A Tale Of Two Clubs

ARGYLE’S start to the 2012-13 season is not exactly textbook.

To begin with, the Pilgrims’ open with a cup game, rather than, league.

Then there is the opposition – Portsmouth, who as of about 30 hours ahead of Tuesday evening’s Capital One Cup fixture at Home Park, had only nine youth-team players on their books.

The price that the npower League 1 side has paid for apparently surviving liquidation has been to shed all its high earners, a situation Argyle were in only too recently.

Portsmouth have fielded trialists of decent pedigree during some encouraging pre-season games, although Pilgrims’ manager Carl Fletcher does not know whether any will feature in the Home Park curtain-raiser.

“I think we’re going to have to wait for the team-sheet to come in to see who they have got on their books,” said Fletch, who reported a clean bill of health apart from long-term absentees Jamie Lowry and Durrell Berry.

“We have been watching them a few times over pre-season and, whoever they have had out, their performances have been real good.

“They have had some big names playing for them: Jon Harley, Izale McLeod, who was at Barnet last year; Luke Rogers; Brian Howard. They are all good players.

“At the end of the day, it’s 11 against 11 on the pitch. Even if they are youngsters, they are going to be very good players.

“Like we had last year, a lot of the young players will have been involved, playing for and training with the first team.

“Whoever comes, it is still going to be a very tough game and one that we are going to have to work very hard at to get something out of.

“The situation is out of our hands, we can’t do anything about. The most important thing in the long run, especially from Portsmouth’s point of view, is that they have a football club.

“We are just trying to concentrate on what we have to do.”

The empathy between the two clubs – Argyle fans are fund-raising for the Pompey Fans Trust - will not dissipate the traditional rivalry associated with Guz v Pompey encounters, and may add to the occasion.

Fletch said: “The relationship between Plymouth and Portsmouth should make for a good crowd, and their travelling support rivals our travelling support, so it should be a good atmosphere.

“We had fans from all other clubs helping us when we were in trouble and it’s only right that we help them in this situation they find themselves in.

“It is quite ironic that we can relate to what they are going through. It must be horrible for everyone involved.”

The match could see competition debuts for new striker Rhys Griffiths and winger Johnny Gorman although Fletch, naturally, was keeping his opening line-up close to his chest.

“We have got a decent mix,” he said. “We’ve got some good options, especially attacking wise.

“We’re looking forward to it. You need pre-season, but it’s good to get it out of the way.

“It’s a little bit weird that we have not had a league game before we’ve had a cup game – it’s the first year that it’s happened – but it’s our first competitive game.”