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Big Match Preview: Plymouth Argyle home

City kick-off their Carabao Cup campaign with a first round tie against Plymouth Argyle at Ashton Gate (7.45pm).

Lee Johnson's side reached the fourth round last season for the first time since 1988/89, eventually falling just short against Hull City, then of the Premier League.

Here's a look at tonight's opponents.

FACTFILE

Formed 1886
Nickname The Pilgrims
Website www.pafc.co.uk
Twitter @Only1Argyle
Ground Home Park
Capacity 16,388

Honours
Division Two 2003/04
Division Three 2001/02
Division Three play-off winners 1995/96
Third Division (South) 1929/30, 1951/52
Fourth Division 1958/59
Southern League 1912/13
Western League 1904/05
South West Regional League 1939/40

Last season
League finish
League Two runners-up
FA Cup Third round, lost to Liverpool
EFL Cup First round, lost to Reading
EFL Trophy Group stage
Top scorer Graham Carey, 15 goals
Player of the Year Sonny Bradley
Average attendance 9,652

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

The nearly men of League Two in recent years, Plymouth finally broke free from the basement tier last season.

It’s easy to forget Argyle were an established Championship club a decade ago, but financial turmoil and back-to-back relegations had the club clinging on to its EFL status.

A trio of City loanees have all played their part in the Pigrims’ resurrection. Joe Bryan helped them avoid relegation to the Conference for the first time in their history; Bobby Reid was instrumental as Argyle reached the play-offs in 2014/15; Arnold Garita celebrated promotion and was taken to the hearts of the Green Army for scoring in the Devon derby against Exeter City.

Last season did not start well for Derek Adams’ men. Still nursing a hangover from a second successive play-off failure, Argyle lost their first three games in league and cup.

But a club record 13 away wins laid the foundations for an assault on the League Two title, which only slipped through their grasp with two points dropped at Grimsby Town on the final day.

Life in Sky Bet League One began with defeat to Peterborough United on Saturday as the Pilgrims were beaten 2-1 at the ABAX Stadium.

Derek Adams led the Pilgrims to promotion in his second season in charge

MEET THE GAFFER: DEREK ADAMS

Plymouth have enjoyed plenty of success appointing Scottish managers in the past, most recently Paul Sturrock in the early 2000s, and Adams wasted no time in making an impression at Home Park.

Inheriting a team beaten in the 2014/15 play-off semi-finals, the former Ross County boss recruited a mix of players he knew from Scotland and those familiar with the English leagues, while club legend Paul Wotton retired to join his coaching staff.

Argyle met Adams’ target of progression, finishing two places higher in the league and this time reaching the play-off final, but again promotion eluded the Pilgrims.

Another clear out ensued, including the loss of prolific striker Reuben Reid, but his team became a more cohesive unit and harder to beat – particularly on the road. Even Liverpool were unable to breach the Plymouth defence in an FA Cup tie that ended goalless at Anfield.

Adams achieved his ambition of taking Argyle into League One and will be hoping this is just the start of his legacy.

Graham Carey contributed a total of 31 goals and assists for Plymouth last season

STAR MAN: GRAHAM CAREY

Adams’ most influential signing, Carey has become something of a cult hero at Home Park.

The talented number ten, who has licence to roam, is Plymouth’s chief provider of goals and assists, and his decision to sign a new deal in the summer despite being a free agent was a pleasant surprise to many among the Green Army.

A former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, Carey’s career began at Celtic, who sent him on loan three times, including once to Huddersfield Town where he got his first taste of English football.

After spells with St Mirren and Ross County, where he played under Adams, Carey set his sights on making a name for himself south of the border.

His impact has been immediate and sustained. After an impressive 12 goals and 13 assists in his debut season, Carey raised his level to 15 goals and 16 assists to inspire Argyle to promotion last term.

Lee Peacock scores a vital winner against Plymouth in the 2003/04 promotion race

MEMORABLE MEETING: 2003/04

BRISTOL CITY 1-0 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE
Peacock 85

The 2003/04 season saw City and Plymouth locked in a battle for automatic promotion with Ian Holloway’s QPR – but who would miss out?

Argyle arrived at Ashton Gate with a healthy lead at the top but had shown signs of vulnerability since losing manager Paul Sturrock to Southampton in March.

It was a game City had to win. For Plymouth, simply avoiding defeat would represent a significant step towards the Championship – at least that was the view of visiting caretaker boss Kevin Summerfield, who adopted surprisingly defensive tactics.

The longer the clock ticked on, the deeper the Pilgrims dropped. The hosts, roared on by a sell-out crowd, were inches away from breaking the deadlock through Lee Peacock’s scissor kick.

But City’s top scorer would not be denied. Chasing a long ball forward and shrugging off defenders, he squeezed a low shot under the body of goalkeeper Luke McCormick to keep City’s hopes alive.

City: Phillips; Carey, Coles, Butler, Hill; Murray (Rougier 26), Wilkshire (Tinnion 75), Doherty, Bell; Peacock, Roberts (Miller 79). Subs not used: Goodfellow, Caskey.

Plymouth: McCormick; Connolly, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert; Norris, Adams (Keith 87), Bent (Aljofree 77), Hodges, Capaldi (Lowndes 83); Evans. Subs not used: Larrieu, Phillips.

Attendance: 19,045.

AND FINALLY...

Officials
Referee: Oliver Langford
Assistant Referees: Neil Davies & James Mainwaring
Fourth Official: Samuel Allison

Betting (via Sky Bet)
City - 1/2
Plymouth - 5/1
Draw - 100/30

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