MAINTAINING good habits and one final run of consistent form is what John Sheridan wants from his Argyle side as they contest for a place in the play-offs.
Whilst the Pilgrims’ Sky Bet League 2 season has certainly had its fair share of twists and turns, one thing has remained staggeringly consistent: Argyle’s defensive record, which continues to top leaderboards across England and the rest of Europe.
The 20 clean sheets racked up by Luke McCormick and his teammates have helped the Greens uphold a goal difference much greater than other teams chasing the top seven and promotion, so Sheridan knows that preserving that advantage could prove key to their success come the end of the season.
“We have got a really good record. I think it’s 20 clean sheets, so a lot of credit has to go to the players,” said John.
“To have a record like that is a great achievement and obviously over the last couple of games getting goals has been the problem, but it was pleasing to score three goals again and no goals against.
“It could be really important at the end of the season, the goal difference. Ours is good and when you look at how tight things are at the moment, it gives you that little bit of an advantage. It could come into play towards the end of the season.”
Argyle’s Good Friday fixture against Burton Albion is a stand-out fixture among a number of League 2 games featuring teams similarly placed to them: chasing the top seven, looking for three points at home. Sheridan understandably casts an eye over all the games that matter to his team, but is much more focused on making sure the results of those games are made null and void by successful showings from the Greens.
“I do know who’s playing who, but I think we have just got to concentrate on ourselves,” said John.
“If we win our games, we will be where we want to be. We are just concentrating on getting three points from each game. I know that it’s tight but results are very hard to predict in this division.
"I’ve said all along that it’s about the team with most consistency. I wouldn’t like to say who is the best team we’ve played this season, because I feel anyone can beat anyone on their day. We’ve had really hard games against teams who are in the lower regions, and we’ve done alright against the teams who are going really well at the moment.
“The main thing is getting in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if you finish fourth or seventh, in my eyes, because everyone is fighting for the same thing. I felt as though our form dipped with the lack goals but then there was last week, and the second half against Newport I thought we played well.
“We have just got to maintain it and pick something up from each game. Preferably we want three points but if it has to be a point, you take it and move on to the next game. I’ve said all along that it could go until the last game. I did have a points target, but I don’t feel as though we are going to need that many now.
“There are still teams below us like Stevenage, Northampton, even AFC Wimbledon and Exeter, that will feel as if they’ve still got a chance of getting in the playoffs. We just need to concentrate on ourselves, and that’s what I’m going to try to do over the last few games.”