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Match Previews


6 September 2013

A look ahead to tomorrow's game

On Saturday Bristol Rovers head 120 miles South West to take on a Plymouth Argyle team one point and four positions behind them in League Two.

After the disappointment of such a narrow defeat on Wednesday at Ashton Gate John Ward will be looking to his team to continue their encouraging recent league form.

Argyle lost their opening two games, but then recorded back to back wins at Cheltenham and at home to Rochdale. That good work was undone somewhat as the Pilgrims went down 2-1 to Morecambe at the Globe Arena on Saturday. 

Argyle took the lead from a penalty when Reuben Reid put the ball past home keeper Barry Roche. The spot kick was awarded after Marvin Morgan was hauled down by home skipper Mark Hughes. 

The Shrimpers Kevin Ellison equalised within a minute, as he latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the area and beat Argyle custodian Luke McCormick from 12 yards. 

Roche kept out Curtis Nelson's header with a fine low save before a Padraig Amond volley in the 84th minute secured the win for the home team.
Argyle Boss Manager John Sheridan was perplexed by his team’s poor second-half performance. Sheridan thought it was a missed opportunity to put another win on the board. He said: "How can you concede ten seconds after you have scored? That's mentally switching off and not being organised from a kick-off.

"It puts Morecambe on the front foot. It's just a joke the way we conceded the goal. We just didn't get hold of the ball. Too many players went missing in the second half. I haven't got the answers. Everything is good in training. We are bright and work our socks off."

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. 

There has been a total of 45 games in Devon between the teams with the Pilgrims winning 22, 14 draws and the Pirates plundering 9 victories. 

Rovers have drawn in Devon in their last two visits and had lost on the previous two trips to Home Park. Prior to that had had a spell where they were unbeaten in nine games, including 3 consecutive victories, all by a single goal.

One of those draws was a memorable 3-3 result on 5 February 1994, 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.

Back in 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).

On Tuesday night Argyle won out in their JPT tie at Cheltenham’s Whaddon Road ground. After a 3-3 draw the game went to penalties with the Devon team winning their first shoot out in 15 years, 5-4. 

Striker Marvin Morgan scored the winning penalty for Argyle after Jake Cole saved the previous attempt from Cheltenham's Jason Taylor.

Rommy Boco, Lewis Alessandra, Conor Hourihane and debutant Jamie Reckord were all on target for Argyle before Morgan wrapped up the win.

Cole said: "I think our record in penalties over recent years hasn't been great, so it was nice to be part of a win and we are through to the next round. Our penalties were very well taken, that’s what we need to see – the ball being smashed in the net. Even if the 'keeper is getting a touch on it, he can't keep it out."

John Sheridan was full of praise for his recent signings left-back Jamie Reckord and midfielder Hamza Bencherif, who both made important contributions.

Bencherif headed home a perfectly-flighted free-kick from Captain Conor Hourihane in the 57th minute to put Argyle 3-1. However, a red card for right-back Curtis Nelson led to Cheltenham staging a comeback and taking the first round tie to penalties.

Reckord, 21, has been signed on a three-month loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers and put in an assured performance at left-back. 

Bencherif was a free agent after he was released by Notts County at the end of last season. The 25-year-old Algerian agreed a short-term deal with the Pilgrims which will take him up to and including January 1.

Sheridan commented; "Jamie met up with us at the hotel on Tuesday afternoon and I thought he settled in really well. I have seen him play a few times and I have tried to get him previously at Chesterfield.

"I know what he's all about. He has played on loan for Scunthorpe and Coventry in League One and he's a good lad. I like the way he plays. He's always on the front foot. He takes care of the ball as well."

Speaking about Bencherif he went on, "Hamza is still a bit short of match fitness but I thought he did well. He's good in both boxes, to be fair. He's definitely a threat when we are trying to score from set plays.

"It was a great ball from Conor but he really attacked the ball and put it away nicely. Hamza is a good lad. He wants to come and get his fitness and play lots of games. It was his first game for a while but I thought he did some good things."

Looking at how his squad is shaping he noted, "I'm not bringing players in, thinking they are just going to be starting all the time. It's important we have competition for places. That's what the teams at the top of the (League Two) table have got, especially Chesterfield and Fleetwood. They have got big squads."

That is certainly a sentiment that would be echoed by John Ward, the early season injury crisis hit Rovers had for their first few games, but they now seem to be hitting their straps and gaining points. A thrilling game looks to be in prospect.    

Written by Gerry Prewett.

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