|Plymouth Argyle 1 v 2 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 5th December 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Fans Return as Blues Visit Plymouth
Friday, 4th Dec 2020 14:12
Town will be watched by fans for the first time since March when they visit Plymouth Argyle on Saturday afternoon looking to return to winning ways.
The Blues’ last match in front of supporters was the 1-0 home loss to Coventry on March 7th, a gap of 272 days.
While Town fans won’t be present at Home Park, 1,808 Pilgrims season ticket holders will be there with 2,000 Town supporters at Portman Road for the Portsmouth match next Saturday.
“I think the game in general needs it,” manager Paul Lambert said when asked about the return of fans. “I think the game needs the supporters. It’s really tough, as every game goes by I think it’s really tough.
“I’m looking forward to it, especially next Saturday because that’s when we can get our own fans in. I think that’s important to us because it’s not the same, you’re not playing the same game without them.”
While the Blues will be looking to get back to winning ways after three winless and goalless games, home defeats to Hull City and Charlton, 3-0 and 2-0 respectively, having been followed by Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Oxford, Plymouth will be aiming to bounce back after a 4-0 home defeat to Rochdale in midweek
That loss was their first at home in the league this season, but was the third of three successive league defeats which stretched their winless league run to four. In all competitions, they have won just one of their last five.
“I think any loss you have is tough, whether that’s 4-0 or 1-0, it’s hard,” Lambert reflected. “Football is a hard game.
“But we go down there with the guys we’ve got and we go and play our normal way. We don’t change, we keep doing exactly the same and hopefully get the result.
“We have to work hard and do all the basics right. And if we do that, then we’ve got a chance.”
While Plymouth, whose recent run has seen them drop to 15th, are the seventh top scorers in the division with 20 goals, one more than the Blues, only two sides have conceded more than their goals-against total of 25.
In addition to the 4-0 loss to Dale earlier in the week, they were hammered 5-1 by Fleetwood a fortnight ago.
Lambert says Argyle manager Ryan Lowe likes his side to play on the front foot but that approach can have an impact at the other end of the field.
“Yes, and they’ve probably been a bit exposed, but that’s the risk you take,” he said. “You go for it and you leave yourself a bit exposed and you get hit on the counter. It’s a tough game, as I’ve said before, we’ll go and try and win.”
Conversely, Town kept their first clean sheet in six games in all competitions at Oxford but while managing only one shot on target, which came in the final scheduled minute.
Asked what can be done to increase the goal threat, Lambert said: “We just have to take more of a risk, just risk. Play with risk, don’t worry about the mistakes or anything like that.
"It’s just the risk factor that we’ve got to take when we have that opportunity because we’re getting into really good areas.
“Once we get everybody back we’ll be a totally different animal. But at the top end of the pitch we need to take more of a risk.”
He added: “If you look at it, we've lost so many players up there. The wide lads Freddie [Sears] and Gwion [Edwards] are still not back either so we've lost that side of our game as well. But we have to try and find a way to hurt teams at the top end.”
Lambert’s options are somewhat limited at present given the still lengthy injury list, although a couple of senior players were on the bench on Tuesday and could come into the XI.
David Cornell will continue in goal having made a couple of important stops in the first half against Oxford , while skipper Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward will almost certainly again be the full-backs.
Toto Nsiala is back in training after his hamstring injury but Lambert will probably stick with Luke Woolfenden and Mark McGuinness as his centre-halves.
In midfield, Brett McGavin looks set to return in the deeper midfield role with Andre Dozzell missing as he serves a one-match ban having amassed five bookings.
Jon Nolan is likely to keep his place ahead of him with Alan Judge perhaps returning for Jack Lankester.
Aaron Drinan could again start in the central striking role, although Kayden Jackson and Oli Hawkins will both be hoping to get the nod, with Keanan Bennetts, who has started the last two games on the left, a doubt with a hamstring problem.
If the on-loan Borussia Mönchengladbach man misses out, then with Gwion Edwards and Freddie Sears still sidelined, also due to hamstring problems, Armando Dobra and Jack Lankester could start in the wide positions.
Plymouth manager Lowe is looking for a reaction from his side following Tuesday’s result and knows that Town will similarly will be out to put past results behind them.
“A tough test, Over the last three games, they’ll have wanted to do a lot better, they’ve drawn one and lost two before that,” he told the Argyle official website.
“So they’ll be wanting to put things right as well. We know it’s going to be a tough test as most teams in this league are, but it’s one we’re excited about.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Paul Lambert. We spent some time with him, me and Schuey [assistant manager Steven Schumacher] when we first got the job at Bury and we went in to Stoke when he was the manager there in the Premier League and spent a day with him and his assistant and his coaches, which was very good. A great insight and a great guy.
“Expectations are massive for Ipswich, as everyone knows. He’s obviously got to what’s right by him and the football club to get them back out of the league.
“We know they’re going to come here, they’re going to be a real test for us. They’ve got some real quality players but it’s one we’re relishing.”
Lowe is looking forward to fans returning to Home Park for the first time since the Pilgrims beat Macclesfield 3-0 on March 7th, even if they will number only 1,800 as Argyle stage a test event as they prepare to welcome more supporters back for future games.
“We will use that as motivation, as an extra lift for our lads,” he added. “We would have liked to have many more but 1,808 is better than none. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I think if the ground was to open full capacity I would guarantee we would probably have 18,000 in this building.
“I don’t think they will stay away. I think they are champing at the bit. I have read a lot over the past six to eight months about mental health and well being of people who want to go to football. It’s their buzz on a Saturday afternoon.”
Town have had the edge over Argyle over the years, winning 19 games (18 in the league), losing 11 (11) and drawing 15 (15).
At home in League One this season the Pilgrims have won five, drawn two and lost just Tuesday’s game to Dale.
Saturday’s match is Paul Lambert’s 100th game in charge of Town, his record in the previous 99 reading, won 31, drawn 25 and lost 43.
The teams last met in March 2010 when Roy Keane’s Town fell to their first home defeat since the previous September as Plymouth, managed by Blues legend Paul Mariner, left Portman Road with a 2-0 victory.
Bradley Wright-Phillips and Joe Mason seized on dreadful defensive errors in each half to claim all three points for the visitors.
In October of the previous year, at the height of Town’s winless streak at the start of Keane’s full season in charge, the sides drew 1-1 at Home Park.
The Pilgrims went in front through Carl Fletcher in the 22nd minute, before the Blues hit back through Jon Stead on 68, before Plymouth’s loanee defender Darcy Blake was sent off for a two-footed tackle late on.
The Plymouth squad includes Frank Nouble, who was with Town between January 2013 and January 2015, scoring five goals in 26 starts and 34 sub appearances. Nouble moved to Home Park in the summer and has scored twice this season.
Plymouth winger Danny Mayor joined the Devon club from Bury in July 2019 having held talks at Portman Road with regard to a move to the Blues.
Saturday’s referee is Ollie Yates from Staffordshire, who has shown 46 yellow cards and no red in 13 games so far this season.
Yates's only previous Town game was the 0-0 home draw with Doncaster Rovers in September 2019 in which he booked Flynn Downes and five of the visitors.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Donacien, Ward, Kenlock, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Nsiala, McGavin, Nolan, Gibbs, Judge, Lankester, Bennetts, Dobra, Hawkins, Jackson, Drinan.
Photo: Matchday Images
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