Argyle 1 Wimbledon 0: Match report
It has been a while coming but Argyle claimed their first Sky Bet League One win of the 2018-19 season – and avoided an unwanted club-record winless streak – thanks to Freddie Ladapo’s haeder midway through the second half.
Ladapo had earlier spurned an opportunity of a golden hue and fair play for him for not letting that haunt him, as he stole in to convert Graham Carey’s cross to the far post in front of the Devonport end.
The Pilgrims lined up precisely as they had done for Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Barnsley, with the manager keen to emphasise in his pre-match interviews that the selection had been entirely dictated by the quality of performance at Oakwell.
To underline his point, Jamie Ness had to be content with only a place among the substitutes' bench on his return to colours after a groin problem. Young Dan Rooney stood down.
Wimbledon, who suffered a 1-0 home defeat by Bradford City in midweek, made just one change, with Andy Barcham coming into the midfield in place of Mitch Pinnock. Their line-up included a couple of familiar and loved former Pilgrims, Ben Purrington, who is on loan at Kingsmeadow from Rotherham United, and Jake Jervis, who has been similarly borrowed from Luton Town.
The former of those two saw more of the ball in the opening exchanges as Wimbledon matched Argyle in trying to build patiently from back to front, neatly encapsulating just how much football has evolved since the days of the Crazy Gang.
Neither goalkeeper had much more to do in the opening 20 minutes than field passes from their own team-mates, although Matt Macey probably had reason to be grateful for a couple of whole-hearted blocks after a Wimbledon corner twice broke kindly for Joe Pigott.
Maybe that acted as a spur to Argyle, for they were immediately a greater force going forward, with Ruben Lameiras at the heart of most of what was good. A one-two between the Portuguese midfielder and Ladapo saw the Pilgrims’ front-man loose off a shot that was deflected for a corner.
With Macey largely protected by a green blanket, the platform was there for Argyle to try to break down their equally disciplined visitors and they came close when Carey and Ladapo combined on the right to work an opening for Stuart O’Keefe, whose shot under pressure did not trouble Joe McDonnell in the Wimbledon goal.
Argyle patience seemed set to pay a dividend when Ladapo was sent away clear on the Dons’ goal. It turned out to be one of those weird situations that you see sometimes where a player has too much time to make up his mind.
With McDonnell staying big and forcing Ladapo to make a decision, the Argyle man delayed fatally for the split second that allowed Dons’ captain Adedeji Oshilaja to make a challenge that ensured the final shot was more of a harmless trickle.