Burton Albion's miserable start to 2012 continued at Home Park as Simon Walton's 88th minute penalty condemned them to a third straight defeat since the turn of the year. An uninspiring game looked set to end in a draw when Calvin Zola headed home an equaliser in the 74th minute after Walton had opened the scoring 90 seconds into the second period. It looked as if Albion would at least register their first point of the calendar year until Andres Gurrieri tripped lively winger Ashley Hemmings on the edge of the box to concede a penalty and hand the Pilgrims the three points.
Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido made just one change to the side that lost at home to Accrington Stanley. Former Argyle triallist Andres Gurrieri was awarded just his second start for the club as Jacques Maghoma dropped to the bench for the visit to Home Park. There was something of a surprise among the substitutes as Leicester City loanee Tom Parkes made a return to the matchday squad after his broken ankle, suffered against Port Vale back in August.
The game took a while to get going but after seven minutes Ross Atkins nervously had to concede a corner. There looked little danger when winger Ashley Hemmings pumped a ball to the near post but Atkins had to have a couple of goes at grabbing the ball eventually putting it wide of the post. Albion quickly went up the other end and tested home keeper Jake Cole, Calvin Zola forcing him to dive to his right to clear after a lay off from Justin Richards.
Atkins again had to be alert when Warren Feeney's ball found Simon Walton and he tried to find Matt Lecointe with Tony James and Ryan Austin somehow ensuring the Brewers keeper got to the ball first.
Zola was even closer shortly after that as good interplay inside the box found the tall striker who cound not believe it when his close range effort was somehow deflected away for a corner. Chris Palmer then had a chance with an overhead kick on the quarter of an hour mark but his effort sailed well over the crossbar.
Plymouth came the closest yet to a goal on twenty minutes when Tony James was adjudged to have fouled Warren Feeney and when the free kick was rolled to returning legend Paul Wotton he drilled a low effort wide of Atkins' left hand post.
Gurrieri thought he should have had a penalty just after the half hour mark after working an opportunity with Calvin Zola but when the Argentine went tumbling referee James Adcock was not interested in the penalty appeals waving them away firmly.
Simon Walton, the Argyle skipper, was the first player to find his way into the referees notebook in the 39th minute after a nasty looking challenge on his albion counterpart John McGrath, The Albon man just nicked the ball away from the home captain but his momentum in the challenge sent McGrath crashing to the ground.
The end of a rather uneventful first half resulted in neither keeper having been seriously tested with both sides looking to improve things in the second half.
Half time: Plymouth Argyle 0-0 Burton Albion
Barely 90 seconds half into the second half and Albion found themselves behind. Luke Young picked up a loose ball on the right hand side and drove forward before slipping the ball to his captain, Simon WALTON. The experienced midfielder had time to turn and have a look up before leaving Atkins rooted to the spot with a left foot drive that nestled in the back of the net from 20 yards.
Almost instantly Adam Bolder had a great chance to equalise. Gurrieri and McGrath found Richards inside the box and his square pass to Bolder had the midfielder in acres of space but his tame sidefoot was easy for Cole to drop onto.
The Brewers suddenly stepped up a gear and began to look more dangerous. Zola saw a header drop onto the roof of the net from Chris Palmer's cross as Albion began to get closer. It was the last action for Palmer who was replaced by Jacques Maghoma in the 58th minute.
Argyle began to grow in confidence and were unlucky not to go two up in the 64th minute. It all started when Young lobbed a ball over Atkins from close to the bye line and when that came back off the far post it was only cleared to Wotton who saw Atkins block and concede a corner. From the resultant flag kick the Brewers defence had to hastily clear away a dangerous header that looked to be going in and there was time for Albion to clear their heads and regroup.
There was another change on 70 minutes as skipper John McGrath made way for Cleveland Taylor. The winger slotted in on the right side of midfield and Andres Gurrieri reverted to a more central role alongside Adam Bolder.
Albion made Plymouth pay for missing the chances in the 74th minute. Jacques Maghoma was brought down and Cleveland Taylor orchestrated the free kick. His ball to the back post looked to be heading out of play until Tony James headed back to the near post. Justin Richards helped it on with a stooping header and Calvin ZOLA rose to nod home from close range.
Plymouth surged forward in search of the three points they desperately needed in their fight against relegation and Ashley Hemmings frustrated home fans and team mates alike with an ambitious angled shot from inside the area with other Plymouth players better placed. Jacques Maghoma then went on a mazy run across field before hitting a dipping shot from the edge of the 'D' that went over the bar.
Experienced defender Darren Purse almost made his presence felt at the attacking end as a free kick found him at the far post but his header ended up over the crossbar.
Albion shot themselves in the foot in the 88th minute by conceding a silly penalty. Andres Gurrieri was tempted into a challenge on Ashley Hemmings just inside the box and although the young winger kept his feet referee Adcock and his assistant were sufficiently convinced it was a foul to point at the spot and give WALTON the chance to score his second of the game. An opportunity he did not waste to send the home fans delirious.
PLYMOUTH: Cole, Purse, Walton, Feeney, Bhasera, Young, Wotton, Blanchard, Lecointe (Sutherland, 65), Bignot, Hemmings (Soukouna, 90+3). Substitutes: Larrieu, Berry, Lennox.
ALBION: Atkins, Driver, James, Austin, Blanchett; Gurrieri, Bolder, McGrath (Taylor, 70), Palmer (Maghoma, 58); Richards, Zola. Substitutes: Corbett, Yussuf, Parkes.
Referee: Mr. J.Adcock (Nottinghamshire)
GOALS: Argyle - Walton (47, 88 pen); Albion - Zola (74)
Attendance: 6,082 (187 away)