ARGYLE manager Derek Adams perfectly summed up the Derby Day dichotomy in the build-up to the 104th meeting between Devon’s oldest and – geographically, at least – closest EFL sides.
“We don’t make it bigger than any other game,” he said, on the eve of Argyle’s visit to Exeter City, “but we know it’s bigger than any other game.”
The Pilgrims go to St James Park on Saturday on top of Sky Bet League Two and on the back of a 12-year-best six successive wins. Even though the formbook is generally defenestrated when teams from the same locality face each other, Derek is happy to be in a position to be shot at.
He said: “We’re on a good run of results and we’ve played very well this season. Going into a derby match, it’s important we take that momentum. It’s an important game for Argyle supporters; we know they really want to win the match.
“It’s not just another game. It’s an important game for our supporters, to go away from home in a derby match and try to win it.
“We know how important the game is. It is important on a whole host of levels. From our point of view, it’s important to us to go away from home, try to win and keep the run that we are on going.
“We have to keep on putting the foot on the pedal and keeping it hard to the floor.”
Having made five changes to a winning line-up at Home Park last Saturday, when the Pilgrims beat Cambridge United 2-1, the only thing predictable about Derek’s Derby Day line-up is that it will be unpredictable.
He said: “We have got a lot of good competition in and around the squad – that helps keep people on their toes. We made changes on Saturday; we made changes against Newport; they have fitted in well. It’s one of these games that everybody wants to play in or be involved in.”
There will be almost as much attention from the Green Army on the City starting line-up after the Grecians signed former Home Park fans’ favourite Reuben Reid this week.
Reuben, 28, had been without a club since turning down Argyle’s contract offer in the summer, and Derek said: “There is always going to be attention when somebody signs leading up to a derby match. It’s no different this week. It always adds to the game.
“We’ll just look after ourselves and look to see how we can put the onus on Exeter, and we’ll obviously have to deal with the problems they can cause us.
“I haven’t commented on any of the players that left the football club over the summer and I’m not going to start in front of a Devon derby. We look at Plymouth Argyle Football Club.
“From my point of view, to try to get out of this division is important – every club in the league wants to do that. We’ll try to do that. To win a derby match is obviously important, as well, for the players and the fans, and we’ll go out with our utmost to do that on Saturday.”