Argyle 1 Oxford United 2 - match report
THE Pilgrims paid the price for not cashing in on a dominant first half against Sky Bet League One peers Oxford United before suffering five minutes of second-half madness to go out of the Emirates FA Cup.
They were in total control of their second-round tie up until the moment that James Henry opened the scoring in the 49th minute. Almost immediately, Cameron Brannagan made the score 2-0 and, although normal service was quickly resumed, the Pilgrims could not claw back the game.
Antoni Sarcevic did halve the deficit to set up a real cup-tie final quarter but Ruben Lameiras’s injury-time shot that hit the post just about summed up Argyle’s nearly-but-not-quite afternoon.
Defender Joe Riley and midfielder Graham Carey had returned to the Argyle starting line-up for the second-round second meeting with Oxford this season.
Both had made substitute appearances in the previous Tuesday’s Sky Bet League One 2-0 defeat at Shrewsbury, and each replaced the man that they had come on for at Montgomery Waters Meadow – Tafari Moore and Lameiras dropping to the substitutes’ bench.
Alongside them was former Oxford forward Ryan Taylor and Gregg Wylde, who came into the squad instead of injured on-loan Cardiff City midfielder Stuart O’Keefe.
The Oxford 11 included former Pilgrims Curtis Nelson and Jamie Mackie, who each scored in October's Sky Bet League One meeting between the two sides at the Kassam Stadium, which Oxford won 2-0.
The visitors were unchanged from the side that had beaten Rochdale 4-2 four days previously, the latest result in a run of ten games since they had played the Pilgrims which had seen five wins and only one defeat – at bottom side Bradford City.
Argyle showed no signs of a hangover from their midweek disappointment in Shropshire. They were straight on the front foot and barely moved backwards for the entire first half.
Joel Grant, subbed at half-time at Shrewsbury, was the man who, more than most, drove them on. Sometimes his control and vision is way above that of your average League One player, and this was one of those times.
Those two qualities came together in one sublime moment when he seized on Carey’s exquisite cross-field pass to bear down on goal. It was a shame his fierce shot riffled the netting from the wrong side.
Read the full match report here.