Keeping It Clean

ARGYLE’S defence is becoming increasingly renowned for its ability to shut out opposition attackers... such an extent so that approaching this weekend’s Sky Bet League 2 match with Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium, they have not conceded in close to nearly nine hours of league football.

The current club clean-sheet record is held by the 2003-2004 Second Division title-winning team under Paul Sturrock that did not concede in 642 minutes of league football between December- January. The run included some memorable wins, including the 7-0 win over Chesterfield at Home Park.

Similarities have been made between the defensive exploits of the 2003-04 team and the current Argyle outfit and considering the definite improvement in defensive cohesion this season, skipper and central defender Curtis Nelson was quick to praise all his defensive colleagues, and especially goalkeeper Luke McCormick.

“He’s a brilliant ’keeper and he’s showed it week in week out with the saves that he’s made,” said Curtis. “Obviously we have a good back four, including Luke, and the two wing-backs [Kelvin Mellor and Andy Kellett]; we have a good squad.”

In order to break the record, the current Argyle team needs to ensure they do not concede against Burton on Saturday and then not concede for the first 26 minutes of the Armed Forces Day game against Portsmouth at Home Park on November 15.

The ‘Fortress Home Park’ mentality that the players at the club have shown in recent weeks has seen the Pilgrims conceded just two league goals all season on their own turf.

“Everyone in the changing-room is starting to feel really confident at home” said Curtis, “and we’re starting to feel a lot more confident in our away games as well. Keeping a clean sheet against Wimbledon with two great strikers, and a good team and a good set-up, on a Tuesday night away was hugely positive.

“It was freezing cold, windy, and we managed to keep a clean sheet there.  I think we just have to carry on the form, take each game as it comes, and go and try and get the three points.”

Shutting out automatic promotion chasing Burton will not be an easy task considering they have scored at least an average of one goal per home game this season and are sitting pretty in the upper echelons of Sky Bet League 2.

Curtis said: “I don’t think there is going to be any complacency. I think the lads are very grounded anyway and I don’t think the coaching staff and the gaffer will allow us to get away with being complacent at all; especially us in the back four.”