At the 14th attempt, Plymouth Argyle finally recorded their first Tuesday night win at Home Park in the league for over two years as they recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Northampton Town last night.
The last win in such circumstances came back in September 2015 as goals from Jake Jervis and Graham Carey saw them overcome Barnet 2-1. Since then the Pilgrims had severely struggled on home turf with results such as last season’s hapless 3-0 loss against Blackpool all too common on such occasions. The match yesterday was much less smash-and-grab (such as recent victories over Bradford and Wimbledon) and instead much more fluid with the home side dominant for the vast majority, whilst Northampton looked more like a side likely to be plying their trade back in League Two next season if manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink doesn’t turn things around soon.
The win also marked a first home win in the league for almost three months, and just a second of the season, the other being in August’s 2-0 victory over Charlton. The win was just their fourth from 19 games this season in their return to league one, although of those wins, three have come in their previous five games with victories over Wimbledon and Bradford as well as last night’s opponents. Furthermore, just one defeat in their last seven has proven testament to the side returning to their more defensive style of play as deployed last season which gained them promotion to League One. The dominant display combined with a win will hopefully install some more confidence in the players with this only being the second time this season they have scored more than once in a game and prior home form seeing nearly as many red cards (five) as goals scored by Argyle (six).
It hasn’t by any means been plain sailing down on the South West this season with the club already having named six different goalkeepers in their match-day squad due to a spate of injuries. 16-year-old Max Childs became the first player born this millennium to feature in an Argyle squad with his inclusion last night whilst the likes of Luke McCormick, Robbert te Loeke, Kyle Letheren and Michael Cooper all remain injured, leaving Remi Matthews, in on emergency loan from Championship side Norwich City as the club’s first choice. Despite this, the 23-year-old has put in a number of assured displays and kept a number of clean sheets as the Plymouth revival continues. Fans will be hoping for Matthews himself to avoid further injury after picking up a knock against Oxford and consequently almost missing last night’s match.
Whilst goals still remain a real concern heading into the January transfer market, the defensive displays have looked much more assured in recent weeks aside from Saturday’s 4-0 hammering at the hands of Oxford which can be at least partly attributed to a questionable early red card. There finally appears to be light at the end of the tunnel following a miserable start to the season and whilst fans were ultimately divided over his future, it has been testament to the club’s hierarchy that they decided to back Derek Adams as manager whilst the likes of Gillingham, Bury, Northampton and Oldham have all made new appointments with varying success thus far. With the hire and fire policy of modern football, Adams, who has been in charge of Argyle for just over two years is the 19th longest serving manager of all the 92 league clubs.
Saturday’s trip to Portsmouth could potentially offer a huge reward if the greens were to pick up another three points on the road. Depending on results elsewhere, it would be feasibly possible to climb out of the relegation zone with just three points and goal difference separating themselves in 23rd and Doncaster who sit 18th. They will be aided by the absence of two key Pompey players, Brett Pitman and Christian Burgess. Pitman, with 12 goals already this season, has scored exactly 50% of his sides goals and will be a huge miss whilst Burgess picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in his side’s 2-1 defeat to Peterborough. The absence of former Bournemouth man Pitman will likely leave Conor Chaplin as his replacement with the 20-year-old very much a disliked figure following some of his histrionics in previous fixtures between the two clubs. Adams’ side will be buoyed by the fact that Pompey have just two wins against Argyle in their previous 11 encounters.