First Priority

DEREK Adams knows that taking the initiative is the key to Argyle upping their level of Sky Bet League One points on the board.

In four out of five of Argyle’s EFL league games so far this season, Argyle have conceded the first goal, and been 1-0 down at half-time. Three of these games have ended in defeat, with a point salvaged in the other.

In cup action, Argyle have played two, and conceded the first goal in each. In all competitions, Argyle are yet to score a first half goal.

Strangely, Argyle have not been starting slowly in matches. At home to Scunthorpe Argyle played some stunning football, only to trail to a breakaway goal, and then found themselves a man down after Antoni Sarcevic’s red card. At Walsall, it was the Pilgrims who took the game to their hosts, until Walsall went in front and rather took control of the game.

“I think it is important to try to get the first goal,” said Derek. “It gives you confidence as a team. We have created a lot of chances in games but have failed to convert when they have come along. We need to change that.

“We’ve started games very well, and haven’t been able to get the first goal which our good play probably deserved. Against Walsall we had 15-20 minutes where we had a lot of pressure but couldn’t find the net. It is something we would like to change.

“We always knew we were going to have a difficult start to the season. We probably feel that if we had picked more points if we had taken our chances at vital stages of games. Those vital stages have been in the first twenty minutes. It was the same against Scunthorpe. If we are on top, we need to score.”

The next opportunity to change the pattern comes this Saturday against Milton Keynes Dons, who make only their second ever visit to Home Park. Argyle’s record against the Buckinghamshire side is played two, won two, although the only season the teams encountered one another was in 2010-11, as Argyle passed through League One on their rapid descent of the period.

This season, Milton Keynes have an almost identical record to Argyle: same points, same goal difference, with Argyle having scored and conceded two goals more.

Fancy another correlation? Like Argyle, the Dons have also conceded the first goal in four out of five games. They have scored just one first half goal – in a game they went on to lose 4-1 to Blackburn Rovers.

Most recently, the Dons drew 1-1 at home to Oxford United, having gone behind early on, and recovering well to earn a point.

“They played particularly well in the second half against Oxford,” remarked Adams. “They changed their formation; they started with a 4-2-3-1 and changed to a 4-3-3 in the second half. They did a lot better and were able to get the equaliser. They have experience throughout the side, and have players that were in the Championship a couple of years ago.

“They are a team that have just come down from the Championship, two years ago, and are trying to get back up there. It should be a good game. They have a good side, but so do we, and we are looking forward to it.

“It doesn’t matter if we are at home or away, we still try to get points. I think we’ve got the players in our team to cause them problems.”