Lew on Shrews
ON all available stats, the bigger surprise this Saturday will be not if Argyle fail to qualify for the Sky Bet League 2 play-offs but if Shrewsbury fail to beat the Pilgrims.
A Luton victory over Stevenage at Kenilworth Road, and an eight-goal swing between from Argyle to the Hatters, is the bookie-busting combination required to deny the Pilgrims a top-seven finish.
Given that Shrewsbury have lost just twice at home this season – and one of those defeats was to Premier League champions-in-waiting Chelsea in the Capital One Cup – that goal difference could yet be vital.
Not that anyone at Home Park is giving so much as a mental inch to the already-promoted Shrews, who will have their eyes on a still greater prize in front of a 10,000 crowd.
“We know we’re pretty much there, but stranger things have happened in football,” said striker Lewis Alessandra, whose goal in the 3-2 home win over Tranmere Rovers put the Pilgrims in their pre-eminent position.
“We’re just going to go, try and get a result, and to be professional. We know it’s a bit of a tall order, with their home form, and they can still mathematically win the league if Burton slip up. So we’re expecting a tough game, but we’ll be going there, trying to get a good result.
“It should be good. These are the games you should look forward to as a professional footballer – in front of sell-out crowds in the business end of the season. Everyone is looking forward to it.
“If we do go there and beat a Shrewsbury side that are trying to win the league, it gives you that belief, that ‘why not; why can’t we win the play-offs’? We have that anyway, but I’m sure it would improve that belief even more.”
Lewi will be without his regular strike partner at Greenhous Meadow, with Argyle manager John Sheridan deciding to let leading scorer Reuben Reid rest a longstanding foot injury.
“He’s been just trying to get through,” said Lewi. “We’ve never really had a chance to rest anyone really, so it has been tough quite a few times, and that’s probably shown in his return since the start of the season. It will be good for him; then, hopefully, he’ll be as close to 100% when he returns to training.”
Lewi’s game-clincher against Tranmere was his 13th goal of the season, an aimed-for year-on-year improvement.
He said: “It was my target before the season, just to better what I did previously. It was starting to irritate me a bit as I hadn’t scored in six or seven games; I had the chances, like in the Wimbledon game, when, on another night, I could’ve had a hat-trick.
“I didn’t let it get to me, I just kept training and working hard and not let it get to me.”