A Round-up of Argyle News
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Derek Adams believes Argyle's four match unbeaten run could and should have included a second successive victory based on their performance against Rochdale. He said: "I thought it was a decent game, end-to-end at times. I thought that we had the best opportunities in the game. We scored very early and we looked in a confident mood. It looked like we were going to go on and score a few more goals, just in that ten-minute spell after we scored. We didn't and Rochdale came back into the game and [score] a poor goal from our point of view. We should've blocked the shot. We drop off and end up defending our six-yard box when we should be defending our penalty spot and closed the attacker down. Rochdale pushed us back. They had decent possession, the full backs pushed forward and that enabled their inside players to play inside our full backs. It caused us a wee bit of trouble, but it wasn't our doing. It was more Rochdale pushing us back – and we did it to them in the second half. We allowed them, probably, to get back into the game. With the spell we had in the second half, the pressure we were put on them; they could feel themselves fortunate going home with a point tonight. I just think we dealt better with the three in the midfield. It was three against three in midfield. They had Camps, Williams and Henderson roving about, not playing in a particular area. We dealt better with that. We won the second ball more and caused them trouble. We probably, over the share of it, should've won the match just with the chances we created. Rochdale went on the offensive from the point of view that they had a lot of the ball. They've come here and they've had possession, but they've not really troubled us at times. We had the better opportunities on the day. I think that would be entitled to feel coming in after the game, with the chances we had, we should've won the match. But moving on, we've had four games now undefeated. We've had five games without a booking, so I think all in all, we're starting to pick up. We've closed the gap between ourselves and getting out of the bottom four, which is good."
Adams also decried the decision of the referee not to send off Rochdale left-back Joe Bunney who found himself tormented by Graham Carey for much of the game: "I did think that the left back should've been sent off. He committed a foul in the first half and then they were allowed to substitute him, to avoid him getting sent off. They were quite fortunate that way. It's happened two weeks in a row now. It happened with Wimbledon last week; it's happened with Rochdale this week. Obviously it was a mismatch. Carey did really well for the goal. He got down the left side and took him on for speed, and it's a great cut-back for Joel Grant to finish."
Carey himself spoke of his regret for his patchy start to the season but went on to speak of his happiness at his current form and indeed that of the team, saying: "It was the best we have started a game all season," he said. "It was nice to score the first goal again. It just shows that, when we score the first goal, we don't lose games. That's the way we were all last season and, if we keep doing that, we will be alright. The goal came early, but, in the last few weeks, we have been a lot more patient and taking the chances when they come. We have played the same team for a few games in a row now and it does help when the team is not changed. We have been playing well lately, and the more games we do play together, the better we will be. The way we are playing now, we will fancy ourselves against anyone. We have got ourselves a real good team-spirit about the pace again and we're all enjoying our football. Long may that continue. It's my job to create and score goals and, if I don't do that, the finger is going to be pointed at me. I accept that; that's the role I want in the team – to accept that responsibility. I'm finally getting a bit of form. It's been a long time coming. I think, as a group, we've got back to enjoying our football. The atmosphere around the place is a lot better. We're still in a tough spot, but it can only help that the atmosphere is a lot better than it was."
"We're hard to beat and, once we keep a good shape, the manager just lets you do what you want when you have the ball. It's paid off. It's weird, being more defensive, but we have looked better offensively over the last few weeks, which is good. I can see why fans do get frustrated. We do, too, because, sometimes we do drop a wee bit too deep. We were a lot deeper in the first half, but, in the second half, we came up the pitch about 20 yards and were winning the ball back higher up. The way we set out and work together as a team, it is very hard for teams to break us down, which you saw at Blackburn and places like that. Because we invite teams on to us, there is more space to go and counter-attack. It was a good performance again. We're a little bit disappointed we didn't get the three points; I thought we were good value. It was a good game and once we don't win, we don't lose; that's what we've been good at over the last two years and I think we're slowly getting back to being the team that got us promoted. As long as we work as hard as possible the quality in the team will start to show. It's a good platform but we're still bottom of the league, and we know that. We still need to be working hard and pushing on."
Argyle have made it four games unbeaten with a 1-1 draw at home to Rochdale. Argyle took the lead early in the first half when Joel Grant headed home from a Graham Carey cross. Rochdale equalised before half-time however and in spite of a second half spent knocking on the door, Argyle could not find their way through. Argyle: Matthews, Sawyer, Edwards, Bradley, Taylor-Sinclair, Fox(Sarcevic), Songo'o, Diagouraga, Carey, Jervis(Wylde), Grant(Blissett). Subs: Cooper, Miller, Ainsworth, Fletcher,
Aaron Taylor-Sinclair spoke about how he has seize the opportunities handed to him by injury and suspension to thrive for Argyle this season, speaking first and foremost about his excellent block at the end of the Blackburn game last week: "The ball had just been cut back and my instincts really were to just get back on the line and flick my leg out. The time from the ball hitting my leg and spinning over the bar seemed like an age. I was glad it went over and we defended the corner. It was a good point as it would have been a big blow if we lost that; we would have been devastated. I knew it would take time for me to adjust to what the manager wants. That's what he said to me when I came down. I haven't played a lot of football in the last year, due to a lot of injury, so it was always going to take time to bed in. Momentum is a big thing in football; we were stuck in a rot. But now we've got two draws and a win, we feel like we can't get beat. Hopefully on Saturday we can go out and put on a good performance. There is a lot of competition for places when everyone is fit. Gaz Miller is back so he will be pushing to try and get a start again. But the back four plus Yann is doing a good job, so long may that continue."
Callum Rose has joined Dorchester Town on a youth loan. The central defender will be with the Magpies until November 25, and is available for Dorchester's FA Trophy game on Saturday at home to Basingstoke Town.
Although it may on the surface seem like a win against Wimbledon last Saturday may have raised spirits at Home Park, according to Derek Adams it did not. Because, Adams said, spirits did not need raising. He explained: "We have played really well but that has been the story of the season. We haven't picked up the points that our play deserves. But we went away to Wimbledon last week, a tough fixture after coming off a very good point at Blackburn. The players have been in good spirits throughout the season as they know that performance-wise they have done well. But they haven't been able to get the points that they deserve. It's no different from the start of the season. They've obviously had to deal with what goes around with not winning football matches. As a strong character and a strong player you have to deal with the negativity that goes with that. It's how you deal with it and shut it out. Scoring the first goal has helped us; we've done that the last three game. That has given us confidence. That is the main thing we have managed to score the first goal that puts us either in the game or have something to hold onto."
Adams warned however of going too far the other way and being overconfident ahead of Saturday's match against Rochdale: "Rochdale came off a very good home win against Bristol. We will approach it in the same way that we have done in previous weeks. They are a team that have been in this division a number of years, competed well, but we are on an unbeaten run we want to continue. We have been too expansive at times this season and it has cost us. So we will play the way we do, we have been very attack minded this season and it hasn't helped us. Especially at home, you'll see that we have had suspensions and sending's off in these games but we have been to expansive in these games and too attacked minded. From our point of view, we will analyse Rochdale's weaknesses and see how we can exploit them as well as the strengths in their team."
Lionel Ainsworth has said that he is content to wait his turn for a spot in the Argyle team as long as his teammates keep up the good recent run of form. Ainsworth explained: "The boys have done absolutely brilliantly at Blackburn and against Shrewsbury and then again against Wimbledon. It was absolutely fantastic, I can't fault them and I am just so happy for them because the boys have done brilliant. They are working their socks off, they are sticking to the gameplan, they know what they have to do and there is a calmness to it now. People are getting shots off whereas at the start of the season, we weren't getting shots off and we weren't testing goalkeepers. Now, we are scoring goals and we are defending well. It is resolute and going back to doing what the boys did last year to get up. We had a plan, we have looked at it and said this is what we have done, we have gone about it the right way and you will see it coming out again. We play Rochdale on Saturday and we look forward to it with a lot of confidence.
"This isn't tennis, you know. You are not out there on your own, or just with your coach. They are going to get me to where I want to be and I want to be where they want to be and we want to finish as high up the league as we can. We are not putting any pressure on ourselves, but we have to get off the bottom. The momentum is there, we are all enjoying it, we are all together and we are all happy, that's the main thing. We have to play with a smile on our face. Training is intense, but that's good, it is really, really good training and everyone looks forward to it and we are all battling. We are battling against each other, we are battling against everyone else in the league, but we are all looking forward to it and enjoying the task."
Derek Adams was bubbling over with praise after what he viewed as an excellent team performance to beat Wimbledon 1-0 for our first away win since April 8th. He said: "We wanted to try and win the toss and go with the wind. We didn't win it, so we obviously had to change our game-plan and sit in. In the first half, we got in behind them more often, because the wind was against us and the ball was holding up. It was more difficult in the second half, but we had good opportunities down the side of them. They played with a high line and we had Jervis running down the sides. We had Carey and Grant as well. We had a midfield three who backed up play, and the back four, with Yann in front, were very good. The man of the match, for me, was Songo'o in some sections of the match. Then you've got big Toums and Foxy in the middle of the park; they just get the ball and play, as well as our two full backs and centre halves. I thought that, over the 90 minutes, we had the better team performance than Wimbledon today."
"I did think that, as a team performance, we just carried on from the Shrewsbury game, to Blackburn on Tuesday, and away to Wimbledon on Saturday. We've played against three teams who are very good. We've come here and set our stall out with how we wanted to play today. The players have shown a fantastic team spirit – and not only that, they've shown a lot of quality as well. I thought we defended well when we had to, and when we had attacks, we looked dangerous. Over the piece, it was a much-deserved victory for us. We haven't had an easy week; Wimbledon have had two home games in a week and we've been on the road for hours and hours. They've come off two wins and were high on confidence. That just shows you the type of player and character we have in the dressing room. The performance levels have already been good; we just haven't got the results our performances have deserved. Today, we got the win we deserved."
As well his his eulogisation of the team performance, Adams was also keen to praise individuals such as loanee Remi Matthews, Graham Carey and Joel Grant: "Remi was excellent. Very good hands; good kicker of the ball; talks; composed. I've watched Remi before. I watched him when he was playing in the play-off final with Hamilton. I knew what I was going to get. I was very impressed with him that day and I'm delighted to get him on board. I'm obviously very grateful to Norwich City. Remi wants to come and play football, and the circumstances that we've had – we've had no fit pro goalkeepers – has allowed him to get that move. He does communicate very well and he put in a good performance."
"Graham can do whatever he wants to do," said Adams."He's got the ability to rip open defences, and he did that in the second half. He gave Francomb a torrid time, and set up the goal for Joel Grant, which he took well."
"I've been going on for a few weeks with Joel that he needs to add goals to his game. He's been in good areas already with us. We've seen he can score in training, in reserve games and in pre-season. Today, it was an outstanding finish, and it was outstanding play from Graham Carey to pick him out. I'm delighted with that."
Adams was not quite so optimistic on the fitness situations of Argyle's three injured goalkeepers, revealing that Remi Matthews could be at the club for some time to come: "I don't see any speed in any of three goalkeepers coming back. Te Loeke and Letheren are long-term. Luke McCormick is looking like a long-term one as well."
Joel Grant took the credit for finally ending the winless runs but insisted that the praise should be shared around. Particularly praiseful of keeper Matthews, he said: "We've been sticking in," he said. "Everyone's been working together – you can see the real togetherness – and we don't want to concede. We've done that today: a clean sheet and three points is fantastic. We have got to take the positives from it. We can't get carried away, obviously. There's still a lot of hard work to be done, but we are definitely taking steps in the right direction and it is pleasing. I can only imagine how difficult it is, coming into a new group under the little bit of pressure that we have been under. It's probably not easy, but he looks like he's been here since the start of the season. It takes a real mental strength and credit to the boys at the back. Not just only them – the goalkeeper who's come in for his first game. Everyone's put in 100 per cent effort and that's what you've got to do. We know what the gaffer expects and you have got to give 100 per cent, nothing less. We've not seemed to have the luck of most – we've had sendings-off; we've had injuries – but, in the last few games, we've proved that we are more than good enough, and that togetherness and fighting spirit is what we're going to need for the whole season."
Argyle have picked up their first victory in over two months with a ground-out 1-0 victory at relegation rivals Wimbledon. Joel Grant scored the game's only goal following superb assist from Graham Carey halfway though the second half. Argyle remain bottom of the league but close the gap on 20th to five points. Argyle: Matthews, Sawyer, Edwards, Bradley, Taylor-Sinclair, Songo'o, Fox, Diagouraga, Carey, Jervis(Blissett), Grant(Miller). Subs: Cooper, Sarcevic, Ainsworth, Wylde, Fletcher.
Argyle have signed goalkeeper Remy Matthews on an emergency loan deal from Championship side Norwich City. He will wear the number 34 shirt and has signed on a week by week basis.
Injured striker Ryan Taylor has spoken of his frustration at watching Argyle from afar whilst recuperating from his injury, explaining: "When you're watching the results every week, you just want to get out there playing. It's hard to take at the minute, being injured. It's difficult, because obviously you don't feel part of it; you want to be out there playing. But I've got my job to do in getting myself right and hopefully, once I've done that, I can get back out on to the pitch. I think it's just been fine margins," he said. "In this league, all the players are a bit better and if they get given the chance, they'll take it. In League Two, they might not have taken the chance, so we might have been able to get into the game, but here, if you make a mistake, you get punished. I think the last two games have been good and the results have gone our way," he said, "so hopefully we can build on that confidence now get some good results. We had quite a few new players so it took a while to gel, but we're starting to do that now so hopefully we can get a few more results and start climbing the league. I've seen that every day in training since I've come here, so it's no surprise to me, and I'm sure it's no surprise to the supporters and the coaching staff. He's obviously some player. But obviously it's a team effort and we need to start pulling together now and keep the results coming. I've been sitting in the Director's Box and it's hard to watch especially when the boys are losing. But I like to take a keen interest in what the striker is doing. I'm always learning. I know I'm 29 but I I'm still learning the game."
Derek Adams is hoping that the thigh injury Kyle Letheren picked up in Tuesday's draw with Blackburn is not too severe as Argyle search for an emergency loan keeper. Adams went on to praise Argyle's strength in depth, adapting to a plethora of injuries: "Kyle will have to go for a scan later this week to assess the damage. There was a lot of swelling on Tuesday night. It's a big blow for us and him; he's been a good presence in the dressing-room and out on the pitch. I don't think it happens very often. Certainly not so early in the season. We've had a lot to deal with – injuries and suspensions – and it's not getting any easier; we've got nine out for Saturday's game. But we have Gary Miller back from suspension, so we will see how things go. To have nine injuries and then play Shrewsbury and Blackburn and do so well shows you what a strong squad we have. It's a big positive."
Argyle's FA Cup tie against Grimsby has been confirmed for Saturday November 4th with a 3pm kick-off. Adams said of the game and of Grimsby's cohort of ex-Argyle players: "It's a home tie in the FA Cup and that's what you want. We are always happy to be at home, so we don't have to travel, but we could have got a much easier game than Grimsby because they're mid-table in League Two and have got a very good squad."
"They are players that have done well for the football club, other than Karleigh, who picked up an injury. Jamille Matt was a very good signing and helped us get to the play-off final."
Derek Adams has defended Argyle's two draws from two difficult games against Shrewsbury and Blackburn, advocating Argyle's counter-attacking style of play. He said: "I think it is two very good points against two very good sides. We defended well tonight; we had to because Blackburn are under pressure to get out of this league. We are trying to gain more points to move up the league. We did that against Shrewsbury and Blackburn; Shrewsbury have beaten Bristol Rovers 4-0 tonight, and we have come to Ewood Park and taken a point. With the amount of crosses that they put in the box and diagonal balls you think something might fall to them. But we have a disciplined team; their performance defensively is always very good. I thought that in the last couple of minutes of the game we could have scored. If we had just passed the ball in the right moment it could have been 2-1. That's the nature of football .You can defend, soak up pressure and play on the counter attack; that's something we are very good at. Our travelling support has been outstanding this season. We've come away from home and they've backed us, as they have at home. After the final whistle on Saturday we got a standing ovation from the supporters because they can see the hard effort the players are putting in. Exactly the same again tonight. We've got a group of players that are working hard, we've got two points in two games, and we'll start to move ourselves up the league. That's what we are very good at. We are good at stopping teams playing, allowing them to have the ball and picking them off. We could have done that a number of times tonight. There's no right way of playing football. There's just maybe the right way for your team."
Youngster Michael Cooper said of his memorable debut away to Premier League champions Blackburn: "It was important that I did something well before I did something badly, to settle my nerves a bit, ease me into the game. I get told to talk and it helps with your confidence. It helps the defenders too in knowing where their men are.
Cooper then went onto mention some genius defending from defender Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and the resulting follow-up chance that gave Argyle a heart in mouth moment at the end of the game, saying: "The ball got squared back and the next thing I knew Aaron Taylor-Sinclair comes up to my left and pulls off a brilliant block. I knew it would be the last kick of the game, so I really focused. Luckily it came at me and I made the block, and the full-time whistle went. It's all good.You could see their class, they kept moving the ball, but our defence was too resilient for them."
"Being on the bench you have to be a prepared to come on, and eventually I did," he said. "It is just about being in the zone. The main thing is the team got the draw. It's a tough game, Rovers away, so it is good we got the draw. I tried to block the nerves out, stay as relaxed as I could. Kyle said at half-time that I might be coming on. Made it clear to get warmed up. I had a bit of time to process what was going on. That helped me. It was a whirlwind. Ball after ball, you have to keep on focusing. There was no time to take your mind off the game. Derek Adams said 'play your own game, settle down, take time to take your kicks'. It was good advice. The centre-backs were class. They really helped me out; not just those two, the whole team. The team were unbelievable. And the fans too, on a Tuesday night, travelling all this way, showed tremendous support. At the end of the game I looked around, thinking 'I can't believe I am here, on this pitch, playing.' It's unbelievable."
Finally, Derek Adams gave an update on the Argyle goalkeeping situation following injuries to three professional goalkeepers at once: "We had a special team tonight. Not only the starting 11, but also the substitutes. We had to take Kyle Letheren off at half-time and had to change with Michael Cooper. He came on and made some fantastic saves as well. It was a difficult one for him; we didn't want to put him on too early. He had half-time to warm up, and it gave him a wee bit more time just to understand that he was going to make his first-team debut. He made an outstanding save at the end of the match. It went through a ruck of bodies and he couldn't have seen it early. His reflexes are outstanding. I've said before that he is a terrific young goalkeeper with potential to go far. He has shown tonight he is able to handle the pressure. We've got three goalkeepers out injured. It looks like Kyle has pulled his thigh, and will not be fit for Saturday. At this stage I am unsure on the situation. The only one who could be fit is Luke McCormick. If that isn't the case, then we need to get doctors lines off to the FA, and we need to try and get another goalkeeper in. We'll need another goalkeeper. Michael Cooper is an apprentice, he isn't a first-team goalkeeper. We have to have a professional player able to play as a goalkeeper."
Argyle have drawn 1-1 for the second game in a row away to Blackburn Rovers. As on Saturday, it was Graham Carey who put Argyle in front with a spectacular solo effort in the first half. Rovers equalised on the stroke of half-time however and Argyle's woes were compounded when Kyle Letheren went off injured with a thigh strain. 18 year old Michael Cooper came on for the second half and put a good account of himself as well as conceding no goals. Argyle: Letheren(Cooper), Sawyer, Edwards, Bradley, Taylor-Sinclair, Songo'o, Fox, Diagouraga, Carey, Jervis(Blissett), Grant. Subs: Sokolik, Sangster, Wylde, Fletcher, Ainsworth.
Gary Sawyer admitted it was unusual to adapt to his new role of right-back in the absence of Oscar Threlkeld and Gary Miller, saying: "I played at right-back for Orient a couple of time and probably Bristol Rovers, as well. You'd think it would be quite similar, but everything is done with your weaker foot, which isn't easy. I feel comfortable enough to play at right-back – it's just getting your bearings, positionally. It was a little bit shaky in the first ten minutes, when they were coming on to us, but, after that, I felt fine. I've been training as a right-back, working on things, to get my mind right."
"The captaincy is something I always wanted to do for the club. I did it at youth team; I did it at reserve level; I never got to do it when I was here originally. It's always an honour to be given the armband, especially at a club that you've come up through and have got a lot of feeling for. It's a nice feeling to walk the boys out. I don't look around the team and see a lot younger than me now. I had a lot of help when I was younger – you always look to the older players to help you. Obviously now I am one of the older players, it's definitely a job you have got to take with both hands and help the younger players out. You can do it a little bit more as captain."
Argyle have drawn Grimsby Town at home in the first round of the FA Cup, The game will take place on the weekend of November 3, 4, 5. The Mariners are currently 12th in Sky Bet League Two, with 18 points from their opening 13 games.
Antoni Sarcevic became the latest addition to Argyle's lengthy injury list after he came off injured in the match yesterday, as well as Jamie Ness and Nadir Ciftci who did not even make the matchday eighteen due to injuries picked up in midweek. Derek Adams said: "Antoni Sarcevic has got a slight strain of the hamstring. To be fair to him, he has come off before it got any worse. Nadir Ciftci got injured on Tuesday in the reserve game. He got a knock to his back against MK Dons. Jamie Ness has a thigh injury that happened to him during training this week. It's not easy at this moment in time. We have had suspensions and injuries which is difficult."
Stand-in skipper Gary Sawyer hopes that Graham Carey's goal against Shrewsbury could be just the catalyst he needs to push on and get more goals after a frustrating start to the season. Sawyer said: : "I know G has been frustrated. The previous two years the goals have been free flowing. Everyone know what he is capable of. He has caught one perfect there and it's a great finish for us. G is a perfectionist. He knows, like we all do, that everyone has not been at their best, which is why we are in the position we are. Everyone is working hard to change that. To have a goal of that sort of quality might be the thing that he needs. He's a key player but if anyone can pull that out of the bag and put one in the top corner from that far out you pat them on the back. It's not easy to do and G has shown through the years he's capable of doing it more than once. Everyone has got their faith in him to be able to do that every week. It's just nice to see it come off for him, finally, this season. The boys put in a shift today. We have done a lot of work this week to help us with shape. It's a shame to not get a win but in the situation we are in, against the top of the league, I think everyone would have taken a point before the game. We have got to take the positives from it and it is all geared to Tuesday now. This isn't the first time I have been in this situation, and it is the same with a lot of the boys. Through your career you do unfortunately get put in these situations, but that was a big lift today. I think everyone worked as hard as you could work. We just didn't get the little bit of luck we needed. The luck isn't there for us at the minute but it's definitely something to build on."
Regarding the performance against Shrewsbury, Adams said: "Graham Carey made his goal himself. A great pick-up in the middle of the park, he dribbled it well and a fantastic strike to go ahead in the game. That's what we deserved at that moment in time. I thought that we probably shaded the game today, performance-wise. It was a strong performance against the top-of-the-table team, and I think we were unfortunate not to come away with the three points. We were the better team on the day. We just feel like we could've taken them when they came along, but that's been the story of our season. We haven't been able to convert the opportunities when they have come along. They went to two up front at that moment in time. They had played 4-5-1 before then, and it was just to give us extra protection. We just felt that we could've held onto that lead to the end. They get one shot from the edge of the box. We should've blocked it; we didn't get out quick enough and he's been able to put it in the bottom corner. We didn't really look under serious pressure. They had a lot of the ball, but on the counter attack, we still had opportunities with Jake Jervis and Nathan Blissett as well. They didn't have many opportunities in the game. Kyle Letheren made a very good save from a cross that got flicked on, but other than that, Kyle wasn't troubled this afternoon. But that's been the story of our season. We've created opportunities, we haven't taken them, and we've been punished in the end with a goal from outside the box.
We were so close. Over the 90 minutes, we had the better opportunities than them to get the three points."
When asked why Sonny Bradley did not make a return to the starting eleven following his return from injury, Adams simply replied: "Because Yann Songo'o has been excellent. He's been outstanding, Yann. He's done really well for us. I think that in any team, you want players, when they get their opportunity, to take it. He's certainly done that."
Finally, of new signing Toumani Diagouraga, Adams said: "You could see the class that he has. He made tackles, he passed the ball well. He hasn't played this season, but he put in a strong performance for his debut.
Argyle have ended the losing run but failed to register that all-important win with a 1-1 draw at home to table-topping Shrewsbury Town. Argyle went 1-0 up through a wonder goal from Graham Carey shortly into the second half. They failed to hold onto the lead however as Shrewsbury equalised with ten minutes to go and the game ended all square. Argyle: Letheren, Sawyer, Edwards, Songo'o, Taylor-Sinclair, Fox, Diagouraga, Sarcevic (Jervis), Carey, Grant(Blissett), Fletcher(Bradley). Subs: Cooper, Sokolik, Wylde, Lameiras.
Following the breakthrough into the matchday squad of young goalkeeper Michael Cooper, Derek Adams revealed his high hopes for not only Cooper but three others of Argyle's young apprentices who Adams feels has the best chance of making it for the club in the long run. He said: "There's a lot of talented youngsters coming through," said Derek. "Michael Cooper, Ryan Law, Luke Jephcott and Cameron Sangster are the four that really stand out for me at this moment in time in the system. We've got Alex Fletcher with the first team. They are the four who have a chance of being first team players for Plymouth Argyle. They have shown they have got the right temperament, application and ability to do well, so I have got high hopes for the four of them to do well in future years. They have trained with the first team; Cameron has played, Ryan Law will have an individual session with the first team, and Michael Cooper does train with the first team."
As Argyle face table-topping Shrewsbury tomorrow, Adams noted that they are an example of how fast fortunes can turn around: "They've started the season really well and been able to get to 30 points really quickly. Having a settled team to chose from is important they've been able to have that, and momentum as they have been picking up wins; that's something that in any sport is important. Shrewsbury, Cardiff and Exeter were all down the bottom of the league last year and its flipped, all of them being top of the league this year. So that's interesting from a footballing point of view."
The fortunes of table-topping Shrewsbury and rock bottom Argyle could not be more contrasting as the two prepare to meet at Home Park but Jake Jervis is confident this will be the game where the Greens can turn their season around, saying: "When its all happy and you're winning, then it's easy. We know we've got to work hard and go through the bad and the good. We've got Tuesday away to Blackburn as well so if we get a result on Saturday its good to go again straight away. Everyone has been part of some sort of spell where they've lost games. Everyone knows how to get out of it, in terms of working hard, keeping together, all those kind of things. Football's not all ups - if it was it would be amazing - but this is a bit of a down at the minute."
"Since I've been here whenever we've got the first goal, we've tended to go on and win the game. If you look at Charlton this season, we scored, kept a clean sheet and got a second goal late on as well on the counter attack. That's what we need to try and get back to. We still back ourselves against most teams in this league. Obviously results haven't shown that but at the same time we know what we can do and we've just got to show that now. Anywhere, home or away we need to get points on the board and everything else will follow. The fans have been excellent from the start of the season, where a lot of teams fans will turn on them a lot more. It shows how good our fans are and how great they have been over the seasons to keep with us and hopefully that will continue."
Derek Adams rejected the criticism that his side have been tactically inflexible so far this season, pointing to the vast array of formations that have been tried. He said: "We have tried many formations. Any football person will tell you that. From my point of view, we need to go and take that first goal, as we did against Charlton. We haven't been able to do that in any other game. You get criticised every day. As a manager it doesn't matter what you do, you get positive reactions and you get negative reactions. It's the nature of the business we are in, and it's the nature of the world we are in. It's not a perfect world. It's not a beautiful world at this moment in time. It's run by social media where a lot of the time it's people hiding behind things. That's just the way the world is. If we could turn the clock back 50/60 years then maybe everybody would look after their neighbour, and that doesn't really happen nowadays."
Adams went on to give injury updates on the situations surrounding Oscar Threlkeld and Luke McCormick respectively: "I don't have a definitive answer. I haven't got that from the medical team. Until I get that then I can't give you an answer to that question."
"Luke is getting on fine. He has started to do some training so we will assess him but Kyle Letheren, at this moment in time, is number one goalkeeper. He has done really well and I'm delighted for him. It's difficult when you come to a new club and you don't know anybody."
Finally, Adams spoke about new signing Toumani Diagouraga and his chances of making his debut on Saturday, explaining: "He's an experienced player and with experienced players they know how to play their way into games. We were a wee bit short in central midfield and he has got very good Championship experience. He was available and we have been looking to fill that position. So from my point of view, looking at the way he plays the game, I thought he would fit well into our team. He has had a bit of time to fathom out what he wants to do and he has come to us because he feels we can give him a platform to go and play."
New acquisition Toumani Diagouraga is hoping that his experience in the Championship can help the Greens to start climbing the League One table. Diagouraga gave the story of how his time out of the game was spent, spending pre-season with Leeds before training with Scunthorpe after his release: "We played three pre-season games which I was playing centre back, so I haven't played in midfield at any time this season. I knew it was probably time so it was best to part ways and shake hands. For me to stay fit I had to try and train somewhere, I had a few phone calls and I had a phone call from you Wednesday or Thursday. I spoke to the manager and he spoke to my agent, and within a few days I agreed to come here."
"I'm comfortable on the ball and I like to get the ball down, play football and do my defensive duties all round. Of course sometimes its just the little details that make the difference, the luck will turn and I'm sure at some point it will you'll get the wins that maybe should have been draws, it's all swings and roundabouts. I'm sure Barnsley were bottom at Christmas and then they got promoted to the Championship. So we need to get on those little runs and get up the table."
Argyle have secured the signing of free agent Toumani Diagouraga on a contract of unspecified length. The 30 year old central midfielder has enjoyed an illustrious career in english football, making a name for himself at (among others) Bradford, Brentford and most recently Leeds. Toumani will wear the 32 shirt while he is a Pilgrim.
Derek Adams explained the decision to bring on Alex Fletcher rather than Celtic loanee Nadir Ciftci, saying Ciftci will have to wait his turn: "He played the first six games after his signing and a few others he has been on the bench. It's just about waiting his time to get that opportunity again. He will get that.
"We thought Alex could run in behind. Nadir is one that comes to feet more than Alex. He scored his first league goal and it was a well-taken one at that. He has got a bright future in the game. I was delighted for him to get that goal."
Derek Adams was as usual frustrated with Argyle's loss to Fleetwood, blaming the failure to convert chances rather than the failure to create them in the first place. He said: "We get punished with a mistake which has happened a number of times this season. We haven't done that enough this season. We've struggled to get that goal when we need it. "We obviously gave away a very poor goal. We lost the ball in the middle of the pitch. We had good possession and gave it away. A slide ball through punishes us and we go 1-0 down in the match, against a Fleetwood team who are strong. It was difficult to get back into it. We're just about above mid-table in terms of shots in the game. Shots on target isn't good enough and we haven't taken the chances coming along. We're doing a lot of things right. What we're obviously not doing right is putting the ball in the back of the net. The delivery was poor. Individually, it wasn't good today from a variety of players. In the past, it has been; today, it was poor. Individually, it has to be better. The feel to put a ball into an area consistently has to be better. I thought we did well in the first half. We used the wider areas very well and pushed them backwards. We didn't find the opening that we needed – and we haven't found the opening a number of times this season to get the goal. I thought that, first half, we were in control of the match. We dealt well with the threat that Fleetwood were giving us. In the second half, I thought they were the better team. The confidence at this moment in time with some of them is a wee bit low, because they're not getting it all their own way at this level. They're just finding it that wee bit more difficult. We've got to keep on working hard."
Again, Adams blamed a crisis of availability, citing a number of players that for whichever reason could not be selected who starred for Argyle last season. He then explained why Oscar Threlkeld, returning from injury, had to once again come off injured. Adams: "We've got to get injuries and suspensions back. We've had seven or eight today, and that takes its toll at the club. We haven't really been able to have our best team on the pitch this season. "We've got injuries and suspensions that limit us to what we can do. We've been able to come into this division but we've found it hard because of the circumstances that we're under. Injuries and suspensions have tailored that. If you look at the ones who were unavailable for us today, it's a big list. We had David Fox on the bench, who wasn't 100% ready for it. We've got McCormick, Ryan Taylor; all starters from last season. We've had Threlkeld as well, Gary Miller, Sonny Bradley, all out. I'm not making excuses, but any manager would find it difficult to deal with that.
"Oscar Threlkeld got a sore a leg, so he felt that he couldn't go through the pain barrier. Nothing serious, I don't think. He's been out for a period of time and we needed a right back. He should've been able to play. He should've healed over four weeks with that injury. We know that, clinically, everything is fine. He's seen a consultant; he's had x-rays; physio department gave the all-clear to play. We wouldn't play a player who wasn't able to play. We'll obviously assess it tomorrow and see what the problem is with the injury. We spoke about it during the week. We had him training most of the week and he knew he was going to play. He just felt at half time that it was too sore to continue."
Argyle have registered yet another defeat, now their 8th in 9 league games, going down 2-1 to Fleetwood. The visitors took the lead on the counter midway through the second half and put the game beyond doubt in stoppage time. A late consolation by Alex Fletcher was not enough to get a draw for Argyle who sit rock bottom of the table. Oscar Threlkeld returned to the starting eleven following his injury but came back off again at half-time, seemingly suffering a recurrence. Argyle: Letheren, Threlkeld(Taylor-Sinclair), Edwards, Songo'o, Sawyer, Ness, Sarcevic(Fletcher), Jervis(Lameiras), Carey, Wylde, Blissett. Subs: Cooper, Fox, Grant, Ciftci.
Derek Adams is hoping that his tactic of keeping the same team together for a number of games will work as Argyle seek to pick up only their second win of the season against Fleetwood on Saturday. He explained: "It gave me an opportunity to get a number of players playing with each other for a number of games. We have been in a situation where we have found it difficult to gain points after putting in some good performances for spells of games. We showed a lot of character the other night going 1-0 down and coming back into the game, that's the pleasing aspect of it, the players have got very good characters at this moment in time. They've started well and got to the play offs last year and they have competed well again this year. They made ten changes the other night for the Checkatrade Trophy, but still had a good experienced side with a blend of youth in it as well. Shrewsbury have started the season very well so they will be difficult games, but games that we will hope we can pick some points up. You only need to look at the stats to see we are one of the most attacking teams and we are up there with the best in division. We haven't taken our chances along the way and I think at times this season at home we have been too attacking. The other night we lost a goal against Exeter as we had too many players in an advanced area and were caught on a counter attack, we had a left back on the edge of the 18-yard box."
Ryan Edwards asserted that Argyle need to snap out of their bad habits going into the game against Fleetwood to be able to start picking up points this season. He spoke in particular of the number of red cards Argyle have thus far picked up, saying: "It has got to end. Five red cards in 11 games is unheard of, I think. You can talk about it to a certain extent but you are not expecting that many. We are certainly not meaning to do it. We definitely need no more, to give ourselves a chance of getting points on the board. We are giving ourselves mountains to climb. It gets you down. You go home to your family after the game not in the best of moods. We are doing everything we can. We are working hard to try to change it. It can only go on so much longer before the gap is going to get bigger. We need to get ourselves points on the board as quick as we can. We are going into two home games now so we see a chance to definitely do that. People are always going to say about us taking our chances but we have also conceded soft goals as well as unlucky goals. It's a mixture of everything but we working hard to try to get it all right."
Gregg Wylde admitted he has been biding his time and feels rewarded after a series of good performances since coming back into the Argyle team. He has backed his teammates to do the same and eventually come good after a period of frustration, saying: "I've been biding my time. The manager was going to bring me in as he spoke to me a few times. I came on against Wigan and I thought I did okay, so hopefully I can keep my place in the team. I just keep my head down and work hard. It's hard but it's something I've got to take on board. The manager spoke to me a few times about my crossing, sometimes I need to be able to pick out players and I'm starting to do it a wee bit more and to also take a touch and come inside the park as well. I did alright and hopefully I can keep my place. Fleetwood were in the play offs last year; when I went there last year with Millwall it was difficult. The manager has got a good team but, we need to just focus on ourselves and to lift off the bottom of the league. Every fan is behind us and hopefully we can pay them back the support we took Saturday, hopefully we can keep that going and we can pay them off. I've seen it throughout my career, teams start poorly but start to climb after Christmas so hopefully that can be us, so we start picking up points starting with Saturday at home, as we've got two home games in a row against Fleetwood and Shrewsbury, hopefully we can take six points out of the two games."
Ryan Edwards added his second Argyle goal in the Checkatrade Trophy clash against Exeter in midweek and sees no reason why he cannot continue adding goals to his game on a regular basis. He said: "I spoke to the manager about this. In my opinion, I should have had at least two more, maybe even three more. I think going back to Peterborough and the Blackpool game, I missed two great chances and against MK Dons, I had half a chance. I seem to be getting in the positions quite a lot and with the delivery that we have got here, I know that I have a great chance of scoring a good few more before the end of the season and that is what I am hoping to do. There's Graham Carey, there's Gregg Wylde, there's also Jake Jervis and David Fox who have been putting them in this season that we've had chances from. Wherever they say they are going to put it, they usually do nine times out of ten, so it's up to me to attack that area and if I don't make use of it, it's up to them to ask me questions because the delivery is usually spot on. I only got three last year and I have got two already. I was seen as a threat and my old manager used to make me sacrifice myself. The opposition's best marker was usually marking me so he wanted me to take him out of the way, whereas now I'm in a position to go and attack the ball and it seems to be working so far."
Derek Adams gave an update on the fitness situations of goalkeepers Luke McCormick and Robert te Loeke, revealing that McCormick's injury is not serious in nature: "Luke has got a sore ankle and we are hopeful that he will in the near future. It's not going to be long term. Robert has got a bulging disc in his back. He has gone to see the consultant. He either has to get a cortisone injection or he might require an operation on it. The cortisone injection is the best option because it's the quickest time span. That's the one the consultant wants to do at this moment in time. A lot of people questioned why you would take in a third goalkeeper, but the reason for that is the position we are in at this moment in time. We have got two goalkeepers that are out injured. We have taken in Kyle Letheren, who has done very well for us. We have got Michael Cooper, a highly promising young goalkeeper who has been on the bench."
Derek Adams answered questions about his decision to select a full strength team for Argyle's Checkatrade Trophy match against Exeter City last night and the injury that occurred to star man Graham Carey. He said: "He hurt his ankle in a tackle towards the end of the game. It doesn't look like it's anything serious. We will have to see.
"I just wanted to get a bit of continuity. I didn't want to chop and change. I've had to chop and change because of injuries and suspensions and tonight was just about trying to play players that played on Saturday. I only made one change. I didn't feel it was the right opportunity tonight to give players that opportunity."
"We all know what Ruben can do. He's an intelligent player; he's very skilful; and he has been unfortunate at the start of the season because he started pre-season very well. The spell we have been in, it has been difficult to get a creative player in, but he has shown glimpses that he can really open up defence, and that's why we have taken him here. It's just about getting him in the side, because we have had to defend quite a lot of games when we've been in this division, but he can open up a defence with one pass, and we've seen that a couple of times tonight."
Regarding the match itself and the resultant shootout, Adams said: "It was an entertaining game. I was obviously delighted to win the match, get the two points and move on to four. Exeter have come here with nothing to lose because they are doing so well in League Two; we had everything to lose and we have been able to win and progress further up the table. The players showed very good character because the [first] goal we concede, we're on the attack and we don't have enough bodies back at that moment in time to stop the counter-attack. It was a poor goal from our point of view – Exeter will obviously say it was a good goal from theirs because it was a counter-attack. We should have done better at the second one, as well, because their attacker gets inside us when he should be outside us."
"We work on set-plays quite a bit and had very good delivery from Gregg Wylde and Jake Jervis. Gregg's ball in for Ryan Edwards was excellent; it was a well-timed run and very good header. We probably could have scored another couple of goals from set-plays. Gregg's got very good delivery with his left foot and he puts it in a great area for our attacking players in that system. Ryan Edwards has shown already that he's more than capable of doing that; Nathan Blissett was there, as well; and even Graham Carey, at the back post, had an opportunity. Ruben was very lively when he came on, running with the ball, and a very good pass into Nathan. Good for him, again, to get another goal, he works ever so hard and he was unfortunate a few times with his head, not to get another couple of others."
"They were excellent penalties. The players we chose to take them are very capable and they struck them well, and Kyle Letheren made a magnificent save."
Argyle have gained another two points from the Checkatrade Trophy match against Exeter City, following another 2-2 draw in normal time. Argyle equalised twice from Ryan Edwards and Nathan Blissett after the Grecians twice took the lead. Argyle won the resultant penalty shootout to claim the extra point. Argyle: Letheren, Sokolik, Edwards, Songo'o, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Ness, Jervis, Carey(Lameiras), Wylde, Blissett(Ciftci). Subs: Cooper, Bradley, Taylor-Sinclair, Grant, Fletcher,
Derek Adams admitted his frustrations at seeing Argyle once again dismissed to ten men but did not believe that Gary Miller's sending off was justified on this occasion, saying: "I thought it was harsh. I didn't think it warranted it. Gary went in for a challenge and, quickly after that, he went in for a second challenge. He did lunge in. I believe he got the ball – that's what I saw at the time – but he did go with both feet into the challenge. Unfortunately for us, he got sent off. Some referees would have allowed that to be a booking; some referees would have made it a red card; and some referees wouldn't have done anything at all. It's probably game over after the sending-off even though, in the dying stages of the game, we probably should score and probably get a penalty kick for handball. When we went down to ten players, it was always going to be difficult because players think they can get themselves back into the match – it's not always the case – and we opened up quite a bit and Rovers were able to find space. They did have good opportunities to finish us off when we were down to ten players but, in the end, we have a really big chance in the final stages to make it 2-2 and that might have been the change we needed. We've played five out of 11 games this season with 10 players so that's not easy; just when we are getting a wee bit of momentum in the game, it goes against us. We're not getting a break. We're getting sendings-off that maybe are, maybe not; we're not taking our chances when they come along; that's the story of our season so far. Players have to take the opportunities when they come along. It's not as if we are not creating them. We created a lot more opportunities today than we did in our previous game. Some time, some how, it's going to break and we are going to get the fortune with us. At this moment in time, we are certainly not getting that."
Adams was particularly complimentary about forward Nathan Blissett who scored Argyle's only goal of the game: "He took it very well. He was unfortunate just before that when he hit it towards the top corner and the goalkeeper made a great save. It was good for him because he has scored against his old club but hasn't got the right result. I think his overall game is improving all the time. He's taking the ball in very well and then finding a player with it."
Blissett himself said of the incident: "I think the 'keeper's earned his wages with that one. Fair play to him. I'd have loved it if that one went in. The gaffer's been working on it with me; just sticking it into the corners. It was a nice clean strike – I'm happy with it. I'm happy to get off the mark and hopefully I can score a few more. I love scoring at the Mem! Usually when I score my first goal I go on a little run, so hopefully I can do that. In this pre-season I felt I started really strong. I probably ebbed off a little bit, but obviously wanted to work on my game and get back in. I have and I feel like I'm earning my place. I've got a bit of wind under my sails and know I can play at this level. It's just about keeping momentum and being consistent. That's the main thing."
He too shared his manager's disappointment at another loss yet also shared the optimism that things will change with time, saying: "We could've won that game, or got something from it. We were a different team in the second half. In the first 25 minutes, we looked like a team who were winning three or four nil. We were the only team in it – they were holding on. We just needed to keep that momentum. It's just silly mistakes, I suppose, and not doing the right things in the right places. It's costing us goals. I was on the pitch and saw the challenge. I didn't think it was a red card. He won the ball, but I suppose you can't go in like that. It makes it harder for the team, especially at this level, to be losing and trying to compete with 10 men. It's hard, but we have to try and find a way around it if it happens again – and hopefully it won't."
"After a game like that, losing, it's going to be down. The boys know we could've got something from the game. We'll pick ourselves back up on Monday. It's a different project with Exeter and we'll go again. The league table shows it for itself, but we're going to stick together as a group. I feel our luck will change at some point this season and we'll go on a run and we'll be okay. No-one's happy. No-one's happy with the results, but we're all going to stick together and get through it. I think the fans can see that we're trying our hardest. It's not easy viewing at the minute, but stick with us: we're going to get it done. The fire's there. It's there. We know we can play. It's getting that rub of the green and luck and changing our fortunes. One win, one scrappy win, and we're back in it. That's all we care about."
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