JUDGING the start that Cheltenham Town have made to the 2016-17 Sky Bet League Two season may vary depending on your perspective.
If you are a Robins fan, and one to focus on the positives, you would likely say that as a just-promoted side, losing just one of your opening five league games is a solid start, and knocking Charlton out of the EFL Cup an added bonus.
A pessimist, though, would dwell on the fact that the Charlton win was one of only two in eight in all competitions this season. A sole league victory – last Saturday, at home to Crewe Alexandra - has been accompanied by three league draws, a defeat at home to Doncaster, and cup-exiting losses to Newcastle United and, most recently, Blackpool.
So, call it what you will. The facts are that Cheltenham have six league points from five games, and have drawn 1-1 in each of their only two away games thus far, at Mansfield and Carlisle. Those two teams, fifth and sixth respectively, occupy the places immediately above Argyle in the League Two table.
Argyle boss Derek Adams is of the belief that Cheltenham’s start has been a positive one, and is approaching the match with his traditional caution.
“They’ve done well so far in the season,” said Derek. “They’ve got six points on the board.
“Gary Johnson is an experienced manager and has done very well over a good number of years. He’s been able to get Cheltenham into the league at the first time of asking having been relegated the season before. He’s changed it around and got a powerful outfit there.
“You look at Barnet, who came up and last year did exceptionally well. Between National League football, League Two and League One, there’s not much of a difference. The higher you go, into the Championship, there becomes a big difference, but lower down, the teams move league to league and seem to do very well.
“We’ve had them looked at. Greg Strong has been there and watched them. We know their strengths and weaknesses.”
Argyle’s start has been rather more cut and dried; lost the first three, won the next four. Distilled into league facts, their record reads lost two, won three. In that order.
Something has to give. Argyle have not drawn at home since the 2-2 against Oxford United on March 5, 10 games ago. In fact, the Pilgrims have drawn just three of their last 33 games at Home Park.
Following the Cheltenham form line, you can back the correct score of the game to be 1-1 at 5/1 with Sky Bet, or if you do not feel like being as specific, plump for any draw at 12/5.
With four victories in a row, it is 11/10 that Argyle make it five, with 5/2 on offer if you think Cheltenham will notch their second league win of the campaign.
Latvian goal machine Nauris Bulvitis – a centre-back with three goals to his name in five matches – can be backed at 20/1 to score the first goal, or last goal, and is 7/1 to score at any time. All of Bully’s goals thus far have come in Argyle victories – take 11/1 for the combination of Bulvitis to score and Argyle to win.
Graham Carey, who scored both goals when Argyle won 2-0 against Mansfield two weeks ago, is 13/2 in the Sky Bet first and last goal markets, and 14/1 to repeat his feat and score a brace.
The Pilgrims have scored three goals in four of the last five meetings between the two sides. You can get 4/1 on Argyle scoring three or more in the game this weekend. Specific scorelines are available, if you think Argyle will win 3-0 (18/1), 3-1 (16/1) or 3-2 (33/1).
On September 3, 2013, exactly three years prior to this meeting, Cheltenham and Argyle drew 3-3. Fancy a repeat of that scoreline? It’s 66/1...
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