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Behind Enemy Lines: Consolidation the aim as Plymouth test their mettle in League 1

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We speak to four Plymouth Argyle fans, Rory Millar, Andrew Chapman, James King and Michael Wunderle ahead of tomorrow’s League One clash. We talk realistic aims for the season, Jamie Ness and find out why referee Chris Sarginson may receive a frosty reception when he takes charge of tomorrow’s game

You’re back in League One following promotion last term and have had a respectable start with a draw at Southend and a win over Charlton. How is life back in League One?

AC: A reasonable start so far – though we always had concerns about scoring and our lack of a true number 9. Could Nadir Ciftci now be the answer there? The rise in prices after six years in League Two was a slap – £29 on the opening day at Peterborough, most unwelcome!

JK: I am so happy to be back and I’m fairly optimistic this year. Adams has built a strong squad and I have no doubt we can compete at this level. I think we were extremely unlucky in our first game of the season and have never seen us play so well and come away with nothing. The future is bright for PAFC.

RM: When we got promoted, a lot of people weren’t sure of how the standard would be in League 1. However, I think everyone has been pleasantly surprised as the level of football is so much better than League 2. It’s great to go to games where most teams have some real quality.

MW:  Its good to be back. Years of trying took it’s toll but it finally came. The problem with being in League Two is that teams see a club like Plymouth as a scalp so often come and sit in which prevents our technical players from influencing the game. League One teams will allow this time for our technical players so League One football is massively beneficial for players like Graham Carey.

What is the realistic aim for Plymouth this season?

AC: Top half of the table, possibly a decent late push at the play-offs. None of last season’s promoted teams struggled so I don’t feel we will. We like to go ‘under the radar’.

JK: I’m confident we can finish just above mid table with a slight chance of sneaking the playoffs. There is no chance of being anywhere near the relegation zone.

RM: Argyle fans are divided on the question of where we should be. A lot are ambitious and want a playoff push and some only want us to stay up and consolidate. Watching us so far this season, especially in the game against Charlton, I would say we should be mid to top half of the table if we can keep the squad relatively injury-free.

Derek Adams has said that he doesn’t mind if Scunthorpe control the possession on Saturday. What kind of football are we likely to see Plymouth play?

AC: I’ve never been that convinced by his formations but you can’t argue with results – away from home at least. But whether home or away he does like to play one up front. When it works it’s fluid, when it doesn’t its turgid and it feels like sometimes there is no plan B.

JK: I think you’ll see Argyle sit back, soak up the pressure and hit Scunthorpe on the break with some fast attacking football.

RM: Usually we play decent football. When the Iron attack, Argyle will be compact and keep the majority of players behind the ball, but then when we get it we do try and keep it. We also have an assortment of quick wingers that we can use as a way out of defensive situations.

MW: Likely to be similar to last weekend. Allowing teams to knock the ball around and be strong defensively and hit them on the break.

Adams also hinted that he thinks we were a bit too reliant on Josh Morris and suggested you had four or five players that can chip in with goals. Who should we watch out for in the Plymouth side?

AC: Graham Carey is our mercurial mid, who can score from anywhere and scores some quality goals. Jake Jervis is a wide front man with goals in him and who knows what we’ll get from Nadir Ciftci if he debuts.

JK: I think we have goals right through the side. Our height is a major plus this year so from set pieces Bradley and Edwards are deadly. In the front line you have goals coming from Jervis, Carey and our new signing Ciftci.

RM: Since Adams took over, we haven’t had one player banging in the goals and the whole team have had to share it around. Our right winger Jake Jervis scores a lot and puts a shift in, whilst the club did really well keeping hold of Graham Carey over the summer. He has a cracking left foot set piece delivery and our two centre backs score lots of goals from corners.

MW: We have threats all over the park. Firstly, Graham Carey, will both create and score many this season, he has a wizard of a left foot. Jake Jervis will score the goals if given a chance, as will Joel Grant. At set pieces, switch off you will be punished. Sonny Bradley and Ryan Edwards are man mountains and will score goals this season.

Chris Sarginson is the man in the middle and returns after suggesting he did not see Leyton Orient captain Liam Kelly push one of your ballboys in a 3-2 defeat last year. Looking at your forum it seems some supporters are still angry about that. Is he likely to get a frosty reception?

AC: I’d say so. The video evidence proves he was looking right at it from mere feet away and even briefly raised a finger, seemingly in admonishment, so to then go to the FA and say he didn’t see it, is nothing short of a bare-faced lie in my books and a shirk of his responsibility, to cover up an error. A bit of acceptance and “yes, I made a mistake there and should have sent him off” would have been a far better outcome.

JK: Argyle fans never forget, so he is bound to get a little bit of stick on Saturday but all friendly of course!

RM: I don’t think his reception is going to be great, considering the footage seems to show him looking directly at the incident. It would have been worse had our loss that night stopped us from getting promoted, but a lot of Argyle fans remain angry with how the whole situation was handled.

MW: There will be hard feelings but it’s inevitable. He was much improved vs Portsmouth later that season. Everyone has bad days but some fans could hold a grudge.

Jamie Ness looks as though he is struggling with injury again. Have you seen anything of him yet and is he likely to be involved at the weekend?

AC: He missed all of pre-season and played not a minute – what is it with us signing crocks?! No-one is sure what he actually did and how to get injured originally – it was all a bit secretive. He re-emerged in the reserves and played for a bit in the Checkatrade and apparently looked decent and then had a 10 second, time-wasting cameo in the injury time against Charlton – so he is a total unknown quantity to us all. The video of his blooter for Rangers vs Celtic went down well though!

JK: We really need to be patient with him and slowly get him back into the side. He looked assured against Chelsea u23 but not enough to judge him on yet.

RM: Ness missed the whole of pre-season through injury which was a real shame, but he is getting fitter with every minute he plays. He managed most of the game in the checkatrade last week, although expect him to be on the bench because our current pairing in the middle of David Fox and Antoni Sarcevic are performing very well.

MW: I have high hopes for Ness. He got injured early in pre season and is starting to get fit again. He played Tuesday in the Checkatrade and was just what we needed in midfield for the 60 minutes he played. I expect some involvement on Saturday.

Have you got a score prediction?

JK: I think a 1-0 win to Argyle with a lot of possession for Scunthorpe. I think the winner will come early and we will defend the lead.

AC: A narrow 2-1 win or a low-scoring draw – there’s been very few 0-0s between the sides so perhaps the time is nigh!

RM: I would be happy with a 1-1.

MW: 1-1 Draw – Sonny Bradley header cancels out a Josh Morris screamer. Tight game for me with both teams taking a point come 5pm.

Written by Matt Blanchard

Part of the team since 2007, before becoming editor in 2013. Undertaken the role of match summariser during Scunthorpe United live match commentaries for BBC Radio Humberside. Seasonal contributor to football titles FourFourTwo and When Saturday Comes and a finalist at the Football Blogging Awards in 2014.

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