Opposition view on Plymouth: Ryan Lowe's approach, Rovers links and the key to Argyle's solid start
Chris Errington is into his 25th season reporting on Plymouth Argyle for Plymouth Live/The Herald.
We caught up with up him to get the lowdown on the Pilgrims ahead of Rovers’ trip to Home Park on Saturday.
What's your verdict on Argyle's impressive start and what has been key to it?
It has been quite an improvement for Argyle compared to the end of last season, when they won just two of their last 15 League One games and ended up in a final position of 18th. They have picked up 15 points from eight matches. Ryan Lowe saw his side concede 20 goals in the final seven games of last term and that led to him carrying out a complete overhaul of the defence, bringing in new summer signings. To date, that has paid off, with a much improved goals-against record.
What's the aim for Argyle this season and do you see them as promotion contenders?
It has been a very good start for Argyle, especially as they lost 2-0 at Rotherham on the opening day, but I think it's still too soon to wonder whether they could be promotion contenders. There are some big, well-financed clubs in League One who will be expecting to be up there or thereabouts come the end of April. At the start of the season a solid mid-table finish was probably the aim for Argyle and, for the time being, I think that remains the case.
How do you expect Ryan Lowe to set up his team against Doncaster and what style of football will they play?
Ryan Lowe nearly always sends his sides out in a 3-1-4-2 formation and I would not expect that to change against Rovers. He likes an attacking style of football, playing through the thirds and getting the wing-backs into good advanced positions so they can provide quality crosses for the strikers and midfielders. However, there has been an increased emphasis this season on trying to have more defensive solidity, with holding midfielder Jordan Houghton a key part of that.
Who is Argyle's dangerman this weekend?
Ryan Hardie's winner against AFC Wimbledon last Saturday was his sixth goal of the season in nine games, which equalled his total for the whole of last season from 32 starts and 19 substitute appearances. He followed that up by scoring twice against Portsmouth on Tuesday. He is full of confidence and causes opposition teams a lot of problems with his ability to run in behind defences.
How are former Rovers loanees Niall Ennis, Conor Grant and Jordan Houghton doing at Home Park?
Niall Ennis was probably Argyle's best striker in pre-season but suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up before the first match at Rotherham and is out of action for another month. Conor Grant has played at left wing-back because George Cooper has been recovering from knee surgery and is an excellent source of crosses, both from open play and set pieces. Jordan Houghton has been providing good protection for the defenders playing behind him.