OXFORD United could not prevent Plymouth Argyle extending their perfect home record as they fell to defeat in the Devon rain.

Morgan Whittaker came off the bench to score the winning goal with 20 minutes left, handing the hosts their fourth successive Sky Bet League One victory at Home Park.

Kyle Joseph sent a great chance over the crossbar shortly after as United saw their mini unbeaten run ended on the night the English Football League returned from its brief pause.

On Karl Robinson’s birthday, the U’s could not give the head coach the present of points, despite a battling display.

Steve Seddon and Billy Bodin returned from injury and suspension respectively, with both players going straight into the starting XI.

John Mousinho dropped to the bench as Ciaron Brown moved across to centre back, while Gatlin O’Donkor travelled but did not make the 18.

Djavan Anderson was in the squad for the first time after his work permit was granted this morning, however Jodi Jones missed out with a knee problem.

Both sets of players and staff wore black armbands after The Queen’s death last Thursday, while the National Anthem followed an impeccably observed minute’s silence before kick-off.

The sombre pre-match tone made way for a high-tempo start from Plymouth, with Ryan Hardie heading over from a clever corner routine inside three minutes.

The striker then decided to pass when a shot seemed the better option as Argyle dominated early on, Bali Mumba causing problems from right wing back.

James Henry suffered an injury scare in the warm-up but was one of United’s brightest players in the opening exchanges and fired in a couple of teasing crosses.

Plymouth always looked dangerous from open play and set-pieces, though, and went close to an opener midway through the half.

Adam Randell teed up Finn Azaz 15 yards out and Eastwood pushed the shot away, with the rebound falling to Joe Edwards to fire just past the far post.

The lively Danny Mayor then found marauding centre back Macauley Gillesphey, who charged forward to scuff well wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Azaz had another chance from a similar position when he received Hardie’s lay-off ten minutes before the break, only to sidefoot off target.

United weathered the storm, thanks in part to the excellent Marcus McGuane, although they did not seriously trouble Mike Cooper in the first half – Lewis Bate curling a couple of efforts wide.

Plymouth looked to stay on top after the restart and Hardie flicked on Edwards’ deflected effort, with Eastwood doing just enough to ensure Mumba ran out of pitch.

The U’s had a half-chance of their own when Seddon drove forward and found Joseph to his left, with the striker seeing his effort blocked from a tight angle.

Steven Schumacher blinked first and brought on Whittaker and Niall Ennis for Mayor and Hardie just after the hour mark.

Edwards spurned another good chance when United again failed to track the runner from a corner routine, the Argyle captain firing over when left unmarked.

Marcus Browne replaced Bate, only for Plymouth to break the deadlock moments later.

Brown did well to hold up Ennis and block the striker’s shot, but the ball fell kindly for Whittaker to place a low effort past Eastwood from 18 yards.

Anderson replaced Seddon as United switched to a back four, before Joseph missed a golden chance.

Henry took a quick free-kick and freed Sam Long, who sent an excellent cross to the back post. The Swansea City loanee met it on the slide, but could not keep his effort down and the ball flicked the bar and flew over.

The U’s continued their search for an equaliser as Tyler Goodrham and Slavi Spasov replaced Bodin and Henry with eight minutes left, but Plymouth continued to push forward.

Late substitute Sam Cosgrove almost scored on his home debut after Eastwood spilled Edwards’ effort, only to fire wide under pressure from the goalkeeper.

Plymouth Argyle (3-4-2-1): Cooper, Lonwijk, Scarr, Gillesphey, Mumba (Wilson 90+4), Randell (Houghton 90+4), Butcher, Edwards, Azaz (Cosgrove 87), Mayor (Whittaker 62), Hardie (Ennis 62).

Unused subs: Burton, Galloway.

Booked: Randell.

Oxford United (3-5-2): Eastwood, Long, Findlay, Brown, Henry (Spasov 82), Bate (Browne 68), McGuane, Brannagan, Seddon (Anderson 75), Bodin (Goodrham 82), Joseph.

Unused subs: McGinty, Mousinho, Gorrin.

Booked: Findlay, Brown.

Referee: Craig Hicks (Surrey).

Attendance: 12,563 (309 visitors).