Plymouth Argyle 3 Cardiff City 3: Purse own goal seals Plymouth fightback

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The Independent Online

Plymouth Argyle staged an astonishing fightback to snatch a dramatic late draw against the Championship leaders, Cardiff City, at Home Park last night. The Bluebirds appeared to be cruising when they led 3-0 just after half-time, but the Pilgrims stunned the visitors with three goals in the last 21 minutes, two of which were own goals.

Argyle had a fine chance to open the scoring after only three minutes, when former Manchester United striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake pulled the ball back from the byline to Tony Capaldi, but the Northern Ireland international dragged his shot wide of the far post.

It was Cardiff, though, who took the lead five minutes later with their first attack. Paul Parry burst away down the right and fired in a cross, which was superbly turned in at the near post by Steven Thompson.

It came as little surprise when the impressive Bluebirds, welcoming back the central defender Darren Purse from suspension, made it 2-0 on the half-hour mark and it was a personal nightmare for Argyle right-back Anthony Barness.

Barness' woefully under-hit back-pass was snapped up by the summer signing Michael Chopra, who knocked the ball around Pilgrims goalkeeper Luke McCormick, evaded Hasney Aljofree's sliding tackle and coolly smacked the ball into an unguarded net.

It took Cardiff only five minutes of the second period to make it 3-0, with the outstanding Parry capitalising on a bad blunder by Aljofree and crossing for former Newcastle United striker Chopra to crack home his second goal from 10 yards out.

Ebanks-Blake, the Pilgrims' most promising player, tested Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Alexander with an excellent shot on the turn in the 53rd minute and Argyle then gave themselves a glimmer of hope when substitute Akos Buzsaky's low cross was turned into his own net by Cardiff left-back Kevin McNaughton.

Argyle's amazing fightback continued in the 74th minute when David Norris' header from Capaldi's cross caused an incredible goalmouth scramble, with Barry Hayles appearing to get the final touch.

And the unbelievable happened two minutes from time when Cardiff centre-back Purse somehow managed to head the ball past his own goalkeeper to seal an extraordinary point for the Pilgrims.

Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): McCormick; Hodges, Aljofree, Doumbe, Barness (Buzsaky, 56); Norris, Summerfield, Wotton (Nalis, 56), Capaldi; Hayles, Ebanks-Blake. Substitutes not used: Chadwick, Seip, Reid.

Cardiff (4-4-2): Alexander; Gilbert, Purse, Johnson, McNaughton; Parry (Flood, 81), McPhail, Scimeca, Ledley; Chopra, Thompson (Campbell, 81). Substitutes not used: Glombard, Kamara, Blake.

Referee: S Tanner (Somerset).

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