VIDEO: Plymouth Argyle beaten in Devon derby after conceding two late goals
EXETER CITY 3 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 1
FORMER Pilgrims' striker Alan Gow created one goal and scored another as Exeter beat Argyle in the Devon derby at St James' Park on Saturday.
The defeat puts boss John Sheridan and his players under increased pressure after a very poor run of results.
Argyle have picked up only one point from their last four games in League Two and there is unrest among the fans.
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The first half was goal-less, but there was a moment of controversy in the 43rd minute.
Argyle midfielder Hamza Bencherif looked to have committed a clear handball inside the visitors' penalty area.
However, top Premier League referee Andre Marriner waved away City's appeals for a spot kick.
Exeter took the lead in the 56th minute with a fine finish from midfielder Arron Davies, but Argyle equalised through substitute Luke Young.
The Plymouth-born midfielder curled a free-kick into the net off a post in the 69th minute.
Gow then put Exeter 2-1 up in the 83rd minute before Scot Bennett rubbed salt into Argyle's wounds in stoppage time at the end of the match.
Argyle's starting line-up showed only one change from the disappointing 0-0 draw against Accrington Stanley at Home Park last Saturday.
Debutant Paul Hayes was paired with Marvin Morgan in the Pilgrims' attack, with Reuben Reid dropping down to the substitutes' bench.
Curtis Nelson retained his place at right-back, despite Durrell Berry recovering from illness.
Exeter were without their first choice strikers John O'Flynn and Sam Parkin because of hamstring injuries.
So City boss Paul Tisdale opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Bennett playing as a makeshift striker.
Bennett, usually a defender, had scored both goals when the Grecians won 2-1 away to Fleetwood Town last Saturday.
The Green Army packed out the away end at St James' Park for the 61st Football League meeting between Argyle and Exeter.
However, there were lots of empty seats elsewhere around the ground when the match kicked off.
There was an even start to the contest, with Argyle having plenty of early possession.
Exeter had the first shot on target in the 16th minute after they were awarded a free-kick for a foul on David Wheeler by centre-back Guy Branston.
Gow took the set piece but his 25-yard shot was comfortably saved by Luke McCormick.
Nelson and centre-back Paul Wotton were involved in a defensive mix-up in the 21st minute which almost let in Gow.
It took a good recovery tackle from Nelson to poke the ball out for a corner before Gow could pounce.
The game continued to be evenly contested but without much goalmouth action as the half-hour mark came and went.
Branston made a timely sliding tackle on Wheeler in the Argyle penalty area in the 33rd minute.
Wheeler had latched onto a slide-rule pass from right-back Danny Butterfield but could not get away a shot because of Branston's decisive defending.
Argyle's first attempt on goal came in the 36th minute when Bencherif's low 30-yard drive was saved by Artur Krysiak.
Exeter thought they should have been awarded a penalty shortly before the break and they had a good case.
The ball seemed to hit an off-balance Bencherif on his left arm but Marriner decided not to take any action.
Argyle were awarded a free-kick in stoppage time for a foul on Morgan close to the edge of the Exeter box.
Midfielder Conor Hourihane rolled the ball across to Wotton but his shot was high and wide, and the half-time whistle followed immediately.
Exeter sent on experienced midfielder Matt Oakley for Wheeler as a substitute at the start of the second period.
That meant City switched to 4-4-2, with Bennett and Gow leading the attack, and Oakley slotting into the centre of midfield with Tommy Doherty.
Exeter midfielder Liam Sercombe had a low shot saved by McCormick before Oakley had to be replaced by Matt Grimes because of injury.
The deadlock was broken in the 56th minute after some superb skill on the ball from Gow, who threaded a pass through to Davies.
The midfielder took it in his stride and fired high into the net to put the Grecians 1-0 up.
Argyle made a double substitution in the 60th minute with Reid replacing Hayes and Young taking over from Bencherif.
Rommy Boco had a weak header saved by Krysiak after a mis-hit shot from Reid reached him.
Argyle equalised in the 69th minute with a superb free-kick from Young, with the ball bouncing into the net off the inside of a post.
The set piece followed a foul by Danny Coles on Morgan, which also earned the Exeter defender a yellow card.
Moments later, Krysiak made an excellent save from Boco's close range shot as the Pilgrims came to life.
Grimes shot narrowly wide from 20 yards for Exeter in the 75th minute after more good attacking play from Gow.
Reid had a shot on the turn pushed away for a corner by Krysiak before, from the resulting corner, Branston's header was safely clutched onto by the City 'keeper.
Then, from their next attack, Exeter took the lead a 2-1 lead in the 83rd minute after a fine finish from Gow.
The ball was rolled out to Gow by Bennett and picked his spot, curling it over McCormick and into the far corner of the net.
Tyler Harvey was sent on as an 88th minute substitute for midfielder Lewis Alessandra.
But there was no way back for Argyle and Bennett added a third goal for Exeter in stoppage time when he converted a right-wing cross from substitute Jimmy Keohane.
That was the last kick of the game, with Marriner blowing for full-time almost immediately.
EXETER: Artur Krysiak; Danny Butterfield, Pat Baldwin, Danny Coles, Craig Woodman; Liam Sercombe, Tommy Doherty (Jimmy Keohane 73 mins) , Arron Davies; David Wheeler (Matt Oakley h/t, Matt Grimes 53 mins), Scot Bennett, Alan Gow.
Substitutes (not used): Jordan Moore-Taylor, Jamie Reid, Jordan Tillson, Christy Pym (gk).
ARGYLE: Luke McCormick; Curtis Nelson, Paul Wotton, Guy Branston, Jamie Reckord; Lewis Alessandra (Tyler Harvey 88 mins), Hamza Bencherif (Luke Young 60 mins), Conor Hourihane, Rommy Boco; Marvin Morgan, Paul Hayes (Reuben Reid 60 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Jake Cole (gk), Durrell Berry, Maxime Blanchard, Neal Trotman.
REFEREE: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
ATTENDANCE: 5,700 (1,289)
GOAL – Exeter: Davies 56 mins, Gow 83 mins, Bennett 90 +3 mins; Argyle: Young 69 mins