A Round-up of Argyle News
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Derek Adams warned that tomorrow's opponents Barnet's would be a formidable challenge but also was adament that Argyle would not settle for a point. Adams said: "We will be going into every game wanting to win the match. Three points in this league is very good. Yes, you go away from home and sometimes you take a point and say it is good; but from our point of view, we want to go there and take the three points. We are second in the league at this moment in time. We are closing in on the top team after Saturday where we have gained two points, so we want to gain another three points tomorrow night. We are only focused on tomorrow night. That is the next game; the biggest game for us is tomorrow night, because that is the game that is next. The next game is the only game that should be on anybody's mind, and it is all that is in our mind. Barnet are very direct - we know that. They have got a long throw-in that is used all over the pitch. They have got Akinde up front who is powerful, and they have come off two very good results against Portsmouth and Accrington; a win and a draw, so it is going to be a tough game for us. They were down to 10 men as well. Being down to 10 men and 2-0 down shows that they have got something about them, we will have to be on the front foot tomorrow night. It is a terrific result for them. They have come off a win at home against Portsmouth, then they go away from home and pick up a magnificent point, they are on a good run of form and they have done exceptionally well this season in this league to be on 40 points at this stage of the season. Barnet have done exceptionally well to gather momentum, but we go there high in confidence and we need to try and get that three points. They will be happy with the progress they have made this season, just coming up from the conference last year. They are on 40 points and they will be more than delighted with their points total. They have got good energy in their side, and they play the game the way they feel is going to be the best for them. It has been shown that they have done really well at it."
Adams also said he is confident in his side to have the experience and knowhow to see their way over the finishing line in spite of their young average age. He said: "I think we have got a number of players who have played a lot of games, not only in this league but in other leagues as well. You just have to look at Curtis Nelson, Carl McHugh, our goalkeeper, Reuben Reid and the likes of Graham Carey and Jake Jervis who have played a lot of matches as well. There's Gary Sawyer and Kelvin Mellor too, so from our point of view we have got a youthful squad but we have got a lot of players who have played a lot of games.
"We probably should have had four against Notts County and we probably should have had three wins out of the four games but we didn't. I am delighted that we have had clean sheets and we will need them from now and towards the end of the season We have not done any extra work, we have just worked the same way we have always done. You cannot legislate for individual errors and that is what has happened to us a number of times."
The centre-backs have got a good goalkeeper behind them, and I think that Gary Sawyer, Kelvin Mellor, Jordon Forster and Ben Purrington have all played well along side them. They have had protection in front from the midfield as well so it is an all round team performance. We have got a good team, and with that you need people to look after each other. Nelson and Hartley have looked after other players around about them, but the other players have looked after them as well. It is important that you have competition for places. Jordon has come in and he has given Kelvin competition, we have got Ben Purrington giving Sawyer competition, and in midfield they have all got competition in there as well, so from my point of view, the more players we can have of a good standard, the better it is for the squad. You defend from the front, and as a team we get into good shape when we lose the ball. When we have got the ball then we open up and try and attack teams. We have conceded two in the last five but if you look all the way back, we have conceded 27 in the last 33. Whatever way you want to look at it, we have got the best defensive record in the league and we are very proud of that. We would always want to score more goals but if you score one more than the opposition then you gain the three points. That is the way you want to win games, and that is something we have done the majority of the time this season. We are going to look at them today and tomorrow and give them every opportunity to be fit. If they are not ready for tomorrow night then they will be ready for Saturday."
Graham Carey says a change of tactics by Derek Adams was responsible for his goal and Argyle's win over Notts County. He said: "The gaffer changed the formation a little bit to get me closer to the front. Obviously it paid off 'cause I was in the box. In the first half I was a bit deeper trying to get on the ball. I didn't really get too many opportunities to get into the box. I could see the ball was going to be crossed into the box, so it was just a case of getting in there and it was a decent finish, there were a few people on the line, all in all I think it was a good goal. I think I went for power in the first-half and hit the corner flag! Just hit the target in those situations, I think the keeper was un-sighted anyway. It was important just to hit the target. Me and Pete were talking about it before the game. I said I could not believe I had not scored since November. Obviously I was out injured for a long time, but it is nice to be on the scoresheet again. Hopefully that will open the floodgates. All in all I thought we moved the ball really well. In the first half we were patient and sometimes it is going to take 60 or 70 minutes to break teams down, we just need to be patient and we have the quality in the team to do that It can swing both ways," he said. "If we pick up results and other teams do not then the gap can get bigger - then all of a sudden we have got ten games left. That is the way you need to look at it. We are on a good bit of form at the minute and we need to keep that up and keep doing what we are doing. Today was tough because of the three games in the week. Today was probably the toughest of the lot. I am feeling good, obviously the goal will give me a bit more confidence as well. It's just time now to recover for Tuesday."
Derek Adams admitted that it was a game of two halves where performances were concerned but that said over the 90 minutes, a win was a win and that it was a win well earned. Adams said: "There was no team dominant in the first half," said Derek. "It was very dull, as the atmosphere was, and as the weather was, in and around the area in the first half. There wasn't a lot going on in the first half. In the second half it turned in our favour and we got that goal that our play deserved. It's important that we get different goal-scorers on the score-sheet. Today, we had a lot more opportunities to score goals. Craig Tanner and Oscar Threlkeld got into very good positions, but were unable to get that second or third goal.
I think that we still had opportunities to score more goals. We had Carey, we had Brunt, Reid and Nardiello on the pitch. If you have this type of player on the pitch then it gives you a better opportunity of scoring. Today we were 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, changed it to a 4-4-2, so nothing untoward about that because that's what we do most weeks. It was probably a game that we should've won in more convincing fashion. we had a lot of good opportunities to score, and we probably should've won by three or four today.
"I think at this stage at the season, it's all about getting results and getting the three points. We've been able to do that today, and we've been able to get ourselves onto 64 points. Overall, we've got to be more than happy with the win today."
Carl McHugh was unable to play against County and Kelvin Mellor picked up an early injury in the game. Derek Adams said that their progress would be assessed for Tuesday night's game at Barnet but that he was happy with the performances of those who deputised for them: "We'll just assess him tomorrow and Monday, and see how he is Tuesday night. He suffered it in the Crawley game. I think that Simpson and Threlkeld were very good in midfield. They're good players, and that's why they're in the squad. Josh Simpson keeps it well and recycles it very well to other players. Oscar Threlkeld's been a very big player for us because he gets about the pitch well, he makes tackles, and he can pass the ball forward as well. He's got a dead leg, so we'll just assess things today and tomorrow. Jordon did really well. In the game previous, Campbell caused him a wee bit of a problem and he got booked, and after that you have to take him because there's a risk of being sent off. He defended his box very well, blocked challenges and he's a big, robust defender. Over the last four games, we've had three clean sheets. We've won two and drawn two as well, and we've looked like winning the four games, which is good."
Argyle have returned to winning ways and kept another clean sheet with a 1-0 victory over Notts County. Graham Carey scored the game's only goal in the 47th minute. Accrington's draw with Barnet saw Argyle increase their gap over 4th place to 8 points. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor(Forster), Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, Simpson, Threlkeld, Tanner(Reid), Carey, Wylde(Nardiello), Brunt. Subs: Bittner, Purrrington, Rooney, Jervis.
With League Two looking tighter than ever following Tuesday's results, Derek Adams wants Argyle to take control of their own destiny starting with the next home match against Notts County. He said: "It was good to hear that that was Yeovil's best performance of the season, because they played really well on the night and played with a lot of good energy. I think that's happened a number of times to us this season – where the team has had their best performance against Plymouth Argyle. That's something that we can be proud of; it shows you how far we've come, that people are really lifting their game. We've come away with two points away from home, followed on from the 3-0 win at home, so we're happy with the progress we're making. We thought we should've taken three points from the Crawley game, and we're probably unfortunate we've not come away with three clean sheets on the road, as well. We want to continue the good form we're on. Over the last ten games we've won five, drawn three and lost two, so we're on a good run of form. You look at the league and it's tightening up now. It's looking very tight all over, and it's going to be a very good finish to the season. They've come away from Accrington the other night 3-0 down and been able to get back to 3-2, so that shows they've got a wee bit of resilience about them. They've got a big squad, since the start of the season they've changed their manager, and with that it changes the style of play. It'll be interesting to see what happens when they come down here on Saturday; what formation they play; how they go about the game. We're at home, and we obviously want to take the game to them. We've got 14 games to go, and as my old manager at Motherwell, Eric Black, used to say 'it's the pedal to the floor, and keep it firmly to the floor.'"
Oscar Threlkeld may be a young loanee but he has every intention of making a lasting impression at Home Park. After a slow start to his Argyle career, the youngster feels he has really come into his own, saying: "It's always good playing football - I've wanted that from an early age. Argyle's been class to me: as soon as I walked through the door they've been kind to me and given me a lot of support. Once I got my foot in the door against Millwall I've fought my corner and tried to stay in the team. I've had little niggles here and there and missed a couple of games, but I've always shown in training that I'm ready to play. Like the gaffer says every week, when we play games the bench is looking stronger and stronger, so we need to fight for our place and keep in the team. That's what everyone knows, and that's what everyone does. Each game you learn something new, and it's just all about experience. With the young ones coming through like Tyler Harvey, Ben Purrington, Ryan Lane and Louis Rooney, we can tell them what we've been through. Once they get through the games and are playing games, they'll get the experience as well. You're never safe in the League 2 table," said Oscar. "You're only safe when you know it's coming down to the last couple of games and they can't get above you. It's always going to be an uphill battle: we're going to try and close down the points to Northampton. We're going to concentrate on our own game, win as many games as we can, and hopefully do it all for the fans."
Threlkeld also promised a good performance against County both defensively and going forward and revealed his own personal connection to the current County manager: "Yeovil are fighting for their lives. They were second-bottom of League 2 and they came out and gave it their all. In the first half we know we didn't do well, as it showed. But as soon as we got our bearings together at half time, we came out second half and showed our class. It was a good game - an exciting game to watch, and a good game to play in because we both wanted something from the game, so it was always an end-to-end game. In the last game on Saturday against Crawley, we took the game to them, and it's a shame we conceded that sort of goal in the last, dying minutes. We didn't want to take that to Yeovil, so it showed that we have the class to go forward, and we have the class to keep a clean sheet. Unfortunately we couldn't score but a clean sheet is a clean sheet, at the end of the day. We can take that into the next game at Notts County, and hopefully we can work on the third-play phases and get some goals. I've known Jamie Fullarton for a long time. He trained me for about two years in the under-21s at Bolton. He's more about positioning and trying to work through the middle, and if it's not through the middle it's through the sides. They're going to come out and press, but it's nothing really to worry about. As we know, we've got our own class, and we know that teams really worry about us more than we worry about them. In the back of our heads we know what we need to do, but first and foremost we need to do our best and entertain the crowd, and try and win as many games as we can."
Plymouth City council have passed a request made by the Argyle Fans Trust for the ground to be listed as an asset of community value he council's Chief Legal Officer, David Shepperd, has approved an application to list the land and buildings at Home Park as an Asset of Community Value. The application by Argyle Fans Trust was submitted in November to designate the site – including the stadium – under the Localism Act. Mr Shepperd has determined that the football stadium, including the car park and office accommodation at Higher Home Park, should be listed as an Asset of Community Value. The Argyle Fans Trust argued the site serves community 'social interests and social wellbeing' which extends for wider than 90 minutes of football at home games. Once an asset is placed on the list it will remain there for five years.
Being on the list means that should the owner - currently Plymouth City Council - intend to sell the asset they must notify the local Council. A community interest group then has six weeks to ask to be treated as a potential bidder. If it does, the sale cannot take place for six months. Known as the moratorium, this period allows the group to come up with an alternative proposal – although at the end of this period it is up to the owner whether a sale goes though, to whom and for how much. AFT Chair Bob Foale said:
"This is not an anti-James Brent campaign. The AFT and the vast majority of fans recognise James has put in several million pounds so the club did not go into liquidation and so that we have moved forward. But we also know James has the option to buy the ground for 12 times the annual rent, which will be in the region of £1.5 million, this October. We have got a clear mandate from our members to ensure that is always a football club there for future generations of Argyle fans to support. After all the shenanigans of the period of administration in 2011 we would be remiss not to follow through on that mandate. Every year the Trust carry out a survey of its membership. We have got over 1,000 paid up members. Of those members, 800 respond to our annual survey and 80 per cent would like to see Home Park remain in public hands. And within that 80 per cent, the vast majority have been asking for us to apply for ACV status. So there is a clear mandate from a large percentage of lifelong Argyle fans.
"A large number of fans might not be too alarmed if James Brent put in an additional £1.5m and owned it lock, stock and barrel. But it's about future generations of Argyle fans and once it's out of public hands then it will be more difficult to monitor. In the future, should James buy it and then wish to sell on, as fans we would want to know and could help with due diligence, if you like, of any potential buyer. It's important to point out that this isn't just a Plymouth issue. There are over 20 grounds that have been granted ACV status and that includes Old Trafford, Anfield and St James' Park, Newcastle, as well as our neighbours at Torquay. The Torquay fans' trust were really helpful in meeting with us and sharing with us the application they made to the Torbay unitary authority."
Derek Adams intends to bolster his Argyle squad with one more loan signing to fill the void currently appearing in central midfield before the end of March as Argyle's promotion-contending season comes to the business end. This is made more pertinent by the fact that Oscar Threlkeld is soon to return to Bolton following the expiration of his loan spell at the start of August. He went on to give an update on the progress of Deane Smalley's injury woes. Adams said: "I would think that will be the case. It might be a permanent signing, it might be a loan signing, but I would see that as a possibility. Of course we have to replace Threlkeld, there's no doubt about that. We'll do that before the end of the window.
Deane Smalley's back – he's got a slight soreness in his knee. We're just going to get him back to fitness, then return him to Newport to get some more match time. He had been training for a long time with us and played games, and he was fit to go and play. Obviously three games in a week is difficult for anybody. It's good to see he's fully fit now, he's been able to play a good number of minutes for Newport in those three games, and it shows his fitness levels are good."
Derek Adams was pleased to record a clean sheet in his side's 0-0 draw with Yeovil and said that a draw was ultimately the fair result over the 90 minutes. Adams said: "A very good game – two good sides. A draw, I think, was fair. Credit to Yeovil: I thought they started the game very well, and we knew that. We'd seen them play a number of times and they were on the front foot. They're fighting for their lives and running forward, and we're trying to get three points as well. A very good side. Good energy, good work rate, and tonight we had to match that. I think it was Yeovil who had the first half, definitely, and we had the second half. In the end. I think both teams put in a good showing tonight. We just needed a break of the ball, really. I think Yeovil defended a wee bit deeper in the second half, and it was difficult to find any space. That's credit to them because they've got themselves functioning that way. It's nice to get a clean sheet – nice to come away from home and do that. We've come away from two games away from home, and Luke really hasn't had to do anything. Could we have scored? Yes, but Yeovil are a very good side, and there's no doubts they'll stay in the league."
Whilst Adams would have preferred more than two points from the last two awaygames, he is also keeping philosophical and not letting the dropped points get him down: "I think that what there was, was a lot of bodies in the way from both sides. I think at this stage in the season, you don't want to lose the game. You just see by the results in this league that it's a difficult league. I've said that already this season. This is a difficult place to come to: they've drawn with Portsmouth with Saturday and have got a bit of belief about them. I think that we'll probably feel better tonight taking a point, because I thought Yeovil were a very good side. On Saturday against Crawley we had a lot more of the play and probably deserved the three points there. There's been chances for us. Could we have won the game? We could've, but we haven't worked their goalkeeper enough for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is that Yeovil defended well. We're creating chances. I think on Saturday we didn't create the chances, and tonight we've had opportunities to score goals. We're always in the attacking third, we're always looking like we can score goals, but we haven't been able to do that. It's never easy coming away from home, but we've been able to have a very good record coming away from home. Would we have liked to have taken three points from those games? Yes we would, but everybody's the same at this stage."
Argyle have attained their third away draw in a row and their second 0-0 of the season with a goalless match against Yoevil Town in the re-arranged fixture at Huish Park. Other results went against Argyle as the lead over 4th place was cut to 6 points. Argyle: McCormick, Forster(Mellor), Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld, Jervis, Carey, Wylde(Reid), Brunt. Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Simpson, Tanner, Nardiello.
Derek Adams has praised his relatively small squad for their performance this season and hopes Argyle can return to their best away form with a win at Yeovil Town. He spoke of his pride at Argyle's record on the road this season: "It's a very good record to have. We have always been able to do well on the road and we want to keep that going. From my point of view, we have used the least number of players in the league this season. We have used 15 players really. We have got a 16th player who was Christian Walton on 360 minutes – which is four games. Fifteen players have played more than 360 minutes, which is quite outstanding from a very talented group of individuals. I don't think anybody else in the league will be able to match. We have probably got the smallest squad in this division and, if you look at the stats, the 15 players we have used have all performed well and got very good fitness levels. We need to know how many games they have played. It comes into reckoning when contracts come into play at the end of the season. The more minutes you play then the better opportunity you have of staying for the next season."
Peter Hartley reiterated how pleased he was with the Crawley performance if not the result and said that it gives the team hope going into the rest of the season. Hartley explained: "I think everyone could see we were by far the better team. On another day we could have won maybe three- or four-nil. But we invited a bit of pressure in the last 10 minutes and when you invite pressure sometimes they get that little bit of luck. We want clean sheets. I thrive off of clean sheets. Nelse and Gaz, and we had Jordon with us today – we all thrive off of clean sheets. It was a sloppy goal to concede. We shouldn't have conceded the free-kick to start with. Then, you have to stay with your men from set-pieces. It's frustrating, but it's one of those things. It's happened; it's gone. We can't dwell too much on the past. I don't think you can take anything away from the performance. It just didn't really click in the final third. It's just one of those days. We really dominated the game. We were like a home team, the way we played. Something seemed to change in the second half. We didn't quite control the game as much as we should. We were playing forward too much, too soon. They picked second balls up and we invited pressure. We have those spells in games, obviously – it isn't all plain sailing. But we have got to learn to control it when the team has that momentum. Today we didn't. You work hard, and go 1-0 up, and you've got to defend your lead and take all three points back to Plymouth."
James Brent has confirmed that there are interested bidders to buy Plymouth Argyle but that he would only sell if he believed it to be in the best interests of the club. Brent said: "If someone comes along who is better for the club than we are, who gives us the money back we put into the club, we will look very seriously at that. "But we are absolutely not out there looking to sell. We have got no intention of going out there and trying to find an investor, but we are open-minded if people come and approach us. "We have one a month, or probably more than that actually. Some of those come through agents so you don't know who is on the other end, but we do get a regular stream of interest. We report everything which is potentially credible to the board and then the board assesses it. The criteria which we have set is that the new investor needs to bring something to the club which will improve the lot of Argyle or we are not interested. We have had wealthy people approach us who have got the money to do it, but in the board's judgment would not be good for the club and the motivation hasn't been right. So we have very politely said 'thanks, but no thanks'. And we have had lots of lovely people are absolutely charming but haven't got the wherewithal to make anything good happen for the club. We have had people who wanted to invest in the club and people who wanted to buy the club.
"I know there is some scepticism about it, but having not been a football family we are now Argyle supporters for life. We will carry on coming to games, and so on, whatever happens. What I have always said is that you don't need to be the chairman of the club, or to own the club, to support it. The position we said on day one was that if a better owner/investor came along to us with an acceptable proposal we would not turn them away by virtue of 'it's my train set, let us play with it'. And that hasn't changed. We have spent almost five years with the club and a huge amount of blood, sweat and tears has gone into it. We had challenging times in the first couple of years of ownership that were incredibly stressful, but the truth is you become much more emotionally invested in the ownership of the club as well as the support side. But we have been absolutely clinical on this, and this is why I report everything to board. If I get an approach which is half credible it goes to the board for consideration so it's not just me emotionally saying 'it's my train set, go away'. We will keep faithful to that.
"As far as I'm concerned, if I'm chairman of Argyle in 20 years' time that will be a very happy position for me to be in. It's not looking for an exit, but it's just being very clinical in making sure I don't get into the position which I really don't like in football of saying 'this is my train set, I'm going to play with it' if it's not in the interests of the club. We have been approached in the past by people that I think probably have had a lot of money but their ambition for the club wasn't one we were supportive of. It's really important to me that Argyle remains a community club which invests in its community. It's not about just being a play thing. I think some people confuse it and say you are either a community club or you are a successful club. I think it absolutely should be integrated that you are a successful club which is loved by its community, and you grow your next generation of fans through that community activity."
Finally, Argyle striker Deane Smalley's loan spell at Newport could be cut short following a recurrence of the knee injury that kept him out of the side for a year.
Derek Adams was pleased with the way Argyle went 1-0 up at Crawley Town but disappointed with Argyle's ability to see out a 1-0 lead against the Sussex club. He bemoaned Argyle's set play defending, saying: "Gregg's been a big player for us this season. He's set up another goal for Ryan Brunt, a well taken header, and he's created other chances. He's getting in the position to score goals, and he's got another assist today. It was a fantastic header. We just needed more at that time to get the next goal to make it 2-0, and that would've finished the game off. We conceded a goal with five minutes to go," said Adams, "out of poor play from ourselves. We gave away a needless free kick in a wide area. We shouldn't have conceded the way we conceded at the end. We didn't look under threat throughout the 90 minutes. Of course we're disappointed. I don't think we deserved to lose the match – it feels like a loss. We totally dominated from start to finish, and they didn't trouble us at all. Overall we had enough possession and we've had enough opportunities to win the game. We've got to score goals, and we haven't done that today. We've thrown away two points today. We're obviously very disappointed coming away with just a point, "because with our play and possession and the opportunities on the day, we deserved to come away with three points. We've got the best away record in the league, and we want to try and win as many games as we possibly can. Today we've taken a point, but that shows how far we've come. Crawley were a League One club last season and we got into the play-offs, and we're looking to move on this season."
Peter Hartley had a more philosophical view on the game however, diverting attention to Argyle's Tuesday night re-arranged match at Yeovil. Hartley said:"We've got Yeovil Tuesday and we've got 15 games left. We've got to win as many games as we can. We've got to look to win every single game, no matter who we play, and we'll go to Yeovil looking to take three points. You can't take anything away from the boys up top because they've been phenomenal this season," said Hartley. Ryan Brunt has been phenomenal. He works really hard in training, he's really picked up his pace. And you can see Gregg as well, playing with confidence. When you have people in front of you playing with confidence it makes our job easier. I just hope no-one's head drops and we look forward to Yeovil. We've got two days now to recover, then it's Yeovil away. We'll have a big following like we did today, and we want three points. Full stop."
Argyle have drawn their second away match in a row with a 1-1 tie at Crawley Town. Argyle took the lead early in the second half courtesy of Ryan Brunt and looked set to see out another comfortable away win but an 84th minute sucker punch goal from a free-kick ensured the spoils were shared. Argyle: McCormick, Forster, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld, Tanner(Reid), Carey, Wylde, Brunt(Jervis). Subs: Bittner, Mellor, Purrington, Nardiello, Simpson.
Carl McHugh looked ahead to tomorrow's clash with Crawley Town, believing it to be a tough game: "It's going to be a really tough game. It's going to be like any game in this league, no game's easy. Those games against mid table teams can be the toughest games but there'll be no complacency on our part. We've got quite a good away record this year and we want to continue that. We'll be going there to win the game like we do every game. They're in a tough position. We'll be well prepared for it. We'll go there and try and win the game like we do every game. Obviously your players that score your goals get the praise and rightly so - they're really talented attacking players who get a lot of the plaudits. It's the hardest thing in football to score goals but if you look at Gary Sawyer, and the whole back four: Pete, Nelse, Kelv and Luke, we've had a solid base all season. You need that to build on, if you don't have that the attacking players find it harder to come into games. I think it's been a massive team push all season and we're going to need that for the rest of the season as well.
"I'm enjoying it, I've played the majority of the games in there in midfield and we've been overall getting good results so I'm happy it's going well. I've grown into the position and I've got good players around me. We've got Graham coming back in and the difference he makes to the team when he comes back in and having those players around you, the likes of Oscar and Josh, it makes it really enjoyable. The football we play as well, it's not in the team to scrap and kick, we're trying to play good football and every player would tell you they'd rather be in a team like that. You're always in the game in midfield whereas playing centre half you sometimes drift in and out and you're not involved as much but you're right in the heart of it so it's been great and long may it continue. I'm just happy to be playing. I want to stay fit; I've had a few little injuries this season. I've missed a few games and I just want to stay fit for the rest of the season. I've felt really good to train. The squad looks really fit even at this stage of the season which is testament to what we've been doing on the training pitch. The squad looks really fit and I feel great going into the last push of the season."
Carl McHugh is of the belief that Saturday's 3-0 win over Mansfield was one of Argyle's most complete performances of the season, citing our excellent possession and use of the ball. He said: "It was probably the most complete performance we've had over the 90 minutes. We controlled the game for a lot of it. We played really good football as well so it was a really enjoyable game to be involved in. We knew when you looked at their position prior to the game that it was really important we got the three points and try and make a bit of a statement in doing so. I think with our performance we did that. We've proved this year that we always want to try and play our football. Other teams may come and want to try and stifle us and make it difficult for us. We will have that between now and the end of the season and we're going to have to deal with it as well but I thought on Saturday we did that. We did really well and even when we got the first goal we pushed on. When you look at the chances, we didn't convert like we should have. It probably should have been a bit more convincing as well.
"It's great when you look at the bench. We had Jake Jervis on the bench who, is our top goal scorer. We had Kelv Mellor too and that just shows you. We've got Josh Simpson to come back into the squad hopefully soon and that just shows you how strong a squad we have got now for the run in and it's massive. We've been consistently up there in the top three and that's the difference to last season. Towards the latter part of last season we knew we were just trying to get in the play-offs but we've got a real aim of going up automatically this season. Last season we struggled on the road. Our away form, touch wood, has been good this season so hopefully that continues. It would mean a lot if we could get promotion, it would cap off a great two years for me personally."
Argyle may have drawn plenty of plaudits for the performance against Mansfield last weekend, but Derek Adams for one believes that his team are capable of and indeed have played even better. Adams said: "We've probably played better against Northampton than we did against Mansfield. We probably played better against Wycombe, as well, than we did against Mansfield. We've been in very good form. I think that throughout the season, we've played very well. In the games we've lost, we've played very well, but in the games we've won, we've been able to get the goals and push on. We've played exceptionally well at times in games, and probably could've scored a lot more goals than we have. It goes from game to game. We just look at who we're playing on a weekly basis. We'll pick the best team that we think can win the game. We've shown this season it doesn't matter if we win a game or lose a game; sometimes we change the team around, and that doesn't differ from the period we're going into. We've got 18 fit players to choose from. I think that when you're in the position we're in, you want to keep the points gap between ourselves and the teams below us. We've put ourselves in a fabulous position – a better position that probably anyone would've thought in the league – and it's something we want to continue."
Derek Adams set Carl McHugh a very difficult challenge to adapt to a new role in central midfield this season but it is one that the Scotsman believes he has accomplished excellently. Adams explained his rationale behind the decision: "We gave him an opportunity to play in midfield. We started it off in the first game of pre-season and went from there. It gave him a bit of time to bed into that position. I always wanted to try and get to a four at the back, rather than a three at that stage in the season. I've done it many times in my career; I've had players that are defenders that can play in midfield. You do need a defensive-minded player in that area of the pitch. He's one that can that can do a job in there, to win the ball back and go and play and give it to the creative players in the team. Carl McHugh gets all the plaudits from me. By playing the position he has done, he's played very well for us this season. He's 22 years of age and he's got a long way to go in his career at Plymouth Argyle. We're delighted with the way he's progressing. He's moved from a central defender position into central midfield, and he's coped well with that."
Josh Simpson has a chance of being back to full fitness to face former club Crawley on Saturday, according to manager Derek Adams. Adams hoped that Simpson would be fit to help sink his former side, saying: "Josh has trained for the last few days and is improving. We'll try to push him to be back in the squad on Saturday. He was captain as well at the football club. He will look forward to going back there. It's always nice to go back to your former team. Hopefully he can progress as the week goes on and be involved with the squad on Saturday."
The FA are investigating a report that Mansfield player Adi Yusef urinated in front of the Argyle disabled stand in Saturday's match against Mansfield. A fan, who wishes to remain anonymous, saw the incident and reported it to the referee. They said: They said: "During the first half of the match Mansfield substitute Adi Yussuf was warming up on the touchline right in front of the disabled zone where I sit with my friend. He said something to Plymouth Argyle substitutes Rooney and Purrington before walking over to the piece of disused land between the disabled zone and the Devonport End and took a wee. This was right in front of everyone in the Disabled section.Myself and the lady who works in the refreshments area witnessed it as well as some others and we reported it to the stewards. They later took a statement and reported it to the Referee."
Derek Adams is in favour of keeping things simple as Argyle seek to progress in League Two- by not focusing on opposition results. The gaffer stated the importance of simply going out to win every game, by saying: "We're in a very good position. We want to win as many games as we possibly can between now and then to the end of the season. Our target is to try and win every game and that has been the target since the start of the season. We can only deal with we can do. If we can win enough games that gives us that best possible chance of coming out of this division. From my point of view I can only control what Plymouth Argyle can do and look after ourselves. I take interest in the Oxford v Northampton match; if you're not playing, you'd like that the other games are draws. I don't think that you want to see any of them win; it's a very big points total in this league. We've got a couple of weeks coming up where it's going to be very busy. We've got the two mid-week games, but the players are looking very focused, they're looking fit and refreshed. We are really looking ready for the games that are coming up."
Argyle's 'very poor disciplinary record' counted against them today as they were fined £3,000 for their part in a melee following last month's 1-0 loss at home to Wycombe Wanderers. Argyle and Wycombe each admitted - with mitigation - two breaches of regulations concerning failure to ensure that their players and/or officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour. Wycombe were fined £2,500. Martyn Starnes said: "We were afforded a very fair hearing by the FA, who fully took into account our version of events. However, we were warned as to our future conduct after a similar incident at Exeter last February, and the FA looked at our five-year record which they described as "very poor". These factors were also taken into account and were contributory factors in inflating the amount of the fine which we would otherwise have received."
Jordon Forster spoke about his Plymouth Argyle debut and was particularly happy to come into the team for such a fantastic performance. He said: "As far as debuts go and performances go I think that was up there. It was probably one of the best of this season some of the boys were saying. I am really happy to have made my debut and get three points and a clean sheet. I had the slight inclination throughout the week during training. Then, on Friday, Derek named the team. I knew I was playing and I knew it was going to be right-back, which probably is not my favourite position, but I enjoyed it today. I thought the team was really good and fully deserved the three points. We probably could have scored a few more goals as well. I hit the post and had a couple of half-chances, but I was happy enough with my performance, and we move onto next week. We enjoy the three points but there is a lot of games coming up in a short period of time. It's a big opportunity for us to catch Northampton and hopefully get above them."
Ryan Brunt believes Argyle's strength in depth is capable of winning them not just promotion to League One but also the title, praising his fellow teammates: "We all want to win the league. We'd be stupid not to think that; you have got to think the highest possible. We are a few points off Northampton but, if you play three games in a week, that can all change. You'll see Northampton have a dip, and we've get to exploit that. First of all, we have got to look at being top; then, the gap between third and fourth. It's promising and we're just in the right position not to be above ourselves and think 'we're doing it easy' but we're training hard and putting our foot on the gas. Today was a prime example of that. As I've said on previous times, whether it's me, Rubes, or Jake who starts, we have just got to do the best and really work for the team playing in that role. It's normally a thankless task; it was nice to grab a couple of goals and show a bit more. It's now a sign that we have got a squad to win the league. Kelvin was very unlucky to be left out – he's been class all season – but Jord's come in and has done really well. Obviously, Rubes and Jake are great players. They score goals and Rubes has got a fantastic record. As long as one of us is doing the right things, it's happy days. My ratio of starts to goals is something I have been working on. I probably could have had three, four, five today, but I'm pleased with two, pleased we got three points, 3-0, clean sheet – it really shows what we are about."
Adams echoed the words of his current form man and gave plaudits to those who came back into the side for yesterdays win: "Graham is very good on the ball," said Derek. "He's been out for about 10 or 11 weeks now, and he's been able to get himself back fit. He looks to play forward, and with the that talent we have in the team, we need to have forward passes. He plays them into good areas. He'll take the ball all over the pitch, and you could see today that he isn't 100%, but he controlled large spells in the game. He's an important player, and like everybody in this squad, they're going to be showing that importance towards the end of the season. He's 22 years of age but he's strong, he's competitive, he's good on the ball, he'll win his headers and he'll win his tackles. I think Graham Carey, himself and Ryan Brunt coming back into the side was good. Obviously Mellor, Reuben Reid and Jake Jervis will be disappointed, but that's the way things happen. They'll come back into the side, no doubt, during the season, and do well for us. I think that you've got to make decisions. We've got a strong squad, and we've got players who have moved out of the side today and have done really well for us this season. Other players have come in, and it's up to them to have competition for places. We've got that, because we've been able to manoeuvre in the transfer window in a positive fashion, and we've got competition for places now. That's something that I'd hope to have at the start of the season. Sometimes you can't get that because your hands are tied, and now I've been able to manoeuvre in the transfer window, where we've been able to get competition for places. It's important that you have that between now and the end of the season."
Finally, Adams was very pleased with the performance in general showing that we can both play well and win at this critical stage of the season, saying: "Wylde's been excellent for us. He's scored goals now, which is important that he brings to his game, but he's setting up chances for other players as well. You look at Mansfield today: they changed formation, as we knew they would do, a good number of times. It's important that you have players who are capable of seeing a change in the game, and also being able to open them up. When you've got the players we have, it's important you pass the ball well and quickly. Yes, when we go away from home at this moment in time, it can be easier for us, because there is more grass on the pitch, but hopefully that'll be sorted when the good weather comes around. I'm just delighted to win. I think that when you get to this stage in the season, you want to win games, but if you can win and play in a fashion like we do, then you've got to be more than happy."
Argyle produced a fantastic performance and victory with a 3-0 win over Mansfield Town with a Gregg Wylde goal and two Ryan Brunt efforts finding the net. Most notably, Brunt's first goal and Argyle's second came from the penalty spot- the first the greens have been awarded all season. Argyle: McCormick, Forster, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld, Tanner(Jervis), Carey, Wylde(Purrington), Brunt(Reid). Subs: Bittner, Mellor, Nardiello, Rooney.
Derek Adams revealed details of his gameplan to beat a Mansfield side who have done well this season and are on good recent form: "I think they've done really well this season. They've pushed on from last season and they've put themselves in a really good position. They're in fourth position and are in good, strong form. They've got some decent players. Tafazolli at the back is an important player for them. He's only young, but he's tall, he's aggressive, and they've got a good number of players that play well as a team. They change formation quite a bit. The other night they changed their formation three or four times in the game, so they've got that flexibility in the squad. They're very adaptable, they like to get the ball forward quickly, and they've done exceptionally well this season. They've done really over the last few games, picked up good victories and a good a point away from home against Oxford, so they're going well. Craig Brewster watched them on Tuesday night, and Greg Strong watched them on Saturday. It's going to be an interesting match."
Adams also promised that he has no intention of changing Argyle's style in spite of the wear and tear that has taken its toll on the Home Park pitch. He said: "It's not helping us, put it that way. It's definitely not helping the style of football that we play. The pitch is dead and there is nothing we can do about that. It won't be rectified until the summer, but that's just the way the pitch is. It's difficult to play on it at times but we have got to get on with it. I don't know, I haven't been on it for a wee while. I couldn't tell you. The weather is an issue at this moment in time, with a lot of rain. That doesn't help.
"We are going to try to play exactly the same way as we always do. We are probably one of the best teams in the league at passing and moving the ball with pace and guile. We are going to play the same way from now until the end of the season. But in different games, as we showed against Carlisle away, we are very adaptable. It's not as good as other pitches in the league. That's obvious, and it's just due to the weather conditions. Teams have come here and played in different styles, and we have seen teams time waste a lot, and that has been frustrating."
Curtis Nelson is working on further tightening up Argyle's defences as they aim to solidify their spot in the promotion places: "We never like conceding goals. Personally, as a defender, I don't like conceding goals, so if we do concede, we've always got to look into it and say 'what could we have done better? What's going to have to happen next time?' There's always going to be a mistake somewhere along the line, so it's about cutting out those mistakes and keeping a clean sheet. I try not to look at the table too much. You can get too caught up in the points and all of that stuff. At the end of the day, we've just got to go out and try and win games. I think that's got to be the main target for us throughout. I think it's important to just look after what we do."
He also added that he does not believe the postponement of the Yeovil game last Saturday will harm the greens in any way, moving focus to the next game. Nelson said: "It was quite late. In an ideal world you'd have wanted it to be called off before we traveled, but it is what it is. We were ready to play the game, but it got called off before we left the hotel. It hasn't affected us at all. We're training as normal every day. We've got MarJon, Devonport High School and other places we can train. You can't discount any team in the league. If you put the wins together, you're going to be up there at some point. We'll go through what they're about today and tomorrow, and go for the three points on Saturday. It will be a tough game – I don't think I would expect anything different from any other team in the league, but it's up to us to go out and win."
Derek Adams was non-committal on the subject of contract renewals for Argyle considering so many of the current squad are due to expire at the end of of the season. He was keen to stress however, how much Argyle are overachieving compared to other squads who have much more by way of resources: "We are not at that stage at this moment in time. We have got a lot of good players and we would obviously like to keep them, but it's dependent on what division we are going to be in. It's important we try to get out of this division. If we get out of this division then we can offer better contracts. The players want to do well and try to push on and get into the next division. We want to finish strongly and to catch Northampton at the top of the table. We are in a situation where we are trying to get out of the division. Other clubs are quite happy being in this division. We want to try to progress. Yes, we are ahead of schedule. Yes, we have over-achieved. But, look at Leicester City, they have over-achieved as well. It's not all about money. There are a lot of other teams in this division that have got a lot more money to spend than we have, but we have done very well with the budget we have got. We have got a very good squad and we would like to keep that intact next season."
Aside from Argyle's postponement, another notable thing to come out of Saturday was former loanee Hiram Boateng coming off the bench in the Premier League to play for Crystal Palace. Adams said he was delighted with the progress of the loanee and did not give up hope of him coming back to Home Park yet. Adams: "I'm delighted for him. He performed very well when he was with us and his progress has been accelerated because of that. I think we played a part in his development. When somebody comes into the football club we try to look after them. Alan Pardew and Mark Bright have been very good with me and we have been able to help their players as well. We would still like to have him back in the squad before the end of the season. We have also got Craig Tanner and Oscar Threlkeld on loan, who are two young boys, and we are hoping we can progress them in their careers."
Our game against Yeovil Town has been rearranged for Tuesday, February 23, at 7.45pm after Saturday's intended game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Tickets for the original match will be valid for the rearranged date. If you are unable to make the new date, then a refund is available via the club.
Derek Adams held no bitter feelings about the postponement at Yeovil and believed it to be the 'correct decision'. He said: "The referee has made the correct decision. When you take into account the weather conditions and the forecast, then it is the right call to postpone the match. All of the staff and the players feel sorry for the travelling supporters. We were going to have a large following at Yeovil - we hope they will be able to make it when the match is rearranged."
Argyle's game at Yeovil has been called off due to a waterlogged pitch. The referee first viewed the pitch at 11am and deemed it playable but an accumulation of rain in a short space of time after pitch covers were removed coupled with a bad forecast meant that the decision was made to postpone the fixture.
As the League season reaches the business end, Derek Adams reenforced his belief that Argyle are in their position at the top of the league on merit and have no intention of relinquishing their advantage. He went on to say that Graham Carey is close to being in a position to start games for Argyle again. Adams: "We're on 56 points, and we want to continue picking up points along the way. We're on a very good points total, and you could see the other night, with Portsmouth drawing away to Morecambe, that you can have games in hand, but they can be difficult ones. We're trying to win every game we possibly can. It's a tight league, and it's going to be tight until the end of the season. We can see we've got the second-best win record in the league at this moment in time, so we're doing very well. We're there on merit, and we're there because we've played particularly well. Yes, we wouldn't have been the ones people thought at the start of the season, but we've shown that we're capable of matching any of the teams.
"He's getting there. He's obviously been out for eight to nine weeks but he's getting there, training-wise and game-wise. He's played 45 and 60 minutes, the other day.
"There's goals that we could've prevented. Most of them have been by individual errors, rather than a team scoring a well-worked goal against us. It's important that we don't give goals away like that."
Carey himself echoed the words of Adams, stating that he is 100% fit: "It's finally got to a stage where that I just forget about it now. It's been a frustrating two months, because I was playing a lot, enjoying my football and contributing to the team as well, so being out for the last months has been frustrating. We didn't think it was as bad as it was, first off, but it was good, in a way. I spent Christmas with my family for once and it was a nice time to get refreshed for the run-in. I think, if you look at it in a different note, it was a time to get a bit of freshness back in the legs. I'd say I'm at 100% right now; it's just getting game time, and you don't really get any of the fitness back in any other games than first-team games. Now I've come through 45 minutes on Saturday and 60 minutes on Tuesday, so I feel good and ready to go. A lot of players have stepped up since the start of the season. We didn't use many players at the start of the season and now we've used the whole squad so it just shows the recruitment and strength and depth we have. January is over and we're all still here, we're all tight, and we're ready for the promotion challenge. It's a frustrating time because lads are going out on loan and lads are coming in on loan; now we have to settle the squad for the rest of the season. Now's the time to knuckle down and grind out some results and push ourselves back to the top of the table. We're going in the right direction. With the staff, the manager and the coaches we have, I think the only way is forward. The fans have started to come back and we've got some big gates this season. I think their support will be crucial over the season and moving forward. You've seen teams go promotion-promotion, back to back and there's no reason why we can't do that."
Argyle and Wycombe have been charged by the Football Association in relation to their game on January 30. It is alleged that in or around the 41st minute, both clubs failed to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. It is also alleged that, following the final whistle, both clubs failed ensure their players and/or officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour. The clubs have until 6pm on February 5 to respond to the charge.
In spite of Argyle's failure to bring in Hiram Boateng before the end of the January transfer window, Derek Adams still has hopes that he will join in the emergency loan window which opens next week: "I think there is a good chance of him coming back to us before the end of the season. He is a player we have missed, from the point of view being in the dressing-room – we have missed having him around – and we have missed the competition for the place, as well. He's in the squad for Crystal Palace's game on Tuesday night. He's done particularly well with us and he's come back from injury, so he's into their match-day squad. Midfield's an area where we've become a wee bit weaker, but we have got Graham Carey who can play in there. When we get Hiram Boateng back with us – hopefully – he can play in there with Carl McHugh, Oscar Threlkeld, Josh Simpson, so we have got five central midfield players. I have been able to strengthen in the window, as I said I would. We have taken in Daniel Nardiello; we have taken in Jordon Forster; Deane Smalley and Lee Cox have moved out; and Aaron Bentley has moved out. We have made it a tighter squad and taken two boys from other clubs. I made it obvious that I didn't want anybody to leave and we didn't really get to a stage when we were going to have to allow anybody to leave. We have got very good competition for places now. I think that, going into the last part of the season, it is important that you have that. We have got players coming back from injury; we have added to the squad; and that adds to a very good group of players."
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