For What It's Worth
WITH six games in two and a half weeks – including successive Saturday encounters with close rivals Luton Town and Carlisle United...
...Argyle’s Sky Bet League Two promotion prospects should be clearer by the end of manager Derek Adams’ 100th game in charge against, of all teams, Wycombe at, of all places, Adams Park, on March 14.
Three of the 18 points up for grabs inside 18 days are at stake at Kenilworth Road this weekend, when fourth-placed Luton entertain Derek Adams’ second-placed Pilgrims.
“It’s a big game – at this stage in the season, every game is,” said the Argyle manager, “but when you are playing against a team that are in close proximity to you, it does make it even bigger.
“A win puts you in an excellent position going into the last 14 games, and that’s what we are going to try to do. It’s a game that we really want to win and open up a bigger gap between ourselves.
“It’s two sides that are pushing hard this season, and we have done well in the big games this season. We have beaten Doncaster; we’ve beaten Exeter, who were on that long unbeaten run; we drew here against Portsmouth; we’ve had very good cup-ties against Liverpool. So the players are ready for it; we know what it is we have got to do in the big atmosphere.”
Part of the Pilgrims’ strategy will be to try to dampen the ardour of the Hatters’ passionate home support; another part will be try to exploit the home side’s tendency to concede goals on their own patch.
Derek said: “You have to keep control of the ball for long periods of the game to quieten down their supporters. It’ll be a very good atmosphere; we are going to take 1,000-plus supporters with us and that generates a very good Saturday.
“I think there will be goals in the game. Luton have had only three clean sheets at home, so that tells you they are open and expansive at times, and they can be very direct.”
Argyle go into the match having taken one point from successive fixtures against bottom-three sides Leyton, at Home Park, and Hartlepool United, on Teesside last weekend. They are not alone among the division’s top sides in suffering at the hands of lowly opposition, and Derek is content with the collective efforts of his Pilgrims.
He said: “You just have to look at the other teams: Doncaster go to Newport, the bottom team in league, and draw there; Cheltenham go to Luton and win there; Carlisle get beaten by Newport – it just tells you how difficult a league it is.
“Everybody has got to understand that, at the top of the table, we are fighting for points, but, at the bottom of the table, people everybody’s trying to stay in the league.
“Performance-wise against Exeter, Cambridge, Leyton Orient and Hartlepool, we have been very good; I have been delighted with the performance levels. In all these games, we probably should have picked up more points than we have because of the control we have had but, at this stage of the season, you take any point and move on.”