Ipswich Town 2
Football can be a very cruel game and Argyle were the victims of a painful defeat in front of the returning Green Army.
The Pilgrims were outstanding for 95% of the game, dominating Ipswich Town in terms of chances and heading to all three points after another predatory strike from Luke Jephcott.
The afternoon turned when Danny Mayor was shown a second yellow card on 70 minutes and Ipswich pounced with quickfire goals from Jon Nolan and Kayden Jackson to literally pinch the points.
It was an incredibly unfortunate, and undeserved, outcome for the Greens but the 1,808 fans inside Home Park did us all proud with their amazing support.
Argyle manager Ryan Lowe made four changes from the midweek defeat to Rochdale, starting with Jerome Opoku and Will Aimson replacing Scott Wootton and Niall Canavan in defence.
Conor Grant shifted over to cover the left wing-back slot vacated by the injured, with Panutche Camara and Mayor coming into the midfield, and Ben Reeves dropping down to the bench.
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert opted for three changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Oxford on Tuesday. Andre Dozzell was replaced by former Pilgrim Alan Judge, while Jackson and Brett McGavin were preferred to Keanan Bennetts and Aaron Drinan.
The welcome applause of the Green Army was a memorable way to start the game and those inside the Theatre of Greens were soon admiring an excellent slide tackle from Frank Nouble to quell an Ipswich threat from an early corner.
Arglye responded with a loose ball falling to Jephcott, who exchanged passes with Camara before an attempted ball to Nouble ricocheted into the path of Mayor for an effort charged down by the Ipswich defence.
Opoku had a worrying moment from the next attack but his challenge on Jack Lankester in the penalty area was deemed an infringement by the visiting midfielder, with Argyle swiftly posing a threat of their own and further strikes from Nouble and Mayor charged down by Luke Woolfenden.
The Pilgrims continued their positive momentum with a swinging free-kick headed narrowly over by Kelland Watts, but the wait for a first goal in front of the fans was soon over.
A flowing move down the left saw Nouble feed a pass out wide to Grant and his superb low cross was met with a clever flick with the outside of the boot from Jephcott. The ball cannoned down off the underside of the bar and over the line for a fabulous start.
It was trademark Jephcott in the way he got in front of his marker and the finish was right out of the top drawer, but also massive credit to Grant for the quality of his delivery.
If the Argyle fans were enjoying the positive attacking play, they were possibly even more enthralled by a fantastic recovery tackle from Aimson, just as Jackson was about to pull the trigger after breaking through the middle.
Another enjoyable aspect to Argyle’s bright opening was the diligent midfield work from Tyrese Fornah and Camara, denying Ipswich the time to gain a foothold in that crucial area of the pitch.
A driving run from Camara also showed his attacking instincts, passing the baton to Nouble for a reverse ball to Mayor, who curled his effort inches wide from just inside the penalty area.
Nouble was finding some encouraging space in front of the Ipswich back four and his next foray won a corner that Town only just managed to clear with Aimson lurking for the final touch.
Ipswich toiled hard in an attempt to change the pattern of an entertaining first period but it was a measure of Argyle’s display that Mike Cooper had yet to make a meaningful save.
David Cornell, on the other hand, was forced into extremely alert goalkeeping to keep his side in the contest, racing from his line to thwart Jephcott after a fine flick-on header from Nouble.
The second period resumed in a cold December breeze and Argyle were first to ask a question, with Jephcott intercepting a loose square-pass and Ipswich needed a lunging tackle from Woolfenden to prevent a clear run on goal for the young Welshman.
Ipswich tried to exert some pressure with successive corners that resulted in a drilled shot from distance by McGavin, which was comfortably held by Cooper.
A sublime one-two between Mayor and Nouble returned matters to the status quo, and Ipswich were relieved to concede just a corner. Argyle kept up the pressure with Joe Edwards quickly winning another set-piece from the opposite corner.
The impressive Fornah was the man to get a shot on goal following a half-clearance by the visitors and, while the effort was held by Cornell, the roar of approval from 1,808 fans was a sound to warm the heart.
To their credit, Ipswich replied with a lovely move down the left that culminated in a low cross from the experienced Stephen Ward, but Opoku was perfectly positioned to repel the danger.
It was enough for Lambert to switch up his options, removing McGavin and Lankester for Bennetts and the towering Oli Hawkins. Argyle’s first change was to introduce Ryan Hardie for Jephcott.
The game took a worrying turn for the Greens 20 minutes from time, when Mayor was shown a second yellow card for an innocuous trip, having earlier been booked for taking too long at a corner.
It was soft in the extreme but did mean a different complexion for the closing stages, and Ipswich took swift advantage, with Nolan volleying home a fine finish from a cross by Ward.
Argyle were suddenly behind a minute later, as a ball into the box was chested down for Jackson to steer a low strike into the bottom corner. It was an incredible turnaround and so unfortunate for the Greens, who were in control of the game.
Byron Moore and Reeves were sent on for Nouble and Edwards to try and find some Pilgrim momentum, with the Green Army making a terrific noise to galvanise their troops.
Argyle were relentless in their pursuit of an equaliser that was the least they deserved, with Watts twice going close for the Greens. Dom Telford was sent on for Fornah in the final roll of the dice.
The Pilgrims were laying siege on their numerically advantaged visitors and panic from Ipswich gave Telford the chance to attempt a hooked effort from distance that only just missed the target.
Argyle’s onslaught continued to the end but there was no reward for a tremendous performance that was only marred by five decisive minutes.
Argyle (3-5-2): 1 Mike Cooper; 4 Will Aimson, 24 Jerome Opoku, 2 Kelland Watts; 8 Joe Edwards (capt) (17 Byron Moore 78), 28 Panutche Camara, 18 Tyrese Fornah (11 Dom Telford 90), 10 Danny Mayor, 15 Conor Grant; 7 Frank Nouble (14 Ben Reeves 78), 31 Luke Jephcott (9 Ryan Hardie 68). Substitutes (not used): 23 Luke McCormick (GK), 5 Scott Wootton, 6 Niall Canavan.
Booked: Mayor 52, Watts 79
Sent-Off: Mayor 70
Ipswich Town (4-3-3): 28 David Cornell; 4 Luke Chambers (capt), 6 Luke Woolfenden, 2 Mark McGuinness, 3 Stephen Ward; 14 Jack Lankester (32 Oli Hawkins 65), 42 Brett McGavin (17 Keanan Bennetts 65), 11 Jon Nolan; 36 Armando Dobra, 9 Kayden Jackson, 18 Alan Judge. Substitutes (not used): 1 Thomas Holy (GK), 19 Corrie Ndaba, 22 Toto Nsiala, 44 Emyr Huws, 48 Liam Gibbs.
Booked: McGavin 50, Cornell 90
Referee: Ollie Yates