Argyle have not won two games in a row since last December and were looking to do so at Boundary Park. But straight away this seemed unlikely as within five minutes Bondz N’Gala was sent off for taking down Oumare Tounkara in the penalty area, the resulting penalty converted past David Button.
Plymouth then converted to a 4-3-2, with Kari Arnason moved back into defence to fill the gap. And Peter Reid’s men responded perfectly and within two minutes they were back level.
Craig Noone did well on the edge of the Oldham penalty area and his low drive into the corner past keeper Den Brill was a brilliant response and Plymouth looked to push on.
However after a lively first half, with Rory Fallon unlucky to see a bullet header crash off the crossbar from Onismor Bhasera’s cross, the second blow for the Pilgrims came just before the half time whistle. Arnason was adjudged by referee Eddie Ilderton to have elbowed Lewis Alessendra with intent and he received his marching orders, which seemed harsh on the midfielder.
This takes our card tally up to six reds, which is shocking to say the least.
And it was at this point that, even yours truly, thought the second half would be awash with Oldham Athletic goals.
But at the start of the second half, that wasn’t the case, not yet anyway. As Plymouth have done so well this season, is getting out of the blocks early whether it is in the first half or second.
This time it was Green goal scoring machine Bradley Wright-Phillips who defied the odds. Having been left up on his own, after Peter Reid had replaced Fallon with young Curtis Nelson to patch up the defence for a second time, Wright-Phillips controlled a long kick from Button, showed class by evading his markers slide tackle and was sublime in his curling effort past Brill.
The striker truly is in the form of his life at the moment, now equalling his best league goal record as well as topping the League One goal scoring charts.
But of course with nine men it was always going to be tough to hold on to the lead but to Plymouth’s eternal credit they did everything to stop the inevitable until three goals later and it was all over.
The two red cards were undoubtedly Plymouth’s undoing and raises more questions than answers. And with a busy schedule of fixtures in the next couple of weeks, it will be a true test whether Argyle can find that consistency that continues to evade them.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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