The Climb

IN all the brouhaha and negativity that engulfed the Pilgrims following last week’s 0-0 home draw with Newport County... has been easy to escape the fact that Argyle actually climbed a place in the Sky Bet League 2 table.

Thanks to the number and inconstancy of the teams chasing the two play-off places that realistically look to be up for grabs, Argyle are one place and one point outside the play-off positions with eight games of their 2014-15 campaign to play.

The first of those is at relegation-threatened Cheltenham Town on Saturday, when the Pilgrims will try to arrest a run of three winless – and scoreless – games.

Manager John Sheridan said: “We haven’t capitalised on other teams’ poor results and luckily we’re still in with a shout. 

“There are a couple of positions, and four, five, six, even seven teams are going to believe they can still get in there. We have got to look after ourselves and not look over our shoulders.

“There is the opportunity; we have just got to think of ourselves. It is important we go out, play with a smile on our face and – I’ve said all along – what will be will be. I still believe we will get in the play-offs. 

“That’s what I’m telling the players and that’s what I want the players to feel.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the players at the moment. I have told them: ‘Just stay together; keep focused and hopefully we’ll get there.’

‘We have got eight games; we have still got a great opportunity; something to fight for. If you want it, really go for it’.”

New on-loan Charlton Athletic striker Zak Ansah goes straight into the squad for the visit to Whaddon Road, where John will hope to address the scoreless sequence that have led some to question his desire to get on the front foot.

“If anyone thinks I’m a defensive-minded coach, they are way from it,” he said. “All I want to do is attack. But I think our biggest problem at the moment is we are not keeping the ball in the opposition half, and we are not moving the ball like we have done this season when we’ve looked a really good team.

“When the ball’s moving, we are taking care of it and we retain possession for longer periods in the opposition’s half; we have got to push up 10-15 yards further up the pitch. That is what we are trying to do. It is little margins.”

Whereas Newport came to Home Park looking to challenge Argyle for a play-off place, the needs of 23rd-place Cheltenham – now under the caretaker management of former player Russell Milton – 
are much different.

“They are fighting for their lives,” said John, “so we have got to go there and really, from the off, put them under pressure on a tricky pitch. We have got to get at them. They have got a new manager and want to stay in the Football League, so it is going to be a very difficult game.

“It’s a big game for them, probably a bigger game for them than it is for us.”