Wolves now have just one win in their last 11 league games after Paul Gallagher’s first-minute strike earned all three points for Argyle, .
Third-placed Reading also stumbled, losing 1-0 at home to Nottingham Forest, and former Ireland manager McCarthy called on his troops to arrest the slide and capitalise on their faltering opponents.
“We were hopeless and we didn’t deserve anything from the game,” said McCarthy. He added of Reading and Birmingham: “They’re obviously as poor as us. But we can’t be relying on that, at some stage we have to win a game.”
Plymouth manager Paul Sturrock has predicted a Wolves resurgence.
“Everybody seems able to beat everybody else, it’s a very strange league,” said the Scot. “I think Wolves are playing mind games with themselves at the minute.
“They have an excellent squad of players and it will just be a matter of time before they kick on again.”
Steve Coppell insists his Reading side are not in crisis, despite seeing the winless run extended to four games by Forest’s Lewis McGugan, who netted a second-half winner at the Madejski stadium.
“We have still got 13 games to go and we are still in with a shout even if it’s not going our way at the moment,” said Coppell.
Forest manager Billy Davies was thrilled with the performance which boosts his side’s bid to avoid the drop.
“I thought we were excellent, especially in the second half,” he said. “We thoroughly deserved the result.”
Preston climbed to fourth place after a 3-2 defeat of Ipswich extended their unbeaten run at Deepdale to 10 games.
Stephen Elliott netted a second-half winner for North End, who last lost at home on November 1, to triumph and capitalise on Bristol City and Cardiff’s failure to win.
Bristol City were held to a 0-0 draw by 20th-placed Blackpool at Ashton Gate, while fellow promotion chasers Cardiff suffered a 1-0 loss away to Southampton, who climbed to 22nd in the standings after David McGoldrick’s early penalty earned just a third home win of the season.
Eighth-placed Swansea were held to a 1-1 draw at home to bottom club Charlton, while Burnley are ninth after Sheffield Wednesday claimed a 4-2 win with two goals each from Marcus Tudgay and Leon Clarke.
Norwich remain one place above Charlton following a 2-1 loss at home to 13th-placed Coventry, while Watford defeated Crystal Palace 2-0 at Vicarage Road to ease their relegation fears.