Football: It's not how you start, it's how you finish

By Cornish Times in Football

By Kevin Marriott

Who remembers Plymouth Argyle losing their first two league games of the season without scoring a goal?

And frankly, who cares!

But there was a hint of frustration and a big pinch of impatience from some sections of the Green Army after a 3-0 opening day hammering by Luton Town at Home Park on August 6.

It was followed seven days later by a 1-0 defeat, and a lacklustre performance, at Carlisle.

Throw in a midweek exit from the EFL Cup at Reading, and three defeats in the opening week of the season was far from a dream start.

But after kick-starting their campaign with an excellent 2-1 win against Notts County at Meadow Lane, the Pilgrims then won the next three games against Mansfield, Blackpool and Newport.

They were off and running – and a positive mood among fans was boosted on September 17 when bitter rivals Exeter City were beaten 2-0 at St James’s Park during an unbeaten month of fixtures.

The bandwagon continued to roll in October. They started the month with defeat at AFC Wimbledon but won three and drew two of the remainder of the games.

Argyle will probably look back on November as their most worrying period, when they lost successive league games to Grimsby, Barnet and Morecambe, but they bounced back strongly by going unbeaten in December.

The Pilgrims were briefly distracted by the Emirates FA Cup in early January. They pulled out a plum third round tie against mighty Premier League giants Liverpool, and were given little chance in the tie at Anfield on Sunday January 8.

But Derek Adams’ well-drilled side defended brilliantly against an under-strength Liverpool side to earn a 0-0 draw and a replay at Home Park under the floodlights on January 18.

A crowd of 17,048 packed into the ground and Argyle gave as good as they got for long periods of an enthralling replay, before losing 1-0.

The level of Argyle’s performances against Liverpool demonstrated that the Greens were on their way back – and they had shown a nation of television viewers just that.

Briefly, the Cup plaudits knocked them off course in the promotion race, suffering league defeats to Barnet and Yeovil before the end of the month.

But the smiles were back on the faces in February when Exeter City were sent packing with a 3-0 hammering in front of a crowd of 14,671.

There was a wobble in form with defeats against Leyton Orient and Notts County, as well as draws against Hartlepool and Luton, but the Pilgrims lost only once in six games in March.

They lost 1-0 at Accrington Stanley on April 1 but excellent away performances and results against Crawley (2-1) and Portsmouth (1-1) set them up for the promotion party on Easter Monday.

The rest, as they say, is history. League One here we come.

For more on Argyle, see tomorrow’s Cornish Times.

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