Spotland the Brave

DEREK Adams is calling upon his side to learn from mistakes in their 2-0 defeat to Northampton Town, as they face a similar situation on Tuesday night against Rochdale.

The Pilgrims fell to a rare defeat on the road at Sixfields, as an excellent performance from the Cobblers on a warm afternoon was too hot to handle. A John-Joe O’Toole goal on 42 minutes, added to 20 minutes later by a Sonny Bradley own goal, gave Northampton a first home win in three months and kept Argyle outside Sky Bet League One’s play-off places.

So, after heading north to face a dangerous side battling to escape the relegation zone, on Tuesday, Derek and the squad once again head north to face a dangerous side battling to escape the relegation zone. Rochdale are a point from safety and will be just as fired up for the occasion as Northampton were. There is plenty riding on the game – though as Adams points out, most games do at this point in the campaign.

“We know what’s going to happen at Rochdale”, said Derek. “They’re going to do the same as Northampton did today. They’re going to run forward, they’re going to cause us trouble, and we have to do better all over the pitch to deal with that threat.

“At this stage in the season, it doesn’t matter where you go to, other than teams around about the middle of the table. Teams in the relegation zone: they don’t want to drop down into League Two. You saw that today with Northampton.

“We have to play a lot better than today. Rochdale are fighting for their lives. I think they drew today, so that means it’s going to be another difficult encounter. We have to do 100% better than we did today.”

Adams will once again have to conjure up a new strategy as he travels to Spotland, with injuries continuing to wreak havoc with his squad. Ryan Taylor missed the game against Northampton and is yet to return to training, whilst Paul Paton – brought into the starting line-up after Moses Makasi has season-ending surgery – picked up an ailment of his own at Sixfields that makes him unavailable for Tuesday night.

“We’ve got injuries that are a miss for us,” said Derek. “We’ve got players coming back from injury, and at this stage of the season you’d like to have everyone fit.

“He hasn’t trained for the whole week,” the boss said on Taylor. “He thought it was too sore to train yesterday or Thursday, so we’ll assess and see where we are.

On Paton, Adams said: “He’ll be out for Tuesday now. He damaged his ankle ligaments in a tackle in the first half, so he’ll be missing. It wasn’t a great tackle. I don’t know how it happened, but he’s gone in for a tackle and twisted his ankle.

As for Moses: “He’s had a cartilage operation, so he’s going to be out for three months now,” said Derek. “It was the Fleetwood game when he went in for a tackle; he felt it there, and he’s been playing with it for a good period of time.

“He went back to West Ham on the Sunday and checked him over. They thought he should have a scan. He had a scan and he got operated on on the Thursday. It’s not a straightforward operation for him, so they decided to operate on him.”

Antoni Sarcevic was a second-half substitute against Northampton; a rare piece of good news for the manager on the injuries front, though Adams is not interested is using that as an excuse to dampen expectations.

“He’s been out for seven weeks now and he’s still got a bit to do fitness-wise, sharpness-wise,” said Derek on Sarcevic. “We’ve got no choice; we need to rush him back quickly into the frame.

“It has been difficult for us, with the amount of injuries that we’ve picked up in games. You can’t do anything about tackles and people flying in. It’s part of football.

“We’re down to the bare bones now, but there are four games left. We look forward to being in a position with four games to go where, if we win them, we’re in the play-offs.”