ARGYLE conceded a late equaliser as they had to settle for a hard-earned point against Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground on Saturday.
The Pilgrims dropped one place outside a League Two play-off position after York City overtook them with a 1-0 win away to Portsmouth.
Manager John Sheridan was furious with his players that they did not hold onto their lead against Accrington.
Striker Reuben Reid had put Argyle 1-0 up in the 31st minute with a fierce shot for his 19th goal of the season.
The visitors defended solidly for most of the match but were undone in the 81st minute.
Defender Tom Aldred got on the end of a cross from the right and headed high into the net from close range.
It is now important for Sheridan’s side to try to pick up maximum points when they take on Exeter City in the Devon derby at Home Park on Saturday.
Argyle’s starting line-up at the Crown Ground showed three changes from the 2-1 victory over Chesterfield at Home Park last Tuesday.
Rommy Boco was recalled to play in the centre of midfield against his former club, with Dominic Blizzard and Tope Obadeyi also drafted into the side.
Making way for that trio were Lewis Alessandra, who was ruled out by his hamstring injury, as well as Paul Wotton and Luke Young.
Wotton and Young were both on the substitutes’ bench for the Pilgrims.
There were puddles all over the pitch at the Crown Ground after heavy rain overnight and during the morning.
Even in the pre-match warm-up, the playing surface started to cut up badly.
It was clearly not going to be an afternoon for passing football, and a real test of Argyle’s promotion aspirations.
Accrington had been unbeaten in their previous four home games, including a 5-1 drubbing of Lancashire rivals Morecambe last Tuesday.
Kai Naismith had an early long-range shot easily saved by Argyle ‘keeper as both teams took time to settle.
Argyle’s first chance came in the 13th minute when Obadeyi latched onto a pass from Andres Gurrieri.
Obadeyi raced down the left and cut inside Accrington right-back Nicky Hunt before his on-target shot was blocked by Adam Buxton.
Reid then had a low strike from a narrow angle kicked away by ‘keeper Marcus Bettinelli for a corner.
Accrington’s Will Hatfield had a viciously inswinging corner clawed away by Cole from underneath his own crossbar in the 19th minute.
That was one of several early corners for Accrington as they applied plenty of pressure.
It was against the run of play, therefore, when Argyle took the lead in the 31st minute with a fine finish from Reid.
The Pilgrims’ striker surged past Accrington left-back Adam Buxton inside the penalty area and scored with a fierce shot.
Accrington had striker James Gray booked for diving inside the Argyle box, before Cole saved a 25-yard drive from midfielder Luke Joyce.
It remained 1-0 until half-time, although Bettinelli spilled a shot from Gurrieri and it needed a clearance from Hunt as Obadeyi prepared to pounce on the loose ball.
Referee Trevor Kettle ignored pleas from Accrington for a penalty early in the second half after a challenge on Buxton by Obadeyi.
There was a let-off for Argyle in the 50th minute when midfielder Peter Murphy completely miskicked with the goal at his mercy after a long throw-in.
The Pilgrims launched an immediate counter attack and captain Conor Hourihane had a low shot pushed wide for a corner by Bettinelli.
Argyle defender Maxime Blanchard got on the end of a corner and his powerful header was on target but blocked inside a packed six-yard area.
The action went from one end of the pitch to the other as the sun briefly shone for the first time in the afternoon.
Hatfield had a 20-yard shot pushed away for a corner by Cole before substitute Kayode Odejayi spurned a tremendous chance.
It came in the 63rd minute when he headed over the bar from close range after a superb cross from Lee Molyneux.
Argyle made their first substitution in the 67th minute when Obadeyi was replaced by Marvin Morgan.
That gave the visitors a focal point to their attack, with Morgan using his physical presence to good effect.
Morgan won his share of headers when the ball was played forward and linked up well with his team-mates.
Argyle defender Neal Trotman fired wide from a tight angle in the 80th minute after a free-kick from Hourihane flashed across the face of goal.
The Pilgrims retained their lead until the 81st minute when Aldred headed home an excellent cross from close range.
Argyle’s Curtis Nelson made a crucial tackle on Odejayi inside the box as the home team pushed for a winning goal.
Jason Banton was an 87th minute substitute for Boco and Argyle were a threat on the break in the closing stages.
But it remained 1-1 until full-time and the Pilgrims took away a hard-earned point from their trip to Lancashire.
ACCRINGTON: Marcus Bettinelli; Nicky Hunt, Tom Aldred, Dean Winnard, Adam Buxton; Will Hatfield (Josh Windass 69 mins), Peter Murphy, Luke Joyce, Lee Molyneux; Kai Naismith (Kayode Odejayi h/t); James Gray (Piero Mingoia 90 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Michael Liddle, Danny Webber, Rob Atkinson, George Bowerman.
ARGYLE: Jake Cole; Maxime Blanchard, Neal Trotman, Curtis Nelson; Andres Gurrieri, Dominic Blizzard, Rommy Boco (Jason Banton 87 mins), Conor Hourihane, Matt Parsons; Reuben Reid, Tope Obadeyi (Marvin Morgan 67 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Luke Young, Paul Wotton, Tyler Harvey, Ben Purrington, Cameron Dawson (gk).
REFEREE: Trevor Kettle (Rutland)
ATTENDANCE: 1,559 (447 away)
GOALS – Accrington: Aldred 81 mins; Argyle: Reid 31 mins