Good Times to be Green
THERE are some interesting landmarks to glance at as we start to take in the first quarter of the 2015-16 season.
The 12-game mark is often seen as a watershed. It is a shade over a quarter of the total fixtures played; as a team, you have played just over half of your opponents. You have had enough time for summer signings to gel and pre-season fitness campaigns to kick into place.
Of course, being top of the league at this stage is a very nice place to be. It also compares well to promotion seasons of the recent past. In 2001-02, we hit the top spot after 15 games of the season, with a 2-0 win over Lincoln City at Home Park. It was a similar story two years later, when a phenomenal 10 days of action - remember the huge wins over Tranmere, Bristol City, Port Vale and Sheffield Wednesday? - sent us to the Division 2 summit after 15 matches.
Judging by these examples, we are nicely ahead of schedule.
This season has seen another interesting landmark reached - although admittedly one that reflects on previous poor performances. The 3-2 win at Wimbledon and 2-0 victory over Exeter marks the first time we have won two games in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy tournament in its current format. Any time we have previously reached the stage we are at now, it has been by virtue of a bye helping us out.
Our victory over Exeter in the JPT was the 35th game played at Home Park since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, and the stats for those performances in PL2 make for good reading. A huge 80% of those games have ended in either in a win or a draw for Argyle, with just seven defeats at home in that time. Our 20 home victories have seen us score three or more goals on six occasions, and rack up an overall home goal difference of +28 over that period.
Attendances at the Theatre of Greens are looking very healthy, too. Last season was the second highest average attendance figure recorded in this division in our history: 7,693. This was around 250 more, on average, than the play-off winning season of 1995-96, in which we also had an FA Cup tie against Coventry which saw more than 17,000 jam into Home Park.
The only season at this level to beat last season's average was the title-winning campaign of 2001-02, in which we averaged 8,788. So far this season we have averaged 8,213, having hit top spot an earlier stage; if we can maintain our form we may see this year's average push toward the five-figure mark, especially with another Derby day with Exeter and a home fixture with Yeovil on Boxing Day still to come.
These are great times to be Green - and we must enjoy them while they last.
Our next home game is against Accrington Stanley, this Saturday. Stanley are doing extremely well in the division themselves, and will prove extremely tough opponents. However, as we continue to be stronger together, we are sure that we can continue making history.