Assistant Coach Dale Tonge wants better memories of Plymouth away, after remembering the Barnsley side that faced the Pilgrims on a wet winter evening.
The Reds headed to Home Park on the day and Tonge recalls an incredible performance with some ‘unbelievable’ goals, before the match was abandoned due to bad weather.
“It was a long old trip… and the best game ever, for 60 minutes. Actually, I think it was about 58 or 59 minutes. We were 4-1 up with some unbelievable goals, but then the ref decides to call it off for a water-logged pitch that was playable, if you asked anyone with a red shirt on.
“Everyone headed back up the motorway on the most sombre journey ever, only to go back for the rearranged game and get battered. We travelled on the day too, so it made everything 10 times worse. I think the fans will remember it really well, everyone was gutted.”
Today’s encounter looks set to go ahead, with the sun blazing over the South Coast outfit and Reds fans in good spirits. The team and coaching staff have had an opportunity to walk around the city, seeing plenty of the travelling red army, who are in excellent spirits.
“I don’t think we’ll have any issues with weather today! The sun is shining, we’ll have no problems with it today other than maybe a bit of sunburn on the pitch and in the stands.”
Tonge continued by explaining a change of travel plans for today’s match: “We’ve done all our usual recovery in terms of ice bath, cool down on Saturday and a light session on Sunday. We took the load off the players with a change in preparation by flying down to give us less stress on the legs, less time on a coach and a change mentally for them. Although it’s only a few hours less, it’s something different for them to fly.
“It’s something the club recognised that we needed to prepare correctly, it was the right thing to do and hopefully the boys can do their jobs today and it justifies doing it this way.”
A return to the squad for Liam Lindsay is the major bit of team news, with the centre-half in the travelling pack that have flown down to the match today.
“Liam has come through training fine, he’s in contention to play in the game which is why he’s in the squad.”
Aside from Lindsay’s return, the Good Friday win against Shrewsbury at Oakwell brought about the return of our top-scorer, Kieffer Moore. The striker was given a sensational reception when he entered the pitch and that’s the sort of atmosphere that Tonge believes the players thrive off.
“It has been a long time since I have heard Oakwell react like that, it shows just how important he is as a player for us and how much they’ve missed him. Hopefully in the last three games he can perform and give the fans what they want.”
On the game itself, Tonge explaned: “If it wasn’t for Davo we wouldn’t have won the game, everyone knows that, he was unbelievable on the day with four outstanding saves that were worthy of us winning any match. He’s been doing it all season so without sounding awful, we have begun to expect it! It’s not all about performances now, we got the win on Friday and that’s what is needed, yes we want performance too but we need the points more.”
Friday’s game against Shrewsbury was one of Oakwell’s highest home attendances of the campaign. The stands were packed and singing at the top of their voices, which was noticeable from Tonge’s pitchside position.
“I think it was evident on Friday that it was the best atmosphere of the season with the exception of maybe the Sunderland match at home. It was so good to see the stands full, the crowd in great voice and that’s what we need, we know they’ll turn up in their numbers.
“I think today we’re taking a good crowd down here, we’ve seen plenty of them around our hotel and in the town, you see a lot of the same faces, they are great people and great fans, we can’t thank them enough, but we know what they want and that’s the three points.”