Marker Maker

ARGYLE full-back Gary Sawyer wants to beat Bristol Rovers - and lay down a marker for the rest of the division.

The league-leading Pilgrims are on an impressive run of form, having won five out of their last six, whilst the Pirates have similarly been on a hot streak, winning six out of their last eight league games to reach fourth place. If Argyle were to beat Rovers then the Greens would extend their advantage over Bristol to 12 points.

Argyle's allocation of away tickets sold out well in advance of the fixture, and a five-figure crowd is highly likely at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday. 

"It will be a good atmosphere definitely," said Gary. "They support like we do really. They are well-supported and it will be a good game. It is a massive game in terms of league positions for both of us and it would be a massive marker if we could put it down by beating them.

"If you put a massive marker down by beating them then people will really sit up and look at that - including them, and they are the ones trying to catch us. We need to let them know we are top for a reason. 

"In the same breath, they are fourth for a reason and they have been on a really good run. They have a really good side, and we had a really tough game against them here as well, so we know it is going to be a tough game - but we are going there to win."

Bristol Rovers run of six victories in eight games includes a victory away from home at third-placed Oxford, who beat the Pilgrims at The Kassam Stadium in October.

"Oxford were fantastic when we played them away," said Gary. "They are a really good footballing team and you do not beat them unless you have got a bit about you."

The standard in League 2 this season has been good, and several League 2 clubs provided FA Cup shocks last week, including Oxford knocking out Premier League Swansea City, and Wycombe and Exeter forcing replays against Aston Villa and Liverpool, before falling to defeat.

Gary said: "I think it is good for the league. There is some really good football. There are not many smash-and-grab teams at this level, which arguably years ago it used to be full of. Football in this country is going in the right direction if you are getting a league like this that we have seen this year.

"Everyone is having their fair chance and you can not write anyone off. English football has always been a bit like that anyway, I know too well myself with my days in the game. It is fantastic for football though if you are getting teams from this level competing with the bigger sides."

Gary used to play for the Pirates, and Saturday will be his first return to The Memorial Stadium since he left in 2012.

"I met a lot of good people there," said Gary. "I liked it; it just did not work out footballing-wise really. We got relegated when I was there which was a massive blow, but I have a lot of fond memories everywhere I have been.

"They are doing really well and they are a good side so it is a tough game, but it is a massive game considering where they are in the league and where we are.

"They are full of [good attacking players]; they are a bit like ourselves. I think they are strong enough at the back and have got some very lively players up front which is exactly what we have in our ranks as well. Everyone needs to keep a close eye on them.

"They went through hell as well, as this club did, but they look really good now, there is quite a few players still there that I played with and a good group of lads, good backroom staff, good people there. It is great for them that they are doing well."