ARGYLE take their long unbeaten Sky Bet League 2 run to the Pirelli Stadium this Saturday, edging closer to a new club clean sheet record.The current record of 642 minutes of without conceding a league goal was set in the 2003-04 Second Division promotion season. John Sheridan and his side are currently 13 minutes shy of nine hours shutting out the opposition, and they now need a clean sheet against Burton this weekend - plus a blank first 26 minutes of the Armed Services Day home fixture with Portsmouth - to set a new mark.
Although setting a new defensive record would be something of which the players and staff could be proud, Performance Manager John Harbin voiced a higher aim when he said: “They’re nice records to have but the end of the season’s about whether we get promoted or not; the week after the season end, no-one will be talking about the records.”
Goalkeeper Luke McCormick, one of those in line to break the current record, was between the posts when the current record was set and is now benefiting from a lot of work behind the scenes with fellow custodian James Bittner, and goalkeeping coach Rhys Wilmot, which has kept him from picking the ball out of his own net in a long while.
“Luke deserves all the praise he gets,” said John, “but there’s a team there. I don’t think James Bittner has had his name in the paper this year but Bitts and Rhys are very good with Luke and they’re the team behind the keeper.
John also feels that 31-year-old Luke’s maturity – ten years on from the record-breaking run – has had an important effect at the club along with other members of the 'older brigade”'.
He said: “You talk about Peter Harley and Luke McCormick, and the good thing about it is that the older brigade, because of their nature, has had a domino effect; it’s brought the best out of the younger ones.
“The younger ones aren’t frightened to offer an opinion anymore because they know they’re not going to get shot down; their opinion is respected and accepted and Luke and Peter deserve a lot of credit for that.”