The hour I first believed…

Ricky HolmesThere’s certain times in a successful season that you look back and point to as moments when you started to believe that it would be ‘our year’. In 1997, a run of high scoring home wins in January, including a couple in deep snow, in 2000 back to back 1-0 wins at far flung Carlisle and Darlington to rescue a flailing promotion bid and 2006’s win at London Road featuring that slip by Sean St. Ledger. If we’re looking back in May having secured promotion, this last week could well be reflected on as a similar milestone.

Winning at Plymouth last Tuesday night took the campaign to a level not seen by an entire generation of Cobblers fans. Saturday’s effort at Dagenham simply reinforced the feeling that even the most pessimistic Town supporters now must have – that belief is running through the entire club that this is a season like no other.

Gone are the injury time turn arounds, gone are the missed chances, gone are the unlucky bounces and the false dawns.  This squad has something very, very special and anyone that knows me knows that I don’t have this much optimism about the Cobblers easily! We’re brimming with confidence, playing some outstanding football and digging in when we need to. It’s a feeling of invincibility that has to end sometime but there’s every confidence that when the run does come to an end that it won’t last long enough to pull us away from the promotion hunt. After all we’ve been through as a club since the start of the season it’s just incredible.

Every player is doing their bit but having Ricky Holmes back is adding that bit of extra quality to an already blossoming squad. The way he’s taking his goals, the runs he’s making and the little touches that create space are making him the main man, however long he’s on the pitch for. It’s a big thing to proclaim but Holmes is having the type of influence that Martin Smith used to have and (whisper it quietly) may even have that little bit extra. Having the likes of Rico and James Collins ahead of him and the energy of the likes of Sam Hoskins, Lawson D’Ath, Nicky Adams and Alfie Potter alongside him it’s one of the most exciting front lines we’ve ever had. With Rod McDonald now coming into his own, Adam Smith pulling off his own miraculous stops and the back unit now as solid as they’ve been, it’s a team to be proud of and one that’s capturing the imagination of the town once more.

Added to the league form is the small matter of an enormous FA Cup replay at Milton Keynes on Tuesday night. Around 7,000 Town fans are travelling and with the carrot of a home game with Premier League champions Chelsea hanging in front of us, it’s got all the feel of the 2004 epic at Rotherham United. It’s obviously still a massive task but with a backing like that, it can be done.

Just as I run out of things to say when things are awful, the football is rubbish and the manager is clueless, it’s odd to be here thinking what more I can now say about the ridiculous form and performances of my team and the staff who have steered them to the edge of glory. The next few weeks will enable us to see things even clearer but it’s hard not to just sit and take it all in for now.

Bring on more of the same!

The frailties of a disjointed Plan B

Watson...second debut to forget

Watson…second debut to forget

Northampton Town 0-2 Plymouth Argyle

This wasn’t the Cobblers that everyone was raving about seven days ago. This wasn’t the free flowing, dangerous side that had started the season so brightly. And this definitely wasn’t the Cobblers that we hoped would turn up against one of the better sides in League Two this season. It was the Cobblers who we’ve seen far too often before – a team who, when all else failed, resulted to long ball tactics to absolutely no effect and handed the game to the visitors with terrifying ease.

I was intrigued by a fresh Town line up and looking forward to seeing how we would match up at home to another attack minded outfit. But after a decent enough start where the Cobblers were tidy but ultimately ineffective, a silly goal was given away before the Pilgrims happily scrambled in a second to seal a fully deserved three points.

With Marc Richards, Nicky Adams, Alfie Potter, the recovered Zander Diamond and, in his re-debut, Ryan Watson all coming in after the dismal defeat at Barnet on Tuesday night, hope was that it was just a blip and we started reasonably well. Reuben Reid, one of a few attacking danger men for Argyle, was taken off early on to be replaced by Ryan Brunt and we were playing some decent stuff without ever producing the penetration needed to break down a stubborn Plymouth rear guard.

Adams had our first effort on goal before Lawson D’Ath shot over from long range but there was never a sense that the killer pass or cross was coming. Still, getting to the break at 0-0 wouldn’t have been a bad return but the killer turning point came just second before the whistle.

It was a nightmare moment for Watson, who was looking to prove himself for a second time in place of the suspended (and missed) Jason Taylor. With no danger, the Leicester loan man slipped in the middle of the park and Graham Carey snapped the ball up, raced through and cooly slotted in the opening goal into the corner of a helpless Adam Smith’s net.

The goal led Wilder into panic mode and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was brought on to necessitate a change to a more open 4-4-2 formation. It was too soon and rather than form a route back into the game, it led only to Plymouth having access to a whole new plethora of space in the middle of the park. While they made use of it and kept their steely nerve in place, passing the ball with ease, the Cobblers reverted to lumping the ball up towards targets that were never going to make the ball stick.

Had we stuck to the original game plan we would have at least had some cohesion to the play. As it was, there was no direction and a complete lack of a game plan. Whether that’s down to the players on the pitch or the manager is up for debate but Wilder is experienced enough to spot when something isn’t working and get the message across to his charges.

Plymouth, inevitably, took advantage and were, to be fair, very good themselves and earnt the second goal, given to them by a scrambled Jake Jervis effort from a corner with twenty minutes to go. Sam Hoskins and Paul Corry were the other subs to be used by Town but if we’d been playing all night we wouldn’t have found a way back in. Josh Lelan’s late red card summed up a dire second half.

The plus point in all of this is that this type of performance highlighted some huge flaws in our plan b before the transfer window closes in just over a weeks’ time. It’s glaringly obvious that we need back up in central defence and a different option up front who will make the ball stick if we’re to change tack at times to go long ball. There’s no point in going direct with no target man. Rico can try all he might but he needs to be eating off scraps rather than trying to be something he’s not.

The only other positive is the goalkeeper Adam Smith, who was commanding as well as being a fine shot stopper. He’ll win and keep us points by himself this season, I’ve no doubt about it.

Other than that, reality has well and truly hit the dream start to the 2015/16 season.

Individual thoughts on the new look Cobblers…

Adam Smith: Already looking an outstanding acquisition and is doing all his talking on the pitch since his acrimonious departure from Leicester.

Josh Lelan: Still extremely raw and the red card was a product of getting caught out of position too often. Brendon Maloney won’t be too worried about getting his place back once he returns from injury on this viewing.

Ryan Cresswell: As dominating as ever in the air but will be challenged pace-wise by many forwards this season.

Zander Diamond: Glad he’s back but as with Cresswell could be beaten too easily in ground races. I worry about options here.

David Buchanen: Touches of class but not the attacking force he’s been early season.

Ryan Watson: A second debut to forget and not just for the slip for the goal. Hopefully just early nerves.

Joel Byrom: Went missing at times when we needed a calming influence at 1-0 down.

Nicky Adams: Signs are there of a terrier like striker but needed to grab the game by the throat more often and drive us forward.

Alfie Potter: Was performing well in the number ten role before his half-time substitution.

Lawson D’Ath: Moments of class but again not enough drive and creativity on this occasion.

Marc Richards: Not showing his usual presence so far but needs to be the poacher rather than the target man.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Sub): Ineffectual and not the option we needed from the bench. Would work better if we’re defending a lead and need energy.

Sam Hoskins (Sub): Not enough time to play to his strengths and seemed a desperation sub rather than anything else.

Paul Corry (Sub): Played for the last fifteen minutes. Apparently.

No winds of change at Sixfields

Reid...piles on misery for Cobblers

Reid…piles on misery for Cobblers

Northampton Town 0-2 Plymouth Arygle

League Two

Saturday, February 8th 2014

It’s getting to the point now where even locking yourself in a dark room and burying your head under a mountain of pillows whilst scoffing endless Dominos Pizzas (other pizzas are available) is still not enough to reflect the results of our beloved club. The Cobblers have lost again despite an influx of new players and renewed optimism that threatened to actually make some of us smile through these crucial months of the season and it’s getting more and more difficult to see where on earth the points are coming from to rescue us.

Today, the weather was bad enough to affect the game but not to call it off and the wind would become the friend of the visitors as Plymouth used the added weapon far better than the Cobblers did. They also had a helping hand from the unusually flapping Matt Duke who has chosen the worst possible time to turn his outstanding first half of the season form into a real blip. Duke was one of the only positive points of the first few months of this terrible campaign but after last week’s bouncer getting past him at Cheltenham this game provided more negative talking points against him.

The worst possible thing to happen would have been another early goal that Duke was at fault for and –hey, presto – that’s exactly what happened. Duke’s kick up field barely made it out of the area and Plymouth broke with the ball falling to Reuben Reid who put the ball under the body of the Cobblers keeper. For the second week in a row Chris Wilder was facing an uphill task after only a few minutes.

This time, though, it was about to get worse as Emile Sinclair fired over the bar when well-placed for a first Town goal before Argyle made it 2-0 thanks to a windy cross shot from Lewis Alessandra making its way into the corner of the net. The wind was completely in the visitors’ favour and the hope was that we would be able to use it just as well in the second half but it turned out that we needed so much more than extreme weather – divine intervention probably wouldn’t even have been enough though on another dismal day.

Chris Hackett, returning to the side from a hamstring injury, shot wide as we briefly threatened to make a game of it but Plymouth were much more organised against the conditions and the Town attack and managed to eat up most of the pressure thrown at them to their credit. Sinclair went close again with a header but it just wasn’t to be yet again with a fourth successive defeat at Sixfields sending the home fans away trudging through the dark worrying about – and some maybe even becoming accepting of – life in the Conference.

There is, of course, time to turn it around but you have to start seriously considering whether it’s doable when games tick down and things just keep getting in the way of any possible recovery. The truth is that there’s no room for excuses anymore and these new players have to gel as soon as possible or the lights will go out on our involvement in the Football League before the shiny new East Stand even puts down its foundations.

We’re due for Torquay away on Tuesday night but the weather down there isn’t looking promising so there’s every chance that it’ll be called off for the second time (the Gulls’ game with Bury was postponed today). At the moment Wilder still won’t be too disappointed with that scenario because boy does he need to get his players in the right mind set right now.

If he can’t do that, these storms may be about to blow us right out of the Football League.

Northampton Town v Plymouth Argyle: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Plymouth Argyle

League Two

Saturday, February 8th 2014

The time is now, the desperation is high and the Great Escape attempt 2014 is officially under way. It’s the third time in four seasons that we’ve found ourselves in a right good mess and after last week’s good point at Cheltenham Town Chris Wilder will be hoping for a victory that would earn three vital points and get the home support immediately on his side.

It was a battling display at Whaddon Road and one that saw the new signings prove their worth in a real tester of an away day as Town came from behind to earn a point. It’s wins that are needed at home, though, and on Saturday we come up against a Plymouth Argyle side that may still have outside hopes of a top seven finish.

To achieve that, they also need to get moving and get in the goals quickly. The Pilgrims are the second lowest scorers in League Two (just ahead of us, of course!) and sit slap bang in the middle of the table. Since beating Devon rivals Torquay United on New Year’s Day they’ve drawn three out of four in the league and were edged out of the FA Cup in a replay against Port Vale so they’ll be hoping to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later so that the playoff chasers don’t pull too far away.

There’s usually a cracking atmosphere when Plymouth come to town with a good turnout in the away end almost every time we play them – with renewed hope in the home sections of Sixfields this should be a decent one!

Hackett...set for return

Hackett…set for return

Team News…

The Cobblers could hand home debuts to Alan Connell, Emile Sinclair, Leon McSweeney and Gregor Robertson with Ricky Ravenhill also set to be reintroduced to the home fans after signing his permanent deal last week. Chris Hackett is set to return from a hamstring injury to boost Chris Wilder’s options but loanees Matty Blair and Sean McGinty have returned to their parent clubs Fleetwood Town and Sheffield United this week. James Hurst has gone back to training with Crawley Town despite having a couple of weeks still to run on his loan deal.

On Friday afternoon the Cobblers also brought in left winger Brennan Dickenson on a loan deal until the end of the season and he goes straight into the squad for Saturday’s game.

Plymouth goalkeeper Luke McCormick is facing a lengthy injury lay off thanks to a fractured and dislocated finger suffered during last week’s draw with Mansfield Town. Jake Cole should continue to deputise in goal again after replacing McCormick in that game but the club have also today announced the signing of young stopper Cameron Dawson on a youth loan from Sheffield Wednesday until the end of the season. Andres Gurrieri will miss the game as he serves the last of a three game ban after he was sent off at Rochdale a couple of weeks ago while the Pilgrims will also still be without Marvin Morgan, Durrell Berry, Guy Branston and Matt Parsons. Neal Trotman is recovering from an ankle injury and should be clear to play.

Previous Six Meetings…

02/11/13: Plymouth 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)

Earlier this season, Lewis Alessandra’s goal in stoppage time gave Plymouth back to back league wins for the first time this season as the Cobblers crashed to the bottom of League Two.

23/02/13: Cobblers 1-0 Plymouth (League Two)

This was one of a number of narrow home wins that shot us towards the playoffs last season with Clive Platt’s goal the difference at Sixfields.

01/09/12: Plymouth 3-2 Cobblers (League Two)

Alex Nicholls gave the Cobblers a 26th minute lead at Home Park last season but Warren Feeney levelled just after half-time. Rhys Griffiths scored just before the hour to turn the game in Argyle’s favour and Curtis Nelson made it three. David Artell’s stoppage time strike was merely a consolation and there was no time to grab a point.

24/03/12: Cobblers 0-0 Plymouth (League Two)

Tight draw at Sixfields as neither side could make the breakthrough with both clubs making progress towards League Two survival.

26/11/11: Plymouth 4-1 Cobblers (League Two)

As the Cobblers came under the caretaker management of Tim Flowers for one game, Plymouth smelt blood and were 4-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Simon Walton (penalty), Nick Chadwick, Will Atkinson and Ashley Hemmings. Bayo Akinfenwa got a late consolation but it was a desperate day for the Cobblers in Devon.

08/11/03: Cobblers 3-2 Plymouth (FA Cup First Round)

The Cobblers, in League Two, saw off the League One Pilgrims in an enthralling cup tie at Sixfields. David Friio put the visitors in front before Richard Walker sent the sides in level at half time. Chris Hargreaves scored against his old side on the hour but Ian Stonebridge equalised. The stage was set for a dramatic finale and Derek Asamoah provided it with a fine winner to send us through to Round Two.

The man in the middle…

Nigel Miller is the official on Saturday at Sixfields. Miller took a Cobblers game as recently as December in the 1-1 draw at Bury. His last Plymouth game was a 2-1 away win for the Pilgrims at Chesterfield in April of last year.

From the Opposition…

For all the views of Argyle fan Dave Weeks, check out his Fan Feature here.

Pitch / Weather watch…

The Sixfields pitch has benefited this week from the investment in rain covers and before they went on the surface was playable. The situation will be monitored in the build up to the match, though, with further rain expected. To pass the time as you wait, you can check out this thrilling video of the covers going on:

Prediction…

We have to get back to winning ways at home…there’s simply no time to dawdle as the season heads towards the final furlong with Town six points behind the pace and survival. I think we can do it here in Chris Wilder’s first game in charge but it will be close. 1-0.

Fan Feature: Plymouth Argyle

PLYMOUTHA few months ago, we spoke to Dave Weeks ahead of the Cobblers’ game at Home Park against Plymouth Argyle. Plenty has changed since then in both camps and Dave is back again this week to give us his thoughts on how the season is going for his beloved Pilgrims, their activity in the transfer window and on the expectations for the run-in. You can follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveWeeks16.

How’s things been at Argyle since we last met?

Better, I wouldn’t say a lot but it is better, we’re finding ourselves harder to beat even if we do play poor. Also being further up in the table proves that, even though the league is tight somewhat.

How was your transfer window? Any big signings or sales?
Ok, we signed Banton and Parsons from Palace, both good signings for this league, although Parsons got injured as soon as he came in so haven’t seen much of him. Deadline day we was all expecting a striker to come in until Sheridan came out and said that it was unlikely we’d get anyone which ruined it. In desperate need of a striker too.

The Pilgrims are still the second lowest scorers in League Two (we’re the lowest!) … have you done much to address this since our last game?
Nope. Well we did, we had Lavery in from Sheffield Wednesday in December he made a big impact but they took him back and we haven’t got anyone in so we’re playing pretty much strikerless as Rueben Reid isn’t really stepping up.

Can you put a run together to make it into the playoffs? What needs to change if you’re going to get there?
I highly doubt it, Sheridan promised attacking football 2 games ago, both of those games we’ve hardly attacked at all. So until we get a striker in (on loan) I can’t see it, be more draws than anything.

Finally, a score prediction for Saturday?
Everything screams a win for Northampton, but i’ll go for 1-1. If it isn’t called off.

Plymouth Argyle Links…

Official Site: http://www.pafc.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/plymouthargylefc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Only1Argyle

Forum: http://www.pasoti.co.uk/talk/

BBC Site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/plymouth-argyle

Local News: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/plymouthargyle

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_Argyle_F.C.

Stadium Guide: http://www.footballgroundguide.com/plymouth_argyle/

Rock Bottom

Boothroyd...more pressure

Boothroyd…more pressure

Plymouth Argyle 1-0 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, November 3rd 2013

100 games, almost two years and more twists than even we, as the long suffering Cobblers faithful, could comprehend and we’ve come full circle. Saturday’s late defeat at Plymouth Argyle, who scored in the last knockings for the second weekend in a row to nick a game 1-0, sent Town back to the foot of the entire Football League.

Aidy Boothroyd picked up the Cobblers job while we were in free fall and third from bottom and now faces the fight of his career to keep hold of a reign that is quickly slipping away from him. It would always take a disastrous summer and start to this season to make us question the man who took us to only our third ever Wembley appearance but I’m afraid that it’s looking like an embarrassment at Bishop’s Stortford in front of a baying nation next Saturday would be the straw that would break this particular camel’s back.

Argyle will have been well aware of the Cobblers’ defensive frailties late in games this season but they too have trouble and before last weekend had gone on a run of eight without a win, all the time struggling to find the net. The Pilgrims are, in fact, the lowest scoring League Two side and Town could be forgiven for sensing that they could get back on track at Home Park.

And we did start brightly enough with Chris Hackett shooting wide and Mathias Doumbe twice heading over the bar from corners on his old stomping ground. The Pilgrims grew more and more into the game, though and by the break were well back into a stride that was arguably broken by the half-time whistle. Former Cobblers loanee Jamie Reckord had the best of their efforts, tipped over by Matt Duke.

The second half saw a similar pattern emerge with Town on top early on. Luke Norris went close from a tight angle before Hackett was denied a penalty by the ever consistent Mr Kettle. Plymouth again hit back and regained the momentum that saw them end the first forty five minutes strongly. Reuben Reid and Lewis Allesandra forced Duke into two more fine saves and without the ever reliable keeper we could well have been down and out again.

Just as we thought we had grabbed a point that would have at least put to bed some worries of late defeats the almost inevitable break through occurred. Luke Young found Allesandra in the area and this time the midfielder made no mistake to net the only goal of the game in the ninetieth minute – the second time in consecutive away games in which that particular disaster has nailed us into the mire.

It leaves the Cobblers, and Boothroyd, in a tumultuous position ahead of the trip to Conference South Bishop’s Stortford next Sunday. Boothroyd has come out saying that heads will roll and he will know that they will need to be rolling all over the dressing room or else it’s his that will be on the chopping block.

It’s always going to come back to the summer recruitment policy. Decent signings on paper like Gary Deegan and Darren Carter have simply not lived up to their billing. What should have been a midfield that bettered last season’s pairing of Luke Guttridge and Ben Harding have ended up being players that aren’t up for the fight for whatever reason. When you look at ‘characters’ in the game you have to see something in them other than past glories, particularly if they’re coming into a competitive and combative division.

It doesn’t end there, of course, and the backlash of not replacing Bayo with another holding front man, someone to take the pressure off the back four, is still reverberating around the place. Clive Platt and Jacob Blyth’s respective injuries haven’t helped but you would have expected more nous from an experienced head like Boothroyd.

At the back, it’s taken numerous position switches and free transfer grabbing to get something resembling order resumed following Kelvin Langmead’s summer injury. How we miss the man we once thought would be the first out the door when Gary Johnson departed. You have to feel for Matt Duke who has only very, very rarely matched those in front of him in terms of culpability.

For all of this, I still think that it’s going to take defeat at Bishop’s Stortford for Boothroyd to be sacked. I have no will whatsoever for that to happen and don’t understand anyone who WANTS us to lose there so that Boothroyd gets closer to the chop. I hate writing about defeats as much as you all hate reading about them and I’m desperate for this to be turned around. There’s no guarantee at all that things will get better with another new manager and we have to support wholesale changes on the pitch first and foremost.

I can see some ‘do or die’ tactics coming into play next Sunday. Ben Tozer could well come back in to midfield – as much as I don’t like him in that role he at least brings some sort of steadiness and experience of last season’s run to the playoffs. The very fact that Ishmel Demontagnac could be called upon shows how dire our need it and perhaps he’ll be the wild card to get Boothroyd out of this mess. We have to wait and see if the services of Luke Norris and Stuart Dallas can even be called upon as Brentford decide whether or not to grant permission for them to play in the cup.

It’s officially a relegation battle and the dark times are well and truly back. After what will be a nervy afternoon next weekend we’re facing a fight to survive for the third time in four seasons and the characters need to show now or forever be associated with something that doesn’t bear thinking about.

Plymouth Argyle v Northampton Town: Match Preview

HOME PARKPlymouth Argyle v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, November 2nd 2013

Cobblers chairman David Cardoza has come out in support of Aidy Boothroyd this week with new midfield addition Kane Ferdinand strengthening the side ahead of a tough trip to Plymouth Argyle on Saturday. Nothing new will automatically come from one new player and some strong support from the powers that be but both need to work to fire up the Cobblers players enough to fire us out of the bottom two, where we’ve been entrenched for weeks.

Plymouth come into the game having just got their own monkey off their back with a late 1-0 win at Mansfield last weekend breaking a run of eight games without a win. Manager John Sheridan is hoping that the victory at Field Mill will be the catalyst for a complete change in fortunes for his players and a turning point for the season.

Town have conceded seven goals in the last two seasons at Home Park but our hosts are struggling for goals this time around with just nine goals scored in League Two. It’s still always a hard away game down there, though, and with the Cobblers under big pressure to come up with the goods it’s set to be a tight contest in Devon.

 

Team News…

Plymouth’s only injury problem is with striker Marvin Morgan who has had shoulder surgery recently. He will be out for a few months whilst he recovers but other than that John Sheridan has a full squad to choose from.

The Cobblers snapped up another short term loan this week with Kane Ferdinand joining for an initial month from Peterborough United and he adds real competition to midfield. But Kevin Amankwaah was ruled out for a month after picking up a hamstring injury and Roy O’ Donovan will also be out until December after a hernia operation so he joins Matt Heath, Clive Platt, Kelvin Langmead, Alex Nicholls and Lewis Hornby on the sidelines.

 

Platt...scorer of the only goal last time out

Platt…scorer of the only goal last time out

Previous Six Meetings…

23/02/13: Cobblers 1-0 Plymouth (League Two)

This was one of a number of narrow home wins that shot us towards the playoffs last season with Clive Platt’s goal the difference at Sixfields.

01/09/12: Plymouth 3-2 Cobblers (League Two)

Alex Nicholls gave the Cobblers a 26th minute lead at Home Park last season but Warren Feeney levelled just after half-time. Rhys Griffiths scored just before the hour to turn the game in Argyle’s favour and Curtis Nelson made it three. David Artell’s stoppage time strike was merely a consolation and there was no time to grab a point.

24/03/12: Cobblers 0-0 Plymouth (League Two)

Tight draw at Sixfields as neither side can make the breakthrough with both clubs making progress towards League Two survival.

26/11/11: Plymouth 4-1 Cobblers (League Two)

As the Cobblers came under the caretaker management of Tim Flowers for one game, Plymouth smelt blood and were 4-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Simon Walton (penalty), Nick Chadwick, Will Atkinson and Ashley Hemmings. Bayo Akinfenwa got a late consolation but it was a desperate day for the Cobblers in Devon.

08/11/03: Cobblers 3-2 Plymouth (FA Cup First Round)

The Cobblers, in League Two, saw off the League One Pilgrims in an enthralling cup tie at Sixfields. David Friio put the visitors in front before Richard Walker sent the sides in level at half time. Chris Hargreaves scored against his old side on the hour but Ian Stonebridge equalised. The stage was set for a dramatic finale and Derek Asamoah provided it with a fine winner to send us through to Round Two.

26/04/03: Cobblers 2-2 Plymouth (League One)

David Norris had the Pilgrims in front at the break with Ian Stonebridge making it two ten minutes after the restart. But goals from Darryn Stamp and Steve Morison earned the Cobblers a well-deserved point despite already being relegated from the division.

 

The man in the middle…

It’s shuddering time again…in charge at Home Park will be everyone’s favourite pantomime villain Trevor ‘the whistling’ Kettle with the referee officiating the Cobblers for the first time since the 1-0 defeat at Bradford back in April. Kettle has shown thirty one yellow cards and one red so far this season in nine games.

 

Prediction…

On paper it seems like this is dead set for a low scoring draw but with an extra attacking option added through the signing of Kane Ferdinand and with Luke Norris on form since joining on loan we have more than we did a couple of weeks ago in that department. Argyle will be boosted by their last gasp win a week ago but I have a funny feeling that we could actually nick this. 1-0

 

From the Opposition…

For the thoughts of Plymouth fan Dave Weeks in this week’s Fan Feature, click here.

Fan Feature: Plymouth Argyle

PLYMOUTH

This week’s Fan Feature sees Plymouth Argyle fan Dave Weeks take the hot seat. You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveWeeks16. Below he gives his thoughts on a relieving victory for his side last weekend and a barren run in front of goal….

 

How much of a relief was it to win at the death last weekend – your first victory in eight league games?

It was a massive relief for everyone at the club. Although a draw would’ve been an ok result away from home, it would’ve also meant 9 games without a win. So yeah it was a massive relief and gives the fans a bit of a lift and a bit more confidence going into Saturday’s game.

You’re the lowest scorers in League Two with nine goals…what are the main reasons for the barren run in front of goal?

Our strikers – they’ve been so poor it’s unbelievable, although I suppose they aren’t really getting much service either. There doesn’t seem to be much confidence in the team, especially attacking. We had 21 shots against Hartlepool, scored 0. Then again, their keeper was on form.

Do you expect more this season or is mid-table realistic in terms of ambition?

I expected more, a lot more. Drawing at home 0-0 to Newport and Accrington Stanley wasn’t what I thought we had planned. Now I expect mid-table but if we manage to go on and progress further up the table, I’ll take that.

Is John Sheridan the right man to take you forwards?
Right now? No. Simple as that. I hope he does take us forwards as we need a settled experienced manager. Right now though I can’t see it being him, let’s hope I’m wrong.

What are Argyle fans’ views on Northampton?
Obviously after last week’s win, the views are now is that we should win. You’re below us in the league, only won one away this season, struggling to score by the looks of your away games this season. We really should be winning, no disrespect to you lot obviously.

Finally, a score prediction for the game?

You can’t score, we can’t score: 0-0. Although the last two games at Home Park have produced five goals in both games.

 

Plymouth Argyle Links…

Official Site: http://www.pafc.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/plymouthargylefc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Only1Argyle

Forum: http://www.pasoti.co.uk/talk/

BBC Site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/plymouth-argyle

Local News: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/plymouthargyle

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_Argyle_F.C.

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Cobblers back to 4th after another home win

Northampton Town 1-0 Plymouth Argyle

League Two

Saturday, February 23rd 2013

By no means a classic, not a win that will go down in anyone’s memory banks and not even one where we come away thinking that we were 100% deserving of the victory. But that’s what good teams are built on in many ways, winning ugly and getting over the line, and something that that this Cobblers side have begun to, crucially, add to their armoury.

The home form that’s been the battalion of the charge into the playoff places has on occasions seen us tear down the opposition and even ease through some games to three more points. This one, a sixth Sixfields success on the bounce, wasn’t in that mould at all but still had the desired effect and lifts us into fourth place, just a point behind the impressive Burton Albion and five clear of eighth place Southend United.

That victory at Roots Hall last week becomes that bit more effective when you see it now and after a point on Tuesday night at Wimbledon this was the perfect way to end a pretty successful seven days.

The first half in particular had Plymouth threatening to scupper our hopes, though, as they set about their task of trying to pick up a win that could have taken them out of the bottom two. Former Cobblers loanee and perennial troubler in these parts, Guy Branston, missed a good chance with a header whilst Jason Banton saw his shot blocked by Kelvin Langmead.

It began to get more even in the second half with Town coming out seemingly with more about them. Roy O’Donovan headed wide and Chris Hackett forced Jake Cole into a routine save before substitute Bayo Akinfenwa burst into the box to force a fine save from the visiting keeper with a looping header. The Cobblers did, however, find the breakthrough from the corner that came from that chance.

A Ben Harding cross was swung in and Cole appeared to drop the ball under pressure from a number of bodies in the box and it fell into the net for the only goal of the game. Argyle were protesting of an infringement but on televised viewing this morning it looks very much like Cole’s own defenders that were in the way of his attempts to catch the ball.

From then on, Plymouth were battling to get back into the game and the Cobblers were looking good on the break with Jake Robinson missing a great chance for 2-0 when he rounded Cole only to chip over the bar from wide on the right.

That didn’t matter though and we had picked up another big three points at Fortress Sixfields. Plymouth will be disappointed not to leave with anything, particularly as they dropped to the foot of League Two because of the result. There is a long way to go in the races at both ends of the table and its anyone’s guess who will be leaving the division at either exit even with the games running out as they are.

There’s twelve to play and everything to play for…keep up this home form, keep grinding out these wins and the Cobblers will be in for a hell of a journey from here on in. Hang on to those hats…

Northampton Town v Plymouth Arygle: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Plymouth Arygle

League Two

Saturday, February 23rd 2013

After the Cobblers’ away form took a turn for the better in the last seven days with four points picked up from Southend and AFC Wimbledon, it’s back to ‘Fortress’ Sixfields where Plymouth Argyle will be hoping to become the first team to take points from us at home in this calendar year. It’s the first of back to back home games against sides from the West Country with Bristol Rovers arriving at Sixfields on Tuesday night so if the playoff dream is to live on then this increasingly impressive run at home must continue through the next few days.

Sheridan hoping to bring about change of fortunes…

Former Oldham and Chesterfield manager John Sheridan was appointed as the new boss of Plymouth at the start of January as the club look to avoid relegation once again. Since taking over from Carl Fletcher, Sheridan has overseen two wins, two draws and one defeat. That defeat came last weekend as Oxford United took all three points away from Home Park with a 1-0 victory.

Loanee extends stay to aid options…

Arygle this week extended the loan spell of Reading striker Gozie Ugwu and the striker will now stay with the club until March 23rd. He was unable to make his full debut until last weekend due to an ankle injury but is fighting fit now and gives John Sheridan another option up front.

 

Club Links…

Anthony Charles was playing for the Cobblers earlier this season before being released by Aidy Boothroyd. He joined Plymouth in January and comes up against his former club on Saturday.

Fellow Plymouth defender Guy Branston is another to have donned the claret…he made three appearances for the Cobblers in 2007 whilst on loan from Peterborough United.

 

Team News…

Aidy Boothroyd made one or two changes on Tuesday night for the trip to Wimbledon so the likes of Luke Guttridge, Chris Hackett, Ben Harding and Clive Platt could all come back into contention for a starting place. Joe Widdowson’s tenth booking of the season at Wimbledon means that he must sit out of this one so Lee Collins is likely to deputise at left back.

Plymouth could bring Andres Gurrieri into the fold but striker Nick Chadwick will definitely miss out as he serves the last of a six game suspension brought about by a red card for violent conduct during a game at Port Vale last month. Curtis Nelson, a scorer when the sides last met, will again miss out due to a groin injury that will keep him away from action for longer than expected.

 

Previous Six Meetings…

01/09/12: Plymouth 3-2 Cobblers (League Two)

Alex Nicholls gave the Cobblers a 26th minute lead at Home Park but Warren Feeney levelled just after half-time. Rhys Griffiths scored just before the hour to turn the game in Argyle’s favour and Curtis Nelson made it three. David Artell’s stoppage time strike was merely a consolation and there was no time to grab a point.

24/03/12: Cobblers 0-0 Plymouth (League Two)

Tight draw at Sixfields as neither side can make the breakthrough with both clubs making progress towards League Two survival.

26/11/11: Plymouth 4-1 Cobblers (League Two)

As the Cobblers came under the caretaker management of Tim Flowers for one game, Plymouth smelt blood and were 4-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Simon Walton (penalty), Nick Chadwick, Will Atkinson and Ashley Hemmings. Bayo Akinfenwa got a late consolation but it was a desperate day for the Cobblers in Devon.

08/11/03: Cobblers 3-2 Plymouth (FA Cup First Round)

The Cobblers, in League Two, saw off the League One Pilgrims in an enthralling cup tie at Sixfields. David Friio put the visitors in front before Richard Walker sent the sides in level at half time. Chris Hargreaves scored against his old side on the hour but Ian Stonebridge equalised. The stage was set for a dramatic finale and Derek Asamoah provided it with a fine winner to send us through to Round Two.

26/04/03: Cobblers 2-2 Plymouth (League One)

David Norris had the Pilgrims in front at the break with Ian Stonebridge making it two ten minutes after the restart. But goals from Darryn Stamp and Steve Morison earned the Cobblers a well-deserved point despite already being relegated from the division.

05/10/02: Plymouth 0-0 Cobblers (League One)

Stalemate at Home Park as the Cobblers frustrate their hosts enough to earn a point.

 

The man in the middle…

David Phillips is the man in charge on Saturday having last refereed a Cobblers game at the start of this season in the 2-1 victory over Cardiff City in the League Cup. He also happened to be the official in this fixture last season, a 0-0 draw between the sides at Sixfields.

 

Prediction…

It was a scrappy game on Tuesday night but back on home soil this should be a game where we go at the opposition from the off with Chris Hackett hopefully restored as we search for another home win. I think we can get it but beware anyone taking this lightly based on Argyle’s league position. 1-0