LIAM Spence takes a look at the Pilgrims' fortunes during the month of January...Argyle’s New Year’s resolution was probably to maintain their play-off spot and continue in their pursuit of promotion from Sky Bet League 2, but these hopes have taken a blow with John Sheridan’s men failing to secure a win since the turn of the year – with our last victory coming against Dagenham & Redbridge, on December 20.
This coupled with the fact that the Pilgrims have collected just three points from a possible 15 and the loss of key loan players such as Anthony O’Connor and Andy Kellett has resulted in the Greens dropping from 7th to 10th position in the league.
Despite a poor run which was also hampered by an ever-lasting injury list, we remarkably remain in touch with the promotion pack sitting just three points behind seventh-placed Bury, so it looks like we have been given a chance to recapture our spot within the play-offs as well as our form before it is too late.
We can also take encouragement from our January additions with Ryan Brunt, Olly Lee, Drew Talbot, Tom Flanagan and the returning Bobby Reid coming in as we bid to repair the damage to our ship and kick-on at the rate of knots we expressed earlier in the season.
York 0-0 Argyle
Southend 0-0 Argyle
Argyle 0-1 Luton
Argyle 1-1 Morecambe
Hartlepool 3-2 Argyle
Argyle came into the New Year having suffered disappointment over the crucial Christmas period losing to Newport and Oxford, respectively, so they were looking to kick start 2015 with a positive result against Russ Wilcox’s York City, at Bootham Crescent. However, it was not to be as Argyle failed to capitalise on the numerical advantage that was presented to them through a 22nd minute dismal of former Pilgrim Stephane Zubar for a headbutt on Peter Hartley, as the game petered out into a 0-0 draw.
John was looking for a vast improvement from his side against fellow promotion contenders Southend United, but despite the far superior performance compared to the game against the Minstermen, the Greens fired a second consecutive blank but this time it was a point well earned from a tactically sound Argyle with debutant Tom Flanagan gaining a clean sheet, at Roots Hall.
The Pilgrims then returned to Home Park for the first time in 2015 to take on another promotion contender in Luton Town as they looked to do the double over the Hatters after winning 1-0 at Kenilworth Road. But it was John Still’s men who had the last word against an injury-stricken Argyle with Andy Drury’s 22nd minute effort finding the net as Argyle succumbed to a second successive home defeat.
It was then Morecambe who entered the Theatre of Greens and stood in the way of the Pilgrims’ first win of 2015 which looked likely after Reuben Reid registered his 14th goal of the campaign by latching onto a pitch perfect ball from his namesake Bobby to round the ‘keeper and coolly convert in first-half stoppage time. However, they were denied all three points in the 52nd minute when Jack Redshaw headed home from close range following a flick on from Stuart Drummond, much to the frustration of substitute ‘keeper James Bittner who made his first official Argyle appearance following the injury to Luke McCormick in the first half.
Argyle were then on their travels again, this time to bottom-of-the-league Hartlepool United, which presented them with their best opportunity to secure their first victory of the new year. But it was not to be with the strugglers registering a rare 3-2 win over the Pilgrims, with Jonathan Franks netting a brace and Scott Fenwick bagging the third, with goals from new signings Ryan Brunt and Olly Lee proving meaningless as Pools sent the Greens packing as the search for a win in 2015 continues.
January Stat Attack
Goals scored – 3
Goals conceded – 5
Clean sheets – 2
Points (from 15) – 3
League position at the start of the month – 7th
League position at the end of the month – 10th
Reuben Reid – 1
Ryan Brunt – 1
Olly Lee – 1
Quote of the Month
“When you are on a run like this, you have just got to stay positive and believe. We have got a good group of players – we have got to stay together and work hard and get back to winning ways.” (John Sheridan, post Hartlepool United)