Ahead of the Game - Going Up to Oxford

DESPAIR turned into joy...

...as we returned to Home Park with a vital 2-0 victory over Northampton Town that catapulted the Pilgrims back into the play-off places following the last-gasp 89th-minute strike from Bruno Andrade which saw us suffer disappointment away at Stevenage.

Our attention now turns to the next huge fixture in our Sky Bet League 2 play-off push with a trip to the Kassam Stadium to take on Michael Appleton’s Oxford United on Saturday. 

Before that, we play the third – but not final – of our Final Third Development League Cup group matches against Bristol City on Tuesday, at the Robins’ SGS College Wise Campus ground (2pm).

In recent history, the Kassam Stadium has been a happy stomping ground for John Sheridan’s men with goals from Caolan Lavery and a brace from Reuben Reid besting an Asa Hall strike and Neal Trotman’s own goal to secure a 3-2 victory last season.

Oxford have had a poor season so far by their standards, with the side in 18th going into this fixture, but they will buoyed by their 1-0 away victory over Argyle’s fellow promotion-chasers Bury – with Callum O’Dowda capitalising on the 65th-minute sending off of Adam El-Abd by scoring the winner in the 85th minute. 

The Us can also take confidence from the fact that they have beaten the Greens this season, with Aaron Bentley’s sending-off on December 28 when Argyle were 1-0 up and dominating, allowng John Campbell and James Roberts to capitalise on the numerical advantage in what was a valiant display by the depleted Pilgrims, at Home Park. 

Appleton’s men also have a familiar face among their ranks with former Pilgrim Alex MacDonald having joined the club in the January transfer window. The skilful attacking forward made 35 appearances and scored six goals in a double loan spell at Home Park, with the Scotsman joining on loan in the 2011-12 season and returning again for a short spell in the 2012-13 campaign. 

There is no margin for error at this crucial time of the season with a win seeing Argyle potentially rise to as high as 5th, while the three points for Oxford could see them climb four places to 14th. 

Argyle are undefeated in their four-team Final Third League Development League group after two home games, having drawn 3-3 with Portsmouth and beaten Newport County 2-1.

They are scheduled to complete their programme of matches on Tuesday, March 24, when they visit Cheltenham.