Friio's magic inspires Pilgrims to summit

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Plymouth Argyle 3
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The Independent Football

Plymouth called for firms in Devon to give their workers time off to travel to Yorkshire for last night's fixture and as they struggled back to the West Country via an archipelago of Little Chefs, the 1,500 who made the trip did so warmed by the knowledge they were top of the Second Division.

What has soothed these journeys has been a constant stream of goals. When David Friio headed Paul Wotton's short corner home for his second of the match and Plymouth's third, it was the 35th the club had scored this season. No team in any of the four divisions has more. "We are regarded as country cousins," their manager, Paul Sturrock, said. "Perhaps now we are top we will get more respect." The quality of Plymouth's football demands it, although last night they were aided and abetted by some nondescript, not to say non-existent Sheffield Wednesday defending.

There was not a hint of a challenge to Steve Adams' cross which Friio deflected neatly into the corner of the net in the 22nd minute, and things did not noticeably tighten up thereafter. Throughout, Plymouth looked the more solid, organised and dangerous side, epitomised by a delicate flick from Marino Keith to David Norris which resulted in a vicious shot cannoning down from the bottom of the crossbar.

It was the kind of move which Wednesday, for all their pedigree, never looked like emulating and when Wotton smashed in a penalty awarded for a foul on Norris, the home supporters could drift away to catch the last half-hour of the "Battle of Britain".

Hillsborough still attracts crowds that Blackburn cannot muster in the Premiership, but they are an increasingly angry body of people. Wednesday are not grabbing the Second Division by the throat and the manager, Chris Turner's promise of more entertaining football did not begin to be realised until the 84th minute.

Michael Reddy took the ball round Luke McCormick who was then forced to make a fine save with his legs from Paul Smith, and there was a frantic goalline clearance. It was commendable in its way but rather hopelessly late.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Lucas; Bromby, Lee, Smith, Geary; Reddy, Mustoe, McLaren, Barry-Murphy (Smith, h-t); Proudlock (Owusu, 73), Holt. Substitutes not used: Pressman (gk), Haslam, Wood.

Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): McCormick; Worrell, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert; Norris, Friio (Bent, 82), Adams, Stonebridge (Capaldi, 82); Keith, Evans. Substitutes not used: Aljofree, Lowndes, Sturrock.

Referee: G Laws (Whitley Bay).

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