WITH 774 Argyle appearances between them, Kevin Hodges and Mark Patterson know a thing or two about playing at Home Park.
For the prospects they look after, Tuesday night could be the start of long and successful journeys for some.
Hodges’ Argyle meet Patterson’s Gillingham in the second round of the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday night at Home Park. The game, which kicks off at 7pm, is open to the public, and is £4 for entry, £2 for concessions.
Kevin’s young Pilgrims won 5-1 in the first round of the competition, and would dearly love to progress once again. Hodges says that, to these fledgling players, the competition is as important as it gets.
“It’s exactly the same as how the first team feel, regarding the FA Cup,” said Kevin. “The lads have done exceptionally well to progress in to the second round with a really good performance at Cheltenham. Now, with a home tie, it is exciting for the young players to be playing at Home Park in front of their parents and local people. It is opportunity to showcase themselves and we are looking for a similar performance as we got at Cheltenham.
“We’re quite fortunate, with being in the Peninsula League, they get to play under floodlights and on some nice grounds now. They are familiar with that, and in itself is an advantage to our players. Playing on Home Park is a daunting task for some of them, but they will put that behind them.
“As young footballers they have to gain some consistency to showcase themselves and perform regularly to a high standard.
“In the Cheltenham game they coped really well, and put in a fine performance. The challenge to the boys that took part in that game is to go out and repeat the performance.”
Gillingham beat local Kent side Corinthian in the first round to progress. The winner of Tuesday’s fixture will play at home to Oxford City or Peterborough.
The Pilgrims won through to the third round of the competition three seasons ago, where they played Aston Villa in a cracking encounter at Villa Park. Argyle lose by the odd goal in seven that night, but Hodges values that run in the cup, and would love to be able to emulate or surpass it this time round.
“A few years ago we got on a nice run and had a fantastic tie against Aston Villa at Villa Park,” said Kevin. “It was a memorable night, we performed very well and made it a close encounter.
“Hopefully, if we get through, we could have something like that to come in the future.
“We have played [Gillingham] in the last 12 months. We played them in Merit League One, and came off on the wrong of the result, but it was a very, very close game. There will be changes, but both teams with have their first years, but it has all the makings of an exciting second round tie.”