GRIT and determination with a little sprinkle of fortune has seen Argyle’s final full month of fixtures come to a positive end...
...with the Pilgrims all but securing their spot among the promotion-hunting foursome.
Argyle go into their 46th game of the Sky Bet League 2 season, against title contenders and already-promoted Shrewsbury Town, three points clear of Luton with a superior goal difference of eight, so it would take an unprecedented goal swing for John Still’s Hatters to snatch the final play-off spot from our clutches.
At one point in April it seemed as if our hopes of making the play-offs were extinguished when we suffered a 2-1 away defeat to Portsmouth, but, with the help of results around us, we managed to claw our way back into the all-important play-off places with a 2-1 over Mansfield Town.
Despite then going on to hiccup at Carlisle United, we managed to breathe a little easier as we ran out 3-2 winners over now-relegated Tranmere Rovers to end the month in the top seven with just one game remaining of the regular season.
Burton 1-1 Argyle
Portsmouth 2-1 Argyle
Argyle 2-1 Mansfield
Argyle 1-1 AFC Wimbledon
Carlisle 2-0 Argyle
Argyle 3-2 Tranmere
Argyle came into the month full of positivity after securing a 3-0 away win over Cheltenham Town and were looking to inject this into their home tie against table-topping Burton Albion. Like the reverse fixture at the Pirelli Stadium, it ended in a 1-1 draw, with Carl McHugh’s late equaliser cancelling out Kevin Stewart’s 33rd-minute strike to maintain our spot in the top seven.
This result against the Brewers gave the Pilgrims a confidence boost going into their 41st game of the season against Portsmouth, but this took a knock as our dockyard rivals condemned us to a 2-1 defeat, with Olly Lee’s fantastic volley failing to kick-start an Argyle revival as earlier second-half goals from Jed Wallace and Ryan Taylor were enough to make up for their 3-0 defeat to us, at Home Park.
The defeat to Pompey dealt a heavy blow to John Sheridan’s men as it saw Argyle drop out of the play-off places, so an instant reaction was needed if we were to hold onto any hopes of recapturing our spot in the top seven - and we reacted perfectly.
Argyle gained revenge for a 1-0 away defeat to Mansfield Town earlier in the season by securing a huff-and-puff 2-1 victory against the Stags, which was made possible by goals from Anthony O’Connor and Carl McHugh (or was it O'Connor again?) to launch us back into the all-important top seven.
This was the first of two consecutive fixtures at Home Park with AFC Wimbledon up next; given our impressive home record this season it seemed as if another precious three points were on the cards, but despite a much more fluent attacking performance against the Wombles, we only had a point to show for it. O’Connor netted yet again, but his goal was cancelled out by Adebayo Azeez, much to the frustration of a dominant Argyle.
It was then time for the Greens to make embark on their long journey to Carlisle to take on Keith Curle’s strugglers at Brunton Park, but it was a journey that resulted in nothing as Argyle came away from Cumbria on the receiving end of a 2-0 defeat. Goals from Gary Dicker and Billy Paynter mounted further pressure onto our play-off hopes as our superior goal difference was the only thing keeping us afloat in the top seven.
With just two games left we did not want to see our good ship Pilgrim sink at the final hurdle so our last home match of the season against relegation-threatened Tranmere Rovers became a must-win game for us.
The stakes were high for both teams, with Rovers’ 94-year Football League existence on the line and our play-off hopes hanging in the balance. Thankfully, Argyle prevailed, going on to secure a 3-2 win, with goals from Reuben Reid, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis and Lewi Alessandra. Good news came in from elsewhere, as we learned that ten-man Southend inflicted defeat upon eighth-placed Luton Town.
It is now so close, we can taste it.
April Stat Attack
Goals scored – 8
Goals conceded – 9
Clean sheets – 0
Points (from 18) – 8
League position at the start of the month – 7th
League position at the end of the month – 7th
Anthony O’Connor – 2
Carl McHugh – 2
Reuben Reid – 1
Lewi Alessandra – 1
Olly Lee – 1
Tareiq Holmes-Dennis – 1
Goals of the Month
1. Tareiq Holmes-Dennis v Tranmere
2. Olly Lee v Portsmouth
3. Anthony O’Connor v Mansfield
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