Take it Away

ARGYLE’S Sky Bet League Two roadshow debuts on Saturday at far-flung Carlisle United, with those making the pilgrimage eager to start replicating last season’s amazing away days.

“We went into away games last year feeling that we’d win every time we went away, which was a nice feeling,” said defender Gary Sawyer. “We need to get that form back.”

The stats bear out Gary’s confidence. In 2015-16, Argyle won 12 league games on the road– a record-equaling number of victories that matched the 2001-02 and 1929-30 Third Division promotion-winning teams – and suffered only five defeats: again, only the teams of 2001-02 and 1929-30 can better that figure.

The Pilgrims finished their away league campaign having conceded just 20 goals. Since they entered the Football League in 1920, that figure has been bettered only once – by the Third Division champions of 2001-02, who let in just 17 goals.

Saturday’s protagonists – who drew 1-1 at Portsmouth last weekend and then knocked League One Port Vale out of the EFL Cup – were well matched in the three games they played last season. Argyle did the league double over the Cumbrians, who had revenge, of sorts, when they dumped the Pilgrims out of the FA Cup at Home Park.

“They are a good side at this level, so it’s a good test for us,” said Gary. “They gave us good games last year. The way they have started, they look good again this year. It’s a tough game for us on the back of a long journey, but we are confident as we start our away campaign in the league.

Ah, the long journey. Any discussion of Argyle and Carlisle would not be complete without bringing up the mileage between the outposts of English football. Friday’s 740-mile round-trip to the Lake District will take north of eight hours for the Pilgrims.

Gary said: “The boys have got good banter and enjoy each other’s company, so it’s a long trip but one we know we’ve got to make and it’s just another 90 minutes at the end of it.

“We want to play the game of football, so we have to take the travel. The season’s fresh, so the pitch will be really good up there – I know they suffer through the winter with it – so I think it’s a good time to play them: get the journey out of the way now.”