Fantastic. Mesmerizing. Rampant. All words to describe Plymouth Argyle as they thundered to a 4-0 win over Southend at Home Park for what was their highest win of the season so far. The three points also coupled with a return to the League One play-off positions at the expense of Peterborough who could only draw 1-1 with Rotherham.
Unlike last weekend’s dismal showing against Charlton there were many positives to take from the performance, particularly at the attacking end of the pitch as Argyle’s front three of Ryan Taylor, Ruben Lameiras and Graham Carey tormented the Shrimpers’ defence. Whilst Graham Carey who picked up two goals as well as man-of-the-match the former duo could also feel aggrieved not to have picked up more plaudits for their efforts.
Taylor in particular has come under fire from a small section of fans recently for his lack of goals since his return from injury with four goals in 20 appearances. Statistics are often a massive part of modern day football, and admittedly a strikers primary purpose is to score goals but in the case of a target man such as the former Oxford man to focus solely on goals ignores just about everything that he brings to the table. His hold up play and distribution skills are a pivotal reason behind Argyle’s resurgence with him registering a fifth assist for Lameiras’ opener. If Taylor was able to add the ‘goalscorer’ trait to his game, and this is in no way an exaggeration, he would be a Premier League footballer. The performances of the trio have been infectious on the rest of the side with the burden on Carey somewhat reduced this season in comparison to his previous two with the club. Statistics show that Taylor scores or assists a goal every 204 minutes with Carey (126.5) and Lamerias (120) also with impressive numbers in the league this season.
Tactically, Adams returned to his scheming best against a Southend side that had only lost once in 11 matches and had been much improved under new manager Chris Powell. Argyle have fared well against the 4-4-2 or the 4-4-1-1 formation this season as the Shrimpers later reverted to in order to limit the damage to the scoreline. The space allowed total domination of the midfield and once on the ball put Southend at an immediate disadvantage being a player short against the trio of Fox, Ness and Masaki. The three were first to the ball and every second ball throughout the encounter and it was testament to their efforts when they were brought off to preserve them for Monday’s vital clash with Scunthorpe. The formation suited Argyle down to a tee, with Lameiras and Carey switching wings and the midfield shifting the ball to the pair with a real fluidity as they continued to cut open the Blues defence all afternoon.
Despite the emphatic win, there will be no time for the Pilgrims to rest on their laurels with fixtures against fellow play-off hopefuls Scunthorpe, Peterbrough, Portsmouth and Rotherham in their last seven matches of the season as well as relegation threatened duo Rochdale and Northampton with mid-table Gillingham on the last dau. This will ensure no easy games for Adams’ side with six our of the seven sides having a lot to play for during the season run-in. If the form table is anything to go by, Argyle are head and shoulders above their upcoming opponents having picked up 25 points from their previous 10 matches with no side conceding less than Argyle’s nine goals and only Blackburn (25) scoring more than our 24 over that run of fixtures.
Portsmouth in particular will be the pick of the ties at Home Park on April 14th with the fixture in recent seasons proving to be very entertaining. Before this season’s 1-0 loss at Fratton Park, Adams’ side had gone five games unbeaten against Pompey, including a late winners from Gregg Wylde and most memorably Peter Hartley in the 2016 play-offs as well as Connor Smith’s 89th minute effort in the 2-2 draw at home last season. Whilst geographically the supposed ‘Dockyard Derby’ isn’t technically a derby match, there is no doubt that the years both sides spent in League Two a rivalry developed between two of the divisions bigger sides.
For now however, Adams won’t be looking that far ahead and instead to Monday’s trip to Scunthorpe where a win will move them above the Iron in the table with a game in hand over their rivals and really give Argyle a chance to make the play-off spots their own.