Ahead of Stevenage’s next game at the Lamex Stadium, this Saturday against Plymouth Argyle, we caught up with journalist Chris Errington, Chief Football Editor of Plymouth Live and John Lloyd, Board Member of Argyle Fans’ Trust…
- How do you assess Argyle’s first half of the season?
Lloyd: “For a team that was built in a hurry after Ryan Lowe’s delayed appointment in the summer, and still featuring several players that were relegated last season, we’re doing very well indeed, hovering nicely around the automatic promotion places.
“The style of play is far more attractive to watch; goals are being scored from all over the park and there’s increasing confidence amongst the fanbase that the team is really going in the right direction.”
Errington: “After a 2-0 home defeat by Cheltenham Town in late September they were 14th in the table, so to be now sitting in fourth place, within touching distance of the automatic promotion positions, represents a good achievement.
“It has been based on a run of results which has seen them win 10 out of their last 13 league games, which is a good record at any level of football.”
- The club are on a fantastic run of form of late with six wins in their last seven games. What do you put that down to?
Lloyd: “We had a bad result at the end of October and that seemed to be a catalyst for a more determined approach from the team, combined with some subtle changes to our tactics too. Ryan Lowe has created a winning mentality in his team, combined with other positive developments at the club, including the re-opening of the Grandstand at Home Park after a refurbishment.”
Errington: “Ryan Lowe has implemented a very different style of football at Argyle since his appointment as manager in the summer and it has taken time for the players to adapt to that, which they are doing now.
“Lowe is very much an advocate of a possession-based game, playing 'through the thirds' and getting in lots of crosses to create chances. Confidence has built among the players over recent months and that always helps.”
- Has there been any transfers coming in or out of the club in this window?
Lloyd: “Two right backs have left – Tafari Moore to Colchester and Joe Riley, possibly to Mansfield, while Billy Clarke left for Grimsby. The arrival of Tyreeq Bakinson from Bristol City and Ryan Hardie from Blackpool have immediately bolstered the squad, with both making strong contributions in their first matches.”
Errington: “There has been some movement in both directions, with three loan signings being made by Ryan Lowe. One of them - versatile defender or midfielder Josh Grant - spent the first half of the season with Argyle from Chelsea and that has now been extended.
“There have also been new loan deals for Bristol City midfielder Tyreeq Bakinson. As for departures, the loan deal of Glasgow Rangers striker Zak Rudden has ended and instead has signed a permanent deal with Partick Thistle.”
- What is the team news going into the fixture?
Lloyd: “Expect a largely unchanged side, although the first XI will know that they need to be better in the first fifteen minutes than they were against Mansfield Town.”
Errington: “Striker Dom Telford will return to the Argyle squad for the first time in three weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury which he suffered in the first half of the 2-1 New Year's Day defeat by Swindon Town at Home Park.
“Otherwise, Ryan Lowe has the same squad available from the 3-1 home win against Mansfield Town last Saturday. With the Pilgrims on a run of three successive victories, there are unlikely to be many team changes, if any, against Stevenage.”
- What kind of game can the Boro fans expect on Saturday?
Lloyd: “Argyle seek to play a passing game, with lots of energy and drive, attacking whenever possible. Don’t expect to see time-wasting tactics in an effort to play for a point – we play to win.”
Errington: “Argyle have won their last three away games - at Cheltenham Town, Scunthorpe United and Carlisle United - so they will be looking to continue that fine run of results. They like to have plenty of possession of the ball, although in the games against Cheltenham and Scunthorpe they have also shown they put their bodies on the line when needed.”
- Prediction and goalscorers?
Lloyd: “I’ll go with 2-1 to Argyle, with Sarcevic, Hardie or Bakinson on the scoresheet.”
Errington: “I am not really one for predictions, especially in League Two when the teams are so unpredictable and evenly-matches. But Argyle will know that Graham Westley will have Stevenage fired up for this one, determined to make up for the disappointment of conceding a last-gasp goal when they lost 2-1 to the Pilgrims at Home Park on December 29.”