Plymouth Argyle are preparing for their trip to Lincoln, with both sides looking to build on a strong start to the campaign. Ahead of the encounter, we spoke to Lincoln fan Gareth of the Stacey West Blog, who can also be found on Twitter, for an opposition perspective.
First of all, how did you get into supporting Lincoln?
I was born into it! My grandad was an Imps fan and he used to go and watch in the days of Bill Anderson, the manager that saw us stay in the old Second Division for a decade. Then my Dad started going, and I remember dropping him off in town when I was a kid to go and watch games. He took me to my first game in 1986, and that was that. I’ve been a fan ever since and even served as the matchday mascot for 16 years.
Are there any Lincoln players in particular we should be looking out for?
Dare I say, all of them? We’ve proven ourselves to be a really efficient and cohesive unit this season so far, and although a few stand out, there is danger across our XI and the bench. If I had to pick a couple, Jorge Grant would be top. He’s an artist with a football, a player who makes passing and ball retention look easy. Lewis Montsma is writing headlines, he’s a 21-year-old Dutch defender we signed from Dordrecht this summer. He’s a threat from set pieces and has six goals already this season.
Brennan Johnson is a third. He’s on loan from Forest and in his two starts he’s looked incredible. As an outside bet, I would keep an eye of Theo Archibald too. He hasn’t played much but, if injuries keep one or two out on Tuesday, he might play and I think he’s going to be the season’s surprise package.
What have you made of your start to the season so far?
It’s been excellent, four wins and a draw from six matches. It’s been beyond our wildest dreams really, especially as we have had Blackpool, Oxford, Fleetwood and Charlton thus far. All four should really be in the mix at the top of the table and we have ten points from those four games.
And what would you say your ambitions are for the rest of the campaign?
I said around 12th would be a good finish at the start of the season, but I am hopeful we might improve on that. We have an exciting young squad who don’t know when they’re beat, coming back from behind twice to win at Blackpool. I’m not heaping pressure on them though; Michael Appleton believes another year in the group and we could be contenders and I’ll go with that.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Tuesday?
It could be any number of combinations, but probably 4-3-3 with overlapping full backs and a tight heart to the midfield. The three will be one defensive midfielder sitting deep, likely Liam Bridcutt, with Grant and James Jones ahead. Expect lots of tight passing moves, neat triangles and fluid movement too.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
It would be remiss to call anyone a weak link in a side that is third in the table, I think. Some believe our lack of out-and-out left back could be an issue; Max Melbourne has been injured and 17-year-old Sean Roughan has deputised, as has Tayo Edun. The former is a centre back by trade, but has been awesome when he’s played, whilst the latter is a central midfielder.
However, both have been more than competent. Some might think our striker, Tom Hopper, doesn’t get enough goals, but if we’re scoring from all areas of the field then his work around the box is paying dividends in some ways.
What first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?
Long journeys and almost inevitable defeats. I remember the 0-0 in the FA Cup as it was my final game as mascot and I did a lap of honour at half time; even your fans applauded which I thought was very touching. Thank you for that; if anyone was there, those things do not go unnoticed.
I have relations in Exeter and my uncle and cousin are both huge fans, the latter going home and away, so I’m not allowed to say too much more positive I’m afraid. Mind you, given the animosity between us and them (see play-offs 2017/18), I suspect you would be most Imps’ fans favourite Devon team and for the applause back in November 2013, you’re mine too. Just don’t tell my uncle Keith, eh?
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
I would have said Alex Palmer, but, well, you know. I quite like Ryan Hardie, I think he would do well in our side, but it would be remiss of me to say anyone other than Danny Mayor. He’s always impressed me and I think he’d fit our style well.
What are your predictions for League One in general this year?
Kenny Jackett to get sacked before Christmas is the big one. After that, I expect Ipswich to falter at some point, with Peterborough and Hull right up there with Sunderland, Charlton and maybe Doncaster Rovers. At the bottom, it’s going to be a long season for Northampton and Burton, and I suspect Rochdale might get tugged in there too.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
With respect, I see this as a ‘should win’ game. If you want to be top ten you have to win your home matches, draw away games and roll with whatever defeats come along. We lost our last home tie but your style suits ours more. Ryan Lowe’s football is lovely and I expect goals, but you’ll come to beat us, not to make us beat you. That works in our favour, so an open game finishes 3-2 to City.