The Opposition View: Plymouth Argyle

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 13 April 2017

What's your overall assessment of the season?

It's been a greatly successful, yet very strange season for Argyle fans. Labelled as 'the most uninspiring promotion season ever' we are finally about to climb out of the basement division. The 'uninspiring' comes from the especially negative home tactics and performances (especially on Tuesday nights for some reason). We've only really hit the ground running and played teams off the park a couple of times. The rest have all been plucky wins all about being clinical and having the character and guile to pull through.

My personal opinion is that this is not a problem at all and we've had a fantastic season - what's the point in trying to be a 'good team' in a very poor division where you inevitably get dragged down to the standard, especially at home with teams parking the bus - as Pompey have found in seasons gone by.

Finding a way of winning is what it takes to get out of this division, and probably the next, the time for being a 'good team' comes after. Add into all this we had the FA Cup tie at Anfield and bringing them back to Home Park was a special experience.

Plymouth have the best away record in the division. What's been the key to your team's success on the road?

Away days have been brilliant this year. The record is all about our defence and how organised they are. It's clear to me that Adams has realised that most teams in this league will concede a goal or two per game, so he's built around that and hit clinically on the counter. Home teams have had and will have plenty of the ball and often come away feeling hard done by and 'unlucky'. This has often been reflected in opposing managers comments post match.

Our argument is that we can't have been lucky 13 times and that Adams has found our perfect formula away from home with physical and pacey players who employ this tactic exceptionally well.

Ryan Taylor used to play for Pompey. What do Argyle fans think of him?

Ryan made a great start by scoring at home against Exeter so naturally secured a place in a lot of green hearts. This combined with the 95th minute winner at Crawley last week. The majority of Argyle fans see him as our best striker now. He's very good at what he does winning flick ons and doesn't stop running, however has found himself isolated all too often - especially at home when we've been crying out for two up top.

The lone striker role in our system is a thankless task with the strikers not getting too many goals, more bringing our attacking midfield three in. Taylor has a lot of promise and a lot of fans here, I think he needs to stay up off the floor a bit more though!

What are the main strengths and weaknesses of this Plymouth team and who are the key players in the squad as the campaign reaches its climax?

Strengths again would be the defensive organisation with Sonny Bradley at the heart. Along with your Enda Stevens, Sonny was the only other representative in the EFL Team of the Season from League Two. The number of last ditch challenges, blocks, as well as far post headers he's scored winning us key points, he's been nothing short of a Godsend this year after Nelson left and undoubtedly a future club captain if we can keep him. He seems to have matured and taken the frequent mistakes that Portsmouth fans saw out of his game.

In addition to this, of course, we have our main man Graham Carey. With something like 27 combined assists and goals this season he's proved an invaluable asset to the team once again. If he is firing then any team in this league would do well to get a point from us. When combined with the calm, composed influence of the experienced David Fox these two are a great midfield match.

Another strength is late goals. I've lost count of how many we've scored this season but it's clear we never give up until the final whistle has gone.

Weaknesses is a difficult one as with the exception of Carey we don't 'excel' anywhere - just solidly efficient all over the pitch, perhaps if pushed I would say at full back. If Sawyer and Miller start left and right back respectively, there isn't a lot of pace between them that has been exposed recently. If Threlkeld starts right back (who the fans certainly prefer) he'll give any man in this league a run for their money over 100 metres. Another one is we have struggled to replace McHugh from last year in front of the back four, Songo'o who often plays there is a good brute and can win a ball but has the vision and passing ability of Danny Shittu. 

Given the previous that has happened between the two clubs in the last couple of years, the respective league positions of both clubs and the fact that Argyle could be promoted after Good Friday's match, is there an extra edge to this game from Plymouth fans' point of view?

There is a slight extra edge of course when considering the recent history. Pompey will be desperate to make amends for last year, and we have the possibility of securing promotion - a sold out home and away end, so I'd expect there'll be a bit of needle in the air.

Regrettably though, even the most ardent of Argyle fans aren't really expecting mathematical promotion on Friday, with Luton playing Leyton Orient at home it seems only one result is possible with Orient's sad recent plight. 

What kind of match can we expect at Fratton Park and would you take a draw if offered now?

A lot of you will have seen the Donny vs Argyle game on TV and you can expect similar. We will let you have plenty of the ball and do what we've done away from home all season looking to nick one on the counter whilst defending for our lives. I think it'll be a low scoring, cagey affair as neither side will want to lose. I'd bite your arm off for a draw now to take into the match at home to Newport on Monday, where we'll more realistically be looking to secure promotion.

Predict the outcome of the game.

My heart says another plucky 1-0 with a Sonny Bradley header would be great. Unfortunately my head says this may be one step too far and going 2-0 Pompey. Whatever the result I'm on the train to Gatwick after the game to catch a flight to Greece, so if it's negative I'm hoping it will soon be forgotten about!

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