Bradley’s set-piece abilities should produce more goals for improving Argyle

That was more like it from Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night as they won for the first time in nine home league games with a 2-0 victory over Northampton Town.

It was incredibly also their first home Tuesday evening win in a league match since they beat Barnet 2-1 on September 29, 2015 – a winless run of seven games.

You have to say the performance from Northampton was a ‘bunch of old cobblers’, and if they repeat that level of display too often in the near future, then Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink’s stay at Sixfields is going to be pretty shortlived.

They showed none of the confidence you would have expected them to take from a four-match unbeaten league run going into last Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat by Scunthorpe United.

However, Argyle could only beat what was put in front of them and were well worth their success.

It was just as well they picked up the result, as Bury’s shock 1-0 home win over Sky Bet League One leaders Shrewsbury Town would have sent them to the bottom of the table if they had picked up anything other than three points, bouncing back well from their 4-0 stuffing by Oxford United at the same venue only three days before.

The star of the show on Tuesday was centre-back Sonny Bradley, who scored two headed goals from corners, and could, and probably should, have had more, and he admitted as much after the game.

“I had a couple more headers at the back stick and I was thinking about the match ball and picturing myself walking off with it (for scoring a hat-trick). It didn’t happen, but I am happy with two goals and a clean sheet,” he commented.

Some of Northampton’s set-piece defending was shocking, and you don’t get too many gifts like that in League One, but watching the game on Tuesday, and the ease with which Bradley seemed to find space did beg the question of why he has not scored more goals this season?

The double took him to three for the term, after a goal earlier in the campaign in the 3-1 home defeat by Blackpool, compared to seven he netted in the Pilgrims’ 2016-17 promotion-winning season. But at this stage of last season he was also on three, so on that basis you could argue he is doing okay, but he is a lethal weapon at corners that Argyle would do well to exploit more often.

Argyle’s top three scorers last season were Bradley, Graham Carey and Jake Jervis, and I don’t think there is any coincidence that the Pilgrims’ upturn in form has come about at a time when all three are making valuable contributions.

Bradley is finding the net again, Carey is scoring and assisting once more like we all know he can, and Jervis is working very hard up front, and it is surely only a matter of time before the goals start to flow again for him as well.

Argyle have a crucial run of four matches coming up at home in the next seven weeks, with all of their Home Park opponents in the run-up to mid-January residing in the bottom half of the table going into this weekend’s latest round of fixtures – Gillingham, Oldham Athletic, Walsall and Bury.

Before that though, Argyle will be seeking to secure their place in the knock-out stages of the Checkatrade Trophy when they visit Yeovil Town on Tuesday night (7.45 pm). Many of the groups have already been decided, but Group D of the Southern Section is still up for grabs, with Yeovil leading the way on five points, Argyle with four, Chelsea under-21s two and Exeter City one, with the top two teams in each group going through to the next round, so there is still all to play for.

Exeter are entertaining Chelsea’s youngsters the same evening, also at 7.45 pm.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.