And So It Begins...

ARGYLE’S autumnal whistle-stop tour of England is underway, with the Pilgrim team bus having departed Home Park for Dagenham at lunchtime on Monday.

With trips to Oxford and Burnley also scheduled within eight days, the burdens upon management and players will be as much mental as they are physical.

Manager Carl Fletcher will make sure that everyone, as the cliché has it, takes one challenge at a time.

He said: “Because we have got so many games in such a short space of time, and so much travelling, it’s important, that we make sure we are not bombarding [the players] too much with information.

“You can deal with the physical side but sometimes it can be mentally draining if you go from one game, thinking out what you need to do, straight into the next one.

“We have to be careful at what times we tell them what we want, what we need and what’s expected.”

There will, however, be little time for dwelling on Saturday’s 2-0 opening-day defeat by Aldershot own at Home Park. The data has been processed, the lessons assimilated.

“We are obviously disappointed with the scoreline,” said Fletch. “The interesting thing is that, performance-wise, we were a lot better than we beat them at the end of last season.

“In football, you try to get both performance and result but sometimes it just doesn’t happen like that.

“We kept the ball, created chances, and pretty much had full control of the match, but it wasn’t to be.

“You are disappointed, which is natural, but you force yourself to get over it because you’ve got to move on to the next one.

“You can’t dwell on it to much and I think that’s a key thing: you can’t get too high or low, too overexcited with wins or too down on yourself with defeats.

“It’s a long, hard, season and you have got to keep an even keel as much as possible.”

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Stadium – or just plain Victoria Road, if you will – has been a happy hunting ground for the Pilgrims in their last couple of visits.

Indeed, if you ignore the ignominy of being dumped out of the FA Cup there when the Daggers were still a non-league team, it has been a win-win venue.

“It never affected me when I played, never really made a difference,” said Fletch, “but it’s funny how results seem to go like that. Hopefully we can keep that continued.

“It helps when you can look back to your last game and it was a great win for us last year at Dagenham – last minute and emotions were high; it was good day for everyone involved.

“I hope we can do something similar but we know it’s going to be a real tough. We have to make sure we’re ready for it.”

Ready, too, for what may be a physical test from a side that plays to its strengths.