Swindon hope Sturrock loss will hurt Plymouth

Jon Culley
Saturday 13 March 2004 01:00
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As Plymouth Argyle step out at Home Park this afternoon for the first time since the departure of manager Paul Sturrock to Southampton, promotion-chasing Swindon Town will be hoping to benefit from any uncertainty that might be affecting the Devon side's well-being.

But for a poorly-taken penalty by Notts County's Paul Heffernan last weekend, Argyle's first match under caretaker manager Kevin Summerfield might have ended in defeat and they take on a Swindon side hoping to extend their unbeaten sequence to 12 matches.

On the other hand, Plymouth have lost only one of their 17 games at home this season, conceding only 11 goals. However, the Swindon manager, Andy King, believes his side can emulate Bristol City, the only team to win at Home Park this season, and break into the race for automatic promotion from the Second Division.

"This could be the game which will define the season," King said. "If we win there, then it's game on in this league, that's for sure. If we nick it, there's going to be a lot of teams worrying. It is a difficult game but I'm not going there with any fear in my mind."

Queen's Park Rangers, three points ahead of Swindon in third, face an awkward trip to sixth-placed Hartlepool in which they are forced to field rookie goalkeeper Lee Camp, signed on loan from Derby as cover for the injured Chris Day and Nick Culkin.

The Hull City manager, Peter Taylor, has dismissed suggestions that his side cannot afford to lose their derby against Scunthorpe United today after three consecutive defeats, even though another setback could see them slip out of the automatic promotion places in the Third Division for the first time since the end of December.

"It is not a must-win game," Taylor said. "We are not in a tremendous run of form but I would not put my team under pressure to say we've got to win. Our recent results have been one draw and three defeats but I've been OK with the way we've played and if we keep playing that way, things will change."

Taylor's team lead the division by six points but only four points cover the next five places. With Oxford (third) Huddersfield (fourth) facing the bottom two sides at home, Doncaster could slip two places if they fail to win.

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