Despite a chaotic week, Plymouth Argyle’s game with Shrewsbury looks all set to go ahead. Prior to kick off, we spoke to the Blue and Amber Fanzine to get an opposition perspective.
First of all, how did you get into supporting Shrewsbury?
Taken as a kid (12) to first game in the early 1990s by my parents who were also fans. Now my parents, myself and my two children sit in the West stand within a few seats of each other. Salop bleeds through the generations in Shropshire.
Are there any Shrewsbury players in particular we should be looking out for this weekend?
In terms of who has started it’s a bit dull but Golbourne has been the most impressive at left back and has been defensively solid, but also when he’s got forward has been doing well while offering a calm head as one of the experienced player. In more exciting matters, Scott High in central midfield has also started well, scoring one and putting in a couple of eye-catching displays. Cummings and Whalley in attacking positions can always be a danger too.
We saw Shrewsbury had an albeit small number of fans allowed in for Saturday’s game. How did the trial go?
Perfectly and the club were given a 10/10 by the sports ground safety authority so as far as what we wanted to achieve it went as well as it could have. People followed the rules about masks, and the way in and out of the stadium. As a fan it was just good to be back we had a couple of pints in the fanzone pre match, enjoyed the sun and watched live football. Shame about the result!
And how has the pandemic affected Shrewsbury more generally?
Furloughed all staff pretty much and have ridden it out. We had 2 million in the bank for a rainy day so compared to a lot of clubs we were well set to get though this. We recruited cheaply and kept the main part of last year’s squad together, so no big outlay on this season. Sensible financial management has been the key message at this club for 10 years now. With everything going on at the moment its what might save us compared to other clubs if things keep getting worse again.
The town itself, being in the middle of nowhere, has not had big COVID outbreaks either.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?
We moved from 5-3-2 last season to a new 4-3-3 tactic which has seen us be more attacking, but lose the defensive solidity that to be honest kept us up last season. It’s a transitional time for the lads moving from one to the other. Seems psychologically they are still stuck with the defensive first mindset at times but there are positive signs coming through. When it clicks (if it clicks) then we should start scoring more and being a real threat. Might be a few weeks off though.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
Well both keepers Burgoyne and Sarkic have made horrendous errors in the opening three games. Burgoyne saved a shot he then put in his own net and last Saturday Sarkic came miles out of goal air kicked a ball and gave Northampton an open goal they duly took. Need to see the cut the errors out as it’s cost us two of the three games so far.
What first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?
It’s a weird one, but It’s a game in 2001/02 when we came to yours on opening day, with a half demolished half rebuilt stadium, had a player sent off and still won 1-0 thanks to Nigel Jemson with a backs to the wall performance. I was there and it had always stuck with me as a proper Shrewsbury battling performance.
Over lockdown the Fanzine worked with the club on a series of retro games and provided a fan commentary of the match, if you look up Plymouth vs Shrewsbury 2001/02 on YouTube your fans can find it and it’s a good glimpse back to when your stadium was being redone. You should have won. Some unreal misses! Lowe was playing for us at the time. (link below if you want a look)
You went on to win the league that year and hardly lost but we did the double over you, and we were pretty terrible. All very odd!
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
Got to be honest, as you have just come up don’t recognise many names in the Plymouth squad. We had Canavan but he was a bang average loan. Ben Reeves has had some good games against us for various clubs but is getting on at bit.
I think if you asked Town fans a lot of them would want your manager. Lowe played for us for 6 years at the start of his career helping us back into the football league at first time of asking, and seems to be doing a decent job at yours playing a style of football our fans would like to see after mostly dull “Rickettsball”. Not me though. Can never forgive him for getting sent off in the game that eventually relegated us to the conference one minute after coming off the bench! It’s a mad story!
What are your predictions for League One in general this year?
It won’t finish. It will get voided and we’ll start again in 2021/22 when everyone’s had a vaccine.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
Well if your lads all test clean for COVID after the game vs Leyton Orient and it actually happens, I suspect a 1-1. We aren’t a bad side but we are not in our stride at all. Would take a point right now to be honest.