AS Argyle headed to Barnsley for Tuesday evening’s Sky Bet League One clash at Oakwell, manager Derek Adams was left to contemplate the task that he and his depleted Pilgrims face as they seek a first league win of the campaign.
The match is the sixth against a top-seven side in Argyle’s opening 11 games of the season, four of which will have been away. They were previously pipped 2-1 by two of the three – Walsall and Charlton Athletic – and were more comprehensively beaten by league leaders Portsmouth, 3-0.
Barnsley are unbeaten at home in their four matches – their last scheduled game at Oakwell, against Burton Albion, was called off after a club volunteer fell ill – having beaten Oxford United and Gillingham and drawn with Wimbledon and Walsall, and go into the match on the back of a good 3-1 win at Fleetwood Town on Saturday.
“If you look at the away fixtures we’ve had this season, they’ve been ridiculous really [in terms of] the toughness,” said Derek. “You could probably say that there is only one game where we could say 'Listen, we were due to win that game' away from home.
“I had a look the other day and we’ve been away to tough places: Bristol Rovers, Millwall, Portsmouth, Charlton, and now Barnsley. Tough games.
“We have to obviously put out a team to try and match them – they’re sitting fifth in the league, doing really well, having come down from the Championship – but we have shown this season that we can go away from home, in the EFL Cup, and win.
“We will have to have a dogged display – it’s not going to be anything other than that because Barnsley are a very good footballing side.”
The manager has had to dip into the reserve pool to bolster a squad which is missing ten players through injury and has taken four reserve-team players into his first-team squad, illustrating the lack of options available to him.
However, despite his squad being threadbare, at best, he believes the Pilgrims are capable of achieving a favourable result in Yorkshire after nearly nicking a result at the weekend in a 3-2 home defeat by Doncaster Rovers.
Derek said: “We have got a group of players going with us who want to do well; we saw that on Saturday – they never give up. The two goals we scored were probably in the top 10 goals of the day, but we have to stop conceding soft goals.
“We’ll have a team going out there to do our best for a result tomorrow night.
“Listen, we’d take a point now. We’d take anything at this moment in time. We’ll try and win the game in the best way we can but, if we came away with a point away from home at Barnsley, then we surely would take it.
“It’s a difficult venue to go; we are depleted; we’re taking four reserve-team players with us on the trip so that tells you how far the strength of the squad is at this moment in time.”