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A 14-HOUR coach trip; defeat by a controversial goal; accusations of spitting (utterly unfounded, as it turned out); a humbling cup defeat – just your average start to a new season for Argyle, then.
Seven days into the 2017-18 Sky Bet League One campaign, the season has already been one of contrasts for the Pilgrims. The next stage is a return to Home Park for the visit of Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
Manager Derek Adams said: “We’ve had a difficult start to the season, being away to Peterborough and away to Bristol City, so it’s nice to get back home and have a home game. It’s a good game for supporters to come and see, and it’s a tough test for us.
“Charlton are a big football club in League One. They have been here for a number of seasons, and they will want to get back into the Championship, but we’re at home and looking forward to it.
“We had a very good performance away to Peterborough in the first league game of the season – we really needed to take our chances in the first half when we were really on top of the game – and now we’re back to business at home.”
Argyle’s last meaningful home game was the 2-1 victory over Crewe Alexandra last season that climaxed with a win and promotion celebrations. Such has been the Pilgrims’ progress over the two seasons in which Derek has been in charge that many are suggesting similar scenes might be witnessed next spring.
Derek, however, urges caution.
“If any fan thinks we’re going to have the same season as they had last season, they are in a different world to the one I’m in,” he said. “We’re in a new league, a tougher league – we are certainly not going to win as many games as we did last season.
“We’ve shown how well we played against Peterborough. We’re delighted to be in League One and we want to try to pick up as many points as we possibly can.
“Our priority is to push on and not to get ahead of ourselves. The first aspect of any campaign is to have stability – that’s the nature of business, as a whole, and football’s no different.
“You have to have a foundation and that’s what we want to have at this football club. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves; that’s happened in the past and it hasn’t helped.”
Argyle are without Ryan Taylor for Saturday’s match – and the foreseeable future – after he broke an ankle at Peterborough, but there was more hopeful news this week about Oscar Threlkeld, who limped away from Ashton Gate on Tuesday night.
“He’s got a dead leg,” said Derek. “He’s missed a few games before with slight injuries and I would be disappointed if he didn’t make it for Saturday."
Apart from the three first-year professionals, Scottish midfielder Jamie Ness was the only member of Argyle’s first-team squad not have had game-time this week. His time may not be too far away, however.
Derek said: “Jamie is back in full training, which is great, and I'm looking forward to giving him some game-time very soon. He will start off playing in the Peninsula League and then will work his way into the first team."
"Jamie is a very talented player. He will be an excellent acquisition for this football club. He has got good experience, playing at the top level in Scotland; in the Premiership, he was with Stoke; and last year, playing in the play-offs with Scunthorpe.
"He would like to try to be part of things as quickly as possible."
Charlton will be without two players sent off in the first week of the season: striker Lee Novak was dismissed six minutes into the new campaign for a lunge on Bristol Rovers’ Stuart Sinclair in a 1-0 League One win last weekend; and midfielder Andrew Crofts was shown red in the later stages of the Addicks’ 2-1 Carabao Cup win at Exeter on Tuesday.