Controversial penalty sinks U’s

npower League One Plymouth Argyle 2 Colchester United 1 A CONTROVERSIAL second half penalty saw ‘crisis club’ Plymouth Argyle beat a sluggish Colchester United side who had a man advantage for the final quarter of an hour.

A CONTROVERSIAL second half penalty saw ‘crisis club’ Plymouth Argyle beat a sluggish Colchester United side who had a man advantage for the final quarter of an hour.

The U’s were fortunate to be level at half-time, defender Stephane Zubar heading past his own keeper in the 41st minute to cancel out Rory Fallon’s eighth minute opener.

The rock-bottom Devon hosts – who came into this match off the back of six straight defeats and a 10 point deduction for going into administration – showed plenty of character in the second half.

Kari Arnason had crashed a shot against the bar and Fallon had a goal ruled out for offside before midfielder Chris Clark was dismissed in the 58th minute for a high challenge on Ian Henderson.

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Colchester were unable to capitalise though and fell behind to controversial Yala Bolasie penalty in the 74th minute.

Substitutes Andy Bond and Steven Gillespie fired just wide in the closing stages, but in truth Colchester never really got going in this match.

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Fallon opener came after just eight minutes, the New Zealand striker - who was on loan at Ipswich Town earlier this season - chesting the ball down in the box before swivelling to fire low under keeper Ben Williams after David Perkins was beaten to a header on the edge of the box.

U’s boss John Ward had named an unchanged side for the third successive game following impressive performances against Walsall and Peterborough.

And while it’s hard to say whether it was tiredness following those two energy-sapping displays or a touch of complacency against the division’s rock-bottom club, Colchester were certainly off the pace for much of the opening half.

They were gifted a lifeline four minutes before the interval though when defender Curtis Zubar headed past his own keeper following a long throw from Nathan Clarke.

The goal appeared to completely knock the stuffing out of the hosts who were suddenly on the racks for the final moments of the half.

Only a saving tackle from Curtis Nelson prevented Kayode Odejayi turning home Kemi Izzet’s low cross, while Ian Henderson was guilty of a bad miss when he guided the ball wide from close-range after Matt Heath had headed down a Lloyd James free-kick.

Plymouth regrouped at the break and almost went back in front less than two minutes after the restart when Arnason left the crossbar shaking with a fine 30 yard effort which beat Williams all ends up.

Colchester responded immediately and almost got their noses in front themselves when another long Clarke throw caused havoc, Mooney this time forcing a good save out of keeper Romain Larrieu with a far post volley after Matt Heath had flicked on with his head.

The Essex visitors were handed a man advantage in the 58th minute when Clark was dismissed for a challenge on Henderson, the midfielder catching the U’s man in the chest with a reckless - if not malicious - high kick right in front of the dugouts.

Plymouth refused to give in though and, after Fallon had a goal disallowed for offside, they took the lead in controversial circumstances after 74 minutes.

When Joe Mason received the ball to feet in the box there seem little contact between him and marker Heath. However, after the striker’s feet buckled underneath him, the referee awarded a penalty which Yala Bolasie tucked away.

It’s Colchester’s eighth defeat from their last 10 away games and puts a serious dent in their top six hopes.

–Reaction to follow.

PLYMOUTH (4-2-3-1): Larrieu; N’Gala, Nelson, Zubar, Paterson (Bhasera 62); Bolasie, Fletcher, Arnason, Clark; Mason, Fallon.

Unused Subs: Button, Duguid, Patterson, Timar, Seip, Young.

Booked: Fallon (61).

Sent-off: Clark (58).

COLCHESTER (4-4-2): Williams; White, Heath, Clarke, Coker; Henderson, Izzet (Bond 86), James, Perkins (Wordsworth 71); Mooney (Gillespie 71), Odejayi.

Unused Subs: Cousins, Beevers, Vincent, Vilhjalmsson.

Booked: Perkins (68).

Attendance: 8,982

Referee: Mr Oliver Langford

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