Big Unit

LIFE as a lone striker could be rather lonely – but not if you have the right support unit.

In truth, one gets the feeling that Jimmy Spencer rather enjoys his role in Argyle’s team. He is the sole central forward, tasked with winning a physical battle with opposition defenders, and acting as a fulcrum for Argyle attacks. 

He is far from isolated, though. A brief glance to his left, right or just behind, in recent games, has featured Jordan Slew, Craig Tanner or Graham Carey, in close support. 

That trio have 12 goals between them this season, on top of Jim’s pair of strikes. Other supporting forwards Jake Jervis, Ryan Donaldson and Connor Smith share a further nine goals, showing the depth of quality of those that back Jimmy up. 

“You’re up there on your own,” he said, “but at the same time when you have – most recently - Graham, Slewy and Tanns playing up close to me, it’s kind of four up there, interchanging. The gaffer says once it gets into the final third, it’s up to us four to interchange, pass, move and do our stuff. 

“It’s physically demanding this league. Centre halves are always up for a fight. That’s my job – to look after centre halves, and gives Tanns more space behind me, or Graham and Slewy. I play with my back to goal anyway – that’s how I play, it suits me. If it gets other players goals and gets wins for us, great. 

“The quality up there is very good. There are players in this team that shouldn’t be in this league. When the ball comes up to us, us four – or five if you like, with one from midfield – will back ourselves to go on the attack, get in a cross, a shot, or even a goal.”

Jimmy is the latest of a number of Argyle players to consider the opening two games of the season, both of which ended in defeat, against the context of a 13-match unbeaten run. Argyle lost to Luton and Carlisle in Sky Bet League Two before racking up a run of 11 wins and two draws since. 

The unbeaten league run is the best Argyle have produced in 15 years, and the players have produced it have a sense of pride over it – but they know when the time for talking about it ends. 

“During the week, we speak about it, then on game day we put it to one side,” said Jimmy. “We don’t think about it when we are warming up, or when we’re in the changing room before a game. It’s just another game, and you go out and do what we’ve been doing. 

“The first two games we were just bedding ourselves in, getting used to each other. From then on we’ve had a brilliant run. Hopefully it continues. 

“Every game’s not going to be a pretty game; we’re not going to be on top every game in this league. Teams are going to come here and put up a fight, make it hard for us to play the way we want to play, and stop our qualities. It’s good to grind those wins out.”