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Portsmouth 2 Plymouth Argyle 2: Play-off tie perfectly poised after thrilling first-leg

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 12 May 2016

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Gary Roberts’ second-half penalty ensured a share of the spoils as the first leg of Portsmouth’s League Two play-off tie with Plymouth ended 2-2.

After a frantic, end-to-end first half at Fratton Park, it was the hosts who dominated proceedings after the interval, but they were denied victory by a stubborn Plymouth outfit.

Portsmouth got off to a terrific start when Marc McNulty capitalised on Curtis Nelson’s error by drilling in a low finish from the edge of the area just three minutes into the contest.

But their lead was short-lived, with Jamille Matt swiftly heading the visitors level before a tussle on the touchline resulted in both Portsmouth manager Paul Cook and Plymouth first-team coach Paul Wotton receiving their marching orders.

It was the visitors who struck next, with Matt – who had previously been lucky to escape punishment for a head-butt on Michael Doyle – converting with an overhead kick on 19 minutes.

Portsmouth eventually restored parity, though, as shortly after the interval, Roberts converted following a clumsy tackle in the area by Peter Hartley.

A thrilling second-half was capped off late on when Plymouth goalkeeper Luke McCormick pulled off a superb save to deny Ben Davies, while Gareth Evans went agonisingly close with a glancing header as Portsmouth failed to make their dominance count, meaning the sides head into the return leg at Home Park on level pegging.

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