The Blues go into a rematch of last season’s play-off semi-final when they travel to Home Park on Saturday. On that occasion, Peter Hartley’s 90th minute winner from a corner consigned them to another season in League Two, but Pompey will be keen to get revenge this time around. In this fixture last season, Pompey came out 2-1 winners, courtesy of penalties from Gary Roberts and Matt Tubbs, and Pompey will need to recreate that sort of result if they are to rise up the league table this week.
Plymouth have started the season brilliantly and are top of the League Two table. The manager, Derek Adams, has been awarded the Manager of the Month award for his side’s start, and they hold a remarkable five point lead at the top of the table after twelve matches. Their most recent win was a triumph over Stevenage, and they have been unbeaten in the league since defeats in their first two games.
One to watch:
Argyle have no shortage of talent at their disposal and have experienced players at this level among their ranks, such as Luke McCormick, David Goodwillie, and Jordan Slew. Their most prized player, however, is undoubtedly Graham Carey. He was one of Plymouth’s star performers last season when they reached the play-off final, operating both on the left wing and in the number ten position. Carey has continued his scintillating form so far this term, and has scored five goals already in all competitions.
Argyle and Pompey will most likely mirror each other with their 4-2-3-1 systems, although the hosts may operate with two forwards, one of which would play in a wide position. Last season it was Jake Jervis who played in this role, playing off of Jamille Matt, but this season the front position has been occupied by one of Jervis, Slew, and Jimmy Spencer, while the three advanced midfielders are any of the above three, Craig Tanner, and Graham Carey.
We’ve seen you before…:
Argyle employ two ex-Blues players in Sonny Bradley and Jake Jervis. Bradley spent the 2013-14 season at Pompey, spent playing as a centre-back, although Andy Awford did use him as an emergency striker in the 4-4 draw away to Bury that season. He divides opinion among Pompey fans due to accusations of him caring more about his appearance than his performances. On Saturday, Bradley scored all the goals in the Pilgrims’ 2-1 win over Stevenage, with two goals and an own goal. Jervis, on the other hand, spent one successful loan spell and one unsuccessful permanent spell at Fratton Park between 2012 and 2014.
The Blues have been a mixed bag recently, going on a three match losing run before putting in what is arguably their best away performance of the season at Leyton Orient last weekend. Plymouth will be stern opposition so they will need to improve even on their Brisbane Road performance if they are to come out of the game with anything at all.
The changes made by Paul Cook last week paid off with the 1-0 win at Orient, so he will most likely put his faith in the players who ground out that result. Amine Linganzi made his first league start of the campaign in place of Danny Rose, and performed well. However, it will be interesting to see whether Cook trusts Linganzi enough to pick him again in such a vital game, or whether he feels Rose’ experience makes him more reliable than the Congolese midfielder. Here is my predicted lineup:
The so-called ‘Dockyard Derby’ is always a close match and, at the moment, matches two of the best sides in League Two together. I can’t see the match being especially high scoring due to both sides having solid defences, but unfortunately I’m predicting a 2-1 win for Plymouth. I think the Pilgrims are simply too strong for any team in the division at the moment.
Man of the Match prediction:
The Man of the Match award in top of the table clashes such as these normally goes to one of the flair players from either side. On Saturday it will most likely to go to either Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts, or Graham Carey. Unfortunately Carey is my pick for man of the match, possibly scoring and assisting in a home victory.
First goalscorer prediction:
Conor Chaplin is always a good pick for first goalscorer but, again, I’m going for a Plymouth player. I am expecting Jake Jervis to score and first and continue Pompey’s curse of ex-players scoring against them.
Hopefully the Blues will prove me wrong and secure a vital win but, frankly, I’m not overly optimistic.