Ahead of the Game - Under Starters Orders
WITH a big week on the horizon, LIAM SPENCE gives us the the runners and riders for the next seven days...
JUST two weeks removed from the major horse racing festival, Argyle are getting prepared for their own version of Cheltenham Week.
On Saturday, John Sheridan’s men travel to the Abbey Business Stadium to face Cheltenham Town in the 39th game of the Sky Bet League 2 season. Should Argyle clear the hurdle of the Robins, it will give some sorely needed momentum as we climb the hill into the final furlong.
Before that, we play our fourth and final group game of the Final Third Development League Cup when we, coincidentally, take on the Robins at their Cheltenham Training Ground on Tuesday, at 2pm – a win here will see us top the Southern Group B table and secure progress to the Semi-Finals of the competition.
John Sheridan’s Greens will be looking, on Saturday, to secure their first away win since the historic 3-1 triumph over local rivals Exeter City, with the (comparatively) short trip up the M5 to Cheltenham.
The Robins have had a season which has seen them spiral down the league table with the club going through three different managers and only managing to win once in their last 26 league games. Their most recent defeat came at the hands of Exeter; Jordan Moore-Taylor’s late own-goal was merely a consolation as earlier goals from Tom Nichols and Graham Cummins were enough for the Grecians to seal the win.
This poor run of form sees Russell Milton’s side staring relegation from the Football League directly in the face as they sit in 23rd position and in desperate need of points.
So Argyle will be looking to capitalise on this confidence-stricken side and secure three precious points that will move us one step closer to solidifying a play-off place.
What is even more promising is that the last time we locked horns with the Robins away from home, we secured a comfortable 3-1 win. First-half goals from Marvin Morgan, Conor Hourihane and Romauld Boco secured the three points earlier on in last season’s campaign.
Likewise, we scored three goals against the Robins when they made the trip to the Theatre of Greens earlier this season as goals from Reuben Reid, Peter Hartley and Lewi Alessandra saw Argyle trot to victory on the bridle.
A win here could see us rise to as high as sixth, with just seven games remaining, as every point continues to increase in value and the season’s climax moves closer.
Home Park’s busy week does not stop there though, as we will play host to an England International match for the first time in 25 years when our national side’s Under 20s team host USA, on Sunday, with Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions and their American counterparts set to commence battle at 3pm.
This will see the return to Plymouth of some familiar faces as Torpoint-born defender Jack Stephens and ‘keeper Christian Walton, both products of Argyle’s youth system, are in the England squad. Jack made five appearances for the Pilgrims before moving to Southampton just shy of his 18th birthday, while Truro-born Christian left Argyle at the age of 17 to join Brighton & Hove Albion.
Tickets to watch some of England’s brightest young talent are priced at £3 for adults and £1.50 for concessions.
On Tuesday, the Plymouth Argyle Cornish Supporters Association will be celebrating its 20th anniversary by hosting a Nostalgia Night with former manager Paul Sturrock, who will be reminiscing on the Pilgrims’ title-winning seasons of 2001-02 and 2003-04 at Bodmin Town’s Priory Park, at 7.30pm.