2014-15 in Review - Top Five Away Games
IN amassing 71 points during the 2014-15 Sky Bet League 2 season, Argyle registered just 26 of those on the road.
In addition, we played two away games in the cups, both at League 1 opposition, losing to Coventry and Sheffield United, as well as a defeat at Wycombe Wanderers in the play-off semi-final.
Despite it not being the finest season away from Home Park, Argyle did win seven times on the road, and among them were some excellent performances and memorable experiences. Here, we give our top five...
5) Northampton 2 Argyle 3 – Sky Bet League 2. Saturday, December 13, 2014
Were it not for a late wobble that threatened to ruin a superb opening 80 minutes, this match would be higher on this list.
Argyle, at a place that has been kind to us in recent years, travelled to Sixfields on a bitterly cold December afternoon, but warmed the cockles of 565 visiting Pilgrims with a classic away performance in the first half. A second minute header by Peter Hartley put Argyle in front and, though the Cobblers had their share of possession, the Greens gave no quarter, and kept the sheet clean.
Before the break, a scintillating run from Andy Kellett left four defenders dazed and bedazzled, and a cool clip over goalkeeper Matt Duke in front of the Green Army was the perfect conclusion to the half.
Lewi Alessandra – who always scores against Northampton – added a third, and Argyle were home and dry....right?
Go to Google and type in the words: ‘home and dry meaning’. You will find the following pop up in the info box, as an example of the correct usage of the phrase: "at 3–0 up they should have been home and dry." Well, as Argyle took a foot off their gas pedal, Northampton placed a heavy size 10 Doc Marten on theirs, and got back in it.
First Ivan Toney, then Stuart Murdoch got goals for the home side, who put Argyle under ferocious pressure in the closing stages. Curtis Nelson dislocated his elbow for the cause – and still did not want to go off until forced – and Argyle held on.
The result was significant on wider perspective. To this point, Argyle had dug out 1-0 wins at Luton and Tranmere, but had lost five and drawn two of the other seven league outings on the road, as well as losing at Sheffield United and Coventry City in cup ties. This was easily the best all-round away day to that point.
4) Cheltenham 0 Argyle 3 – Sky Bet League 2. Saturday, March 28, 2015
In the six games immediately preceding this trip, Argyle had managed just two goals, with both coming in a 2-0 win at home to Northampton three weekends previous. However, hopes were high that at faltering Cheltenham, matters would significantly improve.
The previous season Argyle had twice travelled to the Abbey Business Stadium and scored three each time. Earlier in this campaign, the Greens had won 3-0 at Home Park. It was a trend to be continued.
Argyle had been well on top without scoring before Carl McHugh received the ball in his own half just after the half hour mark, and when looking around, saw little on. Instead, he strolled forward himself, carving a deep gash in the Robins midfield and drawing enough attention to give Reuben Reid some space. A clipped throughball and a smart finish later, and Argyle led.
Reid added a second half second and substitute Zak Ansah a third to give the Pilgrims their most comfortable away victory of the season.
3) Shrewsbury 0 Argyle 2 – Sky Bet League 2. Saturday, May 2, 2015
Going into this final game of the league season, Argyle needed a point to secure a play-off place. In truth, even a defeat was likely to still herald a spot in the top four, with a comfortable goal difference cushion over the only other challenger for the spot, Luton Town.
Rather than cruise over the line, Argyle turned it on, and tried their hardest to put a dampener on the day for already promoted Shrewsbury. With just two minutes played, Bobby Reid turned home Kelvin Mellor’s cross and Argyle led. Reid and Mellor would continue to be pivotal figures, as the latter added a second towards the end of the first half, and the former ran the show throughout.
Ultimately, Argyle could have rolled over, had their tummy tickled and lost 3-0, and would still have taken a play-off berth. There is something very satisfying, though, in outplaying a promoted team on their own patch.
2) Wycombe 0 Argyle 2 – Sky Bet League 2. Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Of the seven away wins for Argyle in 2014-15 – the same number as in 2013-14 – three of the venues in which we gained all three points were grounds where we had done the same in the previous campaign. Northampton and Cheltenham have been covered, above; the third was probably the best of the lot.
Since a terrific Tuesday night in Buckinghamshire in February we have had a far worse experience at Wycombe’s Adams Park, but on the original occasion Argyle were smashing.
Ten days earlier a lacklustre Argyle had meekly lost their previous away game at bottom club Hartlepool, but this was a dismantling of a Chairboys outfit who were second at the time, and unbeaten in eleven games.
Argyle, with Tareiq Holmes-Dennis making his debut and Drew Talbot his second start, dominated a first half punctuated by goals from Alessandra and Hartley, then sternly fended off Wycombe after the break.
It was a classic away performance, in which Argyle time and again exposed Wycombe’s high defensive line, and by the time the home side had figured out how to stop their visitors, they were 2-0 and paddling upstream.
1) Exeter 1 Argyle 3 – Sky Bet League 2. Saturday, February 21, 2015
It is not hard to make the connection between an away win over your nearest rivals – the first on their patch since 2001 - and it making number one on this list, but there is more to this game than simply getting one over the neighbours.
This represented one of the high points of the season, without even taking into account the opposition. It was a fourth consecutive win, placing Argyle in sixth position. At that stage we were above Bury, who would ultimately achieve automatic promotion, on goal difference.
The day itself was special. Reuben Reid’s hat-trick, two striker’s efforts either side of a well-taken penalty, was the first ever by an Argyle player at St James Park, and only the third against Exeter, ever.
With Argyle 2-1 up, Olly Lee was sent off, leaving Argyle a goal up but a man down. The decision rankled, not least because it looked as though Matt Oakley could have seen red for bringing down Alessandra for the penalty earlier on.
Reid’s third, though, put the game beyond City, and although he was injured in scoring it – and, truthfully, would not be the same all season – it was a wonderful moment. For Reuben, for the club, for the Green Army.
Devon is green.