Watts provides spark to push Pilgrims into play-off position

Football League One

PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 2 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 1

By OLLIE YOUNG – sport@indyonline.co.uk

Plymouth Argyle made it back-to-back wins with a late goal to clinch all three points against Northampton Town at Home Park.

Frank Nouble opened the scoring for the Pilgrims at the end of the first half before Ricky Korboa equalised on the hour mark. However, Kelland Watts’ finish five minutes from time secured the three points.

Deadline-day signing Timmy Abraham, brother of England striker Tammy, had to settle for a place on the bench as manager Ryan Lowe decided to stick with the same side that had eased to a 2-0 win over Burton Albion last week.

His charges started brightly, with Conor Grant heading an effort wide in the first ten minutes. Danny Mayor was operating at his creative best throughout the first half and he had a powerful effort fly past the top corner, with the Cobblers’ goalkeeper Steve Arnold scrambling.

The opener came after a period of constant pressure from Argyle as Grant offered a delightful ball into the box, where striker Nouble met it with his head and saw the ball hit the back of the net.

Grant was forced off, however, and Ben Reeves came on for the midfielder at halftime. Nouble almost turned creator at the beginning of the second half as he sprinted down the left flank and saw his cross flash past his strike partner Luke Jephcott.

From that chance, the visitors’ half clearance resulted in a free kick that Arnold only just managed to tip over the bar from George Cooper.

Argyle’s inability to kill off the game saw Keith Curle’s side grow in confidence and a Sam Hoskins run and shot served as a reminder that the contest was far from over.

Moments later, Korboa’s driven cross was greeted by Michael Harriman and Michael Cooper had to be at his very best to keep the effort out. Argyle failed to react to the Cobblers’ growing influence on the game and Curles’ men wiped out the deficit through Korboa in the 62nd minute.

Hoskins burst through the centre of the pitch and released the forward, who slotted a left-footed effort past Michael Cooper into the bottom corner. Lowe didn’t panic and kept his faith in the team that had started the game – along with Reeves – and that faith almost justified as George Cooper whipped in a cross that Nouble craned to reach but saw his header graze the bar.

Abraham was handed his Argyle debut with ten minutes remaining, taking the place of Jephcott up front. Mayor continued to probe after Abraham’s introduction and cut inside to create space and unleash a shot that deflected for a corner.

That corner, however, resulted in the winning goal for the Pilgrims. George Cooper’s delivery was met by Newcastle United loanee Watts, who did well after goalkeeper Arnold missed an attempted punch. Lowe moved to ensure his side didn’t slip by bringing on defender Jerome Opuku, currently on loan from Fulham.

Argyle managed to hold on and the win sees them now sit in sixth in the league, something Lowe would no doubt have been happy with had you offered him that at the start of the season. The Home Park outfit are back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Lincoln City, with the Imps sitting third, three points off the top of the table.

Plymouth Argyle: Michael Cooper, Aimson, Canavan, Watts, Moore, George Cooper (Opuku 87), Grant Reeves 45), Mayor, Fornah, Nouble, Jephcott (Abraham 80)

Northampton Town: Arnold, Horsfall, Bolger, Martin, Harriman, McWilliams (Ragic 65), Sowerby, Watson, Hoskins, Rose (Ashley-Seal 72), Korboa (Chukwuemeka 79)