Can Plymouth break into League One play-offs after narrowly missing out last season?


Plymouth Argyle narrowly missed out on a spot in last season’s League One play-offs, but can they improve this year?

The Pilgrims faced a strong season last time out, finishing seventh in their second consecutive League One campaign under managers Ryan Lowe and Steven Schumacher.

Between rounds 12 and 18, Plymouth managed to lead the standings before falling down and fighting to remain in the top-six, eventually missing out following a poor end to the campaign.

So, how will they be able to improve upon their previous campaign, and will some of their old rivals in the South-West pose any threat to their EFL Championship dreams?

Can they claim a spot in the Championship?

With their final five games last season not producing a win, Argyle’s poor end of season can be seen as a strong area to blame for their failure to reach the play-offs.

However, last year did represent a serious improvement on their first season back in the third tier after being both relegated and promoted between League One and League Two between 2018 and 2020.

In the 2020-21 season, Plymouth placed 18th at the end of the year, meaning seventh just a year later can be seen as a win for the Devonshire squad. If this momentum can be carried once again, it does not seem inconceivable to believe that they may stand as title contenders.

Although consistency was a significant strength, suffering just one loss in their first 17 matches for example, this fell away during the mid-part and ending of last year.

How is their pre-season record shaping up as the season quickly approaches?

With three wins, two draws and one loss coming in their six pre-season warm-up matches, the team seem in high form heading into the upcoming match against Barnsley to kick off the League One season.

Fixtures against Torquay United and Yeovil Town, although both National League squads, indicated their attacking strength continues to shine as the squad netted seven goals against the two teams.

Meanwhile, at the back of the squad, there are concerns surrounding the team’s left wing-backs, as both Mickel Miller and Conor Grant saw absences during parts of pre-season.

Miller was left out of the squad after complaints of muscle pain were given at their match against Yeovil, although this was just for the final game of their pre-season schedule at Huish Park.

Similarly, Grant missed all of Argyle’s games during pre-season following an operation, meaning heading into their first match of the campaign, they may be forced to play either of their right wing-backs in the position.

Will there be much challenge from their South-Western rivals?

Both Exeter City and Bristol Rovers join Plymouth in League One, with The Grecians’ fierce rivalry with Argyle one of the most hotly-anticipated fixtures of the season.

But, despite the excitement that local fans will hold for the two games at St James Park and Home Park, it may be a walk in the park for Plymouth given Exeter’s form against both Yeovil and Torquay in pre-season.

The Reds failed to win their game at Plainmoor, being beaten by Torquay 1-0, while a goal by Captain Matt Jay secured a narrow draw against Yeovil, with no goals being scored through the second half.

Given Plymouth’s record, it will be a one-sided affair when the Devon Derby comes to fruition.

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