Keep It Clean

ARGYLE’S ten-year best clean-sheet sequence is likely to receive a stiff examination this weekend, when the Pilgrims make the long journey to York.

The 2003-04 season – when, coincidentally, Luke McCormick was Argyle goalkeeper – was the last time before last Saturday that the Pilgrims had gone four matches without conceding.

With just two goals conceded in a longer streak of a single defeat in their last six games, it is a no-brainer that Argyle’s no-goalers have laid the foundations for perked-up Sky Bet League 2 and FA Cup form.

“We’re doing okay at the moment,” said manager John Sheridan. “We’re improving. We’re creating more chances. We’re not playing great, but we’re keeping clean-sheets. That’s a good start, but I’d like us to play a lot better; I’d like us to believe in ourselves a lot better because I know we can play.

“We’ve played in patches and we are getting better as a unit and getting used to the system, but I think there is lots for improvement. After a bad run, we’re on a little run of keeping clean-sheets, but we’re playing catch-up, and, sometimes, draws aren’t as good as you want, so we know the importance of trying to win games.”

It is all down to a collective will not to give an inch, says John.

“Desire not to concede a goal,” he replied, when asked what the secret to the shut-outs was. “If you don’t concede a goal, you have always got a chance of winning. Full credit to whoever’s played – it’s 1 to 11, not just the defenders and the ’keeper. We work very hard to make it as hard as possible for the opposition to give us problems.”

They will need to work had at Bootham Crescent, too. Few things are certain in football, but York’s current eye for the main chance is pretty much a given.

“They are scoring goals,” said John. “They put four past Portsmouth earlier on; four past Scunthorpe; three at Bristol [Rovers] last week. So we know what to expect – it will be a very tough game – but we’ve stood up and defended really well and I am sure we can cause them one or two problems, going forward.

“When we are under the cosh, we have got to stick together and hopefully see it through. Hopefully, we will have opportunities in the game, and we have got to take them when we do.”