Saturday Night Takeaway

IT is perhaps fitting, though not desirable, that Argyle’s 2016-17 destiny will be decided 345 miles away from Home Park.

In a season when Derek Adams’ Pilgrims have broken the club record for number of victories on the road, one more three-point haul at Grimsby Town this Saturday will see them become champions of Sky Bet League Two.

Promotion was achieved in front of a packed Theatre of Greens on Easter Monday, since when the Pilgrims and fellow promoted sides Doncaster Rovers and Portsmouth have all eyed the title; all three can achieve that this weekend, but only Argyle can do so without help from someone else. 

“We’ve fought hard for that,” said Argyle defender Gary Sawyer. “We’ve had a lot of tough games and come through some decent tough games to win. We’ve given ourselves an unbelievable chance; we know it’s in our hands and we know what we’ve got to do.”

Nathan Blissett’s late headed goal which gave Argyle a 2-1 home victory over Crewe Alexandra in their penultimate fixture, also saw the Pilgrims overtake Doncaster to go top of the table for the first time this calendar year. 

Gary said: “We’ve always wanted to win the league but our first aim was to get promoted; we couldn’t look at winning the league until we got promoted.  We’ve done well since that and Donny have fallen off it a little bit – they’ve been up there all year and it’s tough to carry on doing that.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance to end the season the way we want to.

“Us and Portsmouth got promoted the same day; Donny the week before. It’s been a tight run between the three of us. It’s been good that it was the three of us and there hasn’t really been a fourth that has threatened.

“Both of them, like us, will be looking to try and nick this on the last day to cap the season off.”

So, to Blundell Park, a ground where Argyle have won only once in the 15 matches they have played there – in 1932, since when they have lost eight and drawn five. 

However, if past history does not favour the Pilgrims, recent history does. Under Derek’s two-season management, Argyle first equalled the club’s 12-game single-season win record away from Home Park and then beat their own mark.

“We’ve been relentless away from home this year,” said Gary. “At this level, it is effectively pretty much the same game every week, really – it doesn’t tend to differ too much. There has been no let-off. It’s been 100mph from start to finish, which happens if you are going to get promoted. 

“Saturday will be massive for the boys. To be able to get on the coach [after the game], knowing there are no more games left and you’ve got a trophy at the front of the bus – that’s what everyone is playing for and that’s what we all want.”