Plymouth Argyle Must Shift Focus Back Towards Automatic Promotion

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PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Luke McCormick of Plymouth Argyle and Graham Carey of Plymouth Argyle applaud supporters following defeat in The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay match between Plymouth Argyle and Liverpool at Home Park on January 18, 2017 in Plymouth, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Plymouth Argyle and manager Derek Adams experienced a January filled with drama and strong play in the FA Cup, but will unfortunately not be taking part in the tournament’s fourth round after falling to Liverpool on Wednesday evening.

With a return to league play Saturday at Cheltenham Town, the Pilgrims must ensure that their place in the table remains constant for automatic promotion to League One.

Plymouth Argyle Must Shift Focus Back Towards Automatic Promotion

Currently sitting second in League Two behind Doncaster Rovers, Argyle will not be guaranteed any results after a strong run earlier in the campaign. After initial stumbles, the Pilgrims went on a 12-match unbeaten streak from August until November.

An organised and disciplined defensive shape kept matches in front of them, and the attack brought crucial goals. Goalkeeper Luke McCormick has been stellar, and a back-line led by Sonny Bradley and Gary Miller have been outstanding at clearing out the opposition’s scoring opportunities.

Depth has been important up front as well, with Jake Jervis, Jordan Slew and Jimmy Spencer all contributing in the striker position. Matches against Yeovil Town and Newport County displayed impressive work in the final third.

Rovers are four points clear at the top. Carlisle United and Portsmouth are four and six points back respectively. Argyle need to avoid the play-off positions and keep themselves in the top three places over the coming months.

Confidence from the FA Cup

January has been draining for Argyle due to the FA Cup. A second-round replay at Newport County went to extra-time, while two difficult matches against Liverpool followed.

Wednesday’s match at Home Park featured an electric atmosphere and solid play from the Pilgrims, but was ultimately not enough to upset their Premier League opposition.

However, instead of disappointment, Derek Adams must use this week and this month as motivation. His side displayed incredible determination, skill and desire to earn the replay at Anfield and in their home loss.

It will be those qualities that can guide Argyle to the top of League Two moving forward.

Graham Carey

Much of the club’s success has come from midfielder Graham Carey this season. The Irish international has been excellent at both ends of the pitch for Argyle.

Nine goals and nine assists thus far in league play only begin to tell part of Carey’s story, as his defensive work and leadership have been paramount to success and were integral to their unbeaten streak.

The 27-year old has displayed a cool nerve as well, slotting home the match-winner at Newport County to advance in the FA Cup.

Plymouth Argyle will need Graham Carey to continue his sparkling form throughout 2017.

Away form

An important element to remaining on course for promotion will be positive results away from Home Park, with Saturday’s match at Cheltenham an excellent opportunity to earn maximum points on their travels.

Losses at Barnet and Morecambe could end up being crucial in the table, and away results can often be the difference between automatic promotion and a play-off.

Derek Adams and Plymouth Argyle have the quality and capability to play in League One next season, but how they approach the rest of their campaign after FA Cup disappointment will be the key.

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