2022 hasn’t been that kind to promotion-chasing Plymouth Argyle.
Following a manager change, in December There were injuries to key players which has caused some issues with squad depth. Minus an Emirates FA Cup third round victory, January has so far been a month that Argyle will be ready to leave behind.
After the departure of manager Ryan Lowe on December 7, assistant coach Steven Schumacher was appointed manager until the end of the season by those in charge at the club. Just one day later, he would work his first game as Pilgrims manager in the squad’s 1-1 draw with MK Dons on December 8.
However, since that time, the Pilgrims have struggled with defensive issues and injuries, slowing their play-off promotion push as they drop outside the top six. Since the appointment of Schumacher, the Pilgrims have amassed three wins across eight games in all competitions including a 1-0 victory away to Birmingham City in the FA Cup third round.
Across all games since November, Plymouth Argyle has six wins, six losses and four draws (advancing on penalties in a Papa John’s Trophy game and earning an FA Cup second round replay).
The Pilgrims still sit just outside a promotion play-off spot in seventh place in the Sky Bet League One table with 44 points – just two shy of sixth place Oxford United on 46 points. Overall in league play this season, the Pilgrims have won 12 games, drawn eight and lost seven.
Injuries earlier in the month to key players such as forward Ryan Hardie (shoulder) and midfielder Danny Mayor could be coming to an end, with both players possibly fit to play this weekend when the team travels to Eco-Power Stadium to face Doncaster Rovers.
In recent form, the Pilgrims arrive to Eco-Power Stadium having won six of their last 15 games, mixed with six losses and three draws. In their last 10 League One games, the Pilgrims have just two wins, six losses and two draws.
Former Rovers loanee 22-year-old forward Niall Ennis scored his first goal for the club midweek away to Fleetwood Town in an eventual 3-3 draw between the two sides as Plymouth start to find different avenues for scoring as opposed to just leaning heavily on the services of top-scorer Hardie (12 goals, three assists) and Luke Jephcott (nine goals, four assists). Defence is what Schumacher has identified as needing improvement though, as the team has registered just three clean sheets in their last 12 games across all competitions – including the 1-0 win against Birmingham City.
When Rovers and Plymouth Argyle met earlier this season at Home Park back on September 25, it was the home side taking all three points in a 2-1 victory over Rovers, with Jephcott and Conor Grant each converting from the spot in the second half comeback win. Rovers had led 1-0 earlier behind Jordy Hiwula’s game-opening second half goal in the 54th minute. Last season, it was the home team claiming all three points in the two meetings between the Pilgrims and Rovers, both coming by 2-1 score lines.