"There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avow’d intent
To be a Pilgrim"
We welcome the Pilgrims for our opening game in the 2018/19 season, and it’s fair to say that we would normally have high hopes and expectations for the months ahead. I suppose we do, but the prime difference this time around is that the high hopes appear to be connected with avoiding relegation rather than any higher aspirations … but time will tell, as always.
Argyle’s pre-season activities have been similar to ours in a way - their first choice goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne (on loan from Dinglehampton) broke his ankle in training a week ago, so manager Derek Adams is busy sounding out Norwich City to see if Remi Matthews can be borrowed for the third time, following 26 appearances with Argyle over the past two seasons. In their pre-season friendlies Argyle had a short European tour as well as UK activity, and like ourselves the results were mixed:-
Yeovil Town 5 Plymouth Argyle 1
Bideford 0 Plymouth Argyle 3
SV Schermbeck 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 (Westfalenliga 1, which is the German 6th tier)
Feyenoord XI 2 Plymouth Argyle 1
MVV Maastricht 1 Plymouth Argyle 0
Last season Argyle were rock bottom in the League One table after 20 games, but engineered a massive turnround to finish only 3 points away from the play-offs, in 7th place. Our progress was almost a mirror image, being comfortably top half of the table in December but slipping to classic brown-trousers territory by the end. Hey ho…
Dean Keates has a week to sort out his strategy and team selection prior to this game, at the time of writing, and much of it seems to be up in the air with (in his words) 3 or possibly 4 signings still to be organised. We certainly have an excellent goalkeeper, a couple of pacy wingers and wing-backs, a promising striker who will score given the necessary service. It’s our defence and midfield where the squad appears paper-thin in places, with very little other than the undoubted class of Dobson and Chambers to catch the eye. Triallist Egert’s showing at Cheltenham was patchy, and that’s putting it kindly, because although he did have an attacking header that hit the goalpost he also gave away a couple of penalties. Thinking about it, that was the way we started last season - we seemed to be conceding penalty kicks for fun. Worrying times indeed.
Prediction? I would like to go for a repeat of last season’s fixture, which we won 2-1 (goals by Agyei and Oztumer) but at the moment my lack of confidence leads me to be satisfied with a 1-1 scoreline, with Andy Cook opening his League One account for us.