THERE are a few connections between the last two Argyle sides to have compiled a seven-match winning run: the 2003-04 Nationwide Second Division champions, and this year’s Sky Bet League Two leaders.
Lee Hodges, the Pilgrims’ utility man 12 years ago, is a development coach with the Argyle Community Trust; Paul Wotton, the skipper of the past, has graduated to first-team coach of the present.
Just one Pilgrim played for both sides. Goalkeeper Luke McCormick was custodian between November 22, 2003-January 3, 2004, when he conceded two goals (both in a memorable match at Swindon), and for six of the matches in Argyle’s current run (Vincent Dorel played in the 4-1 Checkatrade Trophy victory over Newport County). Again, he has allowed just two goals past him, adding four clean sheets to the six that he kept more than a decade ago.
SuperLuke has more than just keeping out the opposition on his mind these days. Following, Curtis Nelson’s summer departure to Oxford United, the 33-year-old was appointed Pilgrims’ captain by manager Derek Adams, who has seen plenty of good things in a goalkeeper who is a key part of League Two’s second-most parsimonious defence.
“He’s gaining in confidence,” said Derek. “I think that’s helped by the people in front of him. We have got very good experience in front of him this season and the players are all feeding off each other. That can only help.
“If you look at the likes of Gary Miller, [Nauris] Bulvitis, [Sonny] Bradley and [Gary] Sawyer, they have all got very good experience.
“When he has been called upon, he’s very reliable. Last week, against Exeter, when he was called upon, he was assured; he was confident. Making him captain has helped him, as well. He is the focal point of the team; he’s the leader off the park; and the one the players look to.
“At his age and being a senior member of the team, all the players know he’s been here for a good number of years, and he is very good with them.”
Luke might be playing respectably and respected by the players, but he is no more guaranteed his place in the Argyle starting 11 than anyone else, and has Marc McCallum, as well as Vincent, eyeing what used to be the No.1 jersey.
“We have got very good competition for places,” said Derek. “I was adamant I was going to do that over the summer. As a player, you need to be pushed and one of the best reasons that you can be pushed is by somebody behind you that feels they should be playing in the first team.”