Plymouth Argyle kept their first clean-sheet in three months as they saw off York City with a comfortable 2-0 win at Home Park on Saturday.
Without creating lots of clear-cut chances, the Pilgrims were by far the better side and had most of the possession.
Too often, promising approach play came to nothing in and around York's penalty area. However, after failing to win any of their previous nine games in all competitions, a victory was all important, and Argyle achieved that with some ease.
Not since the 0-0 draw at Torquay United on September 8 had they kept a clean-sheet. It was a first for goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin in his eighth appearance for the Pilgrims, and an straightforward one at that. He did not have a shot on target to deal, as York put in a wretched performance.
Argyle were without their regular right-back Durrell Berry after he was sent off in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last 16 tie against Oxford United at Home Park last Tuesday. Curtis Nelson moved from the centre of defence to replace him, and that opened the way for Darren Purse to return to the team.
The 35-year-old had been banned for the previous three matches after his red card in the 3-0 defeat Fleetwood Town three weeks earlier.
Purse and Maxime Blanchard renewed their centre-back partnership which was so successful last season. Neither have been at their best this term, but they were totally dominant against York and Nelson had a good game at right-back.
Purse has been put on the transfer list by Argyle as they try to free up some money for new recruits in the January transfer window. But no one could doubt his commitment to the cause on Saturday as he produced one of his best defensive displays of the season.
Argyle were without Alex MacDonald, after his three-month loan spell from Burnley ended. He has been one of their better players this season and there are plans to bring him back to Home Park in the January transfer window.
In the meantime, Andres Gurrieri could be an important player for the Pilgrims. He provided more evidence on Saturday that playing 'in the hole' behind a main striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation is his best position.
The Argentinian has the ability on the ball to create chances with a cross, a pass or a weaving run. He has been used as a left-winger this season, but seems to revel in the space he can find playing in a more central position.
York had the first decent chance of the contest in the tenth minute. It was also the closest they came to scoring all afternoon. Paddy McLaughlin surged forward and tried a 25-yard shot which bounced narrowly wide.
Top scorer Paris Cowan-Hall should have put Argyle ahead in the 17th minute after a defensive blunder.
York centre-back Chris Doig tried to touch the ball back to goalkeeper Michael Ingham, but Cowan-Hall intercepted. He flicked the ball past Ingham but then took a swipe at it as it bounced up and miscued his shot completely.
Argyle gradually started to take control, with Purse lobbing the ball over Ingham – and the crossbar – after a set piece in the 36th minute.
Midfielder Luke Young, returning from a shoulder injury, was typically tenacious for the Pilgrims. He curled a 25-yard free-kick over the bar after Cowan-Hall was fouled by Daniel Parslow, before the deadlock was broken in the 44th minute.
Young's corner cleared striker Rhys Griffiths, hit York left-back Jamal Fyfield, and bounced into the net. It was a fortunate goal for Argyle, but they will have felt they deserved that after some recent hard luck stories.
The second half continued in much the same way, with the Pilgrims having most of the ball but not testing Ingham.
Gurrieri made a good run in the 56th minute but was forced wide and sliced his shot.
Griffiths crashed the ball high over the bar from 20 yards before Gurrieri's 20-yard drive was pushed over by Ingham.
Soon afterwards, Griffiths made way for substitute Nick Chadwick. There were boos from some Argyle supporters when Chadwick ran onto the pitch, which seemed ridiculous in the extreme.
To get at one of your players before he has even touched the ball is totally crazy. It was an important stage of the game and Chadwick was sent on, with fresh legs, to try to unsettle the York defence.
No one would dispute Chadwick's performances have not always been the best this season. He had a spell out of the squad completely after falling out of favour with manager Carl Fletcher, but worked hard in training and has played much more regularly of late.
The jeers for Chadwick turned to cheers in the 89th minute which ensured Argyle's first win since they beat Rochdale 3-1 at Home Park on October 20. On-loan Bournemouth midfielder Mark Molesley made a driving run before passing to Young.
The 19-year-old carried the ball into the box and his fierce shot was spectacularly parried away by Ingham. However, it rebounded to Chadwick, and he had the simple task of heading into an empty net. He was determined to enjoy the moment, and raced across to the fans in the Lyndhurst Stand to celebrate.