Plymouth – the start of a cup run?

Newly promoted Plymouth Argyle are our opponents at The Valley on Saturday for a first round FA Cup fixture. Current form might prove irrelevant because the outcome may well depend more on team selection as both managers assess their priorities for the season.

Charlton fans will be hoping that Lee Bowyer fields a stronger team than the one he put out for the club's last FA Cup tie in January  when he made nine changes and gave starts to Stevenson, Henry, Odoh, Vennings and Sarpong-Wiredu against a WBA side including Barry, Brunt, Austin and Zohore.

Plymouth warmed up for Saturday's game by beating Swindon 4-2 on Tuesday evening and settling themselves into eighth place in League One with a game in hand on some of their rivals. But their strength is at home - they have only lost once at Home Park in over a year - and they have yet to win away this season. They lost at Hull (0-1) and Lincoln (0-2) and have gained draws at Wimbledon (4-4) and Wigan (1-1).

Manager Ryan Lowe took over at Plymouth last season after guiding Bury to promotion from League Two in May 2019. It looks like he timed his exit strategy well. He repeated the success when Argyle were in third place as the season was decided on points per game in March this year. The veteran of over 600 games at League One and Two level (Shrewsbury, Crewe, Bury etc) has an attacking philosophy and seems to have uncovered a diamond in Welsh under 19 international Luke Jephcott who has five goals in seven appearances this year to add to his four in six last season after returning from a loan spell with Truro City.

The clubs have only met once before in the FA Cup - at Home Park nearly forty years ago - when a late goal by Derek Hales in January 1981 meant that Charlton came from behind to win 2-1 and set up a 4th round tie at Fulham. Hales had also scored at Harlow in the first round and a late winner against Bournemouth in the second round. He was to continue in that vein by netting the winner at Craven Cottage but the run came to an end at Portman Road on Valentines Day when a crowd of 30,221 saw second half goals from Wark and Mariner deny Charlton a place in the quarter finals.

Lee Bowyer is bound to make a number of team changes after the recent run of two games per week but there would appear to be sufficient players fresh enough to field a strong team. Smyth, Forster-Caskey, Morgan, Levitt, Purrington and Aneke have not had a great many minutes and Marcus Maddison could at last be in line to make a fuller contribution. Ashley Maynard-Brewer may be given a chance between the posts. We may see the return of Charlie Barker or another appearance for Aaron Henry.

If the scores are level after ninety minutes there will be thirty minutes extra time during which a fourth substitute may be used. If the deadlock is still not broken there will be a penalty shoot-out. We expect that a ball bearing Charlton's number will be in the bag for the draw for round two on November 28th.

The live stream of the game can be purchased here: