Keep Them Out, Knock Them In

ARGYLE manager John Sheridan has remained focused on the positives ahead of this weekend’s highly-anticipated fixture against Newport County.

The Pilgrims, having notched 42 goals in 37 games this season, are not one of the highest scoring teams around. Indeed, only seven teams in Sky Bet League 2 have scored fewer. 

However, in conceding just 28 at the other end, Argyle boast a defensive record that no other team in the Football League can better. Only Shrewsbury, currently second in the division, can claim to match Argyle's meanness. Newport, Argyle's opponents this Saturday at Home Park, have scored just one goal more than their upcoming hosts, but having conceded 14 more. 

"I know about the lack of goals; we need to score goals to win games,” John said. “I’m not going to go on about it. With nine games to go, I’m just going to try and stay focused. I know on our day we’re as good as any team in this division and we’ve scored goals.

“We’ve got a great defensive record. We were poor defensively the other night but we need to score goals to win games. It’s no good having clean sheets when you’re not trying to put the ball in the other end. The stats mean nothing to me when we’ve got the best defensive record in the country.”

One slight cause for concern, however, for the manager to contemplate was the statistic that Argyle have not gone on to win a single game since March 2013 after conceding the opening goal.

“That’s frightening,” John admitted. “Listen, sometimes it’s a mentality of the player, sometimes it’s the manager’s fault for not changing the game quick enough and it’s a stat that I would never have thought of as being that long.

“I understood it was a long time but, you know, even during the game the other night, you go one-nil down and Reuben will take his chance and it changes the game. I’m sure we’ve had plenty of chances to win a game.

“I can remember a few games where we should have won even though we’ve gone behind. But to have not won a game in so long is a mentality of the players and obviously the manager – and I’ll put some of the blame on me – making substitutions at the right time.

“It’s not a stat that I think about too much, but it’s there and it’s something we’ve got to address and something we’ve got to do better with.”