MARCH has proved to be a difficult nut to crack with Argyle finding themselves dipping in and out of the play-offs...
...but it seems that our yo-yoing form has reached a checkpoint with the Greens successfully making it to the end of month in the all important top seven of Sky Bet League Two with just seven games remaining.
Argyle’s sporadic run of March results which wreaked havoc with the fans’ emotions was perhaps in part down to the departure of Drew Talbot – a vital cog in the Pilgrim engine – with the versatile player having to return to his parent club Chesterfield whilst we were travelling up to East London to take on Dagenham & Redbridge.
Despite the unrest this created - further emphasised by the eventual 2-0 defeat to the Daggers and the failure to score in the two games that followed - John Sheridan was able to stabilise the ship with the loan signings of Charlton forward Zak Ansah and versatile Everton youngster Gethin Jones until the end of the season – with the former making an immediate impact in our 3-0 win against Cheltenham Town.
Stevenage 1-0 Argyle
Argyle 2-0 Northampton
Oxford United 0-0 Argyle
Dagenham & Redbridge 2-0 Argyle
Argyle 0-0 Newport
Cheltenham 0-3 Argyle
John Sheridan’s men came into the month off the back of a 2-0 home defeat to fellow promotion contenders Bury which saw them drop out of the play-off places, so Argyle were looking to recapture their place among the promotion hopefuls when they travelled to yet another promotion-aspiring side in Stevenage.
However, it was Graham Westley’s Boro who were triumphant with Bruno Andrade’s heart-breaking 89th-minute strike condemning the Greens to their second successive defeat. The result saw Boro draw level on points and add further heat to the play-off chase.
After suffering the disappointment of defeat and with a potential third beckoning, Argyle returned to Home Park and reacted in the best possible way by securing a 2-0 win over an in-form Northampton Town.
Anthony O’Connor opened the scoring after 28 minutes when he latched onto Bobby Reid’s pass to powerfully drive home his 18-yard strike and score his first goal for the Pilgrims, before the three points and a place back among the play-offs was confirmed when the fleet-footed Lewi Alessandra danced around a helpless Cobblers’ duo to slot into an open net.
Buoyed by their win over Chris Wilder’s Cobblers, Argyle set their sights on securing back-to-back victories when they travelled to the Kassam Stadium to take on Michael Appleton’s Oxford United.
However, the game failed to live up to expectations as it petered out into a 0-0 draw. Reuben Reid came closest to breaking the deadlock when his header came off the underside of the crossbar. Despite failing to secure the three points against the U’s we managed to maintain our play-off spot as Stevenage were held to a 1-1 draw by Cambridge United.
At Dagenham, goals from Abu Ogogo and the ever-present Jamie Cureton saw the home side home and saw us fall out of the precious play-off places.
A return to Home Park led to another stalemate – this time against Newport - but having secured a crucial point against Jimmy Dack’s sode, all Green eyes cast towards our trip up the M5 to Whaddon Road to take on a struggling Cheltenham side that had failed to win in their last 26 league games.
This offered up a perfect opportunity to force ourselves back into the play-offs, and it was an offer we grabbed with both hands as Reuben scored his 18th and 19th goals of the season before debutant Zak Ansah added some gloss to the emphatic 3-0 scoreline with a precise headed effort that nestled into the bottom left corner.
March Stat Attack
Goals scored – 5
Goals conceded – 3
Clean sheets – 4
Points (from 18) – 8
League position at the start of the month – 8th
League position at the end of the month – 7th
Reuben Reid – 2
Lewi Alessandra – 1
Anthony O’Connor – 1
Zak Ansah – 1
Goals of the Month
1. Lewi Alessandra v Northampton
2. Reuben Reid’s first goal v Cheltenham
3. Zak Ansah v Cheltenham
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