Plymouth Argyle 2
Late goals stun Blues
Pompey were left shell-shocked after somehow managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Plymouth.
Michael Smith’s first half header looked to have wrapped up the points against their promotion rivals at a packed Fratton Park.
The hosts were comfortably holding on for a valuable win, only for Jamille Matt and Gregg Wylde to turn the game on its head late on.
Paul Cook, unsurprisingly, stuck with a winning side, naming the same starting 11 for a fourth match in succession.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off to remember those who lost their lives in the Battle of Jutland, with the centenary of the naval battle approaching.
It was the visitors who got off to a brighter start when the game started and they had two good chances in the opening stages.
They both came from corners, with the first headed against the inside of the post by Carl McHugh on four minutes.
It was centre-back Peter Hartley who connected with this second, but Enda Stevens was well stationed on the post to clear the danger.
But Pompey grew stronger as the half progressed, putting their opponents under the cosh by pressing high up the pitch.
The home fans were baying for a red card when Argyle keeper Luke McCormick slid out of the box with the ball in his hands, but referee Christopher Sarginson rightly opted for a yellow one.
Kyle Bennett teed-up a chance for Michael Doyle on 29 minutes, but the skipper bent his effort narrowly wide.
Gary Roberts then showed great footwork just inside the box, only to see his shot curl onto the roof of the net.
There was a bit of needle creeping into the game as the interval approached, with a few niggly challenges.
But Fratton Park erupted on 37 minutes when the build-up of Pompey pressure finally resulted in a goal.
It was SMITH who scored it, stooping to head the ball into the bottom corner after Matt Clarke had sent a cross into the box.
Plymouth Aryle 0
The scrappy element of the contest was on display again early in the second half, with Doyle and Hartley both booked for fouls.
It was the Blues who had the first opening following the restart after the Pilgrims failed to properly deal with Stevens’ low delivery.
The ball fell to the tireless Danny Hollands on the edge of the box and his low drive was deflected inches past the post.
Plymouth were opened up with another neat move just past the hour mark, but after Roberts had flicked Doyle’s pass into Stevens’ path, the left-back lifted a shot over the bar.
Cook made his first switch on 67 minutes, with Adam McGurk making way for Gareth Evans wide on the right.
And the hosts almost doubled their advantage moments later, with Christian Burgess turning Bennett’s free-kick wide from close range.
Plymouth had not threatened since the break, but Paul Jones was called into action on 72 minutes, diving to his right to turn Graham Carey’s shot around the post.
A second substitution soon followed, as Marc McNulty came on for Roberts in the Blues’ attack.
There were a few nervy moments as the seconds ticked down, but Pompey were looking dangerous on the break, with Smith firing one shot wide and seeing another saved by McCormick.
But Argyle deflated the vibrant mood around the ground by levelling on 84 minutes, with Matt heading in Carey’s corner.
And it was Carey who provided the assist for Plymouth’s second goal moments later, clipping the ball back for Wylde to slam home.
There was hope of salvaging something from the game when the fourth official displayed five minutes of stoppage-time.
But despite throwing on an extra forward in the shape of Conor Chaplin, Pompey were unable to find a leveller.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies (Chaplin 89), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Evans 67), Roberts (McNulty 76), Bennett; Smith
Goals: Smith 37
Booked: Doyle, Burgess
Subs not used: Murphy, Webster, Close, Naismith
Plymouth (4-diamond-2): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Purrington (Wylde 70); Carey, McHugh, Houghton, Boateng; Jervis (Reid 78), Matt
Goals: Matt 84, Wylde 86
Booked: McCormick, McHugh, Hartley
Subs not used: Dorel, Bentley, Tanner, Harvey, Rooney
Referee: Christopher Sarginson