IT has been a long week-and-a-half for Conor Hourihane.After losing the Devon Expressway Derby to Exeter City, the Argyle captain and his team-mates had a few days off to recharge the batteries, as the Pilgrims had a very rare Saturday with no fixture.
While the body was rested and recharged, the mind undoubtedly will have wandered back to the 2-1 defeat at Home Park more than once.
But now, onwards; on Saturday, Argyle travel to Burton Albion, a side five points away from automatic promotion and with a decent home record. Conor, understandably, is eager to pull on the strip again and get back to the serious business of breaking back into the top seven.
“It’s been a long wait,” said the skipper.
“That’s the way it is though; we don’t really think about it. We had a few days off after the Exeter game. It was something that we were all disappointed about, but sometimes it’s good to get away from the ground, get away from training and refresh ourselves for the last seven games.
“We’re going to try to get as many points from them as possible. Hopefully it will be enough to get us in the play-offs.”
The Sky Bet League 2 table currently shows Argyle in ninth place, four points behind the trio of Southend United, Oxford United and York City, but having played a game less than those three fellow contenders.
Keeping an eye on the table is somewhat of a forbidden fruit in football – but Conor admits to some cursory glances from time to time.
“It’s hard not to look at it,” he said. “After the Exeter game I tried hard not to look at it – with games so far away it would drive you mad. But when you have games coming so thick and fast, things can change so quickly.
“I think Oxford have been drawn back in, which is good. It is better to have two out of four than one out of three. I think that’s the way it is looking now: Southend, Oxford, York and ourselves fighting for two places. It’s something we’re striving to get in to. Having momentum at this time of year, going in to the play-off places, it’s very important.”
Oxford visit Home Park on April 12 in a game which could have huge ramifications for the play-off race. Oxford also have to play York during the run-in, while the Minstermen themselves also have to visit top two Rochdale and Scunthorpe. Three of Southend’s remaming games are against teams in the top five.
“It’s going to be a massive game,” said Conor, of Oxford’s impending visit.
“There’s going to be twists and turns throughout the last seven games. I know a couple of the lads at York. I’ve been speaking to them and there’s a little bit of banter going around. I’ve seen York’s fixtures and they’ve got a couple of tough ones.
“It’s going to be an interesting finish.”