigged a Bradley throughball, and started Ball away. Ball drew Vyner, and found the unmarked Taylor, bursting through. The sub only had Matthews to beat, but Argyle's goalkeeper stood firm, winning the ball with his feet and ending the danger.
Argyle never seemed to truly hit their stride in the second period, but a hallmark of a Derek Adams team is their drive, spirit and will to win. Effort and belief were never lacking, and the ultimate in reward was soon to come.
Firstly, a big fright. Shortly after Aaron Taylor-Sinclair had come on for Lameiras, facilitating a switch for Bradley to a makeshift forward's role, Taylor-Sinclair clattered accidentally into Jamie Ness. With both of them poleaxed, Rotherham broke, got the ball into the area for former Pilgrim Lavery to issue a coup de grace on Argyle's play-offs hopes.
But, wait. A flag, held aloft by an assistant referee who could get as drunk as he likes for nothing on the Barbican tonight, saved the day.
Up the other end went Argyle, with Carey scything a path into the area. In came a challenge from Will Vaulks that referee Darren Handley deemed to be unfair.
Carey, not for the first time this season, took a last-ditch penalty with panache, and in the blink of an eye Argyle's had gone from over to very much alive.
A small, negative postscript was Ness limping off after his heavy challenge, being replaced Yann Songo'o. Here is hoping it is just a bump, and Ness can face his old team on Tuesday night.
Oh yes, that's right - Scunthorpe United away, this coming Tuesday. Whether at Glanford Park, Home Park, or your sofa watching on Sky Sports...just like we were all screaming at Carey before the pen....
Do not dare miss it.
Argyle (4-3-3): 34 Remi Matthews; 18 Oscar Threlkeld, 22 Zak Vyner, 15 Sonny Bradley, 3 Gary Sawyer (capt); 7 Antoni Sarcevic (8 Lionel Ainsworth 66), 24 David Fox, 6 Jamie Ness (4 Yann Songo'o 90); 10 Graham Carey, 11 Ruben Lameiras (17 Aaron Taylor-Sinclair 88), 16 Joel Grant. Substitutes (not used): 2 Gary Miller, 25 Kyle Letheren (gk), 27 Alex Fletcher, 36 Dan Rooney.
Rotherham (4-4-1-1): 13 Marek Rodak; 2 Josh Emmanuel, 20 Michael Ihiekwe, 6 Richard Wood (capt), 18 Ben Purrington; 7 Anthony Forde (11 Jon Taylor 67), 17 Richie Towell, 4 Will Vaulks, 23 Ryan Williams (22 Joe Newell 78); 10 David Ball; 24 Michael Smith (31 Caolan Lavery 72). Substitutes (not used): 5 Semi Ajayi, 8 Matt Palmer, 12 Lewis Price (capt), 25 Shaun Cummings.
Booked: Williams 51, Rodak 90.
Referee: Darren Handley.
Attendance: 13,407 (577 away).