A Round-up of Argyle News
Argyle News Sites:
Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
On This Day:
1983: Argyle 3 Bradford City 1. Captain Geoff Crudgington was the hero of the day, twice over. In a lunch-time drama at his Milehouse home, Geoff saved the house from serious fire damage by throwing a pan of burning fat out of the back door, although not without consequences as the fire hit the open air. A few hours later, treated with ointment and bandages, he played the full 90 minutes with painful second degree burns around his waist and back.
Derek Adams believes that the Pilgrims were better value for their victory at Oxford United than the 1-0 scoreline suggests. Sonny Bradley's header in first-half stoppage-time was enough to secure a fifth successive victory, as Argyle were able to frustrate the home side's efforts before and after the winner. Derek said: "We had to grind it out in the end but we probably should have been two or three up Ryan Taylor hit the bar; Graham Carey had a chance; Antoni Sarcevic had an opportunity, as well. We didn't really allow Oxford the opportunity to have too many clear-cut chances. We had probably the better of the opportunities and should have gone further ahead in the game. If we've created more clear-cut chances than the opposition, we must be better than the opposition, and that's the way it is today. We were better than Oxford because we created the better opportunities; we kept a clean sheet; and we scored a goal. It's a difficult league and Oxford are one of the better teams in the league and we've come here and won 1-0; we've taken the three points and we're delighted about that. You can see the way that Oxford want to play. They want to have their two central midfield players on the ball and try to play diagonal passes but it didn't really trouble us because we sat off the game and allowed them to either knock it into our full-backs or knock it out of play."
Taylor, who joined Argyle from Oxford just over a year ago, was eager to leave his mark at his former home, and came close when he rattled the frame of the goal in the second half. Derek said: "He probably delayed it just a second and hit the top of the crossbar, but it was very good play leading up to that and we were unfortunate not to have gone 2-0 ahead."
After action-packed and attack-minded wins in recent weeks over the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Shrewsbury Town, the Pilgrims' progress towards Sky Bet League One's post-season party was added to in very different fashion against the Stags. Despite the home side's recent struggles, they adapted to a difficult playing surface the quickest and had plenty of creative threats in forward positions. Argyle were rarely able to get into gear and were on back foot for spells, yet still managed to head into the break ahead. Graham Carey's corner to the far post was met by a towering Sonny Bradley header, with the final action of anger in the first half the perfect combination at the perfect time.
"We get the first goal the perfect time to get that goal, in my opinion and then basically defend for your life after," said Sonny. "It's probably the perfect time to score a goal. They go into the break deflated and it totally changes their team talk. Everything they're prepared to say, they probably have to change at the last minute. It throws you off from a defender's point of view. When you concede at that time, it's dreadful, so I know exactly how they were feeling. Me and the back stick have a good relationship. We've been a bit frosty for a few weeks, but that's what I like to do; I like to get myself to the back stick. If the ball's hung up in the air, I fancy myself against anybody in football to be honest. That's just the confidence I have. From a defender's point of view, it's very hard to mark someone at the back post, especially when the ball's coming in with momentum. I know because of where I run to pick up players from defensive set pieces. It's a great ball again by Graham; it's one we've worked on again. It was just enough for the 'keeper to sniff at and bring him off his line, and obviously he's made a mistake and should've stayed on his line. As soon as I see him miss the ball, I think: 'All I've got to do here is head the ball and it's in.'"
That goal was all the Greens needed to record a fifth straight victory, and a third in a row on their travels, thanks to defensive solidity that paved the way for Argyle to ply their trade at this level. Ably assisted by their peers, Bradley and Yann Songo'o put in a performance the Green Army will remember fondly from previous League Two campaigns, to seal a result that Sonny considers, well, perfect. "I just said to Wottsy that the performance reminded me of last season," said Bradley. "I think 80% to 90% of our performances were like that last season. I think in the second half we could've gone 2-0 up; Ryan had a good chance, Graham had one cleared off the line, so we could've maybe seen the game out a bit easier. But it's the best result in football, for a centre-half, in my opinion: a 1-0 win away from home. It's a nice bonus to get the goal. It wasn't pretty today, but we've shown that we can turn up and play ugly and still get a result. In this division, that's massive. We never really got out of second gear which is a bit of compliment, because when we're in fourth or fifth gear, we're unplayable. We didn't get there today, but we scored at the perfect time. In the second half, they went more attacking. They went two up front and had a good go, and caused us quite a few problems. Remi's had a great game again. Yann, Zak, Gary, even Sincs when he came on; they've stepped up today and shown everyone how to defend. Yann I've played with Yann for quite a while now. 18 or 19 months in football is quite a long time, so me and Yann know each other well. We know our games well, and we knew it wouldn't be a problem. We knew as well that Zak's got experience at right back. It was the right decision from the manager and it's paid off today. We're a team that knows how to defend. We're organised. We run drills in training for situations like that, so it's a great result and all the boys did well."
Fleeting glances at the division's top six places are now turning into prolonged stares, as Argyle moved to within a point of the play-off spots. Once eager to avoid talk of a promotion push, it is now clear that Sonny and the squad have their sights fully set on a target that seemed so unlikely just a couple of months ago. "If you look at the games we've played Blackburn, Shrewsbury, this one today they're all difficult games," said Bradley. "We've got momentum and confidence, and it's going to be very hard to beat us now, because we're only getting better. We've had a bit of an off day today, but we've shown we can win. It's very much in our hands now. If we go and win that game now, I certainly think we'll be in the mix come the end of the season. We aren't going to down tools. We've got no time for that now. We can see something special happening here, and we're not going to throw it away now. There's 12 games to go. It's time to press on and get a play-off place."
On This Day:
1978: Caretaker Manager Lenny Lawrence's first game in charge proved to be a memorable one. With the score at Argyle 0 Bradford City 1, the match was abandoned after 61 minutes. A crowd of just 2,843, Home Park's lowest since the War, were invited into the Mayflower Stand to shelter from the blizzard conditions. The referee was so numbed by the Arctic blasts across Home Park, he ended the game in a state of near collapse and needed lengthy treatment from the club doctor.
1984: Triumph in the FA Cup fifth round, West Bromwich Albion 0 Argyle 1 (... more on GoS).
2006: Argyle 3 Coventry 1, and a hat-trick from Vincent Pericard, on loan from Portsmouth, on his full home debut.
Argyle's 1-0 win at Oxford, their fifth in succession, was a far cry from the incisive destruction of leaders Shrewsbury or the flamboyant victory against AFC Wimbledon, but was full of grit, heart, commitment and - crucially - the deciding goal. Sonny Bradley, for the 11th time in his Argyle career, headed home, and in the second minute of first half injury-time, the Pilgrims had the goal that would ultimately win them all three points.
Argyle: Matthews; Vyner, Songo'o, Bradley, Sawyer (Taylor-Sinclair); Sarcevic, Fox, Ness; Carey, Taylor, Lameiras (Grant). Substitutes (not used): Miller, Ainsworth, Church, Makasi, Letheren.
On This Day:
1973: David Friio was born in Thionville, France (so 45 today). After several seasons in French football, 'Daviiiid' crossed the channel to make 185 appearances for Argyle between 2000 & 2005, scoring 44 goals and winning 2 championship medals.
2001: In a 1-1 draw at Carlisle, Martin Barlow played his final game for the Pilgrims, 12 years after his first game as an 18-year-old graduate of Argyle's Centre of Excellence. In his long and loyal career, Chopsy made 360 appearances (as a right-winger in the early years, then in central midfield) and scored 26 goals.
Derek Adams believes there is a buzz of excitement throughout the club both inside the dressing room and in the stands. The Pilgrims continued their rich vein of form with a 4-2 thriller at Home Park against AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night. The victory saw the Greens go within three points of the Sky Bet League One play-offs, with the increasing possibility of the Pilgrims reaching the Play-offs starting to resonate wider and wider.
Adams said of his players: "They are in a good place; they have an excellent team spirit. That's not just the 11 that are starting, that is everyone around the squad as well. We had a very good transfer window where we offloaded players and took in cash while reducing the wage bill; all these things have been beneficial too us. I think that in football, winning games does excite people and we have been able to put on a very good run. The players are in great form, they are playing with a lot of confidence and with that the crowds have improved again this year. We had 10,000 on a Tuesday night; they were very vocal and that helped the team immensely. We go to Oxford on Saturday and we have sold out our full allocation. That shows you how they feel about the team and that's a good thing. Anything is possible, I think that the position we are in and the way we have played it is certainly a possibility. I would say there is only one place up for grabs in that play-off position."
With the Greens travelling to out of sorts Oxford United on Saturday, Adams knows that Argyle have to be wary as managerless United's league position does not reflect the quality of the U's squad. Adams said: "They are a very good side and probably in a false positon, from the point of view that the amount of finance that has been pumped into the football club to get them into the position that they want to be. They were looking at the start of the season to be in the play-off positions, and they have fallen away from that at this moment in time. But, that's not to say they can't have a good run until the end of the season."
With the Pilgrims having a match to forget in the reverse fixture at Home Park, when Oxford won 4-0 Adams doesn't feel that gives Argyle any extra incentive at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday. "I wouldn't have thought so," he said. "Circumstances were against us that day. We had the sending off and we know earlier on in the season that didn't help us. We played very well at times, but when we lost the second goal and the man it was very difficult after that."
Argyle beat AFC Wimbledon 4-2 on Tuesday night in Taylor's 13th consecutive league start since returning from injury. In those games, the Pilgrims have won nine, drawn three and lost just one. Ryan Taylor, on five goals for the season, has been pivotal to Argyle's remarkable resurgence. Ryan's comeback in late November came nearly four months after breaking his ankle twenty minutes into the opening game of the season. Taylor admitted himself and his teammates are enjoying their football at the moment and he is feeling as fit as he ever has been. "I'm loving it at the moment," he said, "and why wouldn't I be? The results are going well, I have played in the last 13 games now and we have picked up a fair few points now. So, I'm enjoying my football and I think it shows on the football pitch. The team are also doing pretty well. It was a bit different a few months ago. We were at the bottom of the league and things weren't looking so good. The last three months we have really picked up and everybody is enjoying it. The changing room is a different place to be, everyone is confident and rightly so. It's a bit more upbeat, why would you be happy sitting at the bottom of the league? We are doing fantastic at the minute and the last 13 games have been superb. We have got to keep going. We are not happy with that in the changing room; we want to do more and will do more. If we carry on doing what we are doing, then we can go up the league."
Argyle rejected a 'derisory' bid for Taylor in January, which Ryan acknowledged, but asked his own rhetorical question about his current situation, underlining his satisfaction with his situation. "The manager told me they put in a bid for me," he said, "but I'm enjoying my football here. I'm loving it and I am happy where I am. I love it here; it is a great location for us as a family. I am enjoying it and hopefully I'll be here a lot longer. I've played the last thirteen games and I have been involved in all of them. Things are going pretty well. So, why would I want to leave this football club?"
Argyle's attacking trifecta has been integral to the side's upward charge, and Derek Adams was delighted to see them create and convert plenty more chances in their 4-2 win over AFC Wimbledon. Graham Carey, Ryan Taylor and Ruben Lameiras all etched their names into the score-sheet against the Dons joined by the slightly more unfamiliar name of David Fox as the Pilgrims overpowered their opponents to notch yet another win and rise to eighth in the League One table. Each of the three forwards notched a single goal, but it could well have been plenty more, as the Greens ran riot on a memorable evening at Home Park. Taylor, for example, had two other goals ruled out for extremely tight offside decisions. "The chances created for Ryan Taylor; he could've had a hat-trick," said Derek, "having two chopped off. I couldn't tell you if they were offside from where I was. It's two great crosses one from Gary Sawyer and one from Graham Carey and two great runs from Ryan Taylor, but I can't tell you if it was offside or not. Overall, it's about getting three points and moving up the league."
Lameiras was the last to find the back of the net, but it was an inevitability after his dazzling display of darting runs and precise passing. Netting his fourth of the season, it seems that Ruben is adding a goal-scoring streak to his already impressive arsenal of skills. "He was unlucky not to have scored a second," said Adams. "He's got very quick feet and is wonderfully skilful. To do what he did for his goal: it was a good ball into Ryan Taylor, a flick-on and he just took it away from the goalkeeper, and struck it cleanly into the net."
The performances of not just the three forwards, but also the eight Pilgrims behind them, always looked like enough to give Argyle a comfortable victory. However, for a period in both the first and second halves, that looked very much in doubt, as AFC Wimbledon's Lyle Taylor netted twice. The Dons' stand-out striker caused problems for much of the evening, but a tactical switch from Adams in the second half killed off the potential for the visitors to record another away day upset. "They probably didn't deserve to be anywhere near us tonight," said Derek, "because we were the better side throughout the 90 minutes. Their goalkeeper was in outstanding form. Graham Carey had two fantastic strikes and he was able to save them. But Lyle Taylor always causes a problem. He's a very good player at this level and he scores goals. Taylor was causing us huge problems down our left-hand side, and I took Gary Sawyer off to bring Aaron Taylor-Sinclair on. Taylor has been playing on the right flank for a good period of the season. He's very capable of playing in that area. He's a player that does really well. In League Two and League One, he's shown that he can score goals. We knew it was important game tonight, because they'd gone away to Bradford and won 4-0. They've shown that, away from home, they can get that result. I know they'd lost their last three games, but to win 4-0 there is not easy."
As much as he enjoyed last season, David Fox is sensing an even better feeling this time around. Last season, David's first at Home Park, saw the Pilgrims promoted from Sky Bet League Two in second place. With a set discipline to their performances last season Fox feels that this season is different to last as the nervousness around the stadium has gone. Speaking after scoring in Argyle's 4-2 win over Wimbledon at Home Park, to extend the Greens' winning run to four games, Fox said: "I think it's got a different feel to it this season than last. I think there was an expectation last year and a nervousness around the place to get promoted. It was expected of us whereas this season I think everyone's enjoying it a little bit more. The players are playing with freedom. We're not expected to do anything outside this football club but inside the football club we're trying to do something quite special at the minute. There is that freedom but I think fair play to the boys they work very hard as well when they haven't got the ball and there is times where we've sat back, been disciplined and we've got that in our locker to do, I think we're very good at that. But also we play with a bit of freedom and try and outnumber teams in wide areas and let the boys sort of do what they want and as long as we've got that steady base of the 4 and the 3 then the other boys can go and try and win us games. Fair play to them they're doing great at it at the minute. We're full of confidence going into every game. No-one's getting carried away, no-one's talking about anything other than the next game and we'll just see where we go. The whole point of being a football fan is to try and dream, that's what the fans are doing at the minute and it's great and they come in their numbers and we try and entertain them. I think we're doing that at the minute."
A 4-2 win over Wimbledon tonight ensured that Argyle's fine run of results continued in game that just about had it all: a Graham Carey special; a rare David Fox goal; a Remi Matthews' penalty save; six goals; and, most importantly, another three points which saw the Pilgrims progress to within one win of the play-off positions.
Argyle: Matthews; Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer (Taylor-Sinclair); Sarcevic (Makasi), Fox (Songo'o), Ness; Carey, Taylor, Lameiras. Substitutes: Ainsworth, Church, Grant, Letheren.
For the second week win a row Argyle played the second-placed team in League One, but not for one second did that seem to faze Derek Adams or his Argyle team who notched up an impressive 2-1 win at Shrewsbury. After Shrewsbury opened the scoring early on via Carlton Morris, most sides would have folded. Argyle rolled up sleeves, and after Graham Carey had seen a penalty saved, Jamie Ness scored the equaliser with his first goal for Argyle. They needed a second, and when Carey sent in a corner, at the second attempt, Zak Vyner found the net to give Argyle the win.
Matthews, Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Fox (Songo'o), Ness, Carey, Taylor, Lameiras (Ainsworth). Substitutes: Church, Makasi, Grant, Taylor-Sinclair, Letheren.
Sonny Bradley reiterated the Argyle squad are still #WithYouEddy as Ryan Edwards continues his recovery from an operation for testicular cancer. Bradley said: "He came in on Tuesday as he had an appointment at the hospital down here. It was nice to see him, he actually looked really well. All the lads are missing him and we need him back as soon as possible. We've got fifteen games left and although I don't want to say it, as we are always thinking about him, but we have to push on as a team and think about the next game ahead of us. I'm sure that's what Eddy would want. I think he found out a couple of weeks before he told us. We honestly didn't have a clue; Ryan didn't change anything he did around the place. His attitude was the same; he was still laughing and joking. I room with him at away games and I really couldn't tell the difference to any other time. That's fair play to Ryan. I don't think there are many people that strong; I certainly don't think I would have been. He's a nice quiet guy off the pitch so it's hard thinking about it. But, everything is going well for him and over the next couple of weeks he will be on the road to recovery. He's popped up at a couple of games. At Oldham I turned around and saw a big white jacket, and he was stood there with his Dad in their end. Its great support for the boys and we all noticed he was there. We just wish him a speedy recovery now."
Derek Adams echoed Sonny's support for Edwards. "He's improving; he has had the operation now a couple of weeks ago. He is still awaiting his results, and when he gets them the next course of action will take place. Either, he goes for chemotherapy or not." said Derek. "I think that everybody has been very supportive to him. He has played a number of games knowing he was going to have the operation and he was going to have to go through a process of time without football."
Argyle's brave young Pilgrims fell narrowly short of claiming another FA Cup Youth Cup scalp, concluding their superb run at the fifth round stage, losing 3-1 after extra time to Fulham. Klaidi Lolos capped off a superb first half for the under-18 side, scoring on 22 minutes to grab a deserved lead. A classy finish from Nicolos Santos-Clase levelled things up with 20 minutes to go and, once the game headed into extra time, tiredness began to show. Substitute Fabio Carvalho made it 2-1 to Fulham in the first 15 minutes of the 30 added on, and Jayden Harris put the tie to bed in the final 15.
"IT'S been a fantastic journey." was Kevin Hodges' summation of the Argyle Academy's FA Youth Cup run. Facing another Category One side in a row after creating the cup sensation of this, or any other, season by knocking out Manchester City's global young superstars-in-waiting and turfing out Burnley on their own patch, they could not quite make it three in a row. They pushed Fulham all the way in their fifth-round tie, though. Leading by KlaidiLolos's first-half goal, the Young Pilgrims were taken to extra-time before two late goals, and Cameron Sangster's even later penalty miss, brought the fairy-tale to an end. "We can reflect on this cup run with a lot of pride," said Academy Director Kevin. "The boys have been competing against Category One and Premier League clubs and they have shown that they can hold their own, which is fantastic for out Academy. They have done exceptionally well and they have gained lots of experience from it, in more ways than one. We had a perfect start to get a goal in front and, when you get the other opportunities, we have got to be a little more clinical and take those opportunities. For a spell there, I thought we were going to go one step further. We got a nice goal, a well-taken goal, and could easily have maybe added to it in the first half. I thought we were excellent in the first period. We did everything right. Their equalising goal came out of nowhere the only spot the young boy could put it in, he did and it just gave them a bit of hope and they started coming at us a little bit more. We never caved in and we took it to extra-time once more. Then, the second goal was very similar to the first one, and we had to throw something at it, which we did and which resulted in us conceding a third one. We had a bit of a lifeline right at the end with the penalty. That just shows the character of the boys they kept on going right to the very end. It would have been nice to have stuck that one away and it would have been another interesting couple of minutes. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be."
The learning experience has not ended with the cup exit, though. "Now they have got to move on," said Kevin. "You can't feel sorry for yourself for too long. It's a professional environment that they are in and they can feel sorry for their selves this evening but we're back to work tomorrow with games coming up at the weekend. It is up to the boys to respond in a real positive way for the coming fixtures. They have come up against players who are playing at top clubs and it gives them a benchmark of where they need to be if they have got aspirations of becoming top players. It demonstrates what you have to do to play at a higher level."
Argyle under 18's take on Fulham at Home Park tonight in the fifth round of the Youth FA Cup, with the carrot of Chelsea or Tottenham dangling at the end of it. After Eastleigh and Wimbledon were beaten, most would expected Argyle to go down valiantly in round three, against Manchester City. When the Pilgrims saw off the mighty Sky Blues on penalties following 120 goalless minutes, their luck could have been assumed to have been exhausted before heading to Burnley in round four and then a last minute Billy Craske winner saw another hurdle hopped.
"It's been a fantastic, excellent journey in the FA Youth Cup," said Kevin Hodges, "and it's been one the players have thoroughly deserved. We've had our challenges along the way. It's been invaluable for the young players that will be fortunate to go on with the opportunity to be a professional, to break into our first team or someone else's first team, these experiences that they have been through will put them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Some will not become professionals, but semi-professionals or in different directions. They will treasure this for the rest of their lives."
Championship side Fulham have a Category 1 Academy, and have already beaten Huddersfield Town and Swansea City on their way to round five. They will prove a tough opposition, but when you have seen off one of the best sides in Europe, one can forgive Argyle a little confidence. Good game management, organisation and hard work were crucial to the Pilgrims getting past previous opponents, and Kevin will be seeking similar tonight.
Hodges said, of Fulham: "A very well known Academy, known for producing good players. Steve Wigley is head of coaching there, and has good history behind him working at Southampton and brining quality players through. We're going to have to be at our best. We're going to have to prove we are consistent in what we have done so far. If we go away from that we will make it hard for ourselves. The players are looking forward to it, relishing the opportunity. As a Category 3 football club to get into the last 16 has been excellent. But we want to go further. We want to be organised like we have been. We want to be free when we are on the ball, for players to have the confident to get on the ball and play. We want to create some opportunities. The players want to progress, and we all know we will have to be at our best. There's international players on view from Fulham. We want as many people to come along as possible to get behind our lads and perhaps even cheer them on to another win."
Antoni Sarcevic's outstanding display in Argyle's 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers epitomises the faith that manager Derek Adams has entrusted in his team, following a difficult start to the campaign. The 25-year old played a starring role in a memorable victory for the Greens, showing all aspects of an all-action midfielder throughout the afternoon. Antoni watched on as Ruben Lameiras punched in the opening goal on 25 minutes, before kicking off the counter-attack for the second goal with a clever flick over a Rovers player and a surging run. He then gave Graham Carey the perfect ball to cross into Ryan Taylor, who slid in to score on 37 minutes. Sarcevic said himself following the match that great displays such as this one were not always present earlier on in the season, as he struggled with injuries and confidence. Like other players in his team, though, Adams never lost faith in a player who he believes has the potential to be one of the best in his position in the league. "He can do whatever he wants to do," said Derek. "He can be the complete midfield player. He can get back. He can tackle. He can pass the ball. He can score goals. He can assist goals. In my eyes, he's a top player that needs to believe that. In pre-season training I gave him the captain's armband, and that's why I'm happy to see him doing really well. He had a couple of niggles early in the season that affected him. He's got through that now and he's a main part of this team."
Sarcevic is not the only player to now be enjoying success personally and as part of a team after struggling early on. Whilst others may have looked to rip things up and start again, Adams has simply made minor alterations to his team and trusted the core of his squad. With just one loss in eleven games and sitting closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone, Derek's belief is now paying him back with interest. "At the start of the season, we had injuries and suspensions that we had to overcome," said Adams. "That was the reason why we were where we were. There's nothing else to it. We have shown when we're in this division that we've competed against the best teams. We haven't looked like we've been outplayed by anybody. We've outplayed teams and dealt with their threats at times as well."
One of those aforementioned acquisitions to bolster Argyle is Zak Vyner, slotting into the centre of defence since joining on loan from Bristol City. The youngster comfortably dealt with Blackburn's considerable attacking threat, including striker Danny Graham. "He's quick, he's strong, he reads the game well, a very good user of the ball," said Derek of Zak. "We weren't actually sure that Graham was going to start today. He obviously just played 45 minutes, but we just felt that his pace could help us. With Bristol City, he's been involved in the first team throughout the season. He's played in the FA Cup this year and he's played in the League Cup as well. To come out and get game time is important, but physically and mentally, he's very strong. He's assured, and you can see that in his performances."
The likes of Vyner and other Argyle defenders prevented Blackburn's second half retaliation from producing any goals, with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Yann Songo'o coming off the bench to shore things up. "I didn't think they created too many opportunities," said Derek on Rovers. "I didn't think they were in our 18-yard box or in behind us, but they're always capable of finding that through pass. We dealt well with it, and we had to. We showed up the left-hand side for us, we showed up the midfield, and that gave us the platform to go on and win the game. The full back, Ryan Nyambe, was getting forward as well, so we just had to stop that. We were winning the game 2-0 at the time, we didn't need to get another goal, so it was just about counteracting that problem."
Blackburn Rovers arrived at Home Park unbeaten in 18 league matches but left a well beaten side as Argyle notched up a 2-0 win. First-half goals from Ruben Lameiras and Ryan Taylor crowned a fine team performance from a side that was bottom when these two met previously in mid-October
Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Bradley, Vyner, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Fox (Songo'o), Ness, Lameiras (Taylor-Sinclair), Taylor, Carey (Grant). Substitutes (not used): Ainsworth, Church, Makasi, Cooper.
Argyle landed their man on the final day of the January transfer window when West Ham United midfielder Moses Makasi joined on loan for the remainder of the Sky Bet League One season. However, manager Derek Adams was frustrated in attempts to add a fifth mid-winter Pilgrim to the ranks after Moses followed Remi Matthews, Simon Church and Zak Vyner to Home Park. "It's the worst transfer window that I have been involved in," he said. "It's been a difficult and trying window for a variety of reasons. We tried and failed with a number of deals over the transfer window. We were involved in triangles and deals not happening somewhere else. We tried to take in a good number of players but it didn't work for one reason or another, either choosing to go to another club; can't agree a fee with another club; wages; players wanting to stay in different areas; a whole host of things. We had players close, but it fell through. There were a couple of players that we did try to get, which had been going on for most of the January transfer window. That's the nature of the transfer window."
With seven players out and four in during January, Derek is content to dip into the club's extensive pool of young talent to bolster his squad on the training pitch. He said: "We have now go the opportunity for some of the younger players the likes of Alex Fletcher, who's come back from Torquay, and Cameron Sangster will train with the first team; and Ryan Law, as well; Michael Cooper. We have got four players there who are getting affiliated with the first team. It will give them the opportunity to train with the first team on a frequent basis; that was something that wasn't possible because of numbers."
Fletcher is back at Home Park after an unproductive loan spell at National League Torquay United. Derek said: "He didn't get game-time and the purpose of him going there was to play games and be in the starting 11, but, unfortunately, that wasn't the case. It was a difficult one for all involved but he comes back here and it gives him the opportunity to train with us daily now. He's seen what's it's like to be away, and gets a different experience and learns from that, and then comes back and improves on the ability that he already has."
Derek Adams wanted Moses Makasi to come to Home Park because he has something to prove. The 22-year-old West Ham United midfielder has firmly established himself as part of the Hammers' Development Squad, and is a leader, having captained the Under-23's nine times this season. He has also been on the Premier League side's first-team substitutes' bench five times, and Derek believes Moses' time at Home Park can help him make the final step to lining up as a starter with his boyhood club. Derek said: "He's been a mainstay in the West Ham Under-23 team. We wanted somebody who had a bit to prove and wanted to come and do well and move their career on it gives him that opportunity. We needed another midfielder in. We had looked at him and thought that he was an option for us. He's left-sided; he can play in a midfield two or three; technically excellent; good running power; he can win tackles; he's a good user of the ball; a good reader of the game; and he keeps it nice and simple. It's an important area of the pitch and we just needed to strengthen there. We have been able to do that."
Derek has no concerns about Moses' lack of competitive first-team football. He said: "If you look at the ones that I've taken in in the past, the ones that hadn't played league football have all come in and competed well and contributed to a good season for Plymouth Argyle."
Derek Adams declared himself "delighted" with the deadline day deal that saw Jake Jervis join Luton Town and believes that Argyle's transfer-window dealings have left the club in good shape. Jake's move to the League Two leaders was the last of seven temporary or permanent Home Park departures since the start of the year, with Toumani Diagouraga, Nadir Ciftci, Nathan Blissett, Gregg Wylde, Callum Rose and Jakub Sokolik all hitting the road. On the credit side, goalkeeper Remi Matthews' return on loan from Norwich was the first of an influx that culminated with another loan deal for West Ham United midfielder Moses Makasi on the day the window closed. In between, free agent forward Simon Church and Bristol City loan defender Zak Vyner also arrived.
Derek said: "We've taken in four players who we feel will contribute from now until the end of the season. We've had a very good transfer window. A number of players who were not featuring have moved one; we've made a profit; we've reduced the wage-bill. We can use that money to take in players free agents now the window's closed. If we require to go and do that, we will. What happens is a few players terminate their contract early and that allows them to sign for somebody until the end of the season. Over the next week or so, these players pop up. It gives us the opportunity to do any business if we feel we need to."
Argyle received a substantial fee for Jervis, who came to Home Park on a free transfer in the summer of 2015, after Luton activated a buy-out clause in his contract. "We're absolutely delighted," said Derek. "To take someone in for nothing and with five months of the contract to run, it's excellent business to do. He wasn't in our team and hasn't been for a number of weeks now. The reason why he wasn't in the squad was that others were ahead of him. When players are not featuring, it allows them to move on. We save wages there and we re-invest. We had a situation where the buy-out clause was met. He had the opportunity to stay or go and he chose to go because he's got a very lucrative contact with Luton."
Jake's departure comes after 127 appearances and 31 goals, and Derek said: "He's played really well for us and scored important goals. I signed him twice, at Ross County and at Plymouth, and he's contributed last season and the season before to getting us to play-off final and getting us promotion."
Although Derek did not land all his targets, he is clearly content with his squd, going into the final third of the season. He said: "We've got 16 games to go. We've got cover all over the pitch. We've added some talented players to our squad and we've let players leave who weren't playing for us. It was important that we kept the current group of players together, the ones that had been featuring, and we have been able to do that. We've taken in Remi Matthews, Vyner, Makasi and Church to the strength of the team. If you look at the ones we've moved out Gregg Wylde, Jervis, Ciftci, Sokolik; Callum Rose has gone out on loan; Toums has gone to Fleetwood we have had a good transfer window where we have been able to take in four players and move out players who either wanted to move out or needed to move out and freed up some money."
Argyle have signed Moses Makasi on a loan deal for the remainder of the season. The 22-year old is primarily a defensive midfielder and joins from parent club West Ham. He has featured twice on the bench in Premier League games.
Jakub Sokolik has left Argyle after he and the club agreed to a mutual termination of his contract. The Czech is now a free agent and thus can sign for other clubs outside the window
Also departing Argyle is Jake Jervis who has had his buy out clause met by Luton Town which is believed to be £125,000. Promotion veteran Jervis leaves Argyle with a record of 31 goals in 127 games.
Gregg Wylde has joined League Two side Morecambe on a loan deal until the end of the season after finding opportunities for first team football hard to come by since his return to Home Park in the summer.
Callum Rose's loan to Dorchester Town has been extended. The first-year professional will now be with the Southern League Premier Division side until the end their campaign in April.
Alex Fletcher will not be extending his loan spell at Torquay United. The first-year professional signed with the Gulls until the end of January, but after making two starts and one substitute appearance, will officially return to Home Park on completion of the loan. He will be eligible for selection for Argyle as of the Blackburn game on Saturday.
Derek Adams did not just reserve praise for goalscorers Antoni Sarcevic and Ruben Lameiras following the 2-1 win at Oldham but also Simon Church who came on for the last few minutes to see the game out. He said of the three men respectively: "I've said before that Antoni can do whatever he wants. He's a top player he can run forward; he can run back; he can get in the box; he can make challenges; and he's got a terrific engine and he has shown that today with a very good finish. He was an Olympic sprinter at pre-season training; he's an unbelievable athlete. We have got a good number of them who can run all day, and they had to today because it was very heavy out there.
"Ruben is one that gets on the ball and creates openings. He attracts players to him, as well. He took his goal very, very well. It was a well-timed strike to the bottom of the goal."
"Simon is an experienced player. He has played 38 times for Wales. He can take the ball in and take us up the pitch. Ryan Taylor was very good today. He and the midfield three gave us the platform to go forward. We have done exceptionally well away from home over a good period of time and the players are in fantastic spirits. Look at them: they are working hard, they can run all day we didn't make substitutions until late on the game because it looked like they were a team that was comfortable in the shape they were in. We have shown, this season, that we can compete with the best teams. We are a promoted side we came up last season from League Two and we have competed well in this league. It's all about consolidating and moving forward, and we are doing that. It's just about trying to win the next game, which is Blackburn at home, a side that are doing really well. They want to get automatic promotion back to the Championship."
Ruben Lameiras has made it clear that Argyle are thriving at the moment because perfection is expected and standards are not allowed to slip. He explained: "We were disappointed with the defeat against Wigan. We thought we should have got more from the game. Everyone's regrouped and said: 'Put it right against Oldham.' Thankfully, we have done that. It's easy to hang your head down but, as soon as we're next in training, we go again; we look at how we can exploit teams. We've got great quality in the side, even on the bench. It's a very competitive team. Everyone is trying to push for their place and everyone that comes in is trying to do their best. It is what keeps us growing. We are tight-knit bunch and we want everyone to do well. That comes from within. Everyone that puts on the shirt tries to do their best and that's what's turning it around for us. If you set your standards so high and fall and they happen to drop a little bit, you are still right at it, so that's what we're striving for. We're striving for perfection every game, trying to get as many goals as we can, keep a clean sheet."
Ruben Lameiras claimed that the experience of throwing away a two goal lead at Bloomfield Road was vital in ensuring that Argyle had the mental mettle that was necessary to see out the win at Oldham. The midfielder said: "At Blackpool, it was a dagger in the heart. We learnt from the mistakes. We looked back on it and found the reason why we conceded, and we've corrected it. No matter how many minutes are on the clock, we need to keep concentrating until the ref blows his whistle. We knew we had to be on our toes and make sure that we kept Oldham out. When their goal went in, we knew we had to regroup quickly, and the defence, goalkeeper, midfielders everyone managed to keep them out. It just goes to show, with the work we put in training and how we set up, we're a difficult side to beat. It was important how we started the game and we started it really well. When they went behind, we knew were going to be difficult to beat. The boys, defensively, did really, really well; Remi pulled off some really, really good saves, as well. We'll just take each game as it comes. On to the next one.
"It was tough. Oldham are a good side and we just wanted to come out very aggressively, and we showed that when we scored the two goals. Maybe we should have scored a few more, but the main objective was to come out fast and we did that, we knew we could be successful. We are always telling Sarce to shoot more often because he can put them away, and he showed his quality again today. Apart from his goal, his performance was really good he covered every blade of grass, put in some really good tackles, and started us playing and getting us forward. He's struggled sometimes with his injuries but he's put that behind him and is cracking on, which is good to see."
"I managed to shank it in, but they all count, so I'm pleased. The main thing was that we came here to get the three points. We're just looking at the next game, then the next game, then the next game, just to keep pushing up the table. I am trying to get as many goals and assists, and create as many chances as I can, for the team. The main things is that we got the three points and we can keep on pushing."
Lameiras was also the latest of many to pay tribute to Ryan Edwards whose recovery from surgery for testicular cancer did not stop him turning up to watch the boys win 2-1 from the stands. Lameiras said: "What has happened to Eddy has affected every single one of us. We just want to see him recover well. We have always got him in our minds when we are playing. "We saw him just before the game on Saturday and it does show his character. He's a real tough lad so our thoughts are always with him and we will see him soon. He knows the boys are behind him the club are behind him. The staff and everyone are really trying to support him through this time. When things like this happen, football doesn't matter. "We just want to see him back strong and healthy. He's coming to the games, he's texting the boys 'all the best lads' and he's a great character."
"Yann can step in and do a job in midfield or defence. He was unfortunate with the own goal but I think he was very solid again. We look at how we can exploit teams. We have got great quality in the side, and on the bench. It's a very competitive team and everyone is trying to push for the places. It's what keeps us going. We are a tight-knit bunch so we want everyone to do well. I think that comes from within and everyone that puts on the shirt tries to do their best. That's what is turning it around for us."
Derek Adams feels that Argyle could have made the win a lot easier- by killing it off before the home side got back into the game. He explained: "We could have gone 3-0 or 4-0 in the game with the amount of chances we created in the first period. We probably should have. Oldham came into the game and the reason they came into the game was because we scored an own goal; they got a lift from that. Over the 90 minutes, we deserved to win. We had a number of shots that went past the post or across the penalty box but, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the ball going in the back of the net and collecting the three points. When they get the own goal to get themselves back in the game, it gives them a huge lift and we have gone from being in a very comfortable position to only leading by one goal. We had to weather a bit of a storm to get through that period, and we did that. It was about getting to the last period of the game. We dealt well with the corner-kicks that they put in and we could have scored on the counter. We needed to get the third goal but we weren't able to do that so, in the end, we have had to dig deep, but we could have scored a couple more, as well."
Adams held his hands up and admitted culpability after Argyle's pursuit of Everton midfielder Conor Grant ended in frustration for everyone involved. 22 year old Grant had been scheduled to join the Pilgrims on loan until the end of the season before it was discovered, late on in the process, that the young midfielder had already played for two teams this season and, under football regulations, was unable to join a third. His loan to League Two Crewe Alexandra was well known. What had bypassed everyone was an earlier solitary appearance for Everton in this season's Checkatrade Trophy.. Adams said: "It was an oversight. The football management team have got to take full responsibility, ourselves and Everton. Everton obviously knew he had played in the Checkatrade Trophy and knew he had been out on loan. We didn't double-check that he had played in the Checkatrade Trophy. We knew the rules, but we didn't know he had played in the Checkatrade for one game. I thought the rules were going to be changed this season because it is difficult for the development of Premier League youngsters. Everton want to enter the Checkatrade Trophy, they might get knocked out after three games and then the players can't go out to develop they can go out to one club, but they can't go out to two clubs, when they might do well at one club lower down, like Crewe, and then they might try to step up to League One. The rule has to change. Will it change? I'm not sure because it might be UEFA that will stop that. It's a shame for the player because we were going to give him that opportunity but he's fallen foul of the rules. Everybody knows the rules. It doesn't mean to say that we agree with them but they are there to govern the game. We are working hard. We worked hard on the Conor Grant one. Everton and ourselves were talking for a good period of time. We have still got a few irons in the fire at other clubs."
Argyle have returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory away to Oldham. Argyle raced into an early 2-0 lead through Antoni Sarcevic and Ruben Lameiras but the home side got back into the game, cutting the deficit just after half-time. Argyle held on however for a much needed win. Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley, Sawyer, Fox, Sarcevic, Ness, Lameiras(Taylor-Sinclair), Carey(Church), Taylor. Subs: Cooper, Miller, Sangster, Ainsworth, Grant.
Even though Argyle beat Oldham 4-1 just five weeks ago, Derek Adams has urged against any complacency ahead of tomorrow's trip to the Latics, saying: "We had a very good victory against them down here, and we'd like to do likewise up there on Saturday. It's a tough fixture for us, but it's one where we're in good form, and we'll have to be on Saturday. They've taken in Ben Pringle from Preston," said Derek. "They've taken in Jack Byrne on a permanent basis. They have Kean Bryan back from Manchester City. They have a suspension at centre half, and another injury at centre half. I wouldn't be surprised if they signed someone else before the game on Saturday in that position."
"We would like to extend that gap above the relegation zone to nine points, and that's what we'll try and do. I think it's important to try and catch the other teams above us. I think with 17 games to go every game at this stage of the season is important. It doesn't matter who you're playing. We understand we're playing a team who's around about us in the table. We're away from home and we'd like to continue our good away record."
"I think confidence has been gained after last week. We lost the match but we played very well in the game. We lost poor goals at bad times and we just didn't take our opportunities when they came along. We competed against a team that's top of the league, and I think that's important. We know that we just have to improve in that final third by taking our opportunities when they come along. The goals we conceded, we've all seen them and they're all preventable."
Simon Church sees his move to Argyle as a chance to reset his career that has been a struggle for minutes in the past two years due to reoccurring injury issues. He said: "I haven't played a lot of minutes. It's hard not to just jump in and play the minutes. Hopefully, I am at a good fitness level wise that if I am given an opportunity I will be able to build it up. The biggest thing for me now is to stay fit and consistent. I have spoken to the manager and I have got lots of things to keep me going strong. So, I am really looking forward to the challenge and hopefully I can move forward now. It was a frustrating time for me. I kept picking up little niggling injuries. It has been the story of my time in the last couple of years. But, I like to think I am in a good place now. I have seen a lot of people outside of football and I have a lot of stuff to crack on with. The biggest fight now is to get fit and get back to doing what I know I can do. It was a build up of years of wear and tear and then I never missed a day in training. I went to Holland and played on the artificial pitch and that tipped me over the edge. I'm glad I got it done, it has been a little frustrating getting back into it, but my body is coping with all the changes. It was off the back of playing in the Euros. It was obviously an amazing experience for me and it was a dream come true. I was excited for a new challenge and a couple of things fell through and I got the offer from Holland and I took it. Four games in I felt my hip go and that was it. It has been frustrating after an amazing high, but I like to think mentally I have cracked on with it and the buzz of coming back playing football has been brilliant. I have a young family; you have to take that into consideration. For me, financially it's not a question about that, its more I need to get focused, get fit again and get some minutes. It's a really good club, the atmosphere on Saturday was brilliant. I want to be a part of the team that finishes the last part of the season well."
Argyle's 18-year-old defender Jordan Bentley faces six months out of action after suffering a broken leg. Bentley was hurt in a training ground accident at Harper's Park on Tuesday morning and has been in hospital since then. Derek Adams believes he has the strength of character necessary to fight back, saying: "He has got a double break the fibula and tibia so he's going to be out for probably around about the six-month mark. It's a clean break. He has had the operation and has had a pin inserted. It's what can happen when two players slide in and collide. Unfortunately, at the pace the two were going at, sometimes that is the outcome. He's a strong character and he coped very well with the situation because it wasn't a nice situation for him to be in. Everybody was there at the time, and saw and heard the incident. He will recover from the injury and has got time to add to his upper body strength.He can get some bulk into his body, and that's a positive out of the situation."
Derek Adams has given a fitness update on the progress of two Argyle goalkeepers who have been out long-term with injuries lately. Adams said first of Robbert Te Loeke and then of Luke McCormick: "He has still got a problem with a nerve in his back. He had an operation on the disc and is getting referred pain that is going down the back of his leg so there is no real progress at this moment in time. We would have hoped that after the operation he would have been back in training by now.
"He's recovering. It's looking like around about April time before he will be back in with the squad."
Defender Jordan Bentley has broken his leg during a training session. Jordan was taken to hospital on Tuesday morning following an accidental collision with a team-mate. We await a full diagnosis of the extent of his injury and prognosis.
Derek Adams gave praise to his two newest additions who he believes have settled well into the squad so far and who both debuted in Saturday's loss to Wigan. Adams said on Vyner: "I thought he was very good today. His reading of the game was good. I thought his passing was excellent at times and he was composed. It's not easy coming into your first game, after training with us on Thursday and Friday, and put in a very good performance. It looked like he had been playing quite often today. I think the understanding, the way he passed the ball into midfield, the way he knocked the ball into the strikers with the accuracy at times that he did; it's beneficial. He's got good pace and he reads the game well."
Of Church: "He's the type of striker we like to take in. He links up play a similar role to Ryan Taylor and gives us an advantage with 17 games to go of having two strikers who play in a similar mode to the rest of the team. We can see when we play that way that it's advantageous to the game. We're delighted. He's got 38 caps for Wales, he's 29 years of age, and he is looking to kick-start his career again because of injury. He wants to do well between now and the end of the season. From my point of view, it's a win-win situation. We've got competition for places, and it's important we have that."
Adams also confirmed that some bids have come in from other clubs for Argyle players but hinted that the offers would have to be drastically upped before he would even consider accepting them. He said: "Nothing has been to the valuation that the football club believes the value of the player is. We have had bids and everybody knows about them. There have been derisory bids for players but that is just the nature of January; when clubs want to try and see if you're willing to sell. Clubs are just testing the water. I have seen some of the transfers going about for some of the other players, it doesn't match up. Incomings depend on a number of factors. It depends on the other clubs that I am speaking to. I don't have an exact figure in mind, but I have a good idea. Central midfield is one of the areas we would like to strengthen. We are a little bit short in that area. We've got four midfield players at this moment in time, including Yann Songo'o, so we could do with strengthening that area. It has been busy, and it has taken up a lot of my time, speaking to clubs, speaking to agents and keeping things moving. Clubs will try and get the possible deal for themselves and wait to see if anybody else comes in for their players that gives them a better deal than other clubs."
Derek Adams rued crucial moments in which the game could have turned in Argyle's 3-1 defeat to Wigan. As well as this, he gave a positive appraisal of Argyle's performance in the game. Adams said: "I thought it was a good game. I thought there was a lot of good football between two very good sides. I thought we started the game very, grew into, and we scored obviously off the penalty kick. That gave us the start that we probably deserved. I thought we caused them trouble, especially down their right-hand side, and got the penalty. It was a great ball from David, a pick-out that he can do, and Graham's running onto it with a good touch. As he did a number times in the first half, he got inside his full back. Quickly after that, we lose a really poor goal," said Derek. "The ball gets played in with the outside of his foot, and it goes through a lot of bodies and into the goal. To lose a goal so quickly; that was hard to take. We definitely shouldn't have been losing the game at half-time. We had been the better side. When they score the goal, they get a bit of confidence to make it 2-1 and, at half time, they're relieved. They get a goal; we should deal better with it on half-way line. It was ten seconds to go. We could just see it was going to happen. We should've not allowed the ball to come into play, right on the half-way line. We allow it in and what they're very good at is making passes, and they get the goal. What they're very good at is finding the next pass, and then the next pass, and they score. From that point of view, it was difficult after that. But over the 90 minutes, it was a very good performance. In the second half, we were the team pushing forward for that goal."
"They score the own goal to make it 3-1, and after that it was going to be difficult. We still pushed over the 90 minutes. You've got to be really happy with the players because they've put in a good performance against a form team in the league. I spoke to Paul Cook after the game and he said it was one of the sternest tests this season, so that's very complimentary for a team that are top of the league. We've got no problems. We spoke about the game today, we spoke about the season as it is, and were both complimentary to both teams. He's got a very good side and he was very complimentary about our team. We've got to compete against the teams that are everywhere in the league, but to compete as well as we did against Wigan; I think we had more possession than Wigan today, which will not happen very often in this league, because they're a very good passing team."
Zak Vyner spoke with mixed feelings on his Argyle debut, the loanee defender happy with how his team equipped themselves against a strong Wigan side but admitting he could have done better in the defending of one of the goals. He analysed: "I thought first half we did alright. We showed good signs and went ahead, it was a good finish from Graham there. Obviously, we showed signs and the goal just before half time is a bit of a killer; it changed our mood going into half time. But I feel like even in the second half we came out firing. Conceding three sloppy goals - we have to rectify that next week. I haven't had a chance to look back at the game and after the game everything's a bit quick. In the build up to the second goal, from what I can remember it was a counter attack and one of them got slipped through the middle. Obviously me and Sonny need to deal with it. We both know that and I will hold my hands up as well and it is a difficult one to take. The 48 hours have gone pretty fast for me. Thursday morning, I have just been chucked into training, which is what I want. But it is a difficult challenge to get into. My decision was never in doubt; I have enjoyed every minute so far even though we did lose. The crowd today were amazing and didn't stop singing even when we did concede. We just can't ask them for any more. Sonny's a great player and a big size, he puts his body around and he is good on the ball. I am looking forward to it. We are going to both try and get on the ball and try and get our more creative players into the game."
Finally, Derek Adams spoke with pride of the Argyle fans who produced a moving tribute to number 5 Ryan Edwards who has undergone surgery for testicular cancer, speaking also of Edwards' immense personal strength: "It's a difficult time for him, but one thing I will say is that he's known for a number of weeks now. He's played in games, he hasn't told anybody, and he's shown a mental strength that he'll need to have to get through the situation. It was his choice. I think that Ryan would've played until the end of the season if he could've, but unfortunately, that's not his choice. With the tumour he has, he had to get that removed, and now he has to be treated. He was willing to do that, but he has obviously been pulled in because of the seriousness of the situation. I've known for a few weeks now. We've had to keep it from a lot of people, and it's been a difficult time, but it was important to keep the privacy for Ryan and allow him to deal with the situation, until it went public on Thursday. He's been a strong boy, he's done exceptionally well since coming to this football club, and we're very supportive of him."
"It shows that the footballing world all pull together when something like this happens. He was at the game today. You could see that the fans are going to support him. The players 100% will support him. I had to tell them on Thursday. It wasn't an easy time for anybody, but we're there for him and he'll get the best possible medical help here as well. This is a very caring football club, and it's a football club that support their people. We've seen that today. We've seen that by the turnout and the support towards Ryan. That's why I look at any player coming to this football club, and any player that thinks that they might want to move on from this football club; they should maybe have a wee think again. We've got a fantastic support. I stood there on the touchline today thinking: 'why would any player want to move to somewhere where there's only 3,000 or 4,000 people at a game?' The only reason for that is money."
Argyle's unbeaten run has ended with a 3-1 loss at home to Wigan in spite of going 1-0 up from a Graham Carey penalty in the first half. Wigan equalised immediately after the penalty went in and went ahead just before the stroke of half-time. A late third goal sealed the win and keeps their own unbeaten run going. Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Fox, Ness(Church), Lameiras(Ainsworth), Taylor(Grant), Carey. Subs: Cooper, Miller, Songo'o, Taylor-Sinclair.
Wales international striker Simon Church has joined Argyle. The 28-year-old comes to Home Park as a free agent having left the Scunthorpe United, for who he had been playing on a short-term deal since late October. He was on trial with Argyle earlier in the season but whilst that move failed to materialise, he is in fact now an Argyle player and will wear the number 9 shirt for the duration of his time at Home Park.
Church said of the move to Argyle: "It's nice that I'm finally here and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. It's been a bit of a mixed season for me on a personal level, and now I'm ready to get back fit, get back playing, and get back to scoring goals, hopefully. The manager has been fantastic towards me throughout the whole season and it was a big factor in my thinking. I just needed to come and play for someone who has shown an interest, and who knows my qualities. I've really missed playing and that's the main thing for me to be playing and to be playing for a club that's on the up and doing well. It's about getting back to where I know I can get back to. What a great place to do it. The results have been really positive for the last couple of months and the only way we are going at the moment is up. That's great to come in to a team full of confidence; a club a full of confidence. Hopefully, I can add a bit of my experience and a bit of quality, as well, and help the team goes as far as it can.
"It's a tough league," he said. "There are some good teams and good players in the league, too. I'm used to the Championship and that's a tough league, too there's not that big a difference between the two: there are a lot of games, and you have got to keep going in every game and grind results out. I hope it's a blessing; I haven't worn the no.9 shirt for a couple of years now and, for a striker, it's nice to be the No.9. As I said before, though, my main focus is to help the team as much as I can in terms of pushing up the table."
"I had a great experience, being involved with the Euros. I love the Welsh squad; I've been part of it for nine years now but, for me, the most important thing now is to get back playing regularly, then hopefully get back to being in a position where I can impress the new manager. It's not the main focus at the moment but, if it comes up, I would be delighted. It's an honour and I've had many, many great experiences."
As he is the latest in a string of loanees from Bristol City, it will come as no surprise to the green army that Zak Vyner consulted his Robins teammates Joe Bryan, Bobby Reid and Arnie Garita in taking the decision to join Argyle on loan. He revealed: "I spoke to all of them. They speak very highly of the place. Arnie, who got promotion, can't say a bad word about the place. For me, that was a big indication of where I wanted to end up. Plymouth is a good fit for me. They are in good form and looking to play football, and that's what I want to do. I need to develop my game as a centre-half and a right-back, and it's a good opportunity for me. The manager here wants me to play centre-half and my manager at Bristol wants me to play centre-half. I'm all for that. I've played a lot of professional games at right-back but, before that, I was playing mainly centre-back, so it's not foreign to me. I feel like this is the best place for me to do that because I am encouraged that I am going to get a few games. I'm really looking forward to it. It's a great place to be at the moment. I've been training with the lads and they've all welcomed me really well, so I'm glad to be here. I was in a position where going out on loan to get a few more games this season was probably the right thing for me. The gaffer back at Bristol knew that, as well. He wanted me to go out on loan, but there were a few injuries there, so it was hard for him. I knew that. So I was just waiting. I've been looking at the results since the interest was there and we've been doing really well the last few games. I'm excited to get going. You want to be playing the better teams, so I'm looking forward to Saturday, if selected."
Graham Carey said of the game to come against Wigan on Saturday: "We have started really quickly at home lately. Teams have started to find out what we are about and when we start brightly they think 'not today after that travel'. We can use it as an advantage which we haven't done over recent years; we have relied on our away form which is strange. We did well up there and we didn't have much of the ball. It will be another difficult game on Saturday but we are in a good run of form and we will play with no fear and try and get three points. It would be nice, hopefully we have a few boys that are in double figures by the end of the season. It's good I have added a lot of goals to my game the last few years as well as keeping my assists up. So, as long as we are picking up results I don't mind whether I'm scoring or picking up assists. The most important thing is to keep moving forward. We have tinkered a bit; we are not playing as out an out wide attacker we are playing as two number tens. Which suits both of us, it has been the same since I have come here that the manager gives us freedom as long as we are in shape when we don't have the ball. We have just tweaked it a little bit, where as a couple of months ago we would have been tracking full backs all the way back and playing as a back six sometimes."
Derek Adams spoke similarly of the formidable appointments, saying: "I don't think there is a good time to catch Wigan at the moment. They are a fabulous outfit; their manager has got them playing really good football. He inherited some really good players when he went there and he has added some players to the squad. They are not a League One side; they are a Championship or a Premier League side. They are in this division because of factors that were sometimes out of their control. Them and Blackburn are the best teams we have played this season. Eighteen games to go, the way they have performed. I would be hugely surprised if they are not in the top two. It is great test for us, and we have got a lot of players looking forward to the test. We have shown when we played Wigan earlier in the season we were so close to getting a point. But, that's not to say they played very well last night. We have got to stay in League One. That is our main goal. We have 18 games to go and we are in a good position. We know how many wins we need to do that and how many points are required to stay in this division. After that, then its about finishing as high as we possibly can. We have got the top teams coming up in Wigan, Blackburn and Shrewsbury as well as Oldham in between. So we have got a tough run of fixtures starting with Wigan on Saturday. Fans were talking about a lot of other things before that, lets not get carried away and at this moment in time we have put ourselves in a good position."
Plymouth Argyle have announced to the supporters that Ryan Edwards today underwent surgery after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Argyle ask that supporters and the media respect the privacy of him and his family at this present time and will share all news of importance as they get it.
Argyle have signed Zak Vyner on loan from Bristol City on a deal that will last until the end of the season- the versatile defender can play at either centre-back or right-back and will wear the number 22 shirt during his time with the greens. Derek Adams said of the addition: "It's a good move for us, he is a centre half that has a lot of promise, and he has done exceptionally well at Bristol City. He had to stay at Bristol City over the last two cup games, in the FA Cup and the cup game against Man City. Bristol City were waiting to get a player and they were able to do that. We have tried to sign him a few times and Bristol City have been able to keep him because they like him as a player. He's been able to come here to get some game-time. He is more of a centre back that plays right back at this moment in time. They have high hopes of him playing at centre back. We have watched him playing for Bristol City a number of times."
James Brent has detailed the ways in which he plans to minimise disruption to Argyle as they make arrangements for the grandstand redevelopment, with fans currently in the process of moving out of Home Park. He said: "The initial works that people are likely to see are trenches being dug and some demolition. I think we have been consistent, even with the delay in the timing of the planning permission, that we wanted to start in the first quarter of this year. Clearly the first tranche of staff moving out of Home Park is indicative that we want to start sooner rather than later. The second move is the middle of February for the rest of the staff, save for the ticketing and retail, which are staying where they are. We are going to see some building activity starting there pretty shortly. There is also work which is being done off site. There will be quite a lot, hopefully, starting in the very near future. There will be disruption for a season and a bit whichever way we cut it. Part of the reason the logistics are very complicated is that we are trying to minimise the impact on our supporters during the build phase. But the impact potentially of getting that perfect is you extend the build period quite dramatically and you increase the cost, so that's the tension we are playing with at the moment. It's about trying to keep the overall period as short as possible and cause the minimal disruption. During the close season we want to do as much of the dirty work and disruptive work as possible. There are some very smart project managers trying to make it all work. Clearly, we couldn't move the retail and ticketing staff to Plumer House. It needs to be next to the stadium. Without giving too many clues away, the provision of the new retail and ticketing facilities will be at an earlier time in the build than most of the rest of it."
In spite of Argyle's lack of signings so far in the transfer market, Brent also reiterated that he wishes to give his full support to Adams and places his absolute trust in him to be able to bring in the players who Argyle need. Brent stated: "I suspect there is probably a strong majority of chairmen that are very keen to see their squads strengthened in January. Toums is the individual we would have liked to have retained, and we tried to retain him and weren't successful in that. The others have gone out either permanently or on loan. We are very keen to improve the squad further and we trust Derek's judgment to find and recruit the best players that he can. We absolutely don't put pressure on him to do that sooner in the transfer window than actually makes sense to him. I don't phone Derek on a daily basis saying 'Where have we got to today'?
"I'm a great believer that you recruit senior leaders to do a job and you don't meddle in their job. You support them to do the job to the best of their ability and, hopefully, if you choose the right leaders they do that. We think we have got a very good manager in Derek so our job is to support him rather than to meddle. He had budget spend before the players went out. Transfers at this time of the season are typically less about money and more about what's happening in other clubs. It's probably a truism that you can get the less talented players earlier in the process, than the more talented players because they are being held onto until the club you are trying to acquire from improves its own position. It's a period where we can all get anxious, and so on, but you have just got to give Derek time to make the best recruits that he can to join this window. He did so last year and I'm sure he will do very well this year. I would love to see new players in now but Derek will be supported to bring them in as and when he is able. Most of the activity will be by way of loan or players that have been released from their clubs. What Derek and his management and scouting team do is that they work out who in their view can make the biggest contribution to our club, typically for the rest of the season but some may be longer than that. That is function he is going through at the moment. We know he will do the best job that he can during this window."
Finally, Brent gave an update on the search for new Argyle directors, reaffirming once again his commitment to a diverse Argyle boardroom: What we have been through is what we call a skills audit with the board. We have looked at the skills that the board feels it needs to make the club as successful as it can be. We have done it internally and we have looked at the skills that we think we possess, and identified some areas where we could get better at. For example, I think we have quite strong business and finance skills. We have accountants, ex-bankers and fund managers, and so on, on the board. But we have a couple of areas where we feel we can improve. Those two areas are broadly human resources the people side of things and marketing, by promoting the activities of the club. So we have identified those skills gaps, but I also believe that diverse boards are generally much more effective than non-diverse boards. This is a particular hobby horse of mine, I guess. Our board historically has been what is often described as male, stale and pale in other words, older, white and male. What we would like to see is to get some diversity in. Part of it is because it's the right thing to do for our society. We should be more diverse. But there are lots of evidence, and it's not just what I have seen in my career, that more diverse boards take better decisions, and that has certainly been my experience.
"In terms of getting an external recruitment firm, or head-hunter, involved it enables us to cast the net as wide as we can. We will have a team of professionals going through the applications, and long-listing and short-listing. That will help us to make sure that when we get to interview we will have the best possible candidates in front of us. It's exactly the same process as if it was for a job, other than for the fact that we are not proposing to pay people. We are recruiting for an initial term of three years and then if it goes well for everybody and it makes sense then you would typically extend that for another three-year period. There has been a lot of interest from all sorts of angles. I suppose part of that is because if you are a successful woman then football clubs are probably one of the last bastions of male dominance. If you want to come into a football club this probably is a good opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of diversity. If you look at our supporter base, it is very male orientated. But if you look at our women supporters they are incredibly passionate about the team. It's how do we get the message to women that coming and spending your Saturday watching Argyle play is a good thing to do? It would be very useful to have a woman's view, or a couple of women's views, on that."
Nathan Blissett has joined a National League leaders Macclesfield Town. The Pilgrims striker moves to Moss Rose on loan until the end of the season.
Jamie Ness said that he is determined to keep taking each game as it comes as he continues his rehabilitation from injury. He added: "It's got to be game by game. This league is a difficult league to play in; we saw that at the start of the season. We have had a really good run and we have found our feet a little bit, but we can't get ahead of ourselves. We have got to take it one game at a time. Confidence is massive in football so we have just got to try to keep this run going, take it game by game, and continue to try to put points on the board. When you string a few results together, you get more confidence; players can start to get forward a little bit more. The team is on a good run at the moment. I would like to get forward a bit more myself and contribute to that. I think that will come with the more games that I play."
Argyle were good value for their point at Doncaster Rovers, according to manager Derek Adams who praised a good performance under tough circumstances. He said: "Over the 90 minutes, we were the better side. In the first half, Doncaster probably shaded it; in the second half, we had by far the most possession, and the amount of chances we created was probably double the ones they had in the game. We probably should have won with the chances that we had. We had a lot of chances. Over the 90 minutes, we should have had the three points. We had to get up against them in the second half, put pressure on them. We certainly did that over the second half we ran right over the top of them and should have won the game. Doncaster changed their formation a wee bit in the second half and it allowed us to go down the sides of them and put more pressure on. When we did that, we dominated the play. I just felt that we had the better of the play on the day. It became end-to-end, it became man-to-man, and the way we opened them up a good number of times was pleasing for us because we have come here in the past and found it difficult, But today was a different story. The amount of chances we had in the second half was unbelievable. Antoni Sarcevic could have had a hat-trick but, in the end, Eddy comes up with a great goal to get the equaliser and we probably didn't want the game to finish because we were right on top of the match."
"Antoni's a really good player; his energy is fantastic; he gets up and down the pitch; he blocks play; he picks up the ball and gets goalscoring opportunities. He's shown that he can score goals. We probably should have had into the 40s by now in terms of points, if you look at it. But we're happy with the eight-game unbeaten run. We'll take a point we were away from home against opposition who have been in a good vein of form."
Derek Adams paid tribute specifically to Jamie Ness who made his first appearance since October (due to injury) and who he feels stepped well into the shoes of Toumani Diagouraga: "We're moving on each week. We've got a strong 18-man squad and players who are not with us today. Jamie came in and fitted in straight away, played the whole 90 minutes, which was really good. There was a gamble in it but the gamble has paid off because he has put in a very good performance and filled the position that we needed to very well. If you look at the system that we play, we didn't want to change too much in the team so it was like for like. What we did today suited us. I want to come in and try to contribute to that, to keep that going. Obviously the lads are playing really well at the moment; we're on a good run. I just need to keep working hard; build game by game; and try to step up to that level. Toums scored a few goals and had few assists so I have got to try to pick up where he left off and build on that. He had a very good rapport with the fans and I will try to step up to that, as well. We've got a really strong squad. There's a few lads who could have stepped up today and I'm just delighted I got the opportunity and want to keep my place in the team now and play as many games as I can and help the team climb the table. I didn't know I was playing until about an hour and half before kick-off. I was just delighted to be back out there. It probably took me the first half to get going and get up to the speed of things but I felt we performed a lot better in the second half and deserved a point at least at the end of the game. I've been waiting to play in a reserve game since before Christmas but they have been cancelled, with the weather, each week, so that has been really frustrating for me. I felt like I've been getting closer and closer and fitter and fitter each week and just needed a bit of game-time. We had a bit of a bounce-match on Tuesday amongst ourselves with the Under-18s so that kind of gave me a bit of match practice before this weekend. The injury was a frustrating one, really. I was out for a few weeks and then came back a bit too soon and broke down again. So we had to be really careful with it second time round. I did a lot of work with the physios, a lot of work in the gym, and did a lot of work out on the training pitch over the last six weeks or so, which I think helped me come into the team today, to be able to come straight in and play 90 minutes and to be feeling really good afterwards. I just want to build on that and build my performance levels up. I'm feeling really confident now, feeling good, and desperate to make up for some lost time."
Ness also looked ahead to Saturday's match with table-topping Wigan, as well as looking back to the previous game against the Latics in September where Argyle's good defending came so close to grinding out a draw. Ness said: "We defended pretty well that night and we'll have to do the same on Saturday but, at the same time, we'll be able to offer a bit more going forward. We have got a tough one but, saying that, our home record has been really good recently so we'll take confidence from that and look to keep the run going."
Argyle extended their unbeaten run in League One to 8 games with a hard earned point at Doncaster Rovers. The home side went 1-0 up in the first half but a change of formation (matching Doncaster up to 4-4-2) in the second saw the greens equalise due to a Ryan Edwards header from a set piece. Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Edwards, Bradley, Sawyer, Fox, Sarcevic, Ness, Carey, Lameiras(Ainsworth), Taylor. Subs: Cooper, Miller, Songo'o, Jervis, Wylde, Grant.
Derek Adams rejected talk of a play-off push around Home Park and is focusing on the next game away to Doncaster Rovers. He also spoke of the vital role Antoni Sarcevic has to play following the departure of Toumani Diagouraga: "Our targets are to try and win our next game. We never differ from that, we are into League One and we want to consolidate there, that's your first aim, and then we take it from there. We have put ourselves in a very good position, we probably feel we could have had seven wins from seven because of the times we have been ahead in the game late on and lost that goal. I'm not surprised we have always done well over the festive period. We have always managed to win games in a short period of time, you look at the past results over that period of time and if you were a betting man you would bet on Plymouth Argyle getting back to back victories over the Christmas period.
"Doncaster haven't changed their style too much. They have differed to a three at the back formation sometimes, as they did last season. But they are playing with a diamond formation in midfield, they have got similar personnel. They have changed their team a bit, but they are like us they have a nucleus with a lot of the same side that got promoted last season."
"Sarcevic can do whatever he wants on the football pitch. I have seen in pre season training he can run like a sprinter, he can cover the yards and he can score goals. I want him to score more goals, he is going to be a big player for us between now and the end of the season. He's 25 years of age, he has performed well in games. We are delighted with the way he has come back into the side after his injuries."
Right-back Oscar Threlkeld says that confidence has been the key behind Argyle's fantastic run of recent form since he came back into the side, saying: "We have got high spirits and great team bonding. Being at the bottom and we've come out of it now just shows how much spirit we've got. We look to pick each other up and obviously it's shown on the pitch. The fellas have been great and always supportive; the staff have been trying to pick us up and obviously the gaffer, Wottsy and Brew have been tremendous with us over the Christmas period. Now starting to pay off. It is just confidence and a bit of luck sometimes. We've not had the best of luck at the beginning of the season. So it's our turn to have a little bit, but its mainly more confidence. Winning our first game, we are starting to slowly climb up the table. We have got a chance to make it into the top ten if it carries on. We are looking to try and continue that run and I hope it stays like that for a while till the end of the season. Hopefully we can try and make it into the top half of the table and push further on."
"It's all there to play for; we will go there with an open mind. We know how they play and we beat them there last season 1-0. It was a great performance from us to see out the game. We are looking forward to it and we have been training hard this week. So hopefully we will get the three points. There is respect and rivalry; you've got to give them some sort of respect sometimes. But with Doncaster there is a bit of rivalry between us from last season. Like I said we are just looking to go there with an open mind, knowing our game plan and getting the three points."
Derek Adams hinted that the replacement for outgoing midfielder Toumani Diagouraga could be already at Argyle, highlighting the performances of many other midfielders currently at the club. He said: There is a few that can do that role, there's Graham Carey, Jamie Ness, Cameron Sangster, Yann Songo'o, Antoni Sarcevic and David Fox that can all play in that midfield position."
Of Sangster specifically, he added: "He is one that is developing well. We have got Alex Fletcher out on loan to Torquay. We have got Callum Rose out on loan to Dorchester; Callum is one we have high hopes for. Michael Cooper is the sam; Ryan Law the left back is an exceptional talent as well, these are the ones we have high hopes for. He is only 17 but he is playing every week in the under 18s and he is playing every week in the Peninsula team. He will have the opportunity to play in the Central League matches. I have been trying to get a good number of players to Torquay for a good number of years now. Alex Fletcher is going there because it's close to Plymouth and his home, it is a full-time club, two steps down from our league. He is 18 years of age so he has time to develop so this is the next stage. He has gone from eighteens football, into reserve team football, played a few first team and now we want to give him first team football at a level each week. There will be one striker that will come in this transfer window. We are working to do that as we are obviously short in that area, We have Ryan Taylor and Jake Jervis so we just need to add to that, we are negotiating at this moment in time."
Adams also confirmed that defender Jakub Sokolik and striker Nathan Blissett could both be on their way out of the club this January transfer window, with National League sides believed to be showing interest. Adams said: "Nathan Blissett and Jakub Sokolik look like they will be close to leaving the football club at some time in January. We are moving forward in that area."
Celtic striker Nadir Ciftci's spell at Home Park is over following the cancellation of his loan deal. The forward will join Motherwell on a loan deal until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, Derek Adams has been nominated for the League One manager of the month award for December having gained 11 points from a possible 15 in the month.
The weekend's good news was tinged with a hint of sadness when it was confirmed that midfielder Toumani Diagouraga has played his last game for Argyle and will move on to pastures now, with Fleetwood Town being the likely destination for the midfield star. Derek Adams said of the loss: "It looks like he's played our last game for us and he's moving on. He's done well for us. I'm delighted with the contribution he's made to the football club. In the games that he's played, he's done exceptionally well. We'd have liked to keep him. Unfortunately, he's chosen to move further north. We'll look within the club and also out for a replacement. We'll try to strengthen the position. Toums has done exceptionally well. He's scored three goals since he's been here and been a big part of why we've been successful."
Antoni Sarcevic added: "Like you've seen with the results when he is in the team, it's such an unbelievable record. He is such a good lad. He has come in and settled really well and he has given us all a little boost. You can tell he has been at a higher level and he has helped a lot of lads out, including myself, so it's only good for players like myself to play with him and take things off him. We all wish him the best in the future and hope he doesn't do too well at his next club! It's not a one-man team and we can't dwell on that. Hopefully the gaffer, the board or whoever can bring in a replacement and hopefully they can settle in to what we have going on at the minute, because it's good."
Sarcevic also spoke of his relief at finally getting the goal his performances have threatened for some time to seal Argyle's 3-0 win over Bury: "I got a chance in the first minute. I was frustrated and should have done better. I had a couple little chances and you just think is it going to be your day? But, it was nice to get one in front of my little one and the wife. She's pregnant again so it's just all nice at the minute. Obviously I'm made up with the goal and hopefully I can push on and get more goals. With Graham, Rubes and Tayls you're always going to get another chance. So, I kept pushing and getting myself in there and luckily one paid off. The gaffer literally every game, half-time, before the game jokingly says 'come on' and thankfully I got one for us today."
"It's clichι to say but, I think we have warranted the results. The start of the season obviously didn't go to plan but, I never thought we were out of our depth. Things are starting to tick now; Rubes has come in and we have got that nice flair upfront. I think things are starting to tick and we look really good at the minute. Confidence is such a massive thing for players inside the squad. We are such a tight knit group and we are all good lads. It shows out on the pitch, we have the license to do things and it shows it's nice to watch and be a part of. It was so frustrating. I was playing with niggles and it just wasn't helping myself and the team. So, I finally got that sorted and I'm definitely going to enjoy the rest of the season."
Derek Adams gave praise to a superb performance that kept Argyle's good run of form going to climb into the top half of League One, saying: "It was important. They had obviously signed three new players during the week. They made seven changes today, so it was about us getting on the front foot and getting the first goal to demoralise them, really, more than anything else. That's what we did; we got the first goal. We got the second goal and went from strength to strength. We've had so many chances this afternoon; we could've scored a lot more. Ryan Lowe's an experienced player but it was foolish challenge by him, for someone of that experience. It was a clear red card. You could see it happening, and it was a bit naοve of him to do that, but it obviously helped us. I think the players knew that they had won the game. We controlled the game after that. We knew we had the three points and it was just about 'can we score any more goals?' I think that over the 90 minutes, the way we played, the way we moved the ball, the creativity we've shown and also we had to deal with the presence of Hanson up front. We had an overload in midfield. We had three against two, which benefitted us."
"Ruben Lameiras and Graham Carey are very talented. We load up in different areas, different sides of the pitch. Ryan Taylor gives us a platform to play from, and the three in midfield combine well. The full backs, as well, joined in today down the sides and got themselves in the box a good number of times. Gary Sawyer was unfortunate not to score again. I thought it was a very accomplished performance from us today. We started the game very well and controlled it for the majority of the match, and the goals we scored were some good goals. We've put ourselves in a good position, but we all know that we're trying, first and foremost, to stay in the division. That's what we came into the league to do. We've been out of it for so many years and we'll continue to work hard. We knew there were only four games to play in the division. Everybody else was playing in the FA Cup, or not playing because somebody was playing in the FA Cup. We've been able to get ourselves into 12th position, which was fantastic."
Of the youth team's success, Adams said: "It was great for them to progress to the last 16," said Adams. "They've performed very well over the last two games against Man City and Burnley teams that are in the Premier League. Michael Cooper, who was on the bench today, had a fantastic performance last night. I'm delighted for them all and, hopefully over the next three or four years, we can see them in the first team. I think that it helps that everybody's doing well. The women's team is doing well as well, and I think that's important.
"I think we've shown that we have a good group of players. The ones in the first team game today have got the jersey and they're performing well. The players have got very good confidence about them, with the way they pass the ball and control it. They controlled the game for large spells, created umpteen opportunities today, and we should've scored more. We're happy to take the break. I think we've been through a busy period and the players have been very focused over that period. Their fitness levels are very good; they've had a couple of days rest this week and they looked refreshed."
It was an excellent weekend all round for Plymouth Argyle as the under-18 side progressed to the last 16 of the FA Youth Cup with a last minute 1-0 winner from Billy Craske against Burnley and the first team climbed into the top half of League One with a dominant 3-0 victory over Bury. Argyle went 1-0 up early on through Toumani Diagouraga and doubled their lead when Ruben Lameiras was fouled in the box drawing a penalty for the greens. The Bury keeper saved the initial effort but Graham Carey slotted home the rebound. Ryan Lowe was dismissed for Bury in the second half for a reckless foul on Remi Matthews after the Argyle keeper had collected the ball. A spell of Argyle domination shortly followed in which Antoni Sarcevic slotted home Argyle's third goal and his first for the season. Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld(Miller), Edwards, Bradley, Sawyer, Fox(Jervis), Diagouraga, Sarcevic, Lameiras(Wylde), Carey, Taylor. Subs: Cooper, Songo'o, Ainsworth, Grant,
Remi Matthews is delighted to be back at Home Park for the rest of the League One season after his initial emergency loan spell was cut short by injury and looked ahead to the game against Bury on Saturday. The keeper said: "It was a disappointing one for me, we were going so well. It ended horribly at the end, I'm not sure the other player is even back playing yet. I was lucky to come off better than I first anticipated. If I'm honest the first few days, I was a little bit worried. But I went back down the road and got the rehab I needed and the treatment I needed and made a quick recovery. He spoke to me about it before I left in the first place. But, like anything, you never know what is going to happen. Kelle Roos did well and Luke got himself back fit but unfortunately got injured again. So I had it in the back of my head, I was speaking to my agent regularly and the gaffer, and luckily it did pan out the way I wanted it to. Blackpool was a tough game considering us going 2-0 up. But, again, we look back and it is another point on the board for us. As much as we would have liked three if you look at the second half I wouldn't say we were lucky but we saw it coming. It was still another point on the board and since I've been here four points from two games is a good start. The Walsall game was a massive boost, especially beating a team to go above them. The big thing before the game was if we beat these we go above them and if we don't they make the gap bigger. Luckily we did, if I'm honest I thought we were the better team and deserved the win. With Bury, as you've seen, they have just signed the big lad upfront who will be a handful. There is going to be a bit of movement in January; sometimes it's those games that catch you out. They are sometimes the harder games and we have got to be professional enough to get the result and move further away from the relegation zone."
Ahead of the Argyle youth team's fourth round tie against Burnley away, Derek Adams noted the importance of the match for Argyle's youngsters. In particular, he spoke of the tiring weekend Mike Cooper has ahead of him, being set to sit on the bench for Argyle on Saturday after playing for the youths at Burnley on Friday night. Adams: "They have got a good opportunity, they won against Man City at home. They defended very well and had a couple of opportunities to win it, but got through on penalties in the end. They are training and going up this afternoon, we are giving them the first-team bus to travel up in. We have told them which hotel to stay in which is a nice one, about 25 minutes from Burnley. They will treat it as an important fixture, and treat it like a first-team fixture. They've got a good bit of hospitality to be ready for the game. They are getting that experience of being a first-team player. Going up on the bus, staying in the hotel and playing at Turf Moor underneath the lights against Premier League opposition."
'We would all like them to get into the first team right away but it's not always possible. But, we have had Alex Fletcher, Jordan Bentley, Michael Cooper, Cameron Sangster have all come up. So we have had a blend of them that have had that first team experience. He will play Friday night then travel back in the early hours of the morning and be on the bench Saturday. I have to allow the youth team to have him tomorrow night as it is an important fixture, and they will allow him to be with us."
Argyle first-year-pro Alex Fletcher has joined Torquay United on an initial 28 day loan. The 18-year-old forward will be managed by former Argyle assistant Gary Owers during his time with the Gulls.
Argyle are looking to continue their fine winning run on Saturday but will not overlook the threat of bottom side Bury, according to Derek Adams, who said: "We would have taken that points total over the festive period. We have played particularly well against teams that are around us, which has been important and have been able to catch teams above us. We have been able to win matches in a good way. As I always said, 'wait till we get our injuries and suspensions back' and we have been able to do that; we have looked a very good outfit. We have had a lot of traveling to do at MK Dons and Blackpool. We played on a heavy pitch at Blackpool as well, and we have the furthest to travel out of the teams. Blackpool had two home games then away to Rochdale. So, we've done particularly well to come through this period."
"Saturday is a game when we are playing against bottom of the table. They played very well against Scunthorpe on the weekend and were unfortunate not to take something from the game. They have made two acquisitions over the last 24 hours and strengthened their team. We are on a good run of form and have played some really good football. If you look at the stats on a weekly basis we've been near the top of them over the past couple of weeks. You only have to look at how we were with Ryan Taylor out. But, Bury have been able to go out and sign Hanson who will enhance their team."
Derek Adams has praised the fighting spirit of his Argyle side that enabled them to claim ten points from a possible twelve over the Christmas period. He also explained why he did not make any substitutions in the match against Walsall, saying: "It was an important win for us today because over the festive period, we've had a number of tough fixtures. We've been away to MK Dons, away to Blackpool a lot of travelling and today, at home to Walsall. We've come through it very well. We've put ourselves in 16th position now. We've got three points, a clean sheet and another goal for Ryan Taylor. We all know the threat that Walsall have got when they put the ball into a wider area. I thought today we dealt a lot better with the cross into the box, and when the ball came out, we found the corners. That's because we learnt our lesson on Monday. We have taken that lesson from Monday and onto today. You always get to that period in the game where they're pushing forward. They've got nothing to lose and we've got two points to lose, but we've kept that clean sheet.
"We've usually done well over the Christmas period, so I'm delighted at that. We've been able to pick up another win today and, as I keep on saying, wins in this league are very important. We had injuries and suspensions, and I always said that you shouldn't judge a team until you have everybody fit. But, what happens in this world is people judge you every second of every day. As a manager, you've got a problem, and you've got to deal with those problems. We've overcome that and, as you can see now, we've got a talented bunch of players."
"It was just difficult, because we'd made three substitutions on Monday and I felt maybe that changed the flow of the game. I just didn't want to make a change, but you never know. If I had made a change and they scored, then everybody would have said I shouldn't have made a substitution. I'm very confident in the players' fitness levels. They've had a tough pre-season. We've had a number of players out injured, and they've either got a freshness to them, or they are starting to tail off and we had that today. I believe in their ability, and we do have a strong bench. Yann Songo'o has been fantastic and the rest of them Joel Grant, Jake Jervis feel hard done to because they've done very well for us."
"I've just given them Tuesday and Wednesday off, because we've been in over the Christmas period and worked hard. To play two games in three days and to travel the way we've had to travel; we need to rest up and be ready for Bury."
Adams gave specific praise to Ryan Taylor who got the game's only goal and has been in general a godsend for Argyle since coming back into the side. Adams said: "It was good play from Lameiras to start with," said Derek. "But when Ryan took over, it's a great finish from him, and he is capable of doing that. He was unlucky a couple of other times in the second half. We had a number of shots on goal today, which was good, and we were unlucky not to have scored another. He gives us the platform to play. When we play the ball up to him, it sticks, and he can take others into the game. That split second he takes the ball in allows the whole team to move up the pitch. He's found it difficult over the last three games, because he's had to have a lot of minutes, and he's come through it very well. We went out and we got Nadir Ciftci, but it hasn't worked out. We have Jake Jervis, we have Nathan Blissett, we have Alex Fletcher; they've all had their opportunities. At this moment in time, Jake and Ryan Taylor are the two that are in amongst the first team."
Taylor himself, meanwhile, said that the high-intensive schedule over Christmas has helped rather than hindered when it comes to developing his fitness after so long away from the first team: "It's been a busy period but I think, when you are stringing results together the way we have in the last six games unbeaten; four wins and two draws you want the games coming thick and fast, and we have done brilliantly." It's been perfect for me because I've needed the games. I'm slowly getting there I'm probably not 100% yet and we're getting some good results on the way. It's difficult but, when you are confident and you are getting the results that you want, you want to play the games as quick as possible. You'd rather play games, than train, trust me. I like to be involved in all the games and especially when it is going well like this."
"I could have had a few more. I should have scored at MK; could have scored against Oldham with a header at the near post. There's things to work on and I'll keep working hard in training, and the goals will keep coming hopefully. There was a little scramble. Rubes did his good feet, as he usually does, and he got a little nick through. I took a touch and turned, and just shot in the bottom corner. I think the 'keeper has got his hand to it but not enough and it's gone the bottom corner nicely."
Taylor also ventured to suggest that Argyle should be looking towards the top end of the table rather than the bottom as the season progresses into 2018: "Now we are looking up the league," he said. "We're dragging other teams into it, slowly but surely, and there is not much of a gap between us and the teams above. So we will be ready to push on, come Saturday. There is a lot of confidence in the players at the minute and I think it's showing on the pitch. When everyone is confident, things start to look good and come together nicely. There are loads of teams creeping into our vicinity now. We have just got to keep that confidence there.
"Even the Rotherham game before that we were disappointed that we chucked two points away there but it shows we have come a long way, to be disappointed with draws when were bottom of the league, rock bottom, a couple of months ago. Today, in the first half, we weren't quite good enough and we got a bit of a rocket off the manager at half-time. Secondhalf, we looked a bit livelier. In the first half, we looked leggy. It's not an excuse. It's a massive three points for us and we hung on very well. The team spirit showed there."
Argyle have maintained their excellent form as they started 2018 with a 1-0 home victory over Walsall on New Year's Day. The goal came from striker Ryan Taylor with a quarter of the match remaining and Argyle have climbed to a high of 16th in the table. Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Edwards, Bradley, Sawyer, Fox, Diagouraga, Sarcevic, Lameiras, Carey, Taylor. Subs: Cooper, Miller, Songo'o, Jervis, Grant, Ainsworth, Wylde.
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