Argyle slip to second successive League Two defeat
ROTHERHAM UNITED 1 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0
ARGYLE were second best from start to finish as they were beaten by Rotherham at the New York Stadium today, writes Chris Errington.
The Pilgrims were forced to defend for long periods and did so with admirable resilience, while goalkeeper Jake Cole made some excellent saves.
But they struggled to create many chances, especially after half-time, and after several close calls Rotherham finally took the lead in the 73rd minute.
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The decisive goal came from substitute Kieran Agard when he slotted home from close range.
It was the Pilgrims' second successive defeat in League Two – with both of them coming on the road.
Argyle were captained by Maxime Blanchard in the absence of his injured centre-back partner Darren Purse.
A toe problem has hampered Purse all season and it ruled him out of the Pilgrims' first-ever visit to the New York Stadium.
Curtis Nelson was drafted into the centre of defence alongside Blanchard.
There were two other team changes from Argyle's 2-1 defeat at Cheltenham Town on Tuesday.
Paris Cowan-Hall returned from a dead leg to take over from Joe Lennox on the left of midfield.
Midfielder Jamie Lowry made his first start for the Pilgrims because Conor Hourihane was serving a one-match suspension.
Rotherham, who had won their previous two matches, included former Argyle midfielder Kari Arnason in their line-up.
Arnason had the first scoring chance of the contest after only 30 seconds with a long-range strike which flew over the crossbar.
In immediate response, Andres Gurrieri fired across the face of goal for the Pilgrims from a good position inside the penalty area.
Arnason had a couple of early chances to launch long throws into the Argyle 18-yard box.
From one of them, the ball broke to midfielder Gareth Evans but, fortunately for the visitors, he completely miscued his volley.
Rotherham applied a lot of early pressure but Cole was in fine form.
He made excellent saves to keep out powerful shots from Evans, Lee Frecklington and Ben Pringle.
The latter chance led to a corner from which Millers' striker Alex Revell had a header brilliantly palmed away by Cole.
Rotherham thought they had taken the lead in the 32nd minute when Arnason headed home from a corner taken by Pringle.
However, referee Darren Bond cut short the home side's celebrations by ruling one of Arnason's team-mates had committed a foul.
Evans and Arnason both had shots blocked behind for corners, by Blanchard and Lowry respectively, as Rotherham continued to pour forward.
After all that pressure, Argyle had a good chance in the 39th minute when Alex MacDonald crossed into the penalty area and striker Guy Madjo's diving header went over the bar.
Evans fired over the bar from 20 yards at the start of the second half as Rotherham continued to dominate.
Argyle made a substitution in the 59th minute as Madjo made way for Warren Feeney.
The Pilgrims had found it hard to create any chances as they struggled to retain possession for any length of time.
Rotherham continued to be thwarted by some stubborn Argyle defending, though.
Striker Daniel Nardiello had a low shot saved by Cole in the 69th minute as he cut in from the left flank.
Nardiello also hooked the ball across the face of goal, before Argyle made a second substitution which saw Gurrieri replaced by Nick Chadwick.
Chadwick had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds when Rotherham finally opened the scoring.
Nardiello got behind the Pilgrims' defence and crossed to Agard, who slotted into the net from close range.
Lowry's full debut for Argyle lasted 79 minutes before he made way for Onismor Bhasera.
The Zimbabwe international played on the left of midfield, with MacDonald moving into a central position.
Rotherham continued to have most of the possession as Argyle lacked any attacking threat.
Nelson was pushed forward for the closing minutes, leaving the Pilgrims with only three defenders, but it was all to no avail.
Rotherham had been too strong in all areas of the pitch and they were good value for their victory.
ROTHERHAM: Andy Warrington; Dale Tonge (Mark Bradley 4 mins), Ian Sharps, Craig Morgan, Josh Morris; Gareth Evans (Kieran Agard 62 mins), Kari Arnason, Lee Frecklington, Ben Pringle; Alex Revell, Daniel Nardiello (Kayode Odejayi 87 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Jason Taylor, Michael O'Connor, Tony Thompson (gk).
ARGYLE: Jake Cole; Durrell Berry, Curtis Nelson, Maxime Blanchard, Scott Griffiths; Alex MacDonald, Luke Young, Jamie Lowry (Onismor Bhasera 79 mins), Paris Cowan-Hall; Andres Gurrieri (Nick Chadwick 72 mins); Guy Madjo (Warren Feeney 59 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Rhys Griffiths, Joe Lennox, Rene Gilmartin (gk), Jamie Richards.
REFEREE: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
ATTENDANCE: 6,938 (633 away)
GOALS – Rotherham: Agard 73 mins; Argyle: None