THE EFL fixture computer could barely have thrown up a more appetising match for Home Park’s last Sky Bet League Two match before Christmas Day. A cracker, indeed.
Argyle’s visitors this Saturday are Doncaster Rovers, the latest divisional leaders of a competitive league that has been headed by five teams already this season. The Pilgrims – one of the other four, of course – are one point behind, in third.
Argyle manager Derek Adams flatly rejects that two sides’ respective positions and recent fortunes means that the Pilgrims are underdogs in the top-of-the-table clash.
He said: “When we’re at home and we’ve had as good a season as we’ve had so far, I think we will still be the favourites to win, but other people will maybe tell me differently.
“Like ourselves, they are consistent – 12 wins out of 19 games. They have lost four games this season; we have lost five. Both teams go into the match as the most consistent ones, along with Carlisle, at the top of the table. It’s a good football match.
“It is a big game; it’s first against third and, from our point of view, it is an opportunity to get back on top. If we can get three points, I would hope to be back on top again.”
Derek sees no concerns presented by Doncaster’s lofty position. Since he arrived at Home Park in June last year, Argyle have barely been outside the division’s top five.
“We play games at the top of the table all the time; we have been fortunate to do that for the majority of the time I have been here,” he said. “We have never been out of the play-off positions very often and we want to continue that.
“We are where we are and you finish the season with the points total you have because, roughly, that’s what you deserve to have. Last year, we got to the play-off final; this year, we want to do better than that if we can.
“We are always punching above our weight. People don’t like me saying that, but that’s the reality of the situation.
“We want to win the game and go back to the top of the league.”
To do that, Argyle may have to accomplish what no other League Two side has done this season and prevent divisional top-scorers Rovers’ from scoring.
Derek said: “We just have to deal with the presence that they have, but we have to play our own game; keep the ball; create the opportunities again; and be more clinical.”
One of the players whose presence they will have to deal with is Jordan Houghton, the Chelsea player who was on loan at Home Park last season and who was nominated as Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month.
“He did really well for us when he was here, playing in central midfield,” said Derek, “and was technically excellent on the ball; a very, very good player.”