TONY MCMAHON returned from suspension only to have a 78th-minute penalty saved as third-placed Bradford City fell to a fourth home defeat against bottom of the table Plymouth at Valley Parade.
Lone striker Jake Jervis struck in the 35th minute and it was enough to give the Pilgrims their second away win of the season.
Bradford welcomed back from Republic of Ireland duty goalkeeper Colin Doyle, released from Martin O'Neill's squad for their World Cup qualifying play-off in Denmark. Right-back McMahon also returned from a one-game ban along with midfield player Jake Reeves, after groin trouble.
Plymouth, on the back of a five-match unbeaten run in all competitions, were without suspended midfield play-maker Graham Carey, and, with all three senior goalkeepers on the injured list, Remi Matthews, on loan from Norwich, again stepped in.
Winger Lionel Ainsworth made his first league start since the end of September following hamstring problems and the former Huddersfield player was joined by ex-Doncaster full-back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Leeds central midfield man Toumani Diagouraga.
Bradford dominated possession and looked set to go ahead midway through the first half but Charlie Wyke's goalbound header from Nicky Law's cross struck Sonny Bradley in the face before the City striker fired narrowly wide from the follow-up opportunity.
However, the Pilgrims took a shock 35th-minute lead when David Fox fed the ball down the right channel and Ainsworth's low cross was turned in by Jervis despite a challenge from Nat Knight-Percival.
Bradford responded and Matthews did well to twice tip over efforts from Paul Taylor before the break.
City full-back Tom Field was sacrificed for left-winger Tyrell Robinson at the start of the second half and following one raid down that flank, McMahon fluffed a shooting opportunity in the clear.
Robinson then teed up Reeves to hit a swerving shot which struck the bar from the edge of the area but the equaliser would not come as the game entered its final half-hour.
Joel Grant headed over for the Pilgrims before Alex Gilliead replaced Reeves to give City more width.
Dominic Poleon was City's third change, replacing Alex Jones.
City got their spot-kick when Romain Vincelot was impeded at the far post heading a cross from Nicky Law but Matthews beat away McMahon's penalty going to his right to concede a corner.
Grant fired narrowly wide as the visitors threatened on the break and City ran out of time despite goalkeeper Doyle venturing forward in stoppage time.
McCall said: "Our final pass wasn't good enough in the first half. We crossed the ball behind two or three times.
"We were knocking on the door. But the worst thing you do is lose a goal - and that gives them more chance to sit in even deeper and defend.
"I'm not knocking them for that. They've fought really well.
"But second half we were on the front foot and did more than enough to get something.
"We've played better today second half than we did at Portsmouth and at home to Rotherham when we won both the games.
"It was one of those types of games. If we'd got the first goal, it could have been totally different."