IT is testimony to both the expectations upon the Argyle team and the stage of the Sky Bet League 2 season that Drew Talbot refers to two successive defeats as “a rot”.
Like everyone of a Green hue, the Pilgrims’ wing-back was brought to his knees at Stevenage on Tuesday by the home side’s last-minute breakaway winner.
That late heartbreaker followed a 2-0 home loss to Bury three days earlier, meaning Argyle had not only failed to further establish their promotion credentials by building on four successive wins, but also given ground to two of their rivals for a play-off place.
“It’s frustrating, but these things happen and it is up to us to rectify that and stop the rot,” said Drew, on the eve of a visit to Home Park by yet another side with aspirations to finish in the top seven, Northampton Town.
“We had not conceded in three or four games and it is unusual how we have conceded in the last three games, so it is maybe getting back to basics and concentrating on that a bit more.
“I don’t think we’ve played that badly: Bury, we weren’t happy with, but, at Stevenage, we thought we did alright; it was just a sloppy goal, for whatever reason.”
The strike which spoilt the copybook of a good team performance at Stevenage came as Argyle were chasing winner themselves late into the game, and was reminiscent of Burton Albion’s victory-clincher at the Pirelli Stadium last season.
“We probably should have taken a point,” said Drew, 28, who is on loan at Home Park from League 1 Chesterfield until the end of the season.
“We did a short corner and, before you know it, there’s three or four [Stevenage players] breaking on one [Argyle] player. Sometimes, you have to accept we might not win a game and take the point; if we’d come away from Stevenage with a point, we would have stopped the rot of losses.
“It’s instinct sometimes. Things just happen in a game. It’s easy afterwards, looking back at DVDs and saying we should have done this or that – you make your decision at the time and, obviously over the last two or three games, it’s not worked out for us.”
Northampton come to town as the form team in the division, having won eight of their last ten matches. They are just two points behind Argyle, with both sides in a little mini-league of four teams – covered by just three points – in or around seventh place, the last of the four play-off spots.
Three other clubs are five points of them, with that trio themselves five points adrift of the top three automatic promotion places. While a winning four-way tussle for the final play-off spot between Saturday’s Home Park protagonists, Stevenage and Newport looks like Argyle’s best bet to extend their season beyond May 2 at the moment, Drew has not given up hope of hauling in the three sides above them: Southend, Bury and Luton.
He said: “There is a gap appeared but – we were talking about this the other day – they will probably not win all their games so, if we can get on a good run like we did before, we will rope a few of those back in and give us more of chance to get in a couple of play-off places.
“There’s 12 games left; we’ll stick together and try to grind results out. At this time of the season, it doesn’t matter how you play – our thoughts are just on the results, which is more important.”