ACCORDING to Argyle boss Derek Adams, the secret behind the Pilgrims success this season may well be worst kept secret in football.
Sometimes the simplest answers are the best ones, and Derek does not bother himself with lucky colours, elaborate pre-match routines or Home Park’s feng shui when looking for reasons why Argyle have continuously held a promotion berth since the end of September.
“The secret to our success is that we’ve won a lot of games this season,” said Derek, in an expression Basil Fawlty may have described as ‘the bleeding obvious’. But while the brusque hotelier from just along the south coast may have bristled at wife Sybil’s obvious exclamations, to anyone within earshot of Derek his statement was the best one, and made total sense.
While some may go in for ‘mind games’, and others chest-thumping bombast, Derek’s keep-it-simple approach has yielded 19 Sky Bet League 2 victories this season – a number bettered only by league leaders Northampton.
“We find ourselves in a very good position, and the amount of wins we’ve had has been very good,” said Derek. “We’re having an excellent season. It’s as good a season as any Argyle fan would have thought.
“We’re third in the league, level on points with Oxford United. I’m delighted with the progress we are making. With 11 games to go we are in a very good position.
“We’re in a position where it is all in our own hands. If we get the wins we are capable of then we will have a very good season.”
The first of the remaining 11 games comes this Saturday at the Wham Stadium, home of fellow promotion hopefuls Accrington Stanley. Stanley plundered 19 points from their first nine games of 2016, cruising into the play-off positions and possessing games in hand on Argyle, and others.
However, their last four games have seen two draws and two defeats, the latest coming at the hands of Portsmouth on Tuesday night. Pompey’s comfortable 3-1 win – they were three up by half-time – saw Paul Cook’s current side leapfrog his old one, and leaves Accrington desperate to score some victories to keep up their contact with the top three.
Beware the stung beast, though. Derek believes that Accrington’s midweek loss will simply make them more determined to put one over Argyle and keep their automatic promotion hopes alive.
“Saturday is a difficult match against Accrington because of the result they had in midweek,” said Derek, “but we go there in good spirits.
“We’ve had a very good campaign and Accrington are the same. They are a good footballing team and they’ve done well this season.
“It was a very good football match [on Tuesday]; Portsmouth won 3-1, which is a good result for them. We go to Accrington on Saturday, which will be a tough match off of their defeat to Portsmouth.
“We’re going there to try and win the match. We’ve done that in our previous encounters away from home and [of late] we haven’t been able to get that win. We have a very good away record this season and we go there trying to get the three points.
“I see it being an open match. Both teams like to attack. We’ve shown that this season – we had a very good performance, and probably should have won the game – against Oxford last week. We had double the amount of chance on target and a lot more possession.
“Every club is trying to get themselves into the next league. You see that time and time again. Some clubs are financed to get themselves out of the league, and they have a better go at it than other clubs. We’re no different to any other club – we’re trying to get out of the league.”
Argyle’s injury-hit squad has been boosted by the arrival of Jordan Houghton, a midfielder signed on-loan from Chelsea on Thursday. It may also contain some returning faces who have missed of late through injury.
Carl McHugh has missed the last three games through injury, while Peter Hartley limped off last time out against Oxford United – a game that Oscar Threlkeld missed because of a knock sustained on the eve of the game.
All three could be on the bus to Accrington, come the weekend.
“They’re all shaping up well,” said Derek. “We’re hopeful that we have them all back in the squad for Saturday’s game. That would be a boost.