Plymouth land knock-out blow

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The Independent Online
Plymouth Argyle 3 Colchester United 1 (Plymouth win 3-2 on aggregate)

Neil Warnock, the play-off master, is going to Wembley again. The Plymouth manager reached his fourth promotion play-off final after his side, a goal down from Sunday's first leg, produced a stirring display to win this Third Division semi-final at Home Park with a decisive goal five minutes from time.

The Devon side will be making their Wembley debut when they meet Darlington in the final on Saturday week. The Quakers did the double over the Pilgrims this season but that will not worry Warnock, who won two play-off finals with Notts County and one (last year) with Huddersfield.

It took Plymouth just three minutes to level the aggregate score. A drop kick from the veteran goalkeeper, Steve Cherry, was flicked on by Chris Leadbitter to Michael Evans, who slammed an emphatic left-foot shot past a helpless Carl Emberson in the visitors' goal.

Argyle's second goal, four minutes before half-time, was fully deserved. Paul Gibbs was booked for a foul on Mark Patterson 20 yards from goal and Leadbitter smashed the free-kick past Emberson.

Colchester were under pressure at the start of the second half as their defenders gave away a series of free-kicks. One foul, by Tony McCarthy on Adrian Littlejohn, who was clean through, only produced a yellow card.

Warnock was expelled from the bench for protesting, and was watching from the terraces when Mark Kinsella, who scored the only goal on Sunday, levelled the aggregate with a drive from 25 yards in the 66th minute.

As extra time loomed, Martin Barlow made one last run down the right flank and his deep cross to the far post found the left-back, Paul Williams, who scored with a diving header.

Plymouth Argyle (3-5-2): Cherry; Logan, Heathcote, Curran; Patterson, Barlow, Mauge, Leadbitter, Williams; Littlejohn, Evans. Substitutes not used: Billy, Corazzin, Baird.

Colchester United (4-4-2): Emberson; McCarthy, Caesar (Locke, h-t), Cawley, Betts; Fry, Dennis, Kinsella, Gibbs (Whitton, 67); Reinelt (Adcock, h- t), McGleish.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).