Opposition View on Doncaster Rovers' next opponents Plymouth Argyle

They were the surprise early pacesetters in League One but Plymouth Argyle have struggled to replicate their strong form over the shift into the second half of the season.

Friday, 28th January 2022, 12:05 pm

So what has changed for the Pilgrims as they prepare to visit the Eco-Power Stadium this weekend?

We spoke to the Plymouth Herald's Chris Errington for the lowdown on Steven Schumacher’s side.

Q: After a brilliant start to the season, form looks to have been patchy over the last couple of months. What do you put this down to and can they get the promotion push back on track?

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Former Rovers striker Niall Ennis scored for Plymouth on Tuesday against Fleetwood

CE: "It was a superb start to the season and confidence soared sky-high. Argyle did not concede many goals and scored plenty, notably striker Ryan Hardie, and perhaps exceeded even their own expectations.

"After losing 2-0 at Rotherham United on the opening day they went unbeaten in 16 league games before losing three in a row, including Home Park defeats by high-flying Wycombe Wanderers and Wigan Athletic.

"Ryan Lowe then left as manager to take over at Preston North End, with his assistant Steven Schumacher stepping up to replace him.

"That meant there was not too much disruption and after a 2-0 win at Cheltenham Town on Boxing Day they were fourth in the table.

"However, their next three games were postponed - the first two due to a Covid outbreak at the club and third - an away trip to Fleetwood Town due to them reaching the third round of the FA Cup and that saw them lose ground on the teams above them."

Q: There's a few familiar faces in the Plymouth squad in Niall Ennis, Jordan Houghton and Conor Grant. How are they all faring this season?

CE: "Ennis suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up before the season-opening game at Rotherham and that kept him out of action until the start of December. Initially, he made his comeback as a substitute but he has started a couple of games recently and scored on Tuesday night.

"Houghton has been a regular in the midfield holding role, missing only one game in League One - and that was due to a suspension for picking up five yellow cards. Grant has been playing at left wing-back and carries a good goalscoring threat with his excellent shooting ability."

Q: What are the strengths of the side on the pitch?

CE: "You can tell they are a very good, tight-knit group, probably because of the amount of time they spend on coaches travelling to away games all over the country. That close bond has served them well this season.

"Tactically, despite the change of manager from Lowe to Schumacher, very little has changed in the way they play so they all know their roles and responsibilities."

Q: And weaknesses?

CE: "Creating scoring chances has not been a problem for Argyle but converting them has been of late. The goals have dried up a little bit.

"The defensive unit has also not been as solid, notably in the 4-2 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on their last visit to Yorkshire on January 15 when they produced what Schumacher described as their worst performance of the season."

Q: What system and style of play does Schumacher favour?

CE: "It is the 3-1-4-2 formation - with Houghton in front of the defence - that served Argyle so well under Lowe.

"The wing-backs - usually Grant and skipper Joe Edwards - have become important roles within that system to get forward as much as possible. Argyle look to play attacking football out from the back and through the thirds."

Q: Who are the players to watch?

CE: "Strong-running midfielder Panutche Camara has been one of Argyle's best players this season. He has recently returned from playing for Guinea-Bissau at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, where he started games against Egypt and Nigeria. He returned to the UK last Friday but still played as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat by Lincoln City at Home Park the following day."

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