Full-time: Plymouth Argyle 1 Bristol Rovers 1
Tom Parkes grabbed his first goal for Bristol Rovers to help his side come from behind to avoid defeat at Plymouth Argyle last night.
Parkes hammered home from an acute angle in the 69th minute to cancel out Conor Hourihane's first-half opener for Plymouth at Home Park. Parkes intervention was not enough to give Rovers their first win of the season at the sixth time of asking – but McGhee will at least have reasons for careful optimism after a vastly-improved performance from a much-changed team.
The manager is expected to launch a recruitment drive over the next few days in a bid to revive Rovers's ailing fortunes - but there were promising displays from the likes of Oliver Norburn and Fabian Broghammer to offer signs of encouragement.
Summer signing Garry Kenneth was also included for the first time and showed signs that he will be a useful addition once he gets a few games under his belt following a long absence.
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The Scottish central defender had been hampered by injuries since arriving on a free from Dundee United over the summer, but was fast-tracked back into action by McGhee.
The manager admitted that allowing Kenneth back in to action a few weeks ahead of schedule had been a gamble, but it was one that looked worth taking in the early exchanges.
Dominant in the air and deceptively quicker than his huge frame would suggest, Kenneth provided the sort of presence that made Rovers look a lot more solid at the back than they had in earlier games.
It would take more than the big Scotsman's inclusion, however, to offer Rovers' a rear-guard of invincibility and their early resistance was punctured when Hourihane picked up the ball and arrowed a devastating shot past Walker from all of 30 yards in the 36th minute.
It had been coming, though, as Plymouth carved out the best opportunities in an opening period that had been characterised by a lack of meaningful chances. Of the ones that looked like they may yield a goal, Guy Madjo had the best when dipping an effort from distance off the crossbar.
The former Cameroon international then produced a clever bit of play to send strike partner Matt Lecointe striding through on goal. Adam Virgo, however, ate up the ground to avert the danger and did enough to deflect the striker's shot wide.
Rovers had started brightly enough with David Clarkson forcing an early save out of goalkeeper Jake Cole following a good break from midfield by Norburn, who was one of a number of changes McGhee had made to his starting line-up.
The manager dropped defender Michael Smith and striker Eliot Richards to the bench following Saturday's 4-0 defeat at Gillingham and Clarkson was sent out to play up front on his own after it was confirmed that Matt Harrold is to miss the majority of the season with a knee injury.
Norburn was joined by Broghammer and Matthew Lund to add support from midfield on what were rare starts for the trio. It was Broghammer and Norburn, who went close to scoring equalisers in the opening stages of the second-half.
First, Broghammer fired a near post shot that was well held by Cole after a clever through ball from skipper Matt Gill had set up the chance.
Norburn then skidded a low shot from distance wide of the post before McGhee threw Richards, Smith and Joe Anyinsah on with half-an-hour left in an attempt to add some attacking incisiveness to his side's armoury.
The breakthrough finally came in the 69th minute when Parkes hammered in his first goal for Rovers after Plymouth had made a mess of trying to defend a corner. The young defender stormed away to celebrate with the travelling contingent only to come up for air after being mobbed to see a yellow card being waved in his direction by spoilsport referee Darren Deadman.
Michael Smith went closest to snatching a winner with a powerful shot that was battered away by Cole, but, despite laying siege to the Plymouth goal in the dying minutes, Rovers were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Rovers (4-5-1): Walker; Virgo (Smith, 60), Kenneth, Parkes, L Brown; W Brown, Gill, Norburn, Lund (Richards, 55) W Brown (Anyinsah 58); Clarkson. Subs: Smith, Paterson, Gough, Clarke, Clucas.
Plymouth (4-4-2): Cole; Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Williams; MacDonald (Feeney, 85), Young, Hourihane, Bhasera; Lecointe (Cowan-Hall, 65) Madjo. Subs: Chenoweth, Nelson, Lennox, Gurrieri, Gorman.