Doncaster Rovers: '˜Adams has proved himself right' - the lowdown on Plymouth Argyle
When Doncaster Rovers visited Plymouth Argyle in September the Pilgrims were in the doldrums and looking set for a long, hard season.
That struggle for form continued through to December but then came a remarkable upsurge that brought five wins and two draws in seven matches to lift Plymouth to 12th in League One, level on points with Rovers.
To get the lowdown on the turnaround at Home Park, we spoke to the Plymouth Herald’s Argyle reporter CHRIS ERRINGTON.
Q: It’s been quite the turnaround for Plymouth recently. What has been key to that?
Errington: There have been a number of factors. Argyle had a number of players injured and suspended earlier this season so they could not get a settled side.
The absence of Rotherham-born striker Ryan Taylor was a big blow for them. He suffered a broken ankle in the first game at Peterborough United and was out for four months.
Since his return to action at the end of November he has given the team the focal point up front they need.
The form of midfielder Toumani Diagouraga, who arrived as a free agent in October, was also very important. He gave them a powerful presence in the centre of the pitch.
Unfortunately for Argyle, he has now signed for Fleetwood Town so they need to try to replace him.
Q: How much of a loss will Diagouraga be?
CE: He will take some replacing. Argyle’s recent resurgence was not solely because of him but the former Leeds United midfielder was a major factor behind it, no doubt.
He arrived as a free agent in mid-October on a short-term contract when Argyle were adrift at the bottom of League One.
Argyle gave him a platform to put himself back on the football map and he used the opportunity to show to other clubs what he was capable of.
He gave Argyle strength experience and quality on the ball in the centre of midfield, which allowed the likes of Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras to play with freedom further up the pitch.
Argyle were desperate to keep him but with his family still living in Leeds he opted for a return to the north and signed for Fleetwood Town.
Q: How is Derek Adams viewed currently?
CE: When they had a run of eight defeats out of nine earlier this season, there were some fans who wanted a new manager but the vast majority of the Green Army remained very supportive of him.
He guided Argyle to the League Two play-off final in 2015/16 and then to the runners-up spot last term, when they and Doncaster were pipped to the title by Portsmouth.
Derek Adams, like Darren Ferguson, is a very strong character who has firm principles when it comes to football and he has stuck to them, even when Argyle were struggling at the bottom of the table.
Now, after a run of eight wins, five draws and two defeats from the last 15 games in League One, Adams has proved that he was right to stick to his beliefs.
Q: What style of play does Adams favour?
CE: There has been a subtle change to Argyle’s way of playing over recent times and it has paid dividends.
The return to fitness of Ryan Taylor has given the Pilgrims the target man they needed, someone who could hold the ball up and bring his team-mates into the play.
That has coincided with the recall to the team of Portuguese-born playmaker Ruben Lameiras.
Lameiras seemed to be on his way out of the club but was surprisingly recalled for the home game against Oldham Athletic last month and they won 4-1.
He and Graham Carey, who Doncaster fans will appreciate is a very talented player, have combined well as an attacking trio alongside Taylor.
Q: Who are Argyle’s danger man?
CE: Graham Carey surprised many by signing a new contract with Argyle in the summer rather than moving elsewhere after two outstanding seasons at Home Park.
He had a slow start to this term but soon returned to top form and was named as the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for October.
Carey has scored some typically spectacular goals this season, as well as providing many assists for his team-mates as well. He remains their most influential player.
He and Lameiras are both very good on the ball and can interchange positions during the game, making them difficult for opposition defences to pick up.
Q: Match prediction?
CE: Trying to predict results in League One is a thankless task, if you ask me. Doncaster are on a good run of form and seem to have adjusted to life in League One, and it is the same with Argyle.
Both managers are very ambitious and competitive and that is reflected in their teams. I think this latest encounter will be close and the first goal of the game will probably be decisive.