On The Front Foot

PETER Hartley is ready prove his belief that Argyle are a match for any Sky Bet League 2 side in their “massive game” against Portsmouth.

The Greens will go into the game against their Dockyard Derby rivals on Saturday after two excellent performances, with differing end results. After kicking off the season with a 2-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon, Argyle went ahead against League 1 side Gillingham in their Capital One Cup first round tie, before conceding two late goals at Home Park.

“I thought we played very well in parts,” said Peter. “We had a decent game plan going into the game, as we did on Saturday, and I thought for 80 minutes, we followed it through well.

“You would rather be in a situation like that, where you can affect the outcome, rather than a situation where you’re getting popped off the park 4-0 or 5-0, and you’re thinking ‘what’s going on here?’ 

“Their keeper definitely worked more than Luke [McCormick] did. The boys worked hard and we looked like a fit team, so I think there’s going to be exciting times to come."

A win for the Pilgrims against Portsmouth would see Argyle record consecutive victories in their opening two league games for the first time in almost 40 years. At the beginning of the 1978-79 season, Malcolm Allison’s side began the campaign with a 3-1 victory away at Chesterfield, before a 2-1 home win against Lincoln City.

With a five-figure crowd expected at Home Park, Hartley is confident they can replicate that feat achieved by the likes of Gary Megson and Fred Binney, by defeating a side tipped by many for promotion this season. 

“It’s a massive game,” said Peter. “They’ve bought a lot of players who have played a higher level, with good quality. 

“It’s a completely different team, so we can’t expect to have the game that we had last season, with regards to how we broke them down so early on, and how easy the game seemed to be for us. 

“I think we’ll start on the front foot, like we did last season. I watched them last night against Derby and thought they played really well, even though they made seven changes. I watched the way they played, and they look like they use the full backs very well. 

“He [manager Paul Cook] seems to have strength in depth, and obviously Paul is a well-proven manager at this level. But I look at the quality we’ve got in our dressing room and think we’re more than capable of beating anybody. 

“We’re going to go in there to win the game. We’re at home, we want to win our home games, and you’ve got to do that if you want to be in the top part of the league come the end of the season.

“It’s going to be a tough game but I’d like to think that the best team comes out on top, which will be us on the day."

When asked about the atmosphere the Green Army could create on Saturday, Peter said: “It’s like a Championship game, isn’t it? It’s crazy. 

“It seems to get the best out of us, so long may that continue.”