Ten-man Plymouth Argyle humbled in FA Cup by Dorchester
ARGYLE had to endure more FA Cup misery on national TV as they crashed out at the first round stage for a second consecutive season.
Last November, the Pilgrims lost 2-0 away to West Midlands part-timers Stourbridge in a replay.
That match was screened live by ESPN, and so was Argyle's trip to Football Conference South club Dorchester yesterday.
It also ended in a humbling defeat to non-league opposition.
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Argyle had every reason to feel aggrieved about the controversial dismissal of midfielder Conor Hourihane by inept referee Lee Collins in only the ninth minute.
But, even so, the League Two visitors should have been capable of playing better than they did for the rest of the match.
Exeter City loan signing Jake Gosling fired Dorchester into the lead in the 49th minute.
Argyle could not come up with much of a response until the closing stages when they applied some late pressure, but without any end product.
Dorchester celebrated wildly at full-time, but it was total despair for the Pilgrims.
Argyle were captained for the second successive match by Maxime Blanchard in the continued absence of Darren Purse.
With Purse still ruled out by a toe injury, Blanchard and Curtis Nelson were the Pilgrims' centre-back pairing.
Manager Carl Fletcher made five changes from Argyle's last game, the 1-0 defeat at Rotherham United on October 27.
Rene Gilmartin was picked instead of Jake Cole as he continued in the role of Argyle's 'cup' keeper.
Gilmartin's only previous appearance this season had been in the Capital One Cup second round clash away to Burnley at the end of August.
With on-loan Burnley attacker Alex MacDonald ineligible for the FA Cup tie, Joe Lennox was on the right of midfield.
Zimbabwe international Onismor Bhasera took over from Paris Cowan-Hall on the opposite side of the pitch.
Hourihane returned from his one-match suspension and was paired with Jamie Lowry in the centre of midfield.
That meant Luke Young was named among the substitutes, as well as striker Guy Madjo.
Rhys Griffiths led the attack in a 4-4-1-1 formation, instead of Madjo, as he made only his third start for Argyle.
Two divisions separate Dorchester and Argyle in the football pyramid but the pitch was the proverbial leveller.
It was heavy after all the recent rainfall and certainly not conducive to the passing style Fletcher has tried to instil into his side.
A sharp shower shortly before the 4.30pm kick-off did not make it any easier for the players.
There was a large turnout from the Green Army, with travelling supporters on three sides of the Avenue Stadium.
Hourihane, back from his ban, was booked by Collins in only the fourth minute of the contest for a crunching tackle on Dorchester's Jon Garcia.
And, the Pilgrims' midfielder controversially received his marching orders five minutes later for taking a free-kick too soon.
Collins pulled out his yellow card and, only then, seemed to realise Hourihane was the player he had booked earlier.
He, therefore, had no option but to follow through with his action and send off the midfielder.
It was a complete lack of common sense from Collins, especially so early in the match, and Argyle were understandably furious.
Paul Wotton was once sent off for the Pilgrims in similar circumstances in an away game against Oldham Athletic in 2004.
Collins further annoyed Argyle when he booked Lennox in the 14th minute for a challenge on Neil Martin.
Andres Gurrieri moved into central midfield with Lowry after the early departure of Hourihane.
Argyle almost took the lead in the 26th minute when Rhys Griffiths slid in to play the ball into the path of Bhasera.
He took it into the box and then crashed a shot high into the angle of the side netting.
Dorchester also went close to scoring moments later as a corner from Garcia was headed against the outside of the far post by centre-back Charlie Clough.
Argyle then had a good spell where they passed the ball around patiently and took the pressure off their defence.
Dorchester keeper Jason Matthews saved one thumping 35-yard drive from Lowry.
It was the Magpies who had the last chance of the first half as Gilmartin could only parry away a shot from Gosling.
Nelson then emphatically cleared the ball from inside the crowded 18-yard area.
Bournemouth striker Steve Fletcher watched the game with the Green Army, having had a loan spell with Argyle at the end of last season.
The 40-year-old is also a long-time friend, and former team-mate, of the Pilgrims' boss.
Rhys Griffiths had a glancing header easily saved by Matthews at the start of the half after a long free-kick from Gilmartin.
Dorchester then took the lead in the 49th minute with a clinical finish from Gosling.
Right-back Mark Jermyn did well to hook the ball back to Gosling after an over-hit cross and the Exeter loanee crashed the ball high into the net from close range.
Dorchester now had their tails up and it was a test of character as to how Argyle responded.
The Pilgrims used their first substitute of the tie in the 58th minute when Young replaced Lennox
Rhys Griffiths continued to play as a lone striker but was not seeing much of the ball.
Dorchester had most of the possession, and Garcia sent one 20-yard shot over the crossbar in the 61st minute.
Lowry was the third Argyle player to be booked in the tie for a sliding tackle on Gosling.
Former Bournemouth striker Warren Feeney was sent on as Argyle's second substitute for Lowry in the 67th minute.
Rhys Griffiths now had some support in attack but the Pilgrims had to sacrifice a midfielder to do so.
Blanchard was then yellow-carded for a crude challenge, making it seven bookings in the match.
Following a rare Argyle corner, Blanchard blasted the ball high and wide from 18 yards as he was rushed into a shot.
Argyle's third and final substitution came in the 74th minute when Rhys Griffiths was replaced by Cowan-Hall.
Matthews pushed a cross-shot from Bhasera over the bar for a corner as time started to run out for the Pilgrims to get an equaliser.
Gilmartin produced a superb reflex save to keep out a Clough header after a corner was swung into the box.
Argyle desperately pushed forward in the closing stages, but without getting a clear sight of goal and Dorchester held on for a famous win.
They will be away to Luton Town or Nuneaton in the second round on December 1.
Argyle must now try to lick their wounds and bounce back from what a third consecutive defeat when they host Burton Albion in League Two on Wednesday.