We focus on our FA Cup 2nd Round replay opponents, Plymouth Argyle...
The furor surrounding Graham Coughlan’s bizarre post-match Press comments and the subsequent news has somewhat overshadowed the fact that Bristol Rovers have an important FA Cup replay at Home Park on Tuesday evening.
Having produced one of the best performances of the season to inflict high-flying Ipswich Town’s second home loss of the season, Rovers should be buoyant and looking to continue their outstanding away form.
Argyle will also be in high spirits after they saw off their former Manager Derek Adams new team Morcombe 3-0 on Saturday. Attacking midfielder George Cooper fired the Pilgrims ahead from a 20-yard free-kick following Ritchie Sutton's foul on Dom Telford as the striker closed in on goal.
Sutton saw red for the foul and his side were punished by Cooper's superbly executed strike, which gave diving Shrimps keeper Mark Halstead little chance as it curled away from him.
Argyle doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time when Antoni Sarcevic sent Halstead the wrong way from the spot following skipper Alex Kenyon's foul on striker Joel Grant.
Cooper teed up substitute Conor Grant to smash home from close range in stoppage time.
Argyle should have been out of sight by half-time as playmaker Danny Mayor's rising drive came back off the angle and before scoring Cooper and Sarcevic both went close.
In a second-half dominated by Plymouth, Cooper sent another 20-yard free-kick only inches wide while substitute Zak Rudden's shot hit the post.
Talking after the game Argyle Boss Ryan Lowe said, “I think it was persistence, especially in the first half. We knew what they were going to do. They were going to come and sit deep with two banks of four and one dropping down. We knew they were going to try and make it difficult for us, they actually did to be fair, but then we got the free-kick and the penalty.”
“I have seen the possession stats that we had 73 percent and it’s hard when there is a man sent-off. But, for us, we moved the ball quick, fast, the tempo, two wing-backs in position high up the pitch, we knew we were going to cause any team a problem today with that line-up.”
“Credit, to the boys. Mentally they were at it because it’s tough when you are playing bottom of the league because everyone expects you to win three, four or five-nil. Listen, we got three goals, we are pleased and it’s a clean sheet so I’m happy.”
“I said to the boys through the week we would be working on something a little bit different in terms of the two wing-backs in Byron and George. With all due respect to Morecambe, we knew we could get at them and we could exploit their weaknesses, and we certainly did that, with the crosses into the box and the shots. Yes, I would have liked more on target but I thought the overall play from back to front was very good.”
Like Rovers, Argyle were founder members of the Third Division in 1920-21 season. They finished one spot below Rovers at the end of that season in 11th place. The first-ever League meeting between the clubs took place on 23rd April 1921 when goals by Ellis Crompton and Billy Palmer secured a 2-0 victory in front of a 14,000 Eastville crowd. The return match saw Plymouth win 2-1 a week later, Crompton scoring for Rovers again and Jimmy Logan notching two for Argyle.
Looking back over the history of games there have been some real high scoring encounters. The Boxing Day fixture of 1973 kept a 22,353 Eastville crowd on their toes as goals by Stuart Taylor, Alan Warboys (2) and Bruce Bannister swept a rampant Rovers to a 4-2 win.
Going back even further to 14th October 1961 a Bobby Jones double, Geoff Bradford and Peter Hooper goals made the score 4-3 to Rovers. This provided some sort of revenge for Argyle’s 5-2 win just 11 months prior.
It’s also worth remembering that “Goodnight Irene” was first heard on 4 November 1950 in a game between Rovers and Argyle. Rovers came back from being 1-0 down at half time to score 3 goals. The Rovers fans changed the words of the current hit by the Weavers to ‘Goodnight Argyle”
Meanwhile, in Plymouth, Rovers have not won since their 2-1 victory there in the Worthington Cup on 23 August 2000. That is 9 games in which there have been 4 defeats and 5 draws. The last League win was on 10 January 1998 in Division 2 when goals by Jamie Cureton and Barry Hayles (later to pull on the Argyle shirt) for Rovers and one for Carlo Corazzin for Argyle saw a 2-1 result. Back on 5 February 1994 there was a memorable 3-3 draw, when Justin Skinner, Lee Archer and Worrell Sterling replied to goals by Dwight Marshall, Paul Dalton and Mike Evans to keep a 13,318 crowd entertained.
Going back to 1982 Rovers visited Home Park twice, on 2 January they went down to a 4-0 defeat with Jeff Cook and John Sims grabbing a brace each, but on 28 September, goals by Paul Randall (2), Errington Kelly and David Williams ensured the result was reversed, to give Rovers their best ever result on the ground. Argyle certainly found the Rovers defence to their liking in the 1959/60 and 1960/61 seasons, beating Rovers 5-3 and 5-0 (Rovers worst result in Plymouth).
The 2017-18 game was a real roller coaster Chris Lines opened the scoring with a 12th-minute free-kick from outside the box that he swept home past Argyle keeper Remi Matthews. Argyle leveled when Jamie Ness sent a header over Sam Slocombe and in at the far post from a cross from the right by Ruben Lameiras on 34 minutes.
Within two minutes Ellis Harrison restored Rovers lead, scoring with a low shot.
Argyle leveled again in the 48th minute when Ness' cross-cum-shot was deflected off Ollie Clarke and the post and in.
A minute before Lameiras' penalty was brilliantly saved by Slocombe, diving to his left.
Moses Makasi - on loan from West Ham - won the spot-kick, tripped by Tom Lockyer as he sped into the Rovers penalty area.
On 85 minutes Yann Songo'o was fouled by Lockyer and Graham Carey converted to take all 3 points for Argyle.
Last season’s game at Home Park was a real thriller. The first half was goalless as Matt Macey made a superb save in added time to deny Tom Nichols as he met Ollie Clarke's cross from the right with a goal-bound strike.
Plymouth's Ruben Lameiras broke the deadlock in the 51st minute. He jinked into the area down the right, exchanged passes with David Fox and then curled the ball past goalkeeper Jack Bonham.
Rovers' reply was out of the blue on 72 minutes, with Jonson Clarke-Harris shrugging off numerous strong challenges with a thumping angled strike into the top corner from 20 yards which gave Macey no chance.
Tony Craig scored an unfortunate own goal just three minutes later, heading in off the crossbar as Lameiras' corner from the right bounced up at the far post to make it 2-1 to the home side.
Then in added time substitute Gavin Reilly scored a stoppage-time leveler as his headed flick-on James Clarke's curling cross took the ball out of the reach of keeper Macey.
Team news from South Devon is that Joe Edwards will return to Argyle’s squad, he was suspended for the victory over Morecambe on Saturday after being booked five times this season. Edwards had been an ever-present in league two until that point. In his absence, the versatile Byron Moore lined up at right wing-back after playing as a striker in previous games.
On Monday, Manager Ryan Lowe said: “Joe will come into the squad. One will have to miss out tomorrow. Who that will be, we don’t know. We have got a training session today and tomorrow morning, and then we will address that and see where we go from there.”
Left wing-back Callum McFadzean continues to be sidelined by a knee injury and is waiting to see a specialist about it. McFadzean has not played in the last two games since he had to be substituted in the second half of the 1-1 draw at the Mem.