A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle have made two transfer deadline day signings, strikers Juvhel Tsoumou and Alex MacDonald, from Preston North End and Burnley respectively. Both have joined the club on loan, Juvhel until the end of the season, MacDonald until March 6th. Carl Fletcher said: "I'm obviously pleased to have got things going and we're obviously pleased that everything is right. We've had an eye on both of the players for a long time and we're now close to having two players in each position. Competition for places is what you want at every football club." Tsoumou and MacDonald have both played for their clubs this season and Fletcher was hopeful that they could carry on their form at Home Park. He said: "With where we are at the moment, it's very hard, in terms of financial and league status, to get proven established players, especially strikers. But for Juhvel, it's an opportunity to play some games and score some goals and really help our team out. I've know Alex for a little while now because Eddie Howe spoke to me about him. He's young, he's a Scottish under-21 international and, like you do with very player, you do your homework, ask people you respect in the game and everything came back positive. He's a good age, so let's hope he can come down here, force his way into the team and do well for Argyle."
Martin Baker has admitted the sole focus for Argyle in the short-term is staying in the Football League. Then, further in the future, he stated the aim was to at least restore the club to being a Championship side. Baker, finance director at Home Park, said: "The sole large challenge in the short term is maintenance of Football League status because so much goes with that in terms of commercial income. I think it's probably fair to say the new contracts we have signed players under since James took over the football club have included a clause whereby if the unthinkable happens we have some degree of protection. But we are all preferring not to think about that. We want to restore the club to the position in the football hierarchy where it rightfully belongs. On the basis that Plymouth is, I think, the 14th largest city in the country, the Championship shouldn't be unrealistic. But I think James made the point at the fans' forum that he will only do it in a honourable and ethical manner. And if the best the club can do is to get into the Championship, then it's the right level." Baker is responsible for all commercial aspects of the business at Argyle, while Jason Turner deals with football-related matters. Both have clearly defined roles, and Baker believes that arrangement works well. He added: "I probably see the manager every day, but Jason deals with him on a professional basis. Jason and I talk very regularly as far as financial matters in relation to the playing staff are concerned."
Carl Fletcher has praised the progress being made by Luke Young. Darren Purse thought Young was 'superb' at Port Vale on Saturday and Fletcher was equally complimentary. He said: "We know what we get from Youngy. He works hard at his game and deserves the rewards he gets. He's only 18 but you can see he's growing into a man. He's a good player." Purse said: "I thought Youngy was superb. I told him at half-time it wasn't the fact of what he was doing going forward but defensively. I don't think Biggie had much to do really because Youngy did it all for him. It's nice to see young lads that are hungry to do well for the football club."
Darren Purse was frustrated by Argyle's defeat at Port Vale on Saturday. Despite being laid low by flu earlier in the week, Purse played his part in the game, and afterwards said: "I haven't been feeling good for the last few days. I trained on Thursday and didn't feel right. I didn't train on Friday and travelled up on my own, but I managed to get through the game. I didn't feel as bad as I thought I was going to feel. I think the result is affecting me more than the flu at the minute. It would have been a good point. It would have been a good clean sheet as well. I don't think we deserved to win the game. We didn't do enough when we had possession of the ball. But we defended well enough to come away from here with a point." Jake Cole was beaten by a shot which was deflected by Purse on its way into the net. Purse added: "When it takes a deflection off you and ends up in the bottom corner of your net, it hurts even more. As I have gone out to block it, it comes of my chest and I think it just takes it away from Jake a little bit." Argyle have kept only two clean sheets all season, and Purse admitted that was a statistic that had to improve. "We have been working on being harder to beat the last few weeks," he said. "You can see the work we are doing on the training field is coming out in games. Sometimes, you just need that little bit of luck to go with it, and we didn't get that. Hopefully, over the next week or two, we can do a little bit more going forward because I think that's where we were lacking." Argyle had only one shot on target against Port Vale, a 30-yard free-kick from Paul Wotton in the first half. Purse said: "We spoke about a few things in dressing room after the game. The set pieces weren't very good either. Things like that, especially when the game is as tight as it was, we need to brush up on. They are opportunities to score goals." As an example of that, Purse pointed to Argyle's late equaliser when they drew with Crawley Town the previous Saturday. He said: "We proved with Max's goal we can be dangerous from set pieces, but the delivery needs to be right. Hopefully, that will come through. But to come to a place like Port Vale, and you are disappointed not to pick up a point, I think it shows how far the club has come over the last few weeks."
Carl Fletcher gave an insight into the difficulties of being a manager after Argyle's defeat at Port Vale on Saturday. He admitted his pre-match preparations were hampered by Warren Feeney failing a fitness test on a calf injury and Darren Purse being a doubt for the fixture because of flu. Nick Chadwick returned to action as the replacement for Feeney, after being sidelined for three games by a hamstring injury, but seemed some way short of full fitness, being substituted in the 59th minute. Fletcher said: "He had been out for four weeks, so it was always going to be tough for him on a difficult pitch. You can only play with the cards you are dealt. It's disappointing when things change around at the last minute. But that's what I have found out. You are kind of non-stop putting fires out. As soon as you think you have got them all out, there are about 10 more." It looked as though Argyle would take away a hard-earned point from their trip to Vale Park until they conceded a late goal. Fletcher said: "We didn't play that great, but we dug in and worked hard. Defensively we looked fairly comfortable. In possession we could have been better, but I thought it was going to peter out to a 0-0 draw. It was tough. Feeney dropped out so Chaddy had to play, having been out for four weeks, and Pursey had flu. The lads gave me everything, and it's just disappointing we didn't see the game out." Despite the possession Port Vale had, and the 13 corners they forced during the game, Argyle gave good protection to Jake Cole. Fletcher said: "If you don't play well, you try to be hard to beat. We looked fairly comfortable. In any game you play, you have to defend when balls come in the box and do the right things, and on a difficult pitch we did that. We stuck to our task, but their lad came up with a little bit of quality towards the end." Fletcher admitted he was disappointed with the lack of attacking threat from Argyle, who had scored five goals in their previous three games. He said: "Sometimes you are going to have loads of possessions in games, sometimes you aren't. Here, we didn't, and we dug in and did our defensive duties, but there are always areas you can improve on, whether you win or lose." Darren Purse played against Port Vale despite sitting out training on Friday because of illness. Fletcher said: "Pursey travelled up on his own and had his own room. He was kind of out for the count on Friday, but he has got through it. When winter comes, you always have to be careful of flu going around. It's no different from wherever you are. You just have to deal with it and kind of roll with the punches. We would have taken a draw away from home at a tough place like Port Vale. Obviously, every game we go into we want to win, and sometimes you can go out there and things click and you don't have too much of a problem. But other times you have to grind things out, and that's what we had to do. We realised that as the game went on, and it was just unfortunate we didn't see it through."
Darren Purse thinks Argyle will have to win seven or eight of their final 18 games to avoid relegation to the Conference, and believes they are more than capable of that. "Everybody looks at the results but I am a big believer in just concentrating on yourself," he said, "and I think that sevens wins, maybe eight wins, will do it for us. If the other teams go on a fantastic run, at least we've done what we can do. As long as we work as hard as other teams, which we have been doing in recent weeks, the quality we have got in the side will stand us in good stead, and will keep us above the bottom two this year. We need to do the donkey-work as well, and that's something we have re-iterated over the last couple of weeks. The game doesn't change that much, whether you are flying at the top of the league or struggling against relegation. When you are down the bottom, you just don't get that little bit of luck that sometimes you need." Purse believes the spirit of the players will also play its part in Argyle's survival bid. "As soon as I walked into the football club, it was always fine, even though we were six points off safety," he said. "Everybody was still bubbly and training was good. As long as we don't let a result like today affect us, then we'll be alright, but you can't let one defeat turn into four or five defeats, because that will make it hard for us. This won't be the last time we'll be in the bottom two, unless we go on a run and win three or four games on the bounce and that will put us clear of the relegation zone. If not, we'll have to roll up our sleeves and do things the hard way. We're back in there at the minute, but I don't think we'll be there come the beginning of May, and that's when it's most important. To come to places like Port Vale and be disappointed not to pick up a point shows you how far the club has come in the past few weeks. It's nice to see young lads that are hungry to do well for the football club and that is why I think we'll be alright at the end of the season, because we've got good young players who are hungry for success, and few old heads in there."
The Argyle youth team drew 2-2 at Hereford United on Saturday, the goals scored by Sam Gallagher and Aaron Bentley. Argyle: Walton.C, Elcock, Richards, Berry, Bentley, Bradley, Harper-Penman, Sims, Harvey, Copp, Gallagher. (Subs not used - Allen, Summers, Vickers, Brimicombe, Walton.R).
Argyle lost 1-0 at Port Vale. Argyle: Cole, Bignot, Purse, Blanchard, Bhasera, Young, Wotton, Walton, Hemmings, Chadwick, Lecointe. Subs – Sutherland, Soukouna, Lennox (not used - Larrieu, Berry). Attendance - 4,375.
Ollie Chenoweth has joined Truro City on a one-month loan deal, but can be recalled at 24 hours notice.
Rory Patterson has officially left Argyle. He was released by the club after his loan spell at Linfield was cancelled, enabling him to sign for Derry City.
John Deehan will not be involved in coaching or team selection at Argyle, instead, his role will be to provide advice and support for Carl Fletcher and his coaching staff of Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell. Fletcher said: "We are making sure we don't leave any stone unturned and doing everything in our power to get the right results. John won't be doing any coaching or team selection or anything like that. It's just another set of eyes for us. Like I said, if John comes in and sees one thing that helps the team, then it's definitely worthwhile." Deehan had been out of football since leaving Grimsby Town in May 2010, after a short spell as their head of recruitment. Fletcher had not come across Deehan before until he was recommended to him by Sean O'Driscoll. "Sean is someone I trust and respect," said Fletcher. "I know Colin Calderwood and his assistant at Northampton from when John was there, and I spoke to them and got their opinion on him. It's the same with anyone we try to bring into the football club. You ask as many people as you can about them. That's all you can do. Like I said, we are making sure we have got the best chance for the football club."
Argyle have extended the loan spell of Paul Bignot from Blackpool until the end of the season. Carl Fletcher said: "It's great for us. He has enjoyed it down here and we have enjoyed having him. We know what Biggy's like, as a lad and as a person. We know what we're going to get from him and he's another player that's come into the squad that brings something so we're pleased to have him on board until the end of the season." However, Craig Sutherland will be leave Argyle and return to Blackpool after the game against Port Vale. Fletcher has not ruled out making further additions to his squad before the transfer window shuts next Tuesday, but is operating under financial restrictions, including the League Two salary cap, which allows clubs to spend only a maximum of 55 per cent of their income on player salaries. Fletcher added: "We are always looking to improve. We have just got to make sure it's right for everyone involved."
Conor Hourihane will return to the Argyle squad for the game at Port Vale tomorrow after completing a two-match suspension and Simon Walton 'should be fine', according to Carl Fletcher, after suffering a shoulder injury last Saturday. But Fletcher was non-committal over the chances of Nick Chadwick playing. Fletcher said: "We will just have to wait and see on Nick and go from there really. Our squad isn't massive. It's on the smaller side and it only takes a couple of injuries or suspensions, and you are back to bare bones again, but it's nice to have options." Argyle have won three and drawn four of their last nine games, but Fletcher is only focused on the future. He said: "We don't look back. We are always looking to the next challenge ahead, which is a tough game against Port Vale. With the results we have had, we will go there with a bit of confidence, but we know we have got to be right on it to have a chance of getting anything out of the game."
Joe Lennox has two aims for the rest of the season, to play his part in Argyle retaining their League status and to earn a new contract with the club. He said: "I was here on trial for a week just after Christmas, and then they wanted to see me in a reserve game. I played in that, and scored, and they signed me straight away. It was a relief. I'm here until the end of the season and I will just have to try to prove myself and earn another contract. I think it's a good set-up here. They have got the club back after all of their troubles and just need to try to keep in this league. Everyone is getting confidence now and I think the team is good enough to stay up." Lennox has been impressed by his new team-mates and the management style of Carl Fletcher. He said: "They are a great bunch of lads. I have a lot of fun with them, and the manager is good. He likes to get the young ones involved, which is good for me. He also likes to get the ball down and play football." Lennox was at Bristol City from the age of 14, but, after 18 months as a professional without any first team football, knew he needed to move on, and Argyle offered him that opportunity. Lennox said: "It's a massive club, and I wanted to come here as soon as I had the chance to play some first team football. I have had to leave home and move down here, so it has been very strange, but I'm getting used to it and I'm enjoying it." Lennox was sent on as an 87th minute substitute against Crawley last weekend and was involved in the build-up to Argyle's last-minute equaliser. With his first touch of the ball, he set up an attack which led to Ashley Hemmings having a shot saved. Lennox took the resulting corner, which led to Maxime Blanchard scoring with an acrobatic overhead kick. "It was a great debut," said Lennox. "I got on the ball straight away and I think I took on two players and then slotted it through. We had the corner from that chance, which I took, and we scored. It was a great feeling, especially on my debut as well. Crawley are pushing for promotion and they are a good side, but I think we are as good as any team in the league." Argyle continue their fight against relegation tomorrow at Port Vale and Lennox added: "I'm looking forward to it and, hopefully, I will get some more time on the pitch."
John Deehan is 'very impressed' with the ability of Carl Fletcher and sees his role as simply to help the manager, and assistants Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell, continue the momentum which has seen the team take three wins and four draws from their last nine games. Deehan said: "I have been very impressed by the coaching ability of Carl Fletcher, and I think his international career, and his vast and varied football career, will put him in good stead for the situation he has found himself in. I think it's commendable, what Carl's done so far. He has turned the ship around to some extent and, at the moment, his trend seems to be that he has got a competitive team on the pitch. My role will be to try and help Carl continue that trend for the football club." Fletcher welcomed the arrival of someone with plenty of football knowledge to Home Park. "I am pleased to have John here," he said. "It will be great to be able to draw upon his considerable experience for the challenge ahead." Deehan added: "It's the plight of two clubs to go down and our core job is to try to make sure that Plymouth Argyle are not among them." Welcoming Deehan, James Brent said: "I am delighted that John is joining Argyle. Carl, supported by Ro and Kevin, has already materially improved our team performance. We are now adding additional experience that will hopefully further help us avoid relegation and build a base for future league success."
Argyle today confirmed that they have appointed John Deehan as Director of Football to mentor Carl Fletcher.
Simon Walton should be fit for Argyle's trip to Port Vale this weekend after X-rays showed there is no serious injury to his shoulder. Walton tweeted yesterday: "Scan showed no bone damage. Just a standard dislocation. Training Thursday hopefully." Meanwhile, reports suggest Argyle are trying to extend the loan of Paul Bignot until the end of the season.
Peter Jones had 'absolutely no reservations whatsoever' about returning to the board of directors at Argyle. He believes the new regime at Home Park have the attributes needed to take the club forward. He said: "I had absolutely no reservations whatsoever, and that sense has been re-enforced by two things. The first thing has been the incredible response of the fanbase to the traumas of the last 12 months. Everyone, whether they are in the team or on the terraces – as it were, has the desire to really work together as a group. And the second thing is I think James has assembled a very interesting board. In the context of customer focus, you really can't get any better than somebody who has played massive roles at Waitrose and John Lewis. It is absolutely best in class." Jones had not met David Felwick or Richard Holliday before they were brought together as part of the Argyle board, but is already enjoying working with them, and added: "Richard and David are going to be very good people to work with. I think we have got a really good balanced board. It was all about us putting together a set of skills that would help the club. My piece in that jigsaw is about the whole business of the customer experience, the marketing and the communications. Everything that relates to the way we build and promote the club, and reach out into the community. Ideally, we want to provide a great experience for the fans when they come to Home Park." Jones thought the reasons for Argyle's financial collapse stemmed as far back as January 2007, when the club bought the freehold of Home Park from Plymouth City Council for £2.7m. He said: "The club took its eye off the ball, in the context of the football team, when it started to obsess about buying the freehold of the stadium. In my opinion, that was the step at which it started to all go wrong. I'm very glad it's back in city ownership." Jones admitted his resignation from the Argyle board in 2005 was, in part, because of differences of opinion over the freehold purchase of Home Park. He said: "There were two very clearly defined opinions on the board. Should we go ahead and look to invest in property and buy freeholds etc, etc? Or should we simply put all our focus into the football and let the rest take care of itself? There was a secondary reason for me resigning, which was Michael Foot was on the board with me and, at that point, he was getting to the age of 92. Frankly, it was time for him to go, and put the two together and it was a good reason." James Brent admitted at the outset of his rescue of Argyle that he was not a football fan but, over the course of time, has developed a close attachment to the club. Jones said: "My first impressions of James, and I had met him once before, were of the very logical and rationally-driven banker, and, of course, he deploys those disciplines. But he has now moved through to having an extraordinarily strong emotional connection to this club as well. That grew all the way through the second half of last year. He was genuinely gobsmacked by the passion and the efforts of the fanbase, and, indeed, people inside the club, to keep it going. He now really, really enjoys it. It's quite easy to lose sight of the fact, and this is all past history now, that we got a lot of stick from people. We were told the Heaney bid had to be got across the line. But there were those of us on that contingency plan group who just never felt the Heaney bid was credible and could work. We also felt the proposal contained therein was not a healthy one for the future of Plymouth Argyle. So I think the contingency plan group did play its part. It was a loose grouping of very different sorts of people, but we were able to discuss things and support each other. Of course, James was a big part of that, and I think it did provide very good support for him. I think you see evidence of that after the event by the trust he has shown in Chris Webb, by making him club president very quickly." Jones has some clear thoughts on the way forward for Argyle, and said: "I have got an informal mission statement in my head, which is I want Plymouth Argyle to be regarded as the best run club in the country within a couple of years, but in a new sort of way. In a way that involves being totally welcoming to all groups in the Plymouth community and, indeed, across Devon and Cornwall. I want us to be very transparent and open, I want things to be planned, I want us to be incredibly customer friendly, and I also want us to have a very good football team. James has used the words 'community asset' and I think they are the right ones. I think Plymouth Argyle can be a community asset which builds its competitive strength on the pitch just by being incredibly unified and one big team together."
Carl Fletcher is refusing to put a timescale on when Nick Chadwick could return from his hamstring injury. When asked when he thought Chadwick would return to action Fletcher replied: "I will have to let you know on that one." The manager admitted Chadwick was 'not too close' to playing against Crawley, and added: "We always knew he was going to be out, so we prepared for that. It's unfortunate you get injuries or suspensions, but during the week and the preparation the most important people are the ones that are going to play and be involved. All our focus was on them." Fletcher did not believe the absence of Chadwick had limited the way Argyle had played over the last three matches. He said: "I don't think so. The opposition limit what you can do attacking-wise, and you have to be careful of that. It's not down to individual players. All individual players are going to bring something to the team. That's why they are here, and they have all got their own qualities. If someone isn't playing, they are not playing. You can't worry about it. You just get on with it." Fletcher is not getting carried away by the fact Argyle moved out of the relegation zone on Saturday. "We are just working on what we need to do," he said. "We know if we do that, the rest will take care of itself. For myself, and for my players in the squad, we are very level-headed and we keep our feet on the ground, but we always want to improve in every aspect. I have got players who want to do that, and that's an important thing. No-one is resting on their laurels and thinking we have cracked it. The minute you stand still in football it comes back and bites you on the bum. All we can do is put in the hard work in every training session and every game."
Returning Argyle Director Peter Jones has admitted it is important for the club to reconnect with the local community after their recent troubles. He said: "There is no doubt the club had a dreadful period, culminating in 2011, which really was an 'annus horribilis'. A lot of people were very damaged by the experience emotionally and, also in a tangible way, financially. However we are through that. One of the things Michael Foot taught me was how incredibly important this club is to the Plymouth community. That doesn't mean to say the Plymouth community are going to fill Home Park every week. We have to earn the right to attract people, and I absolutely understand that. But there are three nationally famous brands with the word Plymouth in. One of them is Plymouth Gin, one of them is the University of Plymouth and the other is Plymouth Argyle. The further away you are from the centre, the more important a football club becomes as a representative, if you like, of what the community is all about. So I think Plymouth Argyle is absolutely critical to the city. It's about identity, it's about pride, it's about feeling part of a community, and being part of something good and exciting. We are really lucky because we are blessed with an owner who totally and utterly understands that. His motivations are about re-establishing Argyle as a community asset. And as his main business is in the hospitality industry, hotels, he sees no reason why any football club wouldn't want to put their fans, their customers, absolutely at the heart of everything they are thinking about."
The shoulder injury suffered by Simon Walton on Saturday does not appear to be a serious one. He had X-rays yesterday and afterwards tweeted: "Just waiting for results. Feeling loads better so hopefully was just a simple dislocation!"
John Deehan has emerged as a candidate to take on the role of mentor to Carl Fletcher. The former Norwich City and Aston Villa manager was at Home Park on Saturday and will reportedly hold talks with Fletcher today.
Simon Walton is due to have X-rays today on a shoulder injury he suffered in the draw with Crawley Town on Saturday. Walton left Home Park with his left arm in a sling, and tweeted: "My arm is in a sling and will wait to see results of the X-ray." Yesterday, he added: "Bit better today so I'm feeling hopeful."
Carl Fletcher was delighted after Argyle grabbed a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with Crawley Town. He said: "It was a scrappy, horrible game, but we knew it was going to be like that. Crawley are a good side and they are up at the top of the table on merit. You can see why. We knew it wasn't going to be pretty football, but you get games like that. From our point of view, there were a lot of positives. After conceding the goal, we didn't concede a second. It was a fight in the second half and we had to do the ugly things. It wasn't pretty. But we stayed in the game and towards the end we got that chance and got something out of it. I'm delighted with the point really." Crawley's goal came from a free-kick but, apart from that, Argyle defended solidly and to a large extent nullified the threat of strikers Tyrone Barnet and Matt Tubbs. Fletcher said: "You aren't going to be able to pass loads and do what you want to do in every game. There is an opposition playing against you. For us, where we are at the minute, we have to make sure we are hard to beat. We knew we had to defend well at corners and long throws. For the majority of time, I thought we did that. Obviously, the one they scored was disappointing but the lads stuck to their task really well, on what we had worked on all week. They put their bodies on the line, and in terms of doing our jobs and being hard to beat, I thought we did that quite well." Maxime Blanchard's first goal for Argyle was a spectacular and timely one. Fletcher said: "Max is technically very good for a defender. With him being French, I think he has been brought up the right way and he's very comfortable on the ball. In terms of the whole game, it was very scrappy and very tough at times. It wasn't a great one to watch, but no-one really cares about that. It will say 1-1 in the papers, and we will take that." After Blanchard's equaliser, Crawley were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty deep into stoppage time. Tubbs was fouled by Onismor Bhasera as he cut across the top of the area, but referee Phil Gibbs did not point to the spot. Instead, almost immediately, he blew for full-time. Fletcher was non-committal about the incident. He said: "I would have to see it again. I wasn't too sure whether it was in the box or not, and I couldn't really see whether Bas won the ball or not. I'm really pleased with the way the lads really dug in. They ground a result out. I think before the game we would probably have taken a point against a team who are near the top of the table and have got a great chance of going up. We really worked hard and I'm pleased to get that reward at the end."
Argyle moved out of the relegation zone yesterday, but Carl Fletcher is not getting carried away. "No-one rests on their laurels and thinks we've cracked it," he said. "The minute you stand still in football, it comes back and bites you on the backside. Myself and the players in the squad are very level-headed. We keep our feet on the ground. We always want to improve in every aspect, I've got players who want to do that, and that's an important thing." Fletcher insists he is not really looking at the table, or the fortunes of the clubs around Argyle. "We're taking care of ourselves, really," he said. "Doing what we need to do. The club, as a whole, could not have got any lower than it has in the past few years. We're working on what we need to do and the rest will take care of itself. What we want as a club as a whole is improving every day, every training session, every game. All we can do is put the hard work in to try to do that."
Maxime Blanchard scored his first goal in English football yesterday and did it in style, popping up in the opposition penalty area with full time approaching to score an acrobatic overhead kick to earn Argyle a point against Crawley Town. "It's a great feeling," he said, "Scoring a late goal is a great feeling. This is the first time I have scored a late goal. I think it was a deflected shot or something like that. The ball was in the air, the only thing for me to do was the overhead kick. I couldn't do anything else. I heard the keeper saying 'keepers' or 'away' or something, so I knew he wasn't aware of what happened. So if I just kicked it, it would go through." The goal took Argyle out of the bottom two, and Blanchard added: "It's important, especially for the fans, to see the club out of the relegation zone. It's not an achievement, because there is still a lot of work to do. We're not out of trouble. Those League Two games can be pretty scrappy. You need to scrap, and that's what we did for the whole game. Conceding goals like that, on set pieces with a free header, that's a shame. It shouldn't happen. At the end of the game we had a few chances. Just before the goal, it was a good cross from Suthers to Ash, it was unlucky. We were confident of winning. I know it's a good result, 1-1 against a good team, but we try to win everything. There is a good atmosphere. Even at half time when we came back to the dressing room, the coaches did say that we were not in trouble, even at 1-0. They were confident about us coming back and even winning the game. There is something at this club. To do what we did against Bristol Rovers, to come back from 2-0 to win 3-2; to do even what we did against Crewe, we were close to a comeback and a penalty killed us. Even when we are 1-0 down we are not thinking we will lose, we are just fighting to the end to see what happens."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Crawley Town at Home Park, the goal scored by Maxime Blanchard after 90 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Bignot, Purse, Blanchard, Bhasera, Young, Wotton, Walton, Hemmings, Feeney, Lecointe. Subs – Sutherland, Soukouna, Lennox (not used - Larrieu, Berry). Attendance - 6,417.
Carl Fletcher has admitted it will be 'very difficult' to make further additions to his Argyle squad. He said: "The situation as it is, it's very difficult. We are still picking up pieces of the debris from what has gone on in the past few years, which is restricting us in what we can do. We've got to make sure we are very switched on to what we can and what we can't afford. We don't want to be where we were a year ago, spending money which we don't have. We're always looking to improve, the minute you stand still and think you're done is when you start going backwards. We just want to get things to make the football club as a whole stronger. As it stands, there is no money available at all, but everyone behind the scenes is working hard to see what we can do to give us some options. Like I say, it's been hard, picking up the pieces from what has happened in seasons gone by. I think the main thing is everyone in the club is doing things the right way to make sure we don't fall in to those traps again." Fletcher replied 'no comment' when asked whether any talks had taken place with Blackpool about extending the loans spells of Paul Bignot and Craig Sutherland, whose existing deals end after the game at Port Vale next Saturday.
There is confusion over claims that Rory Patterson has signed for Derry City on a three-year contract. It had been reported that Patterson has completed the move but, in fact, that is not the case. The striker has been on a season-long loan to Linfield and, therefore, Argyle still hold his registration and have not reached an agreement with any club about a transfer. Argyle have been involved in some initial talks, but a club source said: "It is very, very far from being a done deal." Derry are the League of Ireland's only participant from Northern Ireland so for Patterson to move from Linfield to Derry, an international transfer certificate would be required. That would mean Argyle recalling him from his loan at Linfield and completing all the relevant paperwork, as well as reaching an agreement with Derry. However, Argyle would be entitled to refuse any such transfer request as there is no recall clause in Patterson's loan to Linfield. An added complication is that Glentoran have a contractually-binding interest in Patterson. He was signed by Argyle from Glentoran for £40,000 in 2009, on a two-year contract. As part of the deal, it was agreed Glentoran would have the first option to re-sign Patterson should he leave Home Park.
Carl Fletcher has insisted there will be no pressure on Argyle when they play Crawley at Home Park tomorrow. Thirty points, and 20 positions in the table, separate the two teams, but Fletcher insisted his players were excited about testing themselves against one of the best sides in the division. He said: "They are top of the table and expected to come here and brush us to one side really, so there is no pressure on us. We know we have got to go out there and do what we have worked on, and do the things we are good at. Everyone in the changing room is really looking forward to the challenge. Crawley are a very good side, we just have to make sure we are ready for what should be a great game for us. Everyone will be excited and we are looking for a great atmosphere again. The atmosphere against Burton was amazing really, considering in certain parts of the game it was quite scrappy and slow. But the crowd kept going, and I can't stress how much that makes a difference to our players. We really appreciate the support they give us." Argyle hope to have Nick Chadwick available for the game after sitting out the last two matches because of a hamstring injury. "We should have everyone available," added Fletcher, when asked about the fitness of his squad.
Jake Cole has pointed to Darren Purse as having a crucial part to play in Argyle's game against Crawley. Purse's experience and strength will be put to the test by the prolific strikeforce of Tyrone Barnett and Matt Tubbs, who have scored 30 goals between them this season. Cole said: "They are a threat, but with Pursey and Maxie being in there, I feel we have strength in the back four. Pursey is experienced at leading the line and, hopefully, we can take care of them. We played them early in the season and they got a result at their place. We are coming off a good result last weekend and we are all confident we can get three points out of it. We have had a good week's training, preparing for the game, and, hopefully, we can take it out there and get what we need." Crawley are chasing a second successive promotion, having won the Conference last season. Cole said: "They have had success over the last few seasons and the manager has got a lot of players in and built it the way he wants it. They are a threat, but every game is the same for us, really, no matter who it's against. We need to pick points up, and that's the most important thing." Cole knows Argyle must consistently pick up points from home matches for the rest of the season to boost their chances of escaping relegation, and added: "Who we are playing doesn't really matter to me. It's just important we do get points out of our games, especially at home. If we can mainly pick up three points from home games, I'm sure we will be fine."
The search for an experienced mentor for Carl Fletcher is continuing, after Sean O'Driscoll joined Nottingham Forest. Former Walsall and Luton Town manager Richard Money has expressed an interest in the role, as has ex-Watford and Wolves boss Colin Lee. Fletcher reportedly will have the final say on who is appointed and would not comment on whether Money or Lee, or Neil Warnock, were possible candidates. He said: "The final decision is down to me. It has got to be someone I'm comfortable with, and someone I want. We have worked so hard to get the spirit going in the changing room, and that everyone respects each other and looks after one another. It's a big decision, bringing someone into the club who is going to be around the place, and you have to make sure it's the right one. It's the same with signing players. If you make the wrong decision it can upset all the hard work you have put in to get things done in the right way in the first place." Meanwhile, Fletcher has welcomed the addition of three new non-executive directors to the Argyle board. He said: "Football-wise, it hasn't affected us too much. We work closely with Jason Turner, he's our life raft and we throw all the stuff we need done onto him and he deals with it. But, in terms of the club, it's good to get some stability. It was right that James Brent has taken his time and picked the right people to be on the board."
Rory Patterson has left Argyle, completing a permanent transfer to Derry City, after his loan spell at Linfield was ended early.
Paul Wotton has admitted his return to Argyle has been made easier by the warm welcome he has received from fans. He said: "The reaction to me coming back has been unbelievable. Last Thursday night my phone was on meltdown, with text messages and calls. When I have been out and about around the city, a lot of people have said 'welcome home' which has been really nice. The fans' reaction on Saturday was awesome as well. It does make it easier." Wotton is the second former player to return to Home Park, following Nick Chadwick. Both were released by Paul Sturrock at the end of the 2007/08 season and Wotton said: "Me and Chadders are really good mates, and we kept in contact all the time we weren't at the club. We were out injured for a long spell together as well when we were here." Wotton's return to Argyle has also meant his travel time to work has been considerably reduced. After signing for Yeovil from Southampton last January, he and his family moved back to Plymouth and he made the 180-mile round trip to Yeovil and back for training and games, which took its toll. That was despite sharing the driving this season with Steve MacLean, who also lives in Plymouth. Wotton said: "When I signed for Southampton, we moved up there. But then I went to Yeovil, we moved back to Plymouth. We wanted to get the kids settled in school, and my wife, Justine, is from Plymouth as well, so it's good to be around our families. The commute was really tough and some days it got me down, although it was easier when I shared with Macca. It's just little things that make all the difference. I can do the school run now, which I love doing, and go for a cup of tea at my mum's, or whatever." With the recent additions to the squad of Chadwick, Darren Purse and Wotton, it gives Carl Fletcher a much stronger spine to his team. Wotton added: "I think it's important to have a strong spine to your team, and obviously the manager does as well because he wouldn't have signed us otherwise. I had five games with Pursey at Yeovil, and he did really well. I know they wanted to keep him but whatever went on, went on. You aren't going to get many better centre-backs in League Two than Pursey." Wotton was a centre-back earlier in his career, but made a successful switch to midfield for Argyle, and continued in the position for both Southampton and Yeovil. "It has been so long since I played at centre back," he said. "I see myself as a midfielder now, but it would be no problem for me to go to centre-back." With Argyle fighting against relegation, Wotton insisted it was important they take a game-by-game approach. He said: "What happened against Burton is history. It's Crawley at home now. You can't look any further than that. It's a cliché, but Crawley at home is a cup final for us."
Ollie Chenoweth is determined to grab his second chance at Argyle with both hands. After being released at the end of last season he played for Bideford, but is now back at Home Park, his dedication rewarded with a new professional contract. He said: "I came up through the youth system, did my apprenticeship and signed last season for a year. It was a difficult season, because of the state the club was in no one was getting paid anyway. I was disappointed to be let go and I'm happy to get the chance to go back into the professional game. When the new manager came in he asked me to come back and do a bit of training with them just to help out. They liked what they saw and gave me a chance to come back." During his time away Chenoweth impressed for Bideford, keeping seven clean sheets as they went top of Evo-Stik League Southern first division south and west. "I loved playing for them," he said. "Obviously we were doing well and we had a good young side that Sean Joyce had put together. I'm grateful to him for giving me the chance to have a few games." Chenoweth trains daily with the first team but the reserves have no regular fixtures and he has not ruled out a return to Bideford on loan. "I'd like to think I'll be included in the first-team squad," he said. "At the moment I'm happy playing reserve games and just hoping to get the chance. I'd want to go out on loan if I'm not going to be involved on match days. I'd be happy to go back."
Sean O'Driscoll has joined Nottingham Forest as first-team coach. O'Driscoll had been helping out at Argyle, and was rumoured to be in line for a permanent position as 'advisor' to Carl Fletcher.
Ashley Hemmings has revealed that Argyle's team-spirit was the key factor in persuading him to remain at Home Park for the rest of the season. He said: "To be honest, it's down to the team-spirit and the lads who have helped me to settle in great. The fans have been brilliant, too, and I'm really grateful to them for making me welcome, even when I'm out and about in Plymouth. I think what they want to see is someone come down here, do well and graft for the team. So, I'd like to give them something back for their support and making me so happy here. And it's a challenge for me, at what is a young age, and I'm loving the experience. I really want to help Argyle stay in the League and move up to where they deserve to be." Hemmings gave an indication of his commitment to the cause with a man-of-the-match performance against Burton Albion last weekend, playing on both flanks, swapping back and forth with Luke Young. He said: "It's something I love doing in a match, starting out on the left and then switching on to the right. It's great being able to attack down both lines. On the left-hand side, when I get the ball I'll just hare off and try and fire a cross over. But on the right, I can get the ball and then, as I'm left-footed, can cut in and if I think there is something on I'll have a shot at goal." It was the 89th-minute trip on Hemmings in the box which led to Simon Walton grabbing the winner from the penalty spot. Hemmings also paid tribute to Paul Wotton for his encouragement. He said: "Paul wished me luck before we went out on to the pitch and he encouraged me to go out and show what I could do. He knows I can get past players and get the ball across and he said 'just carry on doing what you're good at'. Against Burton, who are a good team, we came in at half-time at no-goals and we felt that we had a real chance and could definitely get three points out of it. That was down to the spirit we had during the break, and it helped to lift us." Hemmings is hoping the win over Burton leads to a good run of form for Argyle, and added: "I wasn't here when we played Crawley up there in October. But I know that we have improved a lot since that match and I'm convinced we're going to give them a great game. We're hoping, as it's at home as well, that we can get three points, to be honest."
The Argyle's Fans' Trust are taking independent expert advice after being given the opportunity to buy up to a 20 per cent shareholding in the club. They will also consult with the membership before taking such a significant decision. "We welcome James Brent's proposals, although still with some misgivings over the make-up of the supervisory board," a Trust spokesman said. "The Trust will be obtaining independent expert advice regarding the 20 per cent preferential share offer and it will be necessary to consult with its members before undertaking such a major decision."
Simon Walton scored both goals as Argyle beat Burton Albion at Home Park on Saturday to move off the bottom of the table on goal difference. The winner came from an 89th minute penalty after Ashley Hemmings had been fouled, and Walton said: "Ash has got tricky feet and when he wants to he can beat anybody. To be fair to him, I think he tried to stay on his feet, but it was a stonewall penalty. It's the best feeling to score the winning goal when it's that late on. Fortunately, I have had that twice now, after the game away to Dagenham and Redbridge earlier in the season. There is always a bit of pressure when you are taking a penalty in those sort of situations. But I have always believed that, one on one from 12 yards out, you stand a lot more chance than the 'keeper does." Walton had opened the scoring with a fierce shot, using his less favoured left foot, after he was set up by Luke Young. With Paul Wotton slotting into the centre of midfield following his return to the club, Walton was given the freedom to push forward into attacking positions. He said: "I have been encouraged to get forward more, and with Wottsy in the team it made it a little bit easier. I got in a decent position, Youngy found me and I just swung at it really. It was one of those that as soon as it left my boot I could see it was going in." Argyle are one of three teams level on points at the bottom of League Two, but Walton has faith they will win their fight against relegation. He said: "There is every confidence in the squad, and in the management team we have got, that we are more than capable of getting out of trouble, and, looking further to the future, of pushing on and getting out of this league."
Argyle's game at Hereford United has been brought forward by 24 hours to Good Friday, April 6th at 3pm, at the request of both clubs.
Paul Wotton has only been back at Home Park for a few days, but is convinced Argyle can escape relegation. He said: "There is a great spirit in the changing room. The staff and the players are all together, and I was straight into the banter. I haven't been called 'big nose' off Chadders for three-and-a-half years, so it's happy days!" Simon Walton gave Argyle a 47th minute lead against Burton, who equalised with a header from Calvin Zola in the 74th minute. But Argyle, inspired by Ashley Hemmings and Luke Young on the wings, finished the game strongly and their reward came when Hemmings was tripped inside the penalty area and Walton slotted home the spot kick. Wotton said: "We have got a couple of boys who are a real threat. With Ashley, just give him the ball and he does the rest. And Youngy was brilliant in the second half. They are brave because they get on the ball, and the punters got right behind us, as I know they do. If you are giving everything you have got, the fans at Plymouth Argyle will forgive you anything. The first half was scrappy and it was nip and tuck, which was fine by us. We took the lead with a great strike from Walts and then we really turned screw. If we could have got a second then it might be a very comfortable afternoon. But we conceded a goal and had a couple of minutes where we thought 'how is this going to pan out'. Our response, though, was brilliant. We kicked on again, we got the penalty and what a clinical finish."
James Brent has confirmed that Matt Lecointe has been the subject of interest from several clubs, reportedly including Liverpool and Manchester United. However, Brent stated Argyle are keen to hang onto him for some time to come. "There has been interest in Matt and it's fairly well documented that the administrator was trying to sell him because being a youth-team player he could be sold, whereas everyone else was fortunately locked in by the transfer window," he said. "He is someone who is very highly regarded by the manager and it's the manager who forms a view and makes recommendations. Matt is someone who has done very well for us and I hope he continues to do very well for us in three, five or seven years' time."
When Paul Wotton was released from his contract at Yeovil Town on Thursday he was immediately approached by Argyle, and was not faced with a difficult decision. "It all happened so quickly," he said, "I'm not a big believer in fate but if Terry Skiverton had still been the Yeovil manager I don't think I'd be here today. It's funny how football works. I had a great year at Yeovil, I really enjoyed myself. It's a really good club. I've got so much time for Terry Skiverton, he treated me different class. It's the beauty of football, and life, that when one door closes another one opens. I just feel so lucky. Everyone knows I didn't want to leave the club when I did. I feel like I've been on a three-and-a-half year holiday. So much has happened in a short space of time. I'm on such a high. Everyone knows my history with Plymouth Argyle. What a lucky boy, to be able to be a fan and do something about it on the pitch. To see what happened from afar was really difficult. I can't imagine being in that situation. I don't know how people did. They are unbelievable people that got the club through." Wotton soon got back into a familiar routine, as if his time spent away from Home Park were days, rather than years. He added: "It was strange because there were lots of things of things that were just natural; it felt like I'd never been away. Walking over to Harpers, I didn't even think 'I'm walking over to Harpers', it just felt so natural. I had a great time at Southampton and Yeovil and met great people, but my heart was always here. Every time I didn't have a game I'd bring my boy, Alfie, to watch Argyle. It felt like I never left. I'm absolutely thrilled."
James Brent is to serve as Argyle's interim chairman, but the intention is that the board will eventually decide on a full-time chairman from among them or, possibly even, from outside. At the Plymouth Guildhall meeting on Saturday, he said: "My personal view is that a statutory board of directors must be people who provide good governance and direction for the club. It shouldn't be folk who are willing to buy their way into a boardroom seat and enjoying the football. I think we have done that in terms of the three non-executive directors who have joined the club." Richard Holliday specialises in sport finance and has led significant transactions for Arsenal and Liverpool. Brent said: "As a sports financier, without boosting his position too much, he's as good as they get." On David Felwick, Brent said: "He is probably one of the top retailers in the country. He was managing director of Waitrose for a number of years and deputy chairman of the John Lewis Partnership. Prior to that, he was in the armed forces. He was a wing commander in the RAF, which is clearly helpful given the military connections of the city. Most importantly, he went to Devonport High School for Boys and is a lifelong Pilgrim." Peter Jones needed little introduction, having been vice-chairman of Argyle from 2001 to 2005. Brent added: "The view I have taken is that in terms of appointing a chairman it is a decision to be taken by the board, rather than me. So I will carry on chairing the football club in the interim. It will give the board a chance to work out whether one of its members should step up to the role, or we should get someone from outside." Argyle's finance director Martin Baker has also taken up the position of acting chief executive and Jason Turner is now the club's general manager, which incorporates the duties of his former role as football secretary. Baker was appointed as Argyle's finance director on the takeover of the club and Turner was already working as football secretary and Brent praised the pair for doing a 'fabulous job' in the intervening period. Brent had been impressed by the way Turner had handled transfers, loan extensions and contracts for players, and said: "The feedback I get from chatting to other clubs, and from my own observations, is he's the best in the industry and I think we are very fortunate to have Jason." As general manager, Turner will focus primarily on football-related matters, but he will attend to other administrational duties. Brent added: "Martin has been operating as finance director of the club, and has been trying to get the commercial, retail and hospitality side sorted out. For the time being, Martin has agreed to step up to become acting chief executive."
James Brent wants to enhance Home Park as a sporting and leisure destination by improving the facilities. Replacing the old Grandstand is clearly on the agenda and Brent said: "We have three decent stands, and a Grandstand which is a fantastic relic of times past. In it, there are urinals that are quite stunning. Thankfully, I haven't had to use them!" Brent promised to deliver 'high quality sporting facilities' and admitted the building of a hotel on land owned by the club was probable. Brent also announced the Fans Trust would be given the opportunity to acquire up to a 20 per cent shareholding in the club. They will be able to exercise this option up to September 30, 2012. Brent was asked about the possible cost involved and replied it would be a 'fair arms length price for the investment'. He explained the Argyle board were ambivalent about whether the Trust took up the offer. "They can do so if they want," he said. "The club does not need the money and there is no pressure on them to do so." Some fans at the Guildhall meeting wanted to know whether individual shares would be possible in the future and Brent replied that had already been considered, and he would 'revisit the idea' but feared the cost of arranging for that to take place would be prohibitive.
Argyle moved off the bottom of the table after beating Burton Albion on Saturday and Carl Fletcher insisted it was a deserved three points. "It's a big win for us," he said. "But if we concentrate on what we do then we don't have to worry about anyone else. I'm really pleased for the lads, getting their rewards. I felt we deserved it and would have been disappointed if he hadn't won. In the first half, it wasn't pretty at times. It was scrappy and very tight. In those periods you have to make sure you are fully concentrated and you do your jobs right. Then, when you are having a good stage in the game, that's when you can get your goals. From my point of view, I was pleased with that. You have to do the mundane things to win football matches, and we did that well." Simon Walton was set up for his first goal after good play from Luke Young and the captain fired home a fierce, left-foot shot from 20 yards. Fletcher said: "Walts is right-footed so it just shows the quality he has got." Walton's late match-winner was his ninth goal of the season and his sixth from the penalty spot. Fletcher said: "I'm pleased for him because he has been here a long time, good times and bad times, probably more bad than good. Nine goals from a midfielder, in anyone's league or anyone's club, is a good show." Paul Wotton re-signed for the club last Thursday and, after one training session with his new team-mates, started the game against Burton. Fletcher said: "He was a bit quiet on Friday. I think he was nervous! We have got a lot of voices in the dressing room now, with Pursey, Chaddy and Wotts. They are big characters and experienced, and it brings it out the younger lads as well. They are learning from them each and every day on what football is about really, and that's great for us." Ashley Hemmings was fouled for Argyle's penalty after he worked a short corner with Young. Fletcher said: "My first reaction was that it was outside the box, but I have been told it was well in. It was good play from us because we were still bright and alive, by playing a short corner. We tried something to keep the game alive, and didn't pump it in the box and hope someone got their head on it. Youngy and Ash were aware of the situation, and it was a good penalty from Walts." Hemmings and Young played on the opposite sides of midfield and were arguably the best two players. Fletcher added: "Wide right is not Youngy's natural position but he's technically very good. He has a football brain. And you know what you are going to get from Ash. He's going to excite the crowd, beat players and get balls in the box."
Former Bournemouth manager Sean O'Driscoll is being lined up to act as an advisor to Carl Fletcher. There has been no official confirmation that O'Driscoll is to be taken onto the club's payroll but reports suggest he has been in talks and his appointment is set to be announced sometime this week. O'Driscoll was in the directors' box at Home Park on Saturday, and although Carl Fletcher would not confirm that he was about to become part of the staff, he did say: "From my point of view, it's something I have wanted. It's just another set of eyes and another opinion. My staff and I are all young hungry. We are not a closed book and think we know it all. We just want to learn and try and get better as much as we can. You learn so much in football and it's nice to have an outside voice. It's similar to what I do anyway on a weekly basis. It's just a case Mr Brent can pay for it now." Asked how much of an involvement the 'mentor' would have, Fletcher replied: "I think it would be to what I felt I needed."
James Brent has not ruled out further new additions to the playing squad, either before the end of the transfer window or when loans are allowed from early February onwards. He said: "No-one is more worried about league position than I am. We will do what we can to get the club back to where it wants to be. There are further gaps (in the squad) the board is supporting Carl to fill so we can get the balance right on the pitch."
Simon Walton has spoken of his pride at leading Argyle's fight against relegation. He said: "If you'd said to me, at the start of the season, I'd be captain and score nine goals, I'd have laughed in your face, probably. Me, Fletch and Willo had a bet at the start of the season and we all made a prediction. I said I'd be happy with five goals, so I've nearly doubled it. Long may it continue but, as long as we keep winning, I don't care who scores. To be captain of a big club like Plymouth, and to have played so many games and scored nine goals, is a privilege and I feel proud to be able to say that." Things have not always gone so well for Walton, who has spent more time away from Home Park during his Argyle career, than turning out for the club. "It's the first time in a while I have played this many games," he said. "I always believed in myself and had the self-confidence I could do it. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I've set it alight, but I've been pretty consistent over the course of the season. We're going in the right direction. There's a long way to go, but we have every confidence in the squad and the management team we've got that we are more than capable of getting out of it and, speaking further in the future, pushing on and out of this league."
Carl Fletcher has welcomed the decision to appoint a mentor to assist him. "You learn so much in football and it's nice to have an outside voice," he said. "It's not too dissimilar to what I do, anyway, on a weekly basis. From my point of view, it's something I've wanted, and something that is being used anyway. It's another set of eyes that can help me and my staff learn, another set of eyes and another opinion. We are all young and hungry. We are not a closed book and think we know it all now. We just want to learn and try to get better as much as we can."
Paul Wotton was unable to get on the scoresheet on his return to the Argyle team, but was delighted to see his midfield partner grab two goals and the headlines. He said: "The first half was scrappy, nip and tuck, which was fine by us. Once we went 1-0 up, I thought 'what a great start to the second half'. What a great strike from Walts, and we really turned the screw. If we'd have got the second then it might have been a very comfortable afternoon. But we conceded a goal, and had a couple of minutes where we thought 'how is this going to pan out?' Our response was brilliant. We kicked on again, got the penalty, and what a clinical penalty. He's got some record. He never looked like he was going to miss. He couldn't get the ball quick enough, which I love to see from a penalty taker. He did really well today." Wotton had his own chances to score, from two free-kicks, one in each half. "The free-kick in the first half was close," he said, "The one in the second half was useless. The shot in the second half he was wrong footed and made a decent save." Wotton is certain that there is enough quality and unity in the dressing room and the terraces to ensure safety at the end of the season. He added: "That's not a bottom of the table side. I've trained with them yesterday and played with them today. There is a great spirit in the changing room. All the staff and players are all together. We've got a couple of boys who are a real threat. Hemmings, without a doubt. Just give him the ball. Youngy in the second half was brilliant. They are brave because they get on the ball. The punters got right behind us. As they do. If you are up for tackles and headers, giving everything you've got, they'll forgive you anything, the fans of Plymouth Argyle."
James Brent yesterday unveiled the club's new board of directors. Brent and the club's Finance Director Martin Baker will be joined by retail industry leader David Felwick, sport finance specialist banker Richard Holliday, and former Argyle Vice-chairman Peter Jones. Brent also outlined a range of measures as the club continues to move forward, including; Advanced discussions on the appointment of a mentor and advisor to manager Carl Fletcher; The Argyle Fans' Trust to be offered the opportunity to own a fifth of the club; The establishment of a Green Army Supervisory Board, consisting exclusively of fans, which will represent supporters' concerns and ideas to the Club Board. Martin Baker has also been appointed acting Chief Executive. The Argyle Board will work closely with the Green Army Supervisory Board and will meet at least four times a year to ensure fans' views are fully represented and that they receive direct feedback from the Directors.
James Brent revealed his aspirations for the club at a packed meeting at Plymouth Guildhall yesterday. In addition to announcing the new board and the creation of a new supervisory group of fans, he announced that the Fans Trust would be offered a 20 per cent share in the club and also revealed he is considering plans for a quality hotel at Home Park. Argyle are also to appoint an advisor to help Carl Fletcher, Brent confirmed. Speaking at the open meeting for fans, Brent revealed Fletcher had requested a 'mentor and advisor', and he said the move had been approved. While confirming an appointment would be made soon, Brent would not reveal any names. Brent added that the support of the new board for Fletcher was 'unconditional' and that he believed 'Carl Fletcher is an incredibly talented young man'. Brent said his aspirations for the future of Argyle are: "To manage the club soundly financially and with integrity; to stay in the league; to return the club to a league position commensurate with the fan-base strength; to improve the quality of hospitality; to enhance Home Park as a sporting and leisure destination and to promote the integrity, equality and respect to all." Closing the meeting Brent described Argyle as 'a great club without baggage or bias', where the fundamentals are right. He said: "In the medium term, Plymouth Argyle will be back to the Championship, League 1 minimum, you can hold me to that."
Argyle beat Burton Albion 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Simon Walton after 47 and 89 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Bignot, Purse, Blanchard, Bhasera, Young, Wotton, Walton, Hemmings, Feeney, Lecointe. Subs – Sutherland, Soukouna (not used - Larrieu, Berry, Lennox). Attendance - 6,082.
Carl Fletcher believes the determination and experience of Paul Wotton will be a valuable asset for Argyle as they fight to stay in the Football League. He said: "Paul has got a lot of experience, has a good knowledge of the game, he's determined and has a real will to win. We are pleased to have him on board. He's a Plymouth boy and knows what the club is about and what it means to the local community. He also knows what it takes to win football matches. It's great we got it sorted out so quickly. When I spoke to Paul about coming back he made it clear he would have walked here on broken glass." Wotton's return overshadowed the signing on the same day of Joe Lennox until the end of the season. Fletcher said: "He's right-footed, but can play on both sides of the pitch. It's a chance for him to come here and make a name for himself. We had him on trial for a week before Christmas and he played in the game the other day and we liked what we saw. Joe is hungry to come here and do well and those are the type of players we want at the football club. He's a winger who likes to beat people and get the crowd on their feet." Although Lennox is short on experience, Fletcher has not ruled an early involvement for him. "If we think someone is good enough, experience doesn't come into it," he said. "He's a young lad with a lot of years ahead of him in the game. Everyone in the squad is fighting for the 11 positions in the team and whoever does the best gets in. It's nice to have that competition for places." Meanwhile, Fletcher has welcomed the news that Ashley Hemmings has extended his loan spell at Argyle for the rest of the season. He said: "Ash gives us something different from what we have got. It's pleasing for us we have got him until the end of the season. He can now put all of his focus on being here and working hard."
Argyle's new board of directors will be officially unveiled by James Brent today, at an open meeting with supporters in the Guildhall. He is also expected to confirm the introduction of a fans' advisory group which will have regular meetings with the board of directors. Brent has been impressed by the dedication and passion the fans have for the club and is keen for them to have a say. Members of the advisory group will be elected by fans, and be asked to provide feedback on a variety of topics, from season ticket prices to improving facilities at Home Park. But they will also be encouraged to constructively challenge the board of directors on actions they take. The advisory group will be separate from such bodies as the Argyle Fans' Trust, the Green Taverners and the Senior Greens, as well as the various supporters' club branches.
The support from Argyle fans in recent weeks has not gone unnoticed by Carl Fletcher, who has gone on record to thank them for their backing. He said. "The fans have been great and all the players appreciate it. They say what a difference it makes when they get behind the players, it really gives them a lift. You only have to see against Torquay; with 13,000 here it was fantastic." However, Fletcher knows that it is up to his side to perform in order to keep the fans creating an atmosphere. He added: "We know we have a responsibility to get them to make the noise, especially at Home Park. Every game we play, we want to give the fans something to cheer about."
Paul Wotton has spoken of his joy at returning to Home Park. "I'm so thrilled," he said. "I felt I shouldn't have left when I did. I feel like I've been on a three-and-a-half year holiday! Things have changed a tiny bit, but it's still Plymouth Argyle, and a wonderful football club. I'm so happy." Wotton has nothing but admiration for the dedicated staff, players and fans who have helped the club survive. He added: "I have gone through the administration process at Southampton, but nowhere near what the people went through here. They deserve all the credit in the world to keep this club still going." However, with the threat of relegation looming, Wotton knows he must get down to business quickly if Argyle are to halt their decline. "The greatest thing about re-signing now is I've got a chance to help them do something about it," he said. "I'm a fan, the same as everyone else who's going to come on Saturday and who can't make it on Saturday, but I'm a lucky fan because I've got a chance to do something about it on the pitch. I just can't wait to try my best, as I always have done and always will do, to help out my club - the club that I love, and the club that I support." Wotton has only one target in sight, finishing 22nd in League Two or higher. He said: "That can be the only aim. That's what everybody has to focus on. As a player coming back now, what a great challenge. It's a challenge to be embraced, and it's exciting. Let's get on with it!" Concerns over his fitness have been allayed and although he is now moving into veteran status, Wotton insists he can still play a major role for the team. "I feel as fit as I ever have done," he said. "Of course, I'm older but people know me as a player. They know what I bring, and what I don't bring. I've always promised 100%, I can't do any more than that. It's a promise that I've stood by my whole career, and I'd like to think there's a final swansong still in there."
Paul Wotton is set to make an emotional return to action for Argyle against Burton Albion at Home Park tomorrow. Wotton re-joined the club yesterday, on a contract until the end of the 2012/13 season, following his sudden release by Yeovil Town. Wotton had been in the starting line-up for Yeovil's 4-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Tuesday, but was substituted at half-time. Following talks between new manager Gary Johnson and Wotton it was announced yesterday that the midfielder was moving on and within hours he was having a medical for Argyle. Carl Fletcher was unavailable for comment about the signing and Wotton will speak to the media for the first time after the game against Burton.
James Brent has offered his full support to Carl Fletcher, describing him as 'absolutely motivated'. His comments came in response to speculation about a future role at Home Park for Neil Warnock, who was sacked by Queens Park Rangers on Sunday. Brent said: "I have not had any discussions with Neil Warnock about a future role at Plymouth Argyle. I have met him and spoke to him in the past and he's someone I hold in very high regard, as do most people associated with the club. I hold my hands up to the fact I know nothing about football. But I do know a little bit about management generally and Carl is great. He is absolutely motivated. He has got a brilliant work ethic, he's a clever guy, he listens carefully and he understands football. I'm very happy to be clear on this. I'm a great supporter of Carl and will remain a great supporter of Carl."
Carl Fletcher has denied rumours of a return to Home Park for Bojan Djordjic. The winger, who had his contract at Blackpool cancelled by mutual consent on Monday, also dismissed the speculation. On his twitter account, Djordic said: "To my friends down south I haven't talked to anybody at Plymouth Argyle. Things you have read are just rumours and there is no truth in that I have signed. I appreciate your nice tweets and hopes of a return!" Fletcher, when asked about the rumours of a return to Argyle for Djordjic, said: "I don't know him."
Ashley Hemmings has announced that he has extended his loan spell at Argyle for the remainder of the season. He said, on his twitter account: "I'm very happy to say I've extended my loan till end of season. A big shout out to all the fans for believing in me and showing your love. Now keep believing because we are staying up." Carl Fletcher has been unavailable for comment about the loan extension but had earlier spoken about that possibility. "We have had discussions," he said. Asked whether he was hopeful of a successful outcome to those talks, Fletcher added: "I think so. Ash has come in and done well. He gives us something a little bit different. We have not got too many players like Ash. He's here, he's playing and it's an opportunity for him to carry on and get some games under his belt. We will see where that takes us really."
Will Atkinson has returned to Hull City after their new manager Nicky Barmby activated a clause in his loan agreement and recalled him. Carl Fletcher said: "Hull have got a new manager and he will want to look at all his players he has got available. It's a chance for Will to go back and show the manager what he can do and fight for a regular place there or, if they see fit, he can go elsewhere and get some more games to progress in his career."
Argyle have signed midfielder Joe Lennox until the end of the season, after his release by Bristol City. Lennox has been on trial at Home Park this week and played for Argyle in the friendly at Exeter City on Tuesday. On his twitter account last night, he said: "Pleased to have signed for Plymouth till the end of the season!"
Carl Fletcher has called on Conor Hourihane to learn from his second red card of the season. He said: "We are disappointed he got sent-off because we are going to lose him for two games. But he's still young. It's his first full season actually playing competitive football, and he's learning all the time. He's a great pro and a great lad, and he wants to do so well for the club. I spoke to him in the week about it and said he had got to learn from it because if your career progresses and you go to a big club, if you get sent-off and miss two games they can just turn around and go out and buy someone else. Then you might not play not again for the rest of the season. Like I say it's a learning experience for him. Obviously, we are disappointed because we lose him, but he has got to take it on board to help him out for the rest of his career."
Argyle face Burton Albion tomorrow, who are eighth in the table, one point outside the play-off positions. Carl Fletcher saw the Brewers in action last weekend, and said: "We went to see them, first hand, last Friday night because we were up in Crewe and it was an hour away. It's going to be a tough game for us, we know that. They are near the play-off places, so we are going to have to be fully prepared and ready for tomorrow, which is what we have been doing all week." Despite being bottom of the table, Fletcher believes his team are playing much better now than when they went to Burton in September. He said: "In terms of how far we have come as a team since then, I think there is a big difference. How we were playing then, and how we are playing now, it's worlds apart really."
Maxime Blanchard hopes to extend his stay with Argyle beyond the end of his current contract. It was announced on Wednesday that he had agreed a deal for the rest of this season and when asked about whether he wanted to stay with Argyle beyond the end of the current campaign, replied: "Why not? We have talked about that. This is a great club, even if the situation is not good at the moment. The fans are unbelievable. We are bottom of the table in League Two and there were still 13,000 people at the game against Torquay. Who knows where the club can be if we stay up this season? But I'm not thinking about that at the moment. I'm thinking about staying up and then we will see." Blanchard has been pleased, fitness-wise, with how he has coped, considering he did not have a proper pre-season, but believes he can continue to improve on that. "There is still work to do, but I have been able to finish every game," he said. "I feel alright, but I know I can feel even better, so I'm working on that." Asked about his recent performances, Blanchard said: "You are asking me at the wrong time. We conceded three goals in our last game and, as a centre-back, you can't be happy when that happens." Blanchard believes, however, that the team are making progress in the right direction, even though they are still at the bottom of the league. He added: "I didn't see the first part of the season, I just saw one or two games before I signed, but I think we have improved a lot in the two months I have been here. Even if the last two games ended in defeats, I think there was some promising stuff. I'm pretty confident of winning games in the future." Blanchard resumed his centre-back pairing with Darren Purse against Crewe, after Purse completed a three-match suspension. Blanchard said: "It's good to have players like that in the squad, and I think that was missing in the first part of the season. It's always nice to have players like that because they can give you little tips. It's good."
Argyle legend Paul Wotton has rejoined the club following his release by Yeovil Town.
Maxime Blanchard has extended his stay at Home Park until the end of this season. Carl Fletcher said: "Max came in and has shown the hunger and desire we wanted. We had him on a short-term deal to begin with, and we are pleased to extend that until the end of the season. It's a great opportunity for him and we hope he carries on in the vein of form he has been in since he's been here."
Darren Purse plans on being at Argyle for the long term. He hopes to help the club escape relegation and, should they be successful in doing that, will sign a deal taking him through to the end of the 2012/13 season. This is an agreement which is not an option for either party but a legally-binding contract, on both sides. Purse said: "Keeping the club in the Football League is the most important thing. That's why I have come to Plymouth. It's a big challenge, but it's one worth fighting for and I think we can win it. My loan was always going to lead to a permanent deal in January. And it's not just until the end of the season. There is an agreement in the contract to extend it if things go well so, hopefully, I'm down here for the long term. I have got great belief we will stay up." Purse returned to action after a three-match ban in Argyle's defeat at Crewe and thought they dominated the game, but could not overcome a 2-0 half-time deficit. He said: "If you look at the performance, it didn't deserve a 3-2 defeat, but you can't concede goals when you are on top in games. We need to be putting them in at the other end. With the wind behind them in the first half, we needed to get to the break at 1-0 down. I think everybody would have been relatively happy with that. So to concede that second goal when we did was a bit of a sucker punch." Prior to the defeat by Crewe, Argyle had lost 2-1 to Torquay United at Home Park, in front of almost 13,000 fans. Purse said: "It was disappointing we couldn't get a win for the fans who turned up. It was hard to take, but Torquay probably deserved to win the game the way it panned out. But to get that sort of backing from the fans is part of the reason why I'm in Plymouth. I want the good times to come back to the football club." Argyle now face two successive home games, against eighth-placed Burton Albion on Saturday and then League leaders Crawley Town the following weekend. Purse added: "I fancy us to beat anybody at home with the backing of the fans we have got. We need to make Home Park a fortress."
Argyle reserves lost 6-1 to Exeter City in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Cat & Fiddle ground yesterday.
Carl Fletcher has praised Ashley Hemmings' game-changing abilities after an impressive performance at Crewe last weekend, despite the defeat. He said: "We know what we can get out of Ash. He can create chances for us. He's one of those kind of players who can change a game." Hemmings is on loan to Argyle until January 21st, and reports suggest talks are taking place about extending the stay. Meanwhile, Fletcher has described Argyle's disciplinary record this season as 'disappointing'. Conor Hourihane received the teams 10th red card of the campaign when he was sent-off against Crewe and Fletcher said: "It's disappointing. A lot of them are down to enthusiasm and wanting to do well, and certain ones are not. It is what it is, and you have got to get on with it."
Carl Fletcher believes there are positives to take out of Argyle's defeat at Crewe. "I thought there were a lot of positives," he said. "We kept possession of the football fairly well, which was pleasing. Even in the first half, our passing was going okay and we were doing the things we wanted to do. So it was disappointing to lose two sloppy goals from our point of view. We came out for the second half and started well. We were definitely on the front foot and dominated most of the possession." Argyle were given hope when Simon Walton scored his fifth penalty of the season. Fletcher said: "I think the ref might have given it for a little nudge in the back on Feeno but it's one of those, sometimes you get, sometimes you don't." However, Crewe restored their two-goal lead three minutes later, when Ashley Westwood scored from the spot after Durrell Berry's challenge on AJ Leitch-Smith. It was reported over the weekend that Fletcher was sent to the stand for comments made to the fourth official but it was actually first team coach Kevin Nancekivell who was ordered from the technical area. Fletcher added: "I don't think it was a penalty, and I think even the referee would probably admit that. There was one later on that was a penalty, and he didn't give it. He was probably trying to make up for his earlier mistake. But, like I tell my kids, two wrongs don't make a right. That's the way it is. It's disappointing because we got an early goal in the second half and were coming back into it. We had lots of possession and were really on the front foot. To concede the penalty so soon after scoring was another blow. But we came back again, in terms of possession and being on the ball. We don't really have problems with that. We have got good players who can do that, and we create chances and score goals. It's just the other side that is something we are discussing at the minute. We have to make sure we don't concede at certain times, and make sure we do the right things. We are a team who will make chances and score goals, so if we can keep it tight at the back and keep clean sheets we are going to win a lot more than we lose. Everyone is in it together and they know what we expect. It doesn't have to be perfect football all the time. We just have to make sure we do our jobs."
It is crunch time for Argyle, according to Simon Walton, after the loss at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. He said: "We gave ourselves too much to do, yet again. It has been the story of our season. If we played games over 45 minutes we would be a lot higher up the league than we are. It's a lesson we have got to learn, and we have got to learn it quickly. There is no more time for second chances. This is make-or-break. The games are coming thick and fast and that's another one ticked off the list without any points. With results going against us, we are struggling, so we have got to sort it out. I think the most frustrating thing is we can do it. Dario Gradi and Steve Davis spoke to me and they both said we were one of the best teams to have come here, yet we go away with no points. And, unfortunately, you don't get points for praise. You get points for scoring more goals than the other team. I didn't think we played poorly in the first 45 minutes. We just gave ourselves too much to do by conceding two sloppy goals. We didn't do the ugly stuff, which we did for five games and we were unbeaten, so it should have taught us a lesson. It didn't, and here we are again with another hard scrap on our hands, but I'm sure we will be alright. For the second 45 minutes out there we were the better team, and if we can produce that over 90 minutes, or 70 minutes in some cases, we will be fine. I wouldn't say it's time for panic, but we definitely need to look in the mirror now and think, 'We could be playing Conference football next season'. There are 20-odd games left but the more points we lose the harder it's going to be for us to get out of it." Crewe took a 2-0 lead into half-time, but Walton cut the deficit with a penalty in the 50th minute. It was his seventh goal of the season, five from spot kicks. Argyle were awarded the penalty for a shove on Warren Feeney but Walton would not have been surprised had it not been given. He said: "There was a definite nudge, but it's one of those that sometimes you will get and sometimes you won't." Crewe replied with a penalty of their own three minutes later and Argyle were furious at the decision, after Durrell Berry made a clean, ball-winning tackle. The referee later waved away Crewe appeals for another penalty, when Conor Hourihane body-checked Byron Moore, and Walton thought that was telling. "I think the one that should have been a penalty wasn't given," said Walton. "Conor gave away one which was a stonewaller, but I think the referee realised he made a huge mistake for the first one so it evened itself out." Hourihane was sent-off for a second bookable offence in stoppage time. It was his second red card of the season and means he will be suspended for the next two matches.
One bright spot of yesterdays defeat was the performance of Matt Lecointe, who replaced Craig Sutherland midway through the second half. He capped his performance with his second goal for the club, which brought Argyle back into the game. After the match Carl Fletcher said: "Matty's chances have been limited recently, but I'm pleased for him. He came on and took his goal really well. He's got two goals now in the first team. We can't complain about that. With young players you often get an initial burst from playing and being involved, and generally after that they plateau. Probably 90% of teenagers that are playing will get that. Matty is a only young seventeen-year-old so he's got many, many years ahead of him. We're lucky, now that we have a few players that we can take him back and he can see it from the outside. Then when he comes back in, he's nice and fresh. It's the same with all the youngsters. I don't mind putting them in all at all. I'm just pleased him really. It's tough to score goals in professional football. He took it really well. We know that from him, we see it in training, so it's no surprise for us. It's nice that he has taken onto the field of play."
Nick Chadwick travelled to Crewe with the rest of the Argyle squad in the hope of recovering sufficiently from his hamstring injury, but was not able to take his place in the line-up. Carl Fletcher said: "He was fairly close. It was one of those where we didn't want to risk it too much because it's not quite there yet. But he might have gone out there and done more damage and been out for a longer period of time. For us it's probably better we miss him for one game rather than three or four. He's come up with the team to get constant treatment and make sure we do it right. He obviously wants to be here supporting the lads and being in the changing room which is a good thing."
Argyle lost 3-2 at Crewe Alexandra, the goals scored by Simon Walton after 50 minutes and Matt Lecointe (66). Argyle: Cole, Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Bhasera, Walton, Hourihane, Young, Sutherland, Feeney, Hemmings. Subs – Atkinson, Lecointe (not used - Larrieu, Bignot, Soukouna). Attendance - 3,707.
Carl Fletcher believes the potential at Argyle was highlighted by the large crowd for the Devon derby against Torquay United. He said: "That's the biggest crowd a few of our lads have ever played in front of. It's great for them to see what potential this club has got. We already knew that, but it was great to see the fans turn out and be there. It was disappointing we didn't get a result for them." Meanwhile, owner James Brent will address an open meeting of supporters next Saturday before the home game against Burton Albion, which will take place in the main hall at the Plymouth Guildhall at 10.30am. Brent will discuss potential supporter involvement and engagement in the future of Argyle, update fans on the latest news from Home Park and also give people the chance to question him. Argyle president Chris Webb said: "This is a vital meeting and it is crucial that as many fans as possible turn out to have a say in the future of the club. I look forward to seeing as many of the Green Army in attendance as possible on a day that I hope will see Argyle set the standard for supporter engagement as well as collecting three more much-needed points."
Argyle yesterday completed the permanent signing of Darren Purse, subject to Football League approval. Purse will spend the rest of this season at Home Park, with an option for him to extend his stay for 12 months beyond that. "It's good to have it all done," he admitted. "It just means that we know what we need to do between now and the end of the season. I was glad that I came on loan and that we've been on a good run since I've been here. It was disappointing to get sent-off and miss the last three games but hopefully I'll be back in the side at the weekend and hopefully we'll get back to winning ways." Carl Fletcher was equally delighted. He said: "It's pleasing from my point of view because it's another addition to the squad, along with Chaddy yesterday. We're delighted to have him here and he's pleased to be here so it's great for Plymouth Argyle that we can attract players like Darren. He's got the experience, so when he comes in and plays that comes across and it's something we've been looking for in the team. There are a lot of areas we need to strengthen and things we need to do but to get one of them crossed off the list is pleasing for us." With Nick Chadwick and Purse now signed it leaves Argyle with four remaining players on loan. Will Atkinson is set to spend the rest of the season at Home Park, and Ashley Hemmings has a deal until January 21st. Paul Bignot and Craig Sutherland are on loan until January 28th. Fletcher replied 'no comment' when asked whether talks had taken place with any of that quartet about staying for longer. Also, Maxime Blanchard has a short-term contract until January 17 and Fletcher would not comment about his status either.
Simon Walton says that Argyle 'don't fear anybody' after a successful run of games in recent weeks. He said: "We go into every game confident, especially with how we've performed over the last couple of months. We don't fear anybody now. We've had a good month in December. It was obviously a shame to lose against Torquay last week but if we only lose once in six games, we'll take that between now and the end of the season. So, we're confident, we'll keep doing what we have done and try to cut out the silly mistakes. Everyone was disheartened with the Torquay game, especially with it being a local derby and with the amount of fans we had here. For an hour of the game, I thought we were the better team we just went through a sticky period and our sticky periods unfortunately seem to lead to goals. It's something we've spoken about and worked upon, but the lads are up for it and there'll be no hangover from Monday." Tomorrow's opposition, Crewe, are a club that Walton is familiar with, having made 26 appearances in a season-long loan in 2009-10. "It will be lovely to go back, I had a good few months there," he said. "It was a period that helped me realise a few thing. I really enjoyed it and it'll be nice to see some old faces again. Crewe went through a patch just before I went there where there was a complete change of manager. I think things changed a bit and it didn't work but they're back to old philosophy which seems to be paying dividends again. It's a great club for the young lads that are there to be at, and it was something that I realised in my time there, too. Hopefully, they can start doing a bit better in the league, because I like to see them do well. But not until after our game on Saturday!" Crewe beat 1-0 at Home Park in August and Walton added: "It was close but I it was one of our worst performances of the season. I don't think we played particularly well that day but we could of still at least got a draw from the game. I know it was only a few months ago, but things have changed a lot for us in that time. If we stick to the principles we've shown in the last few games with that little extra bit of quality then I'm sure we'll be alright."
Carl Fletcher has refused to rule Nick Chadwick out of Argyle's game at Crewe Alexandra tomorrow. Chadwick suffered a slight hamstring injury in the first half of the defeat against Torquay United on Monday and Fletcher said: "We will see. If he's fit, he's fit. If he's not fit, he's not fit. There is no grey area. If he's fit he's 100 per cent. If he's unfit he's less than 100 per cent." Argyle will be boosted tomorrow by the return of Darren Purse from a three-match ban. When asked whether Argyle had missed Purse during his suspension, Fletcher said: "From a management point of view, you want to have all your players available so you can make the strongest selection possible. But all this season people who have come in have done well, and everyone has given their all to the cause. That's the reason you have a squad of players." Crewe are 15th in League Two after a very mixed Christmas and New Year period. Fletcher added: "Crewe are a good passing side and like to get the ball on the deck and play football the right way. It's our third away game in four so we are used to being on the road. We will make sure the lads are fully prepared to give them the best chance to get a result."
Argyle must concentrate on winning games, and not worry about the results of their rivals, according to Luke Young. He said: "We take a little bit of notice of the league table, but you can't help what other teams do, can you? So you have just got to try to concentrate on yourself and keep picking up points. If you keep winning, and the others around keep winning, then there is not a lot more you can do. Hopefully, when you get on a little bit of a run, like we have been, you have got to try to keep that going. Throughout the season there will be slip-ups by other teams and we have got to capitalise on that." Young believes Argyle have made a lot of progress under Carl Fletcher since he took over as manager in mid-September. He said: "The leaps and bounds we have made, compared to where we were at the start, is unbelievable. That's no disrespect to Peter Reid because he gave me my chance last season, at a young age, but I think maybe a new face was needed to freshen up the place a little bit. You can see that on the pitch, and in the changing room as well. There is a better bond between all the players and the manager has been more involved with us. But we have to try to keep picking up points now and not dwell on the defeat by Torquay too much."
Nick Chadwick has re-joined Argyle on a permanent basis, agreeing a deal which will keep him at Home Park until 2013. Chadwick said: "I'm really, really, pleased that everything has worked out so well both for myself and for Argyle. When the opportunity of joining Argyle on loan came up in November, I'd hoped it would go well and I'm delighted that it has done so. Plymouth as a place and a club has a special place in my heart and I can honestly say that I wouldn't have uprooted my family from Stockport for any other football team. Stockport have been very good to me and are a fine club, and I wish them all the best for the remainder of their season. Hopefully, I can help continue the good work that Carl and Ro are doing and get Argyle moving upwards. I know how much having a Football League team means to the people of Plymouth and that again held a powerful pull in swaying me to return to the South West." Carl Fletcher was equally upbeat about landing his first signing of 2012. He said: "I'm delighted to get Chaddy as our player. He has come in and done well. We've worked hard to get him here, there have been a lot of backwards and forwards negotiations, but it's a good day for everyone involved to get a player like Nick at this club."
Luke Young hopes his first goal for Argyle will be followed by many more in the future. Young, who scored in the 2-1 defeat to Torquay United, said: "At 2-0 down you can't really celebrate it that much. It was more a case of 'score the goal, get the ball back and let's go again.' But thinking about it afterwards I was delighted to get my first goal for the club. I have been playing for the club since a young age and have had a few starts for the first team now. So it's nice to finally get a goal. Hopefully, I can build on that and there are more to come in the future." Young headed home after a cross from Warren Feeney was nodded back by Simon Walton. "As the ball came across I thought to myself I had to get myself in and around the 'keeper," said Young. "I fancied Walts to win the ball against their full-back and he headed it back inside and I was in the right position at the right time. I was there, a couple of yards out, to nod it into the back of the net." Young scored in front of the Devonport End, as a season's best attendance of 12,836 turned out for the Devon derby. "It was a great crowd," said Young. "You can't ask for any more from the fans. The result was disappointing but it was nice to get the goal to give them something to cheer about. We pushed on for the last 20 minutes and looked like scoring one if not two more goals at the end, but it just wasn't to be." Young came closest to grabbing an equaliser in the 82nd minute. The ball was cut back to him by Ashley Hemmings and his goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked by Torquay centre-back Chris Robertson. Young said: "As it came back to me I thought 'I have got another chance here.' It was on my weaker foot so I tried to get a good contact on it and get it on target, but their player, to be fair to him, came at me quite quick and got a good block." Young made the start against Torquay after a series of recent substitute appearances, and added: "I feel myself that when I have come on as sub I have not done too badly. I have got on the ball quite a lot, and I have felt quite positive in what I have done. That's what the manager told me to do. He wanted me to get on the ball and keep it, be positive and enjoy it. I feel that got me the start that I maybe deserved."
The large turn-out at Home Park on Monday led to pre-match problems with some spectators encountering delays as they sought admission. Last night, James Brent said: "The 'pay on the day' attendance exceeded 5,000, higher than for similar attendances when Argyle were playing at the top end of the Championship. While we were prepared for a good turn-out, we were not sufficiently prepared for support at this level. We are very conscious that our supporters are customers, as well as fans. We are desperately keen to provide all our supporters with a high-quality experience. While our staff endeavoured to get everyone seated before the start of the game, for some, we did not succeed, and for that I am truly sorry. We cannot guarantee perfection, but we can give you our assurance that we are reviewing Monday's events, and the constructive comments that have been made, and we will do better next time. Again, my thanks for your support."
Argyle are waiting to find out the extent of the hamstring injury suffered by Nick Chadwick in the defeat to Torquay United yesterday. Carl Fletcher would not comment on the extent of the injury but said: "It's disappointing because Nick is a big player for us, but that's the way football goes." Chadwick's loan spell from Stockport ends today, and Fletcher would not discuss whether the injury will jeopardise a permanent return to Home Park for him. "We will see over the next couple of days," said Fletcher, when asked. The loan spell of Darren Purse also ends today and while there has been no official confirmation from the club, it is believed that Purse has signed an 18-month contract. Torquay took a 2-0 lead against Argyle in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Luke Young reduced the deficit with his first goal for Argyle in the 73rd minute and it took a superb block from the Gulls' Chris Robertson to prevent Young from grabbing a late equaliser. Fletcher said: "Any defeat is difficult to take. This is a local derby, but we don't want to lose any game we play. We had a bit of a lean spell in the second half and ended up two goals down from that, but I think we reacted well and could have maybe nicked a point towards the end, but it wasn't to be. Luke has been knocking at the door for a little while and we know what we are going to get with him, he has got good quality. I'm really pleased for him that he scored, and he had another chance which was blocked when it looked like it was heading into the top corner." The Devon derby attracted an attendance of 12,836, by far the highest of the season at Home Park. Fletcher said: "It was such a great crowd, and it was really pleasing to see. We're just disappointed in the changing room we couldn't put smiles on their faces." There had been hopes that Argyle had turned the corner this season, after their recent improved results, so the defeat by Torquay was a setback. Fletcher added: "The run we have been on has been fairly pleasing from our point of view, but you never get carried away. I thought we started the game well and took it to Torquay in the first half. It was a good competitive contest. All credit to Torquay, they are no mugs. They are a good side and are pushing for the play-offs, so we knew it was going to be a tough game. We are just disappointed we didn't get something out of it."
Argyle lost 2-1 to Torquay United at Home Park, the goal scored by Luke Young after 72 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Bhasera, Blanchard, Bignot, Walton, Hourihane, Young, Chadwick, Feeney, Hemmings. Subs – Sutherland (not used - Larrieu, Soukouna, Atkinson, Williams). Attendance - 12,836.
Carl Fletcher admitted his side had been some way short of their best in the draw at Aldershot Town, but he took encouragement from the fact they still picked up a point, and achieved their second clean-sheet of the season. He said: "We know we didn't play well in terms of when we had the ball and getting it down, and doing what we wanted to do in an attacking sense. It was one of those games where we realised we weren't firing on all cylinders, but we've dug in and ground out a hard-earned point. This kind of game we would have lost convincingly earlier in the season, two or three-nil. It's a credit to the lads. They've realised, for whatever reason, we were not on it and, collectively, have got together and worked hard for one another. I'm pleased for them to come out of it with a clean-sheet." Aldershot had conceded only nine goals in their previous ten home league games and defended solidly. Fletcher said: "We knew coming into the game they were very miserly in terms of giving away goals. We had a couple of half-chances in the first half and a couple of half-chances in the second half but, generally, there are not a lot of goals scored when teams come to play here. So we knew it was going to be tight." Paul Bignot continued as the stand-in centre-back partner for Maxime Blanchard, in the continued absence of Darren Purse, and Fletcher added: "It was only the second game Paul and Max played together at centre-back. I'm really pleased the whole back five dug in and put their bodies on the line." Jake Cole and Durrell Berry were both hurt and needed treatment during the second half, but despite some obvious pain, both managed to see out the match. Fletcher said: "You're going to get bumps and bruises when you're working hard for the team and putting your bodies on the line, so it's a case of making sure we wrap them up in cotton wool and get them ready for Monday."
Jake Cole made two important saves, the first from a penalty, as Argyle drew 0-0 with Aldershot yesterday. "I'm buzzing that the penalty stayed out, because we conceded one last week," he said, "and I managed to keep that one out at the end, which I was really pleased about. It was just a reaction save. We deserved a draw. If they had scored in the 88th minute, that would have been very deflating for us. We really grafted our socks off today, and we definitely deserved it. The gaffer's worked with the back five through the week and since he's been here, really grafting with us in training, and that's the reward today. A clean sheet is just brilliant for us." The penalty save came after a Paul Bignot foul, and Cole added: "He struck it hard and it came off my leg. I made my decision to go right and he's power-blasted it. It's just bounced off me. I had an idea he was going to smash it that side." Cole won praise from Carl Fletcher, who said: "Jake's in a good vein of form at the moment, long may it continue - and that's down to the hard work he puts in each and every day." Cole agreed, and added: "I feel good, since I've come back from my hip injury. Keep going, train hard, the extra work that I do...in the end, I believe that it all pays off."
It did not take Carl Fletcher long after the draw at Aldershot to turn his thoughts to tomorrows Derby game. He said: "At home; Torquay United, possibly 10,000 people. we should get through it on adrenaline alone. Hopefully, the place will be full to the brim. We are looking forward to it." Jake Cole is convinced that the support of the fans will be crucial on Monday as Argyle seek revenge over the Gulls. He said: "You saw our support today, bloody unbelievable. They always get behind us away from home, and, at home, it will be a big one and it will be nice to get one up on Torquay. We are very confident at the moment, that's five games in a row that we've picked points up. If we can keep that going, we will be fine."
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