ARGYLE had to settle for a draw against promotion-chasing Southend at Home Park on Saturday, despite taking a second half lead.
Midfielder Dominic Blizzard scored his first goal for the Pilgrims in the 65th minute with a shot from outside the penalty area.
However, Southend were soon on level terms as midfielder Kevan Hurst slotted home.
Argyle finished the game strongly, with striker Reuben Reid having a shot saved by ‘keeper Daniel Bentley after a surging run.
Then, in stoppage time, centre-back Curtis Nelson crashed the ball against the base of a post following a free-kick into the Southend box.
The draw stretched Argyle’s unbeaten run in League Two to five games and moved them one position up the table to 11th.
The inclusion of new signing Jason Banton was one of three changes from Argyle’s 2-2 draw away to Port Vale in the FA Cup third round last Sunday.
Banton replaced Tope Obadeyi, who had returned to Bury after a loan spell with the Pilgrims.
Luke McCormick took over from Argyle’s ‘cup keeper’ Jake Cole and Ben Purrington was at left-back instead of Durrell Berry.
Southend, with only one defeat in 13 games, were captained by Plymouth-born Ryan Leonard.
The former Argyle right-back led out the blues for the first time because John White was sidelined by a shoulder injury.
There were two other ex-Pilgrims players in their team – midfielders Will Atkinson and Conor Clifford.
Bentley was called into action in the fifth minute when a free-kick was curled into the penalty by Argyle captain Conor Hourihane.
No-one could get a touch on the ball and Bentley reacted smartly to push it away for a corner.
The Pilgrims were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out when a shot from Lewis Alessandra was blocked by the hand of Southend centre-back Luke Prosser.
Banton stepped up to take it, in front of the Devonport End, but blasted the ball into the defensive wall.
Alessandra and Reid led the attack for Argyle, with Banton on the left of midfield and Andres Gurrieri on the right.
Bentley made a superb save in the 17th minute, following a corner from Gurrieri.
Nelson got a shot on goal and Reid touched it on, only for Bentley to claw the ball away.
Southend threatened for the first time in the 21st minute, after Atkinson was fouled by Hourihane on the edge of the box.
Left-back Ben Coker curled the free-kick around the Argyle wall and Luke McCormick pushed the ball away for a corner, high at his near post.
Centre-back Neal Trotman had to come to the rescue for the Pilgrims in the 27th minute.
Hurst lobbed the ball over the onrushing McCormick and towards the unguarded goal but Trotman headed it behind for a corner.
The visitors had another chance in the 32nd minute when striker Barry Corr got on the end of an excellent cross from Hurst but sent his header wide.
Southend finished the first half strongly, with a low cross from Hurst just out of the reach of Corr at the far post.
A free-kick from Hurst was pushed away at full stretch by McCormick and from the corner Corr’s header was deflected wide by Trotman.
Argyle had struggled to create chances, with Banton isolated out on the left, and Southend were dominant in midfield.
The home team had the first chance of the second half as a shot from Reid was deflected onto the top of the side netting for a corner.
Reid then fired high and wide after a quickly taken corner, which followed a good tackle on Alessandra by centre-back Luke Prosser.
Atkinson blasted high over the bar from 20 yards for Southend as the game became increasingly scrappy.
The deadlock was broken, though, in the 65th minute when Blizzard put Argyle ahead.
Reid set up Blizzard for a shooting opportunity and the ball deflected off midfielder Michael Timlin and over Bentley into the net.
Argyle’s lead lasted only two minutes, though, as Hurst put Southend on level terms.
Hurst latched onto a first-time pass from substitute Cauley Woodrow and held off the challenge of Purrington before slotting past McCormick and into the net.
Southend were buoyed by that immediate response and McCormick had to make saves from Anthony Straker and Hurst.
Banton had a low cross-shot saved by Bentley in the 74th minute before Southend substitute Freddy Eastwood sent a 20-yard free-kick against the Argyle wall.
Banton was replaced by Nathan Thomas as the Pilgrims made their first substitution in the 80th minute.
Reid made a superb, surging run into the penalty area but his close range shot was blocked by Bentley.
Blizzard fired a 20-yard drive over the bar after he was set up by Gurrieri as he wasted a good chance to get his second goal of the game.
Southend substitute Marc Laird fired wide before Nelson almost put Argyle 2-1 up in the second minute of stoppage time.
The ball dropped to Nelson following a free-kick into the penalty area and his shot crashed against the base of the near post.
Southend were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out, deep into stoppage time, after a foul by Trotman on Woodrow.
The ball was touched off to Hurst and he crashed the ball wide of the left post. That was the final action of the contest.
ARGYLE: Luke McCormick; Maxime Blanchard, Neal Trotman, Curtis Nelson, Ben Purrington; Andres Gurrieri, Dominic Blizzard, Conor Hourihane, Jason Banton (Nathan Thomas 80 mins); Lewis Alessandra, Reuben Reid.
Substitutes (not used): Jake Cole (gk), Durrell Berry, Guy Branston, Rommy Boco, Luke Young, Paul Wotton.
SOUTHEND: Daniel Bentley; Ryan Leonard, Mark Phillips, Luke Prosser, Ben Coker; Michael Timlin; Kevan Hurst, Will Atkinson, Conor Clifford (Cauley Woodrow 57 mins), Anthony Straker (Marc Laird 83 mins); Barry Corr (Freddy Eastwood 74 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Paul Smith (gk), Jack Payne, Adam Thompson, Bedsente Gomis.
REFEREE: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)
ATTENDANCE: 7,088 (249 away)
GOALS – Argyle: Blizzard 65 mins; Southend: Hurst 67 mins