No Fretting On Fratton

A WEEK after losing 2-1 at home to AFC Wimbledon...

...Derek Adams was not about to retract his post-match observation that gaining automatic promotion from Sky Bet League 2 was now a difficult proposition.

That is not say he has bailed on the ambition. Far from it. With five games of the season to play – starting with Saturday’s Dockyard Derby at fellow promotion-chasers Portsmouth – Argyle are just a win away from the all-important top three places.

By Wednesday morning, five will have become three following another away trip, to Leyton, but, for now, all the focus is on Fratton Park.

Derek said: “We just have to look at ourselves, keep the performances going, and look to get the three points against Portsmouth. We are capable of going to the likes of Portsmouth and Leyton Orient and coming away with six points.

“We’re three points behind [third-placed Accrington Stanley]; goal-difference is not bad; anything is possible in this game. We’ll have to turn the performances we have had recently into winning results. 

“At this stage in the season, you want to win every game; if we do that, we’ll do really well. It will be difficult, but it is still very possible because we have got five games to go and other teams have difficult games; and we can go on a very good run, as we have this season.

“We are capable of it, but it could be difficult because of the position that other teams are in with the number of games that are left. Compared to the fixtures that the likes of Accrington and Bristol Rovers have, we have probably got the toughest of the lot.”

Saturday’s Battle of the Ports will be League 2’s biggest match of the season.

“It is the two best-supported teams in the league,” said Derek. “[Portsmouth] have got an average gate of 16,000; we have got an average gate of over 8,000 – it’s nearly 20% up on last season. We’re delighted with the support we are getting and it’s going to be a terrific occasion.

“They have got a very good fan-base but we’ll take a lot of fans there on Saturday. Both are top of the supporters’ charts and that’s good to see. It’ll be a fanatical crowd for both sides on Saturday.”

Not that the Pilgrims need the Green Army – or, indeed, their manager – to gee them up for the match.

“The players all motivate themselves,” said Derek. “They know what we have to do – keep our performances the way they are and get away from individual mistakes, and we will be fine. Performance-wise, we have done well; we just have to stop the errors. 

“We’re fine, team-wise, shape-wise. People can talk about a passing game, they can talk about football being played the right way – there is only one way to play football and that’s a winning way. Every manger will have their own style but all that matters is that you win football matches.”

It seems likely that Argyle will have to take on Portsmouth without a player that has long been coveted by Saturday’s hosts.

“Reuben Reid hasn’t trained with the squad this week,” said Derek. “We have been really precautionary with him because we’ve got not a lot of games left in the season. It is important that he does not pick up a long-term injury.”