REPORT: Wanderers v Plymouth Argyle

Wanderers couldn’t quite topple the League One leaders but slowed their promotion push with an impressive display which extended their own unbeaten run and further underlined the Whites’ own top-six credentials.

Ian Evatt’s men stopped Plymouth’s four-match winning streak as they pushed the title favourites to the brink.

Only a finger-tip save and the width of a post denied substitute Elias Kachunga a late winner as Wanderers racked up the best chances of a gripping contest that deserved a goal.

And while the frustration at not being able to get the full reward their performance merited left Wanderers feeling slightly short-changed, more than matching the best in the division again showed Evatt’s side is on the right track as they made it five games without defeat to move level on points with Derby in fourth place in the table.

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With Jack Iredale out injured and Wanderers looking to take the fight to the leaders there was an immediate debut for new recruit Randell Williams in the only change to the side that had beaten top-six opposition in Barnsley to start the year so well.

And the Whites certainly maintained their momentum in a positive start which saw them asking the early questions.

Wanderers moved the ball well to try and force an opening without being able to test Argyle keeper Michael Cooper as the tone was set for an afternoon where chances looked likely to be at a premium.

When they did come just before the break they came Wanderers’ way but after being teed up by Dion Charles, Kieran Lee delayed his shot from an inviting position before Charles saw an effort blocked in front of goal in a positive end to the half from the Whites.

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It was a similar tale following the re-start as another flowing move ended with Charles teeing up Williams for a strike which was also blocked by a man in grey as Argyle battled to avoid just a fourth league defeat of the season.

Plymouth had barely threatened but were still very much in the contest as Sam Cosgrove issued a reminder with a glancing header wide from Adam Randell’s free-kick.

George Johnston then headed wide at the other end from a Wanderers’ set-piece as the game remained on a knife edge going into the final half hour.

That was the cue for an excellent spell from Evatt’s men as they turned up the heat.

The outstanding Aaron Morley delivered a couple of superb balls into the penalty area which had the Argyle defence at full stretch.

And Cooper then made an excellent save to deny Jon Dadi Bodvarsson after Kyle Dempsey had poked the ball through for the Wanderers’ striker to get a clear sight of goal as the Whites – who saw Lee’s follow-up blocked – were desperately close to taking the lead.

There were a couple of anxious moments in the Wanderers’ penalty area as Argyle also tried to fashion a winner but it was the Whites who went close again as Morley rolled a shot just wide.

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With fresh legs on via the bench, Wanderers wanted all three points and two of the substitutes, Elias Kachunga and Amadou Bakayoko, almost combined to put Bakayoko in as the home fans urged their side on.

The Whites had to make sure they didn’t finish empty handed, though, and have nothing to show for their considerable efforts.

And it took a goalline clearance from former Plymouth defender Will Aimson to keep the scores level after Argyle substitute Ben Waine had challenged James Trafford to send the ball looping goalwards with just a couple of minutes to go.

That guaranteed a fourth clean sheet in five games from another commanding defensive display and in injury-time Wanderers were only inches away again from winning it themselves.

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Owen Beck produced an eye-catching display from the bench and from one of his bursts forward he picked out Kachunga for a shot which was superbly touched onto the foot of the post by Cooper before bouncing out.

And then in the eighth minute of added time - which also featured a second yellow card for Argyle skipper Joe Edwards - Dempsey flicked on a Morley free-kick for George Johnston to connect with a header which the impressive Cooper gratefully grabbed.

It was that close.

Wanderers: Trafford; Toal, Aimson, Johnston; Bradley, Morley, Dempsey, R Williams (Beck 75); Lee (Sheehan 80); Charles (Kachunga 75), Bodvarsson (Bakayoko 80). Substitutes: Jones, MJ Williams, Sadlier.

Booked: Bodvarsson

Plymouth: Cooper; Wilson, Scarr, Lonwijk (Gillesphey, 57); Mumba (Earley 90), Houghton, Randell, Edwards; Wright (Waine 66), Mayor (Matete 66); Cosgrove (Hardie 57). Substitutes: Burton, Butcher.

Booked: Edwards, Wilson, Cooper

Sent off: Edwards

Referee: Declan Bourne

Attendance: 18,638 (1,277)

Read Time: 4 mins