Home at Home Park
ARGYLE manager John Sheridan sees his side’s game against Luton Town as the perfect chance to return to form and strengthen their push for promotion.
The Greens were unable to pick up a win in four games through late December and early January, taking two points from a possible twelve, with the only goal - courtesy of Lewis Alessandra - coming in their home defeat to Oxford United. That being said, with the exception of a poor display against York City that bemused Sheridan, the committed and classy performances that have defined Argyle’s season so far were still there.
The objective for John, then, is clear: turn good performances into victories, starting with another promotion-hunting team that whose form has stuttered in recent weeks. Luton themselves are without a win in four games, and a fixture against the Hatters at fortress Home Park, if you’d forgive the cliché, is a chance to re-establish themselves as a top three contender.
“The lads are positive,” said Sheridan. “I thought it was a decent performance last week against a strong team (Southend). We possibly could have won it if we had got the first goal, but I thought a draw was a fair result. It was a lot better performance than against York.
“I think we have played well at home, and we have done alright away from home. It is just a case of results. It is the little things, like getting the first goal.
“Our home form has been decent and I am pleased with the way we are playing at home. I think we look a threat and get teams on the back foot. It is our home form that is keeping us in the position we are at the moment – in and around the playoffs and automatic promotion.
“[Luton] are a team similar to ourselves. They want to get out the league, they are strong and I really like their manager [John Still]. He is a good, experienced manager.
“They have a strong squad, and are playing with a bit of confidence. Any team that comes up from the Conference usually stand themselves on good ground in this division. They are used to winning football matches and they have carried that on from last season.
“They are in a healthy position, but they will know they are in for a tough game on Saturday, and hopefully we will give them one.
“I am definitely going in confident. We are a very good team at home, and hopefully we will get back to winning ways.”
The gaffer’s confidence will have been boosted by a near fully-fit squad, although an injury picked up by Ollie Norburn in a development fixture during midweek continues to be assessed. Peter Hartley, who pulled up with a recurrence of a hip injury against York, will definitely miss out.
“It just a bit of a back spasm,” said John, on Ollie. “We will assess him; he is not training today (Thursday) and we will just see how he is. The back is a funny injury, you have got to be careful with your back, so we will see how he is tomorrow.
“Pete will not be fit but he is coming along fine. He is feeling good and hopefully he will not be too far away. He is improving all the time, and is just about the feedback I get off of Paul [Atkinson, the club physio], and the day-to-day report is that he is getting better.”
The game against the Hatters kicks off a period of four games that Sheridan has marked down as key to their season’s ambitions, with three home games in quick succession offering the Pilgrims a chance to improve on their current seventh place in Sky Bet League 2.
“It is a big time, this,” said John. “We have got four games where we can really get in the mix, or your season could fade away possibly, if you are not getting the results you want.
“We have got to try and catch up, with what we lost over Christmas. It will be a good confidence boost if we can get a win on Saturday.
“It is three games out of four at home, starting with Luton who are probably the toughest on paper, so if we can get a good, positive result against one of the teams who are favourites for promotion, it will hopefully stand us in good stead.
“We have got 21 games left now, so there are loads of points to play for.”