Plymouth Argyle’s remarkable ascendance through the ranks in the EFL League One has gone rather unnoticed by outsiders, so it’s time to bring light to their wonderful achievements over the previous seven matches.
On 25 November, Portsmouth secured a 1-0 win against The Pilgrims at Fratton Park to condemn them to the foot of the table. It compounded their disastrous start to the 2017/18 campaign, which consisted of only four wins from their opening twenty league fixtures.
They’d also leaked 29 goals during that period and netted a mere 15 times, which equated to an average of 0.75 goals per game. The Devon-based side merited their place at the bottom of the league rankings but their unexpected rise into the top half was never on the cards.
The stars of their promotion-winning campaign Graham Carey and Jake Jervis were clearly finding it very difficult to replicate their League Two form in the third tier of English football. Carey and Jervis were The Pilgrims leading goal scorers during the 2016/17 season with a combined total of 27 league goals. However, they’d only accumulated three league goals each by Match Day 20.
Derek Adams pulled off a masterstroke by engineering the arrival of French midfielder Toumani Diagouraga from Leeds United on a free transfer. The former Brentford midfielder would sign a short-term deal but unfortunately played his final game for the club during a 3-0 win against Bury on Saturday.
His impact largely contributed to Plymouth’s revival with his driving runs forming an increased amount of movement in the final third. His first goal in the final minute of normal time against Gillingham clinched them only their fifth league win of the season on 9 December.
The 30-year-old closed off with his third goal for the club during Saturday’s win against Bury at Home Park. His absence will be felt by the entire team but his brief cameo role in their returning season to League One is unlikely to be forgotten.
Plymouth are playing a more free flowing attacking style, which has also partially fixed their defensive issues due to the sheer tenacity of their attacking movement. They are following the typical cliché of ‘attacking is the best source of defence’ and it’s benefiting them majorly from the evidence of their recent performances.
The Play-Off Dream
Club manager Derek Adams is attempting to avoid complacency by retracting the notion that Plymouth Argyle could potentially reach the play-offs. However, it’s clear that this is now a realistic possibility due to their 17-point haul since late-November, which has catapulted them into 12th place and also to within seven points of 6th place Portsmouth.
According to the Plymouth Herald, Adams is set to offer loan moves to Sheffield United duo Ben Heneghan and Nathan Thomas. The pair both signed for The Blades during the summer transfer window but have fell victims to their success by receiving limited playing time. Heneghan, who also played for Motherwell, is yet to make his senior debut and Thomas has featured only twice under Wilder this season.
The potential incoming transfers are purely speculation but The Pilgrims will require another driving force from central midfield due to the departure of Toumani Diagouraga. Competition for places will also be key, as an array of fresh faces to shore things up will surely enhance their chances of reaching the play-off places in May.
Plymouth Argyle last played in the Championship during the 2009/10 season but they’re edging closer than ever to a return to the second tier of English football. They face League One leaders Wigan Athletic, second-place Shrewsbury Town and third-place Blackburn Rovers in their next five fixtures. If they can survive and even record results against the top teams in the division, then the play-off dream could soon become a reality!