Ryan hardie

Hardie's Burton Preview

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Argyle striker Ryan Hardie accepts that being top of the league means the Pilgrims are a seen as a potential scalp to other teams in Sky Bet League One, but says he and his team-mates are relishing the challenge this poses.

The Greens hit the top spot in the division on 25 September when they beat Ipswich Town and have remained there since. Going into Saturday’s trip to Burton Albion, Argyle have a four-point lead over the Tractor Boys, who are second.

Hardie admits that being on the league’s summit probably raises the game of the each of the opponents they face, but says it not something that daunts the team, particularly with their current goalscoring record.

Argyle have scored in all of the first 18 games of the League One season, something only achieved four times in the club’s history. Hardie leads the Pilgrims’ goalscoring chart, with nine goals in all competitions.

“It’s a credit to us and how we are playing,” he said. “They’ve got to raise their game to get to the standards that we are setting. Everybody plays it as a cup final, playing the top of the league, so for us it is that challenge as well. We’ve got to go and take it to them.

“If you are going to play a team higher than you in the league or a cup game against a team above you always want to prove your worth to show you are not just there, not just in the competition, but you want to be up there as well.

“We set our standards high every week. In training every day we demand a lot from each other. We take that into the game, and it has been showing of late.

“We don’t get too upset if we lose a goal, we always know we can get back into the game. Nobody gets their head down; we know we will get chances in the game and we know that we have players who can create things.

“As a striker, that’s what you want: to be getting chances in games. Then it is up to us to get the ball into the net. Ultimately, we want to start keeping a few more clean sheets. That will help us win more games.”

Argyle head to Burton Albion this Saturday, the third straight away game in as many weekends. They will be backed by a sold-out away end, as the Green Army acted fast to snap up all tickets available for the trip to the Pirelli Stadium.

Burton are 23rd in League One but are unbeaten in four games at home. Hardie, for one, will not be taking them lightly.

“We need to set up like it is any other game,” he said. “We go there to try to get the three points, as we do every game. We’ll analyse them, we’ll work on a shape and style of play that we think will hurt them. We do lot of in-depth detail and analysis, a lot of video work on what they do.

“The support this season has been unreal. The home games have been incredible, the backing the fans have given us has been unbelievable. Hopefully we can keep given them something to shout about and getting them excited for games. That is up to us. So far, we’ve done that, especially at home, we’ve definitely put on a show. Away games we have done our job.

“When we go one down, the fans still sing and try to drag you through it. They are as important as your team-mates.

“We just need to keep it going. Together – fans, players and backroom staff – we can all do it.”

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