Plymouth Argyle are set to welcome Cheltenham Town to Home Park for their latest League Two encounter. As we continue to count down to kick off, we spoke to Cheltenham fan and journalist Mark Halliwell to get his thoughts on the game ahead.
First of all, how did you get into supporting Cheltenham?
I moved to the town when I was 10 and watched my first game in 1980, when we beat Forest Green 3-2 in an FA Cup qualifying round game.
The Football League was a long way away back then and it has been an amazing ride.
Back then I never thought I would see my team play at the old and new Wembley and the Millennium Stadium, and take on Premier League clubs, but we have done all that.
Are there any Cheltenham players in particular we should be looking out for this weekend?
Ryan Broom is the man of the moment with three goals and three assists in the last three games.
He is enjoying his attacking midfield role and is full of confidence.
Up front Luke Varney doesn’t play like a near-37-year-old, and Chris Hussey is a threat down the left-hand side.
Cheltenham have got off to a fantastic start, sitting 3rd in the league after the first nine games. Do you think this is simply a run of form, or something that can be kept up throughout the season?
I would love to think so but at the moment I am just enjoying the start we have made.
At the start of the season I was hoping to see some progress and try to have a season without any relegation worries and hopes are high that that will be the case.
However, we have been superb at home and if we can pick up some wins on the road, then you never know…
It seems you’ve been particularly good going forward, and currently the joint-top scorers in the league with 17. Just what makes the Robins so good in attack?
At home we have been dynamic – creating chances and being ruthless when they have come along.
The style of football has been exciting and entertaining with 15 of our goals coming at home.
The next thing we need to try to do is replicate that football away from home.
We have been resilient on the road but without the same panache we have seen at home.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?
After not winning for his first 9 games in charge, Michael Duff changed to a 3-5-2 system and we have not really looked back since then so I’d be amazed if he changed that at Home Park.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
I hope Ryan Lowe isn’t reading this!
A number of our goals conceded have come from set pieces, so if I was being hyper critical I’d like to see us tighten that part of the game up, but we aren’t doing that much wrong.
What first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?
Lots! I lived in Plymouth for 9 years in the late 80s and 90s and was also at the 1984 Cup semi-final (in the Watford end… my home town).
I worked as a sports writer for the great Harley Lawer at the Sunday Indy and then for the Herald as a sports writer and deputy sports editor, and interviewed many Argyle bosses including Ken Brown, Dave Kemp, Neil Warnock and Peter Shilton, covering the odd game and watching many games including the play off final win over Darlington at Wembley.
I also played at Home Park in a charity game alongside several former players, so Argyle is a club I always looking forward to playing against as I get to see old friends.
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
I’d have to say Danny Mayor. He was the best player in the league last season with Bury.
Do you have any predictions for League Two in general this year?
It’s been an interesting start. Swindon look a good side and I think Newport will also be up there along with Exeter (sorry). Argyle will get it together I am sure and be challengers for top 7 at least. It’s been a very good start for the clubs in the part of the world.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
I will gladly take a draw. 1-1 would suit me fine.