LIAM Spence takes a look ahead to a very big week for Argyle, with two huge games in the next six days...
A REUBEN Reid header which hit both crossbar and post before going agonisingly close to crossing the goal-line was the nearest Argyle came to breaking the deadlock on an unpredictable Oxford United pitch, at the Kassam Stadium.
However, attention now turns to the most important double bill of fixtures so far this season with the Pilgrims set to lock horns with Dagenham & Redbridge and fellow promotion contenders Newport County – as just ten games remain in our pursuit of a play-off spot.
John Sheridan’s Greens will be looking to consolidate their place among the play-offs and complete the double over Wayne Burnett’s Dagenham when they travel to the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium, on Tuesday night.
Argyle come into this game with the positive omen of beating the Daggers on the last three occasions, with the most recent triumph coming this season at Home Park in a comprehensive 3-0 win that came courtesy of a brace from Reuben and one from his namesake Bobby Reid.
As for our latest victory in East London, Reuben opened the scoring when he reacted quickest to Conor Hourihane’s free-kick that struck the post after just five minutes. Parity was then restored when Zavon Hines slotted home on the stroke of half time but Argyle went onto regain the lead and secure the three points when Lewi Alessandra’s superb volley sailed into the top corner to secure the 2-1 win.
Reuben, in fact, has been a thorn in Dagenham’s side in all three of these successful meetings with the talisman scoring four goals.
The Daggers come into this game off the back of a 3-1 home defeat to Argyle’s fellow promotion contenders Southend United, with Ayo Obileye’s single goal proving meaningless as strikes from Joe Pigott, former Pilgrim Ryan Leonard and Barry Corr condemned Burnett’s side to defeat.
Argyle will be looking to capitalise on this vulnerability, and with the East London side only picking up four points from their last four home games, the Pilgrims will be going into this one with high hopes of securing the precious three points.
Likewise, our Saturday opponents Newport have suffered a dip in form, with the Welsh Club now finding themselves two points adrift of the play-off places after only managing to pick up one point from their last three games.
However, before Jimmy Dack’s side make the trip to Home Park, his side will have a chance to potentially regain a spot among the play-offs when they take on another promotion candidate in the form of John Still’s Luton Town on Tuesday.
Despite the Exiles recent poor run of form they come into this one with a victory on the board over us, after we succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Rodney Parade, with former Pilgrim Chris Zebroski and Mark Byrne securing the points for the Welsh side.
It is a completely different ball game when sides come to the Theatre of Greens though, with Argyle boasting one of the best defensive records in the Football League and having only suffered four defeats at home all season.
At Home Park, we have picked up 36 points from the 54 available so far this season and with just four games – after the Newport game has been contested – remaining at home it is essential that we continue to rack up the points on home soil.
Picking up maximum points in these two games this week could see us rise to as high as fourth place, which with just eight games remaining after these two matches, would go a long way to cementing a play-off place.