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Plymouth Argyle 2, Southend United 2
Plymouth goalkeeper Jake Cole kicks the ball against Southend midfielder Michael Timlin to put Southend 1-0 up
SOUTHEND United somehow managed to throw away a two-goal lead in a frantic final four minutes at struggling Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.
Blues seemed to be cruising back to the top of the League Two table after goals from Michael Timlin and David Martin put them 2-0 up at Home Park.
But Argyle hit back late on, with both Nick Chadwick and Alex MacDonald on target to secure the home side an unexpected 2-2 draw.
The match was the only one in the basement division to go ahead as all other games were postponed due to frozen pitches.
And Southend caught their hosts cold with Timlin taking just 59 seconds to open the scoring.
The midfielder charged into the box following a back-pass from Luke Young and was able to block an attempted clearance from Argyle goalkeeper Jake Cole, resulting in the ball rolling in to the back of an unguarded net.
Plymouth hit back with Paul Wotton firing a long-range free-kick wide of the right post and, in the 17th minute, the midfielder was again off target from a similar distance with a well-struck volley.
In reply, Peter Gilbert then stabbed a left-wing cross from Liam Dickinson wide of the left post against his former side, before Bilel Mohsni volleyed past the opposite post from 30 yards.
Having survived the scares, Plymouth responded with their first effort of the afternoon on target as Juvhel Tsoumou curled a free-kick straight at Blues goalkeeper Glenn Morris from the edge of the penalty area.
But Southend immediately doubled their lead, with 34 minutes on the clock, from their seventh corner of the game.
The left-wing flag-kick was delivered by Hall and found Dickinson at the back post. His low shot then appeared to be dragging wide of the left post before Martin diverted the ball into the roof of the net from six yards.
Blues remained on top and, just before the break, Hall saw his low shot eventually smothered by a grounded Cole, who juggled the ball up in to the air before managing to keep it out.
However, at the start of the second period, it was Plymouth on top with Ashley Hemmings unleashing a well-struck effort from 20 yards which Morris parried to safety in the difficult wet conditions.
Chadwick then had a close range header kept out by Morris low down to his left hand side before play switched back to the other end of the field with Hall stabbing a right-wing cross from Timlin wide of the right post.
Plymouth attempted to get back into the game by making a trio of substitutions in quick succession and, in the 73rd minute, they again forced Morris into action as the keeper kept out a well-struck shot from Wotton.
Having weathered a spell of Pilgrims pressure, Southend soon responded with Mohsni having a six-yard header from a Timlin cross well saved by Cole.
But Plymouth got back in to the game in the 86th minute when a long clearance from Cole bounced over Chris Barker before being controlled by MacDonald.
He knocked the ball back into the path of Chadwick, whose 20-yard shot was tamely palmed into the goal by Morris.
Things got even worse for Blues as they remarkably conceded an equaliser just two minutes later.
The goal came from Conor Hourihane’s right-wing corner, which caused problems in the Southend penalty area and eventually resulted in Joe Lennox striking the inside of the right post from 12 yards.
MacDonald — who was making his debut after signing on loan from Southampton on transfer deadline day — then reacted quickest to the resulting rebound and slammed the ball into the back of the net from close range.
The strike sparked wild celebrations from the Pilgrims but there was still time for even more late drama as Mohsni appeared to be brought down inside the penalty area by Argyle keeper Cole.
Referee Christopher Sarginson thought otherwise though and he waved away Southend’s strong spot-kick appeals, meaning Blues were forced to settle for their first away league draw of the season.