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THE DAILY DIARY

A Round-up of Argyle News

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Wednesday 28th February 2007

Argyle reserves won 2-0 at Exeter last night, both goals scored by Ben Joyce. Argyle: Clapham, White, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Capaldi, Djordjic, Hodges, Laird.S, Halmosi, Joyce, Barnes. Subs -  Laird.J,  Smith, Watts (not used - Kendall, Duggan)

Romain Larrieu believes he is reaping the benefits of his loan spell with Gillingham. His move was recently extended to the end of February, and with Gillinghams regular 'keeper still injured, it seems likely he will remain with the club for another month. He said: "I'm getting match practice, which is what I was looking for, and I'm enjoying myself. It's just a good feeling to be playing regularly again. This season has been pretty messed up for me, with what happened in the summer, and I felt I couldn't afford to be wasting any more time. I wanted to get something out of this season and for me to do that I needed to go somewhere else, and Gillingham were the team." Larrieu admitted he had not been fully prepared to make his first team comeback for Argyle in December. He said: "Looking back on it, there weren't too many issues about the football side, in the way I played. With cancer there are many, many side-effects and I probably overlooked them because I was focussing on getting back in the team. That was the only thing I wanted, and maybe I should have been more careful and looked at the whole picture. But you don't do that because the only thing you want is to walk out on the pitch at three o'clock on a Saturday. That's what you strive for. I didn't feel confident, even though many points of my game were alright. The way I was reading crosses and the way I was reading the game was good for someone who had been away for a long time. But it was little things that knocked my confidence right from the start. Luke had done well before that, so I couldn't afford to make the mistakes I made. I didn't like it and I really needed to wipe them out as soon as possible, and to do that I needed to play again and that's what I have been doing with Gillingham. I feel really good now." Gillingham are 17th in League One and Larrieu added: "They have been struggling massively away from home but getting a lot of wins at home. We had a good game against the league leaders on Saturday, even though the result might suggest otherwise. It's a new experience for me and I have enjoyed it. I played my first game for Gillingham and I didn't even know them. I just showed up for it. It's very different, and it's a bit of fresh air for me as well because I have been at Argyle for more than six years now." Larrieu has continued to train at Home Park  at the start of each week before meeting up with the Gills' squad the day before their games. He said: "I want to play and they have given me the opportunity. My loan finished on Saturday and I don't know what the situation is. I know their goalie is coming back to fitness but he's not ready yet. I wouldn't mind staying with them a bit longer, if everybody is happy with that. We will see what happens. I think Ollie would let me go even though we have got some very important games coming up." Holloway will insist on a 24-hour recall clause should the loan deal be extended by a further month

27th

Scott Sinclair has been short-listed for the Championship player-of-the-month award for February, and Tim Breacker welcomed the nomination. He said: "It's good for him and it's good for us that he has got some recognition. I'm sure Chelsea will be pleased about it as well. Scott is the sort of lad who's very level-headed and has got his feet on the ground. I'm sure if he won this prize it would not affect him and he would take it in his stride. He's a really good kid with a great attitude." Sinclair's loan spell is set to end after Argyle play Crystal Palace on March 17th , but it is thought the club will try to extend the deal for a third and final month

Argyle reserves play at Exeter City in the Combination tonight, and Tim Breacker revealed that Hasney Aljofree and Tony Capaldi could return after injury lay-offs. "They are back training and have got a chance of being involved in the game," he said. Ashley Barnes is also set for another run-out for after scoring in the last two reserve matches

It is not clear when Barry Hayles will make his comeback from a broken toe. Tim Breacker said: "With a crack to the bone, you can't do any more damage to it. It's just how much pain you can take. His toe is still sore, but it's improving every day and we will see where it takes us. Barry has done fantastically well for us this season. Now he has had a little rest and he's champing at the bit to get back playing."

Marcel Seip believes Argyle's 1-1 draw at QPR on Saturday was two points dropped and not one gained. He said: "They wanted to win because it was against Holloway, but I thought we battled well with them. To be honest, I think they made so many fouls they just let it go a little bit, and that helped us." The trip to west London followed home victories over Derby County and Colchester United, and Seip added: "We played very well in those games. I thought we kept our shape on Saturday, but they were in our faces all the time. The pitch was very tight and they had the home crowd behind them. It was tough but I still think we lost two points here. They turned us a lot and played it behind us. The ball was bouncing so high and it was difficult. Every time you had to make a challenge with the strikers so it was very tough." Lilian Nalis put Argyle into the lead after a free-kick into the penalty area by Paul Connolly was headed inside by Krisztian Timar. The goal did not come by chance, as Seip revealed. "We practice for that sometimes so it was nice we scored from that one," he said. Seip agreed that Luke McCormick was fouled before QPR scored. He said: "Luke was fouled. He had two hands on the ball, and they just smashed into him. I think 15 minutes later they did the same but then the referee gave a foul so how can he do that? The referee was very poor."

26th

Argyle's reserve fixture against Exeter City, scheduled to be played at Tiverton Town's Ladysmead Ground tomorrow night, has been switched to Exeter's St James's Park, with a 7pm kick-off

Luke McCormick insisted he had been fouled in the build-up to QPR's goal on Saturday. He said: "The corner has come in and I have made the decision to go and get it. I had two hands on the ball and, as I was still in the air, I just felt something in my back. It made the ball come out of my hands and I fell flat on my face. I couldn't believe it when the ball was still bobbling around and the referee hadn't blown. I think that's why the lads felt so frustrated." McCormick revealed Lilian ad apologised to his team-mates in the dressing room for his sending-off. "It was a bit out of character for Lil," he said. "It's just one of those things. That's how hard done by we felt. As soon as the goal went in, the referee gave four fouls our way. They probably weren't even fouls, so he has done his best to try to even it up, but I'm afraid it's not good enough. It has cost us today, I think." McCormick suffered a lower leg injury on the stroke of half-time after a collision with Adam Bolder and needed treatment from Paul Maxwell. The 'keeper bravely saved at the feet of Bolder, and McCormick was then clattered by Dexter Blackstock before referee Beeby awarded Argyle a free-kick. "I didn't think I would be able to get there with my hands, so I opted for my feet," said McCormick. "I thought the first one was a foul, to be honest. He really caught me at the bottom of the shin but, luckily, the ball was still bobbling around and I was able to get my hands to it. Then Dexter came afterwards but, thankfully, the referee gave a free-kick in the end." Argyle did not have a substitute goalkeeper so Lee Hodges warmed up in case he was needed between the posts. McCormick added: "Hodgie's heart was probably in his mouth for a few minutes." The draw saw Argyle slip to 12th position in the Championship and has realistically ended their chances of a play-off spot. McCormick said: "I think QPR certainly upped their game today. It was probably a fair result, but after going 1-0 up we always fancy ourselves to hold onto that, so we are a little bit disheartened, but not too much."

25th

Ian Holloway admitted 'we didn't quite get things right today' after a QPR comeback saw his current and previous clubs draw 1-1 at Loftus Road yesterday. He said: "I wouldn't have complained that much if QPR had got all three points if they had stuck in one of the chances they had created, but I didn't like the one they got. I thought the referee should have disallowed it, then my captain out there would not have got sent off. When you get an equaliser in that fashion, which was so obviously a foul to me, I'm a little bit hurt. It was blatant. Everybody in the ground saw it. I think the referee, when he sees that, will realise he has got it wrong. On the balance of play, I felt that we were fortunate to go out with a point in the end, the way the game was going." Lilian Nalis received his first yellow card for remonstrating with the referee about the QPR goal and a second for kicking the ball away. "I felt we showed a lack of discipline," Holloway said. "Lil got booked for moaning about the goal - you are never going to change their mind - and then he kicks the ball away. He hasn't put a foot wrong for me since I've been here - he's a wonderful fella - but he could have cost us, big time. I said, at half-time, 'Don't get caught in it'. Sometimes the extra emotions are a waste of energy. Under pressure, you have to be able to take it, deal with it and be calm. With a young team, I needed people like Lil doing that. I told him not to get caught up in the emotion of it - I almost did, once or twice, but I'm delighted I managed to keep my dignity." Holloway felt that Argyle did not get the rub of the green from referee Beeby. "In such a fervent atmosphere and with challenges left, right and centre, you expect them to come out 50-50," he said. "All do I know, when I was a kid and I tossed a coin, sometimes it was heads and sometimes it was tails, and I thought that, if fairness is fairness, then Gareth Ainsworth, who I brought here and who I'm very proud of, should have been booked at least a couple of times, and, as for Bolder, lunging in right, left and centre." Following the recent victories over Derby and Colchester, Holloway admitted: "We were a bit off it, but you are not always going to be as good as we were in the last two games. This pitch is quite compact and the crowd are on top of you. Whether some of my young ones were quite up for it or ready, I don't know, but they have grown in stature. That wasn't us, really. Rangers were absolutely out of the box, flying. It looked like they had the bit between their teeth. Well done to them, and onwards and upwards for all of us. They had a couple of clear-cut chances, and I can't remember that many for us. I would have wished, in an ideal world, that they would have scored, then some of our lot might not have been able to make any excuses." Asked about the warm reception he received from Rangers' fans, Holloway added: "I'm very pleased I get the reception I do from the Plymouth fans. I'm not very pleased when people keep calling me 'madcap'. I'm passionate, but I'm certainly not mad and I haven't got a cap. You get labelled, but it's absolutely rubbish. Now, I'm a Pilgrim; I am member of the Green Army; I have got the number 12 on my pyjamas."

Lilian Nalis did not shirk responsibility for the indiscipline that saw him sent off at Loftus Road. "I put my hands up for the red card," he said. "It was my fault. I don't have anyone else to blame." However, Nalis was adamant that Luke McCormick was fouled attempting to collect a corner immediately before QPR scored. He said: "He's got two hands on the ball and somebody came and played the goalkeeper - he didn't play the ball, he played the goalkeeper. If you are the captain, you should be the one to tell the referee that it was a foul. That's what I have done. Maybe I was a bit too firm with him, I don't know, but, for me, it was a foul, that's my point of view. I ran at him and said 'That's a foul, so you shouldn't give the goal.' He didn't reply. Maybe he was a bit upset." About the second yellow, Nalis said: "I think Ainsworth was the first to foul, and I just lost it. I can't explain. I can only blame myself. I shouldn't have kicked the ball. That's it."Nalis said his goal was a triumph for hard work on the training-ground. "We have been working on it all week and it worked today," he said . "We have been working on set-pieces this week and we scored from one of them, so it was great. If we played the second half the way we had played the first half, maybe we could have kept the result, but you can't accept drawing a game on a goal conceded the way we have conceded it."

24th

Argyle drew 1-1 at QPR, the goal scored by Lilian Nalis after 32 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Timar, Sawyer, Gosling, Norris, Nalis, Sinclair, Ebanks-Blake, Fallon. Subs - Halmosi, Hodges (not used - Kouo-Doumbe, Summerfield, Djordjic). Attendance - 13,757.

Kevin Gallen will be at Loftus Road today even though he cannot play for  Argyle against QPR. He said: "I'm looking forward to going back. It should be a good game. I wish I was playing, to be honest. It would have been nice. When I signed the paperwork to come here, QPR didn't put it in that I couldn't play against them. It was all typed out and we sent it by fax and initially I thought I could play, but when they sent it back they had added an extra clause in biro saying I couldn't play. I was gutted at the time. I would have loved to play because I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to the QPR fans." Argyle go into today's game on the back of two successive home wins, and Gallen added: "Talking to the lads, they were probably the two best performances of the season. They must be full of confidence going into today's game. Both teams will be desperate to win it, but for different reasons. QPR need to win or they could find themselves in the bottom three and Plymouth need to win keep our play-off ambitions alive." Gallen has started the last two matches with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake as his strike partner and he has been impressed by the former Manchester United prospect. Gallen said: "I think he has been playing well but, for any striker, it's nice to get a goal. Hopefully, he can score again today."

David Norris is well aware of the special significance of Argyle's FA Cup quarter-final at home to Watford on March 11. He said: "I'm sure there will be a lot of people hoping we can turn it around and get a bit of revenge on them. That's the FA Cup for you. It was a long time ago but I'm sure a lot of the fans will remember it quite clearly. We won't be over-confident. At the end of the day, we are still playing a Premier League team but we have got a home draw against a side who are struggling a little bit and their confidence might be low. It does give us a realistic chance of going through to the semi-finals."

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has strived long and hard this season to secure a regular place in Argyle's starting line-up., and his efforts in the past week may just have done the trick. Ebanks-Blake has not been satisfied with his goal tally in his first season, and when the chance came to take a penalty against Colchester in midweek, he made sure he grasped it. "I fancied taking it, and Kevin passed it over," he said. "He was quite willing to do that. We hadn't really discussed it. It went in, and that helped us get a great result. The second goal killed them off. We kept going and got another goal, and we could have scored two or three more, which the gaffer did mention after the game." Ebanks-Blake had not started a game this year when he was restored to the first team by Holloway earlier this month. "I got my chance against Sunderland," he said. "My aim is always to work hard for the team and the competition has improved now, so we've all got to raise our levels. The important thing is consistency. Any player who is consistent and is getting a run of games can only improve. If I get a run, then I'm at my best and I think that's starting to show. You have to be fit. The gaffer is always going on about how fit you have to be to play in this league, and you can't beat match-fitness. You can train as hard as you like and work hard in the gym, but match-fitness makes all the difference." Ebanks-Blake wants to stay fit, remain in the Argyle team - and score more goals to propel them up the table. "If we can go on a run of games and take care of our own business, then hopefully a few results will go our way," he added. "I don't see why we can't do that from now until the end of the season." Argyle are after the rub of the green in today, after taking only one point from their last two away trips to West Brom and Wolves. "We all thought we didn't get what we deserved in those two games," Ebanks-Blake said. "We deserved at least four points, but hopefully that will even itself out. We've played every team in this league now, and there's not a team that we can't match."

Paul Stapleton paid tribute to Ian Holloway in his introduction to the club's Annual Report and Accounts for 2006, which were published on Saturday. "Ian Holloway has proved to be an excellent choice," said Stapleton. "He is fully committed to the cause of the Green Army and helping us push Plymouth Argyle as high as we can. His signings have all seemed to be astute, whilst his infectious nature and enthusiasm has touched everyone. We hope he is with us for a long time." That restructuring of the management staff and Tony Pulis's subsequent changes to the playing staff saw the club report a small loss in 2006 - their first for six years - a state of affairs predicted by Stapleton at last year's Annual General Meeting. However, the loss, of just over £300,000 after tax, pales in comparison to the £1.1m profit made the previous season. "We were prepared to spend some of the money earned in the previous period to ensure the retention of our Championship status," said Stapleton. "It is true to say that the cost of replacing the manager and his backroom staff, and several of the players he had signed, resulted in significant increased costs. In addition, we supported Tony Pulis with loan signings, all of good quality and higher costs." Stapleton recognises that some supporters had 'complaints about the quality and style' of Pulis's football and hopes the subsequent appointment of Holloway will continue to bring back missing supporters. "Our attendance dropped by approximately 15% from the previous year, when we had our first year in the Championship," he said. "It is possible the novelty of seeing teams we had not played for 13 years has started to wear off. However, I am hopeful that, with the attractive football being played now, our supporters will continue to push us on even further." Stapleton's statement also addresses the purchase of the Home Park freehold from Plymouth City Council, which happened subsequent to the accounts year. "Owning our own ground means that, for the first time in the club's history, we are in complete control of our own destiny," said Stapleton. "The terms of our lease meant that our rent became more onerous as the business became more successful - as our turnover increased, so would the rent payable - and, if we reached the Premier League, then the percentage charged would also increase. Therefore, our decision was made on sound financial grounds to acquire the freehold for the long-term benefit of the club. Unfortunately, this process took an inordinate amount of time to conclude, which was impossible to predict at the outset. This delay has subsequently prevented us from being able to progress other areas of the business as quickly as we would have hoped, but we are now looking to resolve a number of issues caused by the delay as a matter of urgency. We are proud of our progression and we feel we have the right to sit proudly as the top club in the South West of England, and as a well-established Championship football club."

Argyle have offered a two-year apprentice contract to Northern Ireland under-17 international midfielder Brian McCaul, who had a trial with the club earlier in the season

23rd

Reuben Reid has been suspended for two weeks by Ian Holloway following his unexpectedly early return from a loan spell at Rochdale. The League Two side have sent the striker back to Home Park and Holloway has promised to deal with the matter internally. He said: "I have suspended him for two weeks. They did not want him there anymore. It is internal and I deal with it. I think they can terminate the deal if they don't want him anymore, which is very disappointing because he is representing me, and my team, and my club. I don't take kindly to people not behaving properly and then making excuses. I have got to be very careful. He has been sent home to Bristol and he comes back in a week on Monday to see me with his Dad."

Rory Fallon seems favourite to take over from Kevin Gallen alongside Sylvan Ebanks-Blake at QPR tomorrow. Gallen cannot play due to the terms of his loan move from QPR, and with Barry Hayles is still sidelined by a broken toe Fallon could start. Ian Holloway, however, thinks Fallon is not the only option open to him. He said: "I wouldn't assume anything. I could change the shape of the team. I have got Bojan who could come back in. Scott Sinclair has played up there and I could put Summerfield in just behind the one up front. I could do absolutely anything I like really. I know we are short of options so to speak, but it's still quite exciting what we have got there." Holloway admitted it was 'a shame' Gallen could not play against QPR. "I think he has been very good for us," he said. Hayles was suspended for two matches but has since been sidelined because of his broken toe. Holloway said: "I need to talk to the doctor about Barry, because Barry is telling me he wants to play. Barry is telling me he wants an injection, but I have heard all that before. There might be a little bit of fear about not getting his place back. You never know, do you? That would be nice if it is. Having options is what it's about. Every good team has a strong bench, and we want to be a good team." Hasney Aljofree has been ruled out of the trip because of the foot injury he suffered in training last week, whilst Tony Capaldi, who has been ruled out of the last two matches by a groin injury could return soon. Holloway said: "Tony has had a scan and he will start training on Monday. The scan showed he had a lot of tendonitis but there were no tears. We have got four people with the same thing." Holloway blamed heavy pitches caused by the recent persistent rain, and then being forced to use firm all-weather surfaces, for those problems. "It has been an excessive type of situation," said Holloway. "At least we didn't get the snow that other people got. Everybody has problems, but I don't expect us to have these type of problems on a regular basis. It's something I'm going to have to sort out."

Ian Holloway has insisted that picking up three points is all that matters when Argyle play his former club QPR tomorrow. He said: "I don't know how I will feel. The three points are all that matters. I'm very proud to be taking my new team there and I shall be trying to win the game with the same passion that I used to try to win for them. I'm desperate for three points and I shall be doing all I can to get them. If I do see some of the wonderful people that were there, that will be a bonus. But I want to get off the bus, do my job, and get back on the bus with three points in the bag. That's how I feel. It's as simple as that." Considering his long association with Rangers, it would be a surprise if Holloway did not receive a warm welcome from their fans, but he said: "I'm not expecting anything and I'm not hoping for anything. They will give me whatever they think I deserve, and that's life. I will ignore it and get on with whatever I'm doing anyway because it's a total distraction one way or the other. It's what I think that matters - not what anyone else thinks." Holloway insisted he would not have a problem with meeting QPR chairman Gianni Paladini either before or after the game tomorrow. "I haven't got a nasty bone in my body," he said. QPR need points to ease their relegation fears but Holloway added: "It doesn't matter to me where they are. What matters is us needing three points, them needing three points and, hopefully, my team will be better than theirs. I'm very optimistic it will go our way if we keep doing what we have been doing."

Ashley Barnes has played two games as a trialist for Argyle reserves this month, and has scored three goals. Ian Holloway and his coaching staff like what they have seen, and Barnes will be receiving an invitation to spend more time at Home Park. Holloway said: "What I want to do is put him on a professional contract. I've been delighted with him so far, and I need him to come in to train in the first-team set-up for two weeks. That's quite a privilege for a fellow of his age. We've seen something in the boy we really like, so he won't be part of the youth set-up. He's a good kid with a great attitude, and I don't think we'll have to buy him. I think Paulton want to help him with his development. I don't think there'll be any money changing hands."

Police have decided to take no further action against Marcel Seip following his arrest in January on suspicion of assault. Police spokesman Pc Terry Hodgson said: "Senior officers have decided, in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, that there was insufficient evidence to charge the player."

22nd

Argyle won 4-0 against Weymouth in last night's reserve fixture at Tiverton. The goals were scored by Anthony Mason, Peter Halmosi and two from trialist Ashley Barnes. Argyle: Clapham, Hodges, Kouo-Doumbe, Watts, Kendall, Laird.S, Djordjic, Summerfield, Barnes, Mason, Halmosi. Subs Morrison, Grant, Smith (not used - Saxton)

Hasney Aljofree hopes Argyle's FA Cup run will finally put the club on the football map. Aljofree does not believe they get the nationwide recognition they should as a Championship side, and said: "I think we have quietly gone through the FA Cup this season. There have gradually been more and more TV cameras, but I don't think we are paid the right respect at times and people coming down here don't really understand about the club. Maybe Derby County thought they were going to come here and win on Saturday. But Home Park is such a tough place to come and, hopefully, clubs and other people are going to realise that in the end." Aljofree was suspended for the cup tie against Derby, but he still enjoyed the occasion. He added: "All the fans were buzzing before the game and I was gutted not to be playing. But, at the same time, I was willing all the boys on to get the right result because there is a bigger picture. The club had the chance to get into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, and that's what we have done." Aljofree completed a two-match ban against Derby, and admitted there would be fierce competition for a first team spot over the next couple of weeks. He said: "We all want to play every game, no matter if it's the FA Cup or in the league. I think the manager knows that. By the time the next round comes it will be interesting to see who he picks. That's just football. Everyone has got to take it on the chin, whether you like it or you don't. Looking at the bigger picture, we have got a fantastic opportunity of getting in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. If we get through against Watford - and it's going to be a big ask - who cares who we get? We beat Derby County convincingly on Saturday and now we have got Watford to look forward to."

Argyle's match at Burnley, postponed due to the FA Cup quarter-final, has been re-arranged for Tuesday 3rd April, at 7.45pm.

21st

Argyle's FA Cup quarter-final tie against Watford will be played on Sunday, March 11th, with a 6pm kick-off. The match will be televised live on BBC1. Because of this Argyle's home Championship fixture against Barnsley has been switched from Tuesday March 13th, to Wednesday March 14th

Ian Holloway was a happy man last night, after a second convincing win by his side in four days. "It was a big night for us and that was a fantastic performance," he said. "Obviously, it was a very exciting day yesterday. I did not anticipate the jubilation and attention the result on Saturday got. We were a bit shocked to see the camera's everywhere but I have asked for that, and people will take notice if you keep winning. I wanted them to keep the bit between their teeth and, on a boggy pitch, some of that football was absolutely terrific. I was worried about whether I should play the same 11 but, if it is not broke don't fix it. They certainly gave me a performance. I have to mention Sylvan. He played Saturday and it was one of his best games for us. I am glad he grabbed the ball and took that penalty because he deserved that goal. He was terrific. He ripped it off Kevin Gallen who scored one penalty and missed another on Saturday. He is a young fella and sometimes he has seen other people score, and not had the rub of the green. He chased and worked tonight, and was the Sylvan Ebanks-Blake we wanted to buy from Manchester United. He showed that character tonight. I have been talking about what he needs to do and he has laid it off, spun and he had to be fouled." Dan Gosling sealed the win with a coolly taken goal midway through the second half. "He thoroughly deserved it and he has been promising that for a while," said Holloway. "He was another one on that pitch. I am delighted for the lad and I have to pinch myself sometimes." Scott Sinclair again impressed and Holloway added: "Everybody is talking about him and I would not like to mark him. I felt for Peter Halmosi. He would love to score and he was unlucky but maybe I am being greedy." The forward players grab the headlines but Holloway was quick to praise the performance of his defence after a second successive clean sheet with Luke McCormick making a fine late save to keep his goal intact. Holloway said: "Everybody played out of their skin. The backline deserves a mention as well. Even Luke had something to do tonight and he did it when we needed. I thought we were very good against a very good side. Colchester are very dangerous and I am still jealous they are five points ahead of us. I don't think we have always got what we deserved in the last three League games. If you keep going, keep believing; keep working hard, you will get lucky."

David Norris admitted that Argyle are 'flying' at the moment after he set the team on their way to their biggest win of the season against Colchester last night. "It was 3-0 maybe going on five or six," he said. "We're flying, and you could see today that the confidence in the lads is right up there. We had a great win the other day, it's lifted confidence right up, and we're hoping to put a run together. If we can get two or three wins, we could be just outside the play-offs. There's lots to look forward to. We didn't want to do well in the cup and then come back to the league and let ourselves down. The manager has done well to keep us focused on the league and the boys were up for it to prove that wasn't going to happen." About his goal, Norris said: "A loose ball dropped to midfield outside the box and I managed to get on it. I was going to shoot first time, but, after some of my shooting this season, decided to take another touch and luckily got a good connection on it. I felt the first goal was going to be important so it definitely helped us. I think it's about time. I've had a couple of seasons when I've not scored so many, even though I've managed to get in the right positions, but, this season, a few of them have started to go in. Once we got the second, we were quite comfortable. Sylvan has played really well for the last couple of games and I felt he deserved to get on the scoresheet. He got taken out so he deserved to take the penalty and deserved to score. At 17, Dan Gosling has got a great future. He's got an old head on young shoulders. It's not fazed him, coming into the first team, and he's getting better and better."

20th

Argyle beat Colchester United 3-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by David Norris after 12 minutes, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (59) and Dan Gosling (67). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Timar, Sawyer, Gosling, Norris, Nalis, Sinclair, Ebanks-Blake, Gallen. Subs - Halmosi, Summerfield, Fallon (not used - Kouo-Doumbe, Hodges). Attendance - 12,895.

Ian Holloway is eager to forget about the hype surrounding Argyle's progress to the last eight of the FA Cup when Argyle play Colchester tonight. He said: "The cup draw is done now and I am concerned about the four games coming up starting with Colchester. I am jealous of where they are. They started the season in a poor way and they have managed to dig in. No matter what they do now, they have achieved things and we have got to try and emulate that." Argyle are one of only three teams to win at Layer Road this season but Holloway admits the 1-0 win in August came against the run of play. He said: "Their home form has been tremendous but I want to try and take six points of them. We have got three, very fortunately I felt. It was against the run of the game but we managed to dig in. I am delighted with that because it has proved such a fortress for them. We need to take six points of them." Holloway promised not to use the distraction caused by the Cup run as an excuse and added: "It has been a terrible distraction but we won't be using it as an excuse. We need to continue with the form we showed on Saturday. We have been playing very well but lacked that little bit extra we showed on Saturday and we need to do that again because they are a formidable outfit. We are in training today because we need to be focused. Our attention to detail enabled us to beat Derby. The referee did give us some things that we have not been getting recently. They should have had a penalty for a definite handball, whether it was deliberate or not." Holloway called on supporters to continue making the sort of noise made on Saturday as he bids to turn Home Park into a fortress. He said: "The Green Army were a huge part of it and the number 12 on your back is absolutely real, and I need you to come and help us as much as you can, as much as you can afford. Please come and watch us because we have been playing like that for much of the season. Unfortunately, the atmosphere has not been as electric as it was on Saturday. I need them to help us to make this place intimidating. It was on Saturday and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. If we could do that in every League game, I am sure that would give us an extra man on the pitch. Hopefully, this will start the ball rolling."

Ian Holloway has a couple of extra options for tonight's game against Colchester than he had for the FA Cup win over Derby. Mat Doumbe is back in contention but Holloway did admit to having concerns over the fitness of Barry Hayles and Hasney Aljofree. Hayles has suffered a broken toe and Aljofree has a sore foot, and Holloway feels they are more likely to be ready for the trip to QPR. He said: "Hasney and Hayles are both doubtful. They have got a better chance of making next Saturday. Hayles injury is a broken toe, so I am not going to inject it when it is broken. You can get follow-on things if there is a crack in the bone. I have had it myself and you should not inject a broken toe. If it is bruised, that is different. You were open to infection and you could be in trouble. I would not do that to any of my players." Aljofree had a scan last night and is awaiting the results

Ian Holloway believes the 'Green Army' can roar Argyle into the FA Cup semi-finals. He said: "History is repeating itself with this tie and life has a way of doing that. I'm chuffed to bits we are in the quarter-finals and I'm chuffed to bits the fans will get a chance to build up to it and make an atmosphere for us like they did on Saturday. If they can do that, I'm sure that will give us an extra man on the pitch."

An announcement on whether the long-awaited phase two redevelopment of Home Park will start in the summer will be made by Argyle within the next month. Paul Stapleton admitted an would be made by the time of the club's annual general meeting in March. He said: "I keep saying it - and people are probably fed up of me saying it - but we will make an announcement when we are ready. We have had people in and we have got more meetings lined up. We are just making sure it's right. I think we will probably be in a position to make an announcement by the time of the AGM of the shareholders in March, if not before. We will say where we are and what we are doing." Stapleton also revealed Argyle were looking into buying land for a new training ground. He said: "Ian Holloway is talking to us about better training facilities with six pitches. We have already put out some feelers about some land." The chairman has been impressed by the spirit instilled by Holloway in his squad. "Ian has got them working for each other and given them a bit of belief," he said. "Give him his credit for that. He wears his heart on his sleeve but he has actually got them playing for him. Lilian Nalis, for example, is a fantastic man We have got such a great bunch of players and it's really nice to see it."

David Norris has been nominated for the FA Cup Player of the Fifth Round award. He said: "I'm really pleased to be nominated, especially when you look at some of the other players on the list. It's nice for me but, hopefully, it will get more focus on Plymouth as well, which is good." On offer for the winner is a VIP trip for two people to the FA Cup final in May, complete with full hospitality, and the player with the most votes will also secure £500 of football equipment to donate to a local school of his choice. Norris added: "That would be superb, so can I ask the Argyle fans to vote for me. Thanks." Norris admitted to mixed emotions about Argyle's quarter-final draw at home to Watford. He said: "I would have loved to get a Chelsea, a Man United or an Arsenal. With so few teams left in the draw we had every chance, but the main thing was to get a home game, and we have got that against Watford. When the first four teams had gone and then Chelsea came out I thought 'this is going to be us' but it wasn't to be. The most important thing then was to get the home draw, and we got it." Argyle played Watford twice in the Championship last season and both games ended in draws. Norris said: "We really should have won both games. It was 3-1 here and 1-0 at their place until the last minute. I don't think their squad has changed too much so we will know a little bit about them. We are looking forward to it."

Paul Stapleton was delighted with the outcome of yesterday's FA Cup draw. "I was so pleased to get the home draw," he said. "On Saturday I said that maybe Watford at home would be the one to have, to try and get revenge for 1984 for those of us who went to Villa Park. We drew with them twice last year. We all thought we could have beaten them both times. They won promotion, they're a good team, Aidy Boothroyd is a good manager, but they're not used to winning this year. We've just got to give it our best shot, we've got to fill Home Park, make a lot of noise and give it a go. It's not going to be easy, we know that, but what a great chance this gives us to get to the semi-finals again. What a season that would be! Just look at what Millwall did. They got there. Once you've got this far, what a dream it is to progress further. Let's hope our fans can push us all the way. This is what we wanted when we invested in players in January. We thought there were a lot of things to play for this season. There's everything to play for."

For Argyle's players, yesterday's Cup draw was a brief distraction from their preparations for routine business. Lilian Nalis said: "We have some Championship fixtures to look after first. We have to be focused on the League. We want to get some points and maybe get back in the race for a promotion place. The four games coming up are vital for us. We need as many points as we can get. The only thing that matters is the results." Asked about Argyle's Cup prospects, Nalis added: "If you look at the positions of the teams in their leagues, you have to say it is a good draw, but it will still be a tough game. Watford are having a bad season, they are fighting for their lives in the Premiership, but they will be putting everything into the Cup tie. I am sure of that. Everyone will be up for it. The city will be up for it, the club is going up for it. It is going to be something special." Hasney Aljofree played a big part in steering Argyle through the third and fourth rounds of the Cup, and he said: "We've got a fantastic opportunity of getting to the semi-finals. We quietly got to the fifth round and we beat Derby convincingly on Saturday. Now we've got Watford to look forward to."

19th

Argyle have been drawn at home to Watford in the FA Cup sixth round. The tie will be played on the weekend of March 10/11th

Kevin Gallen has revealed his delight at the FA Cup sixth round draw. He said: "A home tie is what we were all asking for. It is a decent draw for us. Watford are obviously a Premiership team and, maybe, their main priority will be the Premiership. There is no doubt they are a tough team. They are in the Premiership on merit, so they have got to be favourites. Our pitch is a great leveler and it is a draw I am really looking forward to. It was a tasty atmosphere for the Derby game and we have got a great chance of reaching the semi finals and you never know what will happen in a semi final. I reached the Quarter Finals in my first ever year in the FA Cup back in 1995. We lost away to Manchester United."

Paul Stapleton has admitted the FA Cup draw against Watford gives Argyle a good chance to reach the semi finals. He said: "They are a good team. Aidy Boothroyd is a good manager. They are not used to winning this year, so we have got to just give it our best shot. We have got to fill the place and make a lot of noise. It is not going to be easy but we have got a chance, a great chance, of making it through to the semi finals of the FA Cup. We drew with them twice last year and, at the time, I felt we could have won both of those games." Stapleton is delighted with the increased media coverage Argyle have enjoyed and he is now looking forward to the visit of Colchester tomorrow night. He said: "Millwall got there and, once you are at this stage, the dream of progressing is there. The players said the atmosphere was electric last Saturday. Let us try to make this place a fortress. They will understand that Cup fever is gripping us already. I don't think I need to make a rallying call. We are in the media all the time and it is not just a little paragraph in The Sun. We are getting full page coverage now and it is what we wanted when we invested in players in January. I really want to win every game starting with Colchester tomorrow." 

Argyle's game at Burnley, scheduled for March 10th, has been postponed due to the FA Cup quarter finals. No date has yet been set for the re-arranged game

Paul Connolly and Luke McCormick insisted that Argyle were worthy winners over Derby on Saturday. Connolly said: "To be honest, I think that we totally dominated Derby from start to finish. Even though they went down to 10 men, I don't that mattered anyway, as we were on top from the start. In the changing room before the game, I could tell that the boys were really up for it. And we just carried that attitude out onto the pitch. The crowd was magnificent today, too and got behind us. Hopefully, they'll come back over the next few home games. We have totally outplayed a top of the Championship team. I think from our goalkeeper to the strikers, we were always right in their face." Connolly added that their morale did not dip even when Kevin Gallen's second spot kick was saved. "I don't think it affected our morale at all," he said. "Kev was unlucky - he struck it well but it was a good save. The boys then just responded and rose to the challenge again and stepped up to another level. I just think we stayed on top - it was a brilliant performance from everyone." Connolly thought that his fellow defenders deserved great praise for keeping the visitors at bay. "We were rock solid and even when Jon Macken got through late on, Luke (McCormick) was able to produce a great save and tip his shot over the bar," he said. "But apart from that I can't really remember a clear chance they have had. I give all credit to the goalkeeper and the back four. The FA Cup is always a welcome distraction, but at the end of the day our bread and butter is the league. If we can play like that against Colchester tomorrow night, that'll be perfect for us. The league form's been good and Plymouth are sitting 11th in the table, but we can do so much better." McCormick felt the home support had played a big part in urging on the weakened starting XI. "We were extremely pleased with how we played today," he said. "We dominated the majority of the game and the fans got right behind us. We needed the fans to be as vocal as possible today and they did that in every way. The way the fans got behind us gave us a tremendous lift. It wasn't the busiest day in goal for me, but that's because we defended really well, so I didn't have an awful lot to do." McCormick also praised the part played by 17-year-olds Dan Gosling and Scott Sinclair. "We've got a good balance of youth and experience, but we know those boys are exciting every time they get the ball," he said. "The likes of Scotty can do everything, particularly terrorise defenders. It's a massive plus to have him in the team."

Argyle are set for a £500,000 cash windfall after making it into the FA Cup quarter-finals. They will pick up £120,000 in prize money after beating Derby, adding to the £100,000 they had already banked from the previous two rounds. The quarter-final will be televised live by the BBC or Sky, with a payment of £265,000, and if that tie is played at a sold-out Home Park, the Pilgrims will collect around £100,000 as their share of the gate receipts. Should Argyle win that game they will pick up £300,000 in prize money, plus further revenue from TV fees and gate receipts for their semi-final. Paul Stapleton has already done the sums and admitted it was a massive boost for the club. He said: "Assuming we get a televised home game in the quarter-finals, you are talking about £375,000. If we had a 18,000-19,000 gate our share of that is somewhere between £90,00 and £100,000. When we had Everton here in the FA Cup we got £100,000. So, you get £100,000 for the gate and £265,000 for the TV. We have got £120,000 in prize money for going through on Saturday, but the players have got a FA Cup win bonus so they will get a chunk of that. I'm not going to complain about that because I'm very happy they have got us this far in the competition. So if you add the prize money for this round, plus the TV and the potential gate receipts for the quarter-final, you are approaching £500,000. We are looking at that and saying 'Brilliant'. We have exceeded expectation. Whatever comes next is a bonus. Whoever we get in the draw, and wherever it is, we will take it. To beat the top of the league so comprehensively on Saturday was absolutely fantastic." Stapleton expected Argyle's share of the gate receipts against Derby to be around £90,000, but he insisted: "This is more than just about money. This is about the city of Plymouth and the buzz it's going to create. Now we are in the quarter-finals we are walking on air and everybody is talking about it. The club is the best brand in the city, we know that, and we have just got to move on and capitalise on that. We were really happy to get through on Saturday because there is always a bit of trepidation before a game like that." Stapleton admitted he wanted Argyle to avoid Chelsea in the quarter-final tie so Scott Sinclair could play in the tie. He said: "I'm not sure if I want Chelsea really because I want Sinclair to play. He's such a nice young man and he's so exuberant. He really does like it here, and that's lovely as well. When we go away he rooms with Dan Gosling, who is picking up tips from him."

Ian Holloway thought Argyle's victory over Derby on Saturday was their best performance at Home Park this season. He said: "From the second I walked out down the tunnel, I felt the fans were absolutely electric and I thought our lads gave them something to be excited about. We were positive, we were forceful in what we did and we took the game to them. To be honest, I felt Derby struggled to contain us in the first half and, yes, we got some rub of the green at last." Argyle were awarded two penalties, the first for a foul on striker Kevin Gallen by Derby defender Dean Leacock. Holloway said: "I don't think that was much a penalty as a couple of shouts we had at West Brom the other week. Davies must be sick about that, but we forced errors out of them. That was a long ball over the top, we chased it and Kev was very clever. I thought he linked play brilliantly for us, and Sylv got stronger as the game went on. I'm delighted. That's such a young team, yet you wouldn't have noticed. And it's nice to keep a clean sheet. This is what I hoped we would be like at home. It's raining, it has been nasty and it's not a nice place to come. We need to do that in our league performances now and start making this a fortress if we can, and that type of performance makes me really, really pleased. Never mind the result, I would have accepted that performance before the start, all day long. It was terrific." Argyle's second penalty came in the 32nd minute, after Darren Moore collided with Krisztian Timar. Holloway added: "Today we forced some mistakes out of them, and that's that. If you put a back four under pressure, whoever they are, they don't like it. You have got to do that. Some days you will get decisions, some days you won't. But at least, at last, it went our way. I was starting to lose hope on that. I was genuinely getting bitterly disappointed about it." Kevin Gallen has now scored two goals in seven games since making his loan move last month. Holloway said: "I don't think he's anything like as fit as he was when I left QPR. He had only started nine games for them and he has had a few problems. But we used to do ongoing things with him to keep him nailed down in his exercises to make sure he was fit. Maybe he wasn't doing that, who knows? He was very disillusioned about the club he has loved all his life. I need to get him back to where he was, confidence-wise, in his body. Both of his brothers have finished with back injuries, and his hamstrings were starting to bother him. I was delighted with him today because I felt he linked play and he also helped Sylv look a better player. I thought Sylv was a threat. That's the best he has played for a long time."

18th

Kevin Gallen admitted getting through to the last eight of the FA Cup was a huge thrill. "It's a great feeling to get into the quarter-finals," he said. "It's been a great day. The crowd's gone home buzzing, so I'm pleased. I think we dominated the first half and pretty much the whole of the second half. Derby had a couple of shots in the second half and, from one, our 'keeper made a good save, but other than that, I didn't see much that gave us anything to worry about. Gallen was brought down by Dean Leacock to win the penalty from which Argyle took a 13th-minute lead. He said: "The ball was a long kick, I chased it down, just touched it past the defender, and he clipped my heels, and I went down. It was a penalty." When Darren Moore gave Gallen a second chance from the spot, Derby goalkeeper Steve Bywater tried using a bit of kidology on the striker before saving the kick. "I wasn't listening to him," said Gallen, "but he was going on quite a bit. Fair play, he made a good save and it was a good bit of banter - I scored one, he saved one, and we won the game. If we'd have lost, I'd be kicking myself. I decided to go for the different corner but he didn't psyche me. I'd already made the decision." Gallen was also involved in the incident which saw Moore sent off midway through the second half. "He got booked a couple of minutes beforehand," said Gallen. "The ball was played into the channel, I turned to run after it and he blocked me. Being Darren's size, it's like running into a bus. He's a big unit. I couldn't stay on my feet. I fell over. I didn't dive. The linesman spotted it straight away. I didn't send him off; it was the referee and the linesman, so I don't know what the hoo-hah was. Darren didn't complain - it was the other players who hadn't seen it." Argyle sealed the victory six minutes from time when David Norris hunted down the ball and crossed for Scott Sinclair to head home. Gallen said: "All credit must go to Chuck because that was one hell of a run with six minutes to go. He's bombed 50-60 yards. Scott's got the world at his feet at the moment. He's 17 and has just got through to the quarter-finals of the cup. His potential is frightening, really. I'm really pleased for him. He's a great lad, he's got great character."

Ian Holloway was delighted with Argyle's win over Derby yesterday. He said: "I am as chuffed as a badger at the start of the mating season. They have to wait a long time and then they have got to do a lot of mating in the space of two weeks, and I am just at the start of it. We are in the last eight and I don't care who we are drawn against. I just want a home tie. It has not sunk in yet. Absolutely terrific performance and just what we wanted after last week and, from the second I walked down the tunnel, I felt the fans were electric. Our lads gave them something to be excited about. We were positive, we were forceful in what we did, we took the game to them and I thought they struggled to contain us in the first half." Argyle were perhaps a little fortunate to be awarded a penalty on 13 minutes but Holloway was just grateful to have some decisions go his way. "We got the rub of the green at last," he said. "I don't think the first one was as much of a penalty as we should have had at West Brom. Some days you will get the decisions and some days you won't. It was our day at last. I was starting to lose hope. I was genuinely getting bitterly disappointed." Holloway was delighted with the performance of Kevin Gallen and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. He said: "We forced errors. It was a long ball over the top for the first penalty, we chased it and Kev was very clever. He linked play brilliantly for us all day and Sylv got stronger as well. I know what Kev can do. I don't think he is anything like as fit as he was when I left QPR, so I have had to leave him out a couple of times. I need to get him back to where he was confidence-wise and in his body, but I am delighted with him today. He linked play and helped make Sylv look a better player. Sylv was a threat and that is the best he has played in a long time. One or two people were moaning about him last weekend. I can't protect him and he has to stand up, and I am delighted for him today." There were strong performances all over the pitch from a young Argyle team with David Norris and Lilian Nalis controlling the midfield, and the defence keeping a clean sheet. "Norris and Nalis were fantastic," said Holloway. I think Chuck is probably still running around now. Marcel Seip, Krisztian Timar were both terrific along with Sawyer and Connolly. I don't think Luke McCormick had much to do. It was such a young team but you would not have noticed, and I am delighted to keep a clean sheet. If you are good enough, you are old enough and they both proved that." The victory was all the more impressive considering the form Derby have displayed in recent weeks. Holloway said: "We knew what they have been doings and results sometimes come in phases. They have won a lot recently but they probably should have been a few down at half time. This is what I hoped we would be like at home. It has been raining and nasty, and it is not a nice place to come to. We now have to start doing that in the league and make this into a fortress. That is why I was so impressed with Sunderland last week because they were really on their game."

17th

Argyle beat Derby County 2-0 in the FA Cup fifth round at Home Park, the goals scored by Kevin Gallen from a penalty after 14 minutes and Scott Sinclair (83). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Timar, Sawyer, Gosling, Norris, Nalis, Sinclair, Ebanks-Blake, Gallen. Subs - Halmosi (not used - Hodges, Summerfield, Clapham, Djordjic). Attendance - 18,026.

David Norris is convinced Argyle can defeat Derby County today and qualify for the FA Cup quarter-finals. He said: "It's a winnable game and I think that's what makes it so interesting and exciting. The FA Cup is special for everyone in the country so it's a big game and we are all looking forward to it. If we can win this game we would be in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and that would be great." Derby spent £3.7 million on new signings during the transfer window and Norris added: "Derby are on fire at the moment and they have made some good additions to their team during the window. They are top of the table in a very tough league and, having played them at their ground, we know they are a really good side." Argyle's squad has been depleted by injuries, ineligibility and suspensions for the tie and Norris said: "The players who are out are regular first teamers and they are going to be missed. But, to be fair, when we have lost players this season the boys who have come in have done good jobs. Hopefully, it will be the same again. It's a one-off game and we have already beaten them here (at Home Park) this season so I don't see why we can't beat them."

The excitement of the FA Cup is far from a novelty for Gary Sawyer, who was playing for Exeter City two years ago, when they twice played Manchester United. "In the first game I played against David Bellion and Chris Eagles, and then United brought on Alan Smith and Ronaldo," Sawyer said. "They fielded a stronger team in the second game, and I faced Rooney, Ronaldo, Louis Saha and Ryan Giggs. It was unbelievable to play against players of that calibre. To get that sort of draw doesn't happen very often, especially being away in the first game. When the draw was made, I was trying to rush home but I didn't quite make it for the start. I turned the TV on, but we were one of the first teams to come out so I just missed it. I spent the whole draw with people ringing me up, but I didn't really believe it until there was a re-run on the TV and I saw it for myself. The build-up to the tie was fantastic. Exeter were going through a bit of a hard time, and getting that game saved the club. It was a great time. Everyone was buzzing, and to play in both matches was tremendous for me." Sawyer is looking forward to more FA Cup excitement today, but this time wants to finish on the winning side. "To get to the last 16 of the FA Cup is some feat, and to have a decent chance of getting through to the last eight is brilliant," he said. "We've got a real chance of going through, and all the boys believe that. Home Park is a difficult place to come and play, and I don't think Derby will have liked that draw. I think we were a team a lot of clubs wanted to avoid, having to come all the way down here and play here." Sawyer, who is likely to be picked at left-back today in place of the injured Tony Capaldi, added: "It's great to get so much experience at this level. I always thought I would be able to get in the side after I came back from Exeter, because of my belief in my ability, but I didn't expect to be picked so quickly. I take every game as it comes and do my best, and if I don't get picked then I work hard in training and do my best to get in the team for the next game."

Derby may be pushing for promotion Premiership but Ian Holloway believes they will be fully committed today. He said: "Absolutely. They won't roll over, not with the squad they've put together. I think they'll take it seriously. They spent more than anybody else at our level in the transfer window - nearly £4m." Holloway is eagerly anticipating today's challenge, but is mindful of reality as well. "I'm excited by the prospect of it," he said. "I'm unbelievably optimistic, but I don't expect anything. We're playing the team who are top of our league. They've done very, very well, and they've got a fair few points on board more than what we've got. It's a very exciting feeling for everybody. It's great. Our lads have earned the right to be here. I'm glad it's a home tie, and I'd like to win it for our fans. I think we've been beaten four times at home, and that isn't a nice feeling. I'm sure my players will fully appreciate the opportunity and what's at stake for the people of the area." Holloway does not have many players to choose from today, but remains optimistic about fielding a competitive team. "We've shared points with Derby this year," he said. "We've got three, they've got three. We were very close to them in the game we lost. Their form is slightly better than ours at the moment, but hopefully we can throw the form-book out of the window. I'm quite excited by our options. I think I know what I want to do, and how we're going to do it. The squad is a bit stretched, but it's a lot stronger than it was before I brought our new players in last month. It's a good job we did that. We went to Norwich last month with plenty of players out as well, and we won 3-1. It gives an opportunity to some of our young lads. I've got to pick the right sort of shape and the right sort of formation to cope with anything Derby throw at us. It will be a very positive line-up, and I'm asking for a very positive performance."

16th

Ian Holloway has revealed he has been hit by cup fever this week. He said: "I'm excited by the prospect of it. And I'm unbelievably optimistic, but, as always, I don't expect anything. We are playing the team who are top of our league. They have done very, very well and they have got a fair few more points than we have got. But we have shared points with them this season - we have got three and they have got three. I'm feeling pretty ill really. I have come down with cup fever. This is a new thing for me. I don't think I have ever got to the fifth round of the FA Cup before as a manager, so it's nice. When I was at Bristol Rovers we played Barnsley in the fourth round and got stuffed 4-1. Craig Hignett got a hat-trick, and I still don't like him now. I like him as a bloke and as a player, but I don't like him for doing that to me. It was an awful feeling." Argyle reached the fifth round for the first time since 1988 after beating Peterborough United and Barnet. Holloway said: "Now the day is looming and we are getting closer and closer to it, it's a very exciting feeling for everybody. I heard Sparksy on Radio Devon yesterday morning and he was starting to make me feel nervous. It's a nice prospect, and it's pretty surreal for me because I have always said I'm a bit of a cheap tea bag - I don't stay in the cup very long. Now I'm in the fifth round so hopefully, my cup of tea will look a nice muddy colour! The lads have earned it. You can say what you like about our opposition but they were unbelievably tough games. Peterborough gave us a hell of a fright when they scored here, but we were 2-1 up by the end of the first half. Then we went to Barnet and they started like a house on fire but we managed to withstand it. We got a penalty and an absolute wonder goal, and now we have got Derby at home. We have been beaten four times at home in the league and that's not a nice feeling, so it would be great to win for the fans tomorrow and get through. We will not take it lightly. I'm sure the lads we have got here will fully appreciate the opportunity and what's actually at stake for the people of this area." Derby had won eight successive matches before drawing at home to Hull City last Saturday, and Holloway added: "I think they are very clever in what they do. We have had some reports on it. Billy's teams always work hard but they have changed shape and system in games, which has caught people on the hop. You can have problems if your players don't understand how the picture changes when they move from a 4-4-2 with a diamond formation to a 4-3-3 the way he does it."

Argyle's list of unavailable players for tomorrow's game with Derby County is still growing. Tony Capaldi is the latest, and will take no part in the tie because of a groin injury. Ian Holloway said: "Tony has got a sore groin, and we've got to get a scan done. There might be some muscle tears. We don't think there are, but there might be. Tony might have to rest, or he might need an operation. We don't know yet, because we can't book a scan until Monday. Over the last two or three weeks he has been getting steadily more and more sore. He's been trying to play through it, but we've got to do what's right for him. We will not be risking him on Saturday." Akos Buzsaky tore his hamstring on Monday, and Holloway admitted. "That's a big blow. We wanted to do some testing to find out where they are fitness-wise, and some sprints were done after they'd had a decent warm-up. It just goes to show. Akos hasn't had a pre-season, but the last thing you expect is for someone to tear a muscle just by doing some testing. And the weather we've had, changing from hard surfaces to a bog, and not having enough pitches to train on, has contributed to the problem." The loss of Buzsaky and Capaldi has been partially balanced by the availability of Bojan Djordjic, who is fit to play after recovering from a fractured cheekbone. "Bojan is looking sharp as a tack," Holloway said. "He hasn't played a game, but in the tests that we did he was very good, considering he's been out since Christmas. He might well feature, which is good news."

Ian Holloway has dismissed claims that Dan Gosling could be on way his to Chelsea this summer. Asked about a story that had appeared in a national newspaper, he said: "What a crock of potatoes that was! Some of these reporters are a disgrace. They just sit at their desks and start a rumour. The story isn't true and they haven't even bothered to find out if it's true. What's the point? All it does is unsettle people. I've had Mrs Gosling ringing me up. It does annoy me. It's all speculation, and I can categorically say Chelsea haven't been on the phone. Chelsea have been watching Scott Sinclair play for us, so I'd be surprised if they don't get to hear about Dan, but he's just 17 and he's playing in the Championship. What that does is it starts it off. People ask: 'Is he any good?' I know he's good, and I also know he wants to be here so they can all just shove it."

Argyle's South Western League game against Plymouth Parkway at Bolitho Park tonight has been postponed

15th

Mike Pejic has revealed his short and long-term plans as Argyle's new head of youth coaching. He said: "I met Ian Holloway, Michael Dunford and Gordon Bennett a couple of weeks ago. I have also had a chat with John James and we covered quite a few areas that need looking at. Ian Holloway is fresh, he's bright and he's very enthusiastic about the youth side of things. You get some managers who aren't interested in that. They are only interested in experience and they go with that all the time. But it's nice for a young kid to go all the way through from the youth team to the first team. In the short term, I need to assess each age group, check out the coaches and start to put a development programme in place. For example, during the close season this season all the young players will have a conditioning programme. In the long term, the aim is to have enough players coming through each year that have a chance of getting in the first team." Pejic has worked for Stoke City's academy, and has also taken 'A' licence coaching courses at Lilleshall, with Roy Keane one of his students last summer. Pejic worked with Gordon Bennett at Stoke, where the latter was academy director. "We are putting our heads together on how things will work between us," Pejic added. "Gordon is very good on the administrative side and all that type of thing, but he has also got a good idea on talent."

14th

David Norris made his 200th appearance for Argyle in the defeat by Sunderland on Saturday. He said: "I didn't realise it was my 200th game on Saturday but it's a nice figure to reach and, hopefully, there will be many more to come. The result was a shame but Sunderland were a good side and, like people have said, the better team won on the day." Norris, who initially signed on a one-month loan for Argyle in October 2002 continued: "I came here in the first place to play football and I have been very lucky with injuries, touch wood. It has been pleasing. Wottsie has been here forever, so to be second to him in the most matches played, I'm happy with that. There has been the odd up and down since I have been here but, overall, it has been very successful, for me and the club. We have come up a league and now we are establishing ourselves in the Championship." Argyle's Division Two title in 2003/04 remains the highlight of Norris' time at Home Park. He said: "The team spirit we had then made it a brilliant season. We were so close and we worked hard for each other. We probably weren't the best team, technically, in that league but we won the championship because we were so together as a squad." Norris admitted it is currently a transitional period for the team as new faces fit into the squad. He added: "I think that's fair to say. It's going to happen when you bring in that many players, but we are adjusting to each other. It's going to take the foreign lads a little bit of time to settle, but I'm sure we will see the benefits of it."

Akos Buzsaky has suffered a torn hamstring and faces six weeks out. He was hurt when the squad were carrying out some tests on their fitness levels at Marjons on Monday, and a scan revealed he had suffered a grade two hamstring tear. Tony Capaldi is also a doubt for the FA Cup game against Derby because of a groin injury, whilst Barry Hayles, Hasney Aljofree and Mathias Doumbe are all suspended for the game, and Rory Fallon is cup-tied

13th

Ian Holloway believes it is too soon to make judgments on the five players he signed during the transfer window. He said: "I don't think it's fair for people to make judgments on the new players at this stage. Maybe in six months, or after a season, but not now. When you have come from a foreign country, in particular, it takes time to acclimatise. If you are asking me: 'Have we seen the best of the new signings?' I would say 'No, not yet.' As they get to know me and what I want from them, they will only get better and better as time goes on." Argyle have conceded eight goals in their last four league games, but Holloway insisted he was not too concerned about that. "We haven't had a settled back four because of injuries and suspensions, but that's this time of the season for you," he said. "Obviously, we have got to try to keep nil against, but it took a couple of million pound-plus players to score against us on Saturday. I think we have deserved four points, maybe even five, from our last three league games. That wouldn't have been unrealistic at all, so to end up with only one point is very disappointing."

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake wants to see the real Argyle back in action as soon as possible. He said: "From our point of view, we've mostly played very well this season, and that's because we've been dogged and we've got in people's faces. Against Sunderland we just weren't the same team, and I don't know the reason for that. We had a few snatches at goal, but there was nothing clear-cut. The mentality of our team is that we never give up, and we were a bit unlucky with a few chances. The game could have gone either way, and if Rory had scored early in the second half it would have been a good game, but hindsight's a beautiful thing. We've just got to forget about it now and get ready for next weekend. We'll pick ourselves up." Ebanks-Blake is now preparing for this Saturday's FA Cup tie at home to Derby County, and with neither Barry Hayles nor Rory Fallon available, he seems likely to retain his place in the side. "Every game until the end of the season is a big game, regardless of whether it's in the FA Cup or the League. We'll all be up for it, I'm sure we will," he said. "I'm pleased to be back in the team, even if it was because Barry has been suspended, but that's how you get your chance at this level. It's a very competitive team, and we've got a lot of good players. Everyone has to wait their turn."

Peter Hall has been named as honorary life vice-president by Argyle

Ryan Dickson had a hernia operation late last week to rectify a groin injury which ended his loan at Torquay United. He is likely to be out of action for a month, and Torquay hope to renew his temporary transfer once he is fit

12th

Argyle's reserve game at Bristol Rovers scheduled for today has been postponed because of a waterlogged pitch. Bojan Djordjic had been set to make his comeback in the match after recovering from a broken cheekbone and nose, and Ian Holloway had also planned to play Paulton Rovers' striker Ashley Barnes. Holloway said: "Hopefully, we will get the chance to have another look at him. We will have to wait and see."

Rory Fallon had no complaints about the result after Argyle were beaten by Sunderland on Saturday. He said: "It was a tough game. They deserved the win, at the end of the day, but we had chances. I was gutted I didn't get on the scoresheet, but that's football. It was very even until they scored. Then we had a 10-minute spell where we just totally lost the plot and they capitalised on it." Fallon could have put Argyle into the lead only 35 seconds into the second half. The ball broke to him inside the penalty area, but his shot was saved by Marton Fulop. Fallon said: "It just popped up a little too quick for me, so I had to have a snap-shot at it. I didn't get enough power behind it. I probably had three good chances today, so I'm gutted I didn't get on the scoresheet. Goals change games." Sunderland are in seventh position in the table, but only three points behind second-placed West Brom. and Fallon added: "I was impressed with them, but at one stage we were looking better than them. But when we let in goals like that and we don't score then it doesn't help us. It would have been a totally different story if I had scored at the start of the second half. I'm a bit disappointed that didn't happen, but you have just got to take it and think about the next game now. We have got to get back to training and work hard. We don't want to dwell on this too much. We got beaten by a better team today." Fallon admitted Argyle's chances of finishing the season in a play-off position were now slim. He said: "It's going to be hard now, but anything is possible in this game and funny things have happened. But we can't think about that. We have got to think about our next game, and our next win. There are quite a few new lads and it will take a while for everyone to settle in. I have only just got out of the hotel today. I'm in an apartment now. It does make it hard, but you have just got to get on with it. Hopefully, we can do a bit better in our next game." That game is against Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round and Fallon said: "It would be nice to get something out of this season, whether it be the cup or the league."

Argyle beat Callington 2-1 in the South Western League on Saturday, both goals scored by Josh Grant. Chris Souness said: "I was disappointed with our first half performance and it is fair to say we had some strong words at half-time. We were looking for a response from the players and to a large extent I think we got one. We definitely moved the ball about more in the second half and caused them a few more problems. To be fair to Callington they competed valiantly and from their point of view the goal was an exquisite finish but from our point of view we were playing in bad areas. We finished the game with four schoolboys on the pitch and they certainly did themselves justice and I was pleased that Josh Grant scored what I would call two poacher's goals." Argyle: Saxton, King, Watts, White, Kendall, Hopkinson, Byrne, Petnehazi, Wright, Joyce, McCrory. Subs - Edwards, Groves, Grant (not used - Mason.J, Morrison)

11th

Ian Holloway admitted his side were second best for the first time this season, following yesterdays defeat. He said: "I would say that is the first time we have been second best. We have lost a few games, some of them quite heavily, but we did ok for large periods of those games. Today, I felt the first half was very close but we just folded in the second half. A lot of credit goes to them for that but I did not like it. Sometimes when you get beat, you can hold your head up but I thought we looked weak today. Holloway was full of praise for Roy Keane, and said: "Roy has got them going and very organized. The first goal is vital in most games but I did not expect it to be that vital, and I did not expect some of mine to let their shoulders drop. They then scored again very quickly and it could have been three. They have invested and are moving forward, and so are we but I thought we looked a million miles from them in the second half." The outcome may have been different if Rory Fallon had converted a decent chance at the start of the second period, but Holloway said: "If my auntie had other things she would be my uncle. If is the biggest word in the dictionary but I like to think I have told it how it is all season, and I felt we were a poor second to them in the second half." Holloway felt an apparent dislocated finger suffered by Paul Connolly early in the second half was crucial. He said: "One of the turning points was Paul Connolly and his finger. We did not seem the same after that and the boy was obviously in a lot of pain. We put it back in and I still wanted him to bomb past Chuck because my right hand side is very effective at times. We needed that to be functioning but after that I can't remember him bombing forward and getting much. That is just the way it is." Holloway is now looking to erase the disappointment of defeat and called on his troops to come out fighting. He said: "I am very ambitious and I want to be where they are going, so I feel pretty disappointed today. Did we really create as the home team should? I don't think so. In vital areas, they just had that overall edge. It was as well as anybody has done here. They limited us to certain chances and dealt with us a lot more comfortable than some teams have. Roy has installed a focus to keep going and he has added some people. He is a different person to most I have met and his club looked like that. You could tell he was in charge and it was organized and disciplined. We have got to realize that, no matter what anybody else thinks of us, we have earned the right to be a gladiator in that ring with them and you have got nowhere hide. If you get cut or stabbed, you have got to fight back and hurt them. We did not do that enough today. I expected us to be mentally stronger than that. There are a few people that are absolutely vital to that when they wear the Green shirt. Hayles is one of them, Wotton is one of them. Lilian has been terrific recently and I still felt he had a decent game today."

10th

Argyle lose 2-0 to Sunderland at Home Park. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Kouo-Doumbe, Capaldi, Norris, Nalis, Buzsaky, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Fallon. Subs - Sinclair, Summerfield, Gallen (not used - Sawyer, Gosling). Attendance - 15,247.

Kevin Gallen is banking on home advantage tipping the balance in Argyle's favour against Sunderland today. He said: "Sunderland have spent a lot of money this season and yes, they impressed me up at Loftus Road. They are definitely going to be difficult to beat, as their latest results have shown. But, from experience, I still think that coming to Plymouth is one of the least relished trips. They've got expensive and talented players, but playing at Home Park when it's windy and on a heavy pitch and with the home crowd in full voice - that's a great leveller. I'm just looking forward to being on the right end of that sort of intimidating atmosphere for once. And particularly now, given how well the club has done this season. Argyle are a lot different from last season, when they came to QPR and drew 1-1. To be honest, I don't think they had any attacking intentions in that game. It was a case of not conceding and not losing. Now, under Ollie, Plymouth are all about attacking and putting pressure on the opposition. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that against Sunderland, who I know won't relish coming down here." Gallen has already experienced defeat to Sunderland this season, and added: "I played against them up at QPR at the end of November and they beat us 2-1. They came to Loftus Road and operated with just one striker up front, but played the ball around really well. If I'm honest, they had a whole host of chances and should have scored more goals. But since I've been down here I've been very impressed by the talent at Plymouth. There are experienced players like myself, Lilian Nalis and Barry Hayles, but also there are lots of promising younger players at the club too. Summs, Dan Gosling and Gary Sawyer have all come in and done really good jobs for the team. And those youngsters have got the likes of Lilian and Barry to guide them in the right way. So, I've been very impressed since coming down to Plymouth - I'm very happy here."

Michael Dunford has revealed that next seasons away kit will be a mixture of the traditional green, along with yellow, following a fan vote. The strip is likely to be a predominantly yellow shirt, green shorts and yellow socks

Suspensions have made Ian Holloway's selection decisions easier for todays game with Sunderland. He said: "Kevin Gallen is one of those players I am thinking about, as is Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Rory Fallon. It is all about the right pairing. None of those three have played together yet. Matt Doumbe is fully fit to train and he played a reserve game, where he did very well and he was a big part of us keeping a clean sheet, so he comes into my thinking." Argyle are guaranteed to be in for a tough game against Roy Keane's resurgent side, and Holloway added: "This Saturday is another big test for us. I picked a team for last Saturday and I will be picking a team for this Saturday and they might be very different. We have got a big couple of weeks coming up but I am bitterly disappointed with the results we have got over the last two games because we have fallen away from where I wanted to get to. I will be looking at Sunderland's strengths and their weaknesses, if they have any, and I will be trying to penetrate those slight flaws. They gave us a very good game and came steaming back at us in the second half, and I had to make a couple of positive substitutions, which was unusual for our fans to see with the defence looking to be on their last legs. Roy has done a fantastic job and got them all motivated, which I had no doubts about and they are near the play-off zone and have got more points than us."

9th

Ian Holloway is convinced his squad can cope without three suspended players against Sunderland at tomorrow. Barry Hayles and Hasney Aljofree are both starting two-match bans after being booked 10 times, whilst Marcel Seip is suspended for one game following his fifth yellow card. Holloway said: "I think I have got a lot stronger squad now, with the new intake, than I did have before. I'm very pleased with everybody that we have added. I have tried to say all along how pleased I was with the spirit and the standard of the players I have inherited, particularly the young ones. They are an absolute bonus. I have been delighted with that, and I believe we are a stronger unit than we were at the start of the season. That's all I can say. As a manager, that's all you look to do. I have thoroughly enjoyed the support I have got in bringing in every single player I have added. Tomorrow is another test for us. We have got a very big couple of weeks coming up." Mathias Doumbe made a successful return from injury in the reserve win against Swindon on Monday and is set replace Aljofree. Holloway said: "Mat Doumbe is fully fit. He played for the reserves and did very well. We kept a clean sheet and he was a big part of that, so he comes into my thinking." Argyle have had disciplinary problems this season, but Holloway believes they have been hard done by. He said: "It's so easy to get yellow cards these days and you can't appeal against them, so it's rather frustrating to say the least. All we ever do is look at each booking on its merit, and either fine a player or discipline a player as we go. It's so easy to tot up 10. I cannot stand ill-discipline ones, which are normally dissent. I think we have had two of those all season, and both were Barry Hayles, so he has been fined about that. I love people who want to tackle and win the ball. I think Mat Doumbe was so harshly dealt with when he was sent-off against Derby County earlier in the season. It was a fantastic tackle and, people like that, I don't get angry at and I don't discipline. Without spirit and wanting to tackle somebody on the opposition, I don't think supporters would pay to watch games. It is a manager's job to get a strong enough squad to cope with these losses because it's inevitable you will get losses."

Ian Holloway has insisted Tony Capaldi remains totally committed to Argyle and will remain part of his first team plans for the rest of the season. Holloway said: "I will pick a team that I think will beat Sunderland. If Tony is in it, he's totally committed to us, as he always has been. The fact he has decided to exercise his right to let his contract run out is a modern phenomena. I think Tottenham were the first to feel it with Sol Campbell. I think it's all in the balance whether Tony leaves or stays. I'm going to play the strongest team I have got available, considering what Sunderland will have up against us. He has got every chance of being in it." Holloway has urged Argyle fans to get behind Capaldi, and added: "If I hear any fan having a go at one of my players unfairly, I will be round their house, knocking on their front door. And if they don't answer it, I will go through the back door and tell them how I feel, because they will not be helping me or my club move forward the way I want to. If I haven't got a problem with a player who is exercising his right, I don't see why the fans should. Tony has played fantastically well for this football club and helped them be very, very successful. He has earned more international caps in his time here than anybody else ever has, and I think the fans should be very proud of him, as I am. If I can adopt that attitude, I don't want anybody in my ground who adopts a different one."

Ian Holloway has called on referee Keith Stroud to give both sides a fair deal in tomorrows game with Sunderland. "We are at home and it should not matter who the team against you are, it should not matter at all," he said. "It is 11 v 11 and let's hope the referee makes decisions fairly on both sides, unlike the things we have had to witness in recent weeks. I have had a conversation with a referee's assessor, who watched the incidents at West Brom and he tends to agree with me, which makes me feel sick to the core. You will now not see me talking to the fourth official or remonstrating from the sidelines. I am sick and fed up of asking for things, and I believe it works itself out at the end of the day. There are certain clubs, where the size of the situation means less experienced referees can not always make the right decision. Unfortunately, we have had that go against us in the last two or three games, so let's hope that will change."

Ashley Barnes, who played for the reserves in their win over Swindon Town on Monday 17, has spent this week on trial at Home Park. Ian Holloway said: "The lad couldn't have done much more than he did the other night. He did ever so well, and scored a goal. It was on a very cold evening, and the pitch was difficult, but for a 17-year-old playing for Paulton Rovers to make the step up, I was very impressed with him. Our scouting network has picked him up. He played for Paulton when he was 15 and he has scored 12 goals already this season. I don't care where I get players from, it's can I use them, can I work with them and can I make them better than they are? Do I think young Barnesy could play 100 league games? I think he might have a chance to. At what level, I don't know yet. It's really difficult to judge and assess in a week, but that wasn't a bad start for the boy."

Argyle apprentice Karl Byrne made his debut for Republic of Ireland under-18s in their 0-0 draw against Holland on Wednesday

8th

Lee Hodges believes the Argyle have nothing to fear ahead of their upcoming three home matches against Sunderland, Derby County and Colchester United. He said: "There's no doubt our next three matches are mega-important. Not only in terms of keeping our play-off hopes alive, but of getting into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Sunderland are on a good run at the moment and will be tough to beat, but we're really looking forward to playing them. We've beaten them once already this season, as we have both Derby and Colchester, so we've got nothing to be afraid of. Sunderland are a much-changed team from when I played against them earlier this season. While there are league points and a place in the next round of the cup available, make no mistake, the players will be fighting all the way. It's not like it's make-or-break, but I think the fact that we came back from our away games at West Brom and Wolves disappointed, is a measure of how far we've come and our expectations. I know we're all looking forward to the next couple of weeks with, hopefully, full-houses to play in front of. There is no better feeling than being involved when there is so much at stake in front of big crowds at Home Park. I've never been on a cup-run with Argyle so it's nice that we are on one now. In the six years or so I've been at the club this is beyond doubt the strongest squad of players. If one or more players have to drop out through injury or suspension, the gaffer can draft in replacements and the quality doesn't suffer. That means, of course, if you're in the team you have to keep playing well or you'll be replaced. And the gaffer is not afraid of putting in any of the young players like Luke Summerfield, Dan Gosling and Gary Sawyer. They've all done very well when they've played so it keeps us experienced hands on our toes."

7th

Tony Capaldi became Argyle's most capped player when he played for Northern Ireland in their 0-0 draw against Wales last night. After the game Capaldi, who won his 21st cap in the friendly, said: "It's always nice to set a record and I'm very proud to have done this for Plymouth. The Press have been talking about it so, obviously, I've been aware of the situation since I played my 20th game, but I haven't been involved in the last four or five matches so I've kept everyone waiting a while for it. Setting records is nice but I'm just happy to be playing international football again and to get a clean sheet against a good side like Wales. I knew I would be playing as soon as I got here so I've been able to look forward to it. It was nice to be able to erase the memories of my last game against Iceland, when we lost 3-0. I am just looking forward to playing as many more games as I can, but there is a lot of competition for places from a lot of good players so that will keep me on my toes."

Ian Holloway has welcomed the appointment of Gordon Bennett and Mike Pejic to Argyle's youth set-up. Bennett starts his role as head of youth development tomorrow after leaving Stoke City, where he was academy director. Pejic, who has been working as one of Football Association's regional coaches, will take up his post of new youth team coach later this month. Holloway said: "Gordon was the one who helped produce me when I was at Bristol Rovers. He did a sponsored walk to the 92 Football League grounds and gave the money to Rovers. He then won a national supporter of the year award and gave the £1,000 prize money to the club to set up their own youth policy. They asked him: 'What do you mean?' and he said: 'I will tell you.' Gordon was an accountant at the time and Rovers said: 'Well, you may as well do it yourself.' So he got himself a job, he set that up and it was really, really successful. He ended up going to Norwich City and did the same thing there. He's a great bloke. I missed training once - only once. I would have been too frightened to do it again. He knows how to mould and make players. He knows what it's all about." Bennett recommended Pejic to Holloway for the role of youth team coach. Holloway said: "I met Mike Pejic the other week. He has got a great CV and he's a great person. I'm delighted with the lads we have got coming through and, hopefully, they will add to it. From the age of nine, Gordon would be around my house and checking my schoolwork. He makes you a responsible person. He gets you in good habits, and if you haven't get them, he will not waste his time with you. He gets rid of you. He doesn't just take people. Nearly everybody he gives a contract to becomes a professional. And he keeps on at you until you have played 100 league games and then he leaves you alone." Pejic was the manager of Chester City in the 1990s, as well as a coach at Port Vale and Stoke. Holloway said: "He's a very well-educated man. He has done a variety of jobs throughout football. He actually takes people for their 'A' coaching licence for the FA sometimes, so he's fully up to speed with everything. It's about getting the best of the best for our kids." Holloway and Tony Pulis were both products of the youth policy set up at Bristol Rovers by Bennett, and they all met up when Argyle drew against Stoke last August. Holloway said: "When we were there that day I said to Gordon, tongue in cheek, 'If you ever get fed up working for a bloke who doesn't play young kids, why don't you come and work with me, I actually play them.' Tony was there and just laughed and had a smile on his face. But I think that hit a nerve with Gordon. I'm looking forward to working with Gordon for the first time. He doesn't work for me, he's working with me." Holloway also had a long conversation with Pejic last month and outlined his plans for the club. He added: "I talked about what I want to try to do here and how I see the whole process of producing players for your first team."

Ian Holloway has refused to rule out the chances of Argyle making the play-offs this season. "There is no comfort zone for me," he said. "I want to be up towards the top and build something that can challenge for the Premiership. There is no reason why we can't get towards the play-offs. That was the target I set at the start of this season. We have been in the top half of the table all year long and we are in the last 16 of the FA Cup, and I'm only just starting, really." Holloway admitted he was envious of Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock. He said: "If you look at Neil Warnock, he spent most of his time in the lower leagues, working hard and getting promotions. It must be marvellous to actually face Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. I will just mention the top four because normally they are the only ones that really matter, with the greatest respect to everybody else. But we are all trying to get there. The rich are getting richer and the fat cats are as fat as they will ever get. They get the most money all the time, including what they get from the Champions' League."

Mathias Doumbe is ready to put a frustrating start to the year behind him after a successful comeback for the reserves on Monday. "At first we tried to find out exactly what was the problem with my back," he said. "I went to see the osteopath and everything went back to normal, and I started training last week. I don't think I have lost my fitness because I have been doing a lot of running. It has been really frustrating for me. The first week was very hard because my back wasn't getting better. After that, I said to myself there was no point trying to rush too much and I had to make sure everything was done the right way. You have to start from the reserve team, and I don't mind. I just want to win back my place in the first team." While Doumbe was sidelined in January, Ian Holloway signed five new players, including centre-back Krisztian Timar. Doumbe said: "The squad is bigger, which is good because you can freshen up the team a little bit. It also gives you more competition, which pushes everybody to their best performance." The Argyle squad stayed in the West Midlands last week, but Doumbe was not with them. He said: "You always want to be involved but I had only been back training for two days. I understood why the manager didn't take me because Krisztian was there and he had not had a chance." Doumbe is not taking it for granted he will be picked for the clash with Sunderland at Home Park. He said: "It's not my decision. I will wait, and if he asks me to play, I will play."

6th

Argyle reserves beat Swindon Town 2-0 at Tiverton last night, the goals scored by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and trialist Ashley Barnes, a 17-year-old from Southern League side Paulton Rovers. Argyle: Clapham, King, McCrory, Kouo-Doumbe, Kendall, Hodges, Smith, Laird.S, Ebanks-Blake, Barnes, Watts. Subs Duggan, Hopkinson, Davis (not used - Saxton, Joyce, White)

Ian Holloway thinks Krisztian Timar has all the attributes to be a success in English football, and thought he was 'terrific' against Wolves. Holloway said: "I think defending is all about being brave enough to step forward and not being scared of the space in behind you. You should still get tight to your man, and he does that all the time. He does it a little bit over the top sometimes, where he will lash out at people because he's a big, strong, uncompromising fella. Hopefully, that's just timing. He needs to get the timing of the English game. But, considering he hadn't played for more than two months, I thought he did very well on Saturday." As well as scoring against Wolves, Timar also made an incredible goal-line clearance when Argyle were leading 2-1. Timar dived full length along the goal-line and headed the ball against the right post, before Paul Connolly put it out for a corner. Holloway, though, was not particularly impressed with Timar's efforts on that occasion. "To be fair, that was one of the few things he got wrong," he said. "He ran on the goal-line when he should have come up and marked his man when it was pulled back to him. My goalie is paid to be on the goal-line. Everybody else is paid to go and press the ball. You can't let someone have a free shot at goal from eight yards out. That normally ends up in the back of the net."

Ian Holloway has confirmed that Peter Halmosi and David Norris will be fit for Argyle's game against Sunderland on Saturday. Both injured in the defeat by West Brom, and although Norris was keen to play against Wolves, he was not risked by Holloway. "They should be fully fit for selection this weekend," Holloway said. "That was the reason I didn't play them on Saturday." Tony Capaldi was also rested for the game against Wolves and Holloway added: "Tony's groins were very sore and they were getting tighter and tighter, so that was part of my decision." Barry Hayles hobbled off in the second half at Wolves because of a sore hip and toe, but will have time to get over those problems as he starts a two-match suspension this weekend. Holloway said: "He wasn't moving very well on Saturday but, as he's suspended, it's a good time for him to be injured. He just got a knee in the hip, which is very sore, and we have got to check out one of his toes. He says it's really painful. Hopefully, there is nothing broken."

Ian Holloway is confident that Dan Gosling is in the best place to maximise his footballing development. Gosling was outstanding last Saturday, and more performances of similar quality could attract scouts from Premiership clubs - a possibility Holloway is well aware of. "I'd imagine they would do that," he said, "but that boy is better off here. Ask Scott Sinclair what it's like sat in the reserves for a whole year while your team is buying new players and you're not getting a chance. Every young fellow wants to play. Gosling and his mum have thought about it and they've realised I will play him. I won't play him every week, because I don't think he's physically and mentally ready for it, but when he has played we've seen a freshness and a zest from him. I've been delighted with him. He's just signed for us and he wants to stay with us. I thought he was as calm as a cucumber all day on Saturday. Norris is one of our best players by a zillion miles, and Dan has just replaced him there for a game and we're all talking about him." Gosling almost grabbed a stoppage-time winner at Wolves, and Holloway added: "I thought he was terrific. He's like an old man. He knows where it is, he makes the right choices and he almost won it for us. It would have been great for him, but I'm still really pleased with him." Paul Connolly had a close-up view of Gosling on Saturday. "Dan was playing in front of me, and he absolutely unbelievable," he said. "I think he can go as far as he wants. He's got an absolutely massive future." Connolly felt that Argyle should have done better than gain only one point from their two games in the West Midlands last week. "We deserved four points, at least, from the two games," he said. "We should have got a point at West Brom and we all felt it was two points dropped at Wolves. They were there for the taking, and we created chance after chance. I was really gutted that we didn't take three points."

Argyle reserves will play Bristol Rovers in a re-arranged Pontins League fixture at the Memorial Ground on Monday, February 12th at 2pm. The South Western League side also have a fixture change. The away game at Plymouth Parkway has been brought forward 24 hours to Friday, February 16th at 7.30pm, in order to avoid a clash with the FA Cup fifth round game with Derby County

5th

Nic Warren has stepped down as a director of Argyle in order to allow himself time to concentrate on his current pursuits in London, although he will remain an ardent member of the Green Army. Paul Stapleton said: "On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Nic for all he has done for the benefit of Plymouth Argyle and wish him every success in his new ventures. Personally, I thank him for his support throughout our period together which goes right back to the takeover from the previous regime in August 2001."

Krisztian Timar made a goalscoring debut for Argyle in their draw at Wolves on Saturday and said: "I really enjoyed the game. There was a very good atmosphere and I'm happy because I scored a goal, but I'm not very happy about the result. We would have liked to win, but we drew and it was not enough. We should have drawn against West Brom, and here we should have won. All the team are a little bit disappointed with just one point from those two games. It's not enough. But I hope we will correct that in the next two." Timar is a threat at set pieces because of his physical stature, and proved that with his goal. He said: "It was a very good corner and I ran into the free space. It was an easy shot with my left foot. It was not difficult, but I'm very happy about the goal." Timar had not played a competitive match for more than two months before his Argyle debut. He added: "I'm very happy with how I played. I'm tired now a little bit, but when my fitness gets higher I will be much better." Timar played in the centre of defence with Marcel Seip and Paul Connolly was impressed with how the pair did against Wolves. Connolly said: "That was only Krisztian's first game, so there is more to come from him. But I think Marcel has been a breath of fresh air for us this season. He's such a clever front-foot defender and is very good at intercepting it from the strikers. He's really good to have around the place. He's a top lad. Krisztian was only playing his first game, so there's more to come, but he's very brave. If the ball is there, he'll go and win it - and he'll take the man as well."

Argyle have extended the loan contract of Scott Sinclair, agreeing with Chelsea to increase the original month's loan by another four weeks, until March 17th. Should Argyle progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals, Sinclair will be available for that game as well, as long as Chelsea are not the opposition

Argyle drew 0-0 at Saltash United on Saturday in the South Western League. Chris Souness said: "I have a lot or respect for Tim Halford and the job he and Kevin Hendy have done at Saltash and I knew this was going to be a very difficult game. Credit them for their organisation and the way they pressed us, making it very difficult for us to get our passing game into full flow. However I did feel that we had a little bit of quality in the last third of the pitch that should have earnt us a couple of goals. The big plus for me was in the second half when I knew we had to keep the ball in their last third and the introduction of 15-year-old Matt Wright totally changed the shape of the game. He enabled us to keep the ball up front, won everything in the air, and was a real handful throughout and he was the reason that we created the better chances in the second half. But all said and done I am not displeased with the result." Argyle: Saxton, King, Watts, Laird.S, Kendall, Hopkinson, Smith, Duggan, Davis, Joyce, McCrory. Subs - Wright (not used - Tozer, Morrison, Groves)

Argyle's Devon Bowl semi-final against Torquay United has been rescheduled. It was originally due to be played next week, but will now take place on Tuesday, March 20th, at Home Park

4th

Ian Holloway could not hide his pride at the performance of his side at Wolves yesterday. He said: "I'm very, very proud, I have to say. Even with the two old warhorses in the team, the average age of the team was 24 and I thought they were absolutely terrific. I threw the back line together. Krisztian's English is pretty broken but, with Hasney suspended next week, I thought it was a good time to look at him. I watched a three-seasons compilation of some of his games, little spells of matches, and there was some good stuff and some bad stuff in it. Gary Penrice did some homework on his character and, with Akos already here, we got him to come over for a trial. I think defending is all about being brave enough to step forward and not be scared of space in behind you, and getting tight on your man. He does that all the time. He does it a little bit over the top at times when he will lash out at people because he's a big, strong, uncompromising fella. Hopefully, he just needs to get the timing of the English game. He hasn't played for two months. I thought he did very well. I felt it was right to roll the dice that way. We are trying to build a squad that can sustain a decent position in the league, through injuries, suspension, whatever, and try to push towards the top." Peter Hamlosi was ruled out through injury, as were Tony Capaldi and David Norris, while Hasney Aljofree, Akos Buzsaky and Kevin Gallen were relegated to the bench. "Halmosi's injured but I chose to rest the other two although they said they were fit," said Holloway. "They weren't dropped - I rested them because I don't like risking any of my players." For the second time in four days, controversy surrounding the referee clouded the result. Holloway said: "My lot are incensed by the referee. That was a perfectly good tackle. What was wrong with it? It was a block tackle. We won it, we had the ball; what's wrong with that? I felt we went to sleep when the referee made the decision. They passed it forward, we should have still been defending anyway, and they equalised. Out of two matches, to have only one point? I am absolutely devastated, but it's all about performance. She was a very nice looking young lady today but she turned us down and didn't get in our taxi." Ollie paid tribute to Dan Gosling, who was handed a start three days after signing as a professional on his 17th birthday, and went close to snatching a late winner. "What can I say?" he said. "I thought he was as calm as a cucumber all day. Danny Golsing has replaced David Norris, who is one of our best players by a zillion miles, and we are all talking about him. He is like an old man. He knows where the ball is, he always makes the right choice, and he nearly won the game for us." Holloway was no fan of the multi-ball systemused, a contentious point that saw he and Mick McCarthy arguing on the touchline. "I thought the Multi-ball was an absolute joke," he said. "Why people were shouting at my goalie when he's got to run to get the ball because the little fella holding another ball wouldn't give it to him?If ever you want an advert of how not to do it? I told the referee at half-time: 'For goodness sake, change it.' If you are going to do Multi-ball, you should have a cone and put the ball on top of it. Don't let any young individual be responsible for it. How many times did you see two balls on the pitch?" With 15 games of the season left, Argyle realistically need ten wins to make the play-offs, but Holloway is not giving up. "There's no comfort zone for me," he said. "I want to be up towards the top, I want to build something that can challenge towards the Premiership. I know that, when you get there, you will probably get beaten every week but, if you look at Neil Warnock, he spent most of time getting promotions, working hard, and it must be marvellous to face Liverpool, Arsenal, Man U and Chelsea. We're all trying to get there. There's no reason why we can't get towards the play-offs. That's my target. I set it at the beginning of the year. We haven't been out of the top half of the table all season, we're in the last 16 of the FA Cup, and I'm only just starting. That was a young, fresh, hungry team who came to Wolves, weren't intimidated, and still looked calm in the end. Onwards and upwards."

3rd

Argyle drew 2-2 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the goals scored by Scott Sinclair after 27 minutes and Krisztian Timar (36). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Timar, Sawyer, Gosling, Summerfield, Nalis, Sinclair, Hayles, Fallon. Subs - Ebanks-Blake, Buzsaky, Gallen (not used - Aljofree, Hodges). Attendance 19,082.

Paul Wotton has congratulated Dan Gosling on his rise to the professional ranks at Home Park. He said: "It's great we have got Gos signed on. He came to Austria as a 16-year-old and was just awesome. There is no way he will let it go to his head. He's very level-headed and a really good lad. I'm chuffed for him. I'm sure he will fill out even more as he gets older but he competes, he puts his foot in and he's just so calm and assured on the ball. He has got a bright future, but he knows there is a lot of hard work ahead of him." Gosling is the latest player to graduate from Argyle's youth set-up and break into the first team, and Wotton added: "I think we have got a very good group of youngsters. There is Luke Summerfield, Ryan Dickson, Reuben Reid, Gary Sawyer and Scott Laird. That's a strong base of players, and it's great Gos has joined them."

Ian Holloway has promised all out attack when Argyle play Wolves today. He said: "Normally, they are very good at their own ground. But I want to try to attack Wolves. That has always been my philosophy as a manager. I think we are a great team going forward, but I don't think we are a great team at blocking things up. I know the fans at this football club like to see their side playing attacking football, and that's what I want, too. I think I would have been strung up from Smeaton's Tower if I had come here and said 'let's play defensive football'. I think some of our away performances this season have been fantastic. We have played some really entertaining football. I think West Brom will remember us. Their chairman said to our chairman that we were one of the best teams they had seen this season. What we have got to do is try to get at Wolves. It's a brave thing to do, but I want to encourage my team to play exciting, attack-minded football." As part of that, Holloway was expected to include Rory Fallon in the starting line-up for the first time today. Fallon was sent on as a 65th minute substitute for Kevin Gallen at West Brom and certainly unsettled the home defence. Holloway said: "I thought he made a difference when he came on. He knocked on one or two things, but he showed he has got more than that to his game when he controlled that ball on his chest and volleyed it in. I think he has got a lot more than an ordinary number nine. He's only 24 and he will get better and better. I think he's a lovely kid. He's very unassuming and if I can help him with anything, it's with his own self belief."

The last thing Lilian Nalis wants is a pointless trip to the West Midlands for Argyle, and today will be doing his best to defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers. "We have a lot of regrets from Wednesday," he said. "We played some great football and we deserved more out of the game, but we didn't hurt them enough in the first half. We had a great second half, and I think we could have drawn or even won the game. We just have to remember the good things we did, and we have to do them again tomorrow at Wolves and make sure we are on top of our game from the first minute." Despite the defeat, there were plenty of positives at The Hawthorns. "Rory scored a great goal," Nalis said. "He had a great touch when someone else might have tried to head the ball, and it was a really good finish. It's great for us to have so many good attacking players to choose from. They all have different qualities. We can go from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3, and we can hurt people. The new players have improved the team." Scott Sinclair  is set to make his first start today, and Nalis has been impressed by his talent. "He's got great pace, he's got great feet, and for me he's a great player for the future," Nalis said. "He's bringing us his quality, and he enjoys being in our team as well. He has come straight in and he's ready to work with everybody. That's absolutely brilliant for us." Nalis hopes that the combination of new and not-so-new ability in the Argyle squad will be enough to gain a result at Molineux today. "Wolves are doing well and they are a big club. They have more money than us," he said. "We need to make sure we give everything, from the first minute until the last minute. No more regrets."

2nd

The Argyle squad spent yesterday relaxing by the swimming-pool at a top hotel followed by a night out at the cinema - the pool a therapeutic necessity following the game against West Brom the previous night, while Rocky Balboa at the pictures offered an opportunity to top up on squad spirit. Tim Breacker said: "Due to the travelling, we decided to stay up. We've just tried to rest the lads as much as possible and have a count up of bodies. The ones that didn't play against West Brom trained at Birmingham on Thursday; for the others, the hotel has been very good - there's a swimming-pool there, which is excellent for recovery, so we've been working on that. That, and relax a little bit, ready to go again. We felt, very much in the second half of the game, we deserved to get something out of it. The message was to make sure we start the game on Saturday the way we started the second half and the players have been very bright and positive." With three of Wednesday's starters missing Friday's training because of injuries, the likelihood is that Ian Holloway will rotate his starting 11 tomorrow. "We did that on Wednesday and it gave us a little spark," said Breacker. "At this stage of the season, you have got to look at who's played, how many games they've played, how often they've played - and that's the beauty of having a squad. Ian has spent a lot of time getting that together. We feel we've got a stronger squad as we've gone on. We'll look at it - three games in a week is very difficult for a lot of players in terms of being as sharp and as bright as you'd like them to be. Whatever we do, they are all very positive. I'm sure, however we start in terms of personnel, the message for all of them is that we're good enough to do well in Saturday's game." Breacker has spent most of the week in the Midlands and knows that Wolves will provide another stern test for Argyle. He said: "I came up here on Sunday to look at them against West Brom and, although they lost that game, their record recently has been very good - they played at Norwich on Tuesday and won there - and it will be a difficult game for us. We're going to concentrate on us. We feel that, if we're up for it and start as we can start, we'll give anyone a good game. We're looking forward to it. I think it will be an open game - at this stage of the season, we have got nothing to lose. We're just going to have a go. Generally, that's what we've done through most of the season. We'll see where that takes us. Our belief is to try to be play as attractive football as possible from a solid base. Sometimes, you get it wrong where you attack too much and leave yourself open. Ideally, you go and attack and don't leave yourself open, but if it was that easy, we'd all be fantastic managers. We want to try to go and play - entertain, if you like - and have a go, and feel we have got a lot of attacking options in our team. We've got as much, attacking wise, to hurt anybody. That's the beauty of a squad. You are only as strong as your bench and whoever is on the bench has got to be able to come on and help us if needs be. It's about the squad. Some lads have been left out of the squad who have done well, and it's difficult to keep everybody alive and bubbly, but Ian's honest with everybody and will try to explain 'This is what we are trying to do'. The attitude since I've been here has been fantastic - not just amongst the 11, but the squad. You need that if you are going to do anything."

Tony Capaldi has been named in the Northern Ireland squad for the friendly with Wales next Tuesday

Anthony Mason and Sam Malsom have both joined Tiverton Town on loan. Malsom has signed a one-month deal, while Mason has joined on work experience. Mason was also this week named in the Republic of Ireland Under-18 squad

Scott Sinclair could make his first start for Argyle at Wolves tomorrow. Peter Halmosi is nursing an ankle injury, after being fouled by Richard Chaplow at West Brom on Wednesday, when after receiving treatment he was immediately replaced by Sinclair. Ian Holloway said: "I was going to make that change anyway. I think that now Scott has come on in the last three games and shown he's more than a capable player, he's ready for a start if I want to do that. He's only a baby so I have got to be careful with him, but he's coping with everything and he's picking up the defensive side of things. He's an out-and-out attacking player and what I have got to do is try to make him a little bit more solid away from home. Scott has shown a great workrate in his cameo performances. You have got to remember we brought him here to be an impact player, and normally that's coming off the bench. I have been very pleased with him, and very pleased for him. He's a wonderful kid and he's very much in my thoughts for Wolves. Obviously, Peter has got a knock as well and I think he needs to catch up with the pace of the game over here." Argyle are currently trying to arrange accommodation for Halmosi and Krisztian Timar, and Halmosi's family are set to arrive in Plymouth next week, which should make life easier for him. Holloway said: "It might be time to take him out of it and give him and Krisztian a bit of a blast in training so they can catch up with the speed of English football, which is totally different from Hungary, where it's a lot slower. I'm sure Peter will get used to it. He has already shown me a lot of qualities, which is very pleasing." After the defeat at West Brom Holloway expressed his regret at not giving Sinclair a starting appearance. He said: "You've got to get at them. They had a centre-half - Paul McShane - playing right-back, and, if I'd known Koumas was on that side as well, I'd have definitely started Scott Sinclair." The introduction of Sinclair along with Rory Fallon and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake gave Argyle's attack a different dimension for the final quarter of the game. "I don't want anybody in my team comfortable," Holloway said. "I need to try and put pressure on everybody. Barry didn't look too happy when he came off, because he doesn't like losing, but he's 34 and I've got to move forward. He's been fantastic for me, but I need to put pressure on him. Sylvan looked quite sharp, too, when he came on. I thought he threatened their back-line, which was something we didn't do at all in the first half." Holloway confirmed that Gary Sawyer would come into contention tomorrow Wolves after recovering from illness. He said: "I didn't involve Gary on Wednesday because he had missed a bit of training and still sounded rough, but he comes into contention for tomorrow."

1st

The match officials were the dominant theme of Ian Holloway's post-match Press briefing following the defeat at West Brom last night. Holloway was insistent that referee Mike Thorpe's display affected the result as much as Diomansy Kamara's two goals either side of half-time. "Sylvan got brought down," he said, "He lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and, if he hadn't got brought down by the 'keeper, he'd have got there and played it into an empty net. If that wasn't a penalty, what about Tony Capaldi, when he touched the ball past a player? If that wasn't a penalty, I may as well pack in. Thorpe's got to look at himself, to be perfectly honest with you. My players were incensed, I'm certainly more than that. If there was one penalty in that game, there should have been two. I didn't think that was fair. I know he doesn't deliberately do it, but I am absolutely incensed by the things I've seen this season - inconsistency of interpretation of rules. I'm sick and fed up of seeing it. I put my trust in referees to get those big decisions totally right. I felt we showed incredible restraint out there. Those things change games. We should have had two penalties. It could have been 3-2. I'm bitter; I'm warped; I'm horrible, because I hate losing." Holloway also questioned whether Thorpe was right to penalise Akos Buzsaky when he blocked Paul McShane's headed flick-on of Neil Clements' throw-in. "There was nobody behind Buzsaky so it wasn't going to go to a West Brom player," he said. "The ball was going across the box, but my 'keeper would have picked it up. There was nobody there. No-one jumped around, calling for it. It was an embarrassing penalty to give, I think. Ball struck hand, not the other way around. If the referee's going to be that finicky and that hawk-eyed, how did he miss our two? All I ask is a little bit of fairness, a little bit of heads and tails - if they get a penalty, we should get at least one." Holloway was also critical of his own team's early showing. He said: "I'll blame my team for the first 45 minutes, when we waited to attack them. We didn't cause their back line any problems whatsoever, and that's wrong. In the second half, we did it - positive runs in behind them - we looked a threat. You have to pull full-backs around and you have to test centre-halves. You ask their back-four: first half - big cigars; second half - 'Oh dear, I'm in trouble'. My lot should have started the first half playing like we did in the second half and put West Brom under pressure. That was the game-plan and we didn't do it. In the first half we waited for them to attack us and I wanted us to attack them. When we did that in the second half, we showed their weaknesses. On the balance of play in the second half, we deserved a point." Despite his disappointment, Holloway found words of praise for Fallon's debut goal. "It was a fantastic goal," he said. "He's a lot better than just a big 'I can head it' type person, but he's got a lot of work to do yet. I'm delighted for him. It's always nice to get your first goal."

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had no doubts Argyle were twice denied a deserved second-half penalty last night. He said: "If I had tried to lob Kiely and he'd followed through and taken me out, I'd have accepted that, but that wasn't the case - I tried to take the ball over him and he has taken me out. If it wasn't a clear-cut penalty, then I don't know what is." Sylvan also had a good view of a similar decision a few minutes later when Tony Capaldi was tripped by Sherjill MacDonald. "It was 100% clear-cut penalty on Tony Capaldi," he said. "The manager had said to get in behind them, pressure them, get them on the back foot. I thought we did that and we were extremely, extremely unlucky not to get at least a point out of the game. We are all disappointed." Sylvan revealed that he had spoken to referee Thorpe after the game but had no joy. He said: "He couldn't even give me an explanation, which baffles me. I asked him humbly to explain the decision and, if he explains himself, I can only accept it. But, if he tells me nothing, then I can only assume I'm right. You come away from home and sometimes don't get what you deserve. That's football. That's life. There's nothing we can do about that now. Football's not a fair game, but we've got another game on Saturday, so we'll pick ourselves up and hopefully get what we deserve." Ebanks-Blake is now set on establishing himself after something of a rough time lately. "It's been difficult," he said. "I've had a few injuries but now I'm back in the frame and want to force my way back in the team. We've got some good players here. We've got a good squad and the competition's good - I'm looking forward to it, and the new players are, too."

Dan Gosling celebrated his 17th birthday today by signing a two and a half year professional contract. Ian Holloway said: "It's the first rung on the ladder that we hope he will climb all the way to the top. If he keeps practicing and working hard, he has got a real chance of being a Premiership player. I am really looking forward to working with him and helping him get there - but he's done nothing yet."

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