PREVIEW: Oxford United vs Argyle
The Pilgrims are back on the road this weekend, travelling to the Kassam Stadium to face play-off chasing Oxford United on Saturday afternoon.
With three wins in their previous five fixtures, the U’s currently lie a point outside of the Sky Bet League One play-off places, having played two games more than sixth-placed Charlton Athletic – meaning that only a win will do on Saturday to keep top-six hopes alive.
In their last outing, Karl Robinson’s men fell to a 2-1 defeat at AFC Wimbledon, having led until they were reduced to ten men.
Following a goalless 45 minutes, the U’s went ahead six minutes after the break as Olamide Shodipo laid off to Josh Ruffels, who fired low beyond Nik Tzanev in the Dons’ goal.
The fixture turned on 61 minutes, when James Henry saw red for stopping a goal-bound effort with his hand. Henry was shown a straight red card for the misdemeanour, and Joe Pigott converted the spot-kick. Just two minutes later, the turnaround was complete, with Alex Woodyard slamming home the winner from the edge of the box.
In our reverse league at Home Park in December, the U’s came from behind to win 3-2. A well-worked 12thminute goal from Panutche Camara put the Greens in front, before Ruffels equalised on 37 minutes to send the sides into the break level.
With the game finely poised, a 74th minute Sam Long effort gave the U’s the edge, before a late Shodipo penalty secured the points. Luke Jephcott buried a penalty for Argyle deep into stoppage time, after Byron Moore was pulled back in the box.
Cameron Brannagan was substituted late on in the U’s last outing with a dead leg and is an injury doubt. Brandon Barker has been absent for the U’s last two fixtures with a hamstring injury and will not be up for selection in our meeting. Marcus McGuane has also been absent since January with a thigh injury.
Henry will unavailable as he serves his suspension after being sent off against Wimbledon.
For Argyle, Conor Grant will be assessed before being put up for selection this weekend. Centre-back Will Aimson will also be assessed ahead of Saturday, having been withdrawn early in the midweek defeat to Charlton with an ankle injury.
The managers said:
Ryan Lowe: “We respect Oxford for what they are, Karl [Robinson] and the staff, but we’ve got to worry about Plymouth Argyle first and foremost. We didn’t have the best of evenings on Tuesday and we’ve got to make sure we try and put that right on Saturday afternoon. It’s going to be a tough game.
“The respect will always be there between me and Karl, [we’re] good friends. He’s looking for points to get into the play-offs, I’m looking for points to put some pride back into the shirt of the players. Our aim is to keep collecting as many points as we possibly can. I want the fans to be proud, I want to be proud and we want to finish the season on a high.”
Karl Robinson: “We come up against a team who had a difficult evening on Tuesday, and I know 100% the manager will have ironed that out and they will be fully motivated. I know their manager very well, he is a good man, very honest and does things right. They have really good staff, and I am close to them, know how much they love working for Plymouth Argyle and know they will want to win on Saturday.
"We are under no illusions about how difficult the game is going to be, but we have to focus completely on ourselves and what we need to do.”
ARGYLE AWAY TO OXFORD UNITED IN THE EFL
The record: P 21 W 3 D 7 L 11 F 19 A 35
The first time: 28 February, 1976. Division Two. Oxford United 2-2 Argyle
Paul Mariner gave Tony Waiters’ Argyle a 24th minute lead, which winger Hugh McAuley doubled on 58 minutes. The Greens were seemingly on their way to their first away win of the season but, alas, a brace from Mick Tait on 59 and 82 minutes ensured that the spoils were shared.
The last time: 13 October, 2018. Sky Bet League One. Oxford United 2-0 Argyle
Derek Adams’s Pilgrims replaced Oxford at the bottom of the League One table at full-time in this encounter. Both of the home team’s goals were scored by former Greens: Jamie Mackie opened the scoring in the fourth minute and Curtis Nelson doubled the home side’s advantage on 74 minutes. To rub salt into Argyle’s wounds, Yann Songo’o was sent off on 81 minutes.
Biggest win: John Sheridan’s Argyle beat United 3-2 on Boxing Day 2013 in Sky Bet League Two. Sheffield Wednesday loanee Caolan Lavery gave us the lead early in the second half. Current Torquay midfielder Asa Hall equalised for the U’s before a Reuben Reid penalty restored our advantage. Reid extended our lead to 3-1 with only three minutes left to play before a Neal Trotman own goal set up a tense finale.
Most goals in a single game: Six, in a 1-5 thrashing for Carl Fletcher’s men in October 2011 at the Kassam Stadium in League Two.
Rob Hall gave Oxford a first half lead, but Argyle skipper Simon Walton pulled the Greens level on 55 minutes. United scored four goals without reply late in the game through Hall’s second, alongside a brace from James Constable and one from Peter Leven.
Saturday's fixture is available to stream live and worldwide on iFollow Argyle. Click here to purchase your pass.