A LATE penalty denied Plymouth Argyle Ladies a hard-fought point away at Oxford United as they suffered back-to-back defeats for more than 32 months.
Argyle went down 2-1 away to the Us in the National League Southern Division match, but they were always in with a chance of picking up all three points in a high tempo contest.
The Pilgrims recalled Jessica Jones after missing last week’s game against Loughborough, while Kayley Lane was named as a late substitute after recovering from an injury picked up against the Foxes the week before.
The game started at a cracking pace with the first chance going to Oxford when a free-kick caused panic in the penalty area which was eventually cleared.
Argyle were finding it difficult to get into the game and were made to pay when, in the 11th minute, they lost possession which resulted in Sophie Baker providing a simple tap in.
The Greens then had to rely on goalkeeper Lyndsay Rogers to deny Oxford scoring from a fast break.
Argyle responded with Jones shooting narrowly wide before a long-range Helen Bleazard free-kick was deflected wide and another chance came when goalkeeper Lucy Thomas raced out to deny Amber Pollock.
A few choice words issued to the Argyle players at half-time seemed to have an effect as they came out for the second period all fired up.
Oxford responded by putting the ball into the net but it was ruled out for offside.
Both team had further chances before a rash tackle resulted in a penalty kick which Rogers got a hand to but could not prevent the ball entering the net from Timms.
Argyle were then denied an equaliser when, in time added-on, Helen Bleazard got on the end of a Jessica Jones cross only to see her effort superbly saved by Thomas.
Joint manager Trevor Rodd was not too happy with his team’s performance saying: “It was not very good. We defended too high for their first goal. We lost the ball in a bad area and got caught square. We were looking for a response and looking for leaders but they (Oxford) were first to the ball.
“We had words at half-time and started well with Katie Middleton heading in following a corner when we won the second phase.
“We didn’t look good on the ball and not switching on when we had itl. Individually the go too players were not on it, we seemed to lack confidence.
He added: “We as managers sometimes have to look at ourselves but we have to take it on the chin. We have been in the game long enough and we will sort it.”
Argyle squad: Lyndsay Rogers, Darcey Hepworth, Kate Middleton, Ebony Dover (Becca Wakley 55), Mollie Taylor (Tamsin Medd-Gill 70), Becky Dandridge, Amber Pollock (Kayley Lane 75), Jessica Jones, Zoe Cunningham, Helen Bleazard, Steph Beck. Sub (unused): Faye Ivall
It was their fifth win in a row and they have opened up a six point gap at the top of the table. However, they did have to battle hard to see off a resilient Mendip side.
Having beaten them 3-0 earlier in the season, Argyle knew this would be no easy task and so it proved.
Mendip had the first effort which cleared the crossbar with Argyle responding when a Gabi Alphous effort was blocked.
There was little to choose between the two teams as the midfield became congested.
However, the deadlock was finally broken in the 31st minute when Argyle were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out. Up stepped Alex Hugh whose low drive by passed the defensive wall to find the corner of the net.
The Pilgrims almost conceded when they failed to stop a cross which was blasted over the crossbar. Another quick break saw goalkeeper Sarah Prior make a superb save to push a shot around a post.
The second half saw Argyle almost doubling their lead when substitute Shania Fenlon fired over after racing clear of the Mendip defence. Fenlon then had another effort on goal.
The visitors were always in the game and deservedly drew level when after Prior pushed a shot on to the crossbar Katie Sharkey was the first to react to level the scores.
But Argyle responded almost immediately when Fenlon picked up the ball 20 yards out in the 69th minute to let fly with a stunning shot which flew into the roof of the net.
Argyle began to look much sharper and Hugh fired over. A long busting run from Alphous ended with her perfect cross finding no takers with Alphous then shooting straight at the goalkeeper.
Development manager Rob Bonney said: “There are different styles of play on how you can win a football match. We would love to play flowing football week-in and week-out but we had to dig deep and win ugly.
“I was proud of this group. The experienced players showed their experience and the youngsters showed another side to their game where they had to really dig deep and compete. It was another massive learning curve in their development.”
Argyle Development squad: Sarah Prior, Becky Parkin, Vicky Fannon, Rachel Javan, Jodie Randall, Sally Salter, Alex Hugh, Kiara Robins, Maya Ridge, Gabi Alphous, Kelly Vinnicombe, Shania Fenlon, Nicola Champion, Hannah Brock.