A Round-up of Argyle News
Argyle News Sites:
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.
On This Day:
1963: The start of a slippery slope, Luton 3 Argyle 0, the first of a club record thirteen consecutive games without a win (the remaining game of that season and the first eleven of the next). You'll have to be over 50 to remember this team: Leiper, Reeves, Davis, Williams, Newman, Buckingham, Brace, McAnearney, Trebilcock, O'Neill and McParland.
Derek Adams praised the role that back-up keepers Vincent Dorel and Marc McCallum have played in strengthening the performance of Luke McCormick with their strong competition, saying: "They have travelled with the team up and down the country. They have been part of the squad throughout the time. They are very good characters and they have helped Luke McCormick no end this season. I think that Luke's performances have improved this season, compared to last year, because of the pressure he has been put under by the two goalkeepers."
On This Day:
1947: Argyle 0 Birmingham 2; the first of a club record nine successive defeats (the last six games of that season and the first three of the next). It was the first season after the war, which had decimated the club and its facilities, but 'Resurgam': five years later ...
1952: Argyle 2 Torquay 2, the last home game of a magnificent season, in which Argyle equalled the 107 goal record set by the 1925-26 side. This game was a typical anti-climax after promotion was secured three days earlier, but the result didn't matter. Over 28,000 packed Home Park to see Jack Chisholm lift the championship trophy, captain of what some would say was the greatest ever Argyle side: Shortt, Ratcliffe, Jones, Dougall, Chisholm, Porteous, Astall, Rattray, Tadman, Dews and Govan.
1954: Stoke City 3 Argyle 2, 'Jumbo' Jack Chisholm's 188th and final game after five years at the club. By all accounts, he wasn't the most agile, he lacked speed, his ball control could have been better, he rarely left his penalty area - such was his fitness level - and from a medical point of view he should never have stepped on the pitch. Yet few have inspired as he did, an Argyle legend still remembered with great affection at Home Park today.
Derek Adams admitted that picking which apprentices are offered professional contracts to remain at Plymouth Argyle is often not a pleasant duty but it is one that he is fully prepared to undertake, saying: “The decision is between myself, Kevin Hodges, Shaun Taylor and Kevin Nancekivell. We will all sit down and have a look at it. They’ll have their opinions and I’ll have mine - and we’ll see who we feel is able to move up into the first team. Then, we’ll see who is able to move up to a development contract where we feel that they just need a bit more work to get up to a professional deal. If we feel that they have a future, either next year or in future years then we take them on. It’s part of the business. Everybody knows when they come in as an apprentice what the script is. They get coached by youth coaches and academy coaches in a way that is hopeful to promote them into the first team. It’s not a nice business. It’s unlike any other business where you take on 18 apprentices and it comes to a first team contract. You only end up taking one or two on at the end, out of nine. In other businesses you want your apprentices to be with you for 10, 20 years - but that doesn’t happen in football.”
Derek Adams admitted that he is not pleased with Louis Rooney's lack of appearances for Hartlepool United since joining them on loan on January transfer deadline day but hoped that he could yet make a big impact, not least against Argyle's title rivals Doncaster on the final day of the season: "He has been on the bench but he hasn't had a run of games as I had hoped he would have. I hoped he would get 10 starts but that hasn't been the case. It hasn't worked out as well as we had hoped, but it could change very much for him by scoring the winning goal to keep Hartlepool in the league.
"It's not a good experience for him, but it's an experience that you sometimes require. If you are going to be a professional footballer you need to see both sides of the game. You don't necessarily want to, but it does give you an appreciation of what it is like to be at the top of the league and the bottom. They are two very different situations to be in."
Oscar Threlkeld spoke about how thrilled he is to achieve a promotion in his first permanent season at Plymouth Argyle after signing in the summer. The utility man said: "As long as I get some minutes on the pitch that's all that matters. It's good on the CV now that we got promotion and how many games I have played. I kept my place in the team when I came back from injury so I have been over the moon really. It has just been tremendous. "We were so close to promotion last season and I just wanted to put things right. It was an easy decision to come back, because the gaffer (Derek Adams) wanted me and I wanted to come back down. I'm expecting good things for the club next season, depending how many people the gaffer keeps and brings in. You can't stop now, just because we have got promoted. We have got to carry on and go forward."
On This Day:
1953: Argyle equalled their highest ever end-of-season position, fourth in Football League Division 2 (tier 2).
1959: Accrington Stanley 1 Argyle 1 (Penk); the Pilgrims were promoted to tier 2. The team coach arrived back in Devon the following afternoon, and was met in Ivybridge for decoration by the Supporters Club. An estimated 500 cars joined the cavalcade as it entered the city.
Derek Adams praised Argyle's performance after their goalless draw at Colchester United, a side going for the play-offs with a strong home record. Adams said: “We had a lot of good play in the first half and Sarcevic was very unlucky after a great bit of play but, in the end, it’s 0-0. The way we played in the first half, the way we passed and moved, and controlled the game, was really good; it was nice to watch. In the second half, we didn’t pass the ball well as in the first half. But you have to give credit to Colchester, they were trying to get the win, as well. I didn’t feel that both teams worked the goalkeeper enough; both goalkeepers didn’t have a save to make, and that’s probably why it’s 0-0. Give credit to both sets of players – they were trying to get that goal, but both teams didn’t have that craft they needed to do that.”
Argyle have closed the gap on Doncaster Rovers in the race for the league two title to 2 points with 2 games remaining with a 0-0 draw at Colchester. Doncaster on the other hand drew 0-0 with Wycombe. Their superior goal difference means Argyle will likely need to make up two points on them in the remaining two games. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Sokolik, Sawyer, Fox(Tanner), Sarcevic, Smith(Garita), Jervis(Slew), Carey, Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Donaldson, Spencer.
Another plus side of Argyle's early confirmation of divisional status is that Derek Adams can start planning for the upcoming season from mid April rather than late May. The manager said: “We have got plenty of time to look to next season, now. We won’t discuss anything until the season’s finished. Until that happens, we’re focused on trying to finish in a strong position. It gives you a good opportunity to look at the players we already have in the squad and the players that are going to come in over the summer – that’s just a natural progression – and we’ll assess things. We’ve got a lot more time than we had last season. We have a fair idea what’s going to happen. We’ve performed very well and we’ve got a lot of players in contract for next season, which is a good thing to have. We’ve got a list of players. We have recruitment policy where we have a database available to us, and we’ll continue to look through that./"I came to the football club to get us out of this division and it’s been a very good two-year spell. I’m delighted the chairman gave me the opportunity to manage Argyle and we have certainly delivered over the last two seasons. That’s something that everybody at this football club is very proud of. We have been very successful this season; we have been able to win 25 games; we’ve had a great FA Cup run against Liverpool which everybody enjoyed; and we have won the two derby matches, as well. Coming in the first season and getting to a play-off final was a success. When I came into the football club, the chairman was just hoping we’d put ourselves in a good position and we were able to do a lot better than that. We didn’t have the strength in depth to take us over the last couple of weeks of the season and that was probably the reason we didn’t get promoted last season. This year, we have been able to strengthen and that’s taken us a long way.”
The 16/17 promotion winning side have forged a bond that will never be broken according to midfielder David Fox, who said of his teammates: “You definitely have an affinity with your old clubs but you look at the ones where you’ve had success. I was talking to one of the lads the other week, and you talk about how many years you have been in the game, and how many players you still speak to, and it’s the ones you got promoted with, they’re the ones you have that bond with over the next 20 years. The lads in that changing room now will have a bond for years because we’ve achieved something. I’ve been a footballer for 16 or 17 years, and three of those stand out, and they are the ones you get promoted with. I still go to Blackpool and Norwich for reunions, or see the lads in the summer. That will be no different here.
“I didn’t know League Two, and I couldn’t have told you much about Plymouth from the year before other than they lost in the play-off final. I was fresh-faced, walking into a room, and I saw a real competitiveness in training, a whole new bunch of players getting to know each other, and a manager that was driving people on. The Torquay game: we only drew that game, and in the dressing room there were lads going for each other. They were not happy with how it had gone, and it was a pre-season friendly! I thought ‘this is a real competitive mentality, with a will to win’. It’s not about developing players and selling them on; it’s not about playing nice, pretty football; it’s about winning. I sensed that after playing 45 minutes of football. The ability to win games out of tough situations has probably been our trademark this season. We’ve had backs to the wall stuff and picked up results, or we’ve had disappointing results then gone again the next week. Loads of 1-0s and 2-1s; we’ve lost more than we would have liked, but we’ve turned a lot of draws into wins. That’s through character, togetherness, team spirit; things you don’t need ability for. The amount of games this club has won over the last two years is ridiculous. I know they didn’t get over the line last year, but there’s a winning mentality. Brew’s a winner, Wottsy’s a winner – you don’t play as many games as he did without being a winner – and it passes on to the team. That’s why we’ve won games late on. Every training session there’s a score kept, of whose winning and losing.
“Loads of things have gone into it. We’ve dug in, or Luke’s made a great save in the last minute; they are fine margins that mean when you look at the table it looks great, but if you analyse each game it is the small margins that have got us promoted.”
Three Argyle players have been named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year. Luke McCormick is named as the divisional team's goalkeeper, with Sonny Bradley and Graham Carey both featuring in outfield positions. Former Pilgrim Kelvin Mellor is in team at right-back.
David Fox spoke about how the sacrifice that he made to live apart from his young family was absolutely worth it to be a part of Argyle's promotion season. The midfielder detailed the process of not having a club during pre-season: “It wasn’t until late on in July, at Torquay. The season had finished at the start of May, so that was two-and-a-half months: my garden got cleaned up well! You are literally waiting on a phone call that might never come. Fortunately for me, one did, and one that exceeded all my expectations. The number of players out of contract is growing year on year, and it is harder to find a job, especially as you get older. I knew it would be good, that’s why I was willing to come down here and make sacrifices. I made a massive sacrifice because ultimately I had the feeling it would work out alright. I can’t place on record enough what as a family we’ve had to give up for me to come down here, but those scenes on Monday make it worthwhile. You feel a sense of satisfaction that it has gone well. It was brilliant. Everything, for the last few months, that we hoped it would be. That was our aim, what we were going for, and then the manner in which it happened was really pleasing and enjoyable. Where the fans have been down through things that have been going on off the pitch, it was about time we got it right on the pitch and got the club moving forward. I know they enjoyed it. There was a bit of relief at getting over the line. Hopefully the fans can enjoy it, knowing that the next three games can be a bit of a party atmosphere. No-one’s downed tools from the playing side of things, we’ll be going out to try to win the last three games. Partly for our own pride, and there’s a lot of supporters going to the Colchester game; it’s a long trip and we can’t disappoint them.”
Fox also revealed the moment in which he was sure Argyle would win promotion, Ryan Taylor's last minute winner against Crawley a few weeks ago. He said: "I look back to Tayls' goal at Crawley. Teams that get promoted win those games, and I said that to the boys afterwards. We didn't play well. It was a nothing game and a draw was probably a fair result. I didn't think they Crawley did great but a draw was on the cards and we managed to turn that into a win. That what's teams that get promoted do. They go and win those games. There have been probably been lots of other examples of that. But, in terms of where we were in the season, and the amount of fans we had at the game, I think that was massive. I'm sure this season has exceeded anyone's expectations. We wanted to get promoted. That was the aim – there was no sugar-coating that – and we have done it. Obviously, the Anfield trip was brilliant and people wondered whether it would affect our form and did we need a cup run when we were trying to get up. But all things like that are just brilliant experiences and what you want to be doing as a footballer. The whole season really has exceeded anyone's expectations, especially for someone that had just signed for the club."
Derek Adams has said that an offer will be on the table to star midfielder Graham Carey and that it is up to him if he chooses to remain at the club. Adams said of Carey: "Graham has done exceptionally well over two seasons. We are delighted with the progress he is making. It's really up to Graham now if he wants to stay or go, but he has been fantastic for me, at my previous club and this one. The ball is in his court now. There is no doubt about that," he said. "Graham has been very good in League Two for us and I believe he can be good in League One as well. We will wait and see how things transpire over the next month or so.
"You always want to keep your best players. Graham has shown in this division that he can score goals and create assists. It's always important that you keep your best players, and we will continue to try to do that."
Adams said that he believes Argyle will need to win all three of their remaining games to have any realistic hope of winning the League Two title, explaining: "We have achieved our goal of getting automatic promotion, and with three games to go we have still got an opportunity of winning the title. That's our main focus between now and the end of the season.We will probably have to win the three games to give us any chance, and we go to a very difficult place at Colchester first. We have got to try and win the games. It's obviously in Doncaster's hands at this moment in time.
"We have got a very good away record and Colchester have got an excellent home record as well so it has got the makings of a good game. The players would like to try to win the title as well. Colchester are obviously going to speak about us already being promoted and talk about it in that context. But we are three points behind the league leaders and we want to get the win that we require to try to get closer to Doncaster. We have got to continue the way we played against Newport."
A number of early details have transpired about Argyle's pre-season schedule, with Derek Adams confirming Argyle will play host to Cardiff City on an unspecified date in their only home game. Argyle will also play two games on tour in the Netherlands where they will stay at a training camp like they did last summer.
Argyle have released the full details of their season ticket prices for the 2017/18 League One season. Full details of earlybird and standard prices can be found on the club's website.
Graham Carey spoke of his delight at making sure that the game that secured promotion was such a special one for the fans rather than limping over the line. He said: "The manner we have done it, it is only fitting that we put in probably the best performance of the season really. We were so good going forward. Yes, they had a few chances but I think that is probably because we were so open and so attacking. We knew we were going to have to take the fight out of them. They were obviously fighting for their lives and luckily for them results kind of went their way and they are still in their fighting. What their staff have done over the last month or two has been brilliant. Hats off to them, hopefully they stay up as well. But it is a great way to clinch promotion. I think obviously the club and the fans have been waiting for so long and to do it in that manner was special.
"It was kind of a blessing in disguise. To give the fans the day that they have done, it is a tribute to them. They have backed us all season, especially away games, they have travelled in their numbers. They are never quiet away from home and I think from the moment we kicked-off today they were bouncing. It was a tough game to start with to be honest, we knew they were going to have a lot of fight because they were fighting for something. We probably didn't start sharp enough and we gave the ball away cheaply at times but once we got into a two goal lead we put our foot on the gas and knocked the fight out of them in the second-half. We knew the first ten minutes of the second-half was crucial and that if we got a third goal, that would be the game. Luckily we did that and then we could push on and get more goals and close the difference on Doncaster a little bit. We have still got a huge chance of clinching the title and that would be the icing on the cake. I think we need to enjoy today. It has been a long time coming for the club and the fans and us as players. Especially the four of us that were here last year. I think it took us a while to get over that defeat at Wembley and we obviously didn't start the season well but I think the recruitment from the manager and the staff and the club has been first class. To get the squad and the team we have on not the biggest budget in the league is a testament to the scouting."
Derek Adams said that promotion to League One marked mission accomplished in his mind for both this season and his tenure at Argyle. He said: “We’ve played in a manner that this football club likes. We had a great all-round performance. We got players that have put in a terrific shift throughout the season, and they’ve been able to score goals. We’ve seen today the standards they can play to. Today was going to be a difficult match. Newport were trying to get a win that would take them out of the bottom two, and we were trying to get that win to get us automatic promotion – and we’ve certainly done that today. There was a lot of pressure on us today, and the players have really dealt with it well. I thought that the way they wanted to score goals today – we played in a way that was going to damage Newport. We went three-for-three against them at the top end and it caused them trouble. I think that we had a lot of good play and opportunities. We just needed that goal, and we got the two goals quite quickly. We’ve shown that when we do that, we can play with a great deal of confidence. I think the players knew today was the day. The players have shown that when that pressure comes, they can deal with it. You need the 2-1s; you need the 1-0 victories to get yourself in this position.”“To get this football club back into League One was my priority when I came to the football club two years ago.
“Last year, we had the 10th-highest budget in the league and we were able to get into a play-off final. That’s the reality. We dismantled the squad over the summer and rebuilt it. The players we’ve taken in have shown good work ethic and composure and technical ability. They’ve got good determination about them to succeed. That’s what we had to do over the summer, and we’ve been able to get the results. We’ve been able to have a really successful time. We’ve had a play-off final, we’ve had a good FA Cup run, and we’ve been able to have a promotion. The players, the staff, the supporters all wanted it, and we’ve all delivered.”
Adams said however that his focus had already shifted to going up as League Two champions: “Looking at the results today we’ve been able to get three points back on Doncaster. We’ve knocked their goal difference as well, and we’ll continue to push to the final kick of the game to see if we can win the championship. At this moment in time, I’m thinking about trying to catch Doncaster. That’s the way we’re trying to think. We’re trying to win the championship. Doncaster are three points ahead, but we’ve got to aim that way. We’ve got three games to go. We can still win the title. We’ve got to try and do it. I’ve come to a football club that wanted to get out of this division – needed to get out of this division. With that brings its pressure. This football club believes it should be in a higher division, and we’ve been able to do that as a collective unit. They’ve been through some difficult times, through administration. They’ve followed them through the leagues, from the Championship down to League 2. They want this club to be successful. A lot of people put a lot of hard work into it and we’ve been able to succeed. Financially we need to become better, on and off the pitch. That’s something that we’ll look to do over the years. It’s not going to happen in the blink of an eye. This year, we’ve done exceptionally well with the budget we’ve had. It’s a testament to the players and the staff.”
Graham Carey has revealed his delight that Argyle achieved what they set out to at the start of the season and got promoted. Carey, like Adams, has said he wants to now focus on winning the league as well as strongly hinting that he hopes to remain at Home Park next season. The Irishman said: "At the minute I see my future here but that is not really up to me, it is up to the manager and the board. My goal at the start of the season was to focus on getting promoted. I said that after the play-off final that I wanted to come back and win the league and we still have a chance to do that; we have secured promotion. I was not going to talk about anything until the season is finished and that is still the case. The brand of football is what the fans want. [The manager's] eagerness to win games and not just settle for draws no matter where we go and that is testament to our away form. We try and win every game that we can. His relentlessness in training to always demand more. We will enjoy our few days off now but come Thursday it will be foot on the gas again and hopefully we can upset Doncaster and win the title. Derek has obviously done a great job and I don't think me saying anything could put in to words what he has done. To have four players at the start of the season and to bring in the squad that he has brought in is testament to him. We had our blip in the middle of the season but to get over that and to have an FA Cup run and to give the fans something special and then the end of the season - it has been terrific. He said go and enjoy your night and we will do that, but when it comes to it we will be ready to work again.
"What the manager has done for me and my career, bringing me back to England which is what I always wanted to do. I will be always grateful to him so yes, since we are now getting promoted to League One, anything is possible. The aim was be playing in League One this year with Argyle. Now we have got promoted, you never know what can happen in the summer. I am not saying yes and I am not saying no, but that is not even in my mind at the minute. I said in the middle of the season I wanted to get promoted and then finish the season strong and we will talk from there - that is still the case."
He further went on to state he believes Argyle are capable of mounting a promotion challenge in League One next season: "It is special. Wottsy was a big influence in that. He remembers, and so do Luke McCormick and Gaz Sawyer, the days when they were in the Championship and getting the big crowds and we knew if we could get them out of this league then they will come back and as you have seen today the support was tremendous and hopefully we can bring back more fans next season and you never know. The difference between League One and League Two, especially with the teams at the top of League Two, there is not that much of a difference I don't think. You have seen that in the EFL Trophy, a lot of results that have been able to trouble teams in League One and there is no reason why we can't push on next season. Hopefully our goal, and knowing the manager, our goal next season will be getting promotion again. My goal at the start of the season was 15 goals and 15 assists so I am on course for that and hopefully I can get a few more. The squad we have, achieving something together was worth more to me than any personal goals and I think getting promotion is all that counts for the club and this city.
"We knew we had enough quality in the team. It was just a case of gelling quickly and not giving the top teams in this league a head start and we didn't really do that. We have been up in the top three the whole season. I think even in January recruitment has been great to bring in some players to give us an extra spark is something that we all needed. We didn't have the biggest squad at the start of the season and we brought in more players and that meant to keep your place in the team you need to play well and that is testament to the manager and the board. We knew it was going to be tough the first couple of weeks and it was. But we knew as soon as we got one win and we started gelling as a team that we had the quality in the squad to go and achieve something great and we have done that. Now that we have the chance to go and win the title that would be extra-special as well."
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE HAVE BEEN PROMOTED TO LEAGUE ONE following a staggering 6-1 win over Newport County, their largest win in the League Two era of 2011-2017. Defensive mix-ups let in Kennedy and Jervis to put Argyle 2-0 up as half-time approached. Both of them netted again in the second half as did Carey and Taylor to give Argyle a six goal lead. Newport pulled a goal back in the dying seconds but it was not enough to dampen Argyle spirits, who partied long into the night to celebrate the promotion that the club so richly deserved after 6 years of ups and down and a whole 13 years since the last promotion. Doncaster's loss to Blackpool means that Argyle are still in with a fighting chance of the League Two title. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld(Miller), Songo'o, Sokolik, Sawyer, Fox(Smith), Sarcevic, Carey(Tanner), Jervis, Taylor, Kennedy. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Donaldson, Garita
Graham Carey is pleased after Argyle's bittersweet ending to the game at Portsmouth that the greens will instead have a chance to seal promotion in front of their home crowd. The Irishman said: “We’re not taking anything lightly. Newport is going to be a tough game. It’s going to be a lot tougher than it would have been maybe a month ago: they are fighting for their lives and we are fighting for something else. They can come out of the bottom two with a win on Monday so they are going to be coming at us. Any result Monday and we’re up, but we’ll be going out to win. It was a bit of an anti-climax. We knew were going to have a bit of a wait if we got a result. We were waiting for a little but then we felt, like what happened, if Luton had scored, we would have looked a bit silly, walking back to the dressing-room. We knew we had a job to do on Monday, as well, so we’re focused on that. It really important that we focus and, if we put a good team performance like we did at Portsmouth, I’m very confident we can give the fans what we have been chasing all year. It’ll be special after waiting so long. I think it’s only fitting that we have a chance to do it on our own patch; obviously the club and the fans have waited so long to do it, it’ll probably be a little bit sweeter to do it at home, hopefully in front of a big crowd.”
As usual, the game between Argyle and Portsmouth was a good spectacle in which both sides played good football, according to manager Derek Adams. He said: “We started the game very well; we had the better of the first half and Portsmouth had the better of the second. The way we started the game – the way we passed the ball and passed through them – was probably a surprise to Portsmouth. We really attacked them and caused them problems. The way we opened them up and played in the holes caused them trouble and it was a good performance from us. It was a well-worked move. It was good play down the left-hand side; a good ball from Graham and then Gary Sawyer picks Jake out at the back post and a terrific header.
“When you have the record away from home that we have, we could have gone for it but then we might have opened ourselves up, as well. They were on the ascendancy. A point was a good point. We came here to do a job today and we did that; we came away with a point. We have got a fabulous away record and Portsmouth are trying to get themselves automatically promoted; it was a big game for both clubs and both teams handled it very well. Both sides like to play football and it was a good spectacle. Portsmouth have got a lot of good players in their team and they deserve to be where they are, as well.”
Graham Carey cast his mind back to the games against Liverpool in January, claiming that they were not just a nice bonus to the season and a good day out but actually gave the squad the confidence they needed to push on and gain promotion, saying: “The Liverpool game really gave us a lot of confidence as a team; if you can nullify them for so long, why can’t you do it to teams in this league? We’ve done that against Doncaster at home, Carlisle at home, Doncaster away – we’ve done that against the big teams and we’ve done again today and are unlucky not to have got three points. Sometimes at home, we were a little bit too gung-ho, wanting to kill teams off early on, but teams at this level, year after year, are getting better, more organised and more professional. We didn’t do it last year and we’ve learnt from that, especially some of the results last year before the end of the season, like when we’ve lost to Dagenham at home – so we’re not going to take it lightly. We’ll be fully focused. We’ve learned so much from that and it’s really driven us on to finish the season strong. We worked so hard in the first half against Portsmouth that we were bound to come off it in the second a little bit, so the Liverpool game was exactly what we did – we came back into shape and were hard to break down. They had shots on goal but didn’t really trouble us; on another day, we would have kept a clean sheet, but it wasn’t to be.”
Derek Adams was typically a calming voice amidst the celebrations at being on the verge of promotion- claiming that Argyle had a long way to go yet, starting with the game against Newport on Monday. Adams said: “We’ve got four games, now, to get over the line and it’s important we do that as soon as we can. Newport are on a fabulous run and it’s a difficult game at home, but any game in this league is difficult. We see that week in, week out. They have been able to claw themselves back in with wins and we will have to be right at it on Monday to get a win from then game. That’s what happens when you are down the bottom of the league – you try to galvanise everyone together and they have been able to do that. We’ll take things as they come, but the players are in good spirits. They performed well and we look forward to Monday. There’s no problem. Their fitness levels are excellent.”
Argyle have all but assured promotion to League One with a 1-1 draw against Portsmouth in the 2.30pm Good Friday kick-off. Argyle took an early lead when Jake Jervis netted against his former club but were pegged back by Gary Roberts just after half-time. The game ended 1-1 and Argyle were left with the bizarre scenario of waiting to see if Luton lost to Leyton Orient in the 3pm kick-off to see us promoted. Luton were drawing but a late equaliser from former Pilgrim Isaac Vassell meant Argyle had to wait till Monday. There is a 12 point gap over Luton with 4 games to go. Any points gained by Argyle and any lost by Luton will assure promotion. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley(Sokolik), Sawyer, Fox, Sarcevic, Carey, Jervis(Smith), Kennedy(Tanner), Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Miller, Donaldson, Garita.
Derek Adams has revealed that he relishes in the rivalry between Argyle and Portsmouth as the two sides prepare for the biggest game of the season so far. Adams said: "Portsmouth are trying to gain automatic promotion, as we are. We are both in a similar situation. "We have both been able to put ourselves in a good place and they will be looking to win the game, as we are. I think that the rivalry has been good. The clubs are of a similar nature. Portsmouth have been in the Premier League and been in administration twice. Plymouth have been in the Championship and been in administration once. There are a lot of similarities. Both cities have got dockyards and both are well supported teams.
"The pitch is in fabulous condition and the players can pass the ball on it, unlike against Crawley where it became very difficult. It is a terrific atmosphere at Fratton Park. Their home supporters give them tremendous backing. We will have 2,500 away supporters and they will give us outstanding backing, as they did against Crawley. We know what a win would mean to them."
Adams also spoke highly of defensive utility player Yann Songo'o, claiming that his versatility has been key to Argyle's success this season, saying: "It is very beneficial. He has played over 40 games for us and he didn't play at all last season. He has shown a will to win. We saw that against Crawley last week where he won the ball in the middle of the park with a header and it led to our winning goal. He has been a big player for us this season and he can play equally well in both positions.
"He was able to experience what we went through last year, as a team, and how well we did. He has been here this season and been able to carry it on.
"We work on it. We have got to play in a different style at times and it's about getting results. We are in a results driven business and we have to close space down and the opposition, but we also have to be creative We have scored a good number of goals this season as well as defending strongly."
Gary Sawyer came back to Argyle to win promotion after having never had one on his CV thus far. He revealed his feelings on the matter as Argyle close in ahead of the game at Portsmouth. He said: “We had a good season before I came back, and last year was a good push at it; unfortunately we just missed out. This year, we’re getting towards it again. For me, personally, having grown up round here – all my friends and family are Plymouth fans – it would be massive for me to do it. I saw them get promoted two times when I was in the youth team. I’ve never actually had it myself. It is the reason I came back; when I left Orient, Argyle was the only place I wanted to go, knowing how big this club is and how big it should be. I’ve never had a promotion on my cv. I’ve been to Wembley twice but unfortunately not come through it. This would be the icing on the cake. At 31 years old, the chance has come later than I’d hoped it would, but it would be fantastic.”
Argyle's Good Friday fixture away at third placed Portsmouth will undoubtedly be a huge game for both sides but Derek Adams is refusing to play up the fixture. He said: “I do not think it is any bigger than any of the other ones. I think it is a big match; last season was the same in the play offs and in the league games there was a very good atmosphere. From our point of view we have to look after ourselves; we have to go there and try and win the match as we always do. We have put ourselves in a very good position. We have five games to go now and we need to collect four points from those five games to get ourselves automatically promoted. We have got a tough game against Portsmouth. They are always good games, we have had them this season and last season and it is a full house as well and live on the television. They are trying to gain automatic promotion as well and we are both in a similar situation. We have both been able to put ourselves in a good place and they will be looking to do the same as we are and win the match. It happens when you get clubs of a similar nature. Portsmouth have been in the Premier League; they have been in administration twice. Plymouth have been in the Championship, they have been in administration once. The clubs have got a lot of similarities; they have got both the dockyards and they are both well supported teams. That brings similarities, really making that good rivalry between the two clubs.
“I think it is highly unlikely that is going to happen on Friday. I do not think that you should get carried away about that; we have to look after ourselves and see how well we can do. It is not all about us at the weekend, there are other things we have to factor in - we have got a tough enough game at the weekend. We have not done anything yet, we have still got five games to go, and we have got a lot of hard work still to do. It is a terrific atmosphere for the supporters and it gives them tremendous backing, we will have two-and-a-half thousand away supporters and they will give us outstanding backing as they did last week against Crawley. They stayed in for long after the final whistle and we know what a win will mean to them.”
Argyle were boosted however by the news that Jakub Sokolik could be fit again for the fixture. Adams informed: "We have got the same squad as we have had for a couple of weeks now, so we are in good shape. Sokolik has trained and seemed to be okay, but we will see if there is any reaction."
Sonny Bradley and Graham Carey have been named in the EFL League Two team of the season, with Bradley going one further and being named in the EFL team of the season which stretches across all three divisions.
Derek Adams gave his explanation to the peculiar circumstance of substitute Craig Tanner being subbed off with minutes to go in the 2-1 win at Crawley. He said: "We just needed to get extra legs on the pitch and Jake gave us that. We changed our formation and tried to get a bit of width and pace down the sides. You have to make decisions and we have been able to from 1-1 to 2-1 given that width."
Derek Adams said how his side's win over Crawley epitomised their art of grinding out results even when the performance is not always there. He explained: “We found it difficult to get that opportunity and I think that’s credit to Crawley. They stopped us getting many opportunities on goal. I think the pitch didn’t help us today. It was very bobbly. Crawley also pressed well at times in the game. We didn’t have it our own way from a passing point of view. It was difficult for us to get the ball down and play. That’s credit to Crawley also. We score a good penalty kick. Sarcevic wins a second ball and is able to get past his man. I thought Sarcevic did really well; it’s a penalty kick. Graham Carey has been a magnificent player for us over the season, and he’s scored a very good penalty.
“In the end we’ve gone direct and been able to feed off a knock-down. We get a very good finish from Ryan Taylor. He did exceptionally well. He’s played well for us since come here. We brought him here to get important goals and he’s got a very important one today. He wanted to score, and when he gets into that channel, onto his left foot, you always fancy him to hit the target. It was important he did that at that stage of the game; it was probably one of the last opportunities for us.
“At this stage of the season, it’s all about winning,” said Derek. “It’s difficult coming up against a team like Crawley, who haven’t got much to play for. They didn’t trouble us in the second half. On goal, they didn’t have many opportunities. We didn’t have many in the first half, but I thought it was us who were going to try and get the victory. I think it’s a game that was very scrappy today, but in the end, we’ve just got to get over and win the match. Today was about grinding out a performance.”
The win against Crawley also chalked up a piece of history for Adams' side- the most away wins that they have ever accomplished in a league season with 13. The gaffer said of the achievement: “I’m very proud and I think the players are as well. It’s never easy coming away from home, but the players have shown great tenacity. They’ve got a will to win and they’ve gone to the last minute today. Overall, to come away with a victory away from home, set a club record, extend a lead between ourselves and fourth position to 12 points; it’s what we were here for today.
“Obviously to break a club record is important, but winning the game is of the utmost importance. We know that today, we had to win the match, and that’s what we’ve been able to do. We’ve got a big game next week against Portsmouth, and we’ll see how we go on from there. We have to go there and play the way we know we can do. It’s a beautiful pitch and a team that likes to play football. It’s got the makings of a great game. We’re four points ahead of Portsmouth in third position, and we need to keep on going.”
Goalscorer Ryan Taylor admitted that it had been a tough game in which he had got a rough ride from the Crawley defenders but that it was worth every minute of it for that last minute winner. Taylor: “It was a great result. Obviously, it wasn’t a pretty game but we got the three points in the end, which we needed. Sonny’s put a great little header through; I took a touch; a defender’s putting a bit of pressure on me from behind; and I’ve just lifted it over the goalkeeper. It was a great knockdown from Sonny and to get it that late in the game. It was great result for us because it was a sloppy game from start to finish. We didn’t play like we wanted to but, to get promoted, you’ve got to grind out games like that. I thought we showed some very good resilience to get the win. I’ve got a bit of bloody nose and a fat lip but that’s all part and parcel of being a striker in League Two, I guess. They had two big centre-halves that are very physical but the main thing is we got the result in the end. If I’m honest, it was a terrible game. It wasn’t really enjoyable to play in. Crawley made it horrible. We knew they were going to do that – we watched videos on them before the game and knew what they were going to be about, a physical side, as are most teams in this league. But we got the three points and that’s the main thing.
“It was a massive game for us. We knew there was a bit of pressure on it to keep that gap and we’ve done what we needed to do and got the three points. The fans are unbelievable. They have kept cheering throughout the game. It was a poor game to watch – I could feel that, playing in the game – but they kept cheering all the way through and I think they get what they wanted in the end with that result.”
Taylor also confirmed that whilst it is great to be part of the club at the moment, Argyle would show no hint of complacency as they close in on promotion: “It’s great to be part of the club at the minute. Things are looking very good. It’s up to us, now, to keep taking each game as it comes and try to win each and every game. We’ve got a few games to go and we all want to stay professional and look to finish strongly and get promoted. That’s the main aim. We’re taking each game as it comes. We have got five games left and we want to win every game. Nobody’s on holiday here. We move on quickly and get ready for the next game. It is going to be another tough game, as is every game in this league. We just need to get over the line now and get this football club promoted. I can’t wait. Hopefully, I’ll be playing. I’ve not played against Portsmouth since I left and I’ve not been to Fratton Park since I left. It’ll be a massive game; two very big clubs with a massive rivalry between the fans. It’s going to be a full-house and very noisy game. As a professional footballer, that’s what you want to be involved in. We’ve got two tough games coming up and we need to get two good results from them.”
Argyle have closed in on automatic promotion to League One with a last gasp 2-1 win over Crawley. The greens went behind in the first half but a Carey penalty after half-time levelled things up. After Crawley had Ryan Taylor converted a one vs one finish against the keeper in the 94th minute to send the away support into raptures. On Friday, if Plymouth Argyle better the result of Luton and equal the result of Stevenage then they will be promoted to League One. Argyle: McCormick, Miller(Tanner(Jervis)), Songo'o, Bradley, Sawyer, Fox, Threlkeld, Sarcevic, Carey, Kennedy(Garita), Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Smith, Spencer, Donaldson.
After Derek Adams' proclamation that Argyle were now out of the title race following their loss to Accrington, Sonny Bradle took a more optimistic stance. The defender said: “I didn’t know the manager had said that, to be honest! I know the gaffer is a winner, and I know deep down he will still believe we can win the title – as do all the boys. We still think we can go on and win it. do truly believe we can go on and win it. Obviously we have to rely on Doncaster getting beat, but they don’t have an easy run-in. They went to Grimsby and won 5-1 so you say ‘fair enough, well done,’ but in my opinion it is still all to play for. Nothing’s changed – that comes from the manager. Nothing has changed in training, we’re completely the same. Our ambition at the start of the season was to win the league title, and it still is. If we have the attitude that we can we can still win the league, and win as many games as we can, at the end of the season we should find ourselves in an automatic spot. There’s always motivation to have a good game. As a professional footballer you are expected to set standards and to perform not matter what position you are in.
“A lot of it is to do with keeping yourself fit, looking after your body, making the right lifestyle choices. When I‘m the position I am, as a centre-half, you are expected to be fit and strong. Being a centre-half is different to being an attacking player where you can be brought on in the last 20 in games. If you are a centre back and not in the team, you could go 30 or 40 games without getting a look in. You’ve seen it with players this season. I’d use Karleigh Osborne as an example. A very good player – I could see it in training – but when me and Bully were doing well at the start of the season, it was hard for him to get a game, and unfortunately he had to move on.”
Derek Adams explained the conundrum of having to fit a squad of 23 players into his 18 man matchday squad, explaining why some often have to miss out. Adams said: “We have assembled a very good squad; we have got great competition for places now. We have got six games remaining and we know what we’ve got to do, but the first game is Crawley on Saturday. At this moment in the season, we have got 23 players to chose from, which is great, and we have got very good competition for places. It was very useful, from a game point of view. We don’t play in a reserve league and it was an opportunity to give ten of my first-team players a run-out on the pitch. The players showed a very good attitude throughout the 90 minutes. All the players are fit now. A big part of playing the game was to give them an opportunity to play with first-team players and of pushing towards a first-team place. We have got a very good squad and they have shown the great attitude that they have got. Between now and the end of the season, the majority of them will get that opportunity. Every player at the football club has got opportunities. We have got a very good squad and it’s about working hard to get yourselves back into the plans; and the ones that are in the team have got to work hard to be there.
“If they get themselves back into full-time training, there are a good number of players who are well ahead of them. It’s not going to be possible for them, but we will get them back to full-time training as quickly as possible and give them the best opportunity.”
Derek Adams wants his team to feel and respond well to the burden of expectations in the coming games as he feels the pressure is to be expected at the top of the table. He said: “We need to play with that pressure because that’s what it is at the top end of the table and that’s where we want to be. We’ve put that on ourselves because of the good season we are having. The nearer you get to the end of the season, we’ve got a number of games we need to win to try to get ourselves automatically promoted. We have got to win on Saturday to break a club record of away wins in the league – we have already set it throughout all competitions – we have got a lot to play for; we want to get automatically promoted and we know the number of points we need to do that. It’s a game we are obviously looking to win. Crawley came down, two seasons ago, from League One and will probably be looking to push into the play-off positions next season.
“Crawley have got some decent players in their side but it’s about us, really – how we put the pressure on them. It’s important we continue our very good away form. We’ve won 23 games from 40 and want to continue that at Crawley. We’ve shown, this season, with the number of games that we have won, we can win games home and away. We have got four away games now; we have got only two at home. We have got a good home record, as well – only Doncaster and Colchester have won more games than us at home – so we have shown that, home and away, we can do very well. Performance-wise, we should have taken something from the Accrington game. We had four very good opportunities we probably could have scored with on another day: Graham Carey, Ryan Taylor, Oscar Threlkeld and Antoni Sarcevic were unfortunate not to have scored. We created more opportunities than Accrington, but we didn’t take them on the day. Our home form is up there with all the other teams who have won home games this season. We’ve got a good record of wins, and we’ve probably lost too many at home when we should have drawn. Win-wise, we’re up there with the best of them. The players have gathered a very good points total and we want to add to that. We have got a lot to play for, for a number of reasons, but the main aim is to get automatically promoted.”
Even though none of the players offered a professional development deal with Argyle went on to get professional contracts this summer, Adams still maintains the scheme is a worthy one. He stated: “The idea works. Obviously, the players that were given pro-development contracts have not been able to make the standard of a first-team player and that’s what it’s all about – the idea and the concept are good, but we have to have the quality of player coming through to progress to a first-team level. The players that are going to come in and get a pro-development contract...it has to be seen that they are going to progress over the next year to possibly get a first-team contract. We don’t want to keep players in the system just for numbers’ sake; we want to keep players in the system that we feel have got an opportunity of progressing to the first team. It’s getting tougher and tougher for them because the standard of the first team is improving.
“Obviously, they are playing in the Peninsula League, as well. We are always watching, always looking, keeping an eye on their progress. It’s important that we take in as many games as we possibly can, viewing them; we don’t see them much in training because they are at Tavistock. It’s up to us to see if the players who are not going to get first-team contracts deserve to get a pro-development contract and give them time to get to a first-team level.”
Argyle's next two away fixtures are against former clubs of Sonny Bradley- first Crawley and then Portsmouth. Argyle's defensive rock said of the match-ups: “I’m looking forward to it. I really enjoyed my time there at Crawley for two years. The club is run by some very good people. There is some good lads there, and I don’t mind speaking to them after the game, but before the game, during the game, the only thing I am concentrating on is helping my team get the three points. That’s at the top of my list. If we do that it will be all smiles after the game. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. Saturday is quite a sticky fixture. Crawley have been unpredictable this season. They aren’t in the greatest form, but you don’t know what can happen on the day and which Crawley team can turn up. It will be a tough game no doubt, but we have prepared well this week. If we perform like we have done away from home this season, we’ll be good.
“When you go back to your old club – to be fair I don’t know what sort of reception I’m going to receive – but it doesn’t really matter to me. You can guarantee that when I go to Portsmouth it will be ten times worse there! I fully respect Crawley Football Club; they did a lot for me, and I always gave my all when I was at the club. I don’t see why I would get stick there, but this is football. The only priority I have is going there and getting three points.
“My time at Portsmouth wasn’t too pretty. That season at Portsmouth wasn’t a good one for the club. The team never got going. I think I had a good first half of the season, I tried my best. Results weren’t going so well, and with managerial changes I found myself not getting in the team, and I left a year early. That’s just the way it goes in football sometimes. I had to deal with it; had to move on – and I went to Crawley. It didn’t go well straight away – I couldn’t get in the team for six months. Dean Saunders came in and gave me my chance, and I took it. Unfortunately that season we went down, but the season after Mark Yates gave me the captaincy, and it went on from there. I played every game last season. It wasn’t the greatest season but, with all the changes happening, the club would have taken it. It is fair to say that I had a better time at Crawley than I did Portsmouth, but I still respect both clubs. I want to win on Saturday so that it makes the trip to Portsmouth a little bit more comfortable. We could potentially secure promotion there. It is something to look forward to.”
Paul Wotton has said he believes Argyle's excellent away record to be a direct consequence of the amount of miles they spend on the road. He explained how he thinks the time is vital for essential team bonding, saying: “A massive part of it is the travelling. People look at it as a negative, but we spend so much time together that the lads get on great off the pitch, and I think that helps on the pitch. The biggest thing, for me, is togetherness, and the time we spend together. Our boys have never once moaned about the distance we travel; the manager has never moaned about it or used it as an excuse for tiredness. For us, it’s a positive. They spend a lot of time together; they are in each other’s company and, if you get on well off the pitch, it can only be a good thing on the pitch.
“Before the players are signed, a lot of work goes into finding out about their character, as well as their footballing ability. The changing-room is fantastic. We haven’t got any bad apples and the boys get on great; the boys who are out of the team support the boys who are in the team; they work extremely hard for each other and really do get on very, very well.
“Tactically, nothing changes, home or away but sometimes, in a player’s mentality, it can be easier, in many ways, to play away from home. You don’t seem to have as much pressure on you away from home as you do at home to win the game. Accrington was done and dusted at 4.50pm on Saturday and the sole focus this week to is going to Crawley and trying to get three points.”
Derek Adams and Graham Carey have been nominated for the manager and player of the month awards respectively for March, following an array of assists for Carey and 4 wins out of 6 for Argyle in the context of a tough fixture list.
Luke McCormick is looking for a big response at Crawley following the disappointing loss to Accrington and the club's patchy home form, saying: “There have been lots of question-marks about our form at home and I suppose, when you look at it, they are quite right, but I don’t think we can dwell on it. We have got six huge games now and we need to get over the line as quick as we can. We’ll put it to bed for now and go to Crawley, and hopefully we can get three points. We’re confident, when we go away from home, that we can produce the performance to win the game but – listen – it’s no good me sitting here saying we’re going to do this. The only thing that matters is, come Saturday afternoon, whether we actually do it. All the taking’s been done – it’s now down to actions.”
Paul Wotton rejected concerns that Argyle, somewhat unusually, have no Plymouth-born players in their team, claiming that you need to be first and foremost good enough to earn the shirt. Wotton said: "You have to earn your right to be in the team. Just because you are born in Plymouth it doesn't give you an automatic right to play for Plymouth Argyle. "What I would say is, what a great motivation it is for any 15, 16 or 17-years-old who are at the club and are from Plymouth to break into the first team squad. I have spoken many times about how proud I was to play for my home city club. It's a massive aspiration and the fans take to a local boy who does okay as well. It is a good motivation, definitely. It doesn't matter where you are from in the world. You have to earn your right to play for the club and to wear the shirt."
Derek Adams declared that a sluggish start cost Argyle dear in their game against Accrington and they did not do enough to win the game. He said: “I thought that Accrington started the game better than us. They were able to go ahead after eight minutes; we give away possession and a cheap free-kick – a good ball into the box that we didn’t defend well enough. They then had something to hold onto. I thought we didn’t start very well. In first half, we could’ve taken off eleven – or ten, as Luke [McCormick] didn’t have much to do. The other ten players in the first half did not perform. We could’ve taken off any of them, because the performance wasn’t good enough.
“Their goalkeeper’s had three world-class saves. We’ve had one cleared off the line as well, chasing the game. Did we deserve to take something from the game? I think we did. Did we do enough to win it? The answer’s no. We had opportunities but unfortunately, their goalkeeper has come in and their run of good form has coincided with his arrival.
“We were getting nothing and we just needed to try something. We tried a number of different things. It was just a period of the game where we needed to try and pick up the second ball. We got crosses in, we got things on target, but we weren’t able to find that equaliser. We had two players up front, we had full backs pushing on. We tried a variety of different options today, but the players weren’t good enough today. End of story.”
Adams also said that this game served as a wake-up call to all those who thought Argyle had promotion in the bag- but not before ruling the greens out of the title race: I’d already told the players what to expect of Accrington. They had been on an 11-game unbeaten run and they’re a good side. I know that Accrington are a very good side. I don’t think many people believed what I was saying in the midweek press conference, but they’ve shown today what a good side they are. I don’t think enough of my players believed what I was saying to them, about how good Accrington have been. I think a number of their players are in very good form and they’ve been able to get the victory. It’s a wake-up call for everybody at the football club. It’s not just the players. We hear all the plaudits around the place; we’ve still got a job to do. We’ve still got 18 points to play for and we’re 10 points ahead. We’re out of the title race now. Six points behind, Doncaster have got a better goal difference; that’s out of the question now. We’ve got to try and gain that automatic promotion, but we’ll have to play a lot better than we did today. The finishing line is there, but you’ve got to do it. Today, we didn’t play well enough. I thought that today, Accrington did a job on us.”
Luke McCormick was full of praise for his Slovakian counterpart Marek Rodak who was in goal for Accrington and made several key saves that kept Argyle out. McCormick said: “He’s won the match for them, without a doubt. They got the early goal and they did what they needed to do to hang on to it. They’ve had to rely on their goalkeeper at times, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. We’ve had games when we’ve done the same. I thought we weren’t good enough in our decisions, and we were wasteful at times. Having said that, we have created chances and I can appreciate their goalkeeper making some tremendous saves. Had he not been in that sort of form today, then we would be sat here with a completely different story. It one of those things; we have to, unfortunately, take it on the chin.
“If you dissect the goal right the way back, it’s more than just the smallest player on the pitch heading the ball. We set up to head the ball clear; we didn’t do that; and we paid the price.”
He added regarding Argyle's consistency: ‘Disappointed’ is an understatement, to be honest. We came in to the game; we knew the importance of it, especially backing it up after last week’s result. Unfortunately, we’ve shown that inconsistency that we’ve done on a couple of occasions this season, which adds to the disappointment. I can’t put my finger on it personally. Today, it just felt like there weren’t enough of us really at it, to be honest. When that’s the case, it’s very difficult to carry anybody. We weren’t good enough today – that’s the bottom line. It was a time for actions, not words, and unfortunately, those actions weren’t good enough.
“We have had highs and lows and you have to keep that balance. We work very hard and we’ll continue to keep working hard. If you do what you always do, you’ll get what you always get, so we’ll just have to keep doing what we do with six games to go. The fans tried lifting us and, in the second half, we did create chances – we did have a lot of the play – but still our decisions weren’t great; and Accrington created some themselves. We’ll take what we need out of it. Maybe it was the kick up the backside we need.”
Argyle's hopes of sealing promotion in the coming weeks have suffered a slight dent with a 1-0 home loss to Accrington Stanley. A header in the 8th minute from former trialist Jordan Clarke was the game's only goal. Argyle however maintain a ten point gap over fourth place. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Sokolik, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Carey, Sarcevic, Jervis(Songo'o), Kennedy(Taylor), Spencer(Blissett). Subs: Dorel, Donaldson, Slew, Sawyer.
Argyle have revealed that Ryan Lane, Ben Steer, Billy Palfrey and Jack Calver are all being released at the end of their professional development contracts this summer. The quartet have been mainstays of the Pilgrims' side in the South West Peninsula League this season. The former apprentices were offered professional development contracts at the end of last term as part of a new scheme. It was intended to bridge the gap between academy and first team football. Derek Adams said: "We were pleased that we were able to help Jack, Ryan, Billy and Ben progress their careers for another year but we will not be offering them a further contract. We thank them for their contribution to the club, on and off the pitch, over the years, and wish them every success in their future ventures."
Derek Adams preached caution ahead of Argyle's home game against Accrington on Saturday and said that it would be, if anything, tougher than the game against Doncaster last weekend. He said: “We’ve got an extremely difficult game. Accrington have gone 11 games unbeaten; they played really well the other night against Cambridge; and they’ve got a team that’s high in confidence. So this will probably be a more difficult game for us than Doncaster, and I think that Doncaster was a difficult game.
“They have been able to put a good run together and they have a system of play, now, that suits them, and we know they are back to playing the way they were last season. They play on the counter attack; they’ve got some technically some very good players and we will have to be careful of that.”
Adams added his hope that the Green Army crowd would see the players over the line as they did in the last match against Morecambe, saying: “The thing about what they did that day was that they knew how big a game it was. They understood what we are trying to do and they understood what players were trying to do, and we worked together as a unit. That’s important. As a football club, we’ve all got to go in the right direction, and the right direction is where we what to get automatically promoted. We’ve got a home crowd that can be very impatient at times and that puts pressure on the players. That’s not the right way to be; it’s about trying to finish the campaign in a strong mind. For a number of years now, they’ve had disappointments and we want give them huge high. We’ve got seven games to do that.”
Czech defender Jakub Sokolik revealed that he is delighted with the start he has made at Home Park since joining from Southend in January. He said: "I'm enjoying it very much here. I'm getting game-time, and that's the most important thing for me as a player, to develop further and further. But I'm also enjoying living in the city, and the people at the club are nice. Every game we have been progressing a little bit further. I think it's going well. You see it every day. Someone comes up to you and says 'brilliant result' or 'hopefully we are going to make it'. It's good. If the fans are behind you it's always better. They can you help you in the games with their shouting.
"Promotion is always good. It doesn't matter how you are going to get it, whether it's first place or third, but to be champions is special. I think everybody in our changing room wants to be a champion and wants to win games, so I think we have got a good chance. We have had some good wins recently so we just have to keep going."
Sonny Bradley hopes to continue his goalscoring streak for Argyle and hopes to hit a figure of ten goals for the season: "It's possible, I don't see why not. I have just got to keep going. Maybe we will mix up our set pieces and try something different to keep the opposition guessing. I think if we keep working on it, and the deliveries keep coming in like they are, then I don't see no reason why I can't score more. It's a feeling that you can't really explain. It's amazing. It's a bit of a blur at first. You just make a good contact with the ball."
With players such as Nauris Bulvitis, Craig Tanner, Paul-Arnold Garita and Connor Smith currently unable to break into Argyle's matchday squad, Derek Adams has said what the quartet have to do to make their way back into the first team: "Bulvitis, Tanner, Garita and Smith are the ones that just have to keep on pushing and try to get themselves into the team. They are behind the other ones at this moment in time. They have to push on and catch my eye in training, and really deserve that opportunity to get into the 18. The ones that are in the 18 at this moment in time deserve to be there."
Luke McCormick was the man to take the plaudits after Argyle's 1-0 victory at top of the league Doncaster Rovers on Sunday but he was as keen as ever to turn the spotlight onto a good team performance, saying: "We played as a real tight unit, going forward and defending; we all played a part. It’s a good working unit that we have. I’m fortunate that I have the lads in front of me and they want to go and defend. We’re good when we can sit and frustrate teams, as we did, say, for Liverpool. We filled the gaps and made it very difficult. I think that is when we are at our best really because we can go forward and counter, and, as you saw in the second half, we had a couple of good chances. It’s part of our strengths. It was good that we were able to pull off what we worked on throughout the week. The boys are happy. There’s a good feeling around the place which is bound to be the case we’re off the back of a very good win against a team at the top of the table and a very important one in terms of our work towards our goal.
“Everyone gets on. That’s what’s important, particularly being at a club like ours, where you sort of rely on each other. It’s definitely contributed to how well we have done this year.”
Sonny Bradley however joined his manager in eulogising McCormick's performance. The defender said: “We needed Luke. I haven’t got enough to say about Luke – I could be here all day. His performance today was outstanding – a man of the match performance. It’s performances like that in a season which will get you promoted. I think it was Matty Blair who went past us and got the cross in. John Marquis is alive in the box and can sometimes pop up and it’s gone straight to his head, great contact, and Luke’s had to make an unbelievable save. We don’t know how he’s done it, but he has done it. It is a big performance, a big save, and a big three points which he’s probably got us today.
“You can’t explain how much difference it makes – it really does – when you have got someone like Luke, full of experience. He isn’t fazed by anything. He’s loud; you know he’s behind you. If a ball comes into the box and you hear ‘Luke’s ball’, you get out of the way because he will come and collect it every single time. In this division, especially, the ball gets lumped into the box a lot, and that’s what you need. Without him this season, we wouldn’t be in the position we are.”
Bradley also rejected the notion that Argyle's win at Doncaster was boring, claiming that often a somewhat attritional style is necessary to secure a win: We’re delighted. We knew they had a good home record but we’re also very good away. We’ve proved already, against teams that play football, that we can sit in and grind out a result and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Sometimes it’s not all about playing amazing football and playing the other team off the pitch; sometimes it’s about sitting in and defending properly. We’ve done that on numerous occasions this season. I don’t think there was ever a point in the game when we felt comfortable. They had two up front, never gave us time on the ball; they had a high press from the first minute. It was a just a case of grinding it out. We knew, coming here, that we weren’t going to outplay them. We know that, especially at home, they are very good; they move the ball well; they create chances. So it was just a case of digging in, defending for our lives and nicking a chance from a free-kick or a corner. If we were going to win the game, we felt that we had to score from a set-piece, and we worked on them this week. We just got a little bit of a block on their defender; I’ve gone round the back, where I’ve gone a lot this season, and it’s a great ball in. All I had to was to make contact with the ball. I didn’t feel I had to do much, just get contact and hit the target and there was no chance of the ’keeper saving it. That was our game-plan; we’ve executed it perfectly. We’ve got the three points and that’s another brick in the wall when it comes to our promotion push. I think a couple more wins will see us over the line.”
The league two player of the season shortlist has been released without an Argyle player on there with John Marquis and James Coppinger of Doncaster joining Luton's Danny Hylton. Derek Adams was surprised at the developments, claiming Argyle deserved a representative on the list. He said: "I was surprised none of our players were on it. We've had a number of top performers this season, but everyone's entitled to a vote and the ones in the top three have done well this season. There's no doubt you want to be nominated and if you look at Graham Carey, with amount of assists and goals he's had this season, he's done exceptionally well. We've had a number of players in the squad I think deserved to not only be in the team of the year, but the top-three individuals as well."
Derek Adams has responded to comments made by Darren Ferguson who said that his Doncaster side 'annihilated' Argyle in the game. Adams did not take offence from the comments instead claiming they were a sign of 'respect': "I don't have a problem. Managers make comments, we all do it, and we just get on with it. There's only one more team in English league football won more games than us this season and that's Newcastle. That just shows you how well we've done, but it's a wee bit of respect he's shown us as well because he's talked about us so many times this week and he's giving us that respect. When a manager from the opposition speaks about the other team they're showing a good bit of respect".
Derek Adams declared himself delighted with Argyle's crunch victory at Doncaster and rejected the notion that luck played a significant part in the victory. Adams said: “They weren’t good enough to break us down. You have got to be better than your opposition and they weren’t better than us today. They haven’t been better than us over the two games; we have scored three goals against them and they haven’t scored any. That would tell you that Doncaster haven’t been better than us over the two games – they haven’t done enough to win them; they haven’t had enough creativity; they haven’t had enough goalscorers; they haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet against us. So they haven’t been good enough against us. Easy as that.”
Sonny Bradley is now on 7 goals for the season after netting the winner at Doncaster- and he isn't finished yet, saying: “I want more now. Confidence is building; I feel good; and with the deliveries we have got...Foxy and Graham’s deliveries are spot on and all you have to do is make the right run and good contact. You don’t have to go out of your way. When the ball comes in like it does and you make a good run, it’s a goal every time. I’ll press on for some more goals this season; if I can, hopefully they’ll be part of more wins; if we do that, hopefully we’ll go up. I’ve just got to keep going, keep working on the set-pieces; mix it up; try something different; keep the opposition guessing. If we keep working on it and the deliveries keep coming in like they are, then I don’t see any reason why I can’t score any more.
“I’ve had chances at home. I’ve hit the bar; I’ve hit the post; a couple wide. They just haven’t gone for me. When you look back, they all seem to be pretty important goals. I think everyone will be happy with me, going back today.
“I don’t know where the knee-slide came from,” he said. “I felt my hamstring straight afterwards and I thought ‘Why have you done that?’ but I got up and the lads were celebrating with me. It’s a great feeling and, when you get that feeling, you want it again. And again. And again.”
His manager said of the goal: : “We have got very good delivery and very good height in the team. It was a great ball in from Graham Carey, a wee bit of movement in the box, and it allowed Sonny to be free. He has been a big player for us this season; he’s defended well; he’s really grown in confidence as the weeks go by; and he’s allowed himself to score a good few important goals. Greg Strong said he should score more goals because of the presence he has. We have very good delivery from set-plays and it’s given him the opportunity to do that.”
Bradley however was not the player for whom Adams reserved his strongest praise- that being goalkeeper Luke McCormick who made a string of superb saves to keep Doncaster out. Adams eulogised:“He made two very good saves at important times in the game – that’s what he’s there for and he was exceptional today,” he said. He’s the captain of the team and he’s a great presence for us. The two saves he made in the game for us were at important times. This was probably his busiest game this season.”
Argyle have closed in on promotion from League Two and thrown the title race wide open with a very impressive 1-0 win over Doncaster. Sonny Bradley scored the game's only goal from a Graham Carey corner in the 50th minute and Argyle's rearguard effort for the remainder of the second half held firm. Argyle are on the brink. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Sokolik, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Carey(Blissett), Sarcevic, Jervis, Kennedy(Songo'o), Spencer(Taylor). Subs: Dorel, Sawyer, Donaldson, Slew.
Derek Adams has said that he would like to win the league on the way out of League Two rather than merely come 2nd or 3rd. As a previous title winner, Adams said he believes this side has what it takes: “From my point of view, I would like to try to win the league. I have been fortunate in my managerial career so far that I have won two leagues, so I know what that is all about. We will have to go to Doncaster and put on a good performance, because we have to win the game to have an opportunity of getting that. This league is very difficult to read. You can see, by teams putting winning runs together and teams putting losing runs together, that anything can happen. There are eight games to go and there are 24 points to be played for. We all know what we have got to do. After Saturday’s games, ourselves and Doncaster will know what has happened to everybody else and we will know what we have to do.”
Antoni Sarcevic says he is determined to play a part in the final 8 games of Argyle's season as they seek promotion to League One, in spite of an injury that has caused him to miss games for Argyle since joining. The midfield man said: “It was a massive frustration and it’s one that I was really gutted about because I was doing well and scoring goals. It was bit of a frustrating setback. I was very worried; the day after it happened, we assessed it and luckily it was one that wasn't too bad. I just did everything I could to make sure that could back as soon as I could. I was in everyday doing doubles just making sure that I had done everything to get back because to me these are the games that I want to be involved in and like I said I want to be involved in every game now to end the season.
“I’m not anywhere near like I was, fully fit with the ankle, but as long as I know it’s enough to get me out there I’ll be out there helping the team. It’s nothing bad; it’s just obviously still bit of a little niggle, but it’s nothing to keep me out. When you come in January you want to play every game. That’s what I want to do; do everything I can to make sure that we get that promotion at the end of the season. It means pushing your body through it for seven weeks - then you can enjoy the summer.”
Derek Adams believes Sky Sports viewers are in for a treat when top of the league Doncaster take on second placed Argyle on Sunday. He said: When Sky come down to League Two and look at the fixtures, they have been able to pick up a very good one. We are going to take a large away support with us. It's a good game. We have got the best away record in the league against the team that has got the best home record. Doncaster have done very well at home, winning 13 games and they have drawn six so from that point of view they have got a bit of confidence. But on our travels we have done really well and been able to win 11 games. If we win on Sunday that's 12 and equals our target from last season. We are very confident on the road. We have got a style of play away from home that suits us. At home, we beat them 2-0 so we have got the confidence of knowing that we can beat them."
Derek Adams was delighted to see both Sonny Bradley and Graham Carey make the League Two official team of the season but said more than just two of his players could have made the cut. He said: “I thought there might have been couple more that would have pushed into the team of the year but to have two nominated by the players of other teams is fantastic for the two of them. They have all performed well again this season. Sonny Bradley, after coming in at the start of the season, has played nearly every match for us, and Graham Carey has played exactly the same as last year and probably added a wee bit more to his game. His work-rate is certainly getting better and, off the ball, he has worked extremely hard for the team – I think his team-mates appreciate that – and he has been able to score and assist with many goals this season. Sonny has been part of a defence that has kept a good number of clean sheets this season and he’s been able to organise them very well.
“There are a lot of big matches to come between now and the end of the season. Every one of the eight are going to be good games and there will be a good atmosphere at all the matches including at Doncaster on Sunday, which is a big game for both clubs. We know that three points allows us to get back into that title-push; three points is massive in this league and we will be going there trying to get them.”
David Fox admitted that maintaining Argyle's recent form would put them within touching distance of promotion to League One- and, like his manager, stated his pleasure that the run of Saturday-Tuesday matches is coming to an end. Fox said: “If we keep that sort of form up for the next few weeks, we will be where we want to be. If you’d have given us that many points before the week started, we’d have taken it – Carlisle lost at Mansfield today and it’s a tough place to go; Wycombe are just outside the play-offs. We can be pleased with our week. We’ve had a real hectic period and we’ve stretched the gap, which is good and now we’ll get a week’s recovery and rest, ready for a big game next week.
“It’s been basically game-recovery-game-recovery and we’ve needed everyone. I thought the subs were very good today when they came on, just like Bliss was on Tuesday night, and we are going to need everyone until the end of the season because a lot of lads have played a lot of games.”
Another area of agreement with his manager was on the role of the Green Army in the crucial victory against Morecambe, citing the magnificent fans: “I thought the fans were magnificent in the second half. We have had some nervy moments at home this season but I thought they were brilliant; they really did push us on. It makes such a difference when they are like that; it really saw us through. It is a difficult time of the season – there’s a lot of pressure – and I thought they were exactly what we needed; they are really loud, really vocal, didn’t stop, and it put us over the line. It really did make a big difference. We are always capable of winning away from home – we always fancy ourselves away from home because we have got grit and determination; it is the home games where I think we have let ourselves down But it’s a two-way street – if we can put in performances like that and battle away like we did, then the fans will definitely stick with us.
“We have got three games left at home and those three games will be massive for us; if we’re all in it together, it makes such a difference. These seasons don’t come along very often, for players, for fans. There have been a lot of tough times down here and I think everyone has to really enjoy it, embrace it.”
David Fox revealed a great deal of satisfaction with Argyle's gritty 1-0 win over Morecambe. In spite of a second half wobble, he praised Argyle's character and their excellent first half display. Fox said: “It’s a very satisfying result. At this time of the season, you pick up your three points and you get yourself on to the next game – that’s all that matters. I thought, first half, we were terrific – we were really dominant; in the second half, I thought we started sloppy and let Morecambe back into it, but we saw the game out okay. We’d have liked to have got a second goal in the first half – I think our dominance probably deserved a second goal; it wasn’t to be, but we got the three points. Obviously, we would have liked to have put in a performance in the second half like the first, but Morecambe have had a good record away from home this year, so it was a good victory for us. We probably spent 15 minutes at half-time saying ‘we’ve got to stay at it – they are going to come at us’. We just made silly little mistakes, then the crowd get nervous and it sort of has this knock-on effect, but we did see the game out. We always feel that, if we keep a clean sheet, we have got a real good chance of winning the game. I thought we could have maybe had a little bit more in the final third that would have got us a second goal but I’ll wake tomorrow and see that we’ve got the three points. At this stage of the season, three points is all that matters. People will be looking at it, seeing that we won again, and we move on to next week, and after that, we will move on again.
“It’s probably the hardest eight games we’ll have because of everything that comes with it but it’s about keeping calm, keeping your mind and your focus, and going out there and doing your jobs. If we can go out there and do our jobs for eight games, we’ll hopefully be where we want to be.”
Derek Adams praised an excellent week in which Argyle got 7 points from a possible 9 and appeared to be hitting form at just the right time. Adams: “I think that the players were coming off of a very confident week. Going away to Mansfield and a draw against Wycombe, we knew that today was an important game for us. To win that match was vital, and we’ve been able to do that. We’ve had a great week. You see Mansfield winning 2-0 today. To go to Wycombe – they’ve won 2-0 today – and then to play against a team like Morecambe who’ve done well away from home; it just shows you.
“We’ve won 22 games this season out of 38, and it shows you what a good squad we have. We’ve got everybody coming back to fitness now. We had four players playing in the Peninsula team today, in the reserve squad. We need a squad going into these last eight games of the season. It’s important we keep everybody fit and ticking away. The players are going to have a couple of days off now because we don’t play until Sunday. Then we’ll come back in on Tuesday. Because we’ve trained solidly for a period of time – I think it was nearly 14 days we trained or played – we need a wee break. It’ll be a great game at Doncaster. It’s an opportunity to go up there and try and get the win that would close the gap between ourselves and them.”
Finally Adams paid tribute to the role of the Green Army in lifting the team as the game went into its last ten minutes. He said: “The Green Army supported us from start to finish and it really helped. They must have known the scores! It just shows you: we’ve got an intimidating atmosphere here at times. The players play to that. You’ve seen here today that it’s important that we’re all in it together. I thought today, the amount of backing we had from them; they’re in a good place at this moment in time. They’ve been able to see their team put on a good show for them today. We’ve been able to open up a points gap between ourselves and third position,” said Adams, “and we’re still on the tail of Doncaster as well. We’ve got to take care of ourselves, but obviously when you look at the other results, it shows you how important a win it is today for us.”
Argyle have opened up an 11 point lead over 4th place in League Two with a hard fought 1-0 win over Morecambe. Graham Carey's 17th minute long range goal proved to be the difference between the two sides. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Sokolik, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Sarcevic(Songo'o), Carey, Jervis, Kennedy(Slew), Spencer(Taylor). Subs: Dorel, Sawyer, Donaldson, Blissett.
Gary Miller urged caution and a 'smart' style of play as Argyle take on mid-table Morecambe at the weekend. The full-back explained: “Morecambe beat us last game and we’ll be hoping to play well on Saturday. They’ll know they beat us last time so don’t see why they wouldn’t be trying to do it again, especially if they need some points. Teams will come here; they’ll want to beat us because we are doing so well.
“It’s getting to that stage in the season now where everybody needs points. People will be making promotion pushes and teams will be fighting to move out of relegation zones. Teams come here and the more they sit in we’ll try harder and then they’ll counter. It’s maybe being a bit smarter rather than trying to force something through and take it from there. I think you look at the Carlisle game, we soaked up pressure. Our counter attacks that day were pretty deadly and we ended up winning. I think the fans maybe expect us to win games a bit easier but as in football it’s never like that.”
Gary Miller spoke about his return to first team a ction this week and gave details on the injury that saw him miss out on two months action to begin with. The Scotsman said;“It was good to get on against Mansfield and obviously we saw out the 2-0 win. Against Wycombe it was good to get back starting. I felt fine during the game and was quite comfortable, fitness-wise I felt quite good so I think it was just the travelling back after the game where my legs were a wee bit sore. I feel fine now, we’ll train today and build towards Saturday and then go from there. The gaffer wanted to get me on at Mansfield because the longer you are not playing you are thinking about your ankle so he just wanted to get me on and ready to play.
“I have done a similar injury before. I was just coming down from a header and he bumped my leg and that was it. Obviously my weight came down on it, I just felt like I couldn’t move my leg. I managed to get home for a week for some rest and recuperation, just to settle and not be moving on it, then came back and started working straight away. We progressed together in the gym, on the bikes and swimming, and built up from there. Connor Smith would force me to get through it and it was good to have somebody trying to motivate and help you as well. It’s never great to be injured, but when somebody has got a similar injury and you’re both doing the same thing it helps a bit.”
Derek Adams admitted he is pleased to come to the end of a gruelling schedule for Argyle but looked ahead to the game against Morecambe with a sense of caution, saying: “It has been a very intense period of time with a lot of games and a lot of travelling. We’re coming to the end of it, and we’ll go back to playing Saturday football. I think every team in this league finds it difficult – League One is exactly the same – because of the amount of games you have to cram in. Add to that the Checkatrade Trophy; we’ve had FA Cup replays; we’ve had a lot of games this season. It looks like we have important games coming thick and fast. We’ve been able to take in players that have enhanced the squad, and when we have had injuries we’ve been able to replace them as well. That’s very positive. Coming to the last nine games of the season we are getting to a stage where we could have 23 players to call on. Last season we weren’t able to do that. We’ve been able to add players within the budget that has allowed us to replace like for like. You need players that know how to deal with the pressure. We have many of those in the squad. The other night, Ryan Taylor and Gary Sawyer were out injured, and we were able to put in Jimmy Spencer and Gary Miller, who had played a good number of games this season, had been out injured but acquitted themselves really well.
“We’re in a fantastic position. With nine games to go, we know what we’ve got to do to get ourselves automatically promoted. We’ve got to win football matches. We’ve got nine games; we have to pick up enough points in those nine games to get us over the line. We’ve got a lot of hard work still to do. We know how many wins we need form these games to get automatically promoted, but we’ve got to go and do it, starting with Morecambe this Saturday. They have gone to Carlisle, Doncaster and Portsmouth this season and drawn three games. That tells you how well they have done away from home. We know how well we can play at home as well, and we will do that this Saturday. Our defeat at Morecambe was a strange game. We started very well, then they scored and had the upper hand in the match. We had Jordan Slew sent off for a second booking, and it was a difficult afternoon after that.”
Finally of the players who are coming back from injuries, Adams said: “Gary was really struggling with his Achilles injury. He wasn’t running properly. At this stage of the season everyone wants to try to play games. We just had to think of the team on that night. We’ll try to see this morning if they are able to train, and see how they are looking. We’ll see how they are – I’m not ruling them out or in, I just need to see what they are like. Connor Smith is progressing well. He is back in full training and looking good. He is getting over the ankle injury and starting to run a lot better now. It’s going to be difficult for them to get straight into the squad. I wouldn’t say definitely not, but I wouldn’t have thought so. They have to jump ahead of the ones who are already there.”
Derek Adams was delighted with Argyle's point against Wycombe and in particular Nathan Blissett who took his chance off the bench after a spell on the sidelines. He said: “I’m delighted. To go to two difficult venues is a tough ask and we’ve come away with four points. We’ve got to be really happy with that. We went to Luton, as well, and took a point, so, on our travels, we keep on doing well and we’re happy with that. It’s a difficult venue to come to at the best of times and to go 1-0 down...we were disappointed at that because I thought that Wycombe started the game better than us. In the first half, they probably shaded it. In the second half, we get our goal and then have a lot of impetus going forward. We created a lot of chances in the second half without being able to get that killer second.
“For Nathan Blissett to score the equaliser was fantastic because he’s come in here and he’s going to be a big player between now and the end of the season. He gained in confidence after the goal and he got himself in good areas in and around the box. He’s been one that we’ve worked on in training and given him the right time to get that opportunity. It was up to me, as a manger, to try to bed him in and take my time. I could have thrown him in earlier, but he wasn’t ready. Fitness-wise, he’s improving, because the way we train and the way we play is different from a lot of clubs. When we scored, there was a change in the tide and we went and tried to get that second goal. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that goal but if you’d asked before the game if I would have taken a point, I would have because we’re away from home. It’s a great point. You can’t win every game away from home. We’d love to, but when you are 1-0 down and coming to a team that are trying to get into the play-off places, at some time in the game you have got to take a point.”
He added: “I said to the players: ‘We didn’t start quickly enough and then, in the second half, when we get the goal, it looks like you can run all day.’ The energy that we had in the closing stages of the game was unbelievable. We have had a very tough schedule; Wycombe have had an easier schedule than us – they have not played the same number of games Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday – so, from that point of view, it just shows you how fit these lads are. I thought Gary Miller did really well at right-back – he was excellent tonight – and Jimmy Spencer coming in up front: two players who have been out for a while and you couldn’t tell. We need to keep on working hard. The players know that. They have shown their character tonight and that’s very good.”
Blissett added of his first goal for the club: “It was a great feeling. I’ve been itching to get some playing time and help the boys with the promotion push and that’s the best way I can, so I’m happy with the goal. I’ve had to bide my time. When I came here – I’ll be honest – I wasn’t fit for this level, and I’ve had to dig myself in, plant my feet, get a foundation and get myself into the team. Hopefully, the gaffer has seen what I can do now in a proper league game and hopefully I get a few more.
“All I remember is Sonny Bradley saying ‘Get to the back post’ because he was having problems with a defender, so I was hung out a bit, saw the flight of the ball, and literally just got my head on it. To be fair, I thought it was going over, but it looped in. I just wanted to get back playing again. I didn’t even celebrate properly. I’ll think about it on the way back and enjoy it then. There’s still a lot of work to do. Really we should be coming here, trying to win games, but we’ll take the point and get going for Saturday.
“I’m not sure what it is on Tuesday nights but we seem to start slowly and ease ourselves into the game a bit – at this level, you can’t do that. So we had to dust ourselves down at half-time, try to up the tempo and create something for ourselves. We did that in the end.”
Argyle are one step closer to promotion following a 1-1 draw against Wycombe at Adams Park. The home side took the lead early on before a Nathan Blissett goal from the bench levelled things up. Argyle maintain a ten point lead over 4th. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Sokolik, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Sarcevic(Blissett), Carey, Jervis, Spencer(Slew), Kennedy(Songo'o). Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Tanner, Donaldson.
Graham Carey believes Argyle are calm and have nothing in the way of late-season jitters as they approach the final furlong of the season: “We’re calm. We know, in this league, it’s tough; you’re going to lose games, but we have picked up enough wins to put ourselves in a great position and it’s important that us and the fans all realise that we’ve got the same end-goal. We have got a ten-point gap to fourth but we are looking up and hopefully we can close the gap on Doncaster. You never know – it is obviously still possible to win the league. Our main goal is to get promoted but, if we can go and challenge and win the title, as well, that would be great. If you gave us a ten-point gap on fourth at this stage of the season, at the start of the season, with the amount of players we brought in during the summer, we would have snapped your hand off, and I think the fans would have done the same.”
Carey also revealed he wanted to win promotion to repay Derek Adams' trust in his abilities, explaining the close relationship the pair have: “One of the main reasons why I came to the club was because I’ve played for him before and he really gives me a lot of confidence and lets me play with a lot of freedom. Once I work hard off the ball, he pretty much gives me a licence, not to do whatever I want, but to roam and get on the ball. It is always great when the manager and staff back you and hopefully, we can repay him because he has done a great job over the last two years and now we just need to kick on and get promotion. That has been the goal for the last two seasons and hopefully we can finish the job off for him.
“The combination of our backroom staff is great. The combination of experience and youth, in Wottsy – who has played at a great level and knows what it is like to get promoted – is important. The gaffer, as well, knows what it is like to get promoted. To have them in the dressing-room is a great bonus.”
Captain Luke McCormick will move into the top 20 appearance holders of all time as Argyle play Wycombe on Tuesday- but the skipper hastened to add there are more important things at stake, saying: “I’ve said, from day one, that I feel very privileged to play for this football club and rack up as many games as I have. It is something I am extremely proud of. It is something I will hold very dearly to my heart. I was made aware of the 300-mark and also the time that I overtook Romain, which was something that I never ever thought I’d achieve. I still hold Romain in very high esteem and he seemed to be there for years and years and years, so it makes me feel quite old!
“I think is something I will look back on, concentrate more on, when I do finish playing, and think ‘I’m actually quite pleased with that’. At the moment, there are a lot more important things.”
Derek Adams is expecting a fierce test when Argyle play Wycombe tomorrow- a game which has produced a strong rivalry over the past few seasons. He said: "It's an important game for us. We have got 10 games to go now where we have got to try to pick up as many wins as we possibly can from here on in. The two clubs have been in the division for a number of years ago, and they have come up against each other in the play-offs. They are always entertaining games. It was earlier on in the season in a 3-3 draw. I don't see it being any different this time. They are two good sides. Yes, Wycombe try to get the ball into Akinfenwa as quickly as possible but who wouldn't? That's what we have to deal with."
The aftermath of the game was dominated by a bizarre spat between the two managers- Steve Evans and Derek Adams both laying into eachother in their respective post match interviews. Evans said of Adams: "The supporters have been magnificent. They've stuck behind the team and they've seen a good performance today. They will be as disappointed as I am. That's the lowest I've been since I became the gaffer here because we didn't deserve that, but then again we've come up against the best manager in British football. It's the best football played here in five years. I'm not being funny. Plymouth are a very good team and we've made them look a very poor team. Their manager will say something different about character, but he talks nonsense. When somebody tells you in the tunnel they're the best manager outside the Premier League it's hard to palate that. He failed last year, he's got a huge budget this year and that was a big result for them today, so we'll give him the credit. He gets back on his bus, he's got terrific players, he's got an excellent assistant in Craig Brewster, who worked for me, a good man, but you can't be telling people you're the best in the business. I wonder why he's not working in Scotland.
"I see the best manager outside the Premier League's got his team up there in second. If that had been me at the start of the season, playing last year with Plymouth's resources we'd have been in League One. From that point of view, we can't allow ourselves to get too low. The performances are very good."
Adams responded coolly however, denying the allegations made by Evans. He said: "I don't think that's quite right. Steve is one of these guys that talks a lot and tells a few fibs along the way. Listen, we are not best pals after the game. It is 90 minutes of football and we each want to win. We are both Scottish. We have had words and that's the way it is, but what he said is untrue."
Derek Adams heaped praise on his Argyle players following their 11th away win of the season, labelling it an 'outstanding' performance. He gushed with praise for his players after the game: “It was our best performance of the season,” said a visibly buzzing Adams after the game.“It was an outstanding performance from start to finish. The eleven that started the game, the eleven that finished the game; it was terrific. They didn’t really trouble us all afternoon. It was dominant defending from start to finish. It was just a top-class performance from a group of players who have done exceptionally well this season. The run that Mansfield were on – we were all told about that. We’ve kept a clean sheet and scored two goals against them, so that tells you how good the afternoon was. We were in total control of the game, from the first minute to the last minute. Really, throughout the 90 minutes, did they work Luke McCormick? The answer is no, and we’ve come away with three points It was just a thoroughly top-class performance, and the fans here were exceptional. The backing they gave us from start to finish: it just shows you when you give your team the backing they showed us today, the players really respond to that.
“We’re looking to continue the form that we’re on. We’ve won 21 games this season out of 36 games. It’s a tremendous points total to have and we’ll just keep on going. It’s another midweek game for us. We’ve had a busy schedule, but to do as well as we’ve done through the busy schedule, through the ones that we’ve had out injured; it just shows you how good a squad we are.”
Graham Carey once again starred for Argyle in the win, leading Adams to label his talismanic Irishman as 'the best player in the league': “Graham Carey is the best player in the league. There’s no doubt about it. He’s got the ability to play. He’s without doubt the most talented, creative player. He’s played in a lot of games this season; a lot of assists, a lot of goals – he is the best player in this league.I thought the back four did really well. Yann Songo’o just in front won his headers and knocked the ball the way he’s facing – that’s what he’s there to do. David Fox gave us a bit of guile in there, and Carey’s the one that plays off the front and gives us something extra. Jakub Sokolik was immense. Start to finish, he won his headers, cleared his lines, and him and Sonny Bradley in central defence did really well. Good on the ball, good man-to-man; a thoroughly good performance from him.
“Matty Kennedy was here; Sarcevic didn’t travel. He’s back home getting treatment. Matty Kennedy came here and did a bit of stretching before the game. He wasn’t available because he had a slight knock. They’re two very good players we’ve been without today.”
Carey himself gave his analysis of how Argyle coped with Mansfield's physical threat and the game to come against Wycombe on Tuesday. He said: “We knew it was going to be tough. We knew they are quite a physical team and like to get the ball forward very quickly. We said, before the game, that we needed to give ourselves the basis to work ourselves into the game and it was tough, first half, but I thought we dug in. We always know there are goals in the team, especially with set-pieces, so we knew we needed to keep ourselves in the game and we’ll eventually score; keep a clean sheet and we’ll win. We know, when we come away from home, that we can sit in, and we have a lot of attacking players to go and punish teams on the break; that’s what we have done.
“So many times this season, we’ve given ourselves too much to do in games,” said Graham. “We’ve kind of, not gone gung-ho, but we’ve gone and attacked teams too early and we’ve got countered, and then we’re chasing the game. We just haven’t been performing to our standards; we know that and we have to address it, but we know, coming away from home, we’re always dangerous. I think we have one of the best away records in the league, and it shows. It’s important we just keep ourselves in games. We know the fitness levels in the squad and I think it showed, pushing towards the last 10-15 minutes of the game – we were closing down and the shape we showed was good, as well. Possibly, we need to do that at a little bit at home, as well. A lot of the time, we go out straight from kick-off, try to attack teams, and get countered, and, if you give teams one or two goal leads in this league, they are going to set up defensively and just counter you, and it’s going to be really difficult. We know we can cause people problems in the later part of the game; we just need to be in them.”
Carey stated that Argyle's togetherness was also a huge factor in their position in the league, saying: “I’m really pleased with the goal but I think the togetherness we showed today was really important, especially after Tuesday night. We obviously realise that some results haven’t been great but we’re the first ones to be disappointed, and we know the fans are disappointed, but we need to stick together. The job’s not done, by a long stretch, but we have got ten games now and we just need to push on.
“It shows the recruitment from the manager, the staff and the club has been great,” he said. “We have got a real bond – because of the distance that we travel, it is really important, as a squad, that we get on and I think the togetherness in this squad is unbelievable. We travel very long distances and spend a lot of time with each other, and that only brings us closer together.”
Finally, he deflected praise towards him for his part in the win, stating that he needed to do better on free-kicks in the long run and praised his fellow scorer Sonny Bradley: “When we have those kind of players in the team, it is important we get quality in the box. He’s come up with big goals for us this season. I’m chuffed for him. He’s a great lad and we are lucky to have him. He’s been a real catalyst for us at the back. It is good for me to have a player like that, who is going to attack every ball. He’s definitely racking my assists up. It’s great to have him, and he’s been brilliant for us this season, defensively and attacking. He’s a big asset for us.
“I’ve been disappointed with myself with set-pieces; I haven’t scored one since I’ve been here. I’ve been working really hard on them in the last couple of weeks and been getting more consistent. One in the first one hit the post in the first half and the second one went in, so I’m really happy.”
Argyle have gone ten points clear of 4th place with an impressive 2-0 victory over 2017's form team Mansfield. Goals from Sonny Bradley and Graham Carey in the second half gave Argyle a big win. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox(Miller), Donaldson, Carey, Slew(Jervis), Taylor(Spencer). Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Tanner, Blissett.
Derek Adams wants his side to be more stubborn in the final few games to ensure his side scrape over the line to gain promotion to League One. He said: “It’s the same with every team in this league. If any team in this league was consistent then they would have won the league by now because of the inconsistency of so many teams in and around the top half of the table. You see people changing places all the time. We have to be more consistent in picking up points and picking up wins. I think at times this season where we have been at home we have opened up too much. We had the onus on us to go out and score goals but sometimes that is not right and we have to tighten up a bit. We’re up there with the top goals in the league and up there with the least goals against in the league so even though we have conceded a number of goals the other night, we need to get back to being stubborn and take our chances when they come.
“The target is to do that because we’ll need to do that to get in the automatic promotion places. We need to go away from home and win games. Between now and the end of the season, we have seven away games. We are on 10 victories away from home and we’ll need to win a good number of them to get ourselves into that automatic spot and if we do that, we’ll beat the record. There’s no two ways about it, we will have to win on the road. Our away record is the best in the league. From that point of view, we’ve been able to win a lot of games and that’s given us a good points total. We’re away for the next few games - to Mansfield and Wycombe - two very difficult venues that we have to go to, but ones that we are more than capable of picking up points at. We probably are underdogs going to Mansfield. We’re the away team and usually the away teams are the underdogs but you have to look at our results away from home and we’ve had some impressive ones.”
Luke McCormick gave another rallying cry to pick their heads up following the disappointing midweek loss to Blackpool and before the Saturday match away to Mansfield. He stated: “Over the course of the season, we have performed exceptionally well to get ourselves into the position that we’re in. It’s disappointing when we have results like we had during the week but, during times of reflection, it is important to look at how well we have done this season, look at the position we are sat in. I think that, ultimately, that will help us keep our eye on the prize and the end goal. Part of my role, not just as captain but as one of the senior players in the side, is to try to keep the lads upbeat and keep things harmonious. Clearly, we have had a lot of disappointed boys this week but, on the flip side of that, we have got a fantastic opportunity to go and win again on Saturday. The games are coming thick and fast so there’s no time to sit about and dwell on it.”
I’m sure there are hundreds of factors. I felt that maybe we were too eager to do well too early on in the game. As much as we want to, as much as the supporters want us to, we don’t have to tie a game up in the first 15 minutes. That eagerness led us to compromise a bit of our composure. We gave the ball away cheaply and it’s hard to win games of football when you keep giving the opposition the ball. It was just one of many things that we didn’t get quite right on the night, but that’s behind us and we move on to the next one. We’re looking forward to getting on the bus and getting going on Saturday now.
“Up to now, we have done fantastically to get ourselves in the position we are in. There’s a very positive outlook with regards to the 11 games that we have remaining. Looking the league table, looking at the performances, and some of the results that we have been able to achieve this season is where we are going to gain a lot of confidence. First and foremost, we trust each other and know what we’re capable of, and we believe in the process and what we’re trying to do. It’s worked ever so well up until this point. We won’t change anything; we’ll just keep believing, keep doing what we’re good at, and, in the end, we trust that it will be enough.”
He also shared his manager's sentiment regarding away matches, being pleased that the majority of matches remaining are on the road. McCormick said: “It might be nice to get back on the road. We have done very well away from home – we have got one of the best away records in the league – so we can go with confidence that we are good on the road and look forward to a very big game. Mansfield have got plenty to play for, so it’s going to be a very good encounter. We quite enjoy it when teams come and have ago at us. We have got plenty of pace, plenty of creativity, in the side so, at times when we have been on our travels this season, we have been able to soak up a bit of pressure and counter-attack. It seems to bring out the best of us. We’re good on our travels, as we’ve proven, and we’ll be going there positive and wanting to take all three points.
“We have done ever so well against teams higher up in the league – we know we could have done better against some of the teams from mid-table downwards – but we go up against a team on Saturday doing their utmost to get into the play-offs. It’s a huge game for them, so there’s a lot riding on the tie for both sides. Mansfield is a very, very hard place to go to. We have already been there once this season; that is something else we can gain confidence from. We have the ability to win games of football and we can do that better than 22 teams in this league, up to this point.
“We’ll take confidence, again, from our away form and we’ll look forward to getting stuck into the game. We are familiar with the surroundings and we had a good result there in the cup, but obviously we are aware that they have changed manager and there will be different personnel on the pitch for them this time round. With a lot on it for both sides, it will be a completely different fixture.”
Derek Adams admitted that Matty Kennedy was currently suffering from a slight injury, having been subbed off at half-time in the game against Blackpool. He explained: "He started his loan spell very brightly and scored three in three. He has picked up a slight injury over the last couple of games and he just needs to get back to his best again. To come on loan and get nominated so quickly shows the ability he has to score goals as well as create."
Meanwhile, Adams is hoping that Argyle's scientific approach to preparing for matches will continue to pay off: "We use everything that we have. We have got Matt Neil who does our video analysis. We have got Greg Strong, who does our scouting of opposition, and we have got nutritionists and sports psychologists. We are well stocked in the people that we use. At half past one every Thursday afternoon we look at clips of previous games and clips of the opposition coming up."
Luke McCormick has urged on the green army to one last push to support the boys as Argyle go into their last 11 games. McCormick said that belief and trust would be paramount to success: “Players and fans alike have to believe and have to trust in each other. If we can continue to come together as we have all season, we will be able to achieve what everyone wants. We know there is an expectancy from the supporters, and you can feel that. The atmosphere that the fans create transcends on to the pitch – whether they are up, whether they are down. They are a big part of what we do. We know that expectancy is there. Having said that, I’d say that the expectancy we are putting on ourselves is also as great. Before we were players ourselves, we were football fans, so we understand that they want us to do well, but we want do well more than they do. We understand there are going to be grumbles, but no-one will be more disappointed than the lads and staff after games like Blackpool. It helps us an awful lot when they get behind us but I understand that it’s a two-way street and we need to get them up and going. It all works together. The supporters have been great to us all season, so sometimes they are entitled to a mumble and a grumble.
“As players, it helps and awful lot when the supporters get behind us,” he said. “It was particularly noticeable when we played Exeter and they were making extra effort to get behind the lads; even when there were little lulls in the game, they were still singing and getting behind us. As a player, you know that the supporters are willing you on at that stage. Sometimes they might have to be a little bit patient with us – that will be appreciated – but ‘Keep coming; keep supporting; and keep getting behind us’ would be the message.”
Derek Adams has dismissed the notion that performance is important at this stage of the season and stated that he is focusing only on points as his Argyle side enter the final furlong. Adams: “Performance is not important to me. Points are; wins are. Between now and the end of the season if we’re able to grind out wins, then that is the main focus. A good performance comes with winning games. That creates confidence and that is the same throughout the league. We’ve seen already this season that shock results happen. They’re not shock results as such but they are in terms of where teams are in the table. Nothing does shock you because anybody can beat anybody on their given day.
“We’ve played two up front a number of times this season and it’s not worked. That’s the problem. It hasn’t worked. We’ve played in a style many times this season that has worked. We’ve won over 50% of our league games and it’s proven to be the right way because when we have gone with two up front – We haven’t scored. We didn’t create enough opportunities in the second half against Blackpool. We went two up front and became direct and it didn’t help us. We have to change our style of play when we go away from home and we have to change our style at home from an away performance. We’ve been too open in some games that our supporters feel we should win and we need to change that from now until the end of the season.”
Argyle have so far won 10 away games this season- if they win three more of their final seven, it will break Argyle's all-time record for away wins in a season. Adams admitted he is glad that Argyle have so many away games left, saying: "That's the target. We will need to do that to get ourselves in the automatic promotion places. We need to go away from home and win games. We enjoy playing away from home. We have been able to win 10 games, which is a good points total."
Adams also set a challenge for Argyle centre-back Nauris Bulvitis to get back into the team following his falling out of contention in recent months. He said of the Latvian: "The arrival of Sokolik has put him down the pecking order, so to speak. It's up to Nauris now to get himself back in there. He's a model professional and an experienced defender. There is good competition there with Sonny Bradley, Songo'o, Sokolik and Bulvitis. "He has been in and around the squad for most of the season. It's only natural that when you have competition for places some people are not going to get a game."
Derek Adams admitted he simply cannot understand how his Argyle side can go from one extreme to the other- an excellent and professional performance against Carlisle on Saturday before the capitulation against Blackpool on Tuesday. Adams said: "That is the hard thing being a manager. You have seen a very good performance on Saturday and tonight you have seen a performance that hasn't enabled us to take anything from the game. I thought that Blackpool deserved to win the match. Our performance was not the same performance as Saturday. It is difficult to see how that can happen. We will have to look at the video and watch the game again and see what the problems were. We obviously didn't create enough chances tonight in the first-half or second-half and we allowed soft goals from Blackpool. Over the 90 minutes they thoroughly deserved to win. In this league it is important you get the first goal and they were able to get that. They got a wee bit of momentum and were able to get the second goal and it is an uphill task after that. We didn't do enough tonight to get a goal.
"It's very difficult. We had passages of play that could have led to an opportunity. We have hit ones past the post and we have been in good areas with set plays as well and haven't been able to get that goal to take it back to 2-1. They pushed us back and I thought they played well at times. There was opportunities for us but we didn't take them when they came along. We have got 11 games to go. We are looking to change the performance and get it back to the performance from last Saturday."
He did however, deny that Tuesday nights were the reason for Argyle's malaise and put Argyle's poor record under the lights down to coincidence. He said: "Looking at it. It is not possible to look in the cold light of day that there is anything different we do. We have changed things about over the weekend. It just happens to be that we have not been very good at home on a Tuesday evening. If you look at the Leyton Orient game we should have won the game. That makes it easier to make up something because it is a Tuesday night, because we haven't won. It is easier to write that than we could have won that game. I am not going to dwell. After Saturday's performance, to win 2-0 against Carlisle and also to take a draw against Luton was encouraging. Tonight we have lost and that is disappointing.
"We haven't done enough attacking for whatever reason. We have got a lot of attacking players on the pitch and we haven't been able to create the opportunities and get the better of the opposition. We had so many attacking players on the pitch both first-half and second-half."
Argyle's inconsistent recent form continued with a surprise 3-0 loss at home to Blackpool. Two goals in quick succession shortly before half-time made it tough for Argyle but the visitors sealed it with a third in the second half on what was to be a miserable DJM takeover night at Home Park. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o(Slew), Bradley, Sawyer, Carey, Fox, Donaldson, Jervis(Tanner), Taylor, Kennedy(Spencer). Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Miller, Blissett.
Derek Adams admitted that he thinks the current Argyle home kit for the 2016/17 season is 'too green'. He also said this is the reason why Argyle have of late been wearing white socks, to ensure visibility. Adams explained: "We have an issue with the strip. We have changed to white socks because we feel the strip is too green. We don't want to change too much but that's not to say we won't in the future. We just feel the white socks allow us to stand out more. I have had it before at other clubs, where we have played with white socks many times. It definitely helps the players standing out."
Adams also explained his controversial decision to call back the ballboys into the stand with five minutes remaining in the match, to buy Argyle some time whilst defending their lead. He said: "If they are retrieving it too quickly then they get removed. On Saturday the ball was getting moved too quickly and there was no need for it. Some grounds don't have any ball boys or girls. We have just got to realise the situation we are in.
"If the game is stopped for five seconds it makes a difference. If you are winning it allows people to get back into shape. If you are losing and the ball-boy gets it back in quickly then you can get the game moving. We go to some grounds away from home and there are towels around the edge of the pitch for players to take long throw-ins. It's the same both ways."
In other news, Argyle's Good Friday trip to Portsmouth has been chosen for TV coverage by Sky and will kick off at the somewhat earlier time of 2.30.
With two goals, a clean sheet and some excellent performances, Derek Adams declared himself a happy man after Argyle's victory over Carlisle and gave his thoughts on the game. He said: “I think it was probably one of the better performances we’ve had this season. It was a complete performance today. We scored two goals and we keep a clean sheet. Today was one where we’re in control of the match for the majority of the game. We won the second ball, we defended well when they had crossed into the box. We took our opportunity when it came along, then we got a penalty kick, and then it was about seeing out the game.
“The two defenders – Jakub Sokolik and Sonny Bradley in the first half, then Yann Songo’o and Sonny in the second half – were never under any pressure.
“We’ve done very well today to open up that points gap. It’s important that we’ve been able to do that. We are looking to try and catch Doncaster, because they are close to us. We have to use the game in hand on Tuesday night to try and do that. Winning three points is vital in this league. We’ve played second against fourth last weekend away from home, this weekend we’ve played second against third, and dealt well with the situation.”
Regarding David Fox who returned to the side following an injury that kept him out of Tuesday's match against Notts County, Adams said: “I think that he’s done well for us. Today, we just wanted to control the game in the middle of the park, and he did that well. He can play in a variety of positions for us. Later on in the game he played as the sitting midfield player and took the ball and moved it. At this level, it’s difficult to get a player like that. I think that he’s an important player, but we just have to look throughout the squad; we’ve got a lot of important players in the squad.
“We’ve won the most games in the league, which is twenty, and I think from that point of view it shows you how well we’ve done. You look at this league; it’s a difficult league to do that in. There’s only ourselves and Doncaster who have been able to do that do far. We’ve put ourselves in a very good position. When you’re at home, you want to keep that going. It’s a difficult game on Tuesday against Blackpool, because they’re a side who are trying to push into those play-off positions. I thought they played very well at the start of the season.”
Jake Jervis and Graham Carey are Argyle's top two goalscorers for the season with plenty of assists between them as well. Jervis spoke of the friendly rivalry that the pair enjoy: “We both want to be top goalscorer and get as many assists as we can. It’s all good and it’s going to push both of us on. It doesn’t really matter who finishes top scorer; if we both keep scoring goals, it’s only going to help the team. Graham was excellent today. He shows, week in, week out, what he can do. Getting a goal will be massive for him. He let me take the penalty, as well.
“If one of us has scored, the other one takes it; if I’ve scored, he takes it, and vice versa. It’s good that we’ve got the option because we’ve both scored our penalties this season, and we’ve provided assists for each other. I wasn’t too sure, whether it was a penalty. As soon as he went down, I looked at the ref and then tried to get the ball!”
Argyle's opponents Blackpool will likely field two players who had a pivotal part in last season's campaign- Kelvin Mellor and former loanee Jamille Matt. Jervis said of the pair: “The squad they have got...with their front players, they are strong. It’s going to be a difficult game. Obviously, Jamille was here last season, and Kelvin – he’s their main goal-threat now! “He’s a good player – he got a bit of stick in the second half of last season, down to a few mistakes, which was difficult because we were going for promotion. But, on the whole, he has done well and he’s gone there and continued it.
“Jamille’s a good friend of mine – we’re in touch regularly – and it will be good to play against him on Tuesday. It’s a game in hand on a few teams, so hopefully it can stand us in good stead.”
Finally, Jervis spoke about how he viewed this week as vitally important for Argyle's season and hoped the team would continue to rise to the occasion as they have done so far. He said: “I think it was massive and the manner we did it shows what a good group we have here. Getting a clean sheet, as well. It was a comfortable game and we threatened quite a lot; hit the bar; had chances. It was good. We had to get the three points. I don’t think it was just the loss on Tuesday – it was the performance. It just wasn’t us. We started booming balls and that sort of play; today, we used wingers; got the ball in the box; moved the ball about; and we were a much better team.
“Self-belief-wise, the boys are good at that but I think, in terms of settling the fans, settling staff, settling everyone else, we need to show how good we are. We’ve showed that all season and got back to today and got the win. If you look at it, everything is in our hands. We have got to go to Doncaster and Portsmouth and, obviously, they are big games. We have risen to the occasion well each time it has come to it. If we keep doing that, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Argyle have returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion with a 2-0 victory over promotion rivals Carlisle. Goals from Graham Carey and a Jake Jervis penalty gave us a lead at half-time that we did not relinquish and established an 8 point gap over fourth place. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik(Songo'o), Bradley, Sawyer, Fox, Sarcevic, Carey, Jervis(Donaldson), Taylor(Spencer), Kennedy. Subs: Dorel, Tanner, Slew, Bulvitis.
Derek Adams is counting on his Argyle players to bounce back from the disappointment of Tuesday night's game against Notts County when promotion rivals Carlisle visit Home Park tomorrow. He said: “We have to allow them a night like that; we have done really well this season and sometimes that is going to happen. It was a disappointing result for us, but we move on. We probably didn’t start the game quickly enough; that’s something we have to change and we will change it because we have got the players in the squad to do that. Overall, the performance wasn’t like us, because we have done really well – we have had a lot of good performances – and it is a big game on Saturday, second against third, and we want to do well in the match. We want to continue to either open up a gap or keep the gap as it is. It’s a good match for League Two. It’s two teams that are pushing for automatic promotion; they are in a very good position for this time of the season and both will want to try to get a win, or a draw, to keep that momentum going. We have done well on the big occasions. The games when we haven’t done as well are the ones when the atmosphere hasn’t been the best in the stadium, so, from that point of view, I think the players respond to the fans.
“We’re still in a very good position. There are only six teams in the 92 clubs* that have won more games than us this season and that is something we have got to be proud of; in the league, we have won 19 games out of 33. We’ll continue to work away. We didn’t play well enough on Tuesday night. The goal didn’t help us, giving it away in the manner we did, and we didn’t really force ourselves on Notts County enough in the later stages of the game. We didn’t pass with the fluidity we have seen over the season. In the first half, we got ourselves into good positions a number of times and either we don’t find the right ball or there is not the right person in the box to get the goal. I wasn’t happy with the performance because it was an opportunity for us to get more points on the board. Looking at it, as I’ve said already this season, it’s a difficult old league and it’s difficult to get wins.”
Derek Adams has defied critics who want Argyle to drop the one-up-front system that has been prevalent throughout his reign, stating that it has by and large got the required results. He said: “With a win percentage of over 50 percent since I have come to this football club, that’s the way we play and that’s the way we will continue to play. That is the way we have been successful. We have seen, a number of times this season, when we have gone two up front....Tuesday night is an indication of that – for 45 minutes in the second half, we lumped it forward to two strikers and we didn’t create a chance. Sometimes, we can all get it wrong. We became very direct and it didn’t work out for us. There are a lot of people who probably see the game in a different way from myself and other managers and coaches. I’m the manager of the football club. To have finished fifth last season, to reach a play-off final and having punched above our weight...this season, we are second at this moment in time and we want to continue the progress we are making to try to get automatic promotion.”
He also gave injury updates on a number of players who are currently out of contention for Argyle, explaining: “Brunt's progressing; he’s running; he’ll begin to train very soon with the squad, so we are hopeful he can progress from there. He’s been a year out now; it’s been a long time, longer than we had all hoped. We are hopeful he can progress quicker over the next month. He has got to get his fitness levels up, his training regime up, and it’s how quickly he can do that. Usually, you get a few setbacks, a niggle here and there, because you haven’t trained for a long time. We have only got 13 games to go, so it depends how quickly he gets into training and gets game-time. You never say ‘never’.
“We are hopeful we can get a Peninsula League game very soon for Gary Miller. He’s progressing well. Connor Smith is probably a week behind him; David Ijaha is probably a number of weeks behind them; Arnie Garita has started to run – in the next few weeks, we’ll see where he is."
Derek Adams tore into his Argyle players following the disappointing loss to County- rejecting excuses that bad luck was to blame and questioning the mentality of his side. He said: "It is not unfortunate. It is a bad mistake from a number of people. It is a poor goal to lose. It is poor play from us that gives away the goal. A number of players are culpable in that and it should have been dealt with. We did not do enough in the game. In the first period Graham Carey put three crosses across the six yard box and we did not have anyone there to go and take it. That was the period of the game that we looked strong. To lose the game in the manner that we did was really poor. I thought it was an extremely poor performance from us tonight. I did not think we played well. From the start of the game we were very slack and allowed Notts County to get a goal. We didn't start well enough. I thought the start to the game was slow and wasn't on the ball. Really, we were slack in possession and we were slack about getting around the pitch. We didn't run. We didn't keep the ball well enough and that is the reason.
"It was a poor performance and we did not perform well enough. Nobody on the park deserves any pass marks tonight because they did not do well enough. They have had a lot of praise over a number of weeks now and tonight was an abject performance from us. We have performed well against Luton in the last game, we have gone to the likes of Hartlepool and taken a point as well. We have beaten Exeter, beaten Cambridge and performed well against Leyton Orient, but tonight was a very poor performance. The point away from home is a very good point against Luton. You have got to look at it that way. Second against fourth. Going into the game there is a number of teams at the top end of the table that are struggling to get wins. We have come off a very good performance on Saturday against Luton, and tonight we have come up against a team that are down the lower reaches of the league. We did not play to the same standard and that is the wrong mentality to have. We need to sort that out between now and the end of the season. We have obviously performed well against the top sides in the league. We have not matched the desire of the teams that are at the bottom. The players have to solve that by working harder against these teams. They have got undoubted quality. But the players have to take responsibility about working that extra bit harder then they did tonight."
Argyle's patchy run of form has continued with a 1-0 loss to struggling Notts County at Home Park. The visitors went ahead midway through the first half after a comedy of Argyle errors which saw Songo'o, McCormick and Bradley contrive to gift County the lead. Argyle could not find a breakthrough. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik(Jervis), Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Carey, Sarcevic, Tanner(Spencer), Kennedy(Slew), Spencer. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Donaldson, Blissett.
Derek Adams gave a pre-match assessment of Argyle's game against struggling Notts County, warning as he always does against complacency: “Everybody in this division is fighting for something. Down the bottom of the table, or in the middle to top. Three points is vital for everyone. There’s no easy games between now and the end of the season. It’s good that we are at home. It’s nice to not have to travel as much as we have done. We're the same in every game: we just try to do as well as we possibly can. There’s no difference for us, home or away. We’ve got a good record in both. It’s good to be on the road, picking up points. Notts County on Tuesday night is the next game on the rota, and we have to do as well as we did on Saturday against Luton. With 14 games to go, it is an important spell. We have a lot of games to play, and a lot of points to pick up. We want to take as many as we can from these games.
“They’ve changed manager, taking in Ameobi up front and Stead is fit as well. We’ll wait and see what their team is and assess their strengths and weaknesses. They’ve been playing with Ameobi and Stead up front in recent weeks. They’ve got good experience in their side, but from our point of view we’ll have to keep them quiet and our creative players will have to get on the goalscoring sheet.
“We’ve got a doubt with a couple. David Fox is one, who came off in a bad challenge on his ankle at half-time at Luton. It’s cut and bruised. We will assess him Tuesday morning, to see if he can play at night. It’s not great, but I don’t want to rule him out, just to see if the swelling comes down on his ankle. David is an experienced player. He has come in and used the ball well; he’s very calm; he keeps the ball ticking along. His influence in the team has been very good since he came in.
“We’ve seen a few robust challenges over recent weeks. We’re a very good footballing side. We went to Luton the other day and they are very direct, they go from back to front quickly. We have to deal with different aspects of the game, but we’ve shown this season that we can do that. We have a few knocks and bruises but we just have to assess. We’ve nothing too serious, which is good. We’ve had a long trip to Hartlepool and then away from home against Luton. We’ve dealt well with that, and the squad is starting to look strong again.
“We’re looking at roughly the same squad. No-one that wasn’t in the squad on Saturday is likely to come back in from injury. We’re in a very good position. We had an excellent performance away from home against Luton, and we go into the Notts County game on Tuesday night with good confidence.”
Derek Adams was content to take a point home from Luton Town and at the same time paid tribute to the efforts and performance of his players. He praised: “We’re delighted to come away with a point. We went a goal down – it was a poor goal to lose – and then to come back into the game and score in the first half ...we knew that Luton conceded goals here and we were able to get that equaliser. We had more possession than Luton, more shots than Luton – that’s testament to the players. We have a very good away record and we’ve added to that today. We probably could’ve won the game in the end, but we’ll take a point and move on. Coming here and keeping the gap between ourselves and Luton was important. We got the ball wide – we knew we could cause Luton trouble in the wider areas – and Graham Carey put in a terrific ball; Craig Tanner makes a run to the front post and puts it in at the front post.”
Craig Tanner gave his analysis of the game on his return to the side: “They came out the traps very quickly today. They threw everything at it and went a bit kamikaze, because they know they needed to catch up with us. You see it week in, week out throughout the leagues: people do hit you on the counter and you get runners. Sometimes you get the luck of a break or the bounce of the ball; that’s all part and parcel of football. Maybe we’ll have to through that on the analysis and see what we could do differently.
"For the goal, Tayls has done really well. G’s done a great little run. Tayls has squeezed the ball through and I was the only one in the box, so I had to get across the front post. It’s a great ball from G and I didn’t have to do much with the finish. If you are out on the right, you’re not going to score from outside the box; it’s something I needed to work on. I’ve been working on it with Brew and Wottsy, and luckily it’s paid off.
“We’ve dug in well. I think we probably had the better chances in the first half, then we’ve managed to get a goal and see it out. It’s a credit to our back four, plus Luke. I thought we were in control. Ozzie’s made a vital header at the end and some great blocks. Raz came on and stopped some crosses. He’s been doing that all season. That’s probably one of his strengths: getting round on the cover. He’s done it numerous times; I think it goes a bit unnoticed at times. I think you’ve got to come here and take your away points. They haven’t gained anything on us, so it’s probably a better point for us than it is for them.”
Tanner admitted that he had had to be patient to get his chance but philosophically said that it was part and parcel of being in such a good squad. Tanner said: “It got to 60 minutes and that’s when you’ve got to realise that maybe a point is a better result than keeping me and Matty on – more attacking players – and maybe costing us. I think that’s a credit to us: seeing out the game with our game management. It’s a team game. We all dug in and I think that showed. You’ve got be patient. It’s a long season and it’s a team game. I’ve just been doing my extra work on and off the pitch and just waiting for my opportunity. I’ve been patient and fortunately I’ve managed to get a goal. We’ve got a great squad full of great players, so it’s just down to me to work hard and when I do get my chance, I’ve just got to take it. I’ll remain patient, be a squad player and see what happens.
"We’ve got three home games now. The Green Army should get behind us so we’ll see what we can do. When they’re cheering you on, it’s a twelfth man.”
Argyle have had a tight fought 1-1 draw with Luton in the promotion six pointer at Kenilworth Road. Luton opened the scoring within the first ten minutes but a goal from Craig Tanner equalised twenty minutes after on his return to the side. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley, Sawyer, Fox(Sokolik), Carey, Tanner(Spencer), Sarcevic, Taylor, Kennedy(Donaldson). Subs: Dorel, Jervis, Slew, Bulvitis.
Derek Adams thinks that after the next three games (two of them against promotion rivals Luton and Carlisle), Argyle's position will be a lot clearer. He said however that all games are big games at this stage of the season: “It’s a big game – at this stage in the season, every game is but when you are playing against a team that are in close proximity to you, it does make it even bigger. A win puts you in an excellent position going into the last 14 games, and that’s what we are going to try to do. It’s a game that we really want to win and open up a bigger gap between ourselves. It’s two sides that are pushing hard this season, and we have done well in the big games this season. We have beaten Doncaster; we’ve beaten Exeter, who were on that long unbeaten run; we drew here against Portsmouth; we’ve had very good cup-ties against Liverpool. So the players are ready for it; we know what it is we have got to do in the big atmosphere.
“You have to keep control of the ball for long periods of the game to quieten down their supporters. It’ll be a very good atmosphere; we are going to take 1,000-plus supporters with us and that generates a very good Saturday. I think there will be goals in the game. Luton have had only three clean sheets at home, so that tells you they are open and expansive at times, and they can be very direct. You just have to look at the other teams: Doncaster go to Newport, the bottom team in league, and draw there; Cheltenham go to Luton and win there; Carlisle get beaten by Newport – it just tells you how difficult a league it is. Everybody has got to understand that, at the top of the table, we are fighting for points, but, at the bottom of the table, people everybody’s trying to stay in the league. Performance-wise against Exeter, Cambridge, Leyton Orient and Hartlepool, we have been very good; I have been delighted with the performance levels. In all these games, we probably should have picked up more points than we have because of the control we have had but, at this stage of the season, you take any point and move on.”
Jimmy Spencer spoke in depth about his recovery from an ankle injury he picked up three months ago, enabling him to come back into the side ahead of schedule. He said: "It's just a relief really. For every player it's hard being injured. You are here to play football, not to be in that gym two or three times a day at times. It was a relief to get back out there. It was just unfortunate about the result."
"In the morning you come in and get treatment first and then you go over to the gym. Obviously, with my injury it was all about balance and getting my co-ordination back, and strengthening around the ankle. At the same time, you have got to keep your fitness up for when you come back. But you can do as much bike work or swimming, or any kind of fitness as you want in the gym, as soon as get back training it's totally different. Your body has got to adapt to the different movements and stuff."
Meanwhile, Derek Adams rejected suggestions that Saturday's game against Luton was a chance for revenge following the loss on the opening day of the season, saying: "Not really. It was one of those days. We didn't take our chances on the day and they were able to get the victory. We have moved on since then. A lot of water has gone under the bridge. It wasn't a 3-0 game but that was the scoreline. We can only look at the next game."
Derek Adams has shrugged off criticism following Argyle's failure to beat Leyton Orient and Hartlepool pointing to the inconsistent nature of the division. Adams said: "We will just be trying to win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season. "But teams at the bottom of the table make it very difficult. Doncaster went to Newport and drew. Carlisle go to Newport and lose, and Cheltenham beat Luton at home 3-2. It's a difficult league, and I have said that since the start of the season. You just can't tell on a weekly basis what the scoreline is going to be.
"We went away to Cambridge and won, and won at home to Exeter. And we have taken a point at Hartlepool. If we had said over that four games we would take seven points I think we would have been happy with that."
Matty Kennedy has said that he is slowly learning about League Two and specifically the overly physical nature of the division. Kennedy said: “After the first game, I was like ‘how can Cambridge be that good like they were in the second half, and away down the table?’ That’s the way this league is; unpredictable. As a person, I’m trying to learn League Two. Against Hartlepool, you think ‘keep going, keep going, keep going’ but in the back of your head, it’s three points gone, so a point like that changes the whole atmosphere, the whole game. It’s another point on the board, so we can’t be too down about it. I knew it was a big club but I never knew the fans got behind the club so hard. Fair play to them. They have got good expectations, but they are a good set of fans. It’s a joy to play in front of them. I’ve got three goals and an assist in four games. My first game was just trying to get my fitness. Against Exeter, even though I got a goal and an assist, I was nowhere near what I can be. The last game and today, I have been picking it up. I am getting fitter and fitter every game
“We have to go there and do a good job. It’s going to be hard, going away from home –they are a good team – but I think a win’s coming for us, so hopefully we can go there and get it done. I get kicked all the time in League Two. I don’t know why – people just keep kicking me. The gaffer said I just need to deal with getting the kicks and it’ll make me hard.”
A frustrated Derek Adams attributed Argyle's failure to beat Hartlepool yesterday as a result of missed chances. He gave his analysis of the flow of the game: “We could have been three or four goals up with the chances we created, and should have taken. Then they get a goal against the run of play, and you’ve got to get yourself back into the match. We could have taken our chances better when they came along. In the end Hartlepool have been able to get that goal, and we have had to show very good resilience to get back into the match. Over the 90 minutes we were the dominant team, the one that created the most chances.
“The game turned from the point of view that they had something to hold on to,” said Derek. “It wasn’t that they passed the ball well or did anything. They wanted to play on the counter attack after that, which you understand. Before half-time we felt, when they scored, it put us on the back foot a wee bit. We had to get ourselves back into the game. We still had good bits of play, and we could have scored in that time, but you get yourself back in at half-time, and get going again in the second half. In any game, we want to get the three points. Away from home is no different from at home. It’s important that you pick up points. Away from home, we’ve won 10 games. We taken a point here, and we move on.
“They’re all important. It doesn’t matter what week you’re playing in. We’re playing away from home again, and we’ve got a good away record. We’ve done exceptionally well away from home. We’ve come a long way – eight-and-a-half hours to get a point. It’s a long way, and we were delighted we had such a large following with us today.”
Goalscorer Matty Kennedy gave his assessment of Argyle's defending and his equalising goal, but first revealed he was actually a doubt to be fit for the game. He said: “I was kind of a doubt to play. I had pulled a muscle in my back just after the game against Orient. On Friday night, I couldn’t move in my bed; I was really struggling. I ’phoned the physio and said ‘I don’t think I’m going to make the game’ but I’ve been taking painkillers and obviously it paid off.
“We were creating, but we weren’t creating clear-cut chances, so it wasn’t looking good for us. If we didn’t get a point, coming away here would have been a nightmare, a disaster. To get that goal for the team, and for the staff and the whole squad, it’s good for me to help the boys get there. We want to win this kind of game. I don’t know what happened with the goal but I think, defensively, in the last couple of games, as a team, we have not been good enough. We shouldn’t be conceding goals like we have in the last couple of games. Fair play to Hartlepool for getting the goal but, if we want to get promoted, we can’t be conceding that goal.
“At the end of the day, we’ve created chances and not taken them but that’s an away draw on the board and we just need to pick up and go again.
“I’ve been practicing that at Cardiff, beating my man, coming inside, and working on my technique, all the time trying to find the far corner. The last couple of games have been similar goals. To be fair, it was a belter so I’m kind of happy about that – a double step-over made it a wee bit better.”
Adams said on the subject of his decision to bring on Jimmy Spencer for his first game in three months: “He hasn’t played for a long period of time but he has trained with the squad continuously. He took the ball in well at times; it wouldn’t have been easy for him coming on, but he showed in glimpses what a good player he is. We have good competition now in that area. He and Ryan Taylor can both play in there, and it is important we have that until the end of the season. I wanted to win the game. It was probably a little bit high risk, because they could get on the counter attack, but with ten minutes to go I wanted to try and get the win I felt we deserved.”
New defender Jakub Sokolik had similar sentiments: “It’s a bit disappointing. We should have got three points out of this game, but we got a point and there’s an important game coming up on Saturday, so we have to get together and get something out of that game. It was the second goal he has scored like that,” said Jakub. “He is a good player; he wants to score goals. It was a brilliant goal for him and for us. We should have scored one or two in the first half, but we didn’t and we conceded a kind of soft goal, I would say. These sort of things happen – we just have to improve. I think we should have done better, to be fair, but it is what it is.
“On Tuesday, we didn’t see the game out very well. We should have got three points, definitely. It happens. We just have to stick together as a group and keep going until it is done. At this stage of the season, every game is hard and important. We have got to prepare as we prepare for every single game. Everyone fights – everyone wants to win – so it’s always going to be hard, wherever you go. We just have to be prepared for it, mentally.”
Argyle have drawn 1-1 with Hartlepool thanks to a late equaliser from Matty Kennedy. Hartlepool took the lead against the run of play around half an hour in. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o(Donaldson), Fox, Jervis(Spencer), Carey(Blissett), Kennedy, Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Slew, Tanner.
Before Argyle's trip to Hartlepool, Derek Adams gave updates as to the fitness of Sonny Bradley and Antoni Sarcevic both of whom limped off with injuries against Orient: “They’re not too bad. Sarcevic will be out for Saturday, but is not as bad as first feared. For Sonny Bradley, there is a possibility he will be fit for Saturday. He has a thigh strain that I think he picked up in the warm-up. He felt it, and it gradually got worse. That’s the good news; there are no long-term injuries. They are both big players for us. Sonny Bradley has been a rock at centre-half. He has been a big signing for us. Good on the ball, very good defensive and offensively. He’s one we would like to have fit. Sarcevic has come in in the January window and scored two goals, in two and a bit games. He’s looking a really good signing. I’m hoping he will be fit for Luton. That’s what we’re looking at.
“When I was in the transfer window, looking for five players, we’ve taken in a goalscoring midfielder; a wide-man was always going to be the one, in Kennedy – he’s scored two goals; Taylor has been exceptional since he has come to the football club; Sokolik has helped in defence; and Blissett we have hopes for. He has found it difficult only because Taylor has shown the form he has. He’s come to a big football club. It’s a massive club, and the demands are different to playing in the National League. That’s not disrespect, it is just a matter of fact.
“Taylor has been an excellent signing for us, and you look at Sarcevic, who has come in and scored two goals. Kennedy has done the same. It is important we have goalscorers in the team. We probably have about ten players who can contribute in that area.
“Matty is one that I have tracked over the January transfer window, and we were able to get in near the end, which was very positive. I have to thank Neil Warnock, a former manager here, for allowing me to have him, because he was in and around their first team. He’s come here, has been given starts, which he needs, and showed what a good player he is. I’m delighted with him. He is very confident; he is direct; he likes to get on the ball and take it for a dribble. He completes passes as well – when he is in the final third, he finds a striker. He was unfortunate not to score twice on Tuesday night. We’ve got a lot of goalscorers in the team. We don’t have a 20-goal striker, but we have ten players that can score goals.”
Derek Adams spoke about the often frustrating expectations of being Argyle manager especially when in a league Argyle are perceived by many as being too big for. Adams said: “It’s important that you are calm and collected as a manager and that is what we are at this football club. The other night we were two minutes away from winning the game. We didn’t defend and manage the game well enough to win. It’s not about lifting ourselves up. We’ve been at this football club for a year and a half now. When you win a game, you think you’ve won the league, and when you lose a game it is the end of the world. That is the nature of the club, and the area. We have be sure, and be calm. That’s what we are. For 88 minutes we’ve won the game; we’ve come off a 3-0 win against Exeter; we’ve beaten Cambridge; we’re one of the form teams in the league; we’re sitting second in the league, three points off top place with a game in hand. We know there are 46 games in a season. After the first couple of games of the season it was all doom and gloom, then you go on a good run and everybody says you’ve won the league. I don’t get carried away with media attention etc. Everybody has an opinion, but at the end of the season you find out your position in the league. This football club has been in the Championship, then went through the divisions. It’s got a very large supporter base, which is helping us greatly, but with that brings great expectation. If you’re a Plymouth Argyle fan, you’ve got to be very happy.”
David Fox spoke about his midfield partner Yann Songo'o whom he believes to be an unsung hero for the club. He eulogised: “Yann’s been brilliant. He’s been one of our most consistent performers, and he’s played in a couple of positions, which is great for the team. He’s great to play alongside and he sacrifices a lot of his game for the team – a lot of the time, he’ll be doing the dirty stuff that no-one really notices – but he’s very effective in what he does. He’s never injured; he rarely misses a game; he doesn’t miss training. He is the sort of player that you build teams around. He maybe goes unnoticed in some aspects, but certainly not by the boys.”
Following Argyle's disappointing loss to Orient, Fox also admitted that Argyle are seen as a target by clubs lower down in the table who raise their game when playing the greens. He explained: “When you are up there, you are there to be shot at. I think teams see us as a scalp, which can make it more difficult. I think a lot of teams do raise their game because it’s an enjoyable place to come and play: nice pitch; big crowd; it’s what players want to do. It’s something we’re kind of used to, something we’ve got to deal with. We’ve dealt with it alright so far; we have just got to keep going. We’ve dealt with it all season. You try to keep your head down: we haven’t got too high after any victories and we haven’t got too disappointed after a defeat. Those that can keep their heads calm, maintain their focus and understand what it is going to take are the ones that are normally successful, so it is important we blank out the external noises coming from everywhere and focus on winning football matches.
“We have got to get promoted. That’s the whole aim of the club before I even walked in the door. We are probably one of two or three whose target was to get automatic promotion, and there are a lot of teams that feel they can achieve it, as well. Ultimately, our aim at the minute is to try to catch Doncaster, and that is how we have got to look at it. You have got to try to look above you, keep trying to catch them. Then, hopefully, getting promoted will take care of itself.”
Derek Adams attributed a combination of bad defending and bad refereeing as reasons for Argyle's shock loss to Leyton Orient last night. The manager said: “The referee didn’t have a good night. I’m really unsure how Leyton Orient had 11 players on the park: Kelly should have been sent off for his tackle on Sarcevic. Hunt should have been sent off as well – how he stayed on the park, I’ll never know. His first tackle in the middle of the pitch, he should have been booked for; he’s then had numerous challenges after that; he’s kicked the ball away quite deliberately, as well...if that’s not enough...the referee has got to have seen that. Throughout the night, big decisions, he got wrong. Over the night, the referee didn’t have his best night. The referee didn’t control the game in the right manner.
“We had to change our team about – that’s just natural – but we weren’t hard enough, defensively; we allowed them to get in and cause us trouble. We were the better side in the first half; in the second half, I thought Leyton Orient were the better side. We didn’t defend well in the second half. To be in a position when we were 2-1 up and under no real threat and then, all of sudden we lose 3-2, we didn’t defend well enough. In the end, Leyton have won the game when we could have been 3-1 or 4-1 up. We had chances in the game. I thought we played really well in the first half and should have been out of sight. But we weren’t and Massey caused us problems. He was the best player on the park by a mile. He ran at us and did really well. We were looking like a really confident side but things went against us that we didn’t deal well with.”
Argyle had a heartbreaking loss for Valentine's Day with a late 3-2 defeat to relegation-threatened Leyton Orient. Argyle went 1-0 up early in the game through Antoni Sarcevic but soon last both him and defender Sonny Bradley to injuries. Orient equalised shortly before half-time but a Matty Kennedy goal early in the second half restored Argyle's advantage. Two late goals from the visitors however gave Argyle a sucker punch. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley(Bulvitis), Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox, Sarcevic(Donaldson), Carey(Jervis), Kennedy, Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Slew, Tanner, Spencer.
Ryan Taylor spoke about his dream Argyle debut and the role the fans had to play in securing a vital win against Exeter City. The former Oxford man said: “It was a great three points. We needed it to open that gap up a bit more. It’s 11 points between us and fourth place; it’s a very nice gap, but we’ve got to keep pushing on now and going for promotion at the end of the season. Three good goals from the team, it was a good team performance. We negated their strengths well, they tried to over play and we took advantage of that. In the end it was a very positive result, the manager was happy in the changing room at the end. We need to push on now and go again on Tuesday. It’s nice to get that goal early and I’ve done that now, but I’ll be looking to push on now and just keep scoring as many as I can. It was a great little slide ball by Matty Kennedy, he’s come inside and he’s slid it in for me. I’ve taken a good first touch, I think the defender has tried to nick in but I’ve placed it in the bottom corner. It was made by the pass from Matty, and he obviously got a good goal. Graham put the ball in for him, a nice ball. The quality is there for all to see with these type of players, so we need to keep pushing up the league and get promoted.
“They added the 12th man today, they were so loud and I’m hoping it’s going to be like that every week. I was a very good day out for the supporters, and I think all the team enjoyed it as you could see.”
Derek Adams was keeping his head firmly on the ground however ahead of the game against Orient on Tuesday saying: “The players are delighted. But quickly, you’ve got to move on to the next game in our profession. You don’t get long to celebrate. The supporters will enjoy it for a lot longer. It was a fantastic atmosphere on Saturday. There’s been a lot of good games here in recent times and that was another enjoyable one. We’ve dealt with that well throughout the season,” said Derek. “After the big games, we’ve been able to respond in the right manner. If you look at us, we went to Cambridge and were home to Exeter; two important games. Our players have got very good character about them. We’ve got experience in the squad and they want to go out and get the three points that will move us on. I look at Orient’s team over the season and they’ve got a decent squad about them. It’s a difficult league and we’ll have to be at it again tomorrow night. I don’t really concern myself with the opposition. I need to look at what my team can do offensively and defensively to win the game. We obviously do watch them and go through clips but our main focus in on how well we can do against them.”
Derek Adams hailed the importance Argyle's victory over Exeter in the Devon Expressway Derby but focused mainly on the importance of the win for Argyle's league position. He said: “They were very direct today, Exeter but in the end we allowed them to have the ball deep and they launched it forward. I didn’t think that they would do that; I thought they would play a wee bit more, but that probably helped us today and we dealt with it well. It’s an important victory for us today, if you look at the rest of the results. Winning a Devon Derby, again, only helps the supporters going into work on Monday morning. At this stage of the season, you’re about winning games. Today was a big game for us because it was a derby match, but also with 18 games to go, it’s important you win as many as you can. We’re trying to win as many games as we possibly can, and see where it takes us.”
Adams also credited the win to a week of hard work at the warm weather training camp in Spain: “It was an accomplished performance from us today, from start to finish. We looked a very good team today. We passed the ball well. We scored two very good goals and obviously the penalty kick as well, but over the 90 minutes, it was an excellent performance. I thought at times today, we did look superior, and that’s important when you’re in a derby match.
“I’m delighted. We had a very good week in Spain. The players came back and look refreshed, they looked fit; it was something we’d hoped for, and they’ve repaid us by having a really good performance on derby day. It was a top-class day for us, coming back on Thursday and getting ourselves prepared. With the supporters just having a derby match and winning that, it’s important. We’re scoring goals, we’ve kept two clean sheets and played against teams that were so-called in-form, and come away with six points.”
Finally, he gave credit to the new signings, two of whom scored critical goals in the win. He said: “I thought they were terrific today. Every single one of them contributed to the team and to the game today. It’s not easy making your home debut in a derby match, but they showed a lot of confidence. They’re experienced and I think that was important today. They’re players we’ve taken into the football club to help us, and they’ve all hit the ground running. We had worked on that in midweek in Spain. We looked at how we could get the ball into the hole and then get behind them. The first goal was probably one of the best goals we’ve seen here this season. We’ve got good competition in the forward areas. You look at our bench and it’s very strong. You look at the ones that are out injured; we’ve got good competition at this moment in time. Last year, it was difficult for me in my first season. A lot of the budget was used before I could even get here, and I was only to take a few players in. Now, I’ve been able to take in the players that I think the football club requires.”
Argyle have emphatically beaten Devon rivals Exeter City 3-0 to secure the double over the Grecians and extend the lead over fourth place to eleven points. Goals on their home debuts from Matty Kennedy and Ryan Taylor fired Argyle into a 2-0 lead at half-time. Argyle saw out the second half well before a goal from the penalty spot from substitute Jake Jervis sealed it in stoppage time. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox(Donaldson), Carey(Slew), Sarcevic, Kennedy(Jervis), Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Tanner, Spencer.
With the highly anticipated Exeter game drawing ever nearer, Derek Adams wants Argyle supporters to make Home Park into a cauldron for the game. He stated the importance that a good atmosphere has on a big derby game: “It’s three points, but it’s important to the people of Plymouth because it is a Devon Derby. We’ve shown earlier in the season with a commanding performance against Exeter how well we can do in these games. I think that the atmosphere here when it’s packed out is excellent, and the players feed off of that. We know that when we go to Exeter they are very hostile and it’s a cauldron at times, and that’s what it has to be here tomorrow. Our supporters have to be on the back of the Exeter players from the first minute, have to cause them a lot of trouble, and we’ll be doing that on the pitch as well.
“It’s always a big match, we’ll see that on Saturday. I think that happens when you have ex-players playing for the opposition; when I was back in Scotland they used to get lots of abuse when they came out and played against each other, and that’s the nature of a derby match. When you go over that divide and you sign for someone else you’re due a wee bit of stick, and that’s what will happen on Saturday.
“I’m not concerned with Exeter Football Club, all I’m concerned about is Plymouth Argyle, and the talent that we’ve got in our side that Exeter will have to deal with. There’s a lot of goals in our team, a lot of pace and creativity. We’ve scored a good number of goals this season, we’ve defended strongly at times. It’s more about them worrying about us, than us worrying about them.
"We’re ahead of them performance wise, but their team is the form team in the league, and we go into it with high spirits. You look at it over a season, you don’t look at it over seven games, and this season is over the whole term. After 46 games we sit down and look at the league table. From my point of view nothing is won in February. It is built up to be a very good occasion, and it will be, because there’s great rivalry with the clubs. It is a big game, but it is just another three points; that’s what you get for winning the match. The occasion, the supporters from both sides, the rivalry between the clubs. That’s what will make it a big derby match tomorrow.”
Finally, Gary Sawyer spoke about a long road back from an injury that plagued his first half of the season, saying: “It’s been a tough time for me. It kept me out for a long time. I’m glad to be back, the physio and everyone has worked really hard to get me back and it’s good to be back involved. It’s probably the longest injury in my career. I never thought that it was that serious at the time. I knew I’d damaged something because of the pain when I hit the floor. I didn’t come out for the second half because I was really struggling but that was more that I didn’t want to kill the way that we were playing. I couldn’t feel like I could run properly. I felt that it would die down during the week but it didn’t. I feel good now. The first couple of games are always going to be a bit of a shock to the system. I haven’t played for five and a half months and the first game back was the first 90 since I last played earlier in the season. I got myself in good enough shape so I knew that I was fit enough to play, it was just getting back that sharpness that you can only get by playing.”
James Brent spoke about the ongoing temporary seating saga as well as the generally building sense of anticipation ahead of possibly the biggest Devon Derby in decades. Brent said: "Given where the two clubs are in the league, at a very critical time in the season, it's not surprising that tickets flew out of the door. Exeter struggled to sell much more than half of their allocation over the last couple of years but they sold out their full allocation very early on as well. It will be a full stadium with lots of emotion. Clearly we hope the fans on both sides keep the banter to appropriate levels.
"I work in Exeter on Monday mornings with the biggest employer of Grecians, and with quite a few Green Army members as well. It's great to go into the hospital with a win and have some gentle banter. As chairman of the football club, it's the really the potential to get another three points. We have taken three points from Exeter and we want the other three. But as a fan it's much more emotive.
"We incurred a loss bringing the seats in in for the Liverpool game. It wasn't a huge loss. It was very much motivated by trying to make sure that as many fans as possible saw what was a very high profile game. I think if we were to bring the seats back we would need to be very careful of sight lines. There are quite a few issues we have learned from that."
Saturday's Devon Derby between Argyle and Exeter is sold out to the available capacity. Tickets are not being sold for the temporary seating on the Mayflower terrace, occupied during our FA Cup tie against Liverpool. It will, however, be used to accommodate guests of the Argyle Community Trust.
Martyn Starnes said on the matter: “The temporary seats, installed at a significant net cost to the club and enabling an additional 1,600 or so fans to watch the Liverpool game, will still be in place on Saturday. However, given the unintended and unforeseen consequences of impaired sight lines, and following consultation with supporters and our partners on the Safety Advisory Group, we have significantly reduced the capacity in those seats for the Exeter match. The tickets we have made available in that area have been mainly sold to junior members of groups associated with our Community Trust. We are now planning to remove the temporary seats and this will be undertaken next week. We’re not yet able to confirm whether this will be achieved before or after the match on Tuesday night against Leyton Orient. This is going to be subject to the availability of the contractor.”
Derek Adams reported back from the warm weather training camp in Marbella where Argyle are currently staying. He spoke about the benefits of the camp and what Argyle are currently getting up to in Spain, saying: “It’s about taking the players away to train in a different environment. The new players can get to know the players that have been here before, and also work hard for the three days that we’re here. It gives us a bit of time together - morning, noon and night - to start to build relationships, as well. We trained a double session yesterday and today. It’s going well; the players are enjoying it. It’s been good, so we can’t complain. They’re really in the zone and they’ve got time to relax out of training, which is important. They can freshen their minds and their energy and get focused for the end of the season. We’ve got between eight and ten teams training around this area, and we’re going to watch Dynamo Kiev play against against Osijek from Croatia. It’s a good opportunity for us to watch other teams play, watch other teams train, and it gives us a better insight to teams' training methods. We’ve got the full use of two pitches, brand new built in 2016. There’s a Korean team training beside us and in the same hotel as us, so it’s good that we have other people around about us.”
After the game, Derek Adams revealed that the Argyle team are going away on a mid-season warm weather training camp in Southern Spain before the big game against Exeter next weekend. Antoni Sarcevic spoke in anticipation about the trip, saying: “With both teams doing really well in the league, it makes it nice for the spectators. Hopefully, we can please our fans and get the win. I just can’t wait for next week now. It’ll be hard work, as the gaffer said after the game, getting us ready for Saturday. It’s not a holiday halfway through the season, but it’s nice to get away and get in a different climate and push on until the end of the season. They have settled in nicely and think they will be great assets to the team. They are good players and, with the lads on the bench, it is a strong squad, which is very competitive.”
Debutant Matty Kennedy spoke about how a mixture of the persistence of Derek Adams and the fondness for Argyle of Cardiff manager Neil Warnock was responsible for securing his loan move to Home Park. He said: “The gaffer here has put a lot of interest into me over the last wee while, and before I went to Cardiff. That’s what made me want to come. Hopefully, when I get myself fitter, I can produce more and more like I did in the first half through the whole game for him. Obviously the gaffer at Cardiff knows him well and he’s a big fan of Plymouth so that helped, but the gaffer here is probably the main part, because he was so interested, and obviously Plymouth’s a big club which shouldn’t be where it is.”
Kennedy also spoke about his performance in the Cambridge win at the weekend and hoped he could build upon the foundations in games to come: “I thought I’d scored on my debut. The ’keeper’s made a great save, so fair play to him. When it left my boot, I thought it was going in. It’s one of those things. I’m sure I’ll get a goal at some point, but not today. All the boys are absolutely buzzing. We came for three points and we have done it. That’s the main objective.
“I enjoyed getting the ball wide. That’s what I like to do, take players on, creating a few chances for the boys. In the second half, we went more defensive, but, in the first half, we dominated them. I think that’s why the manager took me off; we were winning and just defending, so I think that was a good choice. It’s a bit more of a fight than the Championship, but it was a good feel for me to try to get used to this league. I’ve not played at this level, so it was a bit difficult, trying to get used to the game. It was a good run-out for me. I’ve not played many minutes this season, so I should get fitter and fitter for the team.
“There’s a lot of talent in the team, so hopefully we should do the job by the end of the season. The first time you play with others, it is difficult to see how they play but I think that, as every game goes, we will get better as a team.”
Antoni Sarcevic too was delighted with his contribution to the game where he scored the winning goal (his first in over a year) and promised that the best from him was yet to come. He said: “Today, I thought I had to stamp a mark on the team and it was nice to get a goal and get the three points. I saw Graham Carey doing his stuff and just thought I’d get on the end of his cross. It was nice to see it go in. All that matters is the win and to keep pushing on up the table; a goal’s a bonus to me. There’s so much more to come. Where I am at today, I am happy, but I know I can get a lot further on.
“The ’keeper has made two great saves, from me and Matty, in quick succession and we thought it could be one of those days because we had a good half. It was nice to see my header go in and see the game out. The second half wasn’t pretty but that was down to Cambridge trying to affect our game, and they did, but the defence stood tall and it was just brilliant for all 11 out there to get the win. We know, with our defence, how solid they are, with Sonny and Jakub, and Yann in front of them. It’s a good three to have protecting Luke McCormick. They are happy in there.
“They are the best wins you can get. Everyone’s put their body on the line to get the three points and it feels so good. Like Wottsy said, that’s the best clean sheet of the season so far. They are alright because, most of the time, I was just looking at the ball going over my head before chasing it back. I wasn’t doing much attacking in the second half. I felt really good and am absolutely buzzing that we got the win.”
Derek Adams praised a mixture of excellent attacking football in the first half and a defensive rearguard effort in the second half as being responsible for Argyle's excellent victory at Cambridge. He said: “In the first half, I thought it was the best we’ve played for a long time. It was really good, excellent play, and we probably could’ve been four or five nil up at half-time. It’s very important coming into a new club to get up and running quickly. We’ve got him in a goal-scoring area. We had so many chances in the first half and he’s been able to get a good header on the cross. In the second half, they just launched the ball forward and we had to deal with it. Today, we had to deal with the presence that they put up front. Cambridge became direct and they launched the ball forward. We defended extremely well. Set play-wise, we knew that’s what Cambridge would focus on, and we dealt with it. If you’re looking at open play, we’ve done really well. We haven’t conceded goals from that because we look solid. We have to continue that, but today was about being solid in and around the box when they had corner kicks. I don’t like to talk individually but collectively, I thought that the group did really well today. The new players came in and worked extremely hard. They took us up the pitch. It was a really good performance from us – in the first half and the second half. We take 1-0, we take a clean sheet and we take the three points home.”
Argyle's promotion bandwagon has kept rolling on with a 1-0 win at Cambridge courtesy of a goal from Antoni Sarcevic making his first start for the Greens. He scored a headed goal just before half-time and Argyle survived an onslaught in the second half to see the game out. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox, Carey, Sarcevic, Kennedy(Donaldson), Taylor(Slew). Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Blissett, Tanner, Jervis.
Ryan Donaldson is pleased with the depth of talent and competition in the Argyle squad, explaining that he thinks all the players help oneanother to push on. He said: “You try to get in the team any way you can here. We have got so many good players, it helps to be able to fill in anywhere. I’ve played quite a lot of positions this season and I want to carry it on. We all push each other on. Competition for places is what you need to be successful and we have got that. We’re a good squad; we’re a tight squad; a lot of good players; and we want to bring success to this club. We have got a lot of players who have got the same mindset. I think that helps.“Training and playing together is the easiest way of doing that. Good players, good experience, people who have already been promoted from this league – that’s always important: as many people as you can with promotion-experience is key. I’m sure they’ll be helping us to get where we want to go. We’ve got one target, one aim, now and everyone knows what that is, so we are looking forward to trying to get that. Like I said, we have got so many good players here. I have never played in a squad this good since I made the step up into men’s football.”
Donaldson added that whilst he has fond memories of facing up against Saturday's opponents, Cambridge, he would not be letting that impact upon his game. He said: "Wembley is where everybody wants to play and I have got great memories of doing that for Cambridge. It's a great club full of good people and hopefully I will get a good reception there.
"We had so many chances in the first half at Yeovil and if we had put one of them away I would trust us to get a positive result, but you get punished when you lose concentration. It's two set pieces again. That has really annoyed us as a squad so we will be trying to put that right. Every time we concede a goal we go through the video and it's a bit of a recurring theme at the minute. Obviously, the gaffer will go through his views, but it's down to us on the pitch at the time to see out the danger. We haven't done that as much as possible and it has cost us this season. Hopefully we can get that right for the final third."
In a window where four players left Home Park and five came in, Derek Adams believes that on the whole, his Argyle squad is stronger by the end of it. Adams explained:" Everybody knows what kind of squad they have got now for the run-in. We have become stronger in the transfer window. I think it's important when you go into the January period that you get a bit of experience into your team – ones who have got out of the division before – and we have certainly been able to do that. We have got a lot of games in February so I'm sure all the players will be involved. It's about building relationships with their team-mates now.
"There is a wheeling and dealing going on in January. You are always on your phone, waiting for calls and accepting calls. You just don't know when the next phone call is going to come in, if it's a bid for a player or you going to get good news about signing a player. It can be a distraction but we had identified the players that we wanted to take in long before the window opened. We are happy with the ones we took in."
Matt Kennedy, who joined Argyle on loan from Cardiff in the last hour of January's transfer window will add a lot to the squad according to Derek Adams, who said: "He's quick, he's direct and he can play either side – left or right wing," said the Argyle manager. He's creative and he has got good experience of playing in the Championship a number of times for Cardiff. I have known for him for many years. I have seen him play. He's one that Cardiff have got high hopes for in the future. He's a young lad but he's very sure of his ability, and being Scottish he has got a bit about him. He will fit in well with the squad.
"He gives us an outlet with pace. We have got pace in the side but he's just a wee bit different to the ones that we have got already. He's one that you can play the ball to feet and he will take people on, or you can play it behind and he will get on the end of it. He's a good crosser of the ball and he will find space for himself and create chances. Fans like players that run forward and get into areas of the park where you are going to get excitement and goals."
Finally, Adams revealed why he let Louis Rooney go out on loan to Hartlepool shortly before the end of deadline day: "We had tried to get Louis out on loan during the transfer window. It was only after the game against Yeovil that I was told there was a possibility of him going to Hartlepool. "It was important I made a quick decision, obviously, and it's giving Louis the opportunity to go and get 10-15 starts between now and the end of the season to give him experience of playing League Two football. I wasn't going to be able to give him that opportunity here. He will go to Hartlepool and get that starting time he feels he deserves.
"He needs to start games for them and by doing that it will give him experience of playing in this league. He's only a young boy. He was aware of interest from Hartlepool for the last week, but it wasn't concrete until after the game against Yeovil. He had been able to speak with his Mum and Dad and he knew what was happening."
Derek Adams bemoaned the fact that his Argyle side were 'not themselves' as they fell to defeat at Yeovil in the rain. Adams said: "We have come away with a defeat away from home. It is not like us. We did not deal well with the conditions, and we didn't keep the ball well enough at times in the game. We did not deal well with the conditions tonight. In and out of possession I think we could have been better. We could have passed the ball better. We know what Yeovil are like, they are very direct. They play the ball into the big guy and play off of him.
"In the first half we had a good number of chances to go ahead in the game but we have not taken them. We lost two soft goals in the second half. Overall we had the majority of the play but we have come away with a defeat. The chances we had in the first half with the set plays that we put in were very good. A couple cleared off the line, a couple blocked by them. We should have been ahead in the game, we should have probably been two or three nil up, but we were not. They have not had a shot on goal in the first half. In the second half we have lost two poor goals from crosses into the box.
"It is concerning because we have not dealt with them and there is two goals from them. We have got 11 players in the box and we have not dealt well with the ball. When you do not do that you are going to have an uphill task in the game. Saying that, we had three, four or five opportunities against Yeovil and they probably could have lost five or six from set plays tonight. We have not dealt well with the ball in the box and the players have to do better at that. You just have to deal with the ball coming into the box, it's not rocket science. The ball is there to be won and we have not done that.
"I am not going to speak individually about players. On a difficult night, I do not think there were any stand-outs in any of the teams tonight because the conditions were not conducive to that."
Argyle have lost 2-1 to Yeovil Town on a night of torrential rain at Huish Park. Two set piece goals within three minutes saw Argyle go behind 2-0. Jakub Sokolik's first goal for the club proved no more than a consolation. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox(Sarcevic), Tanner, Carey, Donaldson(Jervis), Blissett(Slew). Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Rooney.
The night was not over there however, as Argyle confirmed the signing of 22 year old winger Matty Kennedy who has joined on loan from Cardiff City until the end of the season. He will wear the number 33 shirt. He has represented Scotland at every age group level from Under-15 to Under-21.
Also, Louis Rooney is joining Argyle’s Sky Bet League Two rivals Hartlepool United on loan for the remainder of the season. The deal went through just 17 seconds before the transfer window closed. Ironically, Hartlepool were the opponents in his only ever league start for Argyle where he scored twice.
Ben Purrington has signed for Rotherham United on a three and a half year contract for an undisclosed fee. The left-back moves on just over three years after making his debut for the club.
Derek Adams said that everyone has got something out of the deal: “He indicated to me that he would like to go and speak to them if an offer was able to be concluded between the clubs. We bargained a deal with Rotherham and we’ve got a good deal for both Ben and ourselves. When a player indicates that they would like to leave, then you’ve got to deal with that. We’re in a position to turn down the deal, but sometimes you’re left with a player who is disgruntled that he’s not able to get the move that he wants.
“We’ve got Gary Sawyer; we’ve got Oscar Threlkeld; and we’ve got Sonny Bradley who can play there, as well but we’re still looking to maybe add before the window closes. If it doesn’t happen we’ll look to the free transfer market after the window closes.”
In other news, Argyle have signed striker Ryan Taylor from Oxford United, becoming Derek Adams' fourth signing of the January transfer window. Taylor agreed a deal with Oxford to terminate his contract late last week. He will wear the number 19 shirt for Argyle.
On this signing, Adams said: “He was wanted by other clubs but I’ve been very persistent, and he’s recognised I’ve been trying to get him in for a wee while now and I’ve not let go. We’ve been working on it for a number of weeks. We’ve been trying to take in a striker, to help us, and he’s one that’s played in League Two, played in the division above, and he gives us good experience. He’s 28 years of age; he takes the ball in and leads the line very well; and it’s important that at this stage of the season you have experience in your team. He’s experienced; he’s won promotion out of this league. Taking experienced players into your team is definitely going to help you; players that have been there and done it before are going to help the squad.
“We’ve got plenty of options there now and, with 20 games to go, we’re going to need that, trying to win as many games as we can at the end of the season. Ryan has played the last five games on the trot for Oxford, so he’s ready to go.”
Finally, with under 24 hours to go until deadline day, Adams said: "We could sign one more. We are trying to get one in on loan from a Championship club."
Derek Adams is hoping for one more signing to complete a successful January transfer window. He said: “Yes, possibly one more. We said that in the transfer window we were trying to get someone, and we’re still trying to do that. A winger is an area we have been looking at. We’re working on a couple of options but we are still waiting to hear back from the players or the clubs.
“We’ve got good competition up front. We’ve got Jimmy Spencer who’s coming back into February; we’ve got Blissett, Garita, Slew, Jervis and Rooney; we’ve got good competition in that area."
As for players potentially departing, he said: 'I haven’t heard of any clubs, but there’s always interest in our players and there always will be. Somebody just has to pick up a phone and put in a bid for a player. Until that happens, there’s definitely going to be interest in our players, who have done so well. Of course, you want to try and keep your squad together and we’ve been trying to add to the squad that we already had here this season. I think we’ve done well so far.”
Antoni Sarcevic, has been keeping an eye on the Pilgrims’ promotion push - and now wants to contribute to it himself. He said: “It’s nice feeling to be in and amongst the lads. I’m just buzzing to be back with a very good club, and can’t wait to get going. They’re all lads I’ve played against, I haven’t played with any. They’re all cracking lads and I’ve got on with every single one of them today. They’ve all been a pleasure to be with. I watched the Liverpool games on telly, and a couple of days later they showed an interest. I had a couple of options but it was one I definitely couldn’t turn down. Given the position in the league, promotion is the only thing we want now. The ground, where they are in the league and the fans; It’s just something I want to be part of. It’s a positive club and I’m happy to be here.
“My last year was in League One, but I don’t see this as a step down, with the position in the league and promotion in mind. I’ll just do my best to carry on what’s been brilliant already here with the lads and the club, and I hope to add to it. I was only 16 when I left City, so it wasn’t really in the serious business of football at the time. I was just wanting to play with my mates and get that love for it again. Ever since that it’s just been climbing, climbing, climbing and I’m buzzing to be here.”
Argyle have confirmed the signing of former Fleetwood and Shrewsbury midfielder Antoni Sarcevic. Sarcevic has gained promotion from this league with Fleetwood in 2013/14 and left the shrews last month before joining Argyle. He will wear the number 7 shirt.
Derek Adams said on the signing: “He’s a central midfield player that we’ve all been looking for. He’s got good energy; he likes to get into the box; he’s creative; good with set plays and he can be useful with his energy in the middle of the pitch. We’re a wee bit short in numbers there with Connor Smith and David Ijaha getting injured, so it gives us good competition there. We’ve been working on it for a wee while now. He’d left Shrewsbury and there was obviously interest in him, but he wanted to come to Plymouth Argyle because it’s one of the biggest clubs in this division. He’s seen how well we have done this season and wanted to be part of it.
“He knows what it takes to get out of this division. He’s got very good experience for 24-years-old that’s important as well. He’s got enough physical presence about him, but also guile to score and create goals. Antoni can play number 10, he can also play in midfield.
In more sad news, Adams confirmed that Ryan Brunt has suffered yet another setback from the injury he first obtained in March 2016 at Barnet. Adams said: "Ryan has had a setback and he's not running at this moment in time. He has had to rest for six weeks and now he has got to get back to running again, which will probably happen within the next week or so. We don't feel it's anything to concern ourselves with. It's just the consultant had asked him to give it a rest. It's a long time to be out and we have obviously missed him in and around the squad."
"As a football club, we have looked after him. He's with us until the end of the season and the football club have been very supportive towards him. He has still got that opportunity. He just needs to get himself back running The quicker he does that and gets game-time under his belt, there is still a good possibility that playing for the first team this season will happen."
He had more positive imminent news on Jimmy Spencer, however: "He will be back in February. I'm not sure whether it will be the middle or to the end of the month. He's progressing well. He's running now and he looks in good shape."
Argyle have confirm that David Goodwillie has left the club by mutual agreement. Goodwillie has asked the club to terminate his contract of employment in order that he can focus his time on a potential appeal of the civil judgement made against him. PAFC has agreed to his request.
Argyle's match against Blackpool, postponed due to the Seasiders' involvement in the FA Cup fourth round has been re-arranged for Tuesday March 7th. It has the earlier than usual kick-off time of 7.30pm.
Derek Adams is hoping his Argyle side enjoy a good rest before undertaking the rest of the season in the crucial final 20 games that will make or break promotion. He went on to speak about the likelihood of adding to his squad before the end of the transfer window. Adams said: “They’ve been on a difficult run of fixtures and performed really well out of them against Liverpool and Stevenage. When they came here, they were able to get themselves going. Today, they’ve been able to get a very important victory. This league is very competitive. Home or away, you’ve got to be at it on a weekly basis. We’re just delighted to come away from here with three points. We’ve been in a lot of the time, and the players are going to have a few days off now, because they’ve worked so hard – as has everyone at the football club. They deserve to get that rest. We’ve had a hard time travel-wise and had a lot of pressure on us. We’ve had a lot of work to do. We haven’t got a game until a week on Tuesday, so it’s good for us. The boys are going to have a few days off now and there’s only one better way to do that, and that’s to get a victory beforehand.
“We’re still trying to do business. Teams are either playing their players or waiting to get players in before they get players out, so I think it’ll be a busy time. We’ve scouted a good lot of players, and we’re just waiting for the say-so to. It could be a loan and a permanent signing. We’ll just have to wait and see. We’re definitely looking for a wide player, because we’ve been looking at that for the whole season. We’re after a few and we just have to hope we can get them. It’s important to just give us a bit more depth. We’ve got a lot of players out injured at the moment which hasn’t helped.”
Derek Adams credits the win against Cheltenham in no small part to the decision made at half-time to match's Cheltenham's 3-5-2 system and simultaneously go more direct. Adams said: “We’ve obviously changed the formation at half time and changed the personnel, because we knew what might happen in the second half. I thought that Cheltenham were going to go very direct in the second half. We had to deal with an aerial bombardment in the second half. We knew that was going to be the case because they were down the slope in the second half. They’ve got good quality into the box, they’ve got long throws, and we dealt with it well. I just thought about giving us better protection in the back, to allow us to try and see out the game. It worked well for us. We probably didn’t create much in the second half, but we’ve been able to get a victory.
“Jakub made a lot of good headers and he’s tough, as well. He goes in with his head and reads the game well, and he was composed at times. I was delighted for him. Nathan comes on as well and gives us that extra dimension up front. It wasn’t easy for him because the balls going up to him weren’t the best at times. We didn’t really get enough people around about him.”
Adams' other primary factor was the gutsiness and strong mentality of his squad, that enabled them to come back from conceding a heartbreaking equaliser to score the winning goal in the dying stages of the match. He added: “When we’ve got that free-kick, we’ve got good quality. A great ball into the box from David Fox, and Sonny, as he has done for the majority of the season, does well winning the header. For the second game this season, he’s scored two. It was a very good header. He gets up well at the back area and gets good power on it. He’s a big player for us
“I didn’t think the playing surface was right to be played on. It was very hard under foot and I didn’t think we’d able to play on it. The goalmouths, especially the one on the right-hand side of our dugout, were solid. I was very surprised that the game had gone ahead. I didn’t think it was safe, because the goalkeepers were in and amongst the penalty area and it can cause them trouble. Somehow, we’ve been able to get through it.
“Credit to our players: they show great resilience on a weekly basis and they’ve come away with a good victory. I’ve said before that this group are very good characters. They’re very tight-knit and it’s good for them to get that victory again. It wasn’t going to be a pretty day; we knew that from the start of the match. But the players have got fantastic character. For us today to come here, on a difficult playing surface, to get the victory: we’re delighted about it, especially with it being so late in the game.”
Sonny Bradley talked fans through his euphoric winning goal in stoppage time in the game, explaining: “I went over to Graham and Foxy because they stand over the ball - is it going to be a left ’un; is it going to be a right ’un? – and I said to Graham ‘If you are not going to hit it, let Foxy just stand it up at the back stick for me because I’ll put it in the net.’ Foxy was giving me the nod like ‘we’re on.’ From then on, I knew it was coming to me. I stood at the back stick; I waited for the flight of the ball and I timed my header well. I didn’t actually see it hit the back of the net – I’ve got up and everyone was jumping on me, so that’s when I kind of figured out I’d scored the winner.
“Obviously scoring a winner in injury-time is brilliant stuff for myself and it’s great for the club. Everyone’s delighted. Wotty’s come out and said it’s the biggest result of the season so far – and he’s probably right. I don’t think Cheltenham had too many chances. The goal we conceded was a little bit of warning sign, though, because that’s another set-piece we have conceded from which, on a personal level, I am not happy with; the team are not happy. But, when you score a 91st-minute winner, it kind of overshadows it.
When you look back at both goals, they probably are pretty similar,” he said. “I can tell you now, it’s the same feeling as well. The feeling of scoring winner in a football match – not many will get to feel that. It’s a great feeling. We’ve shown great character. We were very tired after the Liverpool game. Although it might have looked like we didn’t have to do too much work, it really was a lot of strain on our legs. We have recovered well since then and we knew we had more than enough. Jake and Slewy ran themselves into the ground in the first half. The gaffer has seen that and brought on fresh legs to go for the win. The gaffer said before the game ‘We’ve got 90 minutes here and then we’ve got the chance of a good rest’ so we put everything into this game. If we want to get promoted – which we do – we have got to look after our bodies and we have got to perform to our best every week. That’s what we’ve done today and, if we continue to do that, we’ll be up there at the end of the season.”
Argyle have secured another vital win on the road towards promotion, beating Cheltenham 2-1 with a Sonny Bradley double. He scored the first in a goalline scramble in the first half before the home side levelled it up in the 85th minute. Luckily though, Bradley was on hand again in the 90th minute as he nodded home David Fox's looping cross. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Fox, Donaldson, Carey, Jervis(Blissett), Garita(Tanner), Slew(Sokolik). Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Sawyer, Rooney.
Derek Adams has revealed lack of gametime as the primary reason why Karleigh Osborne left Argyle for Kilmarnock last week. Adams said: "Karleigh wanted to get games and I was unable to give him that assurance here. He felt he needed to move on to get more game-time, at this stage of his career, and he has had the opportunity to go to Kilmarnock. I wasn't going to stand in his way and he has been able to get a deal up there. I didn't speak to anyone up in Scotland about him, but he's obviously an experienced player in England. I think he has been very unfortunate. Just before the first pre-season game he picked up an injury. He picked up another injury not long after that and competition for places became more difficult with Songo'o, Bulvitis and Bradley. We have obviously taken in Jakub Sokolik as well."
Adams also spoke about the chances of bringing in some more players between now and the end of the transfer window, saying: "We are definitely hopeful of signing a couple of players before the transfer window closes. I'm just waiting on some clubs to get back to me. They are obviously looking at their squads at this moment in time. I'm sure before the window closes we will have another couple in."
And on the prospect of anyone leaving Home Park, he said: I don't want that to happen and I don't think it will happen. We have got a settled squad and I want to add to what we have got here, and increase the competition and the quality in the squad."
Adams also dismissed concerns that the game against Cheltenham is coming too soon for his squad following Wednesday's tiring game with Liverpool, claiming that his squad are resilient enough: "It's about getting the recovery period quickly turned around. Looking at the players against Liverpool, I thought their fitness levels were excellent. Liverpool changed their team about and had fresh legs but we had played on Saturday in a game where we went behind and came back to win 4-2. So I don't see that being problem because of the energy in the group.
"Graham had a problem with his hip flexor. It was feeling a bit tight but as the game went on he was able to get it moving and played the full 90 minutes. We didn't want to make an early change so we felt if we got to half-time we could see how Graham was getting on."
Graham Carey echoed the words of his manager- saying that he intends to both remain at the club and be fit for the Cheltenham game. Carey: “That’s the plan, yes. I’ve always said, after the Wembley final, I wanted to come back and win the league, but I’d take promotion. A club of this size shouldn’t be in this league, no disrespect to any team in this league, with the attendances we can get there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be playing at a higher level.
"I tweaked my hip flexor a bit and as the game went on I ran it off, but then I got a knock again in the second half towards the end and it went again,” he said. So it’s quite sore. Hopefully it’ll settle down in the next day or two and I’ll be ready for Saturday.”
Ben Purrington spoke about the value of the experience of playing against top class players and drew a line under the Liverpool tie by hoping it could be used as a springboard for bigger things, such as promotion from this league. The left-back said: “They’re a lot shorter than you think, in person. For these Premier League players, their average height is a lot shorter than in League Two, but their feet and their movement is unbelievable. They’re so quick, so sharp. If you’re playing 180 minutes of football and they only get through with a set piece it says a lot about our defensive unit. When we set up, prepared to defend, we were good.
They’re by far the biggest games I’ve ever played in and for a long time to come will remain the biggest I’ve ever played in. I got a player’s shirt and it will be something nice to look back on in years to come. It was the biggest crowd here I’ve ever played in front of. It was a great atmosphere and the fans were unbelievable throughout the whole game, even when we were 1-0 down. It’s a credit to them for getting behind the lads.
Our heads are, now we’re out of the cup, completely on promotion. These games were a learning curve and they showed we can mix it with the big boys. Hopefully we can use it to push on.”
Pride in his team was the dominant emotion from Derek Adams following Argyle's valiant exit from the FA Cup against Liverpool. Adams said: “We were probably unfortunate not to score in the first period. In the second half, with Jake Jervis hitting the post, it just wasn’t our night. I thought we gave them a scare. We kept the ball a lot better at times tonight and created opportunities. I thought that the forward players got into the penalty area; our full backs got forward as well; that was all the in the game plan. The game plan was to get them to Home Park and then see if we could win the tie. I think in the first game, they were very sound defensively. Tonight, we’ve given away a goal from a set play. In open play, did Liverpool look like they were scoring? I’m not sure. Did our goalkeeper have a lot of saves to make over the 90 minutes? I think their goalkeeper had a lot more to do than ours.
“They’re obviously disappointed – you’re disappointed when you go out of the cup. But a Premier League side like Liverpool: they were very respectful tonight, playing the players that they did, and we’ve pushed them all the way. Over the two games, I think the football club are proud of their players. I think over the two games, we’re very proud of our performance. The players: they’ve left nothing on the pitch tonight. They’ve made this football club very proud again.”
Adams had particular praise for the fans of the club who he felt were in great number and voice in both legs. He said “Tonight, we’ve put Plymouth Argyle on the map again. A lot of press coverage has come from this game. The attendance was fantastic, and I think the support we’ve had over the two games – to travel to Liverpool and then fill out the capacity crowd tonight – has shown a worldwide audience that this football club can get back to where it belongs, and they believe it belongs in the Championship. They’ve had a lot of hard times over the years, and we’re just trying to rebuild that and get it back to where it’s been before. The city has got a population of roughly 300,000, and I think that it’s the largest city not to play in the Premier League. Over the years, they want to get there. We’re building the blocks to get them back there. I’ve been at a club in the past in Ross County, taking them from the Second Division right up into the Premier League. We’re trying to move them through the leagues here again
“We’re in a tough division. We play against teams who play in different styles. Tonight, Liverpool were a passing side and we stopped them creating many opportunities. On the flip-side, we also created opportunities. The fans were fantastic over the two games. To take 9,000 to Liverpool and then tonight, we’ve had to put extra seating in just to accommodate them. They generated a terrific atmosphere for the football club.”
David Fox too was pleased with how Argyle played in two games against Liverpool but had an extra message for the fans- that he intended for the best to yet be to come. He said: "That is something we spoke about after the game in the changing room. Now we have got to really kick on. We have got to make sure that these games are not what we remember this season for. We beat Stevenage which I thought was massive, and if we can beat Cheltenham on Saturday then no one can really label that these have been distractions because we have picked up some good results during these two game. What we have got to do on Saturday, is make sure that it can't be labelled like that. We will go there and we will give it everything. It will be tough I am sure, because we have not got long to recover. The lads have put in a real shift tonight and I am sure that it will be an issue. Once we are there, once we are in the game, and I am sure there will be lots of travelling fans there. It will really push us on and we know now that the Blackpool game has been changed so we have not got a game for a while, so we really have got to put everything in on Saturday and then we will get plenty of rest after that. We are down to the bare bones. We have got Bully and Rooney upfront at the end. You can forget that they rested a few. We can arguably say there were six or seven lads that could have been in our starting 11 that we have not got. We really were up against it. We did really give them a good go. They are a top team, but we gave everything
"He has trained a bit but he has not been able to do any contact stuff, that was a massive plus to have him back. He did really well for the time he was on the pitch, and we need to get people back. Hopefully these games can enable the club to move forward maybe get a couple players in of the back of it. Who knows? What is has done is it has given a real buzz to the city and it is something we can really take forward going into the running. We have got the couple of lads who are cup-tied so they will be back in the reckoning on Saturday. We are going with what we have got. The positives from these two games are massive. Not just for the football side of things but for the whole city really. I have noticed around the place there is a real buzz about these two games. It's little bits and bobs that are waking up a sleeping club like this. We know that if we keep performing then the fans will keep coming in their numbers. Hopefully this is not the highlight of our season. That is something we have emphasised after the game that make sure this is not the high point of our season.
"My legs were going towards the end and then Luke saves that penalty and all of a sudden you get that little boost again. It was a great save and you're thinking 'one more chance, one more chance'. Unfortunately I don't quite think we got that chance towards the end, but that was a real highlight and something that really pushes you on in the last ten minutes. I thought we would get another chance, but it wasn't meant to be. It could have been another Anfield job if it had gone to extra time but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be."
He too was overwhelmed by the fantastic Home Park noise, saying: "It was brilliant, it really was. They were behind us all game to be honest. They all stayed to the end. I don't think anyone left early and that was probably a show of appreciation for the effort the lads put in. We have ran them close in two games now. They are a top team, they make it very difficult for you. We stuck together, we were really compact, we were really tight as a unit. We had each others' backs out there which was really pleasing. There are a lot of things we can take into the game on Saturday and forward from the positives that we can take from these two games. We gave it a go. We really did. I think the fans can be proud of our efforts just like we were of theirs. We did give it a go. We made it a lot more competitive, we caused them a few more problems than the other game. Ultimately we got done of a set piece and that is disappointing. There is a lot more positives to be taken out of the whole two games really. It has been two great games, the fans have been brilliant throughout them, and there is a lot we can take into the run-in now.
"I don't think I have had so many headers to make tonight which is quite good for me. I normally have to head the ball quite a lot in League Two. They gave us a lot of respect with the team we picked and there were times when we did get on the ball. We passed it around well, I still thought we could have done more in the final third, we could have been a bit more of a threat then we were. At the end of the day they are a top team and they make it very difficult for you they have the ball for long periods and it is difficult to transform from defending to attacking when you are defending for so long. They make the game very hard but we really can be proud of our efforts and what it shows is that if we can produce performances then hopefully the fans will keep coming in their numbers like they did tonight."
The final League Two fixtures of the season will kick-off at 5.30pm on Saturday, May 6. The matches will be played simultaneously to ensure that all promotion and relegation issues are resolved fairly and concurrently. Argyle travel to Grimsby on the final day of the season - our first trip to Blundell Park for 13 years. The fixtures have been switched from their initial 3pm slot so that at least one decisive fixture can be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Argyle have gone out of the FA Cup fighting with a 1-0 loss at home to Liverpool. Lucas Leiva scored the goal's only game from a corner in the 19th minute. Argyle pressed and pressed but could not find an opening in spite of Jake Jervis hitting the post late on. The game was notable for Callum Rose making his first appearance in the Argyle 18. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Fox, Donaldson(Tanner), Jervis, Carey, Slew(Bulvitis), Garita(Rooney). Subs: Dorel, Sawyer, Rose, Fletcher
David Goodwillie will not be selected to play for Plymouth Argyle until the club has considered a civil court judgment which ruled he and a former teammate raped a woman. he former Scotland international and his ex-Dundee United teammate David Robertson have been ordered to pay £100,000 damages to the woman despite never facing a criminal trial. Goodwillie was accused of serious sexual assault against a young woman in Armadale, West Lothian, in January 2011 but the charge was dropped in July that year.
Argyle said in a statement: "We note today's judgment from the Court of Session in Edinburgh regarding David Goodwillie. We await the full report, which we will consider in detail before making any comment. Until such time, David Goodwillie will not be selected to play for Plymouth Argyle."
Derek Adams admitted that the odds were stacked against his Argyle side making history against Liverpool tomorrow night but said: Plymouth Argyle v Liverpool: Derek Adams calls for more strong defending: "But they were stacked heavily against us in the first game and we went to Anfield and came away with a 0-0 draw. Not many teams can say that this season. The players defended exceptionally well for the 90 minutes at Anfield so that was a very good starting point. At times tonight we will take the game to Liverpool but we will have to defend well, with the amount of talent they will have at their disposal. I think they will probably have a bit different from last Sunday's game. They have got a number of players that are coming back from injury and they might want to use them.
"We saw in the first game that we had two chances and we didn't take them. In this game there will probably be more chances for us. We will just play the game as it comes and see how it goes. I think they took great pride in how well they played for the football club in the first game. There were nearly 9,000 supporters at Anfield and there is going to be a packed house here. I'm looking forward to it. It's one to get through to the next round of the cup. Let's get on with it."
Argyle have received the news that fans were looking for, with the confirmation that Craig Tanner and Paul-Arnold Garita will both extend their loans deals until the end of the current season.
Karleigh Osborne however is leaving the club following a very short spell at Argyle that only saw him make two appearances in total for the club. He has joined Kilmarnock of the SPL.
Ben Purrington is prepared to trade another headache in return for a good performance and result against Liverpool in the FA Cup third round replay, as he was in the original game. The youngster said: "All around the changing room we believe we can get a result. You never go into a game thinking you're going to lose. You've got to try and stay positive. The gaffer said sit in. Me and Gary Miller were never going to step forward in that game because we knew they were good players. As soon as you step out of shape you could see, at times during the game, when one or two of us would jump out they were too sharp on the ball. You can't really risk that. We stuck to it well and I don't know what our tactics are going to be in the replay, but we'll speak later in the week. You can tell when you're playing against them. They're so sharp. Physically-wise, the game wasn't too tough because we weren't really running up and down, supporting the wingers, we just sat in. It was more mentally, because if you switch off at that level you know you're going to get punished straight away. You come off the pitch with a little headache, you're like 'oh God, that was hard work.'"
Purrington also revealed that he has had the best possible mentor for high-profile and high-intensity games: his rugby world cup winning uncle, Richard Hill. Purrington said: "It's good to ask someone like that questions as he has been through it in a professional side. It's a different sport but he knows the ins and the outs of what goes on at the top level. I spoke to him before and after the Liverpool game which he went to. We're quite close. I'll always ask him questions, especially about mental toughness. I'll also ask him about the gym side, exercise, diet, all that stuff as he has the top people around him who know what they are talking about.
"I was only seven when the Rugby World Cup final was on but I vividly remember it. I was in the lounge with my family and my mum was jumping up and down. I didn't really understand but kept cheering. I think my family find it weird cheering him on and now me. But I think my uncle enjoys it and comes to a lot of games. I've learned from him. He would join us at Christmas and rather than have roast potatoes he would have them boiled and be very careful with his diet. It made you think that if you are playing elite sport you have to watch what you eat and look after yourself. I played rugby at school but I was always into football. I never took rugby seriously."
Derek Adams admitted a modicum of frustration at how Argyle defended in the game “Very frustrating. It was a soft goal from our point of view. We lost the first header and then we didn’t pick up at the next one back in. We knew that we’d have to start quickly today, because Stevenage were going to do that to us, and we didn’t do it. We went 1-0 down very early in the game. We were able to get ourselves back in the game at 1-1, then it was 2-2. I always thought they would create chances in the game. It was obviously an entertaining match. I thought some of our play at times was very good, and it was a matter of time before we scored. It was too open at times, from my point of view, but that comes with playing in League 2. You’ve got to play more defensive at times and you will get chances against teams. Credit to Stevenage: they’ve got some good players in their team who’ve done well away from home.
“I think that the way we passed the ball sometimes in the first half was excellent. With the openings we created, we could see that we were going to be successful if we were able to pass the ball a wee bit more, instead of going direct. In the second half, we played a lot of quick, attacking play. We’ve hit the bar; we’ve hit a number over the bar and past the post. We probably became a bit lazy at times, but I didn’t really feel like we were going to lose the match. I thought the amount of chances we were going to create was going to exceed the ones that they were. Overall, I didn’t think that we defended badly today; I just thought that we became lazy.
“I looked at the midfield three and the back four. They had a lot of defending to do last week and they’ve done that well today. Graham Carey: he has got tremendous energy, he repeats runs, he runs forward and creates chances all the time. The same with Slew and Jervis. They’re back and forward; they do a good job for us in that wider area. You see at times how important it is that you’re able to run in the modern-day, and they can certainly do that. It is starting to open up a wee bit, the league. Winning and getting that three points is important.
“This is a difficult league, as I keep on saying. Stevenage have done well away from home this season and we’ve managed to score four goals against them. They haven’t scored from open play today, which is good from our point of view. In the end, four goals against a team that is on the up is important. I think we were a team who had always shown in the game that we were going to win.
“It’s not been an easy week for us. It’s been very difficult for us. We’ve got people talking about the Liverpool game since we drew there at Anfield. It’s not been an easy week for us – we’ve seen everything that goes on around the football club. To be fair to the players, they’ve shown a lot of grit and determination to get through the game today. It’s a big game for Plymouth Argyle. It’s a big game for the city. We can now focus solely on that. It’s going to be a terrific evening.”
One player unlikely to make the game however is Connor Smith who picked up an ankle injury in the lead-up to Argyle's fourth goal. He’s just gone in for the tackle and his ankle has gone back in on itself. He’s in the treatment room. We’ll just have to assess it; at this moment in time, I’m being told he’s not likely for Wednesday, but we’ll wait and see. We do look strong. I think that’s important. We’ve had a lot of games already this season. We’ve got a lot of important games to come, and it’s important we have the strength in depth.”
Oscar Threlkeld too was pleased with Argyle's display against Stevenage and reserved special praise for some players including Connor Smith and Luke McCormick. Threlkeld said: "It was good to play in. The first half we didn't really get out of the traps. We conceded two very sloppy goals - one included myself. Second half we came out and we started playing football on the deck and we had more chances in the second half. It's different with fans; they can brag about playing Liverpool. The players know it's more important today in the league then it is to play against Liverpool on Wednesday. We have done our job at Anfield and now our focus is onto the replay on Wednesday. We had a task on today and we have certainly done it."The boys were really good. I thought Connor Smith was really good at breaking up play in the middle of the pitch but it is sad to see him having to come off. It was a brave tackle for setting up the fourth goal. We have been working on that in training, the strikers were on their game through training and it just shows on the pitch.
"Luke has been on form for the last few weeks. Without him in the sticks we would have probably gone down or been level. He is an experienced goalkeeper. People might think for the second one it was his fault but I take full credit for it. I should have just hit it up the line instead of trying to play on the deck leading to the free kick."
Argyle moved 3 points nearer to promotion with a 4-2 win over Stevenage at Home Park. The high-scoring game was opened by Stevenage scoring from a free-kick in the early stages. Goals from Slew and Jervis saw Argyle re-take the lead but the visitors equalised on the stroke of half-time. Argyle persevered however and a Graham Carey shot deflected off Paul-Arnold Garita saw us re-take the lead. David Goodwillie's first goal for Argyle wrapped the game up in the closing stages. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Smith, Fox, Jervis(Tanner), Carey, Slew(Blissett), Garita(Goodwillie). Subs: Dorel, Sokolik, Bulvitis, Sawyer.
Argyle are re-opening Home Park’s Mayflower Terrace for Wednesday’s FA Cup tie against Liverpool. Following unprecedented demand for tickets to watch the third-round replay with Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League giants, the club is to re-introduce temporary seating in the Mayflower for the first time since 2010. The extra seating will raise Home Park’s capacity for the eagerly-anticipated clash by more than 1,800. Chairman James Brent said: “This is great news for the Green Army. Argyle’s management team and staff have been working extraordinarily long hours to issue around 13,500 tickets – our full allocation – over the last few days. This task has been made more challenging by the wish to make the allocation as fair as possible. At the same time, the management team has been working on a complex plan to add additional seating to ensure that as many members of the Green Army as possible can see the once-in-a-generation match. Our thanks go to Liverpool for waiving their allocation and their rights to any revenue from the new seating, without which we would not have been able to do this. We also thank our sponsors Ginsters and St Austell Brewery. Special thanks to the Safety Advisory Group for their strenuous efforts in helping to make this happen for the city of Plymouth.”
Tickets will be £35 – no concessions – and will include a free souvenir match-day programme, normally £5, and a voucher for a pasty and a drink which can be redeemed at a future game.
James Brent is not concerned about losing his majority shareholder status as Argyle part-owner and said that the benefit of the club is foremost in his mind: "When we initially got involved with the club, which has a 130-year history, we said we were coming in for a chapter or a couple of chapters of that history. We said we would absolutely not let our ownership stand in the way of the development of the club. We also said that when we found fellow partners and investors who wanted to come in, and convinced us they could take the club to a different and better place, we would absolutely support that. The relationship with Simon has been absolutely refreshing. It's not just in terms of financial investment but it's the challenge that he brings. All of us improve what we do through having constructive challenge, and that's what Simon and Jane have brought to the table, and I'm very grateful for that. There is no issue about being diluted down to 50.1 per cent. I'm absolutely delighted to have such a good partner on board. Simon is very demanding and very challenging, but that's what drives improvement."
Nathan Blissett spoke about the somewhat chaotic nature of his move to Argyle and spoke more about the type of player that the Green Army could expect to see. He said: "Three weeks before I actually signed, that's when the ball kind of got rolling. It got leaked that Plymouth were interested in me so it was a bit of a circus at times, but I'm glad I'm here. It wasn't a distraction until I knew I was definitely going to be signing. I had to make the decision whether or not I was going to play in the New Year's Day game. It was a big opportunity for myself at a massive club and I would have been foolish to make anything happen to jeopardise that, so I took the decision not to play.
"I like being in winning environments. It's the best place to push yourself. The competition here at Argyle will be immense to get a shirt for the weekends, and that's only going to push you on, and push everyone else on. I'm looking forward to it. When I left Bristol Rovers it was a bit doom and gloom with my mindset really, and what I wanted to do going forward. The manager at Torquay took me aside and said 'Give me a year and I can push you on' and I have done that.
"It has literally been a year since I signed there, and now I'm in League Two with a massive club like Plymouth. There was a quote in an article saying that I wasn't very quick. I would say I'm pretty quick once I get going. I like the ball in behind the defence but I can mix it up at times as well. I'm very physical and I'm always in the box for a cross.
"It is hard playing as a one, but if you have got the guaranteed service of balls coming in the box then it makes it a lot easier for yourself. With the players we have got here, I can see that happening and see myself scoring goals. If the defenders are smart and they split, you have got 20 yards either side of you to make up when they get the ball. At times, if it's cleared from your defence, you are fighting against two players to bring it down and create something for your team. I have played games before where I doubt I have had a shot, playing one up top, but if we win that's all you care about really. By no means am I here to be a bench player. I want to be playing first team football and pushing Plymouth to promotion, hopefully."
Adams was delighted to welcome not only Blissett but also Jakub Sokolik to Argyle's squad for the first game that they are legible against Stevenage this weekend: “I’m delighted that they are available for this game. They become unavailable again for Wednesday but it’s good to have them in and around the squad to get to know the football club. t’s not been easy for them because we’ve been in the FA Cup and they’ve not been part of it but hopefully they’ll do well in training and we’ll see how they get on in training.
“It’s an important match. It’s another league game and one that we will try and win. It will give us an extra three points to our total. It was a tough game up there even though we won. They are a side that like to harry and press. I think they played 14 at home and 11 away, something like that, but it’s a game that if we play to our full ability then we can win. It’s a big game, as big as any other game we have towards the end of the season.”
Argyle's League Two game against Doncaster on international weekend in March has been moved for Sky TV coverage,
The match, originally scheduled for Saturday, March 25, will now be switched to Sunday, March 26. The revised kick-off time will be 2.45pm.
Jordan Slew has said that the Green Army are the best fans around following the turnout to buy tickets for Argyle's two FA Cup clashes with Liverpool. Slew said: “It was unbelievable scenes. They’ve been fantastic towards me and the rest of the team this season. They’re probably the best fans in England. It means a lot for the supporters. They come out in their numbers every weekend in the league and especially at Anfield, It was unbelievable. I love the love that the fans show me. The support that they’ve shown me since I have arrived here gives me that extra kick – I want to work hard for the fans and the club.
“I thought it was going to be one day where everyone was queuing up but it’s not, it’s every day. That shows how good the fans are here. I knew there would be a few at Anfield but I didn’t know that there would be that many. It’s incredible.”
There has been good news for Argyle right-back Gary Miller after it has been revealed that he has not broken his ankle in the incident that saw him stretchered off against Liverpool at the weekend. Derek Adams revealed: “He hasn’t got a broken ankle. He went for a scan and it is ankle ligament damage. We’re waiting on the results of how long it will take for him to get back to full fitness. There’s a lot of swelling and a lot of bruising because of the impact. Hopefully, you can quickly recover from that. I don’t want any more injuries in the squad. You seem to be getting back, and you pick up another one.
“Oscar can play there, and he’s done well there in the past. Jakub Sokolik can play there, Bulvitis can play there as well. We’ve got options.”
Adams also gave a progress report on two of Argyle's other long-term injury victims, Ryan Donaldson and Gary Sawyer, saying: “Ryan’s training away. He’s not allowed to have any contact until the end of this month. He’s working away and recovering well. We’re just waiting for him to have the ok to come back.
"Gary’s played in two games. He played 60 minutes against Torpoint and 75 minutes against Ivybridge. He’s progressing; he training with the first team and getting back his fitness levels. He’s not far away, he just has to work on his sharpness as he has been out for a long period of time.”
When asked if he felt Argyle were trying to be normal in light of the cup fever that has currently engulfed Plymouth, Adams was realistic enough to know such a thing was impossible. He also spoke about how he feels the events of the past week are good for Plymouth and not just Argyle. He said: “It’s impossible. There’s so much happening around the football club, everybody sees the queues in the car park. We sit and have our lunch and see the amount of people that are here, we hear the phones ringing all the time. It’s not going to be easy. We know, as a team, we have done very well in the league. We know that Stevenage are coming here and we have to play this game – Wednesday will look after itself. When we played in the Premier League every game was the same, we had publicity. When we got to the Scottish Cup final we had publicity. You’ve just got to try and keep it as normal as possible. I know it isn’t possible. It’s not normal. We’ve got a whole city with people talking to you about it. You see billboards; the television screen in the city centre said ‘Good luck’; there is media coverage in local press, and the nationals as well. It’s a big result we’ve had.
“There’s a buzz around the city and it’s going to be a very good night next Wednesday. A draw at Anfield has helped the football club. It’s generated some publicity for Argyle and the whole of Plymouth. I’m delighted about it. The city is awakening again. It’s important that press, on the world stage, has looked at Plymouth Argyle: who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, how we’ve been able to draw 0-0 at Anfield. It helps tourism and everything else in this part of Devon.
"“The game on Sunday was beamed all over the world. There were so many television outlets. That’s beneficial to the club. The supporters, on Sunday, nearly 9,000 of them, made a great impression on Liverpool and for the TV audience, because they sang and supported their team for 90 minutes. Last year we got to the play-off final at Wembley and it was a terrific occasion. This time we’ve been able to take our team to Anfield, get a draw and take them back to Home Park. We’ve given them the best of both worlds, because usually you get the draw at home and then go away from home. We’ve done it the other way around. We’ve got a very good core following, and I think a lot of people will start to jump on the Plymouth Argyle story, because of how well they’ve seen us play and defend in the first game.
“You go to Anfield and play against a squad worth over £100m and set up in the best way for your football club. The best way for us to set up was to allow Liverpool to have the majority of the ball and to ask them if they could get the better of us. People are entitled to their opinion, but I am the manager of this football club, and going to Anfield in front of 54,000 people, you’ve got to realise the tactics and how you are going to get a result at the end of the day.”
James Brent said, that in spite of supporter scepticism about the ability of Argyle to deliver the new grandstand, he has faith that his plan would finally be the one that came to fruition. He said of the cynics: "I have clearly got some sympathy to people who say that. But the positive thing is that we have got the funding now in place through Simon and Jane. The planning permission we are seeking is a much smaller planning consent than we have previously had on two occasions for the club. So we don't think it should be contentious from a planning standpoint. There is absolutely no reason why it won't happen. I think the benefits of the development to the city are for everyone to see.
"It would bring conferences and banquets to the city, which are currently going to other local cities and indeed cities further afield. We can't see any reason why it won't get done, and get done well before the 2020 events."
Simon Hallett added: "The main thing is putting the funding the place. The money will come in whenever we are asked. It can come in immediately. I think the other thing I would add is that what we are trying to do here, as we move forward, is to make this a more attractive place for fans to come. Our overall strategic direction is that we want to attract larger crowds who want to come to Home Park because it's a good match-day experience. That means the facilities need to be upgraded. They have obviously been neglected for various reasons, not just over the last five years but you could argue over the last 15 years or so. They are a little bit shabby and the service to fans – pre, post and during the match – could be improved I think. What we are doing here is not the grand design, but it's going to be pretty effective I think in restoring Home Park to being a very attractive place to come to watch a game of football."
Derek Adams was delighted to his plan come completely to fruition in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool. Adams revealed how he set up merely to contain the home side, saying: “They could have had 90%, if they wanted – the game-plan was to not allow them to score and that’s what we did. There are only three teams come to Anfield and draw in recent times and Plymouth Argyle are one of them. We worked extremely hard. It was about negating the space and we didn’t allow them to have space. We allowed them time, at times, to be on the ball and move it, but they didn’t open us up. We doubled up down the side; we were very good, defensively. It would be naive as a manager or as a coach to think you can come to Anfield and go at top-class players. From my point of view, we worked on it and the players did really well.
“We are League Two club; they are a Premier League club; they have got multi-million pound players; they have got players who played at international level – they had enough on the pitch to beat Plymouth today. But sometimes you come up against an opposition that are stubborn, who have a good work-ethic; who have good legs and who can take the ball in at times. The result will tell you that we coped well because we limited them to not many opportunities in the game. They had a lot of possession in the game but did they have many shots on target? The answer to me is ‘no – I didn’t see many’ and that’s credit to our players. This was about a team performance. We had 13 players playing today that all deserve a huge amount of credit because this is not an easy place to come.”
He also said that the primary purpose was to gain a replay and that Argyle would 'open up' a bit in the replay: “The main purpose of today was to try to win the match but, if we couldn’t win it, to take Liverpool back to Home Park. Liverpool are a very good team. Will they change things for the next game? I’m not sure. We will give it a go. We will have to be very good, defensively, as we were today. We’ll have to open up a bit to get through to the next round.”
Argyle's Emirates FA Cup replay against Liverpool will be televised on BT Sport. The game has already been confirmed for Wednesday, January 18, at 7.45pm; now we know that BT - who covered Argyle's replay game at Newport County in round two, and Sunday's draw at Liverpool - will once again show an Argyle match. Should Argyle progress against Liverpool, they will face Wolverhampton Wanderers in round four. .
Graham Carey revealed his delight at playing at Anfield, the home of his childhood side and paid tribute to the fans who saw Argyle over the line, saying: “It was a great day; it was a great match. It was difficult. Obviously we did a lot of running and put in a lot of effort. Thankfully we held on and it paid its due, because I thought we were terrific. If they were to score late on, I thought it would be very unjust.
"I thought the fans were terrific as well today throughout. It really helped us near the end.Now as a club and a team, we can look forward to the replay. “I think we’ll grow from this. Obviously we’ve had a lot of signings this season, but communication today was the best it’s been all season. Mentally and even physically, I thought we held our own. Obviously they’re really good players and there are some things you just can’t stop, but we dug in as a team and we were terrific. It was unbelievable before the game. When they started singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, I was getting shivers. It was unbelievable. Growing up, I always dreamed of playing here. To be unbeaten here is even better!”
Argyle are in the hat for the next round of the FA Cup after a historic goalless draw at Argyle saw them upset the odds and take Liverpool to a replay. A heroic rearguard effort from Argyle saw off Liverpool pressure and the game ended 0-0. Argyle are just one of three sides to keep a clean sheet at Anfield since the start of 2016. The day was somewhat soured by what looked like a serious ankle injury to Gary Miller who was stretchered off in the second half. Argyle: McCormick, Miller(Smith), Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Threlkeld, Fox, Jervis, Carey, Slew, Garita(Tanner). Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Osbourne, Rooney, Goodwillie.
David Fox most recently played at Anfield for Norwich in 2011, earning a draw and he feels confident that the big game experience of himself and his fellow Argyle players will be enough to see them fare well under the pressure. He said: “It was a great day, the best atmosphere I have come across – Liverpool fans are so vocal – and it was a night game under the lights, which made it tastier. We were lucky enough to get a result and it was one of a few games that you look back on and are really fond of. I’ll speak to the boys, I expect but they’re not daft – they know what to expect. We played West Brom in pre-season – they are Premier League outfit who have got quick, strong players – and we did alright there. There are a few lads that played at Wembley last year in the play-off final; there are a few that have had good careers. I’m sure no-one will be daunted by it. There’s no pressure on us, at the end of the day. We’ve got a huge following backing us, and we’re going to enjoy it.”
Derek Adams had the last word before Argyle's trip to Anfield, claiming that it was a day for the fans and that they could make an impact on the result. Adams said: "We are obviously looking forward to the game. It's a terrific occasion for the football club – for the supporters and everybody associated with it. My message to the fans would be enjoy the day. I think that getting Liverpool in the FA Cup doesn't come around very often. We took 35,000 to Wembley and we are taking 8,500 to Anfield.
"It's a different day because there is no pressure on us at Anfield. That will hopefully help us, but the fans will have a terrific day. When they start singing and get the players going, it definitely helps. It will be a terrific day. It's a sell-out crowd and the ticket pricing has been very good as well, which has helped. It's going to be a very good day for so many people. It's a terrific venue to go and play at.
"We have got a lot of players who are very good on the ball. It's a tough game. We are playing against a team of multi-million pound players. We have to go and be capable on the ball, because we are going to get the ball at some point in the game. Off the ball we will have to close them down and be able to run because that's what Liverpool do. But we will have to be creative when opportunities come along."
New signing Jakub Sokolik spoke about the type of player who Argyle fans could look forward to seeing play at centre-back for the greens, and credited his time at Sunday's opponents Liverpool with providing him a football education. Sokolik said: “I would describe myself as being good in the air, good passing, aggressive – and definitely not scared of a tackle.
"When I was 15 I signed for Liverpool. I was there for four or five years. It definitely gave me so much to my footballing career. And as a person as well; when you leave home so young, it’s hard times. But you get through it, it makes you stronger. It’s a shame that I am cup-tied and I cannot go there and play! It gives me time to settle in, get to know the players on the pitch as well as off the pitch.
Nathan Blissett also spoke about his arrival at Home Park, reminiscing about facing Argyle in pre-season: “I felt like I was very strong, reaching the levels I want to be – I might remind some of the boys about that game. It was a good game; a good test against very good opposition. I’ve kind of crept in the through the back door because all the hype has been on the trip to Anfield, which is great. I’m happy that Plymouth are able to showcase themselves on that front. I’m here now to do a job, and that’s what I’m going to do to the best of my abilities.
Derek Adams concurs with his new signing's memory, saying: “He played well on that day. We looked at him last season, and this season we have watched a few games and kept an eye on him. He’s done really well at times for them and we see good potential in him. He’s got a good physical presence; he’s good in the air; and can score goals playing at our level. We have got a lot of talented individuals who create goals, so hopefully that can help him.”
Adams anticipated an exciting game against Liverpool on Sunday and said that a win would undoubtedly be his finest moment as a football manager. He said: “Klopp did a good job at Borussia Dortmund and, while he’s only new in English football and with Liverpool, he’s starting to stamp his authority on the game here. He’s occasionally found it difficult because the Premier League is not easy to play in but all the top managers have difficulties. It’s a relentless league to play in. We’ll chat after the game but they’ve shown in previous cup competitions that they’ve changed the team around quite a bit. There are a number of younger players that I presume will play and they do have injuries, like ourselves. I’m sure they will put out a very good team. I’ve picked my team already and we know how we’re going to play. We don’t know what Liverpool will do, which makes it a little harder for us. This will be up there in the top five experiences of my managerial career to be stood on the sidelines at Anfield. It’s not quite the very top because that was going 40 games unbeaten in Scotland and being a First Division club in the Scottish Cup Final, beating the likes of Celtic and Hibernian. However, if we beat Liverpool on Sunday, then it goes to the top.”
David Fox said that whilst Liverpool will undoubtedly play some fringe players in the game against Argyle, this did not make the chance of an upset any earlier. Fox said however that staying in the game as long as possible would be paramount to Argyle's chances of springing a surprise, noting: “Obviously, he’s going to play some of the fringe players, some of the younger players. They have got Manchester United coming up soon – I’m sure the manager has got other priorities. Saying that, the younger players and the fringe players will be top quality and they’ll be bit like us in terms of playing at Anfield. I am sure they will be looking forward to it just like we are. They will be feeling it just as much as us because they will be wanting to make an impression on their manager. They will be top-class players; they will be players who will think Klopp is a manager who give players a chance and, if they do well, it could lead on to other things.
“The way Liverpool play, they don’t give anyone any time; they are full-on pressing you; they work their socks off, they defend from the front. Liverpool are one of the top teams in terms of harassing and ratting, so we have got to make sure we are not caught on the ball in dangerous areas.”
“In the early rounds of the cup, everyone is in it to try to get to the third round. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to do in the league – you try to get into that third round and get a big team. That’s what we’ve been fortunate to do and, whatever the result, we’ll give our best and take a lot of positives into the remaining 20-odd games in the league. Ultimately, that’s our aim this season, but this weekend is a really good distraction for us. We are doing alright in the league at the minute, so we will go up there and give it everything we’ve got.
“There are plenty of cases out there of teams that have gone to big clubs and got results, and we will be looking to add to that. It’ll be a case of trying to frustrate; trying to stay in the game as long as you can – that’s important. And you need a lot of luck.”
Argyle have today released sensational plans to redevelop the granstand in 2018. The plans follow hints from James Brent and Simon Hallett late last year that the 'shell' of the grandstand will be maintained whilst a more than superficial refurbishment is conducted on the exterior of the stand. Today's statement revealed that conferencing and banqueting facilities will also be part of the new stand.
The club released a full statement explaining how the stand had been funded. The statement can be read in full on the club's website but the gist is that the development will, in large part, be financed by a £4.1m loan to the club from director Simon Hallett and his wife Jane. Co-owner Simon will also buy, for cash, 900,000 further shares in the club and Richard Holliday will buy 65,000 new shares. In addition, all existing loans from shareholders Chairman James Brent, Tony Wrathall, and Simon Hallett will be converted into equity – reducing the overall debt levels of the club and so paving the way for Argyle to invest in redeveloping the New Mayflower and Conferencing Centre. All the revenues generated from these facilities will be owned by Argyle.
The ownership structure of the club now will be as follows: • companies owned by Mr and Mrs James Brent –50.1 %; • Mr Simon Hallett – 41.9%; • Mr Tony Wrathall – 2.9%; • Mr Richard Holliday and associated family funds – 5.1% (assuming conversion of the remainder of his convertible loan notes).
An invitation is being issued today for fans to submit their resumes to join a working group to consult with the club on the development of these plans.
James Brent said of the developments: “Today is a further important and exciting milestone for Argyle, as we continue to move from the last chapter of recovery to a new one of significant and sustainable improvement. The re-development and expansion of the Grandstand and new Conference Centre will provide 21st century hospitality for our supporters and material additional revenues – match-day and non match-day – to invest into the club and team. We will increase the attendance capacity for today and preserve the ability to further increase in the future. 'The other members of the Board and I thank Simon and his wife, Jane, for all that they have done for Argyle and for the further major investment they are making.”
Simon Hallett himself said: “Jane and I are delighted that we can support Argyle in this way and help provide improved facilities for our supporters, players and staff. The investment by the club will not only make for a better match-day experience, but help provide the long-term revenue base for further investment in the team.
"I think it will help Derek Adams in attracting players to the West Country. And I think our staff have been labouring for a number of years in what I wouldn't say are inadequate, but they could certainly have better facilities. So we are going to build a facility, albeit on a limited budget, that people can be proud of. I think that will do a lot of good for the culture of Argyle, not just for the playing staff and for the fans, but also for the people who work here."
Argyle have made a second signing in the January transfer window, bringing in Nathan Blissett from Torquay United. He has scored 12 goals in 41 appearances for Torquay since signing for the Gulls in January 2016. Blissett will wear the number 13 shirt for Argyle. He has played in the FA Cup this season, so is cup-tied for our visit to Liverpool on Sunday.
Argyle have made their first singing of the January transfer window in the shape of Southend defender Jakub Sokolik. Sokolik coincidentally came through the academy of Sunday's FA Cup opponents Liverpool. He is however ineligible to play in Sunday's cup game. The centre-back went on to enjoy spells with Yeovil and Southend after leaving Anfield.
Luke McCormick responded to accusations that Argyle's trip to Anfield has played on the players minds in the last two games, denying that a lack of focus was responsible for Argyle's dropped points at Barnet. Now that those games are past however, he looked ahead to Sunday's moneyspinning fixture, saying: “Liverpool hasn’t even been spoken about. We have been focused on the last two games. We want to regroup, look at what we could have done better today, and keep building. It will be a great occasion, particularly for the supporters – to give them a day out like that. As players, experiences like that don’t come around too often. So we will make the most of it, but we shan’t think too much about that until the end of the week. We just want to go there and give a good account of ourselves; be hard to beat.”
Derek Adams felt that Argyle had enough of the ball to cause Barnet problems in their 1-0 loss at the weekend yet they were let down by poor decision making on the pitch. Adams analysed the game, saying: “They’ve scored from a set play where we haven’t man marked properly and they’ve been able to get the first goal. He wasn’t picked up well enough on the occasion. He got away and was able to get his head onto it and into the back of the net. We had to go at them. We had to play with a lot of forward momentum. We were able to get into more advanced areas. It looked good. We were going to leave it open at the back and that was the case. We had a lot of the ball in the second half. We crossed the ball more times than we probably should’ve, because they’ve got big, tall defenders who dealt with the crosses. At the end, Gary has a great chance at the back post, and we probably should draw the game. We haven’t been clinical enough when the ball has come into that six-yard box. Many times today, we’ve chosen the wrong option.
“We had a lot of good play – we probably had the majority of play in the game. We didn’t deserve to lose the match, but that’s just the way it is. They’ve had chances, we’ve had opportunities as well, and they’ve gone in and won the game 1-0. I could stand here and say a lot of things, but we’ve lost the game.”
Adams remained stoic however as he looked at the result in the context of a good run of form coming to an end, and he looked ahead with excitement to the big FA Cup tie at Anfield on Sunday: “We’ve done really well; we were on a six-game unbeaten run, and today it’s come to an end because Barnet have been able to get that one goal. We’ve been on a very good run. We’ve taken 48 points; it’s as good as we’d hoped. We’ve won fifteen games; it’s only ourselves and Doncaster who’ve been able to do that in the league. You want to be in and around that area with five games to go. You want to keep yourself in and about, and that’s what we’re trying to do. It’s been difficult, obviously yesterday and playing today, but it’s the same for everybody else in the league. Now we’ve got the FA Cup to look forward to. It’s a great day for the football club, and a terrific achievement from the players to get the football club this far, and to get a game at Anfield where all the supporters want to go. We’ve played week in, week out with a lot of pressure on us. This week we have no pressure, going to Anfield. Nobody expects us to do anything there so there’s no pressure on us. We just look forward to the game.”
Luke McCormick praised Argyle's performance in the loss to Barnet and said that it was the home side who got the rub of the green in a game where both teams had the chances to score goals: “All in all, I thought we were unlucky today not to have an equaliser. Gary has said it was great opportunity. It was very disappointing to concede from a set-piece very early on. It’s an uphill job after that. We just didn’t get going quick enough. Going 1-0 down from a set-piece, as well. Then it’s a difficult task and, unfortunately, we just couldn’t find the net. It seems to have been one of those days for us. We got into the right areas; we put great balls into the box. But, credit to Barnet, they got a head or a foot on to something and defended well. It wasn’t for the lack of trying; we certainly created enough chances. There are positives, in that sense.
“It’s fine margins all over the place. I think the goal today came off the back of Vilhete’s neck and flew in. The ball came into the front area and the lad’s just dipped. He won’t score many of those goals, that’s for sure. The ball’s looped in and it’s gone right inside the top corner. Sometimes you need that bit of luck. We haven’t had that luck today; we might have had it in other games. We have just got to keep doing the things that we know are the right things, playing to our strengths, and, in the long run, we’ll fare better. The luck was with Barnet today and I think they lived a bit of a charmed life. We’ve been unlucky – there will be other games when we will be lucky; it’ll even itself out.”
Argyle have lost their first game of 2017, 1-0 at Barnet. The goal was conceded in the first quarter-hour of the game and Argyle despite various changes could not find their way back into it. Argyle fall off top spot following Doncaster's win. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington(Miller), Fox, Carey, Jervis(Smith), Tanner, Slew, Garita(Goodwillie). Subs: Dorel, Osborne, Bulvitis, Rooney.
Derek Adams was delighted with another win and another clean sheet for Argyle as they ended 2016 on a high, and gave a considered assessment of the performance of Oscar Threlkeld in centre-midfield first half and second half at right-back. He said: "I'm delighted. The run we are on is very good. It is a tough league as I keep on saying. To pick up a win at any time in this league is important. It was a hard fought win. To come away winning 2-0 and keeping a clean sheet at New Years Eve is very important, and we have been able to do that today. It is a good night for us.
"Oscar Threlkeld didn't do well enough in the first half. He was poor. But in the second half he put in a better performance at right back. He has done really well at left back. I am delighted that he has been able to play in a variety of positions. He has been a very good signing for us. He can play in a variety of positions. Right back, left back and central midfield. Today he has played in two positions. I thought it wasn't up there with the good performances of his recent games.
"It was a good break down the side. He did well to follow it up because he was quite as distance from the action. He ran in and he slotted it into the bottom corner. Oscar has done really well for us in recent times. Today when we needed our midfield players to get on the ball and move it we moved him out of that position. Carey went in there in the second half an orchestrated a lot of the play we needed."
Adams praised Argyle's general performance and especially the way the tempo was picked up after half-time. He went to look ahead to the New Year bank holiday trip to Barnet in 2017's opening game: "Any game that you play in this league is difficult. We have seen that throughout the season. To win 15 games from 23 is a very good record and we continue to do well. I think in the first half we were very dominant, we didn't move the ball quick enough. At times I thought we were better in the first half than we were in the second half. I did not think we could have done a lot more in the game to open up the opposition. We didn't pass the ball well enough at times today. From our point of view we just did not complete enough passes. We had a lot of space at times and probably chose the wrong option. We went a wee bit long which is not like us, but if we had shortened it down and moved it from side to side we would have created more chances.
"They were quite happy to get in 0-0 at half time. That was their game plan. If we had passed the ball quicker then we would have had more opportunities. We were just a wee bit laboured in our passing today. We didn't knock it about as quickly as we possibly can. We probably didn't play the seven and ten yard passes we were looking for and sometimes we give the ball away too often.
"We have got very little time to prepare. We will come back in tomorrow. We will leave at 12 o'clock and travel to Barnet. We will have to be ready for the game on Monday. It is a 3 o'clock kick off. The turnaround is very difficult but we will have to get there."
Argyle's goalscoring heroes in the game were off-pitch friends Oscar Threlkeld and Craig Tanner. The duo respectively spoke about their takes on their goals and the game in general. Threlkeld: "We didn’t get going in the first half. We needed to raise it five or ten per cent. It was our throw-in on the right-hand side. I think I took it quick to Tanner’s feet and I don’t remember from then. I just saw it and passed it into the bottom corner. It was a beautiful feeling. I’ve doubled my tally from last season, so I’m happy. It boosted the fans which we needed to do, and it was a crucial time to score a goal. Second half, changing personnel and changing the shape of the game, they just couldn’t cope with us. I think that benefitted us in the second half. Towards the end, we had to change into a back five, just to get another half in, with Bully. We didn’t look under pressure at all; we did our passing and raised it five or ten per cent, and I think we cruised it, to be honest.
Tanner added: “I think Jake Jervis owed me one from Yeovil anyway! It’s just nice for him to return the favour and I managed to put it in the corner. It’s my fifth of the season. I’m one off my tally with half the amount of games so far. If I can keep adding to it, as well as the assists, we’ll just see where it takes the team and take me personally. I think it’s something nice to give back to the fans. I thought they were a credit in the second half; they really rallied around us. I think they made the difference. I think we’re going to have a wild night in Nandos tonight! In bed by eleven, train tomorrow, travel tomorrow, and just see what Barnet has in store for us.”
Argyle saw out 2016 in style by returning to the top of League Two with a 2-0 victory over visitors Crawley. It took the Greens a while to find the opening goal but Oscar Threlkeld and Craig Tanner combined to give a comfortable win to the home side. Argyle: McCormick, Miller(Tanner), Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Threlkeld, Fox, Jervis, Carey, Slew(Smith), Garita(Bulvitis). Subs: Dorel, Osborne, Goodwillie, Rooney.
Derek Adams warned Argyle not to underestimate tomorrow's visiting Crawley Town side but also stated the strength in depth of his own side following the recent upturn in form. Adams said: “Dermot Drummy has come out of the academy system, and likes to play his football out from the back. They have a number of players that are different from last year; it has changed around quite a bit. We will be mindful of the fact that they have some good players there. They are very expansive and open, and it should be a very good footballing match.
“We have shown with the players we have – Slew, Garita and Jervis were unplayable at times on Saturday – and Graham Carey as well can play in that area and go and score goals. You need a number of players in your team that are different from other teams, and have that creative edge, a wee bit of quickness; players that score goals and put you in a good position.
“It’s not easy, but we’ve shown that physically we have done well. After the Newport game we recovered well to play Wycombe, who had ten days rest, compared to the few we had. The players looked in good shape. I think it’s better this year than it was last year. It’s more competitive. From the bottom to the top, sides are all beating each other. You only have to look at the number of teams that have pushed up the league in recent months and weeks, like Exeter and Cambridge, that tells you how competitive it is, and what a tight league it is.”
Derek Adams gave the latest of what now seems to be a regular update on the progress of Argyle's injury situation. Adams said: “Jimmy Spencer has had the boot he had on taken off, which is progress. He is hopeful to be back at the end of February, which is a big boost to us as we thought it was going to be longer. We’re delighted with that news.
“For Ryan Donaldson, we’re looking at six weeks from when it happened, before he can take part in any games. After two weeks he’ll start training again in an uncompetitive way. It keeps his legs moving, his muscles moving, and he doesn’t lose any fitness to a great extent.
“Gary Sawyer has trained with the first team, last week and this week, and is progressing well. I am hopeful of playing him on Saturday in the South West Peninsula game. We’ll possibly give him 45-60 minutes in that match. Gary has been a very good signing for us since he came here. He is experienced, and has been out for four months now, which is a long time.“Ben Purrington came through well, with no ill effects from his injury. The same with Bulvitis, coming though as well. It was good to get them some match time.
“We have got injuries and we just have to be careful with them, to get through this 48 hour spell. It is a very difficult schedule; we have to play on a Saturday, then travel and train on a Sunday, then play on a Monday at 3pm. It is not easy.”
Adams also hinted that Argyle could be looking at 'two or three' new additions to the squad in the upcoming January transfer window. He said: “We are looking trying to add to the squad. It’s going to be a busy month, but not too bad. We would like to take in a number of players to compliment what we have here. I don’t see it being too busy, but we will make signings in the window, because we need to strengthen the squad. If you look at the period where we had injuries, we did not have masses of depth, and we want to make sure we do towards the end do the season. We have a number of players we are looking at. It will probably be around two or three. Nobody will be in for the first of January, put it that way. But we have the month of January to do business, and we are already speaking to people. We’re just looking to strengthen the team. I don’t want to go into specifics at this moment in time because then people will draw conclusions. It’s important that you add a wee bit of quality to the squad, and that competitive edge. We certainly need that. We really need extra cover in some areas.”
Sonny Bradley admits that the upcoming game against Liverpool will be one of the biggest of his career but said that he would be focusing on the immediate games first where a crucial 6 points are up for grabs against Crawley and Barnet. Bradley said: “It’s a massive game for me on a personal note and probably the biggest of my career. I think that a couple of the other lads will potentially feel the same way. I want to be fit and I want to be 100% ready for it, but before that we have Crawley and two days after that Barnet. We’ve got to concentrate on Crawley and Barnet. They’re our main focus. I don’t think it is right that the games are so close together. You need at least 48 hours for your body to recover but there won’t be any moaning about it. We’ve just got to get on with it. If the lads put in a shift against Crawley and then are not fit for the Barnet game, we have more than enough in our squad for players to step in, fill places and still be strong. So we’ll be looking for six points in these two games and then we’ll go on to Liverpool. f you want to play in the Liverpool game, it’s important that you put a shift in against Crawley and Barnet.”
On the subject of Crawley, Bradley admitted that he had little intelligence to offer about the side, despite being their former captain. He said: "I was there a couple of years and I got to know a lot of people at the club. It's a very good club run by some very good people. It's going to be good to see a few of them, but all I think about is winning the game. "It's just another game. I said this before we played Portsmouth, when we kick-off on Saturday I'm not going to treat them any differently to anybody else. I think they had a fairly good start to the season considering how much change has been made at the club. They will be coming with a real positive vibe and I'm sure they will be looking to get something from the game but, from our point of view, we have got to keep home performance levels up. If we perform like we did against Wycombe, and possibly defend a little bit better, I think we can get all three points. I looked at their teamsheet from Boxing Day and I think there were four starters from last season so, obviously, that is a lot of change. I think there has been a lot of change in the way they play as well. At the start of last season we were quite direct up to Matt Harrold.
"But Dermot has come in from a Premier League academy and under-21s background and he wants to get the ball down and play a lot more. I'm not sure how much advice and tactics I can offer to our team. I spent maybe a month with Dermot when he came in and he will definitely have them organised and they will definitely be trying to play football so it will be an interesting game."
Derek Adams reiterated that he thinks Argyle did well enough to win the game against Wycombe and that a mixture of poor refereeing decisions fused with defensive errors handed the visitors a point. The manager said: “We played very well. We passed the ball well, created openings; we’ve hit the bar, hit the post, had a number of penalty claims turned down, and probably deserved to win the game. We haven’t won in the end but I think there was only one team that was trying to pass the ball and move it. We have been 3-1 up and we’ve lost a goal when Sonny Bradley is fouled by Akinfenwa to make it 3-2 – he’s pulled back; he’s twisted – it shouldn’t have been a goal. They get themselves back into it and then they score at the death.
“We were very good in the first half, a top performance; in the second half, we got ourselves sucked in to a wee bit of a battle and it became fragmented, and that allowed them to get into the game. Jordan Slew scores the first one when he comes in side Harriman. He twists him inside outside and then round about, and then has the shot and the goalkeeper couldn’t handle it. The second one was good play from Garita down the side and Jake’s made a very good run across to get the goal. Connor Smith’s hit the post; Garita’s hit the bar in the second half; then we score from a corner kick - a great delivery from Graham Carey and the ball was just behind Yann Songo’o and he’s twisted his body to get his foot round the ball.
“For the first goal, Graham gives the ball away in the middle of the park and it’s an easy goal from their point of view. I know Kashket has to do well and he does; the second goal is a foul on us; and the third goal is a very good strike. We had to clear our lines. It’s a long ball into our box; we haven’t headed it far enough and we haven’t cleared our lines. It is a very good strike into the corner but we probably should have cleared it a wee bit better.”
Derek Adams expressed his displeasure with Wycombe's defending during the 3-3 draw, claiming that they could not handle Argyle's forward line. He said: “When we went down the sides of them, Harriman went off – he couldn’t live with Slew, he was out on his feet; Jacobson had to resort to rugby tackles to get the better of Jake Jervis. They couldn’t live with them. Jacobson takes out Jervis and should have been booked, doesn’t have anything happen to him then gets booked later on; it should have been a sending-off. Garita had done well for us against Newport and is coming back to fitness. He was a handful today; Stewart and Pierre couldn’t handle him at times. He was upsetting them, which was good to see. He’s made a goal and he’s taken the ball in for us. He’s a strong player. Top performances from the front three.
“They resorted to rugby challenges in the game. They were off the ball at times, as well. I think the officials missed it and that is disappointing because it looked like it was going to be a very good win for us.”
Jake Jervis agreed that Argyle's performance warranted more just just a point based on the flow of the game: “For the whole of the game we controlled it, though obviously there were little spells where they got goals. I think we’re happy with our performance, but it would’ve been better, obviously, if we got three points. I think with the way they played, regardless of what point it is in the game, it’s going to be difficult: up to Akinfenwa, who’s going to pin things in and make it difficult. They were always just booming it long, so obviously they made it difficult that way. I enjoyed it. I’m disappointed I didn’t get a few assists with balls into the box, but at the same time, overall I was happy with the performance from the boys. If we were positive, we’ll be able to take on most players. Obviously that’s what we did today and we enjoyed it.
“Because the next game is Saturday, we use it as a normal week and just prepare for that. It’s the same as last year: we know the Saturday-Monday is going to be difficult, but we’re going to try and pick up as many points as we can."
Argyle keep their unbeaten record but have been knocked off the top of League Two following last gasp heartbreak with a 3-3 draw at home to Wycombe. The visitors went 1-0 up early on but Argyle established a 3 goal advantage through Slew, Jervis and Songo'o. The chairboys pulled one back almost immediately after through Akinfenwa but it was late sub Myles Weston who secured the spoils were shared. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis, Carey, Slew, Garita. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Purrington, Osborne, Tanner, Rooney, Goodwillie.
Argyle fans may have been forgiven for fearing the worst when Ben Purrington joined Gary Sawyer on Argyle's injured list but Oscar Threlkeld has been a more than able deputy on his weaker side according to manager Derek Adams. Adams said of Threlkeld: “He was excellent. He is quick, strong in the tackle, and covers well with his good foot. He has played well for me in a variety of positions. I’m delighted to have him. When the ball is on the opposite side of the pitch you want your left-back to cover round, and he did that very well.
“Ben is progressing well. He has been out for about five weeks with his injury, and we are hopefully that he can keep progressing and get himself around the squad again.”
Derek Adams confirmed that his players will not be resting on their laurels of the win at Newport but will instead be on the training ground on Christmas Day preparing for the crunch Boxing Day match against Wycombe. The gaffer said: “We’ll have plenty of time. We didn’t get back until the early hours, but trained Thursday morning, and are preparing for Wycombe now on Boxing Day. We’ve got three days to get the players refreshed and ready to go. Some of them will have gone on the bike, or gone for a run, or gone in the swimming pool. Those that didn’t play had a training session. It becomes a mixed morning. They were in very good mood. They’ve performed very well this season, and it’s great for them to get the opportunity to play at Anfield now. We had to recover. It was important that they did that, so we could assess if there were any problems. We were working to the purpose of getting back into the swing of things before the Boxing Day game. They will be off Friday, then in on Saturday and Christmas Day. We’re training on Christmas Day. We’ve got an important fixture on Boxing Day, so we’ll raining on Christmas morning, then spend a little time in the afternoon with families. We’ve hopefully come through unscathed. We have a couple of training sessions to go, but it looks like we’ll have the same squad on Boxing Day.
“We’re obviously delighted to progress to the third round, and we have a very good tie in Liverpool away from home. We’ve only got two weeks until the game; we have three games to play between now and then. We want to pick up as many points as we can. It’s the nature of what happens. If there is a distraction, it is caused by all the publicity. We can’t do anything about that. The players are obviously delighted that they’ve been able to progress through two tough games against Newport, and to win the first game against Mansfield as well, they’ve been able to show very good character. I think it’s very important. It obviously helps a great deal with the cash flow – there’s a new grandstand to be built – and it’s something that can help.”
Our away League Two game game at Yeovil Town will now take place on Tuesday, January 31. The match, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, January 7, has had to be moved because we are now playing Liverpool in the Emirates FA Cup third round on that weekend. We will be wearing a special one-off burgundy kit for the match as both our home and away colours clash with the Glovers' shirts.
Graham Carey admitted the date at Anfield is his dream FA Cup tie...and not least because he is a Liverpool fan himself! Argyle's second round hero spoke about his excitement and also the decision for Paul-Arnold Garita to take the first of Argyle's two penalties rather than himself. Carey: “It’s brilliant. It will be a great day out for the fans. We knew it was going to be tough tonight. We’ve been here in the past and beat them with penalties – and we beat them again with a penalty. Going to Anfield, from a personal perspective – I’ve been a Liverpool fan all my life – is going to be a great day. My whole family are Liverpool fans. I’m sure a few will make the trip over. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of requests for tickets tomorrow! I’ve been to a few games there. It’s a great place to play football. We’re going to enjoy it – but we’ll go there and try to get a result. No-one will give us a shot of getting a result, but we’ve shown that we can battle as a team, and it’s the FA Cup. You never know. This group of lads have a main aim this season, and that’s to get promoted. We’ll enjoy that day when it comes, but first of all we need to get back to the league and rack up more points. The FA Cup won’t be a distraction whatsoever.
“We knew with the conditions it was going to be a long night. We’ve grown as a team over the last couple of weeks. We’ve started keeping more clean sheets, and finding ways to win tough games like this, and Accrington. Not many might have thought we’d keep two clean sheets. We’ve started to learn how to grind games out. Previously, when we’ve been on a bad run, we’ve been too open at times, but now at Accrington, and Doncaster at home, it’s hard for teams at this level to break us down. We know we have the pace on the counter attack to hurt teams, and that’s what we do.
“I felt confident, scoring a few penalties earlier this season. It was a good penalty, I sent the keeper the wrong way. I heard a few of them saying ‘go left’, so I went right. We don’t really have a designated penalty taker; usually me or Jake takes them. Jake wasn’t on the pitch, so it should have been me taking it. I’ll hold my hands up and I say I should have taken the first one, but Arnie was confident. He’s worked hard for the team and come back from injury, so he fancied his chances of scoring. As a team, we support each other, even if you fail, but he still worked hard all game and caused them problems. When the second one came, there was only going to be one taker. We got through – that’s all that matters.”
Derek Adams admitted feeling nerves during what was a fairly even game at times at Newport, but said that his players came through the other side because they are essentially winners in nature. Adams: "They are winners and that's why they have been able to get through to the next round. They went and won headers and they put their bodies in good areas to stop crosses. We spoke about it before the game; we knew the next round was going to be a trip to Anfield. We are obviously looking forward to it. It will be a terrific day for the supporters and for the players to go there.
"You do get nervous when the game is toing and froing. There was a lot of running from both sides and you think you are going to score, and then, the next minute, you think they are going to score. It was one of those games; it became quite open towards the end. We did get opportunities in the match and didn't pick the right pass at times but you always felt there was a goal in us somehow. It was a difficult night and a hard-fought match, and that's what you get in the FA Cup. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't a good footballing game from the point of view of passages of play. It was grit and determination that both teams showed. I think both sets of players have got to take a lot of credit for that."
Argyle will play Liverpool at Anfield in round three of the FA Cup after beating Newport 1-0 after extra time in the FA Cup second round replay. A tight fought encounter ended goalless after 90 minutes before Argyle were awarded a penalty in the first half of extra time. Paul-Arnold Garita missed but the Greens got a second bite of the cherry shortly afterwards. This time, Graham Carey made no mistake. Argyle will go to Anfield live on TV. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis(Garita), Carey, Tanner(Goodwillie), Slew. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Purrington, Osborne, Rooney.
Derek Adams might have thought he had seen the last of Newport's pitch this season, but a trip to Anfield is the prize tomorrow as Argyle return there for the FA Cup second round replay. Adams said of the tie and the pitch: “They’ve taken every possible measure. They have a balloon tent over the top to protect it from the rain. The FA have obviously assisted in it, and credit to them. It helps Newport under difficult circumstances. We are just hopeful the rain stays off. There was a rugby game there on Friday night. But we have to deal with the circumstance. They are playing there for one reason or another – and we’ll deal with it. It’s not the easiest pitch to play on. It can be bobbly and sticky in certain patches. It’s a rugby pitch, and Newport are playing their games there. You can’t play pretty football on it. It’s not conductive to that. You have to play in a different style. They are not easy venues to go to, but we have done well there in the past.
"We have got a football match to think about and it's more important than anything else. There is no more motivation needed than to get through to the next round of the FA Cup. The players don't have to wait for the draw in the next round to find out who they are going to get. They know that Liverpool awaits the winners. We will drum that into them and hopefully we can put on a really good performance. It's a big occasion for everybody. That's why the television cameras are covering the game."
For the first time in a while, Derek Adams had genuinely positive news to bring on the Argyle injury situation. He said of the players in doubt: “Bulvitis hasn’t missed too many games. He’s been back in training and looked good. Ben Purrington started training on Monday, so we’ll see how he is today and tomorrow, and assess things before tomorrow night. Gary Sawyer will hopefully be back into full-time training the following week. David Ijaha is a bit slower, and is with the physio just now. He is not progressing as quickly.”
Derek Adams used the victory of promotion rivals Doncaster in the lunchtime kick-off as motivation to beat Accrington on Saturday. He explained: “As we knew last week that we would go back to the top of the table, we knew that Doncaster had won their game – they had played earlier in the day – and it was good for us to get the win. We told the players that Doncaster had won and that a 1-0 win would get us back there. You have got to have a game-plan and the game-plan was to see us into the second half – I always like to have that plan in place – and then we changed things about. We knew that Accrington would try to come at us. I thought we could win the game. At the start of the match, it was important that we looked after them. They were going to go out all guns blazing, as Accrington manager John Coleman had said in his programme notes, and we sat off the game and allowed them to have the ball. We dealt well with the ball into the box; it didn’t really concern me because I thought they were pushing players forward and we would be able to counter-attack them after that. It was a very hard game. We always know that, when you come to Accrington, it is going to be difficult. Today was no different and we are obviously delighted to take the three points home with us. We should have been 2-0 up in the first half; we had two good opportunities. Jake Jervis should have got in behind his man, and Slew should have hit the target.
“In the second half, we had umpteen opportunities, as well, when we could have broken away and scored. They had opportunities, as well, and put a bit of pressure on us, but we dealt well with it. I thought we created a lot of chances. We were in and around their penalty area in the second half and should have scored a good few more goals. We played very well on the counter-attack when they pushed bodies forward and we could have scored three or four if we had chosen the right option.
“The players played well last weekend and deserved to play this week, and it was a very good professional performance. Accrington have beaten Doncaster, Portsmouth and Blackpool and we have come here today and won the match. We work at different things all the time and we don’t really change too much during the season; we do tinker a wee bit, but we work hard every single day."
Adams believes Argyle are on course to set an all-time club record, just one season after equalling the 86-year-old previous best. Saturday’s 1-0 Sky Bet League Two win at Accrington was the Pilgrims’ eighth from ten away matches this season. With 13 more aways to come, topping the 12 away victories achieved last season and in 1929-30 is well within their grasp.. Adams said: “It is doable. We have come to the football club and tried to move it on and tried to beat records. Last year, we equalled a club record of 12 away wins, so we would like to do better than that this year. We have started very well and we would like to continue that.”
Craig Tanner's goal on Saturday put him into double figure goals for Argyle across various loan spells but he wanted to push on and get more as Argyle's promotion push continues. Tanner said: “You come to a place like Accrington, and they have quality players like Billy Kee then you add in everything – a long journey, small changing rooms, everything – but overall three points is all we can ask for. You can’t win every game playing pretty, like Barcelona. Sometimes you just have to sit in, defend, and take your chance when it comes. It’s an unbelievable win for the lads. I think the three of us can take some credit, as can the manager for making the subs at that time. We’ve got a squad here full of good players. Our depth will be tested around this time, over the Christmas period. Having Bully back and Arnie back is all positive. Four is an ok tally. As a forward I want to chip in with a few more and help the promotion push in any way I can. Hopefully I can grab a few more over Christmas.”
Tanner also recalled the nature of the goal, saying: “Ozzie picked up the ball and cut in on his right foot. I saw the pocket in front of me and drifted in to that. I got on the half turn and thought about a shot, but I saw Goodie in a better position, played it to him and continued my run. It was superb from Goodie; a brilliant ball, perfectly weighted with great disguise and a bit of composure. If it was on my left foot I probably would have missed. Luckily it was on my right and I scuffed it in!
"We’ve had a little blip, which every team will do. You won’t go through the season undefeated – it shows the character, how we’ve bounced back. We go into Wednesday now with two wins and three clean sheets. We know our quality. You’re going to lose; you don’t suddenly get down in the dumps. Everyone loses, but you keep your positive mentality and it’s how you then kick on and get the results back. It’s nice to be top, but it’s easier to look up than look down. When you’re at the top you are a scalp to take. We’ll ignore the table when in it comes to that sort of thing.”
Finally, Derek Adams gave praise to the impact of Argyle forward David Goodwillie and said that he has been a good player for Argyle so far, in spite of his lack of goals. The manager said: “It was a great ball from Goodwillie; the vision from Goodwillie. Goodwillie is fantastic player. Sometimes people don’t see him making the runs and don’t find him but, today, he found a great ball for Craig Tanner. Craig’s turned himself well and managed to get the ball on target and it’s gone into the back of the net. These players are big for the football club. We need a substitutes’ bench; we need a squad; and we are starting to get that back now.
"He's a top player. He’s probably too good for this division – we are lucky to have him – but he hasn’t had the break to get the goal he deserves. He’s hit the bar a few times; he’s had blocks on shots on goal; his movement is very good.”
Argyle will (for the second season in a row!) go into Christmas at the top of the League Two table. The greens won 1-0 at Accrington following a late Craig Tanner winner from a David Goodwillie assist: a game in which subs were crucial to determining the outcome. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Smith, Fox, Donaldson(Goodwillie), Carey, Jervis(Tanner), Slew(Garita) Subs: Dorel, Osbourne, Bulvitis, Rooney.
Derek Adams stated his belief that those involved in the running and management of football clubs should have some kind of qualification and understanding of the game rather than merely having the money to be able to buy the club. Adams theorised: “I think something has to be put in place where boards, directors should have a qualification around football, rather than just having money to come in and buy a football club. Football managers understand the running of a football club. Football clubs are run by people that, the majority of the time, don’t have football experience. That causes a huge problem. That happens all over the country, and they get influenced by outside influences. It causes the football manager huge problems. That is what is wrong with the game. The game is never going to improve unless people at boardroom level have some sort of football education and licenses to know what they are doing. It doesn’t have to be an ex-player. It has to be somebody that has had a business background in football, or a footballing background – playing, coaching or managing – and they have to be in or around the board. Too many clubs in this country are run by people that have no experience – and I mean NO experience – of being around the football world. The football world is completely different to a business background.
“We have to be very careful who we are listening to. With the world of social media, and newspapers having columns, they pick teams for managers when there are only about 25 votes. It isn’t helpful for a football manager. We are in a difficult position. We had a Fans Forum here last week. We had 8,500 at the game, and we had less than 1% turn up to a Fans Forum. The people that are speaking out about different aspects in the football club are the minority, not the majority. People that write and say things, and use what is said in forums, etc, are the minority, not the majority. That was shown last week at the Fans Forum. Being a football manager is a difficult occupation. With time, you enjoy it, and there are many people out there who want to be one. Job security is a problem. It’s not something you can say you are going to be here for five or ten years, because that is just not the case. I’m here as long as Derek Adams wants to be at the football club, or Plymouth Argyle want me to be at the football club. It’s a two-way thing. It’s no different to anywhere else.”
Adams looked back on the game against Saturday's opponents Accrington last season as one of his toughest days in football and hoped to make amends, saying: “Accrington was up there with the game against Exeter as the worst experiences I have had as a manager. Two games that we were in a position where we were winning with less than ten minutes to go. If we had won those games we’d be in the division above now. For one reason or another we didn’t do it. We don’t want to have that experience again. It’s always a difficult match. They are a team that did really well last season, and will be looking to kick on again. They are only nine points off the play-offs. They are in there, and we have to be guarded about the three games they have won at home this season – Doncaster, Portsmouth and Blackpool. That tells you that they do up their game, and they did well away from home against West Ham as well. We have to be mindful of that. They are a team that have good ability around their squad. Accrington were very unfortunate last season. They were minutes from getting promoted, and that can hurt badly.
“We’re just trying to win the game on Saturday to put ourselves in a good position. We are better this season by a point. We’ve had a very good start to the campaign. You have to look at the season as a whole. We have 46 games to play – you’ll win some, draw some and lose some. You don’t get too high when you win, you don’t get too low when you lose. At times we are going to have a lot of the ball and create chances. It is something we are always going to do. We had a lot of possession in some games and were not able to score. In some games, we are not going to see as much of the ball, because we don’t want to see as much of the ball at times – we can control the game in a different way. That’s what we did last Saturday.”
Adams also said that he did not fear the prospect of bids coming in for Argyle's star performers in January, saying that it was a positive indictment on the season Argyle have had: “We’ve got a very good squad and every time there is a transfer window, if somebody comes along and bids money for a player that we can’t refuse, then that’s the way it is. The football club has got to move in the right direction. It’s a selling club when it has to be a selling club. It wants to keep its best players when it is possible. We would like to have everyone here when the transfer window closes at the end of January. I’m delighted that people are interested, and I’m sure the players are as well. We’ve had a lot of good performers this season. I’m sure there are scouts and managers watching our games on a regular basis, because they want to see why Plymouth Argyle are at the top of the league. The reason is because we have a lot of talented individuals. Sonny Bradley has been a very good signing for us. He has been nominated for a player of the month award. He has presence; is very good in the air; he reads the game very well. He is a left-sided centre-half, which is at a premium. He has fit in well to the style of play we have had this season. Any player that plays in the division for so many seasons understands what it is to play week-in, week-out with the amount of game time you have to play, and you have to play in a certain style at times. He understands that. We have him, David Fox, Luke McCormick; a good spine to the team with experience of being captains at clubs before. I think that is important to have around your squad.”
Connor Smith is a player who has recently come back into Argyle's starting eleven and he believes this squad have what it takes to get out of this league. Smith said: “We’ve got a few players who have the experience of winning promotion from this league - that is massive. We want to avoid the play-offs. We are looking to stay in the top three, but obviously we want to win the league. We know we have got the quality to go on big runs and get good results all season. We have got players on the bench who can easily come in and not weaken the side. Strength in depth is a good thing and hopefully that will get us through at the end of the season. It’s a massive result. We started the season with consecutive defeats and went on a run, so hopefully after the period that we have just had, we can go on another big run. Accrington is a tough place to go. They are a decent side and very physical. I know that they are struggling this season but we know the qualities that they have and of course it’s going to be a very tough game. We’ll go up there and dig in, it won’t be a pretty game but we’ll hopefully go up there and get three points. We want to be top all season. It’s good to look at the halfway point of the season and be top of the league. It’s a good place to start and then hopefully we can kick on again after Christmas. It can be challenging but we have a group of lads who want to play every game and we have the strength in depth of the squad, which is massive too. We have players who can come on if people are tired. We should be able to deal with the fixtures over Christmas."
Derek Adams was delighted to see his side go back to top of the table, a position they have occupied for much of the season. The manager said: “We’re obviously happy to go back to the top of the table. We’ve been there for a long time this season. I knew that Luton against Carlisle was going to be a difficult game for both these sides, and a win was always going to be putting us top of the table. I thought they coped with the conditions very well. Both teams passed the ball at times; Doncaster probably passed the ball more than us today, which was going to be the case. We were quite happy with that, because they were going to pass it in their own half.
"I don’t really care who takes the penalties said as long as it goes in the back of the net. That’s my philosophy. I thought it was Graham Carey that was going to take the penalty - he was the last one to take one. As I’ve said before, whoever is confident on the pitch gets to take the penalty kick. Jake was that person today. He hit the target, and if you hit the target you can’t complain. It was a very well-taken penalty.”
Sonny Bradley described his pleasure at what he described as 'the best result of the season' and went on to give his analysis of both penalty decisions and the red card incident respectively, saying: "They are a very good team. I think if you look at the names on the team sheet, there is some very good players in that squad; in my opinion a couple of the best players in the league. It was always going to be a difficult task, especially because our confidence has not been at it's best. We have dug in today. I think a few people have wrote us off before the game. That is the feel I got this week a little bit around the club. But that has never been from the players or the management. I have just spoke to the gaffer, he has just said his piece after the game and he said all week he knew we were going to be winners. We warmed up properly before the game, everyone was bang up for it and we have gone out there and we have done the job.
"I was a good 50 or 60 yards away from it so I could not see whether it was inside or outside the box. I think that is what they were arguing with the referee about. I don't think they were arguing whether it is a foul or not because he has absolutely cleaned him out in my opinion. Whether it was a penalty or not I do not know, I was just delighted to see the referee point to the spot. I was a bit nervous when the ball rattled the bar because I thought it was coming back out. Luckily for Jake it has hit the line and bounced back into the roof of the net. In the end you can say it was a great finish but he had me on edge for a minute!
"I think it was a penalty. I think Foxy came across and dangled a lazy leg. I call it a lazy leg because you have got to just stand up there and show him outside and get rid of the ball. I think we had chance to clear it before it got to that point so we will probably look back at that and be a bit disappointed.
"It was nothing really. I didn't see Coppinger put his head towards Luke. I thought the referee could have just moved everyone away and at best probably could have dished out a couple of yellow cards and that would have been that, I did not really see a red card in there anywhere. Obviously the referee or the linesman has seen something I have not seen. I was right amongst it trying to break it up so whether something has happened that I have not seen, it might have. That is irrelevant to me now though, all I care about is the three points."
Sonny also spoke about the awe inspired by his Argyle teammate Graham Carey: "It was an outstanding finish. They were dominating the ball at the time. It was a slip from their player and you have got to make sure you have got big studs on when Graham Carey is about. If you let him get in and he's running at the centre-half, it's panic. It's a defender's worse nightmare when someone like Graham gets the ball down at his feet and he runs at you. He can go left, he can go right. All he has to do is shift it onto his left foot half a yard and he will put it in the top corner. A bit more of that from Graham over the next few games and we will certainly be looking to put a little run together."
Argyle kept their first clean sheet in months against a high-scoring team in Doncaster, and Derek Adams was impressed by his side's defensive and attacking prowess. He said: “Without the ball, I think that we were excellent at times,” said Adams, “keeping our shape and negating the space for them to play in. We allowed their two centre halves [time] on the ball and kept a good line. Later on in the game, they did go for it. They took off their centre half, I think it was their left back as well, and put on a midfield player to another area of the pitch. They took their right back to centre half; it probably didn’t help them in a respect from a defensive point of view, but offensively they were going for it. After that, we knew we would get opportunities in the game because we’ve got very good, creative players. We’ve got a lot of quickness in the team and it was only a matter of time before we scored. Teams are going to come
“An outstanding finish. He took it very well; he turned it onto his left foot and curled it into the corner. He played as an inverted winger today in a 4-3-3 formation, allowing us to stop space in behind and stop space in the midfield, where their players were going to get time on the ball. We allowed them time on the ball because you have to be a very good team to play through teams. I thought today that when we won it back, we were able to counter them with Graham Carey one-on-one with the defender. A very good performance from us today, I thought, from start to finish. Tactically and technically, an excellent day for us. We’ve been able to win 2-0 at home, which is an excellent result.”
Sonny Bradley also said that the defensive performance was very much one to be proud of: "It is a defensive performance that we are very proud of. It is a clean sheet that we can build on now. We went on a decent 14 game unbeaten run, and if we can put another one of those together in the second half of the season then I certainly think we will be up there in the top three. I thought everyone at the back today was brilliant. I'll point out Oscar - he was to the left of me so I see more of him, but he was outstanding today, he put his body on the line and when you have got a left back who does that for you it makes your job a little bit easier. I was well aware that they scored a lot of goals, but I was also aware that they have got the second worse defensive record in the league. We knew it could have been a game full of goals so the fact that we have kept them out is an extra little bonus for us. I think they have had a good go at us. There were a couple of chances in the first half. It could have gone either way but in the end we have kept them out and we are delighted with that.
"It did kind of look like an away performance", said Sonny, "but what mattered today was the result and the three points. We have played three or four games lately here; we have dominated the ball against Barnet and Grimsby, have not scored a goal and have not come up with the result. It's been disappointing. Today it was important that we were solid - that is our second clean sheet in a row now so we are delighted with that and hopefully we can just build on that now. Some people say 2-0 is a little bit worse than 1-0. But not when you are going into the last 10-15 minutes of the game. They have had a penalty an a man sent off. It has all just gone our way a little bit today. I think the last few games, I think there is a few things; take Connor's chance at Newport and a few things at Barnet and Grimsby where it has not quite gone our way. Were we the better team today? Probably not. I think it was quite even. When it came down to it we put the ball in the back of the net and we kept a clean sheet and that is what it is all about."
Argyle have returned to top of the league in style with a 2-0 victory over existing league leaders Doncaster. A fine individual effort from Graham Carey and a Jake Jervis penalty that went in off the bar secured the victory. The win was made certain at the end when Doncaster missed a late penalty which saw James Coppinger sent off in a melee with several players from both sides. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis, Carey, Donaldson, Slew. Subs: Dorel, Palfrey, Rooney, Fletcher, Osborne, Goodwillie, Tanner.
Derek Adams flatly denies that Argyle are the underdogs ahead of the visit of Doncaster Rovers in spite of the disparity in form between the two sides. The manager says: “When we’re at home and we’ve had as good a season as we’ve had so far, I think we will still be the favourites to win, but other people will maybe tell me differently. Like ourselves, they are consistent – 12 wins out of 19 games. They have lost four games this season; we have lost five. Both teams go into the match as the most consistent ones, along with Carlisle, at the top of the table. It’s a good football match. It is a big game; it’s first against third and, from our point of view, it is an opportunity to get back on top. If we can get three points, I would hope to be back on top again. We play games at the top of the table all the time; we have been fortunate to do that for the majority of the time I have been here. We have never been out of the play-off positions very often and we want to continue that.
“We are where we are and you finish the season with the points total you have because, roughly, that’s what you deserve to have. Last year, we got to the play-off final; this year, we want to do better than that if we can. We are always punching above our weight. People don’t like me saying that, but that’s the reality of the situation. We want to win the game and go back to the top of the league.
“We just have to deal with the presence that they have, but we have to play our own game; keep the ball; create the opportunities again; and be more clinical.”
Derek Adams is delighted to see Argyle's game with Newport televised on BT Sport, saying: "We are obviously delighted that the game is going to get a lot of publicity. It's good for the football club that it's going to be shown to the world, so to speak. It's about promoting your brand and we will be able to do that live on BT Sport. Everybody will be looking forward to that game. It's great for so many people that are Plymouth Argyle fans and Newport fans that they will be able to tune into it."
He will be pleased to know also that BT are screening the game between Liverpool and the winner of Argyle's replay. The game will be played on Sunday January 8th at 1.30 PM.
Yann Songo'o is relishing the chance to play top of the table Doncaster on Saturday and believes the opposition's expansive style could actually benefit Argyle. Songo'o said: "It will be an interesting game. Doncaster is a really good side. They are a team which came down from League One, so it's going to be a good game. It's going to suit us more because Doncaster like to play football as well. I think the game is going to be open so there are going to be loads of chances. We knew that time was going to come. It's football. It's hard to go the whole season unbeaten. Other teams are playing deeper against us so it's getting harder for us to try to score. But I think we have done really well this season. We are still up there in the promotion places. No-one is panicking. We know we are going to go back to winning. We lost our striker Jimmy Spencer and have had a couple of other injuries. It's not an excuse but I think that has affected us a little bit. Hopefully against Doncaster we can come back to winning.
"The mentality I have is that I will play everywhere. I will do my best wherever the gaffer puts me. My normal position is more as a centre-back but I enjoyed playing in the midfield Wherever the manager puts me I will always give 100 per cent so, for me, it doesn't matter the position I play. We are working on that in training and getting better. It was really solid against Newport and hopefully we can carry that on."
Argyle's FA Cup replay with Newport to determine who will travel to Anfield in Round Three has been moved to Wednesday December 21st to be televised on BT Sport. Ticket details will be shortly available on the club's official website.
Derek Adams has given the latest injury assessment on his 'walking wounded' squad of players. The manager said: “We had eight out on Saturday through injury and suspension. That is a lot in a squad of 24 with three goalkeepers. We have Jordan Slew back on Saturday, and hopefully we can get the others back as soon as possible. Will be it be Saturday? I’m not sure yet, but they are working their way back to fitness. We’ll look at Ben over the next few days. He’s been out for a couple of weeks now, but it wasn’t as bad as we had feared. We’ll just monitor his progress.
“Nauris is still out. He played against Morecambe, and has a hamstring injury now because it’s moved up from the calf into that side of the leg. He’s progressing well, we are hopeful he will back training sometime next week. Nauris is probably behind Ben, but they are both back in with the physio. Bulvitis will definitely not be fit for Saturday, not sure about Purrington yet. Ijaha will hopefully be training next week.
“Garita's got a knee problem; he had that at Bristol City before, and he’s gone back to Bristol City to get a scan on his knee. That was the reason he missed out on Saturday. It’s too early to say when he will be fit, we’ve just got to wait to hear from Bristol City before we can make a judgment. He had the scan late on Monday, so we’re just waiting for the results.
“Ryan Brunt’s not close. He’s on the anti-gravity machine, has just started to run on that this week. He then need to come off that, get his fitness levels up, and have no reaction to that. I said a while ago that he was behind schedule, and he still is.
Gary Sawyer is going to see the consultant today, to see how he is progressing – it is eight weeks since his operation. We’ll get a better idea after today how close he is to returning to training.”
Derek Adams refused to let the possibility of an FA Cup tie with Liverpool distract from his side's league schedule but did rue missed opportunities to win the game in the first leg, saying: Both teams know what is at stake in the next round for them, and that is something both will be looking forward to," he told the club's official website after much duress. The replay is a tie that will generate a lot of interest from both sets of supporters, and is an important game for both clubs. To get to the next round is important; we'll leave that for now. We must look to Doncaster first, this Saturday.
"We had enough opportunities on Saturday. We put a few great balls across, and if we went 1-0 ahead we probably would have won the game by more than that. But we haven't done that, and we have to go to a replay. We had a couple of chances that we feel we should have taken: the biggest one being when the balls came through the players legs with Connor Smith two yards out, but he was just unfortunate that he wasn't ready for it to go in the back of the net. If we make it 1-0 the game is over and we go onto the next round."
THE winners of Newport vs Argyle's FA Cup second round replay will meet Premier League giants Liverpool in round three. Details of the replay are to be confirmed shortly.
Derek Adams was left to rue his side's lack of firepower after failing to break down Newport's stubborn defence. He said: “It wasn’t easy, with Newport going down to ten players and defending very well. We didn’t work their goalkeeper enough because they negated the space. For the first 15-20 minutes, we did really well. I thought it was going to be a good performance. Then the sending-off probably helps them – they become two banks of four and one up front, and close the space down. We had a lot of the ball but were just unable to find the opportunity to get the goals. I thought we probably played better when it was 11 against 11, than when it was against 10 against 11. They stopped the space. We didn't play as free-flowing as we did when we had 11 against 11. We didn’t pass the ball quick enough and we became very direct at times, and haven’t been able to get the finish."
Argyle's FA Cup tie with Newport will go to a replay following a 0-0 draw at Home Park. Newport had ten men for most of the game following the sending off of Sean Rigg early in the match. Argyle huffed and puffed but could not break down a steady Newport defence. The replay will be played on Tuesday December 13th. The match was notable for the debut of apprentice Alex Fletcher in an Argyle shirt. Argyle: McCormick, Miller(Donaldson), Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis, Tanner(Fletcher), Carey, Goodwillie(Rooney). Subs: Dorel, Osborne, Palfrey, Bentley.
Director Simon Hallett revealed that plans for a radical overhaul of Argyle's grandstand will be unveiled in early 2017. He said that the new stand would take the 'shell' of the old grandstand but would be drastically refurnished. Hallett: "We remain absolutely committed to an improved grandstand. We are now at the stage where we have plans that we hope to be able to take to the fans in the new year. And we remain committed to getting it done by 2019, ready for 2020. The current plan is more than just refurbishment but it's going to take the core of the old stand. I don't think we are at the stage where we are going to knock the whole thing down and make it absolutely brand new. Just calling it refurbishment is under-stating the scope of work. It will be a very attractive building, I think, when it is completed. It will have conferencing facilities, offices for our staff and it will have facilities for our players. It's going to be something between a complete knock-down start again and refurbishment. A major upgrading is probably the good way of putting it. It will achieve a lot of the objectives of the much bigger plan that we had before.
"How confident am I? I'm a fairly optimistic person. I can't put a number on it, but we own the ground and we are looking at ways of financing it which we think will be on sensible terms because it's going to cost a lot of money. We are just waiting on negotiations about financing in order to then move ahead and start thinking about presenting our proposals for the major upgrade to the fans. I don't see any particular obstacle. We should know in a few weeks about financing. I would hope that sometime in the first quarter of next year we would be able to show something to the fans. I know there have been too many promises made in the past that we have not been able to fulfil. But 2020 is going to be really important for Plymouth, and I hope for Devon and the South West as well. So it's important that we have a sporting facility at a club that is at the centre of the community, and is acceptable for the kind of players that we hope to have come, and for the spectators. My view is that Home Park looks nice when you are looking from the directors' box. But if you are looking from the Lyndhurst Stand it doesn't look very good and the fan experience is not at the level that we want it. So 2020 provides a bit of discipline here. We are going to need to get it done before then. It will be a terrible thing if we don't get it done. How confident am I? I'm about as confident as I can be that we will get it done one way or another."
Derek Adams is used to playing Argyle's FA Cup opponents Newport County as it is the 3rd time that the two clubs have met this season already. He stated however that Newport should not be underestimated and both sides would be wanting to put an end to recent losing runs. Adams: “We were obviously on a long unbeaten run ourselves, of 14 games. Both teams are now coming off runs they would like to turn around; they are coming off a two-game losing streak and we are coming off a three-game losing streak. We’ve played them in the league and the Checkatrade Trophy already this season so both teams are acquainted with each other. They have had a wee bit of change in formation; a change of manager from the Checkatrade Trophy to the league game; and now, from the league game to the FA Cup, they have changed certain personnel within the squad, as well. Obviously Jon Parkin has moved on to York. It’s a wee bit different from the last game we played them. Graham has gone in there and he has done really well to start with. We would like to try to progress through to the next round at the first attempt,” he said, “and we be going all out to do that on Saturday. We did really well against Mansfield in the first round, to go away from home and win 2-1; now we come into this game looking to progress to the next round. It gives us a break from league action; it’s a home tie; and it’s a good one because the FA Cup is a competition we would like to progress in. We want to have a run in it. That would be beneficial for us over many different permutations for us, if we get through to the next round.”
Oscar Threlkeld has confirmed that spirits remain high in the Argyle camp in spite of the recent poor run of form. He went on to talk about the experience of playing at left-back after spending most of his career as a right-sided player: “Everyone needs to know everyone because it pulls us all together. If someone is not doing something on the pitch, we’re not scared to say it; the lads are on you for good reason because they obviously want you to do well. My injury was frustrating because I just wanted to play. Everyone is such a tight group here and we all still interacted with each other, which is a good feeling because, at some clubs, you may be injured and then nobody wants to know you. We have a very good squad. Me and Craig Tanner are still causing havoc - 100%. That is just our personalities. It runs through the squad. We are always together; we all have a laugh and play pranks on each other.
"Being a right-footed player at left-back doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. It has its benefits - I can cut inside, which allows me make a cross, shot or forward pass. I’ve played everywhere through my career. In the Under-13s, I played up front against Liverpool; in the Under-15s, I went in nets against Manchester United. I literally have played everywhere. Sometimes I wish I was just in one position and sometimes I don’t. I want to be good so I don’t move about, I want to be the first name on the sheet; but also, if somebody gets injured, who’s going to play there? Me. It’s good. 100%. Pros and cons. Playing left-back is very similar to right-back. If the ball is on the other side, I need to look across.; if it’s 2 v 1, then I have the license to tuck in more further forward; if it’s 2 v 2, then I’ve got to make it a 3 v 2 and support the centre-backs.”
Derek Adams has welcomed the attention reportedly being given to youngster Ben Purrington and has said that he deserves it for his impressive performances this season. Adams said: “We haven’t heard anything from any club, so that’s obviously speculation, but it’s always nice to see your players attracted to other clubs. These clubs track a lot of players and Ben, being at 20 years of age and good experience playing at left-back – he played 15 games on the trot before his injury; he’s made more than 45 appearances for the club at such a young age...I’m sure there will be interest in him. He is showing that he can play at this level. We’re just glad he’s doing well for us. He and Gary Sawyer unfortunately are out injured at this moment in time but they have got good competition for places in that left-back area. It can help them. It has shown that, if they go in and do well in the first team, then people are watching. It’s good for Ben that his development is progressing at the football club and people are noticing. We have got him under contract, which is good from the club’s point of view.”
Oscar Threlkeld said that whilst progression in this season's FA Cup is important, promotion to League One is the number one target. He added however that a good run in one could help with the other, saying: “In the league, we want to get promoted,” he said, “that is the main aim; in the FA Cup, you want to see how far you can get. Nobody is talking about who they want in the next round because we’re taking it one game at a time. Yes, we have the chance of a good draw, but we’ll take it as it comes. We’ve got to beat Newport first. If we can draw a big team in the FA Cup, that would mean a lot to us; if we can beat Newport and draw a big opposition, it will be a benefit for us. It will be a great experience and we’ll give it a good go.
“We always have blips, every team has blips now and again – it’s about how we react to them. At the start of the season, we played very well and no results were going our way. We then went on a 14-game unbeaten run – we need to get back to winning ways and hopefully carry on another run. We need to work on defending corners and set-pieces better – we have been doing that all week – and we need to concentrate more and talk more defensively on the pitch. When we went on the winning run, it was because of our defensive play from top to bottom; we need to get back to those winning ways. We’ve got a good enough squad to do so.”
Craig Tanner has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks according to Derek Adams. The Argyle boss was explaining why Tanner has not had a sustained run in the side. He said: He has been in and out. He has actually been playing through an injury for us in those games. He has been really good for us this season and will be back in the team on Saturday. He took a knock to an area of the body. I'm not going to say where because then somebody might target him. He has been playing with it for a number of weeks now and that was one of the reasons why I didn't play him on Saturday. But he has been training and has put himself up for the games, which is really good. He's a similar type of player to Graham Carey. They are both good with their back to goal and can also take it on the half turn He's very positive, direct and can score goals and assist in goals as well. And for his size he's a very strong individual."
Adams was cautious however on the subject of Ben Purrington's return from injury: "Ben has started to jog now, which is good, and getting back on his feet. We will have a better idea by the end of the week if he's going to be available for Saturday's match."
Argyle have announced that the second Fans' Forum of the season will take place on Saturday, December 10 following our crunch home match against Doncaster Rovers. Following on from the first Fans Forum of the campaign in September, the Green Army will be able to meet with the club's Board of Directors in the Life Centre adjacent to Home Park. Among the directors present will be the club's American-based co-owner Simon Hallett. The meeting begins at 5.15pm and access will be via a door opposite the main Home Park entrance, which will be signed and stewarded.
Luke McCormick has admitted that Argyle badly need to improve following the recent decline in form. The captain said: "We are disappointed but we have to take it on the chin and keep working hard. I'm sure it will turn again in our favour. We have got to pick ourselves up and make sure we improve. It's absolutely imperative that we do. We have enjoyed the good times and you have to take the rough with the smooth. At times in the first half against Morecambe we looked a little bit wayward, which isn't like us. We have just got to keep believing in what we are doing is the right thing, because it is, and we put it right. We were looking forward to getting on the road again. It's where we have enjoyed a lot of success but, unfortunately, we didn't start the game well enough. We gave Morecambe the impetus and a bit of an edge but we got ourselves back in it. Then we lost Jordan and it was tough work from there on in. I spoke to the referee, who was convinced it was a penalty. Once it has been given there is not a lot you can do. Unfortunately, I don't think we got the same fairness out of the referee at the other end, but that's how it goes sometimes. I'm sure it will even itself up over the course of the season. The luck seems to have deserted us a little bit at the moment. It's far too early to start looking at league tables. Will it help us psychologically not being at the top, I don't know? Only time will tell. We have just got to focus on the next game now, which is in the FA Cup, so we have got a little bit of a break from the league, which we probably welcome to be honest. Hopefully, we can get ourselves into the third round and that will mean we are back on the rails again. We suffered a little bit last season through injuries and stuff like that, but I think we are better set up to deal with it this time around. We have just got to keep on top of things, keep working hard and I'm sure that will prevail in the end."
Derek Adams blamed a mixture of refereeing mistakes and poor defending for the latest of Argyle's run of losses against Morecambe. Adams also explained why he did not start David Fox and subbed off Graham Carey on a poor playing surface, saying: "When you give away a penalty, it’s an error of judgment, and when you lose a man at a set-play, it’s an error of judgment. We’re man-marking and we’re losing our men; we’ve done that for the last couple of games now. The first one wasn’t a booking, plain and simple. He’s gone for the ball and he accidentally clipped the man – it wasn’t a booking. The second one, I haven’t seen again; I would have to see it before I can comment on it. Obviously the sending-off helps them but, over the game, they had numerous opportunities to win the match. I thought we started the game very well for the first ten minutes then Morecambe were the better side and thoroughly deserved to win the match over 90 minutes. They could have scored a few more goals today, there is no doubt about it, but they haven’t scored any goals apart from a set-piece and a penalty-kick. They are probably frustrated about that but they have come away with three points. We’re probably frustrated we didn’t get a couple of penalties in the game; we aren’t getting anything at this moment in time.
“When you are playing against the leaders in any division, you have got nothing to lose, and that’s happened to us a number of times this season. It’ll happen to somebody else who will be top of the league. We’re obviously disappointed. We’ve gone three games losing, when we had been on a 14-game unbeaten run. We haven’t defended well enough; we obviously haven’t scored enough goals; we haven’t been good enough to win in the three games. The Tuesday night performance [against Barnet] we deserved to do a lot better; against Grimsby and today, we didn’t. The pitch was a boggy pitch and it was all about giving us a more physical element to the game. It was a difficult pitch to play on and we knew they would run forward and be physical.
“Graham wasn’t playing well enough today, so I took him off; he wasn’t creating enough. He has done exceptionally well this season - he has scored goals and he has had most assists at the club - but today wasn’t his day. It’s a difficult pitch and you have to play in a different way.”
Adams also believes that Argyle are 'still ahead of schedule' and are the victims of their own overperformance earlier in the season. Adams said: "We are a team that was transformed over the close season. We have done really well and we are ahead of schedule. We are second in the league, we are on 38 points and we are only off the top on goal difference. We have won 12 games, more than anybody else in this league. Some people have to have a wee reality check. We are not Barcelona or a Man City. We are Plymouth Argyle Football Club.
"We are working really hard. We have got good players in the dressing room and, as I have stated before, we are punching well above our weight. It's a difficult league. Morecambe are a very good team. From my point of view, they deserved to win. I think when you are playing against the leaders in any division you have got nothing to lose. That has happened to us a number of times this season. It will happen to somebody else when they are top of the league.
"I think that over my time at the football club we have moved on and moved on, and we continue to do that. Last year we had the 10th highest budget in the league and were able to get in the play-off final so that tells you how well we did. It's similar this season. It's what you have got at your disposal, and we have got a very good squad. We have done really well but now we have lost three games on the bounce. You have just got to pick yourself up. We have got the FA Cup next week and we will hope to progress to the next round
"It has been an excellent start to the season. We are on 38 points after 19 games. It's because of how well we have done that people get disappointed. Sometimes I'm a problem for myself because we become so successful. That happened in my old job at Ross County. We finished champions, fifth and seventh because I'm very good at my job and people do get disillusioned at times."
Argyle's third defeat in a row saw them relinquish their spot at the top of League Two. The greens lost 2-1 to Morecambe who had lose 7 home matches in a row until this one. The home side went ahead from a penalty early on but Argyle equalised from makeshift left-back Oscar Threlkeld just before half-time. Jordan Slew was sent off early in the second half where he was alleged to have dived in an attempt to win a penalty and Morecambe made their extra man count by getting the winning goal on the hour mark. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis(Osborne), Bradley, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Smith, Jervis(Tanner), Slew, Carey(Garita). Subs: Goodwillie, Rooney, Dorel, Fox.
Sonny Bradley has said that he is happy for Argyle to be 'boring' as long as they continue to take each game as it comes and play with professionalism. He explained: “We are delighted with the away wins. To get seven on the bounce in this division is a really good achievement. We want to make it eight. We should make it eight. But we should’ve beaten Barnet and we should’ve beaten Grimsby, so we’re well aware that, if we aren’t 100% on it, then anything could happen on the day. It’s boring – and a lot of people say it – but you’ve just got to concentrate on the next game. I think journalists want to hear you say something different, but you can’t because it’s the truth – it is all about the next game. That’s been our answer over the unbeaten run and that’s how we’ve taken it; unfortunately, it ended at Grimsby but the away record is still on so think we’ll be going to Morecambe and trying to make it eight out of eight.
"We’re not too bothered about what Morecambe have been doing, to be honest. We tend to concentrate on ourselves more and we know that, if we train hard and perform well, then, on the day, no matter who we play, we can beat anybody. We’ve got to focus on ourselves and keep playing the football that we can play. If we perform the way that we can, we defend properly, we get our set-pieces right, then we can go on to beat anyone in this division. We’ve got to play the football that we can play and beat them.”
Argyle have picked up a club record 7 away league wins in a row and Derek Adams hopes to make it 8 at Morecambe tomorrow: “We have got a very good away record – it is a club record of seven wins on the bounce – and we want to continue that, add to that and go forward. We’d be really proud to extend the record and it would put us on a really good points total so far this season. We are going there to try win the match and come away with three points. We’ve done exceptionally well away from home over the last two years; a lot of points have been gained. It’s happening more and more in football in general, I think. Away from home, the home team really has to come out and play; the away team then plays on the counter attack.”
Sonny Bradley has admitted he has taken Argyle's recent defensive frailties personally following two home losses in a row in which Argyle conceded five goals. He vowed to do better in the near future, saying: “It’s our own fault in a way because, even if you haven’t put your chances away, you’ve still got to defend properly. Me personally, and the back four and Luke, should feel a little bit responsible for the last couple of games because it’s probably the worst we’ve defended all season. I don’t think anyone broke us down and got through us and created a lot of chances – it’s just the basic defending, at crosses and corners, which we really need to tighten up on. In this division, when you’ve got the likes of Bogle, at Grimsby, and big John Akinde, at Barnet – the big boys – that’s their game, set-pieces, and if you allow them to dominate and get chances in the box, then they’re going to put them away. It’s something we need to tighten up on. We know that, in this division, if we don’t defend properly and we don’t defend in both boxes, then we’re going to lose football matches. In the last couple of games, that’s what’s happened; we haven’t defended set-pieces, especially crosses into our box and corners, well enough. We’ve created a lot of chances, just like we did all season, but it’s just not gone for us last couple of games and we haven’t got the ball in the back of the net. When you don’t do that, there’s always a chance of you getting beat.
“I think, as a defence, you do kind of take it a little bit personally. I know I do if it’s my mistake or I could’ve done something about it. I do dwell on it a little bit because I know I could’ve done better. You do take it personally but you’ve got to move on as quickly as possible you can’t keep thinking about stuff like that because you’ll take it into training the next day, and you’ll take it into the next game and your performances will start dipping.
“You’ve got to recognise that if you could’ve done better, then you’ve got to do better. We’ve recognised where we’ve gone wrong; we’ve just got to tighten up and hopefully we can go on an unbeaten run again. The last time we lost two games in the league it was at the start of the season and then we went on to not get beat for nearly three months. That’s got to be our mentality now – to concentrate on Morecambe and start another unbeaten run. You’ve got to look at how well we’ve performed so far this season, as well. When you do look at the negatives, you’ve got to look back at the positives because the confidence rebuilds and we take that into the next game. You’ve got to draw a line under it now; you can’t dwell on it too much. We’ve been brilliant this season so you’ve got to look at that as well and take the positives, concentrate on training, and look towards Morecambe and see how we can get the three points there.”
Derek Adams however had a more positive outlook on the match, stressing his belief that Argyle deserved the win on the balance of play. He cited match statistics to support his belief. Adams said: “We had 660 passes to their 350; had 17 attempts on goal to their four – that shows you the domination we had in the game – and we know that we played well. We didn’t get the result. That sometimes happens. We had about 70% of the match overall; we had three times the opportunities in the game; we weren’t able to put the ball in the back of the net; and we conceded two poor goals on the night. They had to defend for the majority of the match and it’s one of these games that you find it difficult to score in. We have to take our chances when they come along.
“I don’t mind losing if somebody is better than us. That is something that happens in life. But I feel that, the other night, there were a lot of circumstances that went against us – the second goal was a foul; we should have had a penalty kick – and, over the 90 minutes, we didn’t feel there was a consistency in the game. We had a lot of chances and were unable to get the goals our play probably deserved. It was difficult for us when you go 2-0 down; it’s a long way back after that. It was a difficult game against Grimsby. They got a good start in the game and were able to get ahead in the match and we really haven’t played well enough on that day.
“We probably have to be a wee bit more clinical; when that opportunity comes along, we have to take it. David Fox hit the bar the other night and probably should have scored; if that goes in, it’s a different ball game. It happened on Saturday against Grimsby – Craig Tanner twice had good opportunities to score, doesn’t, and they go and score. We have got enough players in the squad who are more than capable of scoring goals – you see that in the goalscoring charts – so, when the chances come along, we just need to score.”
Adams also revealed that Argyle are changing the way they approach training sessions to minimise the risk of injury/burnout. Adams: "We do train a wee bit differently now. Not too much, but we try to protect the players from anything. We have to reduce the load in training. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes we don't want to do that. We have just got to protect them and make sure there is not as much contact in training.
"We want to get onto that 40-points mark as quickly as possible. We have got a good number of games between now and the end of the year."
Derek Adams blamed missed chances and poor refereeing decisions for Argyle's loss to Barnet, saying that Argyle had still had plenty of good play. He said: “We lost a goal from a set play early in the game. One of our men lost his man and they get an early goal. We probably shouldn’t have given away a corner kick in the first place. We gave away two corners and a free-kick early on in the game. We know what Barnet are about and that’s something they’re very good at. We should’ve had a penalty kick with Jake Jervis turning his man. He gets wiped out. That would’ve given us a good chance to get back it back in the match. Then there’s probably a foul in the lead-up to the second goal on Yann Songo’o, and I’m not sure if it’s offside or not when the ball is played through. I haven’t seen the footage yet. So that makes it 2-0. I thought the boy had come through the back of Songo’o and fouled him. It becomes difficult after that, because they’ve got something to hold onto.
“We didn’t have a choice. We just had to try and get as many attacking players on as we possibly could. If we had got a goal, we probably would’ve got another one, but we didn’t. We had a lot of the ball; we had a lot of attacking players on the pitch; we had a lot of opportunities, and we weren’t able to get the next goal in the game that would’ve maybe put them under more pressure. It's very frustrating, when you’ve had so much possession of the ball. We’ve had good opportunities, first and second half, and we haven’t been able to take any. In two games now, we’ve had opportunities to score goals. We haven’t scored in two games but we’ve plenty of good play in and around the box. We haven’t been clinical enough with our chances and that’s why we’ve failed to score. It’s just hard to take because you’ve put yourselves in a good position, then we don’t defend well enough against Grimsby and we don’t defend well enough against Barnet. We lose two goals, and you find it very difficult to come back from that.”
Adams further berated referee Brett Huxtable for his refusal to deal with Barnet's timewasting, saying: “The referee didn’t want to speak about anything after the game. The thing was, he thought he was having a good match, but there was time wasting from Barnet, their goalkeeper continually held the ball for more than the six seconds, the time they took to take throw-ins; the time they took to make substitutions. Is it part of the game? Yes it is, but it’s up to the referee to deal with it. Throughout the evening, the fans told the referee what they thought of him. When that happens, the referee at some point in the game has to realise that they’re not too happy with him.”
Argyle have lost a second home game in the space of a week with a 2-0 loss to Barnet. Argyle were the victim of two contentious refereeing decisions with Luke McCormick and Yann Songo'o appearing to have been fouled in the build-up to Barnet's first and second goals respectively. Argyle were also denied what looked like a penalty on Jake Jervis between the two goals. Argyle plugged away in the second half but could not find an opening. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Threlkeld(Tanner), Songo'o(Garita), Fox, Smith, Jervis, Carey, Goodwillie. Subs: Dorel, Rooney, Osborne, Donaldson.
Gary Miller intends for Argyle to take solace from the last time they lost 3-0 at home and to go on another good run of form. He said: “It’s a good thing that we have been in this position before, at the start of the season, and we responded to that then. We can take confidence and know that we are capable of recovering and doing it, so it’s just putting it into practice. We’re delighted with the run, but we are still disappointed to get beaten. We just need to bounce back and react to that, and look to recover and do as well as we can. I don’t think it was a 3-0, but I still don’t think we deserved to win. Grimsby did well at what they did, so you have got to give them credit for that, but we know we can do better and we should do better. We got forward well; we did a lot of good things. It just didn’t seem to come off for us. Maybe it was an off-day but, in football, we know these things happen, so it is now about putting it right. We have done well to get ourselves into the position we’re in and we just need to continue and try to keep climbing from there and keep picking up points. It’s been a good run; we just need to try to start another one. Our main aim will be to get out there and try to rectify what we feel was a disappointing result for us on Saturday.”
Miller also spoke about the injury to striker Jimmy Spencer, revealing his disappointment on behalf of his fellow player: "He has been doing well and it will be a big loss. It's up to the other guys to step up now and stake their claim for a place, and try to keep it by doing well. You have guys like Goodie who work very hard. Obviously, the boys are gutted for Jimmy. He's a good strong character and he will come back better whenever he recovers. It's a shame really. It's not something that you like to see at all. But, as I said, he's a strong character and I'm sure he will be fine. As sad as it is, as one person goes out somebody has to go in and fill the space. Other people who have been working hard will be looking to get in and make their claim. Sometimes, sadly, that's just football."
Derek Adams insisted that Paul-Arnold Garita had not been rushed back from the injury that saw him miss two months of action for Argyle and spoke about the wide range of striking options that he had in his arsenal. Adams said: "He had trained for the week so he was fine to play the game. "It's obviously difficult being out for that period of time but he was ready to go. There wasn't any issues there. It's a risk putting anybody on the pitch. It doesn't matter how many games you have played, or how long you have been out for. We look to play the best available team.
"We have got Jervis, we have got Slew, we have got Garita, Goodwillie, Tanner and Carey. They can all play in that central striker role so we have still got very good options in the forward positions. Carey played there against Oxford last season, and Tanner has as well on a good number of times. It just becomes a different person that's up front. It doesn't really change the style of play. They are all very capable players and, technically, can all take the ball in to feet."
Adams also emphasised the strength of tomorrow night's opponents, Barnet and also praised the good job that Martin Allen has done there, in this his fourth spell at the club. Adams: "Martin has done a fabulous job there again. He has taken them up from the Conference and been able to keep them in the league, which is what he wants to do at the start of the season. They have got Akinde up front, who is their goalscorer, and we have obviously got to look after him.
Derek Adams has rued 'preventable' goals as Argyle lost 3-0 at home to Grimsby in a game which saw the unbeaten run come to a dramatic end. Adams said: "We had many opportunities in the game to score goals and weren't able to take them. Overall, I thought Grimsby were better than us. They have come up and given a good show for themselves. They have done that today. It was a very good performance from them but, for us, we didn't have that spark we have had in recent weeks. We had really good opportunities in the game and we should have scored. And the goals we concede are very poor ones from our point of view and are preventable.
"We have had good opportunities but I would say Grimsby deserved to win the match. It's a very tough league. You see how tight it is from top to bottom and we have been able to get a good run. We will have to go on another good run as well to keep the momentum going.
"You always want to win games, and today I thought Grimsby were better than us. They deserved to win the match, even though we have opened them up numerous times without scoring the goal when we needed to. It probably feels worse than the Luton game because I thought we created a lot more chances today but it just didn't fall for us. I didn't think we had that spark we have had in the past and it started from the beginning of the game. The place was dead at the start and it never got going," he added. "It transferred to the players, and the players transferred that to the terraces."
Jimmy Spencer will be out of action for at least three months after breaking his ankle in training. With David Ijaha also out of the squad injured, Derek Adams was left to rue on an injury list that has had new names added to it just after old names have been taken off it. Adams said: “As he was waiting to have a shot, he was just on his own and his weight went on one leg. He just turned and it snapped. He’s going to be a minimum of three months, I believe. It’s a long time. We’ve also got the long-term ones like Gary Sawyer and Ryan Brunt, so it’s not helping our cause any. Spencer and Garita have played in that position this season. They’ve held up the ball in and performed well for us. It’s a huge blow. Any player we have in the squad that is injured is disappointing.
“Threlkeld was on the bench and he’s progressing all the time. Ijaha will be out for a shorter period of time, we’re hoping. It only happened at the end of the week, so we’ll just find out what the assessment is. He’s hurt his stomach muscles into his groin, so we’re just assessing that at this moment in time. It’s hard to take as a manager. You feel that you’re getting somewhere and then something happens. It’s like a roadblock; it’s very difficult to overcome these things and it’s hard to take.”
Argyle's unbeaten run has come to an end with a 3-0 loss at home to Grimsby. A goal just before half-time saw the Mariners go ahead and two more goals after the interval saw a convincing victory for the visitors. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Fox, Donaldson, Tanner(Goodwillie), Carey, Slew(Jervis), Garita(Rooney). Subs: Dorel, Osbourne, Threlkeld, Smith.
Derek Adams has admitted that the memories of last season are a driving force to ensure that Argyle get over the line this time around: “The foot is to the floor. We have still got to pick up a lot of points. We have got 38 points already and we want to add to them. There are 30 games to go, a long way to go. We have given ourselves a very good start and hopefully can continue that. I think it is going to be very tight this season to get into the promotion places.The league is better than last year. The reason I say that is that, between third place and mid-table, there are a good number of teams on equal points. There are a lot of teams that can beat each other and they’ve shown that throughout the season. We’ve got experienced players in the team and players that want to succeed. We’ve got a lot of players that want to drive on, which is important in a squad. We’re pushing them, day in day out, to make them better, and we are seeing the fruits of that.
“As a manager, you want to be the best; we were trying for that but we were two wins short of automatic promotion. We should have had it, but we didn’t perform well enough in two games. He’ll be finding his feet at the football club and be getting to know the players that are there.They have started the season really well; they are in the play-off positions. Like Barnet last year, they have come up from the National League and done really well, putting a lot of pressure on the teams around about them. They have got a number of talented players. Bogle is the one that stands out for them and we’ll have to watch him. You just have to look at the scoring charts. He scored two goals last week; he’s quick; he’s direct; and he’s robust. We will have to watch out for him.”
Ben Purrington is currently enjoying his longest run of games in the Argyle side but is determined to look forward to the future and is not content to rest on his laurels. The left-back said: “It’s been going well we’re on a good run. We haven’t lost many games, in the league. It’s unfortunate for Gary. It wasn’t nice that he got injured, but it has given me an opportunity to get in the team. Hopefully I can take it, and stay there. It is my longest run, now, and it has been good to be in the team while we are winning. We’ve done well in the league this year. It’s not nice to come into a losing team – you just think ‘I’ll be straight out next week.' As the only left-back in the squad it’s good to know you will probably be starting, although you don’t take anything for granted. I’ve got to be playing well, especially for when Gary Sawyer is back. The new players that came in probably thought I was just a young, back-up left-back. Now that I’ve played, hopefully they realise I’ve played a few games now, and am a bit more experienced than they first thought.
“The way the gaffer plays, you’ve got to be able to get up and down because if the opposite full-back is up and crossing, sometimes he wants you in at the back post. It can be quite tiring at times, but you know you’ve got to do it, keep getting up and down. It’s probably one of the most tiring positions of modern football.”
Purrington said that winning has become a pleasant habit to get into but that he wants to get into another one- the keeping of clean sheets. He said: “I don’t think we’ve kept enough clean sheets this season. We’ve obviously been winning games, which is the main thing, but I wouldn’t mind a few more 1-0 wins. It’s better for the defenders. We’ve been leaking a few sloppy goals which hasn’t been good. We’ve been scoring a lot of goals, which is obviously a good thing. If we can just tighten up at the back it will be even better. If you look around all the other clubs they seem to be conceding as well. Since I’ve come in, we’ve only lost cup games. We’ve drawn a few, but we’re on a good run, and seven points clear at the top of the table which you would never have expected. Morale around the club is really high. We’re all staying level-headed. We’re on a good run, but you know that teams are going to come here and set-up differently to play us, because we are flying. As a team, there’s still more to come. It shows that we are doing well to be top and yet still have more in our locker.”
Derek Adams has revealed that Argyle have made another attempt to open contract talks with star man Graham Carey and that the ball was in the park of the player. Adams said: "I spoke to his agent and we are just in the same scenario that they are going to wait. There is nothing coming back on their side. Graham has done really well for us so he's just keeping his options open. There is nothing else we can do at this moment in time. We have spoken to the agent and the player and it's in their court. That's just the way football is We have got Graham contracted until the end of the season. He's doing well and we are delighted with him.
"What you have got to remember is that Graham Carey came to this football club and people were asking 'Who is he'? It was the same with a number of others, and they have all gone on to do well. It's great for myself as a manager to see the creativity that Graham has got. He has used the platform and done well for the football club while he has been here. I know how Graham works and Graham knows how I work. We have got a very good working relationship and when he goes somewhere else, which he is going to do eventually, he has got to try to get that relationship with somebody else, and it's never easy."
When asked about the prospect of Carey potentially leaving in January, Adams said: "Clubs will probably look at that. But there is a value to the football club on his deal until the end of the season, and also the value to the team when we are in the promotion places. I don't see that happening unless there is a bid that we feel is acceptable to the football club. That's the nature of business. We haven't had any bids at this moment in time so it's hearsay."
Derek Adams admitted that Argyle were looking forward to a run of home games after a succession of away trips but said that things were made harder in home games by teams wishing to sit deep and take a point. Adams: "We are looking forward it, but it's probably more difficult for us at home at this moment in time because teams are coming here, sitting in and hoping to take a point. It's not like when you go away from home and the other teams has to come out and attack and allow space. It hasn't happened many times this season where teams have come at us at home."
Adams finally gave injury updates on Oscar Threlkeld, Paul-Arnold Garita and Ryan Brunt: "Both Garita and Oscar have progressed over the week, which has been very good for us. You want your competition for places and it's important that we have all our good players ready.
"Ryan is continuing to go through his strengthening programme. We are hopeful that we will start jogging in the next week or so. It's probably something he will be looking forward to. He has been out since March and it's a long period of time for him."
It has been confirmed that Argyle will definitely play Newport County in the second round of the FA Cup after their 4-1 win in the first round replay against Alfreton after extra time. The game will take place on Saturday December 3rd.
Derek Adams has said that Luke McCormick's penalty save was important to the outcome of the game against Crewe but said that his Argyle players could have got back into the game anyway. Adams analysed: "Obviously the penalty save does change the way the game's going. I don't think Luke had a lot of saves to make in the game, but he made an important one with the penalty kick. It would have made it 2-0 for Crewe, but I still think we would get back into the game at some point in the match. I didn't see us losing the match today. We've got players that want to score goals. Tanner's goal in the first half was typical him: inside the 18-yard box and being able to take it on his left foot, onto his right, and a good finish. That's what happens in a game: you've got to take a chance when it comes along. We were obviously delighted to get it just before half time.
"I think that it was a difficult afternoon, because they're quite quick and strong but Yann Songo'o and Sonny Bradley did well. It was a very good goal from Kiwomya; a good strike from him. Other than that, we defended strongly. We're obviously delighted. It's a good game to win. It's a tough place to come to - they're sixth in the league. We've played really well at times; we've had to because Crewe are a good side. They're direct, they're quick, but in the second half we got to grips with it and probably could've scored a couple more goals if we chose the right option.
"I couldn't believe the amount of fans we had today. We're looking across from our dugout and they've filled a whole stand. They have followed us on the road continuously, since I've been here and in years gone by as well. They've really had an enjoyable afternoon."
Adams also praised Argyle's strength of character for their first win from a losing position in the league this season, admitting that he did not tell his Argyle player that Carlisle had lost at Newport before kick-off: "For us to come here, go a goal down and come back to win 2-1, shows the character of our players. We've got a great winning mentality. We've got a very good group. We've got a group of players who are quite calm. We've got a mixture of youth and experience in the side, and I think that's important. We've got continuity as well; we obviously had to make a change at centre half today. We've had to make changes throughout the season and the players that've come in have done well. I've got a group of players that are very together. They've got that winning mentality; you don't come away from home and win seven games on the trot if you don't. We obviously knew the score before the start of the game with Carlisle. The players didn't know the score. We didn't tell them, and I think that was important that we put our foot to the pedal and kept on going. We've had a difficult week. We've been away from home to Mansfield in the FA Cup, we've been at Swansea on a wet Tuesday night, and we've had to come to Crewe on a Saturday. It's a lot of time on the road and it's not easy for the players to recover, but they've shown they're capable of doing that. This is a tough league - it is every year. We're on a very good run, but there's a lot of teams on good runs in the league. We're just trying to stay ahead of the pack."
Luke McCormick shrugged off the plaudits after his penalty save against Crewe and instead highlighted the never-say-die attitude of his teammates. McCormick said: “It doesn’t surprise me when you look at this afternoon, going a goal behind,” he said. “The gaffer said afterwards - and it’s true - that we have a never-say-die mentality. We showed a lot of endeavour to get ourselves back in the game and we kept knocking on the door. Fortunately, at the end, we were able to get a break and Graham was able to put it away. We have got a solid base. We have got boys in the team that work hard; we have got loads of creativity; we have got goals in us. I think the base gives ourselves the security to go and express ourselves.
“Sonny and Bully have struck up a fantastic little partnership; it's probably Yann’s more natural position, the one he’s played most of his career, so it’s not strange for him. He slotted in perfectly; he just loves to go and defend and that’s what we had to do at times today. They have got plenty of legs. I think that’s one thing that gave us plenty of trouble. There are plenty of bodies willing to run forward and we had to get to grips with that. Maybe we were wee bit slow in doing that in the initial stages of the game. Once we did, the game opened up a little bit for us and we were able to get our quality players on the ball and take it to them a little bit.
“Graham is relentless. He is up and down; he wants to be part of everything; he wants the ball anywhere on the pitch. Jimmy has done fantastically in the middle of the park to get the ball out to Jake and he has put a fantastic ball in and Graham is head down, running in; he knows where the ball is going to go. They chucked everything at us. The big centre-half came on up front and made things difficult for us but we have got aggressive boys that just want to go and defend, and we were able to hold out.”
On the penalty, Luke said: “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve sort of changed my methods a little bit as to my approach to penalties. When he puts the ball down and he looks up, I just like to be a bit of an inconvenience; move around. The pressure’s on him; there’s no pressure on me, as such. He is expected to score. Thankfully, I was able to guess right. It might just have given us a lift and did the opposite to Crewe. They are a young team, full of energy and enthusiasm, and something like that maybe affects a younger team more than it does an older team. We were pleased to get Tanns on the ball and it was a fantastic strike with his weaker foot.”
Argyle have made club history with a record-breaking 7th away win in a row. Crewe went 1-0 up early on and had a chance to extend their lead in the first half when a penalty kick was awarded. Luke McCormick saved it however, and Argyle equalised shortly before the break through Craig Tanner. A second half of Argyle knocking at the door followed before Graham Carey tapped home the winner. The game ended 2-1 to Argyle. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Fox, Donaldson, Slew(Jervis), Carey, Tanner(Goodwillie), Spencer(Smith). Subs: Dorel, Osbourne, Ijaha, Garita.
Derek Adams explained the decision to have Oscar Threlkeld and Paul-Arnold Garita travel to Swansea and partake in a pre-match warm-up in spite of the prolonged absence of the pair through injury. He explained that it does players good to keep in and around the squad even when they are not ready to play: "When you are an injured player and have been out for a long period of time, I don't want them sitting at home. They are part of the squad and you have to go and support your team. The easiest thing when you are injured is to have the luxury of being in your house, having a cup of coffee or tea, while we are all out working.
"They have been doing light work and now it's about getting them into full contact."
Adams said that does not believe that Jordan Bentley's red card in the midweek Swansea match will have any lasting damage on his Argyle career...but that he did need to learn from it. Adams: "I spoke to him after the game against Swansea and explained to him that he has to learn from that. He has been sent-off twice now in three games so he has got to eradicate the needless fouls that happened in the game. He is 17 years of age and he will learn from that. Jordan is the sort of lad who is a strong character. It was a very good experience for him to play in the first team. Unfortunately it came to an end but he has performed well in the under-18s again this season. He has still got a lot of work to do, like the rest of the under-18s because the step up to first team football is massive."
Adams also said that he was pleased to give game time to Vincent Dorel and Marc McCallum in the Swansea game but re-affirmed that Luke McCormick is still the club's first choice keeper: "It's difficult when you are a second or third goalkeeper because you don't get the same game-time. Luke McCormick is the number one choice at this moment in time. He's a top goalkeeper and club captain as well. But it's good when Vincent and Marc get an opportunity to get some game-time."
Martyn Starnes was coy on the subject of the money obtained by the club for the transfer of Curtis Nelson to Oxford, not ruling out the possibility that it could be used to bolster Derek Adams' transfer funds in January. Starnes said: "What will happen is that Derek will come to a board meeting – if he chooses to do – with a request for funds to sign a particular player. If it's over the existing budget then the board will look at it and make a decision, and either release the funds that he is asking for or not. If it's within budget then Derek will be allowed to go and sign that player anyway.
"I would like to think that the board, certainly in my time and with working with Derek, have always been very supportive of the manager. In Derek, we have got a manager who really appreciates how difficult it is for a club in our position to make additional funds available. He uses the funds very wisely and we work collaboratively on that type of thing so it's not a simple 'yes' or a 'no' answer. It's one that we work together on and say 'Is this something we want to do? Derek, we understand you want this player' and we try to make the funds available for him.
"We have been improving the position financially now for the last three years. It's not an overnight thing. "That's due to the hard work of everyone, down from the chairman of the board to all the people at the club. It has been a massive effort to get us to where we are and I'm proud of everybody who has put that effort in."
Derek Adams and Graham Carey missed out on the manager and player of the month awards for October, the titles going to Keith Curle and Jason Kennedy of Carlisle respectively.
It was still a promising month however for Carey, who spoke about his role in the side, primarily emphasising assists over goals. The Irish playmaker said: "I have set up a few goals and scored a few as well – and we have been winning, which is the most important thing of all. I think my main job in the team is to create goals, and if I chip in with the same amount in goals then that's a bonus. I set a target on how many assists I can get and hopefully I can achieve that. My aim is to better last season. I think it's the first time in my career where I have had the licence to go and express myself in the final third and play a bit more centrally. I think it has showed by getting that amount of goals that it's probably my best position
"I think most of my career I have been playing either left wing-back or left mid, and mainly out on the touchline and crossing the balls in. At the start of the season in Scotland where the gaffer got sacked, he was playing me more centrally. When I came here, he said he wanted me to play more centrally and I have done that. It shows that he obviously knew that was the way to get the best out of me. When I went on loan when I was younger, I played left-back and left wing-back. To be fair, I think it was good for my career because now if I do play on the wing I know how the full-backs feel if you don't defend. It was a good learning period and, obviously, I was young at the time. Possibly if you are the only left-footer in the team you might end up playing left-back, but hopefully those days are over now.
"With the team and the squad we have, we want to win every game. But I think people who were watching would probably have called it a reserve game really, with the way the atmosphere was. On the pitch, it was very competitive and I think both sets of players really wanted to win the game. In that way it wasn't a reserve game. It was played at a bit more tempo. I think in the second half when we were down to 10 men it was a good learning curve for us. The manager said at half-time it was all about keeping shape and working hard as a team, and I think in the second half we did that. As a team we will take a lot out of the second half."
Graham Carey has paid tribute to his fellow Argyle midfielder David Fox as he prepares to face his former club Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. Carey explained: “You can tell he has played at the top level. His brain works a lot faster and differently to others. He’s a top class footballer. You just have to watch these players. It’s an asset to have him in the team. Especially when I’m playing in behind the striker, his passing is great. He can get you into pockets that not many players can. His experience in the dressing before the game helps. It’s always good playing with players who have played at that level. If you make yourself available, Foxy will find you.”
Derek Adams thought likewise, saying: “He’s been a revelation in the side. He’s 32 years of age, he’s excellent on the ball and you have to look after players of a certain age. David has obviously played at an excellent level throughout his career. He comes from a footballing background which also helps. He knows what football clubs need and he knows how to win matches. He’s astute, very calm on the ball, he picks a pass, he knows when to play when were under pressure and he takes the ball very well across the midfield.
“It was difficult for him at the start, we got his fitness levels up as he hadn’t been playing over the summer. He missed pre-season training with us and he then just came in when we were going to Holland. He’ll look forward to that going back to Crewe. They are a football side that produce talent, that’s their philosophy and they have been very successful throughout the years.”
Adams also stated the importance of being a side who was good on the counter attack following Jordan Slew's goal from a Mansfield corner on Saturday: “They had a corner kick and we were able to play on the counter attack after that. Many years ago Manchester United used to do that all the time. People wondered why they had everybody back for a corner kick. That was to suck the opposition players into their penalty area to use the pace of Giggs and Kanchelskis and go forward from there. It’s something you find difficult at times because when we’re at home teams will come and sit in and there is a lack of space; we saw that in the last game against Colchester when they started with five across the back. We have a lot of good creative players amongst the team, we have got speed in our side as well which you need in this division. When we get into the oppositions half we have got a licence to move all over the pitch, a licence to overload in certain areas and not play shape too well at times when we’re in position of the ball. Out of position then we play a rigid shape and keep our formation to try and stop the opposition.”
Finally, he stated the importance of scoring first as a good starting point for Argyle to go on and get a positive result from games. Adams: “I think that the stats will tell you that it’s important that you score first and the majority of the time when you score first you go on the draw or win the game. It gives you a good foothold in the game. In the past we have come from behind and either drawn a game or won a match. We have got different dimensions to our game. The most important stat is probably the 35 points we’ve got already and it’s about adding to that points total. We just have to keep on going and look at the next game. We obviously do have a glance at the league table and results now and again but we have to look after ourselves first.”
Derek Adams admitted that yesterday was a 'difficult night' for Argyle as two injuries forced the team into a somewhat patchwork defence. He said: “Swansea scored two goals quite quickly; then we had the sending-off and it became a very difficult night. It was a game we were going to get players some game-time who hadn’t had an opportunity. Then we lose a man and it becomes difficult because you can’t open up after that – you have to bide your time. We had chances, in the first and second half, to score goals from set-plays, but it was not easy to try to come out and play because Swansea have got some good players. The two goals came in off our right-hand side. It was good play from their point of view; we could have defended it a lot better.
“Gary Miller had a back spasm. Ben Purrington had a dead leg. I noticed he was limping about, so I took him off as quickly as possible. We ended up playing with Sonny Bradley at left-back and Ryan Donaldson at right-back. It was a difficult night for us.
“It was good that Karleigh got a run-out. I didn’t want to start him. He’s been out for a long time and I wanted to give him half an hour; I gave him 40 minutes, which was good for him.”
Adams also said that young defender Jordan Bentley needs to adapt his game after picking up another red card and suspension which followed his one in a South West Premier League game recently, saying: “He’s now got two suspensions on him because he got sent off in a Peninsula game, so he has got to cut that out of his game."
Argyle are out of the Checkatrade Trophy having lost 2-0 to Swansea under-23s in the 'winner takes all' final game of the group. The home side scored both their goals in the opening twenty minutes of the game and Argyle had to play the second half with ten men, following the sending off of Jordan Bentley in first half stoppage time. Bentley, who is a second year apprentice, was making his first start for Argyle. Ben Purrington came off injured in the second half and was replaced by Karleigh Osborne who made his Argyle debut. Argyle: Dorel(McCallum), Bentley, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington(Osborne), Ijaha(Donaldson), Jervis, Carey, Slew(Tanner), Goodwillie. Subs: Songo'o, Fox, Spencer.
Derek Adams has defied the 'manager of the month' curse after winning the award for September by being nominated for the October award as well. Additionally, Graham Carey has been nominated for the player of the month award.
Oxford United have confirmed that a decision has been made in the long awaited tribunal for the fee to be paid to Argyle for Curtis Nelson's summer transfer. Argyle will be paid a minimum of £200,000, with further payments subject to appearances possibly taking the final sum to £280,000. Oxford claimed that the sum was "significantly higher than our initial expectation."
Argyle have drawn Alfreton Town or Newport County in the second round of the Emirates FA Cup.
After a 2-1 win at Mansfield Town on Saturday, Argyle must now turn their attention to the visit of either Alfreton, of the Vanarama National League North or County, bottom of Sky Bet League Two. The sides drew 1-1 at the weekend, and are set to replay on Tuesday, November 15. Second round ties will be played on the weekend of the 3/4th December.
Derek Adams praised Argyle's 'battling qualities' that guided them to the second round of the FA Cup following victory against Mansfield Town. He paid particular reference to how Argyle played the conditions, saying: "We lost the toss and they were able to turn us around. We actually played a wee bit better in the first half with the wind against us, rather than for us. It's difficult when the wind is with you, because you can pass balls and they roll through. We fought hard, played very well in spells and were able to get a lead into the game with great play from Slew down the side, and his strike into the bottom corner. We probably feel we should've gone on to get another goal in that time. Mansfield came back into the game in the second half when they scored their goal, and they got a lift from that. You saw that with their energy and their willingness to get forward.
"It was a well-worked move down the left-hand side, a good cutback and a good strike from David. When they scored their goal, the supporters here were with them, and we knew that was going to be the case. Then our supporters were with us after that as well. It's always nice to come away from home and score two goals. We thought about it before the game: it's about coming here and winning the match. We've come away, it's a tough venue, it's not easy - we knew it wasn't going to be. There wasn't a lot of football on show today, but that's the kind of fixture it was going to be."
Adams also noted Argyle's strength and their capability to physically outmuscle sides as well as just outplay them. He said: "I thought there was a lot of very performances from us today. The likes of Jimmy Spencer up front was excellent at times. Songo'o and Fox in the middle of the park. It's important we have these players performing well. Songo’o]plays in that area of the pitch where you need competitive players. He is that. He goes and wins headers. They were launching balls into areas so we needed a physical element to the team to see it through.
"Jordan's a strong boy. When he gets up and running at you, you've no chance. He can hit the ball past you and he can go both ways as well - the same as Graham Carey can do on the opposite side. So if you're a full back, you've got a problem. He's got power left and right, and it was an excellent finish low into the bottom corner. We're obviously delighted to get through in a cup competition like the FA Cup. We've shown great respect today for it, because it's an important cup competition in this country. We're delighted to be through. I just think that sometimes we are devaluing some competitions, and we do make too many changes at times. I've done it in the past for the Checkatrade Trophy; we've just got to be careful what we do. This is an old, old competition and we've got to respect that. It's just nice to get through to the next round, and hopefully we can get a good tie that is good for the players. The players always want to play against the best sides."
David Fox said that his first goal for Argyle was a long time coming and talked through the goal and how it happened: “It’s nice for it to have a little bit of importance and for it to mean something. It’s taken us through to the next round and obviously I’m delighted. It’s taken me longer than I'd hoped but it’s a start and – like a lot of the other players - I need to chip in with goals. It was nice to contribute to the win and hopefully I can pop up with a couple more. It fell for Slewy and I thought ‘I’m in a bit of space on the edge of the box’. He picked me out great and, as I’ve had my touch, I’m looking at passing it because I’m expecting to be closed down but I had a little bit of space and made sure I hit the target. Luckily for me, it went in. We knew it would be difficult. I don’t think the conditions helped us. With the wind, we knew it would be very difficult out there. Mansfield are a good team. They pressed us well. It was a scrappy game but the manager said ‘We are here to be in the next round of the Cup’ and that’s what we’ve done. We have got a good habit of grinding out wins.”
Fox also echoed the words of his manager regarding cup competitions. That being that winning is a habit and that progression in both the FA Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy should compliment, not hinder, Argyle's successes in the league: “You can’t get tired of winning. You have got to keep going. Any competition you are in, you want to win because it builds and builds and builds. We’re going on to a pitch feeling we’re tough to beat. Obviously there will be times when that’s not the case but we go into every game with confidence and momentum and, it doesn’t matter what competition we are in, we are trying to win. The manager played the same team as last week. He’s keeping momentum. It’s great, from a confidence point of view, that he’s thrown us all out there again, and he expects results. At the minute, that’s what we are doing. We’ve got a never-say-die attitude. We all stuck in. After the second goal, Mansfield chucked everything at us but we stuck together; we held firm; we were solid; and we had each other’s backs. That can get you a long way. t’s a good feeling after games and we have got to try to make that continue. It does nobody any harm at all, being in this competition. We have got lots of players eager to play. We are not even past Christmas yet, everyone’s fit, everyone wants to play, so we want to be in every competition.
“We want get through on Tuesday night, as well. I am sure there will be lads that get a game in that but we know that, whoever plays, wants to win that game. We want to be in the next round of that cup, as well, because confidence breeds results and that’s what we’ve got. We want to try to hold on to it as long as we can.”
Argyle are through to the second round of the FA Cup after a 2-1 victory against Mansfield. A fine solo effort from Jordan Slew put Argyle 1-0 up in the early stages of the game. Mansfield benefitted from some defensive indecision to level it up in the second half but a long range strike from David Fox saw Argyle progress to round two, in which the greens are ball 23. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington, Songo'o, Fox, Carey, Tanner(Donaldson), Slew(Ijaha), Spencer. Subs: Goodwillie, Jervis, Osborne, Dorel.
Derek Adams has stressed the importance of allowing his players a degree of creative freedom in their style of play and of treating them like adults, saying: “Since I have come into management, I have treated my players as adults. We obviously have rules and regulations, but I have always given them very good leeway. I think that’s important. If they go past it, they have a problem. They are all mature adults, with families, with mortgages. I read a lot and see certain things getting banned. It is maybe right for some clubs, but I don’t have a problem with it. I like my players to be creative; I don’t like them to play rigidly,” said Derek, “although I do like them to play rigidly when they have not got the ball. When we have got the ball, they have got the licence to go and excite the crowd. We are in an entertainment business and we have got entertaining players. You have got to give them licence. It’s like a school kid on the park at school – you can’t coach them too early; you have to give them that freedom. Then you have to give them the good habits that they need to defend. Defending is very important, but we have to go and entertain people.”
Adams also stated that he hoped this season would be the year that Argyle would make serious progress in the FA Cup in spite of their first round exit to Carlisle last year: “You can look at it two ways. You can say it’s a break, but it’s the FA Cup you are going into and we want to try to progress to the next round. We obviously know the priority this season is the league campaign but, with the FA Cup, a run can be financially beneficial to the team. I think, if we get through and pick up a lucrative tie, we would have a grandstand built very quickly. The money isn’t always for the football team; money needs to be spent all over the football club. We want to try to progress to the next round. It is important, but the most important thing is the league campaign – that is the one we want to do well in and the one you are judged on at the end of the season. A cup-run is very good – I’m not taking anything away from that – but we are not going to be judged on a cup-run.
“We know, from going there last year, when it was 0-0 game, it is a difficult venue to go to, but it’s away from home and we have done well on the road. Sometimes, clubs can go a wee bit gung-ho. You can throw the coats off and just go for it because there are no points to play for, but there is possibly a bigger prize at the end of the day of a lucrative tie against Premier League team
“The cup competition is very important. I think that replays need to stay in place. I don’t think that would be fair to lower division teams if that wasn’t the case.
“We always play a team that we think can win the football match – I would say that’s the strongest available team. Even if I make changes, I believe it is a team that is capable of winning.”
Jimmy Spencer echoed the sentiments of Adams and too stressed the importance of a good cup run. He said: "It’s just another game to us. We want to keep this run going and get through to the next round. Every game’s important. It doesn’t matter if it is a friendly, a league game, a cup game. We just want to win games. It keeps the momentum going for us. It will be a tough game at Mansfield. They are a very physical side. I think it’ll be a game very similar to Saturday’s against Colchester. They’ll make it hard for us to do our stuff. If we go there and do what we do, play our stuff, we’ll come away with a win. Teams coming up against us will try and stop us. Mansfield have always been physical over the years that I’ve played them.
“I played at White Hart Lane against Tottenham, a few years back when I was at Cheltenham. I think that is the furthest I’ve been in the FA Cup. It was the third round. We were having a good season there too, similar to what we’re doing here now. If we can replicate that, it would be good.”
Derek Adams has said he is expecting a direct style of play from Mansfield Town, Argyle's opponents in the FA Cup first round draw on Saturday, explaining: “We’re unsure about how Mansfield might go because Adam Murray has spoken about their home form. One thing is for sure – they are going to be direct and we are going to have to deal with a lot of high balls into the box because they have got a very good physical element to their team. They have changed their style a wee bit this year – they have got a lot of six-foot-plus players in their team. When they came down here earlier in the season, their players became bigger and bigger as they were coming off the bench.”
Adams also assessed the impact of the new FA Cup balls which will be used on Saturday: “When we change from manufacturer to manufacturer, the feel of the ball, the weight, the way it flies through the air, the way it bounces on the pitch, is all different. People will think it’s strange but that’s the way it is – it’s a different coating to the ball and a different manufacturer. We received them earlier in the week. It’s always interesting when they come out; the players get a wee bit excited. They will be practicing their free-kicks and corner-kicks. It does fly a wee bit different to the league ball.”
Jimmy Spencer has stated his relief that referee Kevin Johnson is set for a full recovery after the accidental collision that saw him need to be stretchered off of Saturday's game at home to Colchester. Spencer recounted: “I think the ball was on the left hand side and I was looking towards Ben who had the ball. I didn’t see the ref until the last minute. It was too late, and I hit into the back of him. My shoulder clipped him in the back. I didn’t really want to go over because it’s not nice to see. I made sure he was alright on Saturday night. When you are in a game of football you forget about things sometimes, but safety to all the people on the pitch is the most important thing. I think it was handled pretty well.”
Jimmy Spencer spoke about playing up front on his own for Argyle this season, stating that whilst it was difficult, he was greatly assisted by the three players playing directly behind him: “You’re up there on your own but at the same time when you have – most recently - Graham, Slewy and Tanns playing up close to me, it’s kind of four up there, interchanging. The gaffer says once it gets into the final third, it’s up to us four to interchange, pass, move and do our stuff. It’s physically demanding this league. Centre halves are always up for a fight. That’s my job – to look after centre halves, and gives Tanns more space behind me, or Graham and Slewy. I play with my back to goal anyway – that’s how I play, it suits me. If it gets other players goals and gets wins for us, great. The quality up there is very good. There are players in this team that shouldn’t be in this league. When the ball comes up to us, us four – or five if you like, with one from midfield – will back ourselves to go on the attack, get in a cross, a shot, or even a goal.
“The first two games we were just bedding ourselves in, getting used to each other. From then on we’ve had a brilliant run. Hopefully it continues. Every game’s not going to be a pretty game; we’re not going to be on top every game in this league. Teams are going to come here and put up a fight, make it hard for us to play the way we want to play, and stop our qualities. It’s good to grind those wins out.”
Oscar Threlkeld and Paul-Arnold Garita both continue to be unavailable for Argyle's game against Mansfield on Saturday. Adams spoke about the frustrating ongoing injuries to the pair: "They are both out for Saturday. They are still with the physio at this moment in time. "We will see how they progress over the next week. He went back to Bristol City about a month ago but he has been back with us since then. It has been a long time for both of them. It's seven weeks for Garita and four weeks for Threlkeld. As a manager you want to have all your players available. It's just unfortunate that the two of them picked up injuries in games and there has been a slow progress on the way back."
The long battle between Argyle and Oxford to decide upon a tribunal fee for Curtis Nelson is nearly at an end with an independent hearing set to rule on Monday. Derek Adams said of the upcoming tribunal: "We obviously know the valuation the football club will be looking for. The club will be able to make their point next Monday. It will give the club revenue to use in whatever way they think is appropriate. It has dragged on since the summer."
Derek Adams has welcomed the nomination of Ben Purrington for the PFA Fans' League Two player of the month award for October. He said: "Ben has played well in that left-back position and been able to play in double figures now for league starts. He's only 20 years old so he's still very young. With that experience he's getting on a weekly basis, it's really helping him. I think the experience of Sonny Bradley, Bulvitis and Gary Miller at the back has obviously helped Ben, along with the likes of Fox and Songo'o."
Adams also stated that he did not lose confidence in his squad after the poor first week to the season that saw us lose all three games in all competitions, saying: “I thought that the group of players that we had put together was a very good group. I’m not surprised by how well we’ve started. If you look at the results it’s a difficult league, but we’ve been able to get a very good start to the season. We’ve still got 31 games to play; we’ve still got a very long way to go in the season, but it’s important that you get points on board early. I think the group of players that we were able to take in, we’ve been really impressed with their attitude, their application and their ability to want to do better. They are a very hard working group; they’ve got a great attitude. They’ve all combined very well this season.
“Carlisle have done very well this season. We know their strengths – they are a very direct team, they have long throws on both sides. They play to their strengths, that has proven to be the right way for them. They’ve been able to get a very good unbeaten run. In the game against Luton we were the better side. 3-0 flattered them on the day. That sometimes happens in football.”
It has been confirmed that referee Kevin Johnson will suffer no lasting damage from the incident in Saturday's game which saw him have to be stretchered off the pitch. An EFL spokesperson said: "The update is that Mr Johnson is now out of hospital with some ligament damage and a bit of blurred vision but thankfully no broken bones. It is anticipated he will be out of action for a few weeks while he recovers and gets back to full fitness."
Derek Adams says that Argyle can be delighted with the points total they have achieved so far this season following the best start to a season since 1929. Adams also praised the performance in the victory against Colchester, saying: "It is an excellent points total to have. We have had a very strong quarter of the season and we are delighted with that. I think for 20-30 minutes we were outstanding at times. The way we passed the ball before we lost the goal, it looked like it was going to be a very good day for us. They were very defensive, organised and hard to break down. They had 11 bodies behind the ball at times. It was a difficult match because they set their stall out early in the game they came and played with five at the back and four in midfield with one striker up, even though they played with two but one came back in very deep. We found it difficult to break down. As soon as we scored the first goal they went to four at the back, then they changed their midfield. It was a game where we were well on top for that period of the game, we lose a goal and they get a bit of belief from that. To win a game in this division is very difficult but it was a good way to finish."
Ryan Donaldson spoke about the unique nature of the game, suspended for nearly 15 minutes after he had just come off the bench and his somewhat accidental winning goal. The wide man said: “You tell me about it! don’t know - it happened so quick. It was a bit of a short back-pass so I thought I’d try and put a bit of pressure on. The closer I got, the more I thought ‘this might hit us’. Where it’s hit me I do not know, but the next thing I’ve seen is a lot of spin on the ball. I thought it may’ve gone over the bar, but thankfully it’s found the net.
"It’s a bit of a strange one. You come on and then you’re waiting around for ten minutes again - I’ve done three warm-ups. You’ve just got to get on with it. It’s one of the strangest situations I’ve been involved in. We didn’t know what was going on at first. We heard a few different things. We just tricked to kick on and stay warm. I don’t know how long it was - ten minutes I think. Obviously our thoughts go to the referee - we hope he’s alright. But it’s a strange situation. It was such a tight game - you take anything when it’s a game like that. Obviously we love to play lovely football and get a goal from 25 yards, but at the end of the day it’s 2-1 to us, and that’s all the matters. In the first 20 minutes, I thought we played really well, but credit to them - they’re not a bad team. There’s some good teams in this league and I thought they were really good today. They’ve had a bit of a tough run, but I think I’d expect them to be up there at the end of the season.They caused us a few problems, and it’s a great finish from their lad for their goal. It was a bit scrappy after that; it was always going to be one goal that wins it, and thankfully we’ve got it - off of my calf, or whatever it was!”
Donaldson was also keen to maintain that it was a team effort that saw Argyle rise to the top of League Two, stating: “It’s a sign of the squad and the staff that we’ve got. We’re just relentless, trying to get as many points on the board as possible. That's 35, we’re on now, and we just want to carry on now and keep grinding. A win’s a win, so however we can get the three points, we’ll take it. When you’re in this run of form and everyone’s playing well, you’ve just got to grind it out and get as many wins as possible. You love coming into work every day when you’re on this sort of run. Everyone’s firing, training’s brilliant, we’re really sharp all over the team and squad - it’s great to be a part of. We said all through the week that wins are massive. We’ve been unbeaten and had two draws in this run, but a win is so much more important. The three points are vital. To win as many games as we have is a brilliant achievement, and we want to carry on. Carey is on seven, Jervis is on five, then there’s a lot of us who are on three and two. The gaffer’s on at us; through the week he said we need to spread the goals around. We need all the help we can get. It’s just brilliant to get on the score-sheet and help the lads. When it comes with three points and the end of it, it always makes it nice.”
Argyle beat Colchester United 2-1 in one of the most bizarre games to have taken place at Home Park in recent years. A goal for each side in the first half (Tanner netting for Argyle) saw the two sides go in level at 1-1. The second half was marred by a neck injury to referee Kevin Johnson who collided with Argyle striker Jimmy Spencer. An eleven minute delay saw Johnson stretchered off. The club has since confirmed he is in good health and on the road to recovery. Almost immediately after the restart, Argyle got the winner via a fluke goal. A mishit clearance from the Colchester keeper bounced off substitute Ryan Donaldson and into the net. Argyle held out for a 2-1 victory and extended the gap over fourth place to 11 points. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington, Songo'o, Fox, Carey, Tanner(Donaldson), Slew(Jervis), Spencer(Smith). Subs: Dorel, Osborne, Ijaha, Goodwillie.
Jordan Slew has struck fear into Argyle's League Two opponents by claiming that in spite of Argyle's excellent start to the League Two season, the best is still yet to come. Slew said: “I feel like I’m getting there. I’m not 100% yet, but I don’t think any of us are really and that’s probably the best thing about us – we’re still getting better every game. You can see that, towards the last 20 minutes of games, we’re getting stronger. We look fit and we look like a good prospect for promotion this year. When we concede a goal, you can see that it’s in the players’ minds that we feel we are going to score again and it’s a great confidence to have. I’m happy how I’m doing now and how the team’s doing, and, hopefully, we keep this run going. The most important thing is that we keep working hard in training because that’s where it matters and then we take it out on a Saturday afternoon or a Tuesday. We need to keep the run going and get as many points as we can. It is much more difficult than it looks. We are confident going into games, but it’s hard because, for teams that come here, it’s a cup final for them. It’s more about us; we always know it’s about us. I feel we have one of the best teams in the league, so it’s about how we play. I think teams will come here and they will fear us more than we fear them. We know that, on our day, we will beat anyone in our league. We work harder than anyone else on the pitch and we know our quality will shine through; we know that, if we don’t work hard, we will lose. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we know we will win games. We are probably one of the fittest teams in the league. We had a tough pre-season but it’s benefiting us now in the games. We’re a strong team, very fit, and I don’t think most teams can handle that. We know that, in the last 10-20 minutes, we are going to be strong. We can get a goal at any time. We are a very dangerous team right now and I think a lot of teams will fear us. We’re always working hard; there’s never a slack day; there is never an easy day in training and I think it’s starting to show on a Saturday. We’re 12 unbeaten now and we just want going to keep that run going. Everybody knows what we want to do this season; no-one’s really got time to be slacking off.”
Derek Adams has revealed what he thinks to be one of the secrets of his side's success this season: a deep squad and not just a strong starting eleven. Adams said of the players at his disposal: We change the team about to give us competition for places. The players in the team don’t necessarily believe they are going to play every week, because there are players in the background that can take their jersey. We didn’t have that competition for places last season because when I took over the football club I was only allowed to change so many things. This season I have been able to take in a better squad of players because I have been able to work the budget in a better way. You have to get the mix right. You can have too many players, or the right number of players. When players see that they have an opportunity of playing, are getting that opportunity, then they can push the players that are in the side.
“Going into the season, having worked in Scotland for many years, the system was in place there in the top flight. We weren’t allowed to take in loan players; you’ve got to have your squad ready at the start of the season, have cover in different areas of the team, and go for nearly four months without being able to take in players. I think it’s beneficial for the league and for the clubs because it gives a wee bit of stability. People were allowed to take in players for 28 days, and to call in favours from other managers. It might have been a free loan, or not costing them a lot of money. Yes, we did exactly the same, but I think it is more professional and beneficial for the league that they do not happen. Some clubs down the bottom are struggling financially. We’re not one of the wealthier clubs in the league, but we use our budget accordingly to get the best quality under the budget we have. We will use the January market when it comes along. We’ve got eight or nine weeks until it opens. We’re assessing things at this moment in time. We can look at players, but clubs aren’t sure what they are doing. We have an idea of what we want to try and do, but we’ve got a very good squad, so I don’t see it being dramatic. It will be something we might just tinker with.
"Oscar Threlkeld is still out with knee ligament injury. And Arnie Garita is still with a hamstring injury from the Exeter game. Neither of them will be fit for Saturday."
Adams also revealed that he is not concerned about Argyle's ability to score goals this season in spite of not having an obvious 20 goal a season striker. He said he was happy with goals being spread across the side: “I think it is vital to share goals around. We saw that Reuben Reid scored 20 goals for two seasons but the club didn’t get out of the division. Having a 20-goal striker doesn’t guarantee you getting out of the division. The team finished 10th and 7th when he scored 20 goals. Last year we finished fifth and no-one scored 20 goals. You don’t need a 20-goal striker to get out of the division. Would it help? Yes, but you don’t need it. In the modern game, forward players have got a slightly different role. They have to assist in the build-up, and sometimes have to occupy two centre-halves to allow space for other players. It’s a wee bit different in the modern era to in the past when teams played 4-4-2 and the strikers were the ones who scored goals.”
Jordan Slew is enjoying Argyle's unbeaten run of 12 games and said that he has every indication of seeing it continue: "There's a great togetherness in the team. It's the confidence that makes a difference. Like against Newport they were down to 10 men, they equalised and in that situation most teams drop to make it hard for you but we just kept doing our thing. I think everybody knew we were going to score again; and that's the confidence we have as a team. Winning on a Saturday and 12 unbeaten now, we're just going to keep that run going. Everybody knows what we want to do this season. So nobody's got time to be slacking off. It's a good run we're on. We want to be setting records. We want to go 15, 20, 25 unbeaten if we can."
Argyle's accounts from 2015 have revealed an operating profit of £201,000. Having incurred £420,000 in deprecation however, Argyle's overall loss for the year is £118,000. The overall deficit since coming out of administration has increased to £4,051,000. Martyn Starnes said: "These figures underline the club's improving financial stability and pre-date Simon Hallett's investment in April this year. Performances on and off the pitch are allowing us to look forward with a great deal of optimism and we are now looking to improve on everything that we do."
Paul Wotton brushed off comparisons between this side and that which won this league in 2001/2, stating that Argyle were merely taking things one day at a time. Wotton said: “The only comparison that I can see at the minute is that we are both winning games and in that sense a comparison is quite easy to make. We have the same work ethic. The boys work extremely hard and there are perhaps better individuals in this team at present. As for the changing room, I am not really in there now unfortunately, but people make comparisons at the moment because both teams were winning, it’s an easy one to make. The biggest pressure that can ever be on them is their own personal pressure and like you said we are on a good run and enjoying ourselves.
“There really isn’t a secret. We don’t do anything different in preparation for an away game that we don’t also do for a home game. As far as the actual game is concerned some away games feel like home games because of the fans that we’ve got, especially for a London game, and even Newport on Saturday.”
Wotton also gave a report on the progress of Karleigh Osborne who is recovering from a variety of injuries to get back into the squad and the team: "It was brilliant – he] has worked really hard," said the first-team coach. He did pre-season and then was unfortunate to get a thigh injury, but he's a great professional and he's worked really hard. It is great to have him on the bench because he is a good character and a great professional as well."
Luke McCormick spoke about the extraordinary goal scored by Newport's Jon Parkin that happened to fall on McCormick's 300th appearance for Argyle: “It took me by complete surprise - it was the last thing I expected him to do. I’ve got a short space of time to make a decision. Looking back on it now, I’d like to see if I could’ve got to it if I’d have gone for it. I actually thought it was going wide, but it’s ended up in the back of the net. It’s disappointing not to get the clean sheet, but the three points are obviously all-important. We spoke about records again this week and it’s something that we’re proud of and we want to keep building on. At the moment, it’s as enjoyable a squad as I’ve ever been in. But it’s too early to start comparing; there’s a lot of games and a lot of football to be played. We’ll see at the end of the season.”
McCormick also spoke about Argyle's performance in the game in general and the penalty call given against his opposite number for a foul on Jordan Slew, saying: “We expected it to be a hard-fought game and it turned out to be exactly what we predicted. I spoke earlier in the week about being able to roll up your sleeves and dig in when you have to, and I thought that’s what it needed today. We did that and came out with a positive result, which we’re all really pleased about. Away from home we’re going to get that. We’re going to have to win the battle first, then when the ball comes to us, we can get it down and play. It’s important when we come away from home that first of all, we’re solid, so we have a base to push on. We had to whether the storm early doors and we did that. By the time we can get the ball down, I don’t think there’s many better in the league.
"I’m always going to sympathise with a goalkeeper for the penalty because you’ve been in that position, or a similar position to that. I can sympathise, but at the same time, I think he saw red because there appeared to be a pull, as opposed to him actually going for the ball. Fortunately, Graham’s been big enough to step up and tuck it away nicely. Even if he goes the right way, I don’t think he’s going to keep them out. That’s the quality Graham’s got. It’s hard enough from 30 yards, let alone from 12. I think he wanted to get his hands on a penalty few weeks ago. We’ve got boys full of confidence, and everyone wants to get on the score-sheet. It can only be a good thing. As the game went on it opened up, which suited us. Having the man advantage obviously helps. It was a thoroughly professional performance from us. We’re just grateful to come away from a difficult place to come with three points.”
Derek Adams noted that McCormick could have done better for Parkin's shock goal and then went on to praise Argyle's performance in the game more generally. He said: “It was a bad mistake from Luke. Luke will tell you that it was right at his near post and he shouldn’t be scoring from there. We shouldn’t have allowed him to turn and get the shot off to start with, and Luke shouldn’t have let it in at his near post.
“We knew it would be difficult coming here today. They have got a new manager so we know what their tactics are going to be and we had to stand up to that. They were going to knock the ball long into Parkin and play off of him; they were going to go for the long throw-ins and the corner kicks, and that’s what we saw. They didn’t disappoint and we had to deal with it. To win 3-1, to score three goals away from home, is very good.”
Argyle have won 3-1 at Newport to secure a 9 point lead over 4th place. Argyle took the lead in the first half after Joe Day was sent off for denying a clear scoring opportunity to Jordan Slew. Graham Carey duly converted the resultant penalty against former pilgrim James Bittner. Newport equalised through Jon Parkin but Carey soon put Argyle into the lead from the spot again, this time himself having been brought down to win the spot kick. Jordan Slew's effort soon sealed the game for Argyle. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington, Songo'o, Fox(Smith), Carey, Tanner(Jervis), Slew, Spencer(Donaldson). Subs: Dorel, Osbourne, Ijaha, Goodwillie
If selected, Luke McCormick will have his 300th appearance for Argyle at Newport on Saturday across two spells at the club. The keeper had this to say: “It’s a milestone that I will be very glad to reach. I’m very proud to pull on the shirt every week for this club. To hit the 300 will be pleasing, and quite special. I arrived here when I was 15. I did an apprenticeship and found my way into the first team. I’m originally from Coventry but I’ve lived in Plymouth a lot longer than I ever did in Coventry. I consider Plymouth my home, and it is a place I have thoroughly enjoyed working and living in. The people around the town are absolutely fantastic. They were that way towards me the first time I was here, and probably even more so the second time. Not just the people around the town, but the supporters, and the football club. I feel very much a part of it, and it’s a big part of me.
“Your debut is something that will stick in your memory forever. I knew the day before that I was playing. I actually had to phone Jon Sheffield to ask him for a pair of gloves, because mine were like Greengrass’ gloves! Fingers coming through the end of them! I remember all the little details, the feelings. Obviously it is a long time, but it will always stick with me. I’ve been fortunate to enjoy some fantastic times with this club. The standout one has to be the QPR game here which sealed our promotion and the title in fell swoop. The celebrations, the looks on people’s faces around the stadium, the euphoria of it all. That will never leave me. The next one to hit is 400. That’s the aim.”
Louis Rooney has extended his loan deal at Truro City. The 20-year-old forward joined the National League South last month, and has now agreed to remain at Treyew Road until January. Derek Adams is content to let the young striker continue to get experience to benefit his development, saying: "We have spoken with Lee Hodges and we feel its beneficial for him to go out and get game time. He’s played a lot of Peninsula football but we need to get him into a better standard of league to see how he copes there. If he copes well there then we will try and get him into the National League after that - and then try and get him into our team. That’s the progression."
Derek Adams has looked ahead to the game against Newport and confirmed that Newport's recent appointment of Graham Westley will not effect our preparations for the game. Adams said: "New managers come in with different ideas and a different style of play. That will be no different on Saturday. We have to be aware of that and we will be. We’ve seen last Saturday against Yeovil and we will have to be on our game to win. I spoke to Darren Way mid-week. That was just a conversation we were having - it wasn’t specifically to speak about the game - but we did speak about it. He gave me an idea of how Newport played, but Greg Strong was at the game we know roughly how they are going to play. We will line up against a different team from what we played in the Checkatrade Trophy.
“I realise there was a rugby game there Wednesday. Hopefully it will be in a good condition. It can’t be any worse than it was the last time we played there around December time. This time of the year all pitches are hopefully in a good condition and I would see that no different at Newport. I think that it is tough when there are lots of competitions at one venue and when the weather has been wet. I know they had the problems with the drainage and hopefully they have sorted this out. It can be difficult to play the game you want to play and Newport have maybe found over the years that they have had to change their style. It’s not great from a player’s point of view because sometimes it can be very bobbly and worn come December/ January time.”
Argyle will have a lot of travelling to do in the week of the FA Cup draw, with trips to Mansfield, Swansea and Crewe in the space of a week. Craig Brewster however says that it's all part of the experience and Argyle must take cup ties as seriously as league games. He argued: “It is great to be involved with. When I was in Scotland, the Scottish Cup was a fantastic trophy to go for, and the FA Cup here is exactly the same. Everybody wants a good FA Cup run, and it would be nice to get a run for this club. It’s one game you have to deal with. One game from being in the hat for the next round. We have to there and win. It won’t be a distraction from the league. It’s another Saturday, and we’ll go there determined to put on a good performance and win. We played against them here earlier on in the season, but cup days are totally different. Being in involved in this club, you know you have to do long distances. We have a nice bus, we stay in nice hotels. Everything is organised, and the players are well looked after. They have produced, up to now, really good away performances as a team. We have to continue that throughout the season. You always want a home draw, but we’re a team that is very confident at the minute, and we’ll go to any place. It would be nice to have a run in the cup, but every club in the country is saying that.”
Derek Adams was eager to see more consistency in refereeing after an incident-filled 2-2 draw against Portsmouth. He said of the game's major events: “The referee at times today booked some of our players for challenges and allowed their players to go free without booking their players. I thought that was a bit inconsistent at times today from the referee. I think that it was shown more in the first half with Jordan Slew picking up a booking, and it was all caused by Burgess pushing him. I don’t think that’s very consistent. We’ve got to be very careful that when a referee is refereeing games, he needs help from everybody. I believe that Yann Songo'o was booked for going off the pitch for celebrating. There’s got to be a consistent nature to the game, and I don’t think that there was. When they scored their goal, they went across to our supporters, they celebrated in front of our supporters, and we know that’s going to incense our supporters. It’s not right. Nobody got booked in that situation, and that’s what I’m talking about consistency. It wasn’t there today. It’s disappointing because I think that it could’ve been a lot better.”
Argyle have been drawn away to fellow League Two side Mansfield Town in the first round of the FA Cup. The visit to the One Call Stadium will take place on the weekend of November 4/5/6.
A draw between Argyle and Pompey was a fair result according to Derek Adams. He spoke about how proud he was of his players ability to react to certain events in the game. He said: “It was entertaining game. It’s two very good football clubs going for the win today. I think that when you have such a big attendance at a game, you want goals in the match; you want to see good football; you want to see a wee bit of controversy; and we’ve seen that all today. We just needed to stiffen up the midfield. It became a bit stretched, the game, and we just changed the formation a little bit to sit Songo’o in midfield, and played Fox and Smith either side to give us a wee bit of solidity. It was hard for us, just because Bennett was coming in off the side, and Roberts; they’re good players. I’ve seen that from Connor since he’s come to the football club. He’s a football player that plays on the front foot, he plays balls round the corner, he’s got the ability to finish - both left and right footed. He took it well and put it in the top corner.
“I thought that we responded well. To be fair to the players, I think they thought they could make it 3-2. That caused us a bit of problem, because you’ve got to take a point at some point in the game. I think I’ll be happy with a point, because of where we were in the game. We were 1-0 up, then you go back to 2-1 so late in the game. You lose a goal that comes out of nothing really; it’s a great strike from Rose and we have to respond to that. We showed again that we go to the last minutes of the game. Keeping the gap to fourth place to seven points and extending our unbeaten run is important.”
Adams feels that Argyle's point was made all the more creditable but the fact that we were facing strong opposition in Portsmouth. He said of our opponents: “I know that Paul Cook and his staff are very vocal on the touchline. They like to put pressure on individuals in the game - that’s their nature. Sometimes that benefits them, and I’ve seen that since I’ve come to England. It’s something they do week in, week out. I think that you have to try and deal with that the best way you can. You could see from the Portsmouth bench when they scored their two goals what it meant to them, and then you could see what it meant to us when we scored the equaliser. Bennett’s their best player. He’s very lively - we’ve seen that on a number of occasions - but they’ve got a lot of very talented players in the forward areas. Portsmouth are a very good side - they’re the best we’ve played this season, and they’re always going to be, because of the squad they’re able to generate this season. I don’t want to play against them too often. They’re a very good side, they move the ball well, and I think that we’ve done exceptionally well against them in the past."
Connor Smith gave his own account of the excellent strike that secured Argyle their point late on in the game: “It was unbelievable. It keeps the unbeaten run going. When you are a goal down with five-ten minutes to go, you’d take a result at that point but, before the game, we were obviously going out for a win. We can beat any team in this league so, every game, we want to win. When you get a result like that, it feels like a win, I guess. I couldn’t really see their goal; I didn’t know if it was in. But we reacted well to it with not long to go and we got a lucky break with the ball dropping on the edge of the box, and I was lucky enough to score.
“I was over the far side of the pitch and a long diagonal ball had come to Ryan Donaldson; he was strong and the ball got through to Ben Purrington somehow. I think Ben was cutting it back to Foxy to be honest, but he overhit and I gave Foxy a shout to stand over because I thought he was going to get a toe on it. I just stepped on to it nicely. The ’keeper was unsighted, so I used the defender to lift it around him. It shows the character we have got. A lot of teams, against such a good side, could have faded off and died out with fatigue, but we just kicked on and just went for it. We’d nothing to lose then; we pushed on and you could see them dropping back and back, and we got on top of them and got the goal.
“After they scored, it was only us pushing and, after we scored, we went for it, as well. They were dropping off more and we were pushing on, looking for the winner. You can tell they are a decent side, but we are a decent side, as well – that’s what the league shows. Considering we can play better, it’s a decent point.”
The 100th Dockyard Derby has ended in a 2-2 draw following an enthralling encounter between Argyle and Portsmouth. Argyle went 1-0 up in the first half through Yann Songo'o but the visitors equalised shortly before half-time. A great long range shot with just four minutes to go nearly won it for the away side but a great long range effort from substitute Connor Smith secured a share of the spoils. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington, Songo'o, Fox, Jervis(Smith), Carey, Slew(Donaldson), Spencer(Tanner). Subs: Dorel, Bentley, Ijaha, Goodwillie.
The Battle of the Ports resumed at Home Park on Saturday as Argyle once again face Pompey at Home Park. Derek Adams anticipated an electric atmosphere and an excellent game, saying: “Last year, it was very difficult to think sometimes because the atmosphere was relentless for 90 minutes. Last year, the four games we played against each other were the best atmospheres throughout the season and it’ll be no different on Saturday. They always take a very good following; we’ve sold over 11,000 tickets already. So it’s going well. We’re looking forward to having that atmosphere here on Saturday again. They are well supported, and we are, as well – that will show on Saturday with the attendance. It will be the largest attendance in League Two, if not League One. They will be looking to win the game because of what happened last year. They have definitely got better experience of the game; they haven’t changed too much from last year; they have taken in a number of players, but the core of the team is the same. They play an expansive game; they like to pass the ball; they are attack-minded. That’s what we expect, but we have done exceptionally well against them in the past and we would like to continue that. A number of my players have played in cup finals; played in European matches; and played in internationals, so they have got that experience. This is a big game for both football clubs. They have always been very good atmospheres and both teams will be looking forward to it.”
Adams also however, noted that he did not believe that the game would be a litmus test for Argyle's success so far this season: "We started the season really well and been able to pick up a lot of points very early in the season. It’s important that you do that. We’ve had tough tests. We’ve had to go away from home to the likes of Notts County and Leyton Orient, so we have had tough tests already this season. It’s a big test but every game, on a weekly basis, is exactly the same. It’s a difficult league; it’s a harder league than it was last year; it’s more competitive. It’s going to be another good season for League Two fans.”
Gary Miller is new to the club, but he too is no stranger to the competitive and ferocious nature of the derby. He said: “I’ve been made aware. I knew about the interest in me coming here in summer, so I watched a few games. I watched the play-off game – it was won with a header, I think. I saw it when I was on holiday, saw the reaction, everyone going crazy. I grew up in a city that like a bit of a rivalry! It’s not something that’s strange to me! They’re certainly a big side, one of the biggest in the league. The manager will set us up and we will adjust accordingly. It’s going to be a good game, and we know it is a big game for us. It’s always good to have a competitive rivalry, teams wanting to do well against each other. It’s all set for a big game on Saturday. Hopefully all the fans will be out and we’ll try and do the same again. It’s always brilliant for us to have extra fans in the stand. It gives you that boost, and a lift. As you go along, you realise how good it is to be here. It is something that we all enjoy. It’s always an extra bonus when you have all your fans behind you. The adrenaline rush always kicks everybody on. It’s a great help. Hopefully everyone comes out in numbers and we can get the result we want.”
Plymouth Argyle will own its Home Park stadium by November 1 after exchanging contracts on a £1.7million purchase. Club chairman James Brent confirmed the club had paid Plymouth City Council a 10 per cent deposit and the deal will be done by October 31, 2016. Brent said: "It will be owned by Plymouth Argyle Football Club, and not another company. "The options were to either buy back the stadium or not. If we did not, we'd spend between £3.4million and £5.5million over 20 years and still not own it and have to carry on paying rent. It wouldn't make sense. The other benefit is more subtle. Are you more likely to improve a home you own, or one you rent? In terms of raising money to do the grandstand and invest in other facilities, that should be easier to do going forward. So this is a great outcome for the club."
Derek Adams praised the performance of Vincent Dorel in the South West Peninsula League game against Plymouth Parkway in midweek. Adams did note however that he still had work to do do dislodge Luke McCormick from the number one spot: "Vincent had to make a number of good stops. He's performing well and it was good for him to get a game. You have to be better than the number one. At this stage Luke McCormick is the number one. I think that as a goalkeeper you have to realise that and then wait on your opportunity."
Derek Adams paid tribute to an unsung hero in Argyle's successful start to the season- defensive-midfielder Yann Songo'o. Adams signed Songo'o when he had not played competitive football for around 18 months but it is a chance that so far appears to have paid off. Adams said: “He can tackle, he can head, he can pass the ball. He’s very competitive; he’s a winner. He’s only a young boy as well. We’re delighted with him. I had him at Ross County – he was on loan from Blackburn Rovers – and I looked at playing him in that midfield role when I was there. Due to circumstances I had to play him at centre-half, but I always hoped I could play him in there. I was going to play him in there at the start of the season but Bulvitis’ clearance hadn’t come through, and Karleigh Osborne was injured, so Yann played at the back. He’s been a top performer. He’s played in every single league game from the start, and has shown the qualities he had at Blackburn Rovers. I had Steven Watt – he was at Chelsea, and played for me at Ross County – and he was a central defender, and I moved him in midfield because you need defensive qualities in that area. If you have a lot of creativity and good passers of the ball, you still need a defensive one in there. He’s done really well. He’s not shown that he didn’t play at all last season. He has a great attitude to go and win every game.”
Derek Adams expects his Argyle side to have to deal with more of the pressure that Stevenage put them under before they secured a vital 2-1 victory at Stevenage that maintained their 5 point lead at the top of League Two. Adams said of the victory: “We had to deal with the pressure that Stevenage were going to put on us – they were the home side and we knew they would try and press but, after 45 minutes, we knew that our good players would get on the ball; we would pass it and move; and we would get chances in the game. We had to deal with the physical aspect of the game. We knew, before the game, that they were going to be very physical with us. We dealt with that really well and then we passed the ball extremely well in the second half. That is the way they play. They are very physical and we knew there were going to be a lot of fouls in the game, which there were, and we knew we had to deal with that. They can’t play at that pace all game – it’s impossible – so it was about being in the game and then, when the game opened up, we lengthened the pitch, lengthwise and widthwise, and created a number of openings. We could have scored more goals and gone on to have a hefty margin. The goalkeeper has made some good saves and they have had blocks. We found, last season, everyone lifts their game to the team that is top of the table and it becomes more difficult. We have to up our game even further and, at times, it’s not easy because we probably have to play at a higher pace than other teams when they come here.
“Sonny’s very good in the air and he has shown that today. He has done really well for us this season. He’s scored a good number of goals for us. It’s important, as I’ve already said earlier in the season, that you get your defenders scoring goals. We know from last year, we didn’t have a squad that was capable of going the whole distance; we are hopeful that, this year, we have got better competition for places that can help us get as many points as we possibly can to help us get up the league. We are well equipped. We’ve got very good individuals in the side, defensively, creatively and attacking-wise.”
Adams also paid particular tribute to Jordan Slew (who made his return to the side) and captain Luke McCormick who made some good saves for the role they respectively had in the victory. Adams: “The first 45 minutes was about going in at half-time in the game, which we did – we were very good, physically, in the first half as we had to be. In the second half, we opened up the game a bit and got our quick players in the game – Jordan Slew was unplayable at times and he took us up the park. Jordan will be a very good player for us because he’s strong; he’s direct; and he can put defenders right into defending because of his pace. He could have scored a goal today but, overall, defensively and offensively, he was very good. We had a lot of top performers today because you have to when you come here.
Of McCormick: “He has done really well for me since I’ve been at the football club. I’ve only been here for just over a year now and it’s important to have players who know the history of the football club, and he knows that. He’s been a very good captain. This season, we have got a lot of new players who have come into the football club and it is important that we have players who are able to draw on their experience from being here before and help the new players come in.”
Sonny Bradley, the man of the moment, gave his assessment of the match and talked fans through all three goals that he was involved in. He said, in order, of all three goals: “It was a brilliant ball, and all it needed was a nick. I just a got a little nick on it; whether it deflected the flight of the ball I’m not sure, but I definitely got a nick on it. I turned around and we were off celebrating – I didn’t even see it go in, so I ran off and celebrated.
“We said at half-time that we need to stop giving free kicks away. It was a good ball in; I’ve stuck a leg out to try and block it, and it’s come off my shinpad and gone in. I was a bit upset about that but you just have to move on. I knew that if we stuck to our game plan and kept playing the way we were, we’d come up with a winner. There was only one way to react, and that was to go and keep playing the way we can.
“When I saw we had a free-kick and seen Graham Carey hovering over it, I knew I was going to get a chance – and if I didn’t get a chance, I knew one of the other lads would get a chance. A great delivery with the second one, left foot. Again, I couldn’t miss. With service like that, there’s no reason why us centre halves shouldn’t be getting bags of goals.
“We pressed for that third goal; Jordan Slew had a couple of chances, Jimmy Spencer’s had a couple of chances. But when you don’t get that goal, it’s important that you don’t concede again. In the last five minutes we shut up shop, and just made sure we got the three points. When it’s only a one-goal cushion, you’re always wary that if they get a chance, they could nick a last-minute equaliser. You see it happen hundreds of times in a season, up and down the leagues. All this week, all I’ve been focused on is winning this game today, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve worked hard during the week, we’ve put the effort in, and we’ve had a game plan – but we had to change it early on. They were right on top of us; they wouldn’t let us play out from the back, but we adapted well. I think we won the battle in the end and I think that showed.”
Argyle have continued the league winning run with a 2-1 victory over Stevenage in a bizarre game in which Argyle defender Sonny Bradley scored each of the game's three goals- all within the first 15 minutes after half-time. He put the greens into the lead from a David Fox free-kick before turning the ball into his own net shortly after. He made amends again however by scoring from Graham Carey's set piece shortly after. Argyle held on to pick up all three points. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington, Songo'o, Fox(Ijaha), Jervis, Carey(Smith), Slew(Goodwillie), Spencer. Subs: Dorel, Osborne, Donaldson, Tanner.
Derek Adams has been named the League Two manager of the month for September following 4 wins and one draw from Argyle's 5 league matches. He was keen however to spread the acclaim around: The players have responded very well to the changes that have happened over the summer. It’s a collective unit; it’s to do with the team and the backroom staff, and everything together allows us to have positive results. The players have shown terrific form to have accumulated the points total so far, which is the club’s best start for 90 years. This has been achieved by hard work, creative edge and good character. We have to keep going; it's a tough league – you can see that by the results every week. We had excellent season last season and we have made an even better start this season. We had to make many changes to the team over the summer – we've taken in 16 new players – and I'm delighted with the blend to the squad.”
Sonny Bradley was also nominated for the player award and had this to say about the success of the defensive unit that he is a part of: “When you look at our last six games, maybe more, we have kept a lot of clean sheets and we have scored goals. Nauris has chipped in with a few; I’ve scored one myself. Hopefully, as the season goes on, we will get better and better. We’ve never played together in any team – I only met Nauris in pre-season – so it is a new partnership, but I think, when you settle into a partnership this well, you can certainly see a good future. It’s a good partnership. We’re doing well. We’re getting on. We talk well. We have just got to keep it up. It’s going to be difficult. There are going to be times when one of us isn’t on our game – you have got admit that because I don’t think anyone has gone through a whole season when they are perfect for 46 games. When one of us does drop a little bit, it is down to the other one to get behind him and make sure he is alright. I think me and Bully have got that sort of relationship at the moment, on and off the pitch; it’s just a case of keeping that up now and playing to the best of our abilities.”
Billy Palfrey has joined Torquay United on a youth loan for a month. The 18-year-old defender in signed a development deal with Argyle in the summer, designed to bridge the gap between the club's Academy and first-team."
Sonny Bradley is a man who knows League Two well and has said that he could not be happier with the state of Plymouth Argyle at the moment: “It’s where we want to be and it’s where we want to stay. We had a bit of a difficult start, losing three games, but, since then, we have kicked on and have done really well. The training that we do and the way we apply ourselves is really reflected in our results. I couldn’t be happier at the moment. It is just a case of keeping it up and not letting our standards drop. If we keep working hard and applying ourselves in the right way, I don’t see why that can’t happen. I’ve had a look at the table and a couple of teams will be having a difficult time at the minute. I’ve been down there and it’s tough. When you are top of the league, you are certainly happier – you are a happier person – and you have just got to keep that up. It’s a tough league and I do believe that, on their day, anyone can beat anyone. You have got to make sure that you work hard during the week, look after yourself, and maintain your fitness – just keep going and make sure you stay top of that league. It’s a great start and we have just got to keep that up. It’s a long season. At the minute, the pitches are nice; they’ve still got grass on them. Come January and February, when the pitches start tearing up, it starts getting difficult, cold Tuesday nights – I think that’s when you find what players are about. I think we have got the players in this squad to handle those situations.
“Stevenage is a difficult place to go, and I spoke to Luke McCormick earlier in the week and he said Plymouth haven’t really been successful there. So that is something we will be looking to make right. If the lads apply themselves in the right way, we have got more than enough to go there and get three points. We have just got to turn up on the day, perform how we can perform, take the game to them and come back with three points."
Derek Adams has mixed news regarding the injury latest to Gary Sawyer, Oscar Threlkeld, Paul-Arnold Garita and Karleigh Osborne. The manager said of Sawyer: "Gary Sawyer has had a setback and he's going in for an operation next week. I have been told the timescale is 12 weeks before he's back playing. I'm very disappointed. He's an experienced left-back and for him to be out for that period of time is not going to be easy. Along with Ryan Brunt, who has been out for a long period of time, it doesn't help us. Ben has come in and been able to take his opportunity. At this moment in time we don't have any competition for Ben and that's something we will have to look at."
Of Threlkeld: "He got a bang on his knee and we will see how he is before the game on Saturday.
Of Garita: "He had a slight setback to his injury but he is progressing well now and will be back in full training on Monday."
Of Osborne: "He just needs to get game-time and he's obviously going to find it very difficult at this moment in time. We will still give him game-time in the reserves. It has not been easy, when you come to a new football club and you are not part of things on a Saturday or a Tuesday night. It was important to make him feel part of it against Wimbledon."
Adams also revealed that the club have offered a new contract to Graham Carey and that the Irish midfielder is currently keeping his options open. Adams said: "We have offered him a new contract and he is keeping his options open. It's up to Graham and his representatives to decide what their next move is. Over the first weeks of the season he has performed well and scored five goals already, which is very good from the position he plays in. "
Gary Miller acknowledged his disappointment with the way Argyle performed in the Checkatrade Trophy match against Wimbledon on Tuesday but vowed to use the loss as motivation to succeed further, saying: I think we have been building every week. With so many new guys, training can only take you so far, to get to know people, and gradually we are getting more confident. We have started to look better on the ball, we have started to keep the ball better and we have started to defend better as a unit. And that can only come with playing games. We had a defeat the other night but we have to be good at wiping that clean and starting again. We can't let defeats get on top of us, and I think that's what we did well at the start of the season. We were disappointed and angry to lose against Wimbledon but we just need to look forward, and acknowledge the good run we were on and try to start another. It's still a loss. We don't enjoy that. Yes, people might say 'it's only the cup' but you want to try to win everything you are involved in ad go as far as you can."
Derek Adams was left annoyed with Argyle's 2-1 loss to Wimbledon last night and said the greens had only got themselves to blame. He was particularly annoyed with the defending of the two goals, saying: “We were in control of the first half and played really well. We got a goal ahead and took that into half-time. In the second half, Wimbledon took the game to us and they were the better team. We were winning 1-0 and the two goals were extremely poor goals to lose from our point of view, really preventable. It’s our own fault we have given two goals away tonight and we have lost the game because of that. The first one, we could have dealt with the first header, and then he gets in behind us; for the second one, we get too close to the man, he rolls off and turns, and gets a goal.
“In the first half, we kept the ball really well, but, in the second half, Wimbledon came into the game, got a wee bit of pressure, and got the goals. They didn’t really have many opportunities in the game; they had more pressure than us in the second half and we had more pressure than them in the first half. We have got a month to wait until the next game, and it is a competition we would like to try to progress if we can. From my point of view, it is the league that is the most important thing, and we have now got to go to Stevenage on Saturday.”
Argyle's fate in the Checkatrade Trophy will go down to their last group stage match against Swansea U-23s after losing 2-1 at AFC Wimbledon. Connor Smith put Argyle 1-0 up early on but second half goals (one of which came from a certain Lyle Taylor) secured the victory for the home side. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Songo'o, Purrington, Threlkeld(Donaldson), Ijaha, Smith, Tanner(Carey), Goodwillie, Slew(Spencer). Subs: McCallum, Osborne, Fox, Jervis.
Derek Adams believes both sides will make changes as Argyle travel to AFC Wimbledon for the second matchday of the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday. Adams said: “We will make changes to the team but we have done that throughout our league campaign and in the cup. We’ll assess the squad. A lot of players have played a lot of minutes this season and we want to keep the continuity throughout the side. We are away in London on Saturday again, so we need to have a freshness for that game, as well."
Adams also backed David Goodwillie to end his goalscoring duck for Argyle and hinted that there could be a role to play for ex-Womble Karleigh Osborne in the game, saying respectively of the striker and defender: “David has played really well since he has been here. He has been unfortunate not to get a goal, but his movement and style of play is excellent. Sometimes, he’s ahead of other people on the pitch.
“He’ll not start. There is a possibility he is going to be in the squad and could be around about the 18."
Derek Adams hailed Argyle's fantastic performance against Yeovil Town and a terrific start to the season, saying: "Four really good goals in different ways. Jake Jervis scoring another two goals, Jimmy Spencer scoring his first goal at home, and then we had Carey's goal, which was outstanding. All four were well worked, and I'm just pleased that we've got players who are scoring throughout the team. In the first half we were under no pressure really - we were in total control of the game. We go in 2-0 and it becomes a different match. In the second half I thought we started a wee bit slowly, but we got ourselves going. We got away with a couple of opportunities that they had, and then we make it 3-1 and 4-1. We could've made it five in the end. It's always important that you have a cushion. Graham's goal was fantastic, and it's something that he's more than capable of.It was a terrific performance. I don't think that I would want to face them today. At times it was exhilarating; the way we passed the ball and moved the ball. It would've been very difficult for any team to stop us today, just with the that we passed it and moved, and got into good areas. I don't know what the possession stats are, but it must be at least 60 or 70 per cent in the game, and that's good. It's terrific form, for eleven games and to have the points total we have. We have to keep going. It's a tough league and you can see that by the results. We've made an even better start this season. Everyone was excited with the team last season; we've had to change the team this season. We've taken in 16 new players, two loan signings, and I'm delighted with the start we've had."
Graham Carey accounted a new found maturity for Argyle's barnstorming form this season as well as their excellent footballing ability, saying: “Even when we lost the first two games, we knew we had it in us because of the pre-season we had and the type of football we played. We probably weren’t as street-smart as we are now – we know how to grind out games and we have done that. We haven’t played well in some of the games and we’ve got victories. Maybe, last year, we would have got draws or lost those games. We’re more grown-up this year as a squad, a lot older, a lot more experienced, and I think it tells. It was at an important time of the game. They had had a few chances and 3-1 just gives you a bit of a cushion. I’d had a few shots from outside the box when I tried to lace them and put too much power on them. I thought ‘just bend it around the defender’ and it kind of conned the ’keeper – I think he was expecting a bit more power. I don’t think he even saw the ball. It was a nice finish. I had some family over today and I always seem to score when they come over. We knew, going into half-time, when we had conceded the goal just before, that Yeovil were going to come out of the traps, and they did. They had few chances, probably from our sloppy defending at times, but I think, all in all, we had the game under control. Every time we lifted the tempo and lifted the pace, they couldn’t live with it. Even if they did get a goal, we were still comfortable, creating chances. Some of the play today was great and some of the movement and patterns of play were brilliant. It showed today with me, Jake and Ryan Donaldson– we found ourselves in positions where, at times, they couldn’t live with us. It’s the freedom the gaffer gives us – once we are in the defensive shape, the front four can express themselves. Apart from the goal – it would have been nice to keep a clean sheet – it was probably the most complete performance of the season. For the complete 90 minutes, I thought we were dominant; we played with a bit of freedom, with a bit of arrogance, almost.”
Argyle have won again with a 4-1 victory over Westcountry rivals Yeovil Town through goals from Jimmy Spencer, Graham Carey and Jake Jervis twice. The visitors got a goal back just before half-time but their only effort was sandwiched by two Argyle goals each. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington, Songo'o, Fox(Threlkeld), Jervis, Carey(Goodwillie), Donaldson(Tanner), Spencer. Subs: Dorel, Smith, Ijaha, Slew.
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