Carey pen 20
Southend United 1
Demetriou pen 38
ARGYLE, who infamously collected a clutch of red cards in their opening fixtures last season, started their 2018-19 home Sky Bet League One campaign with a variation on the theme as they drew their Home Park opener.
Manager Derek Adams was sent off just before half-time of the match, along with his Southend counterpart Chris Powell, creating a little bit of footballing history in an otherwise unmemorable game.
Adams and Powell were the first managers to be dismissed under a new EFL rule this season which governs conduct in the technical area designed “to protect the reputation of the EFL and its competitions.”
The two gaffers had been among a couple of dozen players and officials from both sides to express an opinion after Pilgrims’ forward Ryan Taylor had clashed with Jason Demetriuo just after the latter had scored a penalty – conceded by Taylor – to bring the scores level seven minutes before half-time.
The spot-kick cancelled out an earlier penalty for Argyle which Graham Carey converted to give the Pilgrims the lead.
Argyle’s starting line-up showed one change from that which had opened the season with a narrow 2-1 defeat at Walsall seven days earlier.
Illness deprived Joe Riley of a home debut but there were first home starts for his replacement, Tafari Moore and Matt Macey, Scott Wootton, Ashley Smith-Brown and Conor Grant.
The game was Argyle’s first on Home Park for more than 100 days and, with five players making their Pilgrims bow at the Theatre of Greens, there were definite early indications that the players needed to feel their way into the contest.
Southend slickly took their opportunity to make some headway but Argyle’s defence held steady. There was a heart-in-mouth moment when Matt Macey spilled a long-range shot and Ted Hopper popped the loose ball home, but the former Scunthorpe United man had drifted offside.
Gradually, Argyle edged more purposefully into the contest, gaining greater confidence as they gained greater possession, and took the lead midway through the first half from 12 yards.
The Pilgrims’ second penalty award in successive home games against Southend was awarded for a foul on debutant Moore by Stephen McLaughlin and given by referee John Busby’s assistant.
He flagged after United goalkeeper Mark Oxley had beaten out a header from Conor Grant, the Argyle midfielder having done well to get his head on Ruben Lameiras’ low cross. Moore was ahead of McLaughlin in their joint pursuit of the loose ball and, although there was little malice in the challenge and Busby was persuaded by the Southend players to talk to his assistant, the award stood.
Carey, who had missed a penalty against Southend which would have completed a hat-trick last time they visited Home Park, despatched this one: same Devonport end; same left-hand side of the goal; but this time about a foot lower than the crossbar which denied him a first ever career triple.
Macey immediately saved from Hopper as Southend sought parity, and the visitors were not backward in coming forward, with Argyle’s on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper then denied Sam Mantom.
United levelled seven minutes before the interval, when Ryan Taylor fouled Timothee Dieng as the two jostled for a corner. Another penalty. Another contentious award. Demetriuo stepped up and sent Macey, who had saved a spot-kick at Walsall on the opening day, the wrong way.
Straight after the restart, the scorer went down under a challenge from Taylor which left the Southend defender curled up on the turf and precipitated much heated debate between the occupants of both dugouts on the sidelines.
The upshot was a yellow card for Taylor, and – under the new guidelines for referees this season – reds for Adams and Powell. Those guidelines allow for a manager or coach to be dismissed if they commit “a singular act of serious irresponsible behaviour that, in the opinion of the fourth official surpasses the requirement for a warning.”
Argyle began the second half with their manager nowhere to be seen (Powell became one of only two spectators to watch the game from the grandstand, the other being his escort, Argyle Secretary Zac Newton) and with assistant-manager Paul Wotton barking out orders. You can safely assume, tough, that Adams was watching every ball from somewhere.
Wotton soon made a substitution, with Lameiras being replaced by club captain Gary Sawyer, which pushed Smith-Brown forward.
Still Southend would not allow Argyle to impose themselves and Songo’o was sent on in place of Fox to try to get a real grip on proceedings, with Freddie Ladapo following soon afterwards and Smith-Brown giving way.
The changes, and some serious backing from a frustrated huge home crowd, gingered up the Greens, but they still struggled to fully hit their straps.
Neither side fashioned a seriously good opportunity for most of the second half although Southend went close in the final minutes when substitute Michael Klass flashed a shot across Macey’s goal.
Ladapo responded with a bit of left-wing jiggery-pokery that ended with a shot into the side-netting
Argyle, though, dug in and ensured a first point of the season from a game which will be remembered for what happened to two men who did not kick a ball.
Argyle (4-3-3): 1 Matt Macey; 22 Tafari Moore, 5 Ryan Edwards, 25 Scott Wootton, 23 Ashley Smith-Brown (19 Freddie Ladapo 71); 15 Conor Grant, 8 David Fox (capt, 4 Yann Songo'o 65), 6 Jamie Ness; 10 Graham Carey, 9 Ryan Taylor, 11 Ruben Lameiras (3 Gary Sawyer 55). Substitutes (not used): 14 Niall Canavan, 16 Joel Grant, 20 Gregg Wylde, 21 Kyle Letheren (gk).
Sent off: Adams (manager) 42.
Booked: Taylor 42, Edwards 80.
Southend United (4-2-3-1): 1 Mark Oxley (capt), 24 Jason Demetriou, 48 John White, 6 Michael, Turner, 3 Ben Coker; 8 Timothee Dieng, 18 Sam Mantom; 7 Michael Kightly (31 Theo Robinson 85), 10 Simon Cox (20 Michael Klass 82), 11 Stephen McLaughlin (32 Stephen Hendrie 90); 9 Ted Hopper. Substitutes (not used): 2 Elvis Bwomono, 13 Nathan Bishop (gk), 27 Harry Kyprianou, 28 Shawn McCoulsky.
Sent off: Powell (manager) 42.
Booked: White 75.
Referee: John Busby.
Attendance: 9,886 (394 away).