Plymouth Argyle’s fixtures for their 2019/20 League Two campaign were released today. Of course, every single fixture is important in its own right, with three points on the line every time the Greens step out onto the field. However, we’ve picked out five games in particular which could be particularly crucial, and have the potential to define Argyle’s campaign.
Plymouth Argyle vs Salford – 20th August 2019
Argyle were the early favourites with bookmakers to win the League Two title following their final day relegation from League One last season. However, the Pilgrims have since been overtaken by Salford in that regard. Of course, the odds themselves don’t necessarily mean a great deal at this stage. They are simply reflecting which teams people are putting their money on, rather than who is shaping up well to challenge at the right end of the table. However, it must be agreed that both Argyle and Salford will be aiming to win promotion next season.
Therefore, this game is likely to be significant, and will be an early test for the promotion credentials of each side. There’s certainly an argument that Argyle are set to play Salford at the right time. The bankrolled north-west side did of course win promotion last season, but failed to win any of their first three games. If Argyle can take advantage of some early season nerves from their visitors, they may pick up a vital three points early in the campaign.
Plymouth Argyle vs Scunthorpe – 5th October 2019
Argyle’s first league game in October will be against fellow relegated side Scunthorpe. The Iron are of course now managed by Paul Hurst, a man many Argyle supporters wanted the Greens to hire before the eventual appointment of Ryan Lowe. Scunthorpe look in good shape, and Argyle have gone into October struggling for the past two seasons. If the same happens again, Hurst’s men will be primed to take advantage.
What makes this fixture even more significant, however, is that it will be the first return to Home Park for Scunthorpe since the final day of last season. Argyle were relegated despite winning that day, but the game is also remembered for what was described at the time as “one of the most disgraceful acts of football Home Park has ever witnessed”, as Josh Morris scored for Scunthorpe whilst Argyle goalkeeper Matt Macey was down injured. Don’t be surprised if there is a little edge to the game as a result, especially in the stands. We’ve seen with Wycombe that rivalries can develop through on-field antics rather than geography.
Carlisle vs Plymouth Argyle – 11th January 2020
Ryan Lowe and his side face a daunting January, with consecutive long trips to Scunthorpe and Carlisle greeting them into 2020. As we’ve mentioned, the Scunthorpe fixtures are likely to be difficult encounters, so there’s every chance Argyle may travel to Carlisle looking to regain momentum following a defeat the previous week. The Cumbrians may be setting up for a challenging season following the loss of Jamie Devitt, who was linked to Argyle before signing for Blackpool this week, but they shouldn’t be written off.
Argyle faced a similar fixture to this in 2015/16, when they were pencilled in to travel to Carlisle during the first weekend of the new year. The Pilgrims won on that occasion, but the game was played at Blackburn’s Ewood Park due to severe flooding at Brunton Park. If Carlisle are able to play Argyle at their home ground this time around, Argyle ought to be wary – they’ve been defeated on their last two visits to Brunton Park without scoring a single goal.
Plymouth Argyle vs Exeter – 21st March 2020
Games against one’s local rivals are always likely to feature prominently on these types of lists. However, this one is even more important due to the nature of its scheduling. Argyle are due to contest the second Devon Derby of the season in March, which this time around happens to be the penultimate month of the league campaign. It’s therefore entirely possible that there will be an awful lot riding on this fixture when it eventually comes around.
Granted, fixtures against Exeter are always going to be important. However, when they occur later in the season, at a time when league prospects are much clearer, that importance increases yet further. It’s why in 2015/16, the 2-1 defeat in April hurt a lot more than the 2-1 defeat in November. It’s why in 2016/17, when Argyle beat their bitter rivals twice, only one featured in our summary of Derek Adams’ top ten games. Both teams may have a lot to play for when they face each other at Home Park, and this fixture may be another one we’re looking back on with delight or anguish in the years to come.
Walsall vs Plymouth Argyle – 10th April 2020
Argyle kick off their Easter weekend this coming season with a trip to Walsall. Now managed by Darrell Clarke, Argyle’s Good Friday hosts are another side who look in good shape to challenge for an immediate return to League One. Therefore, if Argyle harbour promotion ambitions of their own, their April encounter with the Saddlers could be a vital fixture.
The Greens have been disappointing when travelling to Walsall across the past two seasons, losing 2-1 on each occasion. However, both of those games came near the start of the campaign, with the fixture in 2018/19 falling on opening day. Things are set to be different this time around, with this particular game currently scheduled to be Argyle’s 43rd league match of the season. If Ryan Lowe’s team can get a result in the Midlands this time, they could set themselves up very well for the final three games of the league season, two of which will be at Home Park.