ARGYLE make the not unfamiliar trip to Kingston on Tuesday...
...in the knowledge that victory over last season’s nemesis AFC Wimbledon will guarantee another £10,000 in the bank and almost certain continued participation in this season’s Checkatrade Trophy.
All of which is almost secondary to manager Derek Adams’ main concern of maintaining a balance between keeping a squad that has taking Sky Bet League Two by storm this season ticking over at the same time as keeping it fresh.
The Pilgrims’ home victory over Yeovil on Saturday saw them go five points clear at the top as they continued their best start since 1929 to a league campaign which continues at Stevenage at the weekend.
“We will make changes to the team,” said Derek, about Tuesday’s cup tie, “but we have done that throughout our league campaign and in the cup.
“We’ll assess the squad. A lot of players have played a lot of minutes this season and we want to keep the continuity throughout the side. We are away in London on Saturday again, so we need to have a freshness for that game, as well.
The Pilgrims and their hosts go into the match having secured three-goal wins against the two other sides in Southern Group B, Newport County and Swansea City. If the match between the Welsh sides ends in a draw, and with two teams from each group qualifying, the winners of the Dons v Argyle clash will be assured of a place in round two; with two points on offer to the winners of a penalty shootout following a drawn game, even a draw would be a forward step.
Jimmy Spencer and Ryan Donaldson are among Pilgrims’ forwards who have cracked their seasonal scoring duck in recent games, and Derek is backing David Goodwillie to follow suit.
“David has played really well since he has been here,” said Derek. “He has been unfortunate not to get a goal, but his movement and style of play is excellent. Sometimes, he’s ahead of other people on the pitch.”
Former Wimbledon defender Karleigh Osborne was included in the party that travelled to London on Monday, another step on the road to total recovery from a thigh problem sustained during pre-season.
“He’ll not start,” said Derek. “There is a possibility he is going to be in the squad and could be around about the 18.”
Karleigh played twice against Argyle last season, including the Pilgrims’ 3-2 away victory in last season’s version of the revamped Checkatrade Trophy. Wimbledon, of course, had the last laugh at Wembley.
Derek does not think that result will have much of an effect on either side. He said: “It’s a cup game tomorrow night and both teams will be very different from teams that played on Saturday.
“Against Swansea, they changed a good number of players and they will do likewise. They came off a good 2-0 win on Saturday [at home to Gillingham], so I could see them resting a few players.”