Pilgrims struggle to create clear-cut chances as they battle out dour draw
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0 NEWPORT COUNTY 0
at Home Park
Plymouth Argyle's long wait for a win continued as they battled out a dour 0-0 draw with Newport County at Home Park on Tuesday night.
It is now eight games in all competitions since the struggling Pilgrims last tasted victory.
Argyle lacked attacking cohesion and struggled to create many chances, although at least they did keep a clean sheet for only the fourth time this season. However, they are now the lowest scorers in League Two, with only eight goals in 13 games.
The closest the Pilgrims came to scoring was shortly after the half-hour mark, when Lewis Alessandra had a fierce low shot saved by Lennie Pidgeley.
This result and performance will have done little to ease the pressure on manager John Sheridan and the smallest Home Park crowd of the season – 5,689 – had little to get excited about as Argyle toiled away without much inspiration.
Newport included former Pilgrims' striker Chris Zebroski in their side and he had a chance in the ninth minute. He tried to beat Luke McCormick with a curling 20-yard shot but the ball sailed high and wide.
Alessandra had a busy start to the game but conceded a needless free-kick for a rash challenge on County midfielder Tom Naylor in the 17th minute. The ball was fired into the penalty area and Argyle defender Maxime Blanchard did well to head it away for a corner, which did not lead to a chance.
Newport wing-back Ryan Jackson had a shot blocked into the side netting by Andre Blackman in the 26th minute.
From the corner, taken by former Exeter City defender Billy Jones, the ball was headed wide at the far post by centre-back Ismail Yakubu.
Then, in the 31st minute, Zebroski almost got on the end of a menacing low cross from Robbie Willmott.
Argyle created a good chance to take the lead moments later when Alessandra broke forward after swapping passes with Reuben Reid. Alessandra got away a good low shot, but Pidgeley made a fine diving save.
Newport striker Conor Washington almost latched on to a long ball in the 41st minute as Zebroksi retreated from an offside position.
McCormick was quickly out of his penalty area, though, and managed to control the ball before he cleared it away.
The Argyle 'keeper then saved a low 25-yard drive from Jackson as half-time approached.
Washington had an early shooting opportunity in the second half but blasted the ball too high. He turned smartly away from Argyle defender Neal Trotman and fired a 20-yard shot over the bar.
Newport made the better start after the interval with the Pilgrims not finding any fluency to their play. Strikers Paul Hayes and Reid were not seeing much of the ball, and when they did they did not do much with it.
Blackman conceded a free-kick to the right side of the Argyle penalty area in the 57th minute for a clumsy tackle on Zebroski.
Midfielder Adam Chapman took the set-piece and drilled the ball towards goal from a tight angle. His shot took a touch off Alessandra and flashed across the face of goal.
Conor Hourihane tried a speculative 30-yard strike in the 60th minute which flew over the bar and into the Devonport End. Alessandra then fired wide of the far post after breaking into the box, when a cross to Hayes would have been a better option.
Jackson made an excellent break for Newport in the 67th minute and put in a menacing cross but Zebroski could not get to it in time.
Instead, the ball ran out of play for a goal kick to Argyle, who lacked the inspiration to trouble the County defence.
It was too predictable from the Pilgrims and Newport carried more of a goal threat.
Zebroski had a shot deflect behind for a corner off Trotman in the 70th minute before Argyle made a double substitution. Andres Gurrieri and Tyler Harvey were sent on for Rommy Boco and Hayes respectively in the 71st minute.
McCormick made a good catch from Naylor's cross soon afterwards, with Zebroski ready to pounce.
Play came to a halt in the 75th minute when the floodlight in the corner of the Grandstand and the Barn Park End failed. Both sets of players stayed on the pitch while an electrician worked on trying to rectify the problem.
There was a delay of around seven minutes until the floodlight was fixed and play restarted.
Luke Young wastefully fired over the bar from 20 yards after an attempted cross from Alessandra was blocked by Jones.
Hamza Bencherif was then sent on as an 85th minute substitute for Luke Young.
Trotman headed over the bar from a Hourihane corner before heavy rain started to sweep across Home Park.
Eleven minutes of stoppage-time was added on following the earlier floodlight failure.
Jackson fired wide from 20 yards for Newport after Hourihane miscontrolled the ball deep inside Argyle territory.
The rain became torrential in the closing stages and Trotman conceded two late corners as the visitors pushed for a late winning goal.
However, the game ended in a dour 0-0 draw with both sides struggling to create clear-cut chances.
Plymouth Argyle (3-5-2): McCormick; Blanchard, Trotman, Nelson; Boco (Gurrieri 71), Young (Bencherif 85), Alessandra, Hourihane, Blackman; Reid, Hayes (Harvey 71). Substitutes (not used): Cole, Berry, Wotton, Reckord.
Newport County (3-5-2): Pidgeley; James, Yakubu, Jones; Jackson, Minshull, Chapman (Flynn 71), Naylor, Willmott; Zebroski (Crow 90 +5 mins), Washington. Substitutes (not used): Pipe, Jolley, Stephens (gk), Redman.
Referee: O Langford (West Midlands).