This local derby had everything. Well, apart from the local bit. The 120 miles that separate Plymouth and Bristol City will always raise a geographical query to the 'West Country derby' tag but, in all other aspects, this Championship tussle had all the neighbourly rivalry any supporter might demand.
"Blood and snotters" was Paul Sturrock's description of the proceedings and that summed it up, whatever it meant. The Scotsman's Plymouth side had held the advantage and then lost it, but the returning manager seemed happy enough with the point.
Pity poor Krisztian Timar, though. By next Christmas his own goal will be gracing those blooper videos that give us so few laughs and make those such as Gary Lineker so much money. Timar will find it no consolation that his spectacular chip over his own goalkeeper effected the deserved result.
Neither team had the overall dominance to warrant three points just as neither should have walked away with nothing. As it is, the draw kept the Robins in the play-off positions and Plymouth very much around them.
Of the pair, the visitors look to have the best chance of making the greatest leap in football because of the strength at Gary Johnson's disposal. After a first half in which his men were outplayed to such an extent that they were fortunate to go in just one down, the manager went to his bench and found a striker in Lee Trundle with the spark to inject the required life into the moribund. His contribution almost gave City their third win in succession and that it didn't was purely down to Romain Larrieu.
The French goalkeeper was little but an onlooker in the opening period as Plymouth took Sturrock's lead with his 4-3-3 formation and burst on to the front foot. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake seemed particularly glad of the company and it was the striker's sharp swivel in the 23rd minute that tempted Louis Carey to bring him down. Ebanks-Blake's conversion from the spot was clinical and from there Plymouth pressed on in an effort to extend the lead.
But then arrived half-time. The superiority went flip-flop and suddenly Larrieu was called into action. Boy, how he responded. If there was one save that typified his performance it was the point-blank diversion with his feet from Trundle's blast in the 55th minute. Sixty seconds later he completed similar heroics and by now City were resigned to needing something rather special to beat him.
It was special, but not as much as it was bizarre. With 19 minutes remaining, Liam Fontaine's innocuous looking cross flicked off Timar's foot and made a perfect arch over the stricken Larrieu. The latter then had to remain sharp to ensure against any sort of repeat. Anything else would have been cruel.Reuse content