SATURDAY’S Devon Expressway Derby might have the same number of points at stake as any other Sky Bet League Two game...
...but Argyle manager Derek Adams knows that is about the only thing that is not different from a regular Saturday afternoon.
He said: “There is a responsibility every game, but we obviously know then pressure of trying to get a victory in a local derby is very important for your own fans. We understand that. There is no doubt we are going there to try to win.”
If – and, as usual, with Derek’s team selection, it is a big ‘if’ – he chooses the same starting line-up as the one that triumphed 2-1 over Cambridge United last Saturday, only four Pilgrims will have had prior experience of playing against Exeter City, even if they are familiar with important matches.
“They have to realise what it means to the supporters,” said Derek. “A majority of them have played in big-occasion games before – they have played in front of 50-60,000 people; they have played international football – but, when it comes to a derby match, they have to understand what it means to Plymouth Argyle fans.
“Derby matches are totally different: it is a one-off occasion where rivalry is fierce, on and off the pitch. It is a terrific occasion for the area and we all want to win the game.
“I enjoy big-occasion games; the players want to play on these stages and we have got a number of players making their derby debuts.
“If they don’t know now, they will know about it on Saturday, when they walk out into the stadium. It’s a hostile atmosphere; it’s a fiercely competitive occasion on and off the pitch and you want to beat your rivals.
“It’s an important day for the fans and it’s an important day for us because we want to go and win the derby. We have got to have good, calm heads on the day.”
A calm head. For all the brouhaha surrounding the fixture, all the matches between Argyle and Exeter last season were more tiki-taka, than blood and thunder.
“We have shown, over the last three games (between Exeter and Argyle), that the two football clubs have played in the right way,” said Derek. “They have been good footballing matches – very good occasions – and pleasing on the eye.”
Argyle knocked Exeter out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last season before City did the League Two double over the Pilgrims with a pair of 2-1 wins. The second of those, when Argyle fell victim to two late Ollie Watkins strikes at St James Park, hit hard.
Derek said: “We played very well that day and we feel aggrieved because we know how we lost the game, but this season we have a new group of players and, hopefully, we move on.
“It’s important we realise we have got a new group of players who haven’t played in this game. We’ve changed the squad around a lot from last season and we have just started to gel again.
“Exeter are a team that has changed a bit over the summer. They have taken in a good number of players and lost some players as well. I watched them against Hull in the Checkatrade Trophy and they play in a similar style to last season.”
Whoever plays, however they play, and whatever the result, one thing is for sure.
“It’s a fantastic occasion,” said Derek.
“The fans always travel in numbers and we will try to send them home happy.”