Ryan Taylor’s well-taken second-half goal condemned Walsall to a disappointing New Year’s Day defeat against resurgent Plymouth.
Derek Adams’ side entered the match unbeaten in five and registered the game’s first attempt, Graham Carey with a curling 30-yard free-kick which Saddlers stopper Mark Gillespie pushed behind.
Ryan Edwards headed over from the resulting corner, while Antoni Sarcevic saw a 12th-minute half-volley deflect narrowly wide.
The dangerous Carey went close again for the Pilgrims, letting fly with a dipping left-footed strike from 25 yards which skimmed the roof of the net.
Walsall – backed by 275 hardy visiting fans – wasted a good chance on 27 minutes as Ryan Edwards misjudged Zeli Ismail’s long ball but Amadou Bakayoko headed tamely straight at Remi Matthews.
The home keeper then had to be alert to push away Erhun Oztumer’s in-swinging corner which was sneaking in at the near post.
The Saddlers flew out of the blocks at the start of the second half, with Ismail collecting Joe Edwards’ over-hit cross before dragging a weak effort wide of the near post.
Both teams had chances; Carey’s ambitious 55th-minute free-kick was beaten away by Gillespie, Reece Flanagan made two vital blocks and Ismail’s left-footed effort was spilled by Matthews.
Gillespie thwarted Carey again on 67 minutes, diving full length to parry the Irish midfielder’s curling strike.
Argyle were looking the more threatening and took the lead moments later, Taylor arrowing an accurate 20-yard drive into the bottom corner after a strong run from Ruben Lameiras.
Jon Whitney’s men looked for a quick response and felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty when Flanagan was bundled over by Sarcevic inside the box.
The Pilgrims were keen to try their luck from distance, with Lameiras and Taylor each firing harmlessly wide from outside the area.
Simeon Jackson, Dan Agyei and Maz Kouhyar all came on in the final 15 minutes as the Saddlers searched for an equaliser.
But despite enjoying plenty of possession and territory, Walsall rarely troubled the home goal as Plymouth professionally saw the game out.
Team: Gillespie, Kinsella, Wilson, Guthrie, Leahy, Chambers, Edwards (Jackson 75'), Flanagan, Ismail, Oztumer (Kouhyar 86'), Bakayoko (Agyei 75').
Subs not used: L Roberts, K Roberts, Devlin, Morris.
Attendance: 10,432 (275 Walsall supporters).