Barnsley 1 Argyle 1
DURING the build-up to Argyle’s visit to Barnsley, manager Derek Adams made it clear he would have accepted a point from the game.
Given the chances his side created after going behind to an early worldy from Alex Mowatt, it is doubtful he felt that way after the game.
The Pilgrims equalised five minutes from half-time thanks to Ruben Lameiras’s second goal in consecutive games, but Freddie Ladapo could have had a hat-trick before the interval and Lameiras hit the crossbar in the second half.
Argyle's injury crisis had been alleviated by the power of one, with Tafari Moore having overcome a stomach strain to resume in a defence still bereft of Niall Canavan, Joe Riley, Gary Sawyer and Scott Wootton.
The former Arsenal man’s return allowed Ash Smith-Brown to flip from right-back to left, bringing to an end Gregg Wylde’s emergency stint in defence.
Adams made one other change to his starting 11, swapping out Joel Grant for on-loan Cardiff City man Stuart O’Keefe in the midfield.
Barnsley, unbeaten in four matches at Oakwell going into the game, started like a side intent on making their stay in League One a short one and Mamadou Thiam soon tested Matt Macey with a powerful long-range effort that was tipped over the crossbar.
If that stop was relatively easy, Macey’s reflex save from the same Barnsley player’s equally instinctive deflection towards goal of a low cross from the bye-line required rather more skill.
Third time unlucky. Mowatt’s audacious, curling, dipping, swerving strike from the corner of the box, which clattered into the net off both post and crossbar, gave Macey little chance.
An already difficult task was made more so by the early setback but Argyle did not buckle and, after Ryan Edwards had spared Macey by blocking Victor Adeboyejo’s goalbound shot, some neat interplay saw Ladapo slipped in behind the home side’s defence, only to be denied by goalkeeper Adam Davies.
More – much more – Pilgrims’ possession saw a similarly intricate move produce a similarly inviting opening, with Ladapo again receiving the ball from Lameiras in space inside the penalty area. This time, he beat Davies but the shot drifted agonisingly wide of the goal.
Argyle, though, had succeeded in wresting the initiative and it was no surprise when their momentum resulted in a deserved equaliser.
This time, Lameiras went on his own, keeping possession as he rode a series of challenges along the edge of the Barnsley penalty area before finding just enough space to fire off a left-foot shot that needed to be as well-placed as it was to beat Davies’ dive.
Having tweaked the Tykes’ tail, Argyle were ready for a response from the home side, but were not too troubled for the remainder of the half, except for a Macey save from Kieffer Moore’s hopeful drive.
On Saturday, at home to Doncaster, Argyle had failed to start the second half, and, consequently, failed to show for most of it, so they were careful not to fall into the same trap again. Twice in the opening five minutes, Graham Carey danced his way into the left side of the box for a driven cross that found no takers and a shot that was only just wide of the mark.
Barnsley needed to try to turn the tide and they nearly did through Mowatt, whose liking for a goal from distance manifested itself in a low drive that Macey dived to turn around the post.
The miss signalled a period of pressure from the home side, which saw substitute Brad Potts head wide at the far post before Moore thumped a shot over the crossbar when a touch more finesse might have troubled Macey.
A period of relative calm for Macey was ended when Moore extended the Argyle custodian with another shot from outside the box, as Barnsley continued to buy tickets for the goal raffle.
The traffic was far from one-way, though, and Lameiras came close to matching Mowatt’s earlier impudence when he tried a chip from the left edge of the penalty area that clipped the crossbar.
As the game reached its final stages, there was much of the familiar bodies-on-the-line defending that has typified the Pilgrims’ spirit under Adams, and, thankfully, is still there.
Perhaps the most effective body-block came from a Barnsley shirt tough, as Thiam’s thundercracker hit one of his team-mates.
Substitute Mike Bahre fired over but the home side’s search for a winner left them vulnerable to a break and Carey found position to loose one off, but the shot from outside the box was always going over.
Barnsley (4-3-3): 1 Adam Davies (capt); 12 Dimitri Cavaré, 5 Ethan Pinnock, 18 Adam Jackson, 23 Dani Pinillos (20 Brad Potts 41); 7 Ryan Hedges, 27 Alex Mowatt, 4 Kenny Dougall; 29 Victor Adeboyejo (21 Mike Bähre 59), 19 Kieffer Moore, 26 Mamadou Thiam (10 George Moncur 85). Substitutes (not used): 6 Liam Lindsay, 8 Cameron McGeehan, 13 Jack Walton (gk), 33 Jacob Brown.
Booked: Pinillos 35, Dougall 44, Hedges 75.
Argyle (4-3-3): 1 Matt Macey; 22 Tafari Moore, 5 Ryan Edwards, 24 Peter Grant, 23 Ashley Smith-Brown; 4 Yann Songo’o, 8 David Fox (capt), 13 Stuart O’Keefe; 10 Graham Carey, 19 Freddie Ladapo, 11 Ruben Lameiras (20 Gregg Wylde 85). Substitutes (not used): 16 Joel Grant, 17 Lionel Ainsworth, 18 Calum Dyson, 21 Kyle Letheren (gk), 29 Alex Fletcher, 34 Dan Rooney.
Booked: O’Keefe 12, Carey 72, Smith-Brown 90.
Referee: Carl Boyeson.
Attendance: 10,770 (255 away).