With Plymouth Argyle making it nine wins from their last thirteen league games and gliding up the table there is beginning to be realistic talk of a play-off push this season with the side in fantastic form and seemingly only getting better as each week passes.
Indeed, bookmakers had the club written off as hopeless in December with many offering odds of 1000/1 of the club finishing in the top seven. However, following impressive victories over Blackburn, Shrewsbury and finally Wimbledon on Tuesday night, their chances have been slashed down to a mere 12/1. With little expectation of achievement and a lot of thoughts on consolidation this season in League One, the Pilgrims have been playing with more freedom perhaps than last campaign in which promotion was seen as minimum requirement by both the club and the Green Army.
Just three points now separate Derek Adams’ side and the League One play-offs as they sit eighth in the table. The likes of Portsmouth, Bristol Rovers and Gillingham all have a game in hand however – and Peterborough have two which could see the quartet leapfrog Argyle if results for them are favourable. Gillingham and Rovers are in good form of late, both picking up an average of 2.13 points over their last eight games, compared with the Greens’ 2.38. Portsmouth and Peterborough however have struggled which has seen them drop down the table with a disappointing 1.00 and 1.25 points per game over the same period respectively.
It’s testament to the side that Adams has assembled that aside from defender Oscar Threlkeld, every outfield player that started the 4-2 victory over Wimbledon at Home Park on Tuesday has registered a goal this season after David Fox lashed home a superb effort to put his side 2-1 up shortly before. On-loan defender Zak Vyner scored his first in the 2-1 win over Shrewsbury just three days prior with goals clearly no longer a problem for the Devon side.
The run has coincided with the return of forward Ryan Taylor to the side who along with creative players Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras have been in somewhat unstoppable form. The impressive trio have scored or assisted 25 goals (13G, 12A) between them over the 13 match run which has seen them climb from the bottom of the league table. Taylor and Lameiras’ returns have effectively been like signing two new players since they returned from injury and coming back into favour. The former has brought a lot to the table with superb holding up play, an eye for goal and a good pass which sadly could not be said for the likes of Nadir Ciftci, Nathan Blissett and Jake Jervis when they were tried out during the former Oxford man’s absence. It was no coincidence that the side struggled. Lameiras has also impressed hugely and his ability to switch flanks with Carey has had sides bamboozled in recent weeks with their sheer creativity and pace running sides ragged and between the three, in their current form there will surely be offers in the summer should the Greens fail to make the play-offs.
The general atmosphere around the side at the moment is excellent though and perhaps at its strongest point for recent years. A few fans likened the current Argyle side to that of the style during the Ian Holloway era and the heart and commitment of the Carl Fletcher tenure, and, to be honest it is hard not to agree with those sorts of comments. For the first time in a while there are players who really want to be at Plymouth Argyle Football Club. These players aren’t simply here to earn a move elsewhere or pick up some easy money but they’re here to achieve something special and as supporters that is exactly the kind of thing we want from our players. Taylor, who I have already praised highly so far in this piece was only today quoted in The Herald as saying “Why would I want to leave this football club?”. “The manager (Derek Adams) told me that they (Bradford) bid for me but I’m enjoying my football here. I’m loving it at the minute so I’m happy where I am” he went on to say. With each game that passes, supporters are buying more and more into the possibility of play-offs and even promotion via that and whilst it’s easy to get ahead of yourself sometimes, you honestly can’t blame them at the moment.