Plymouth Argyle Football Club crestPlymouth Argyle’s Scottish manager Derek Adams will take charge of his first League Two play-off semi-final at Portsmouth tonight (1945ko).

The 40-year-old Glaswegian offers a manager's perspective on what it's like to prepare for tonight's highly charged first leg atmosphere... with the ultimate goal of a Wembley final on Monday May 31.

"The two legs will be played in a similar way to a cup final. We have to realise that the situation were in is two games away from a final at Wembley and we have to keep the players calm so they can play to their best potential but make them aware what a win can do over the two legs. I've got to keep everybody on their toes, organise them, be the leader on the park and off the pitch and push them on to their full potential."

Adams' Argyle looked likely to be promoted automatically for the majority of the season before they slipped into the play-offs. Bookmakers now make the Pilgrims underdogs but none of this has shaken the manager's belief in his squad. 

"Well Leicester City weren't the favourites at the start of the season so if people want to think we are underdogs fair play to them. We'll see because we've won more games than last year and we've got six or seven matchwinners that can do something special. The goal all season has been to get promoted out of this division and we can still do that so the mood around the camp is very good because the players know what it will take."

Adams’ side – who finished fifth, three points above Pompey - face a swift turnaround and the home second semi-final leg on Sunday at Home Park (1800ko). Television demands mean that there are only three days between the two semis.

He says: "It’s not too different from the point of the view that over the Christmas and Easter periods we had games in quick succession and we dealt well with that. We'll work to a similar routine as we did then. The two legs come into play after the first game. The first game you need to start really well and put yourself on the front foot and into the tie, to give yourself an opportunity when you come home."

Adams' philosophy is “if it isn't broken, don't fix it”. Any team that makes the play-offs must have had a relatively successful season and thus the preparation for games must have been close to as good as it gets. 

"We want to be attack-minded and use the players we've got in their best positions to affect the result. We've prepared the same way as we have throughout the season, it’s worked well for us because we've been able to get to 24 wins in a difficult league, which is more than half the games played.  I think any manager and any player would like to go to Wembley and we have to be on top form to do that and we have the players and team that are capable."



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