A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle's reserves beat Bristol Rovers 2-1 at Home Park, both goals scored by Nathan Lowndes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Routledge, Kouo-Doumbe, Drew, Sturrock, Summerfield, Adams, Lowndes, Milne, Keith. Subs - Schofield, Nute, Rose, Yetton, Evans.
Argyle have temporarily suspended ticket sales for the game at Queens Park Rangers. Rangers are experiencing 'teething problems' with their new match-day security company and as a result, the Loftus Road licensing authorities have re-imposed a reduced stadium capacity limit. Argyle will put their tickets back on sale as soon as they get the nod from QPR
Paul Wotton admitted he thrives on the pressure of taking penalties having converted his third of the season after Keith Lasley was tripped during added time last night. He said: "Keith has done great with two nutmegs and the boy has just clipped his heels. Their bench and their players were shouting at the keeper 'he just smashes it' so I side-footed it in the corner. I was very pleased. I'm always confident when I take a penalty. The only time I wasn't was when I missed against Bournemouth last season after coming on as a sub. That was different circumstances. I had a lot of pressure on me then, with not playing in the team and stuff. I'm enjoying my football at the minute and, yes, I felt very confident." Wotton had to wait patiently to take the kick while Forest protested to the referee. "People have said 'was it delaying tactics' but, to be fair, that's football and I would do exactly the same. It doesn't matter whether it's after 10 seconds or the last kick of the game, a penalty is a penalty. You have still got to score it. If I didn't want to deal with the pressure and stuff I wouldn't be the penalty taker. I mean, I might miss the next one but that's the way it goes." Wotton admitted Argyle had been eager to make amends for their 3-1 defeat at Watford: "We have played six games in the Championship now and we have had one poor 45 minutes at Watford, and we got punished for it," he said. "The boys were bitterly disappointed with our second-half performance on Saturday. The coaching staff didn't give us a hard time. They just said we had got to bounce back against Nottingham Forest and it was a big game and we had to get our minds right." More than 17,000 fans packed into Home Park last night and were treated to a thrilling win. Wotton said: "The people of Plymouth deserve it, and the players deserve it as well because we have worked incredibly hard. We are such an honest bunch of lads. There is not one big-time player in the group. I know people keep saying it, but it's a fantastic feeling to be part of a workmanlike team that can play a bit as well. We don't just lump it up to Mickey Evans. We played really well in patches tonight, but we also worked our tails off. The boys showed their character and that's what Plymouth Argyle has been all about for three years, and that's what we will continue to be all about." Argyle now wait until September 11th for their next game and Wotton said: "We will enjoy our little break. We need it because it has been a very tough, demanding start to the season."
Bobby Williamson paid tribute to Paul Wotton after his late penalty winner last night. "There was a lot of delay before the penalty," said Williamson. "The Forest lads surrounded the referee and kept Wottsy waiting. He had to stay focused. I've seen him in training, when he's practicing free-kicks, and he's a very focused individual. A lot of people questioned whether he'd be in the team this season but he's proved he should be. I hope he'll keep churning out the performances and clocking up the appearances for Argyle." David Norris scored Argyle's opener before Graham Coughlan put them 2-0 up and Williamson said: "There was a huge question-mark over David. He played last Wednesday; he played Saturday, again; now he's played another 90 minutes. It's tremendous credit to him. His energy is fantastic, he gets up and down the park, and he gives us balance on the right-hand side. Keith Lasley has done a good job there and I was swithering whether to put him on the bench or start him. Thankfully. I started him. I think Graham got a kick on the head for his troubles but that won't make him any worse looking. He's not the most beautiful guy I've ever seen - but his family must love him, and we love him as well. I was delighted he got on the end of it. David did exceptionally well to get a brave header in across the goal and Cocko's done what Cocko's good at. It's his first goal this season and hopefully there's a few more where that came from." Forest replied with a goal a minute from the break: "We said to our guys at half-time that we never should have conceded their first goal, which made life difficult for us," said Williamson. "The ball was in the air for a reasonable amount of time and we were expecting someone to get to that and make Eoin Jess expect a tackle or a block. We never got any body there. I'll analyse it and probably be pointing the finger at a few people. At 2-2, our guys could have let our heads go down and accept things. We never - we kept trying to get forward and get at them, and we got our reward in the end. I thought we had a valid claim for a penalty. Some things go for you some things don't. At the end we got a penalty when Lasley got clipped. Forest will be disappointed, but the referee's got to make a decision and thankfully he made the right one for us."
Argyle beat Nottingham Forest 3-2, the goals scored by David Norris after 26 minutes, Graham Coughlan (40) and an injury time Paul Wotton penalty. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Makel, Friio, Capaldi, Evans, Crawford. Subs - Lasley, Hodges, Milne (not used - Keith, Adams). Attendance - 17,538. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
David Norris is hoping he has put his injury problems behind him and believes Argyle can put Saturdays defeat behind them when they play Nottingham Forest tonight. "It gives us a chance to go back out there and put things right," he said. "The boys will be up for that. It's going to be a big game tonight against a big team but that's what we worked for last year. We will be raring to go for it. I was really looking forward to my debut in the Championship and it's a shame it wasn't a win. I have come back and we have lost but that's just the way it goes. I tired in the last 20 minutes or so, but I kept trying to go in patches because the more games I play, the better my fitness will get. I had the 90 minutes on Wednesday and on Saturday, so it's only going to be beneficial to me in the long run. To do my thigh two days before that first game was really disappointing and it was hard to take watching the boys get under way. But they have done really well so I have had to bide my time, get fit and, hopefully now, I can keep my place. That's two games now and there has been no reaction whatsoever from the injury so, touch wood, that's going to be it." Norris added: "We had a great start on Saturday. We were first to knock-downs and second balls, and we have had a few chances. Had the one which hit the post gone in, it would have been 2-0 and it's a different game. But having worked that hard and played that well, to come in at half-time with nothing was disappointing. We needed to at least hold out for the first 15 minutes of the second half and get settled again. For them to score so early, it put us on the back foot from then. We were chasing the game and it went downhill from there. After the first half, when we played that well, we knew they were there for the taking. To come away with a 3-1 loss was hard to take for the boys."
Bobby Williamson reported no new injuries prior to tonights game and so has an unchanged squad to select from. "I'm looking for a reaction from our guys and, hopefully, we can trouble them more than they trouble us," he said. "With the games coming so quickly together we don't get too much time to prepare, but we will be ready. We always get the guys in after a game just to get them talking about it and let them get out of their system and move on. There are a few things to be learned from Saturday, along with the game against Yeovil."
Argyle's players are determined to bounce back against Nottingham Forest at Home Park tonight, following the defeat at Watford. "In the first half at Watford we played really well, like we've been playing all season," said Mickey Evans. "I was glad to get off the mark, and we could have been two or three up. We hit the crossbar and the post, but in the end we gave away three bad goals. The lads are disappointed. We played so well first half. But we've got to pick ourselves up and get going again tonight." Paul Wotton added: "For half an hour, that was probably the best we've played all season. But we let them have a sloppy goal and we were devastated to be level at half-time. Then we let in two more bad goals and we didn't really click in the second half. We haven't let in goals like that for a long, long time. But we'll bounce back."
Bobby Williamson thought Mickey Evans' booking against Watford was harsh. "I don't understand what the referee was playing at to be honest," he said. "He started pointing about the park when Mickey's first free-kick was given against him. The referee indicated that he had given away three free-kicks previously, which I have never seen. I'm going to watch that tape again because he has been booked for continuous fouling, and that was his first free-kick. The referee has made a mistake. I don't know how he can make a mistake like that because there's nobody like Mickey on the park, for us anyway. I don't see why he was booked. For the incident he did pick up a booking, he never did anything wrong. All he did was jump early, and there's nothing in the rule book saying you can't do that. But the referee has made that decision and it will be interesting to see how many bookings this guy has dished out since the start of the season."
Bobby Williamson admitted poor defending contributed to Argyle's defeat yesterday. He said: "The first half was probably the best football we've played for a while. We knocked the ball about very comfortably and one goal was an injustice. On another day maybe we would have got a break in front of goal or the ball would have gone in off the post. I felt we started really well, Watford never troubled us at all. We scored a goal and hit the woodwork twice. That's when we've got to capitalise on good possession and good pressure, but we never did that. The first times Watford showed any serious signs of going up the park they scored a goal and we went in level, which was extremely disappointing. The second half was entirely different. We got off to a poor start, got caught out at a throw-in again: we were too high up the park, there was too much space between our goalkeeper and the back four, and Webber exploited that. They got a huge lift from their good start and capitalised on that by getting a third although we defended that poorly as well. If you make mistakes in this division against clubs like Watford, against most clubs, you will get punished. We have got to learn from it and move on, and we will learn from it." One plus for Williamson was the return of David Norris: "Chuck gives us that bit of natural width on the right," said Williamson. "Keith Lasley has done an invaluable job in there, but he's a central midfield player."
Argyle's under-18 side drew 2-2 with Exeter City under-18's yesterday. The under-18's table and results can be found here.
Gibson said: "It was a leggy type of performance, which is understandable as three of them started against Cardiff Reserves, just three days earlier. It was almost like a bridge too far, but they dug deep and battled away. We started great in the first 20 minutes, but full credit to Exeter, they didn't die and showed good character and it turned out into a good game. Then, when Exeter scored, we had to show good character and we produced a great goal for our second but, unfortunately, they scored two minutes later." Argyle: Schofield, Drew, Routledge, Nute, J Laird, Rose, Bond, Parkes, Reski, Payne, Moon. Sub - Mason
Argyle lose 3-1 at Watford, the goal scored by Mickey Evans after 18 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Hodges, Capaldi, Crawford, Evans. Subs - Keith, Makel, Lasley (not used - Milne, Adams). Attendance - 13,104.
Stevie Crawford has been named in Scotland's squad for their World Cup qualifier against Slovenia next month and also their warm-up match against Spain next Friday. Peter Gilbert has again been named in the Wales under-21 squad for their UEFA Championship qualifier in Azerbaijan on Friday
Hasney Aljofree is continuing to make progress, as he recovers from a knee operation. Bobby Williamson said: "He's still rehabilitating with the physio and he's not back in full training with us yet. Once that happens, it's only a matter of time before he's back in contention."
Bobby Williamson has revealed he has no plans to bring any trialists to Home Park. He said: "There are loads of players out there that we monitor. I have no plans to bring in any trialists at the moment. I don't think that's the way to approach it because you do get a false impression. They come in and they are trying to impress, and I'm trying to impress them because I might want them to sign. I would rather go and watch someone playing with players he knows and make a judgement from that, than bring trialists in. And if I do bring in any trialists, I rarely talk about them because if we don't sign them then other clubs might be reluctant to sign them, and I don't want to put their future employment in jeopardy."
Tony Capaldi, like all of his team-mates, was disappointed to surrender Argyle's unbeaten record at Yeovil in midweek. "Of course it was a disappointment," he said. "We didn't want to lose and we put a lot of effort into the game. But it's on with the League now and I'm sure we can recover from Tuesday and keep our undefeated record going in the League. It's going to be a tough game but there's no reason for our confidence to have been eroded by Tuesday's defeat. We'll try and start well and see what happens." Capaldi is not being over-ambitious though, as a result of Argyle's good start in the League. "A mid-table place for us at the end of the season wouldn't be the biggest disappointment in the world," he said. "Staying up is still the biggest priority."
If Argyle manage a third consecutive away win in the league today Bobby Williamson will be treating it as just another step on the road of the Championship campaign. "It would be great," he said, "but I'm not really too bothered where we pick up our points, whether it's home or away, as long as we get those points. Watford is going to be a difficult venue to go to. They've got a lot of talented players and we know the problems they can cause us, but the focus will be on what we can do to them." The manager has had to pick up his players after Tuesday's loss at Yeovil: "The reaction has been one of disappointment, and we've got to bounce back," he said. "These guys have done that before, however. We've proved over the course of the season so far that we're capable of winning matches, and now we've got to go out on the park on Saturday and try and get a result that will please our fans. That's the aim, but nobody is happy when you lose matches. On the night on Tuesday, though, there wasn't much separating the teams apart from a couple of wonder strikes. I don't think Watford will be under-estimating us. They'll be working as hard as they can to get the points, the same as we're going to do."
Bobby Williamson has denied reports that Karim Kerkar is a transfer target for the Pilgrims. He said: "I've praised the lad, but I could praise Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry. That doesn't mean I'm going to try and sign them. We had a scout at a Clyde match, but we have scouts at quite a lot of games and we watch quite a lot of players. Our players shouldn't feel threatened because this guy's name has been mentioned in the papers. But if there are players out there that can complement what we've got, then I wouldn't be doing my job if we didn't have a look. But that's all we were doing, having a look."
Bobby Williamson could shake-up his team for the trip to Watford tomorrow. He said: "It's good to have everybody competing for positions in the team. We have certainly got competition throughout. The guys that have been in the team have done ever so well, but I might ring the changes. I will have a look at everybody. We did look a bit tired in parts of the team on Tuesday. I'm still open-minded. We have got a squad of players to pick from and Norris coming back into contention is good. It gives me more food for thought." Argyle will be aiming for their third successive away win in the league and Williamson said: "It would be great, but I'm not really too bothered where we pick up the points - whether it's home or away. Watford is going to be a difficult venue to go to. They have got a lot of talented players and we know the problems they can cause us. But, as usual, I will be focusing on what we can do to them and, hopefully, we can ask a few questions of their defence." Argyle's defeat by Yeovil was their first in eight competitive matches since Williamson took over as manager and he is hoping the Pilgrims can put that behind them. "There is an effect after every game, whether you win or lose it," said Williamson. "There are questions asked every time the players cross that white line. We have got to react in a positive manner and get back into winning ways again. It was a defeat, and we aren't happy about it, but it has happened and we will deal with it. We will see how much it has affected us on Saturday."
Graham Coughlan is confident Argyle can bounce back from the disappointment of their Carling Cup exit. He said: "Obviously, the boys were disappointed to go out. We wanted to be in the hat for the second round but over the last three seasons we have had early exits in the cup competitions and gone on to bigger and better things." Coughlan received a facial injury against Yeovil but will be fit to face Watford. "I don't think I can go through a game without getting whacks," he said. "It's just part and parcel of the job. I think Tarachulski was more clumsy than actually having any intent." Coughlan was part of the Argyle team who lost 1-0 at Watford in a league cup tie in 2001: "Obviously, there have been a lot of changes since then but we will be used to the surroundings," he said. "Watford are a solid team with some good players and they have got experience in their ranks as well. They had a good win last week against Leicester so they will be dangerous, but the joy of this division is each and every team can beat one another. There is never a foregone conclusion so no matter what the result is tomorrow it wouldn't be a surprise. It will be like that in any game in this division but, most certainly, we will be going there looking for a good, solid performance, to follow on from the win against Sunderland last Saturday. Things have been going well for us in the league and I dare say we have had a little luck here and there. One or two decisions have gone our way, but I'm sure that will balance itself out over the season. I believe the players we have in this dressing room are as good as any in this league. The quality is here at this football club. It's just getting that confidence and that continuity into our results." After visiting Watford tomorrow, Argyle face Nottingham Forest on Monday. "We aren't getting carried away with this four-game run," said Coughlan. "Let's be honest, four games isn't a great run. We will possibly look at it on Tuesday morning, after the next two games, and then decide where we are, what we have done and where we go from there. A lot of questions will be answered over the weekend. If you come out of the two games unscathed, you are looking to bounce on from there. If you don't, you could get dragged down. That's how tight this league is. It's a big weekend and it's a big six points to play for. Every team from one to 24 in the division will be hoping to take six points."
Bobby Williamson has admitted his interest in Clyde's Algerian midfielder Karim Kerkar, who is also being tracked by Rangers. Williamson said: "We know a lot about the guy. He is a player with a good record and we sent a scout down to watch him, as we do with so many other players. But at the moment there are no plans for him. We send scouts to games all over the country." Argyle's midfield options have increased as David Norris played the whole of Argyle's reserve match at Cardiff City yesterday. Williamson said: "Chuck played the whole 90 minutes and came through it unscathed. But it's too early to say whether he will be added to the squad for Saturday. We will have to see how he is today and over the next couple of days. But it's good for Chuck to get a match under his belt and, of course, for us."
Tony Capaldi has been included in the Northern Ireland squad for their first two 2006 World Cup qualifiers against Poland and Wales next month
Graham Coughlan should be fit for the trip to Watford despite receiving two stitches in the facial injury he picked up against Watford
Argyle's reserves lose 2-0 at Cardiff City. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Drew, Summerfield, Routledge, Laird, Norris, Bond, Yetton, Sturrock, Reski. Subs - Nute, Zebroski, Hoyles (not used - Schofield, Evans)
Bobby Williamson was not in a happy mood after suffering his first defeat as Argyle manager, although he recognised Gary Johnson's sporting gesture. "Fair play to Yeovil - they allowed us to get down their end of the park and get the equaliser," he said, "but we should never have been behind. I would have done the same if the roles had been reversed. It was a typical cup-tie and Yeovil came out on top. A couple of wonder strikes from Johnson won it for them. We worked hard at the defensive side of things and limited them to chances from afar but unfortunately the power has beaten our goalkeeper and we are out. Anything can happen in football. It just needs one piece of magic from somebody to change the course of a match or a mistake from somebody, so I never counted my chickens at all. We knew we had to work very hard in the second half and a little lapse at a throw-in cost us. We usually defend those situations better, but a couple of players didn't defend it properly and we conceded. We let them shoot from distance and we got caught out." Williamson was not convinced Yeovil should have been given the free-kick which led to the winner. "I don't know if Wottsie caught the ball or the player," he said. "The referee has made the decision and that's what wins cup ties. It can hinge on a referee's decision or a wonder strike, and it was a bit of both, I think." Despite the five goals, scoring chances were few and far between and Williamson said: "Defences were on top and the midfield players were working hard to make sure the strikers never really got much room. That's what you expect in cup ties. People will try and look at this as a giant-killing act and, sure, they are a couple of divisions below us. But in a one-off game anybody can beat anybody. It's what a team does over the season that determines what division they play in. Our team managed to win a couple of promotions and Yeovil have won a promotion. And I hope they continue to move forward. On the evidence of tonight they are a good team. They worked hard for each other and they got the breaks. That's what you need in cup ties. I wish them all the best, although I'm disappointed for our fans who turned up in good numbers and got soaked." Williamson added: "To be honest, we never troubled them as much as I would have liked. We didn't have a lot of shots on target, but neither did Yeovil. It was one of those games. Sometimes you get a wee break in front of goal, and we never got the breaks. We were never going to go through a season undefeated. We'll need to see how the players react. They have reacted well in the past and I'm sure they will react well in the future. Every match is a test and I'm sure Watford won't disappoint us. It will be a tough match for us. We've got to gather ourselves and have a look over the next couple of days, see how the mindset is and the fitness is, and pick a team accordingly to win that match. We'll learn our lessons and move on."
Argyle lose 3-2 to Yeovil Town in the Carling Cup after extra time, the goals coming from Stevie Crawford after 30 minutes and a Paul Wotton penalty (42). Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Lasley, Adams, Hodges, Capaldi, Crawford, Keith. Subs - Friio, Milne, Kouo-Doumbe (not used - Makel, Lowndes). Attendance - 6,217.. The first two goals in the game were 'swapped' midway through the first half. First, Yeovil's Lee Johnson inadvertently scored after Argyle had kicked the ball out of play to allow Graham Coughlan to receive treatment for a head injury. Yeovil took the throw in, and Johnson lobbed the ball towards Luke McCormick. The ball was overhit, however, and McCormick could not prevent it going across the line. Referee Clive Penton had no option but to award the goal and so Yeovil manager Gary Johnson ordered his side to allow Argyle to score. Stevie Crawford then received the ball from the re-start and the entire Yeovil side stood back as he ran the length of the field and walked the ball into the net
Argyle have been linked with Algerian midfielder Karim Kerkar. Kerkar is currently on a short-term deal at Clyde after leaving Qatar earlier in the summer and has attracted the interest of a host of clubs. Bobby Williamson has admitted he is very keen on Kerkar after being tipped off about him. "I was alerted to him from people I respect in Scotland," said Williamson. "I have received two good reports on him and, having played over 150 games in France for Le Havre, he is obviously a great talent."
David Norris could make his comeback in the re-arranged reserve game at Cardiff City tomorrow having returned to training yesterday
Paul Wotton has vowed Argyle will not make the mistake of under-estimating Yeovil tonight: "We are fully expecting a very tough game from Yeovil," he said. "They have got a very shrewd manager, they play great football and they have got some good players. He has made some good signings during the summer and I fully expect them to be challenging for promotion. We will go up there and treat them with the same respect as we did with Sunderland on Saturday, it's no different to us. It's a game of football that we want to win. We will work hard and, hopefully, the rest will take care of itself. It's about time we had a decent run in one of the cups, although in previous seasons it hasn't been through a lack of trying." Wotton believes the team spirit at Home Park has been one of the key factors behind Argyle's good start. "We are not a team of superstars," he said. "We make no bones about it. We haven't got one player who is outshining everybody else. We are a team unit, simple as that. If one of the cogs lets the others down then we are going to suffer, and you don't want the responsibility of letting your team-mates down. That's what we are all about. The management drum it into us every day. We have got good self belief. We are pleased with the way things have gone, but it's ridiculously early in the season. There's a long, long way to go. We may have surprised a few people but we haven't surprised ourselves. Teams aren't going to come down to Home Park and enjoy playing against us, which is good. We are chuffed with our start but we know there's a lot of hard work ahead of us, but one thing about this squad of players is that we will not shirk away from hard work." Wotton was disappointed that Argyle conceded their first goal of the season against Sunderland and said: "I was marking Stewart for corners and he got in between me and David. It was a good header and a good ball in, but we should have dealt with it better. It's disappointing, but we have got a fantastic record. We are well organised at the back and that's a credit to the management. We work incredibly hard on it in training and I think it's showing."
Bobby Williamson is not worried about Argyle's recent poor record in the League Cup: "It doesn't concern me one little bit," he said. "What has happened in the past has happened and I can't affect that. It's what happens in the future that concerns me and we are going into this tie with a lot of confidence, but without being over-confident." Williamson has had Yeovil watched a couple of times and also saw them in action himself in a friendly against Cardiff. "It doesn't matter what division they're in, it's a cup tie," he said. "We are well warned and we know their capabilities. I know Gary Johnson has been at one or two of our games so he'll know what we can do, and it's up to the players to do themselves justice and get the breaks on the night to get us through. They got a good result away to Notts County on Saturday and we certainly will not be underestimating them. I will give the players as much information as I feel is necessary for them to know what they are up against. It's up to them after that. I will pick a team that I feel will get us a result. I'm not planning on making changes for changes sake because some of the players haven't had games. That's not the remit. It's about winning games. If I make five or six changes people might think I'm not taking the competition seriously enough. I'm certainly not going to do that because our fans have got to pay a lot of money to travel all over England to see us perform. As I said, I will pick a team that I think is going to win the game, on what I have seen in training and who I feel is going to give us their best on the night. We want to go as far as we can in every competition. We have got a tough tie and hopefully, we can get through that. The league is our bread and butter, but it would be great for the fans to get a decent cup run, although we can look no further than Yeovil at the moment."
Stevie Crawford has praised the part played by Mickey Evans in the build-up to his first goal for Argyle. "I think Mickey Evans was outstanding," said Crawford. "He has got a great flick on and I just tried to make sure I got my body in front of Arca. Once I have done that, you never know, he could bring you down. Then it was a case of trying to hit the target across the keeper and, luckily, it ended up in the net. It's great to get off the mark and it's great that we got a result against quality opposition like Sunderland. I don't think you could take it away from us at half-time that we went in 2-0 up. Sunderland showed their quality in the second half but we showed other qualities we have. We all dug in and worked hard for one another. We got our reward with the three points at the end of the day. Sunderland are a quality side and they will cause teams problems. They got a goal towards the end of the game and against other teams they might have gone on and got more. But, with a little bit of luck and hard work we have managed to keep them to the one goal in the second half." Crawford admitted it was important that Argyle did not get carried away by their flying start to the season. "It's a case of not getting over-confident," he said. "We have got to keep our feet on the ground. The management will make sure we do that anyway. We are just enjoying every minute playing teams of the quality that we are at the moment. There will be times this season when the luck goes against us but that's when I think we have got the qualities to dig in." Crawford gave an insight into the team spirit behind Argyle's successful start to the season. "There were maybe five or six boys who were disappointed on Saturday that they weren't involved, but every one of them was shaking your hand before the game and wishing you all the best. That can only hold the club well for the rest of the season."
Argyle's opening goal on Saturday was a thunderous strike from Paul Wotton he said: "I was always going to shoot early in a game like that from anywhere around the pitch to test the keeper. If you shoot from there and hit the target and the keeper holds it, fair play, but he's only got to parry it for us to have a chance. As it happened, our movement in the box was great and created confusion. I have just whipped it and as soon as it left my foot I knew it was a great strike and it went through the keeper's hands but, to be fair, he has got players in front of him and he couldn't see it. He never sniffed it. I was chuffed to see it go in. They only had two players in their wall. I don't think they expected me to shoot from there."
After yesterdays game Bobby Williamson said that there is no secret to Argyles good start to the season. "There are no secrets in football," he said. "A lot of people look at it and say 'They must be doing something different', but we're all trying to do the same thing. This lot have got something about them, though. You don't win two championships in three seasons without having something about you. We've added to the squad, strengthened us, and that's maybe made those lads work that little bit harder. I spoke to a few about interest from other clubs, but they said they wanted to stay here and fight for their positions and I'm glad they showed that attitude. We saw an exciting match. We went a couple of goals up but I certainly knew we'd see a different Sunderland side in the second half and that proved to be the case. Mick McCarthy got them fired up, changed the system and played with an extra forward, but we stayed strong, rode our luck a couple of times. We never managed to add to our two in the first half, which would have relieved the pressure, but that's football. We had a great start. It was a great strike by Paul Wotton, but the movement in the box was enough to distract the goalkeeper. I think he might have had one eye on a player that went across him. It is only four games. We have got another 42 to go. They are all going to be hard-fought matches, but, if we can stay strong and show that willingness to work hard for each other, we shouldn't be too far away. But there is a long way to go and we can't get too carried away or too complacent." Williamson also said that the victory was a real team effort, including many people who never set foot on the pitch: "I'm really happy for everybody connected to the club, from the board-room down to the office staff who work so hard on a daily basis. This club is getting bigger and these people are having to work harder. It's credit to them. The players recognize that and they run until they drop on a Saturday because they know everybody behind the scenes works until they drop on a daily basis. The fans were very vocal. They got behind us and that encouraged us to bigger and better things."
Argyle beat Sunderland 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Paul Wotton after 2 minutes and Stevie Crawford (40). Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Lasley, Adams, Hodges, Capaldi, Crawford, Evans. Subs - Friio, Keith, Makel (not used - Kouo-Doumbe, Milne). Attendance - 16,874. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Bobby Williamson thinks that by Saturday evening he will have a good idea of what his players are capable of achieving this season. "The opening three games have been a test for us as a team, as a squad," he said, "and we have come through it relatively unscathed. We dropped a couple of points against Millwall but I think, on the day, both sets of players and managers were happy with that. Probably the supporters, too. If we can come through this next big test, I don't think we should fear anybody in this division because I felt, last year, Sunderland, if they had a bit more luck, would have got into the Premiership. They looked good but the breaks went against them and they suffered. They would like to put that disappointment behind them and go that step further this time. We have only played three games in this league so it's early days, but the indications are it's going to be very tight. It's our second home game and we would like to build on our first home game, to go a step further, which means we score a goal, win the match and collect the three points. However, we are under no illusion that this is going to be a difficult match. I think it is a big test for us and hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves."
Peter Gilbert, Stevie Crawford and Tony Capaldi returned from international duty yesterday with no injuries and, with Paul Wotton and Lee Hodges recovered from knocks, any changes Bobby Willimason makes against Sunderland will be tactical. "I will have a look at it and make a decision on a team that I think can get us a result," Williamson said, "but there will not be changes for changes' sake. I'm not prepared to change a team if the players are doing well. I've got be honest and up front with everybody at the club, especially the players. As I've said, if they do the business for us, they have got to stay in the team. The guys that aren't in the team at this moment in time have got to accept that. They've got a cause for concern if we're not winning games and they are not getting selected. It's not like that at the moment, though. I rate everybody at the club."
Peter Gilbert has promised there will be no divided loyalties when Argyle play Sunderland tomorrow. "Sunderland are my hometown club and I have supported them ever since I was a boy," said Gilbert. "I'm Sunderland born and bred and I'm really looking forward to it, but there will be no divided loyalties. I have got family and friends coming down to see the game so, hopefully, I will be involved. It should be superb. I was with Sunderland when I was nine or 10-years-old but then I left for Newcastle. Living in Sunderland and playing for Newcastle was a funny combination."
Paul Wotton and Lee Hodges both resumed training today after suffering knocks against Cardiff last Friday. Both players missed training on Monday and Tuesday but returned on Thursday and are expected to be fit for Saturday. But Bobby Williamson warned: "It will depend on their reaction, if any, from the training. They came through it OK but it's the following day that will reveal any complications or problems. Hopefully they will come in feeling fine. I do expect them to be available for Saturday."
Peter Gilbert is hoping to become a regular for Wales under-21s after a successful debut yesterday. He said: "We played well, created some good chances and should have won it really, but at least we kept a clean sheet. I really enjoyed the whole experience. Hopefully, I will get picked again and I can try to build on this. The pitch was average and it was really hot. It's not an easy place to come to and they were not a bad side, so we have got to be pleased with a draw. I was happy with the way I played and I came through injury-free. I had no problems at all." Wales start their UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign against Azerbaijan on September 3rd and their third game will be against England on October 8th. Gilbert said: "I just want to be involved in as many games as I can, but it would be nice to play against England."
Stevie Crawford won his twenty-first cap tonight as a substitute in Scotlands 3-0 loss to Hungary, whilst Tony Capaldi started and won his sixth cap as Northern Ireland drew 0-0 in Switzerland. Peter Gilbert won his first Welsh under-21 cap in the 0-0 draw with Latvia
Argyle announced yesterday that they are looking for a new chief executive and also a commercial director. Both positions are vacant after the departures of John McNulty and John Britton. Peter Jones said: "The club has grown enormously over the last three years, and the move from the old Second Division to the Championship has brought about a massive exponential growth, not just in people wanting to buy tickets but also in commercial involvement. We have to make sure we satisfy that demand, and we also have to grasp the opportunity to grow and maximise our potential. It is no reflection on our staff, who are doing a wonderful job, but we now need them to have a bit more direction and also a bit of support from people who have done this sort of thing before in other arenas. The board of directors are there to set policy and strategy, but we now need top professionals to run the non-playing side of the club."
Stevie Crawford has been encouraged by Argyles recent performances and he will take that confidence into Scotlands game against Hungary - should he get into the action. He said: "It's great when you meet up at these things and the club you play for are doing well. I'm enjoying the experience at Argyle. It has only been a short time at the moment but I have come up here with a smile on my face. Hopefully, it will go well for us tonight and then I will come back and look forward to playing Sunderland on Saturday." Crawford looks set to start on the bench tonight, he said: "I'm sure Berti will have a few things he wants to look at tonight. Hopefully, it will be a worthwhile exercise and it's something for us to build on for the World Cup qualifiers."
Argyle won last nights friendly at Bodmin Town 4-0, the goals scored by Luke Summerfield, Nathan Lowndes and Stephen Milne (2). Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Routledge, Kouo-Doumbe, Nute, Friio, Summerfield, Makel, Milne, Lowndes, Sturrock. Subs - Drew, Hoyles, Bond
Graham Coughlan is not expecting a call-up from the Republic of Ireland. He said: "Obviously, it's nice to be talked about in this way. The manager has had some very kind words to say, which everybody likes to hear. But I would certainly think that would be beyond me. Brian Kerr has got some very good players there in the squad already, of Premiership calibre. But, of course, it would be a dream come true to get some sort of recognition. I'm not too confident of getting a call-up but I certainly would be up for the challenge should it present itself."
Hasney Aljofree is set to return from injury by the start of September. Paul Maxwell said: "He has been doing his first stages of rehab, and at a decent pace. We are building up his longer distance stuff and next week he will go into short work. He's getting a few little niggles but that's to be expected. Hopefully, he should be back in two weeks' time." David Norris is also on the mend and Maxwell said: "We are probably going to take him steady through this week and get him strong and build him back up." Aljofree's return to action cannot come soon enough for Bobby Williamson. "He's coming along nicely, but we are not rushing anybody back from injury," said Williamson. "Sometimes if you try to do that you set them back, so we are taking it easy with him."
Stevie Crawford is savouring the start to his Argyle career. "It's a good feeling because of the way we began the season against Millwall and then a hard victory against Brighton the other night," he said.. "On Friday we were up against it in the second half, but it just shows the team spirit we have here that we managed to grind out a result." Another key man in Friday's win was midfielder Lee Hodges. "I don't think we could have wished for a better start," he said. "All the boys out there who have been in the team, from the first game to now, have put everything into every game. The boys who haven't been playing are all part of it as well. What a great first week. When you come to a place like Cardiff, you don't expect to be on top for 90 minutes. We were on top first half and I thought we deserved that goal. In the second half it was backs to the wall, but we gave our all and we deserved to win. Seven points from three games is a fantastic start - but we'll be back on the training ground on Monday getting ready for Saturday's game."
Stewart Yetton has gone on trial at St Mirren with a view to a loan move. Bobby Williamson is anxious to get Yetton out on loan and he will play in a reserves game for the Saints this week. Williamson said: "Stewart has gone up to St Mirren. I know the St Mirren manager from my time as a player and manager at Kilmarnock. Stewart is due to play in a game on Tuesday and then we'll take it from there. We are looking to fix up a loan move for him so he gets first-team football."
Graham Coughlan has warned there will be 'dark days' ahead, despite Argyle's start to the season. He said: "Things have gone well so far but there will be dark days ahead of us. We aren't going to get carried away with league positions and clean sheets and winning at Cardiff on TV. We know we are only ever one defeat away from a crisis. We will hang in there and we will fight. One thing the fans know is they will get 110 per cent from us every week. We have gone to two very difficult places, kept two clean sheets and we have picked up six points - and seven in the week. It's all going well for us at the minute, but we rode our luck at stages on Friday. There are times when it goes for you and there are times when it doesn't. There will be days when we don't get the break of the ball. We know that. But we will take our little slice of luck when it's going." Coughlan admitted Argyle's excellent start meant opposing sides would be less likely to under-estimate them. He said: "Teams might have thought 'Plymouth Argyle have just got promoted and they will be easy touches' but we have proved that will not be the case. Teams will maybe give us that respect and be a little bit more cautious towards us when they play us. I think we have proved we are good enough and we are capable of holding our own in this division. We look forward to the next couple of games and seeing where we are sitting at the end of August."
Graham Coughlan is ready for international football, according to Bobby Williamson. "I think Brian Kerr should have a serious look at Graham Coughlan," said Williamson. "I think he's another player we've got on the books who could make that step up. I've been very impressed with him since I've been at the club. He's certainly a good professional. He'll give attackers a hard time of it." Williamson discounted Coughlan's age as a barrier to an international call-up. "I think that's when players are coming to their prime," he said. "I don't know who their centre-backs are but I don't think these countries are spoilt for choice. The more people they've got to select from, the better. I'm not too sure about throwing names about and picking other managers' teams for them but he's certainly one player I would vouch for if Brian Kerr ever needs a centre-half. Graham Coughlan certainly wouldn't let him down. He must be aware of him, but he should have a look at him."
Argyles reserve team fixture at Cardiff City on Wednesday afternoon has been postponed due to international call-ups. No new date has been arranged for the game but Argyle have arranged a friendly game with Bodmin Town at Priory Park, Bodmin for tomorrow, Tuesday with a 7.30pm kick-off
Tickets for Argyle's game at Watford go on sale on Wednesday. Green Members wiill have until August 20th to buy their tickets and White and Pilgrim Members will then be able to purchase them over the weekend before they go on general sale on August 23rd. The club have received 1,500 tickets for the clash (but Watford will send more if required) and they cost £17 for adults and £12 for senior citizens and Under-16s
David Friio could be an Argyle player next season - despite previously stating this would be his final season in English football. "I will say that again. Now we are in a different league, it's great to go bigger clubs, bigger stadiums and being watched by bigger crowds," he said. "It depends on the season. I spoke to my wife, who is the most important person. As long as we are happy in England, you never know. At the moment, I will enjoy this season because I have no pressure. I'm not fighting for a contract. I fought for a contract when I was 26, but now I am really relaxed. Last season I wasn't playing for a contract and I scored 15 goals. There was no pressure then, and there is no pressure now. If I am enjoying myself, the lads are happy and I am happy, we shall see."
Graham Coughlan shrugged off the penalty controversy over his 59th-minute tackle on Robert Earnshaw yesterday. "I have touched the ball and he has touched the ball," said Coughlan. "I think what went in my favour was the ball stopped dead, which should justify what I'm saying. I think if the ball had gone the way the centre-forward Earnshaw wanted it, the referee might have given it, but for me it wasn't a penalty." The incident was replayed endlessly during Sky's live coverage of the game. Coughlan added: "It's okay sitting in the box and looking at it five or six times. We can all be good referees, good defenders and good judges that way. I thought the referee made a very good decision and, to be honest, the boy Earnshaw did admit it would have been a harsh penalty. As I say, the ball didn't run in his favour. If it had of done, maybe the referee would have given it. But I felt I got enough on it. The two feet came together and the ball stopped dead so I felt it was a good tackle." Coughlan thought that Argyle's last-ditch defending summed up one of the main reasons behind their success over the past three seasons. "That's what we are all about," he said. "From day one, since I have come to the football club, we have done that. We have been doing that for years, and the fans will know that, but obviously it will be highlighted tonight because it's on the TV. And long may it continue." Coughlan is planning to make the most of his weekend after playing three games in seven days. He said: "Times like these don't come around that often - three clean sheets and two wins, with one of them on the TV. We have got a week off before we go again, with another four games in 10 days. The gaffer has given the boys licence to go and enjoy themselves this weekend, and I think I will take him up on that."
Stevie Crawford tried to claim last nights winner at Cardiff, but TV replays showed his header was not on target until it hit Lee Bullock. Crawford said: "Wottsie has put in a great ball and I think the boy marking me thought he could win it. I have just peeled off at the back and headed it. I don't know if it was going on target but the boys are teasing me in the dressing room, saying they have put it down as an own goal. I will take it until somebody takes it off me, but it was more a case of making sure I put it across the goal and trying to get it on target rather than missing at the near post. Cardiff threw everything at us in the second half, but we had a wee bit of luck on the night and it has added to a great start to the seaason."
Bobby Williamson celebrated his birthday by taking Argyle to the top of the Championship. "I don't want to quell our expectations or our dreams," he said. "That's why we're football fans; that's why we're football people. Some speak publicly about them, and I'm certainly not one of them. But I'm a realist. There are 43 games to go and that's a fact. We've got to acquit ourselves in the same manner which we did today if we've got any chance of doing anything. We got a break for the goal and we could have added to it but in the second half there was a sort of onslaught. It was a different Cardiff side that came out for the second half, yet there were no personnel changes. We defended stoutly, rode our luck at times, and we could have sneaked a goal that would have calmed things down a bit, but unfortunately, we never hit the target. These guys don't like losing. These guys have won championships, albeit in lower divisions, and they have still got that mentality. If we can develop the ability, who knows how far we can go? They have great work ethic and a great togetherness, and with the fans, everyone's pulling in the one direction, which is great for Argyle. We're absolutely delighted we've come through it unscathed and we never conceded." Argyle's winner came from a Lee Bullock own goal and Williamson said: "We deserved a break, and it was a break. It was a very fortunate goal for us but you take them because sometimes they end up in the back of your net. It's difficult to talk in positives and negatives immediately after the game. The most important factor is that we won the match and sent our fans home happy, so I'm pleased about that and I'll be analysing it in a wee bit more depth once I've calmed down - I feel as if I was out on the park, playing myself." David Friio came on as a late substitute with Williamson staying faithful to the pairing of Steve Adams and Lee Hodges. He said: "I've said to the guys from day one, if they get stripped and they do well, there's a good chance they will retain the shirt and I didn't think any of my midfielders played badly over the last few games, so David's had to be patient. He came on and played his part. I will have a look at it over the next week and decide on a team from there. David is part of the squad, the same as Lee Makel, who was unfortunate not to make the bench. We have got quality in depth, I feel, and everybody is fighting for a position, which can only be healthy."
Argyle beat Cardiff City 1-0 at Ninian Park, the goal coming from a Lee Bullock own goal after 24 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert, Lasley, Adams, Hodges, Capaldi, Evans, Crawford. Subs - Keith, Friio, Lowndes (not used - Milne, Kouo-Doumbe). Attendance - 12,697.. Bobby Williamson was full of praise for his team after Argyle went top of the Championship. "The boys at the back have done well, but those in front of them worked hard to stop things happening, it was very much a team effort," he said. "Cardiff gave a better account of themselves in the second half, it was like playing two different teams. But we had that wee bit more in us to get the three points."
Bobby Williamson has taken 20 players to Cardiff to make sure they all felt part of the squad, with only the injured David Norris and Hasney Aljofree remaining behind. "We have got a very good unit here and I want to keep them all involved as much as possible," he said. Argyle will be playing their third game in seven days and Williamson was unsure whether fatigue would be a possible factor. "We will see, we don't know how the game is going to go yet," he said. "Sometimes if you concede an early goal you do look tired. But I'm hoping that's not going to be the case and it will be us that might get an early goal and Cardiff could suffer. We have got a fit of bunch of players and they will keep it going for as long as they can do because they are very honest."
Paul Wotton is relishing the challenge of playing at Ninian Park tonight, and the chance of going to the top of the Championship. "That would be nice, but first and foremost it's a very difficult game," he said. "It's a difficult place to go, but it's an enjoyable place to go too. I always enjoy playing at Ninian Park. It's a hostile atmosphere and it's nice to try and keep them quiet by getting a result. Every game in this division is a test. Earnshaw is bright but we know all about him. We'll have to be on top of our game to keep a clean sheet again, but if we do so we know we've got the boys up front who can nick a goal." Wotton and Graham Coughlan have been in great form so far and have kept Mathias Kouo-Doumbe waiting for his Argyle debut. "Competition for places keeps you on top of your game, but it's not just about the centre-halves," Wotton added. "We've got Paul Connolly biting Dave Worrell's ankles, we've got Lee Makel and David Friio back from suspension now, we've got centre-forwards waiting for their chance. If you've got your shirt it's up to you to keep it, which is the way football should be."
Bobby Williamson will not be celebrating tonight if Argyle end the evening on top of the Championship. "I don't see that as a prize," Williamson said. "Prizes aren't given out at this time of the year, not after three games. It's after 46 games that the prizes come out, so there's no added bonus to it apart from us keeping our undefeated run going. That's all we're aiming for." Williamson will pay no attention to the cameras until he is in front of them after the game, however. "I might go for a haircut," he joked. "They certainly won't affect me. It doesn't matter how many people are watching the game. You get caught up in a match and you do your job whether there's 200 or 2,000 watching. I hope it doesn't affect the players. I hope they just go out and play the game the way they have been. If they can do that and stay focused, then hopefully we can get a favourable result." Argyle will not be suffering from an inferiority complex tonight. "We're expecting Cardiff to be full of confidence, but we've got a bit of confidence behind us now as well," Williamson said. "They have got talented players, or they wouldn't be where they are. They've spent a bit of money. Lennie Lawrence is a good manager and he's got a good squad of players. Hopefully we're in for an entertaining match." Argyle's squad will be stronger tonight than it was at Brighton with both David Friio and Lee Makel available after suspension but David Norris did not travel to Wales with the Argyle party last night. "David hasn't made it," Williamson explained. "He had a fitness test today and is still feeling the effects of his thigh injury, so he'll not travel. It's just a gradual build-up in fitness for him and, unfortunately, this game has come too soon. He has got another eight or nine days before Sunderland pay us a visit. It would be great if we could get him involved in the reserve game next week, but depending on how tonight goes he might not be required for the following Saturday if the lads do well. They are the ones in pole position."
Stevie Crawford has been named in the Scotland squad to face Hungary on August 18th and looks set to win his 21st cap. Also, Argyle youth player Jamie Laird has been called up by Scotlands under-16 squad. Jamie is the younger brother of Argyle apprentice Scott Laird
Graham Coughlans autobiography - To Be A Pilgrim - is released this Saturday, August 14th. Coughlan will be attending the official launch of the book at WHSmith, in New George Street, Plymouth, where he will be signing copies of the book between noon and 2pm. Meanwhile, Argyle players will be signing copies of the club's two publications celebrating last season's Second Division championship success in Plymouth City Centre on Saturday. The players will be in Derry's Department Store between noon and 5pm to sign copies of the club's official diary of last season 'You Can't Buy Days Like This', and the action-packed glossy magazine, '90 out of 100', which is a unique photographic record of the campaign
Lee Hodges has been passed fit after suffering a shin injury in the win at Brighton. Bobby Williamson said: "Lee is fine. He got caught with a late tackle, which could have been a serious one. Conditions were difficult, to be fair. Both lads were sliding for the ball and I don't think intent was there, but their guy did catch him. Thankfully, he's okay. He has got a few stud marks on his shin but he played on for most of the match and he has declared himself fit."
Peter Gilbert is excited by the prospect of his first international adventure, he will meet up with his new international team-mates on Sunday, but also by playing live on TV tonight. "It's a perfect game to be involved in, especially with me being a young lad as well," he said. "A lot has happened in a short space of time and it has been superb. I really couldn't have wished for anything more. It's a massive game tonight and an opportunity for the lads to show what they can do against one of the best teams in the league. Cardiff will definitely be challenging at the end of the season and as long as we give a good account of ourselves on TV then you can't really ask much more than that." Argyle followed up their 0-0 draw with Millwall with a victory away to Brighton. "It was important to get a good win early on and we will look to build on it," said Gilbert. "We have also kept two clean sheets, which is very encouraging. Millwall reached the FA Cup final last season and were strong in the league, and it's always difficult when you go away from home. It was Brighton's first home game and I think we were expecting them to come at us more. It was a good night all round, with our first win, our first goals and another clean sheet." Gilbert was born in Sunderland but has received his international call-up because he had a Welsh grandmother. He said: "We are meeting up on Sunday afternoon, so I'm looking forward to that. It should be a nice weekend for me. There is the game tonight and then I can meet up with the Welsh boys and the staff on Sunday. It's another challenge for me and I'm pleased I have been given the opportunity. I will try to take it with both hands. Hopefully, I can get in the next squad, and then the one after that, and gradually build from there. I just want to get my foot in the door, that's all I'm really looking for at the moment. We are flying out on Monday morning and the game is on Wednesday afternoon. The senior game is in the evening, so it will be nice playing and then going to watch those boys. It will be good to see what it's like. This is new experience for me and I'm really looking forward to it."
Lee Makel is determined to grab hold of a first team spot now his suspension has ended. Makel scored once for Argyle in their friendly win at Saltash United last night. "I have not come down here to play for the reserves," he said. "I'll be trying to get into the team and to keep hold of the shirt. It was important to get some sort of a game under my belt so the 65 minutes tonight was a good run-out. I need more games, as does everyone, but I enjoyed myself. I'm pretty pleased about the way I played. It is the first time I have played with David and I enjoyed it. We are both similar sorts of players who are good in the box and can score goals and like to link with the forwards. But I don't want to blow my own trumpet. The fans can see for themselves." David Friio also looked good last night - and is ready should Williamson require him against Cardiff. "I have targeted this Cardiff game from the start," he said. "We have played well in the two games so it is in Bobby's hands. I will be ready if I'm called up. I'm happy with my fitness. Three games in a week is hard for everybody so I have to be ready to play. I enjoyed the partnership with Lee Makel tonight. He is a great player with good experience and we were always looking for each other - but we even do that in training. It is a shame he was suspended for the start of the season but I think he and Keith Lasley will improve us a lot this season. We just need to give them a bit of time." Competition for places is sure to be fierce against Cardiff. Bobby Williamson confirmed that Lee Hodges, who limped off at Brighton, will be fit, while David Norris' fitness will be looked at during training today. Paul Connolly also came through unscathed against Saltash
Argyle won 9-0 in last nights friendly at Saltash United. Bobby Williamson saw the team go 1-0 up thanks to Lee Makel in the 26th minute before second half goals from Blair Sturrock (4), Stuart Yetton (3) and Luke Summerfield. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Routledge, Nute, Rose, Makel, Friio, Robotham, Yetton, Sturrock. Subs - Schofield, Reski, Summerfield, Evans, Drew, Bond, Zebroski
Bobby Williamson warned there would be harder tests to come after Argyle's easy 2-0 win at Brighton. He said: "We don't look at league tables at this stage of the season. It's important we stay undefeated and we will take stock later on. I don't think we had a bad player tonight, I really don't. Everybody worked their socks off. They are a very good unit. Everybody knows what's asked of them and they all know what to do with each other in relationship to the ball. We have got a good side here. We will come up against better teams but, hopefully, we will be organised enough to stifle them and trouble them." Williamson was pleased with the positive way Argyle began the game. "I felt we started the better, and we certainly had better chances than Brighton did in the first half," he said. "I don't know how clear-cut the penalty was, but the referee seemed to have a good angle on it and he has called it. Unfortunately, for the chap it was his second bookable offence and he had to go. The penalty gave us that bit of comfort because at 1-0 you are never too sure." Marino Keith took over from Mickey Evans as the strike partner to Stevie Crawford. "Mickey has not been renowned for giving us two performances in the same week, so we rested him," said Williamson
Steve Adams had no doubts about who scored Argyle's opening goal against Brighton last night: "It was mine," he insisted. "I'm claiming that, definitely," said Adams. "I think Marino pulled it back across and their lad had a touch. He tried clearing it and I have blocked it. It has spun up in the air and over the line, and then back out. It was definitely my goal." Adams has taken his chance to impress in midfield with David Friio and Lee Makel both suspended. "The lads showed good character tonight," he said. "We started off well and put them under pressure. It was a good performance from the boys and we dug in well." He added: "I have got to get a few more goals and, hopefully, I can add that to my game." Argyle's second goal came from a Paul Wotton's penalty, after Marino Keith had been sent tumbling by Daniel Harding. Keith said: "I remember the ball broke to Las and the full-back committed himself and it gave me a good chance to get down the inside. Las played a good ball and the guy has taken me out. I don't think there could be any complaints. It was a stonewaller. It was a great penalty from Wottsie. There was no chance the keeper was going to save that. It was a crucial time in the game as well, just before half-time." Keith had a good view of Argyle's first goal and thought Adams was justified in putting his name forward for it. "Myself and Stevie Crawford were up in line with the play and it definitely went in and spun back out," he said. "I was nowhere near it, unfortunately, or I would have claimed it!" Bobby Williamson added: "Stevie Adams is claiming it took a deflection off him, rather than a Brighton player, and I don't think a Brighton player would like to claim it. I have seen the goal again on television and it looks to me as though it should be Stevie's goal. We are trying to make sure his name goes down in the records as scoring the goal."
Argyle won 2-0 at Brighton and Hove Albion, the goals coming from a Danny Cullip own goal after 10 minutes and a Paul Wotton penalty (44). Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert, Lasley, Adams, Hodges, Capaldi, Keith, Crawford. Subs - Lowndes, Milne (not used: Larrieu, Evans, Kouo-Doumbe). Attendance – 6,387.. After the win Bobby Williamson said: "I'm very pleased. The lads put in a lot of effort tonight, Brighton are a hard team as well so I'm very pleased with three points. It's a very good start to the season, a point at home and picking up a few points away from home with good travelling support - they've given us great encouragement and we have sent them home happy. We started the brighter and we had the better chances in the first-half, in fact I don't think Brighton had many chances in the first-half. Obviously the sending off and us scoring from the resultant penalty kick made it difficult for them in the second-half, but to be fair they had a go, they pulled in a couple up front and you have to give them credit for that. It's nice to see your midfielders and strikers in amongst the goals but I'm not too fussed where they come from as long as they go in the oppositions net and one of our players is claiming the first one anyway".
Graham Coughlan is eager to see Argyle deliver a better performance tonight than they did last season at Brighton. "It's a nasty little place to go to," he said. "It is tough there. We know their players, they'll know us from last season, but it's a new league, a different ball game now. If we can take our chances, we should come out on top. I don't think there will be an abundance of chances for us or anyone in this division. But hopefully at Brighton we can get one or two of the players back that we were without on Saturday. It would be unfair to name them, but we missed their legs and their energy. Maybe we can freshen things up." Coughlan was pleased to get started on Saturday: "We were aiming to get up to the standard of this league, and I think we did that," he said. "It was a good grounding for us and a good education, a really good work-out. We know what we're up against now. We know the division, we know what the teams are like. We'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks." After subduing Millwall striker Daniele Dichio on Saturday, Coughlan will be ready for the threat of Brightons Molango. "Most of the teams will go for a big front man, a big target man with pace as well," he said. "We know what we'll be getting. The defensive work we've been doing over the last three years will stand us in good stead. It's good to be able to go in and compete against players like these. We'll give what we can and hopefully come out on top. We'll be up for it at Brighton, we're looking forward to it. It's a massive week for us. We've come out unscathed so far - and now we've got two more big games to go."
Argyle left Devon yesterday with Bobby Williamson insisting that they are not daunted by their punishing away-match schedule. "We're looking forward to it, even though there is plenty of travelling to be done," Williamson said. "By all accounts Brighton is a difficult place to get to and we won't have many supporters there. But, for the ones that can be there, we'll try and give them a performance."
Paul Connolly is unlikely to be ready to challenge David Worrell for the right-back position at Brighton. "Connolly has had a lot taken out of him with his virus," Bobby Williamson said. "He missed a lot of training last week, so tomorrow may be too soon for him." With Hasney Aljofree injured and David Friio and Lee Makel both completing bans, Williamson is not able to make many alterations to Saturday's starting line-up. "There will not be many changes," he said. "We'll see how the guys are after training. The two strikers, Evans and Crawford, ran themselves into the ground on Saturday. It was very warm. We changed it accordingly and brought on fresh legs, but we didn't trouble them as much as I would have liked".
Luke McCormick has admitted Argyle have a point to prove when they take on Brighton tonight. "We are looking forward to tonight," he said. "We can go there in good spirits. I think we owe them one after our poor performance there last season. We will be looking to put that right because we didn't do ourselves any justice. The TV cameras were there, but that was no excuse really. I think it's a good opportunity to get three points."
Tickets for Argyle's Carling Cup first round tie at Yeovil Town on August 24th will go on sale to Green members tomorrow. 1,500 tickets are available
Argyle have arranged a friendly match at Saltash United tomorrow night, August 11th, kick-off 7.30pm. The Argyle XI is likely to include Paul Connolly, David Friio and Lee Makel. All three players would then be in contention for places in Friday's team at Cardiff, providing they come through the match unscathed. "I'm hoping that's the case," said Bobby Williamson. "The more options I have got the better. the competition for places is fierce and the people who have started the season have got to play their best to remain in the team."
Gary Sawyer and Marcus Martin have both joined Exeter City on season-long loan deals. Meanwhile Bobby Williamson is still looking to loan out Stewart Yetton. He said: "I'm still looking to loan Stewart out because I want him to get first team football and rate him very highly. Darlington were interested and that door has not completely closed, but in the meantime if someone else comes in for Stewart to take him on loan then we will pursue that."
Bobby Williamson has confirmed that he would consider loaning out Romain Larrieu but ruled out the option of switching goalkeepers on regular basis. "Continuity of selection keeps everybody busy and I don't think alternating goalkeepers at club level is ideal," he said. "Luke's in pole position at the moment because he's got the jersey, but I've not got any favourites. I've not got a number one. I've got two very, very good goalkeepers. It's up to Luke to let himself down to be replaced and he never showed that on Saturday." However, Williamson refused to rule out a loan move. "That could be an option," he admitted. "If someone's looking for a goalkeeper, that could be something we take on board if Romain thinks that's the best thing for him."
Argyle could again be without David Norris at Brighton. Bobby Williamson said: "We've no fresh injuries, but it might be bit early for Chuck. We'll see how he is and make an assessment then. He gives us natural width. That's his position. Keith Lasley can play there - he's played there on numerous occasions for his last club - and I thought he did okay on Saturday, but Chuck's a class act. He gives us a lot in that area and we certainly missed him on Saturday." Williamson was upbeat despite Saturdays draw: "There were a lot of positives on Saturday," he said. "It was our first 90 minutes in this division and I felt we acquitted ourselves very well. They had better clear-cut chances than we did, but I didn't think there was a lot separating the teams. It was very warm and it did take a lot out of the players. They did look that bit stronger than us at the death. As I said, they had a couple of clear-cut chances, but I don't think that was by playing good football. Maybe a lack of concentration on our behalf let them in. We worked very hard. I do believe our guys know they have got to give it everything they've got for as long as they can." Tuesday's game at Brighton will be quickly followed by a second away game on Friday, at Cardiff. "It would be great if we could manage to pick up points on our travels," said Williamson. "It's never easy in this division, but hopefully we can get a result that would do us justice and keep everybody moving forward. We've got a point on the board we'd like to add to that before the week's out."
Luke McCormick was delighted to be chosen ahead of Romain Larrieu against Millwall, and was equally happy with his clean sheet. He said: "To be honest, I was absolutely delighted when I was told I would be playing. I really didn't know if I was going to be playing or not, and then when I got the nod I was ecstatic. Ro wished me all the best just like he did all last season. It's up to me now to make sure I stay there." Apart from one late save from Stefan Moore, McCormick was not over-extended on Saturday. "I was surprised that I didn't have an awful lot to do. We looked quite solid and kept them at bay."
On Saturday David Worrell played his first league game at Home Park since November last year. "It's been a long time coming," he said, "and I enjoyed it. I worked hard pre-season and hopefully I can stay in the side now. It was very hard work. For 70, 75 minutes of the game I thought we competed really well and there wasn't a lot in the match. But then maybe we tired and we sat off them a little bit and they started bossing us a little bit. But I think a draw was a fair result." Argyle now face two away games in four days: "It could have been easier," Worrell said. "We're starting the season with three very tough games. It was good to get a point on the board in our first game."
Bobby Williamson was unable to select either David Norris or Mathias Kouo-Doumbe against Millwall after both suffered minor injuries to a thigh and knee respectively, but he revealed that Doumbe might not have made the starting line-up in any case. "I felt Wotton did well enough last week to retain his place," said Williamson, "and, if Mat had been fully fit, he might have struggled to get in anyway. I picked a team to get a job done and we did half a job." The manager also revealed that he had chosen Luke McCormick in goal ahead of Romain Larrieu because McCormick was the man in possession last season and that his French colleague had not played in a competitive game since last September. "We have two very capable 'keepers," said Williamson, "but, because Luke got ahead of Romain, he's number one."
Paul Wotton has vowed no team will find it easy when they visit Home Park this season. He said: "I think we showed Millwall what Argyle are about. No-one is going to come down here and run over the top of us. No way. Not on our home pitch. We were in their faces all game and for 75 minutes we slogged our guts out, and then held on a tiny bit at the end. We are pleased. We didn't create a lot but I thought we defended solidly as a team. They didn't really cause us any threat. It's important you don't get beaten in the first game of the season and we are off and running. The gaffer was pleased afterwards. Our commitment was spot on, but that's no less than we expect of each other." Wotton made the team after he impressed in the final pre-season game, the win over Southampton. Wotton said: "I was pleased to be in the team, but I'm sure everyone who played was pleased to be in the team. It's always great to play the first game of the season. You can't beat it. I have had a relatively successful pre-season and today went OK as well so I'm very pleased." Millwalls strikers made little impact on the match as they were closely marked by Wotton and Graham Coughlan. "I thought Graham did really well against Dichio," said Wotton. "I can't remember Dichio winning a header all game and Moore was kept quiet as well. Cocko and I have played together for a long time and it's second nature to us. It went well and no-one is by any means phased by the Championship, which showed today. There was no difference in class whatsoever. It was a typical first game of the season. It was very hot, the pitch was a little bit sticky and both teams didn't want to lose. You could understand why at times the play was a little bit hurried, but we have come out of it with credit. We have done OK. The fans came out in force and cheered us on right to the end. They gave us a good round of applause at the final whistle. I think they realised what we were all about."
Bobby Williamson accentuated the positives after the draw against Millwall. "It's a point," he said. "I did say before the game that there will be teams after a week without a point from three games and I still think that will be the case, so it's something to build on – we go to Brighton on Tuesday and hopefully we can go better and get a win. I think both teams will be pleased with a point. They had a couple of clear-cut chances towards the end, one from a cross and one when the boy was straight through, and thankfully for us, they didn't take them. I think, over the piece, a point was probably a fair result, for the efforts both sets of players have put in. Unfortunately for us, we didn't get enough good service to our strikers. I felt everything played to them was straight balls up the park. I feel we've got to get the ball into wide areas, get defenders working a bit harder, and give our strikers better service. I don't think we were overawed, that's for sure. We're here on merit and we've got to prove we're a good team for this division. We've got 45 games to do that. It's not all done and dusted on one game. Nobody will like to come here. We'll make it as difficult for everybody and work as hard as we can do. We've got an honest bunch of players here and they've got ability also and know the game-plan. We'll be able to compete with anybody here. There's a lot of clubs who've spent a lot of money in this league and it will be difficult to compete with them, but compete we will; and, what we do lack in ability, we'll make up for in endeavour."
Argyle draw 0-0 with Millwall at Home Park. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Lasley, Hodges, Adams, Capaldi, Evans, Crawford. Subs – Milne, Keith (not used - Sturrock, Lowndes, Kouo-Doumbe). Attendance – 16,063.
Mathias Doumbe has admitted he did not need any persuading to sign for Argyle over the summer. "The gaffer wanted me to be part of this team, and it was a good challenge for me," said Doumbe. "He's a good manager and a really good person as well. When he told me he wanted me to play for Plymouth I was really happy and I came straight down." Doumbe is one of three Frenchmen in the Argyle squad and said: "It's good to have them at the club, but I spent three years in Scotland so I can understand the language. I was really impressed with the ambience in the dressing room. They are all very nice people. It was easy for me to integrate into this group and that can only be good for my football." Doumbe enjoyed the pre-season tour to Austria last month, he said: "It's good to go away as a group so everybody comes together. It's a big part of the team-building process. We had fantastic weather every day so we could get a lot of work done in training." Doumbe is excited about the prospect of appearing for Argyle. "I hope it's going to be a great challenge," said Doumbe. "There are a lot of good players in this league. We are trying to prove ourselves at this level, so I think it's a good challenge for everybody - as a team and as individuals." Doumbe had never been to Plymouth before he signed for Argyle and he is enjoying his new home. "From what I have seen, it's a really nice city," said Doumbe. "It's perfect for me, and the weather seems to be there as well. It's near the sea, and I'm from a city and I have never lived near the sea apart from the last three years, so I think I'm going to like it."
Paul Stapleton has given a ringing endorsement to Bobby Williamson on the eve of the new season. He said: "Bobby has had a couple of months here and it has been well worth it to get his feet under the table. I know Sloop was here before but Gerry McCabe has come in and he has worked hard and really well with the players in pre-season. The board are totally positive that we made the right choice in the manager. Obviously, we didn't want to lose Paul Sturrock, but he has gone on to pastures new. We are really pleased that we picked this manager, not only from a football point of view but also because he's such a nice character. Sometimes you might get a brilliant manager without the other side. We have won all round. We took our time to sift through all the applicants but to end up with somebody we feel is going to be really good for this football club is fantastic."
Stewart Yetton will not be signing on loan for Darlington. Yetton scored for the Quakers in a pre-season game against Billingham Synthonia earlier this week but Darlington assistant manager Mark Proctor said: "Stewart did OK for us but we didn't think he would be the answer right now. He has gone back to Plymouth and we are going to monitor his progress."
Bobby Williamson is optimistic that Hasney Aljofree's absence will not be protracted. "Hasney was walking today and he should be back jogging on Monday," he said. "It doesn't take long for these guys to get over that type of operation, and fingers crossed there will be no reaction."
Bobby Williamson promised the Green Army that they can expect a mighty effort, if nothing else, from his players during the new season. "I don't know what the future holds for anyone in this division," he said, "but what I can guarantee our supporters is effort - and they will get that in abundance. Our players are very conscientious and they want to be successful, but I'm sure every player in this division wants to be successful, so it's down to those who apply themselves. There's no shortage of ability, but, if they don't give that effort, they won't be successful this season. I know the players that I have brought in very well, and I knew the players who were here previously. It's up to these guys to get into the team. I've no fixed ideas who should be playing and who shouldn't play. It's very much a squad game and has been for the last few years. It doesn't really concern me who the XI are, as long as they are winning matches. It's up to them to keep others out of the team. It will be peer pressure that keeps them out of the team, not me."
Paul Connolly has not yet resumed full training after being laid low by a viral problem, which means David Worrell will start against Millwall. Bobby Williamson said: "It was between David and Paul to see who started the season in that position. It was not as if there was a first choice anyway. The two guys are fighting it out. David has found himself in pole position now with Paul's situation and it's up to him to keep Paul out of the team, just the same as it was last season when Paul kept David out. That's just healthy competition." Williamson expects a tough match against Millwall. "We know what they have got at their disposal, but we will be focused on what we can do," he said. "Hopefully, we can trouble them and we will let them worry more about us, than us worry about them. I expect it to be a difficult match, with both teams closing each other down and making it difficult. The team that can do that for the longest period, will be the team that comes out the eventual winners." Worrell knows competition not only for his place, but across the Argyle squad will be fierce this term. He said: "The gaffer has already stressed nobody has a guaranteed place. He wants to have two players at least competing for every position. That's the way it should be. Nobody should be resting on their laurels. Everybody is looking forward to the new season, the whole place, the whole city. We're going to be playing against bigger clubs and going to bigger grounds as well. When I first came to Plymouth we were playing in the Third Division, but with no disrespect to those teams, now we'll be going to teams like Wolves, Leeds and Sunderland, so we're really looking forward to it all." First up for Worrell and Argyle are Millwall: "They're a well established team in this division, so it's going to be tough," he said. "That said, the first week is going to be really hard. We've got three games in six days, so we'll hope to do as well as we can and get as many points as we can." And like many of his team-mates, Worrell is convinced the 'Green Army' will have their part to play this season. "We sold quite a few season tickets already, so we're going to get good crowds. Hopefully the crowd will get behind us and we'll be able to pick up a few points at home, as I think our home form is going to be important."
Mickey Evans thinks Argyle's form at home will hold the key to their success this season. He said: "Hopefully, our home form will be just as good as it has been for the last few years. That's the key to our season. We have got to make Home Park a really difficult place to come to. If we keep it like that, we should be alright." Argyle began pre-season training five weeks ago so Evans cannot wait for the action to start. "We have worked very hard as a team, especially in Austria for nine days, and I think everyone is looking forward to the season," he said. "I know we haven't got a great track record on the opening day of the season but, hopefully, we will put it right this year." Evans is one of the few Argyle players with experience of this level of football. "It's going to be a lot harder, but I have to say all the lads are really looking forward to it," he said. "It's great for the city, great for the fans and after last season's experience, we're all looking forward to this season. For the size of the city, we should be playing against these top clubs. We're a First Division club and that's where we need to stay. Of course it's going to be difficult this year, but if we stick together, like we have over the last couple of seasons, have the right work ethic, the right team spirit, then we'll do OK this season."
Romain Larrieu and Luke McCormick were set to find out today who would play in Argyle's opening game of the season against Millwall tomorrow. Bobby Williamson said: "I will speak to the goalkeepers today and let them know who has been selected. We have got two quality goalkeepers and whoever is left out should not look at it as a slight at all. They will have to keep working hard and wait for their opportunity. In the goalkeeping position it's usually an injury or suspension that lets the other guy get in. But these two guys get on very well, and I don't think they will be wishing that upon each other. As I said, I feel we have got two quality goalkeepers and it's up to the one that is left out to be able to deal with it in a professional manner and realise it has been an honest judgment on my part." The choice between Larrieu and McCormick is not the only difficult decision Williamson faces. There is still plenty of competition for places, much to the satisfaction of the boss. "That was the aim when I came in," said Williamson. "I think the club had been operating with 18 outfield players for the best part of two seasons, and doing really well out of it. I do believe the higher you go the more chance you have got of picking up injuries and suspensions, for that matter. I feel we've got adequate cover in all positions and good competition throughout. It makes it difficult for me to pick a team, but if I can be as honest as I can be with the players who are left out, then that's all I can do. It's up to them to deal with it the way they see fit. If they are not happy they can try to seek employment elsewhere. I hope that's not the case. I hope they buckle down and wait their turn and if they get an opportunity they grasp it and stay in the team."
Tickets for Argyle's match at Cardiff City on August 13th will now only be available to Argyle members - that is those with a Green, Pilgrim or White membership, or members of an affiliated supporters club. The decision has been made by the police authorities and comes on the eve of the general sale of the tickets. They will be withdrawn from general sale but will remain on sale to "members" and supporters clubs. Members of a supporters club would need to apply via their club secretary
Graham Coughlan is not ready to declare any targets for the season ahead but said: "We want to win, that's the business of football, and we'll be doing our utmost to go out and win every game. But I'm not going to go and start making rash statements about winning this and winning that. It would be unfair on myself and the rest of the team to start speaking about winning medals and honours. First and foremost, we're looking at this Saturday and trying to get off to a good start. Looking further ahead, we've seven games in the month of August. Come the end of the month, we'll be able to see a much clearer picture of what standard we've reached. Maybe we'll be able to start setting targets and goals then. Winning is a good habit to have, no matter what level you're at or what teams you're playing. We're up against big teams and top players this season, and we've worked hard for three years to get here. Hopefully it will be all be worthwhile, but last season and the two successful seasons beforehand will all go out of the window should we not be successful this season." The Argyle squad's lack of experience at this level does not worry the Irishman. "There's not too many of us who have played in the First Division previously, but I don't think it will be a problem," he said. "Football is football, irrespective of what division you're in. A lot of the lads have played in the Scottish Premier League, and I don't think the experience of playing at this level is that crucial. You could also talk about the players who have come down from the Premiership. Do they have experience of the First Division? There's two sides to the coin, and I wouldn't worry about inexperience. We've seen how well our young lads did last season - Gilbert, Connolly and McCormick. Everybody thought they would feel the pressure last year, but there was no evidence of that. Inexperience won't be a problem." Coughlan has been impressed by this summer's new recruits. "If the gaffer is bringing them in, they're obviously of a good standard," he said. " Crawford's standing as a Scottish international is well documented, but all five have played in the Premier League in Scotland so they must have something going for them. They have all settled in very well, they all bring their individuality to the team. But it's hard to tell in friendlies. We'll be able to get a clearer picture when the League starts on Saturday. We've got 22 players now who would all be very, very disappointed if they didn't start. They're all in contention, there's a strong challenge for places. I certainly wouldn't like to be in the gaffer's shoes on Saturday, trying to pick my first XI. As players we do try and pick a team ourselves, and I find it virtually impossible to separate individuals.. But whoever he sends out will have to do the business. They've got the jersey and they'll have to work hard to keep it, because there certainly is fierce competition in the squad." Coughlan is aware of how important the fans' backing will be to the team this term. "Anything we've achieved over the last three seasons has been achieved here at Home Park," he said. "This place has been the cornerstone of and the catalyst to our success. Anything that happens this season, whether it be good, bad or indifferent, will come from here. We've got to make it a fortress, we've got to make it hard on teams. The crowd have got their part to play, they've got to make it an intimidating atmosphere. People won't like travelling down here. We hope that we can pick up the majority of our points here. Home Park has got a vital role to play in the coming season."
Argyle could increase the capacity of Home Park to 30,000 when the rebuilding of the stadium is finally completed. Paul Stapleton has admitted it will not be until 2006 before the Grandstand is demolished and replaced. "Three years ago, when we took over, there were 5,000 gates and to have a stadium which housed 20,000 people was too many," he said. "But we have proven in that period of time that if the success is here that people will come. Consequently we are revising our plans for when the stadium is rebuilt and saying 'where should we be, should we be of a Southampton size?' We could then cater for our regular fans, and hopefully then the average gate would be 15,000, but when we had a special match you would get up to 25,000 or 30,000. We have got to start looking at that, and we are doing so already, because three or four years ago you didn't think of that." Plymouth City Council have ambitious plans to revitalise not only Home Park, but the whole of Central Park. Stapleton said: "They are producing a strategic report on Central Park and the football stadium, and I understand that's going to be presented by the end of August. We are aware of that, and then we will have a meeting in September to look at the next step. The city council are very positive and they want to work with us, but they also want to improve all aspects of Central Park. We are at the table talking and when that report comes back we will have a better idea where we stand and what's going on. I think the earliest date we would be looking at doing something is 2006 because of planning applications and making sure everything is in the right place at the right time." Stapleton is hoping at least four of Argyle's home games this season will be sell-outs. He said: "I think there will be some sell-outs this season. Already I have pencilled in at least four games, irrespective of the team's performance. But I'm quite confident that if they play as well as we think they can there will be even more than that."
Peter Gilbert was delighted at his international call-up yesterday. He said: "I am over the moon. It is brilliant news - I am surprised, really. A few weeks ago I realised I was eligible during a family discussion when I was told a grandmother, who has passed away, was Welsh. I told the manager and he spoke to the Welsh FA. They made sure I had the right documents and they said they would keep tabs on me. It is very fast progress. I was just happy to put my name forward - it's unbelievable, really. My aim was to just play as many games for Argyle as possible and anything else was a bonus. It was always an ambition of mine to play international football, but it was a case of whether to wait for England or go down this route. Now I'm extremely happy and excited to get the chance to play for Wales. I also had a chat with Tony Capaldi and he said what an experience international football and the Under-21s is. Opportunities like this don't come along very often and when you get them, you have to grab them." Bobby Williamson will be happy to see Gilbert playing for Wales. "It's good news for the player," he said, "and it's good news and recognition for the club also. My only concern is that I think sometimes we're playing too much football, and you don't get a break if you're an international player. But it's a progression and players want to be plying their trade at the top. You can't get any higher than international football. Hopefully, now that the opportunity has come along, he can grasp it and we wish him all the best with Wales."
Peter Gilbert has been called up to the Welsh Under-21 squad to face Latvia on August 18th. Gilbert was born on Wearside but qualifies to play for Wales through his grandmother. Meanwhile, Tony Capaldi has again been selected in the Northern Ireland squad for their game against Switzerland on the same day
Argyles new recruits are all looking forward to the new season. Steven Milne is keen to prove his worth in English football. "I've really enjoyed it down here so far," he said. "Everyone is getting on really well and all the boys are close together. We've got a good team spirit and I'm just looking forward to the season starting. There are lots of strikers here and plenty of competition for places, but I'll just do my best to get in the team. If I start, I start, but if I'm on the bench and come down then I'll be doing everything possible to make sure I start the next game. Whoever plays will, I'm sure, deserve it. There is a good bunch of lads here but we're also a good football team. I'm quite confident that we'll do well in this division, but only time will tell." Keith Lasley is also enjoying himself: "It's been good," he said. "The trip away to Austria has helped me settle in and get to know the boys better. I feel as if I've made the right choice and I just cannot wait for the season to start now. The other players have been great. We managed to have a couple of refreshments over in Austria and they've all made me welcome." Lasley knows that the season ahead will not be an easy ride. "It's a tough league," he added, "but, and I know it's an old cliché, we've just got to take every game as it comes. We're just looking to our first game against Millwall to see how we fare." Mathias Kouo-Doumbe is happy with his choice of club. "It's a good dressing-room, with good people," the Frenchman said. "It's a new challenge for me, a new motivation. It's really quick football. There are a lot of strong teams in the league but every team has to be taken seriously. It's a very high level." Stevie Crawford joined his new team- mates in acclaiming his new home. "I've definitely made the right choice, coming here," he said. "The boys all want us to do well. The manager has added to the squad and the boys that have come down are keen to show that they can do it at this level. Fingers crossed, we'll have a successful season. It was good to go away to Austria. It was a team-bonding exercise, there was time to get to know each other. The squad have been very good and they've taken the new boys in. We were worked very hard, and hopefully we'll see the benefits of that come the start of the season." Lee Makel said: "The team spirit is very good. Everyone knows that. My first impressions are that this is a club on the up, and that was why I joined. They've all rallied round me while I've been injured and tried to keep my spirits up."
Stuart Yetton could sign on loan for Darlington this week. Bobby Williamson said: "He's away up to Darlington and we will see how he gets on. Stuart is a young talent I have got high hopes for and I think he needs to be playing first team football at this moment in his career, so Darlington will maybe get the benefit of his youthful exuberance. He will assess them and they will assess him and, hopefully, everything will come together and he will be able to play first team football there." Williamson is open-minded about how long Yetton will stay at Darlington: "It all depends how well our strikers are doing," said the boss. "If they are not putting the ball in the back of the net and Stuart is, then we will be getting him back. It's good for his education and his career to get playing first team football and Darlington is a good stage for him, I feel." Williamson recommended Yetton to Darlington manager David Hodgson. "I know David Hodgson quite well and he was looking for a striker so I told him we had a kid who I thought would fit his bill," said Williamson. "He will have a look at him and, hopefully, he will take him." Marcus Martin could be set for a similar move to Exeter City
Luke McCormick is hoping he has done enough to be picked as goalkeeper for Argyle's opening game of the season. He said: "We have both worked really, really hard in pre-season, especially in Austria. To be honest, I don't think there is anything between us at the moment. One of us is going to be disappointed, but that's football." Should Larrieu be selected, however, McCormick will be the first to congratulate him. "That's the kind of relationship me and Romain have got," he said. "We're very good friends on and off the pitch, which is good." McCormick suffered a knee injury in Austria but it was not as serious as first feared: "I had a scare about a week ago, so I'm absolutely delighted that I came through it and played the 90 minutes on Saturday," he said. "I'm feeling very confident and I'm just looking forward to seeing what happens now. I don't know who is going to play or anything but, hopefully, I did alright for myself against Southampton. I needed that game on Saturday and I thought I did quite well so it's just a case of keeping my fingers crossed." McCormick thought the win over Southampton was a timely boost for Argyle: "It couldn't have come at a better time," he said. "The conditions were really tough out there. We took our goals very well and, thankfully, they didn't cause us too many problems so we were all very pleased."
Lee Makel successfully returned from his ankle injury as a youthful Argyle side were beaten by 3-1 by Cirencester Town tonight, Argyle's goal coming from Clay Bond. Makel was delighted to have got some game time under his belt: "The idea was for me to last as long as I could, so I am really chuffed to have lasted 90 minutes - although I was puffing a bit at the end," said Makel. "I suffered the injury in Austria in my first game and have not played since, which has been disappointing to say the least. I was just starting to get the base of my fitness when it happened, so now I have to start all over again. Being at a new club makes it harder as you want to make an impression, and it has been hard to sit and watch the other boys play teams like Portsmouth and Southampton. But there are plenty of big games in store this season and I hope to be involved in them. It is a big challenge to come down here and take on these big clubs. I spent five or six years in Scotland and enjoyed it, but this is a new challenge for me which is why the injury has been so frustrating." Argyle: Schofield, Drew, Dickson, Makel, Routledge, Nute, Reski, Bond, Zebroski, Evans, Robotham. Subs – Rose, Summerfield, Mason
Bobby Williamson knows that there is competition for places throughout his side - especially in goal. With Luke McCormick having returned to action on Saturday, Williamson agreed that, when he sustained his injury in Austria, it did not seem likely that he would be back in action so soon. "That comes with inexperience. He's a young lad and he doesn't know the extent of injuries. He thought he had quite a serious one, but it's not as bad as we first thought. We'll see how he is during the course of the week and how he reacts to the game today." The goalkeeping role is not the only hard decision Williamson has to make. "There are difficult choices throughout the team, but that's what I'm paid my money for," he said. "I've no preferences, it will be an honest judgement. Whoever is left out of the team should realise that and work that bit harder and hopefully, if they get an opportunity, take it. All we can ask is that the players give everything they've got. It's up to the players selected next week to do the best they can and stay in the team and keep their sharpness, and keep the other guys not in the team sitting on the bench or in the stands. I know what we've got here. I've got a week. Nobody is discounted. We've got a squad of players who will be treated equally and fairly."
Paul Connolly is facing a fight to be ready for the start for the season after being laid low by a virus. Bobby Williamson said: "I thought he had a poor performance on Wednesday but it's understandable now, knowing he had a virus on board. That's when players have got to be honest with themselves. I know he does not want to be out of the team and he's fighting hard to get his position but he has got to let us know. Every player has got to let the manager know if they are struggling. If they are struggling then we give somebody else an opportunity because the last thing we want is them to cross that white line and not do themselves justice. People will look at them and think of it as a poor performance, as I did. Hopefully, he will soon recover from it. He has been confined to his house and has got 48 hours of fasting to do, so that's going to take its toll on him."
Bobby Williamson was delighted with the way his players bounced back from their midweek defeat to beat Southampton yesterday. "It shows the fans we are not going to accept things and that we are going to knuckle down and get on with the business in hand," he said. "We put a lot into that game, and we got our just reward and took a lot out of it. Southampton are a difficult team, they are a Premiership team and have got a lot of talented players, but we gave a good account of ourselves." Williamson was also pleased to see his players come through a testing physical examination. "We started well," he said. "We got a good 45 minutes under our belts and we knew we were going to be tested in the second half, but we worked hard at it and, thankfully, we have put our "poor form" to bed. Some headlines were suggesting we were in a run of poor form, but form doesn't come into it until the season starts. We've won three and lost three, but so what? It's about getting guys fit and getting confidence up." Williamson knows that his players can expect to be extended on a regular basis when they begin the season on Saturday. "It's going to be difficult," he admitted. "It's a hard league we're going into. If we can apply ourselves in the right manner, hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves. All we can ask is that the players give everything they've got. I know what we've got here. There are difficult selection choices throughout the team, but that's what I'm paid my money for. I've no preferences, it will be honest judgment. Whoever is left out should realise that."
Argyle's youth team lost 2-0 to Blackburn Rovers in the final of the Duchy College under-18 tournament at Home Park yesterday. After the match Stuart Gibson said: "I thought football-wise we were the better side in the first half, creating more chances than them. Attitude-wise I am very pleased as we have learnt a lot and the tournament has been a credit to Plymouth Argyle and a huge thank you must go to the Duchy College, St Blazey, Liskeard and Saltash. The tournament has been a real success and there is already talk of next year's event." Argyle: K Schofield, L Drew, R Dickson, L Summerfield, J Routledge, B Nute, C Reski , C Bond, C Zebroski, J Hoyles, D Evans. Subs - M Robotham, D Rose (not used - M Fowler, J Laird, R Moon)
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