Plymouth Argyle 2-1 Ipswich Town: Two quick goals, either side of half-time, cost Blues at Home Park
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Two quick goals, either side of half-time, cost Ipswich Town as they let a lead slip to lose at leaders Plymouth.
George Edmundson’s goal on 14 minutes gave Town the lead in a lively contest at Home Park but, with just a couple of minutes to go before half-time, the Blues switched off at the back to allow Luke Jephcott to equalise.
Then, five minutes into the second half, former Ipswich loanee Connor Grant gave Plymouth a lead they would never relinquish, ensuring defeat for an Ipswich side looking to make their mark on the road.
Town were never able to wrestle control back from their hosts, who played with a high tempo throughout, with Paul Cook’s men struggling to put passages of play together in the final third.
They had chances late, though, with Macauley Bonne surely feeling he could have done better, after shooting straight at the goalkeeper from six yards, before substitute Rekeem Harper saw his effort saved by Michael Cooper. Subsequent penalty appeals for handball were waved away.
There was ultimately no way back for Town who drop to 11th in the League One table, heading into Tuesday night’s visit to Wycombe.
Cook revealed in his pre-match press conference that enforced changes were on the way, and so it proved as Sone Aluko was ruled out with an injury and both Wes Burns and Janoi Donacien missed out through illness, having already travelled to Devon.
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Luke Woolfenden came in at right-back, making his first League One start since the end of August, with Hayden Coulson the surprise starter on the right wing as he returned for his first appearance since leaving the victory at Lincoln with a thigh problem in September.
Town and Plymouth paid tribute to a true legend of both clubs prior to kick-off, with three sides of Home Park all decorated to celebrate the life of Paul Mariner, following his sad death in the summer.
A minute’s applause prior to kick-off came after Mariner’s famous No.9 displayed at two ends of the ground as ‘Mariner’ was hoisted aloft along the side of the pitch.
And once the whistle blew, the excellent pre-game atmosphere translated into a manic start, in which both sides will think they really should have taken the lead.
The first opportunity went Ipswich’s way as a long Lee Evans ball sprung Coulson away, through on goal with only the keeper to beat. The Middlesbrough loanee opted to square to Macauley Bonne, who saw his shot blocked on the line by Joe Edwards to deny a certain goal.
Town didn’t have time to breath as Plymouth flew down the other end, with Ryan Hardie beating Matt Penney to a ball to beat Town’s last man and scramble his way through, but Christian Walton’s excellent save kept the scores level as he turned the ball behind.
The high tempo start remained before the Blues silenced Home Park, as Woolfenden and Bonne kept an Evans corner alive, teeing up Morsy to produce a sublime cross to the back post, where Edmundson beat Brendan Galloway in the air to head home. Town were ahead.
Edmundson and Conor Chaplin both put their names in the referee’s notebook as fouls stopped two Plymouth attacks, in what remained a frenetic contest, in which Town defended well as they faced Plymouth pressure.
Just as it looked like Town were going to make it in ahead, an error proved costly as Penney waited far too long for a cross to come to him at the back post. Edwards got in ahead of him to force an excellent save from Walton. Sadly, though, the ball fell right to Jephcott to tap home.
Town would have hoped to start fast at the second period in order to take the sting out of Plymouth’s positive momentum but, sadly, they were behind within five minutes.
Clever work from Argyle dragged Ipswich out of position in the final third, before a through ball dissected the axis between Woolfenden and Nsiala, allowing former Ipswich loanee Grant to slot across Walton into the net.
Home Park was rocking, with Cook responding 10 minutes later by bringing Bersant Celina on in place of Coulson, as the home pressure kept coming.
Hardie forced a decent saved from Walton, with an out-stretched boot before Celina’s first act saw him slip Penney in. The left-back shot from a tight angle, with Cooper saving easily enough.
Cook sent on Joe Pigott and Rekeem Harper for Chaplin and Evans, with Bonne seeing a shot saved and Harper then having an effort turned away as the Blues fell to defeat.
Plymouth Argyle: Cooper; Wilson, Scarr, Galloway (Gillesphey (90); Randell, Edwards, Broom (Mayor, 83), Camara, Grant; Jephcott, Hardie (Garrick, 74)
Subs: Burton, Agard, Law, Jenkins-Davies
Ipswich Town: Walton; Woolfenden, Edmundson, Nsiala, Penney; Morsy, Evans (Harper, 80); Coulson (Celina, 61), Chaplin (Pigott, 79), Edwards; Bonne
Subs: Hladky, Burgess, El Mizouni, Jackson