With quarter of the League One season gone, D3D4 Plymouth Argyle Correspondent Tom Sleeman takes a look at how the Pilgrims have done so far…
Following a nightmarish couple of months, it finally appears that the tide is beginning to turn down in England’s South West at Plymouth Argyle.
After a poor run of results saw Derek Adams’ side go 12 games without a win following their impressive 2-0 victory over Charlton back in mid-August, and it would not be for another two months that the Scotsman’s side would pick up a victory, this time against fellow strugglers, Wimbledon.
Their opening 16 games back in League One following promotion last season have certainly not been uneventful with the Pilgrims already having received five red cards as well as an injury crisis seeing them having fielded just as many goalkeepers this season as they lay rooted to the foot of the table.
Injury to first choice keeper Luke McCormick as well as back-ups Robbert te Loeke and Kyle Letheren gave 18-year-old Michael Cooper his debut against Blackburn back in October. The youngster kept a clean sheet after coming on at half-time in the 1-1 draw at Ewood Park and impressed, making a string of impressive saves. Despite this however, Adams opted to sign Remi Matthews on an emergency loan deal from Championship side Norwich City.
Goalkeepers aside, it’s not been plain sailing with first choice forward Ryan Taylor and right-back Oscar Threlkeld both having spent the majority of the season on the sidelines and with suspensions rife following five red cards it has been difficult for Adams to field a consistent starting XI each week.
The Greens are currently unbeaten in four games with draws against table-topping Shrewsbury as well as Blackburn and Rochdale accompanying the victory over Wimbledon.
Goals have certainly proved hard to come by this season with forwards Nathan Blissett, Alex Fletcher and Nadir Ciftci managing just two goals between them, a goal apiece for the former duo. This leaves Carey as top scorer in the league with three goals, with Joel Grant just behind on two having notched in his last two appearances for the South West side. Only Wimbledon (nine) have scored fewer than their 12 goals so far this season so undoubtedly Adams will be looking to bolster his attacking options with the January transfer window looming.
There seems to be little mystery to this recent upturn in form with improved disciplinary and the recent signing of former Brentford midfielder Toumani Diagouraga proving instrumental in solidifying the middle of the park which was so often being overrun during games. This coupled with the return to form of talisman Graham Carey has given Argyle fans some hope of survival and a steady climb up the table in the months coming up.
After a decade of consistently fighting promotion or relegation, predominantly the latter, much of the fanbase will be somewhat content with a stable mid-table finish in their first season back in England’s third tier. With clubs around them such as Gillingham, Northampton, Wimbledon and Bury all in poor patches of form and the Pilgrims just four points from safety there’s certainly a glistening light at the end of the tunnel.