TOWN came from two goals down to win a crazy clash – but their performance was far from impressive.
Plymouth played with 10 men from the ninth minute and nine from the 54th.
But Lee Clark’s side, having recovered from a stuttering start to go in front inside 34 madcap minutes, were unable to press home their numerical advantage with further goals, much to the frustration of their fans.
That said, this was still a valuable second straight League I win and third in a row in all competitions.
Town handed a debut to Tamas Kadar, their Hungarian international loan signing from Newcastle.
The 20-year-old replaced Liam Ridehalgh at left-back – and surely can’t have been involved in a more eventful 45 minutes than the first half of this clash.
In a dramatic opening quarter of an hour, Argyle scored twice, either side of having centre-back Curtis Nelson sent off and manager Peter Reid sent to the stand.
Just 54 seconds were on the clock when Town were left trailing.
Zimbabwean left-back Onismor Bhasera was able to advance down his flank and pass to Rory Patterson.
Town claimed offside, but with no flag going up, the frontman crossed for Joe Mason to shoot home.
Patterson’s well-struck third-minute free-kick was deflected for a corner before Town finally found their feet, and Plymouth found themselves a man down.
Lee Novak ran onto an ninth-minute through pass, only to be pulled back by Nelson, who was shown a straight red card.
Keeper David Button punched clear from the resultant free-kick, taken by Anthony Pilkington, but Reid remained clearly frustrated, and was banished to the dug-out in the 12th minute after speaking out of turn.
His mood must have been lifted three minutes later when his side scored a second, with Patterson latching onto a Kevin Kilbane’s misplaced pass to play in Mason, who ran forward from halfway and bundled the ball home as keeper Alex Smithies came out in a vain bid to block.
But within three minutes, the wind had been taken out of the Pilgrims’ sails as Town struck, Icelandic defender Kari Anderson turning Pilkington’s teasing cross into his own net.
Clark’s men were clearly lifted, and top scorer Jordan Rhodes came close with a header before levelling with his 15th goal of the season in the 29th minute.
Button was able to get a hand to his shot from the edge of the area, but couldn’t prevent the ball looping up and into the net.
Three minutes later, Town were in front, with skipper Peter Clarke shooting in from six yards when a free-kick fell into his path.
It was quite a turnaround, and Town tried to add to their advantage before the break, with Pilkington’s shot deflected, Clarke’s header going just wide and Scott Arfield’s close-range shot being well blocked by Button.
The start of the second half was less frenetic, but it wasn’t long before Plymouth were reduced to nine men, with defender Stephane Zubar, booked for a first-half foul on Kilbane, being shown a second yellow and therefore a red after a late tackle on Lee Novak in the 54th minute.
With the home fans urging Town to push for a fourth, Pilkington had a shot saved before Novak headed off target.
Then Button made a fine save as Kilbane met substitute Graham Carey’s 77th-minute corner with a powerful header.
And the Argyle keeper was again equal to the on-loan Hull midfielder’s effort in a carbon-copy move in the 82nd minute.