Topping it Off

ARGYLE are taking nothing for granted after hitting the top of Sky Bet League 2 going into Tuesday night’s historic 5,000th match against local rivals Exeter City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

“It feels good,” said vice-captain Peter Hartley, “but, obviously we’ve only played 11 games, so we stay grounded and keep working hard. 

“It’s good to give the fans the credit they deserve, with regards to having good bragging rights, us being top of the league. 

“We’re just taking it a game at a time at the minute, and we’re working hard in training, so long may it continue. Hopefully, we get a good win in the cup and give them the bragging rights, then we move on to Notts County next Sunday.”

Peter’s caution is understandable – necessary, even. However, the weight of history points to 2015-16 being a good one for the Pilgrims.

After a brilliant 2-1 victory over Crawley Town on Saturday, they top the League 2 table – or its historical equivalent – for the first time in the first week of October since the 1980-81 season.

The Pilgrims finished that campaign in seventh place, which was a rare occasion of a team leading the division in the opening week of October and failing to go on to win promotion.

Throughout the 57 years since the introduction of a fourth division, nearly 70 percent of the teams that have ended September as top dogs have gone on to gain promotion.  (To put it in pessimistic terms, the October 1 tier-four leader has blown promotion 18 times in the near 60-year history of the division).

Since the establishment of the play-off system in the 1986-1987 season, the leader in October has been involved in the post-season six times – earning the elusive last promotion spot four times. 

However, on a quarter of the times that the October 1 divisional leaders have won promotion, they have done so as champions.

That has held good for the last three seasons, with Burton, Chesterfield and Gillingham winning the league after leading at this point of the campaign.

Tonight's game against Exeter kicks off at 7.45pm. Tickets are £17 for adults, £12 for concessions, £7 for under-18s.