Meet Town’s opposition: A hat-trick of defeats has halted the Pilgrims’ progress
- Credit: Andy Abbotty
Football writer Carl Marston casts his eye over Plymouth Argyle, who play host to Ipswich Town this weekend
Plymouth Argyle have lost their last three league matches, conceding 10 goals to boot, while Town have not scored in three fixtures – so it should be a League One cracker in deepest Devon!
Actually, to do the Pilgrims full justice, and in particular their manager Ryan Lowe, this has not been a bad first third of the season following promotion back to the third tier at the first time of asking last term.
In fact, before this recent sequence of results, Plymouth had not suffered back-to-back league defeats since Lowe took over the managerial reins during the summer of 2018.
A big test awaits Paul Lambert’s men, therefore, especially against a side still stewing after Tuesday night’s 4-0 home loss to Rochdale.
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HOME PARK COMFORTS
Mid-table Plymouth, despite being wallopped by The Dale in midweek, can boast the third best home record in the division.
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Only today’s visitors Town have accumulated more points (18) on home turf than Plymouth (17). Fleetwood, who hammered the Pilgrims 5-1 a fortnight ago, have also picked up 17 points at their Highbury Stadium home.
The list of Home Park victims so far extends to Blackpool (1-0), Doncaster Rovers (2-1), Northampton (2-1) and Swindon (4-2), while both Shrewsbury and Portsmouth escaped with draws.
The Pilgrims are also still going strong in the FA Cup. A 2-0 home win over Lincoln City last weekend has earned them a tough third round trip to Huddersfield.
So why are Plymouth in the bottom half of the table? The quick answer – they have the worst away record in the third tier, with no wins and just two points from six fixtures.
GOALS SPREAD AROUND
Luke Jephcott tops the charts with an impressive eight goals, from 12 outings, although 14 different players have all scored for Plymouth this season.
Welsh 20-year-old Jephcott, who made his Pilgrims debut when still an apprentice, has netted six goals in the last seven games, and so is bang in form.
Former Everton trainee Conor Grant has weighed in with three goals, although he has only scored once in the last two months.
Midfielder Grant played six league games on loan at Ipswich during what was supposed to be a season-long loan in 2016-17, when aged 21, although he had already returned to Goodison Park by mid-November to gain more experience in the Toffees’ development squad, having failed to establish himself at Portman Road.
The experienced Joe Edwards, who had a season at Colchester United during the U’s relegation season of 2015-16, has also netted three times this term.
Edwards played most of his games for Colchester in central midfield, although he has been operating mostly as a right wing-back for the Pilgrims.
Another former Town player, much-travelled attacker Frank Nouble, has scored twice and has also assisted in three other goals.
The 29-year-old was at Portman Road for 18 months from the start of 2013, rattling up 56 appearances in the Championship, although 34 of these were as a substitute.
More recently, Nouble spent two seasons at Colchester, usually operating on the left flank, until being released over the summer, with Plymouth quick to snap him up.
THE LAST TIME
Town and Argyle were both in a pickle, at the wrong end of the Championship table, when they last met at Home Park just over 11 years ago, on October 24, 2009.
Town’s search for a first league win of the season was extended to 14 games as Roy Keane’s men were held to a 1-1 draw, and they only just managed that due to Jon Stead’s second-half equaliser.
The second-tier basement showdown began with Plymouth breaking the deadlock through Carl Fletcher’s sizzling finish past keeper Asmir Begovic, on 22 minutes.
A defeat at Plymouth, second-from-bottom, would have been unthinkable for bottom club Town, who were fast becoming the laughing stock of the Championship, and they were spared that by super sub Stead, on as a replacement for the off-colour Pablo Counago, who intercepted a back pass by Gary Sawyer to round keeper Romain Larrieu for a 68th minute leveller.
Plymouth were managed at the time by former Ipswich Town legendary striker Paul Mariner, and the Pilgrims held on for a point despite being reduced to 10 men by Alan Quinn’s 84th minute red card.
Town eventually clawed their way out of the relegation scrap that season, but Plymouth were relegated into the third tier, which is where they are reunited this afternoon.