Argyle take on Accrington Stanley at the Wham Stadium on Saturday for what will be Ryan Lowe’s 100th league game in charge of the club.
In that relatively short period, the Greens have rebuilt to bounce back to Sky Bet League One at the first attempt, consolidated their position in a season drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and pushed on to find themselves in the automatic promotion places with a third of the 21/22 campaign complete.
On the milestone, Lowe said: “I haven’t really thought about what it means to me, but it’s obviously a decent achievement in management nowadays with managers not lasting that long. We’ll enjoy it, but ultimately, it’s about the team and what we do. You get 100 and you want to continue more.”
On top of the landmark fixture in Lancashire, Lowe has also been awarded the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month award for October – his fifth such award in his young managerial career, but the first at League One level.
Keen to share the achievement with his colleagues, Lowe said: “I put it down for a collective thing, it’s a feel-good factor for getting recognised for the work that you’re doing. The Manager of the Month awards are fantastic for any manager.”
“My staff behind me, the staff above us, the board of directors – we’ve got a good collective togetherness with everyone at the football club, and ultimately the players. Without them you’re not going to achieve. We’ll keep our feet on the ground, it’s nice to be nominated, but most importantly we’ll make sure that we continue to do our work.”
That work continues with the trip to Stanley, and Lowe wants to ensure that his side keep their feet firmly on the ground ahead of the clash with John Coleman’s side, who are searching for a bit of consistency after a week in which they were dumped out of the Emirates FA Cup 5-1 by League Two side Port Vale, before securing a 4-1 win away at Fleetwood Town in the Papa John’s Trophy 72 hours later.
Lowe said: “It will be a tough encounter, we know that. I know John very well, it’s going to be tough, we know that. We’ve got to worry about what we do. They’ll be wanting to get back on the horse – they’ve drawn the last two league games, and the FA Cup game wasn’t what it looked, they had a man sent off and they were very much in the game.
“We know Accrington will try and play, they’ve got a style about them. They’ve won through the week as well, scored a few goals. I heard John talking about implementing one or two things in that game for Saturday against us, and that’s fine, that’s what most managers will do. We’ve got to make sure we’re prepared.
“I think Accrington is a better place to go now than it was a few years ago. The pitch is a lot nicer, the facilities are a lot better, the ground’s a lot better. We have go there and show them respect. We know they can have a turn in results anytime soon, and we’ve just got to make sure it’s not against us.”
Argyle will be without the duo of Brendan Galloway and Luke Jephcott for the fixture, as well as Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup replay against Sheffield Wednesday, due to international call-ups. Lowe is relaxed about their absence, though, trusting other members of his squad to deliver if given the opportunity.
He said: “Macaulay Gillesphey has been a bit unfortunate, really. Brendan has done fantastic. It gives him an opportunity to get into these next two games while Brendan is away – there’s no doubt in our minds he’s a quality player. He came here to be involved and be the left sided centre-back.
“It’s a battle between the two of them that’s been great and it’s ongoing. They’re good friends, and that’s what we want. When these opportunities come around we want them to take them.
“As for the strikers, we feel we’ve got enough depth there that we can use, whether that’s Kieran, Jordon Garrick, or Rhys Shirley. What we want to do is make sure that we’ve got a squad that can step in – these players are champing at the bit.”
Meanwhile, there is positive news on the injury front.
Lowe said: “George Cooper’s training with us full-time, it’s probably too soon for him for Saturday. Niall Ennis is on the grass, James Bolton will be on the grass from Monday. We’ll travel with a fully-fit squad apart from that.”
The Greens kick off at the Wham Stadium at 3pm on Saturday. If you can’t make the fixture, you can follow it live with Argyle TV, with audio commentary available for those based in the UK, and video streaming for overseas supporters.