After a pretty disappointing fortnight, Plymouth Argyle will be hoping for the cup to provide a handy distraction when they take on Lincoln on Saturday. After our fruitful conversation last time, we once again spoke to Gareth of the Stacey West Blog for our Opposition View. You can follow the Stacey West Blog on Twitter here.
First of all, how have things been at Lincoln since we last spoke?
We have had the inevitable bad run, of sorts. We picked up one point in three league matches, losing to Doncaster and Portsmouth and drawing with Accrington, but we seemingly got back on track with the win in midweek against Swindon.
Injuries have begun to pile up and threaten our small squad, but going into December in third place is a big deal for us. With Wigan, Rochdale and Shrewsbury up next, there’s no reason why we can’t get to Christmas and still be up there.
What did you make of the fixture in the league, which Lincoln won 2-0?
To a degree, fortuitous. I think, had it not been for the penalty, the game had 0-0 written all over it. I get that some think it was a soft penalty and I might be inclined to agree, but Brennan Johnson had been fouled moments early in the box and nothing was given, which was clearer cut. I think we got lucky that you have problems with COVID, as cynical as it might sound, because that certainly affected you guys too. I confess, I felt we had mugged you a bit.
And how about your win in the first round of the cup, a comprehensive 6-2 victory over Forest Green?
It looks great, doesn’t it? Yes, we played well and when you score six, then you’re going to be delighted, but Forest Green were awful. I’m no fan of Mark Cooper, but to rest players on a Saturday when your next game isn’t for a week is shocking. He left the spine of his team out, against a side top of League One when the draw was made, and then blasted the players who stepped up. League Two reserves against League One promotion contenders is only going to go one way.
We were good though, three superb goals from the six, a thunderbolt for a good 30-yards, a solo goal from Johnson which had it all, and then a team goal including two back heel flicks. One thing about us, when it’s good, it is really good.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday? And will Lincoln’s style away from home be similar to your home setup?
We approach all games the same, the only changes tend to be personnel. For instance, if we are playing a side with a 3-5-2 formation, Harry Anderson might get a run out at full back as he is a serious attacking threat when he doesn’t have a full back and a winger to contend with. I don’t want to say too much more, if being coy is good enough for Ryan Lowe, it is good enough for me!
Can we expect Lincoln to field a weakened side for a cup fixture?
In all honesty, we really can’t. We still have Jamie Soule, Callum Morton and Remy Howarth injured, Joe Walsh is a serious doubt as he’s on his way back, plus Alex Bradley and Aaron Lewis are out on loan. We have options, but none of them are really ‘weakened’. For instance, Leeds loanee Robbie Gotts and former Fulham man Tayo Edun played full back in midweek, which some consider ‘weakened’, but they started our last game.
We have one fit out-and-put striker in Tom Hopper, and if he doesn’t play there Brennan Johnson will, but Johnson is a regular starter on the flanks. I think we’ll be as strong as we were in midweek, almost certainly.
What have you made of Argyle’s progress so far this season?
I’m always impressed with Ryan Lowe’s sides and I’m not at all surprised you have made a decent start. Of all the clubs that have come up, I think Plymouth are best equipped to be a top ten side.
Realistically, how far are you hoping to get in the cup this year?
Dare I say, further than this? I think the money is more important this year than any other and dreams of a big third round tie are pointless when fans can’t get into the stadium. I just hope we go as far as we can and keep dropping pounds in the bank. If we could back Michael with another striker in January, we might just be able to finish in the top six, which would be unreal.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
I think we’ll get beat, maybe 2-0. I cannot remember the last time we won at Home Park and I suspect you feel like you owe us one for October.