Ahead Of The Game - Pomp and Ceremony
WE take a look at the week ahead, with Liam Spence...Argyle booked their place in the second round of the FA Cup, after securing a 2-0 victory over non-leaguers AFC Fylde. But their cup exploits do not stop there...
On Monday night, at 7pm on BBC Two, John Sheridan’s men will find out who they have been drawn against in the second round of the cup. Then, on Wednesday, the Pilgrims will travel to the Ricoh Arena to take on Sky Bet League 1 side Coventry City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern section quarter-finals. League duties will then recommence against dockyard rivals Portsmouth, on Saturday – live on Sky Sports - in our Armed Services Day fixture.
Argyle will be looking to secure progression to the JPT southern section semi-final and claim another scalp over higher league opposition when they meet Steven Pressley’s Coventry.
The Greens reached this stage of the competition after beating Swindon Town 3-2 at Home Park, with Lewis Alessandra netting a brace and Deane Smalley getting on the score sheet, while the hosts booked their place in the round with a 3-1 home victory over Exeter City.
It has not been plain-sailing for the Sky Blues, who have only won once in their last five league games and also suffered a shock first-round FA Cup defeat at the hands of non-league Worcester City, with the minnows edging it 2-1. In contrast the Pilgrims, with the victory over AFC Fylde, extended their unbeaten run to eight matches and will be looking to capitalise on Coventry’s poor run of form.
The West Midlands side boast a former Pilgrim amongst their ranks in club captain Reda Johnson, who donned the Green and White shirt 44 times and scored two goals in a two-year spell at the club, and Argyle will have to be wary of his dangerous aerial threat from set pieces; he scored City's only goal in their cup defeat on Sunday with a header from a free-kick.
Coventry recently returned to the Ricoh Arena after spending last season in exile at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium. The last time Argyle played the Sky Blues at the Ricoh was in March 2010, when we were still in the Championship. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Kari Arnason giving us the lead on the stroke of half time before Michael McIndoe struck shortly after the break to share the spoils.
Attention turns back to the league and our annual Armed Services Day game against Portsmouth at Home Park, which kicks-off at 12:05pm, and is televised live on Sky Sports.
We will be honoured by the internationally renowned Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Plymouth, who will be making their first ever appearance at the Theatre of Greens.
Argyle go into the game having won our last six home fixtures. As for Andy Awford’s men, they have had a mixed bag of results, with Pompey securing a comfortable 3-0 win over Carlisle in their most recent league fixture, but being forced into a first round FA Cup replay by non-league Aldershot Town, after the game finished 2-2.
The two fixtures between the dockyard clubs, last season, both ended in the points being shared, with the home fixture, which was also televised on Sky Sports, ending in a 1-1 draw. On that occasion, former Argyle captain Conor Hourihane put the Pilgrims into the lead after 21 minutes, before it was cancelled out by a 39th-minute strike from Jed Wallace.
The return fixture on the last day of the 2013-14 season, at Fratton Park, was a dead rubber, but it was played as though it was anything but. Six goals were shared between the sides, with Argyle showing resiliency by coming from behind on three occasions to cancel out a Danny Hollands hat-trick.