Following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Portsmouth, Plymouth Argyle returned to the foot of the League One table as Bury’s 0-0 draw with fellow strugglers Northampton saw them leapfrog Derek Adams’ side.
The battle for survival is continuing to be a tough one for many sides at the bottom of the table with just four points separating the 18th and 24th with Bristol Rovers on 21 points and Argyle with 17 points after 20 games played. Goals continue to be a problem for the Pilgrims however who, along with Northampton, Wimbledon and Gillingham have scored a league low of just 15 goals to date.
With Ryan Taylor injured since the opening day loss to Peterborough and a very much stop-start season for Nadir Ciftci, Adams has certainly had his fair share of bad luck and that’s before you even get onto the club’s goalkeeping situation. Ultimately though, it is fair to say that neither Taylor or Ciftci are what you would refer to as consistent goalscorers, and the statistics from the pairs careers back that up. With question marks over Nathan Blissett and youngster Alex Fletcher still learning his trade in the game it’s not been particularly surprising that the burden has fallen on Graham Carey’s shoulders for a third season running with the Irishman either scoring or assisting eight times this season.
The difficulty this season has been that whilst the side have improved defensively, a couple of blips aside, when they do concede it’s difficult to see them coming from behind to get something from a game unlike last season in League Two. There have been only two occasions in which the Pilgrims have scored more than once and they were in 2-0 victories over Charlton and Northampton. A lack of firepower was evident in yesterday’s game with Argyle managing just one shot on target in the 90 minutes as well as just two corners compared to Pompey’s six shots and corners each. Without the likes of Brett Pitman and Christian Burgess in their side, there was a great chance to try and exploit the home side, and unfortunately it was never taken.
January will prove to be a vital point in the season for Adams and (particularly with questions over his future) it will be interesting to see whether or not chairman James Brent will help finance further additions to the squad. It seems clear that this will be the moment in time that will be the tipping point in the season, one way or the other. A forward/ attacking player will be the priority and it has been unfortunate that a number of the club’s summer signings simply haven’t been good enough to get into the side. The likes of Ruben Lameiras, Gregg Wylde and Lionel Ainsworth have failed to impress so far when given a chance in the side and have made just six starts in the league between them. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Joel Grant have been the only real shining lights recruitment wise that were brought in prior to the season.
The club will need to bring in more players with Championship and League One experience on their CV’s, something that was abundant in the signing of midfielder Toumani Diagouraga who has been instrumental in the side since joining as a free agent in October. Entering the most vital and pressurised parts of the season, it will be vital that there are more in the side with that little bit of extra quality perhaps than those who gained promotion with the club last season.