A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle lost 1-0 to Exeter City at St James’ Park. Argyle: Button, Duguid, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Summerfield, Fletcher, Arnason, Walton, Bolasie, Fallon. Subs - Mason, Patterson (not used – Larrieu, Timar, Peterlin, Young, N’Gala). Attendance - 7,869.
Peter Reid says he feels confident going into today’s game against Exeter City. "We've just trained on the Home Park pitch," he said. "Walton's fit, Arnason looks a lot better, Fletcher looks a lot better. I'm really pleased. We've got to go and do a job. We've given ourselves a great chance, now we've got to go and do the business on the pitch. We're looking forward to it. It's going to be a difficult game. Exeter are a good side, but we've been playing well recently. We've got to keep that going. The most important thing is the game coming up. We're desperate to win it. Monday won't come into the equation until after the Exeter game." Saturday's game would be a major one irrespective of the opposition, but the fact that it is a derby adds another dimension to the fixture. "Football always comes up with ironies, doesn't it?" added Reid. "I'm really looking forward to the atmosphere, a local derby, but, most importantly, the three points that are at stake. I just hope the supporters from both sides respect each other. It's a game of football. There's nothing wrong with great rivalry. That's what makes the world go around. But there's always that respect from both football clubs and from the respective supporters." The growing bond between the players and fans has been a bright spot in a difficult season and Reid said: "It's been a really difficult time for everyone concerned. But you'll always find something that comes out of it, and the relationship between the players and the supporters is absolutely fantastic. They are a big part of why we've got a couple of big results recently. After the Peterborough game where I thought we played terrifically well and were really unlucky, the support for the players has been second to none. Fantastic."
James Brent has revealed that he is eager to press on with his plans to rescue Argyle. Brent's plans for a debt-free club run with input from supporters have found widespread favour among fans. Now he is hoping to complete a deal and be in the Home Park boardroom by June. He said: "We have been, and remain, eager to see the saving of the club and we are enthusiastic about continuing to work with stakeholders to achieve that outcome. But, for the club to be saved, everything needs to be done by early June so we can assemble a squad. We need to move towards closure now. That we will find a solution is far from certain; there are a large number of stakeholders whose agreement is required, and there is little time to get that agreement in place. But everyone is better off with our deal rather than liquidation. There is a human consequence of uncertainty, and that will only get greater the more time runs out." Sources have claimed that Akkeron would seek to sell Home Park to Plymouth City Council on a lease-back basis. Brent declined to discuss details of the local authority's involvement in his bid, but he emphasised that his plans were not dependant on development. He added: "What I've really been impressed with has been the passion, the generosity and the energy of everyone involved. It really is the 'Resurgam' spirit – and I've bought into that."
Argyle players with contracts into next season will not be free agents this summer even though they have not been paid since December. All of the squad have agreed to sign deeds of deferral over their unpaid wages and Peter Ridsdale said: "All of the players have signed deeds of deferral over their wages. By doing that, it means they are saying their contracts are still in place and have not been broken." Meanwhile, the sale of season tickets for 2011/12 cannot start until the ownership of Argyle is resolved. Ridsdale has been consulting with supporters' groups over season ticket prices over recent days. They include the Green Taverners, the Argyle Fans' Trust, the Plymouth Argyle Supporters' Club and P@SOTI. Ridsdale is set for a joint meeting with them on Wednesday when he will receive their feedback on prices. He will also discuss ways the supporters' groups can continue to assist the club. Ridsdale said: "We will be ready to go with season tickets as soon as we know there is going to be a club in existence." He is considering whether to start the sale of season tickets as soon as a CVA is agreed. A sealed bank account would be set up, with the money not being released to Argyle until a new owner had officially taken over at Home Park. There would also be a guarantee that should the club go out of business supporters would have their cash returned. Ridsdale is taking legal advice on the setting up of the sealed account.
Argyle will not be entering a reserve team in the Football Combination next season. Instead, they will arrange friendlies against other clubs as and when they choose. Peter Ridsdale said: "We will still play reserve team matches, but we do it to suit us, and when players are available. In this day and age, we can't afford to have players just to fulfil reserve team fixtures. We can't carry a squad of that size."
Peter Reid has told his Argyle players they can become Home Park legends by securing League One survival. He said: "We have given ourselves a great chance of staying up, and that's all you can ask. We would have been on 52 points had it not been for going into administration, so these players have nothing to feel ashamed about. They can make themselves Plymouth Argyle legends if they can pull this off. There is plenty for the players to go for and, knowing them as I do, I wouldn't put it past this lot." The stakes will be high for Argyle at St James' Park tomorrow, and Reid admitted the temperament of his players would be crucial to the outcome. He said: "It's a big game, there is no getting away from that, but you have got to play with discipline. Usually, cool heads come out on top in derby matches. I'm sure there will be a great atmosphere at St James' Park, and there is nothing wrong with playing with passion, but you have got to strike the right balance." Reid also does not want to see the rivalry between Argyle and Exeter spill into any violence, either at the ground or in the surrounding areas. He added: "The Argyle fans have been absolutely magnificent this season and I know they will go there and get behind the team. There is no place in football for any violence. Tomorrow is about two great clubs having a game of football."
Argyle's walking wounded will all be on show against Exeter City at St James' Park. Several of the squad have played in recent matches despite injuries, including Carl Fletcher, Kari Arnason, Simon Walton and Rory Fallon, and all are available for selection for the Devon derby. Peter Reid said: "Chris Clark is still struggling with his knee injury, and will not make it, but all the others are available. Walts' ankle has settled down really well. The bruising has come out and the swelling has gone down." Rory Patterson is added to the squad after serving a one-match suspension and could replace Joe Mason, another player who has been struggling with injury of late. Reid added: "I know it's going to be a difficult game but it's so important that we go there in a positive frame of mind. The players are up for it and, hopefully, that will show in their performance tomorrow." Reid believes one of the keys for Argyle will be to pass the ball better than they have done in recent matches. "I think we have been brilliant without the ball," he said. "We have defended really well. But we are going to have to take care of the ball better. That will be my big message to the players. If we can do that, I think we can be a very decent side." Reid has taken it easy with his players in training, as they prepare for the first of their final three matches of the season. He said: "It's just about keeping them ticking over. I don't think there's any question about their fitness levels."
Carl Fletcher has called on his team-mates to be ‘mature’ in Saturday's derby at Exeter City. "Obviously it's a derby - there is rivalry - and we have got to be mature about it," he said. "It's a big game, with everything that involves, but we have got to treat it as just another game - we will go there and try to do the things we are good at, work hard, give 100%, and hopefully everything will turn out right on the day. It's 11 against 11 and there's three points available at the end of it, like every other match. It's not going to be won or lost in the first 20 minutes." If Argyle win their three remaining games they should survive in the division, but Fletcher is adopting the position of one game at a time. "You go in to every game trying to win," he said. "We won't be looking beyond Saturday or what is going on around us. We have just got to focus on what we do."
David Button knows there is far more riding on the outcome of tomorrow's game at Exeter City than local bragging rights, but believes there is a confidence among the Argyle players, and in particular, he is benefiting from the fine form of Stephane Zubar and Curtis Nelson. "As a whole team we're quite confident and playing well," he said. "And we've got something to fight for as well. The last couple of results and performances have not always been great at times but they have been gritty. We've ground out the results which and we're all confident at the moment and just need to carry on doing." With Exeter's play-off hopes over, Button added: "It'll probably be their last big game of the season now they're out of the play-off situation, they'll be well up for it. But we know we're going to be in a good battle, so we'll be well up for it as well. If we perform like we have in the last couple of games, there is no reason why we can't go up there and win. We can't think about the games just gone or those coming up ahead, the Exeter match is all anyone is thinking about. We're just focused on getting three points and another step closer to what we're looking to achieve."
A consortium trying to take over Argyle has failed in its second bid for the club. Administrators last night refused to accept a fresh offer from a group fronted by businessman Paul Buttivant. James Brent's Akkeron Group has tabled the only firm offer so far and says he is ready to step in and rescue the club. Brent is thought to be eager to proceed and has already won widespread support from supporters, including the Argyle Fans' Trust. Brendan Guilfoyle will seek to proceed with selling Argyle to Brent if Argyle's creditors agree to accept 0.77p for every pound owed at a meeting on Friday. But sources within Home Park said Buttivant's latest move had triggered fresh concerns over the future of the club. If enough creditors reject the current proposal in the hope of Buttivant's consortium offering them more cash, Argyle could be forced out of business for good. Dialogue between the Buttivant and administrators broke down earlier this month when the group failed to prove they had the £5million needed for the deal. In a statement, the consortium said it had submitted a revised bid with ‘irrefutable’ proof of funding. However, Guilfoyle stated last night that the group had yet to prove its funds. "An offer has been received, but not in a satisfactory form," he said. "It has gone back to them so we can seek clarification and transparency on all aspects of the offer."
Peter Reid admits his players have become victims of their own good form with the return of the pressure of a relegation battle. "We've worked hard but sort of under 'no pressure'," he said. "We've given ourselves a chance, but the pressure is really on now because we've got to take that chance. We got beaten at Peterborough even though we played well, and then people are saying we're down, which I can understand. But now we've had a couple of clean sheets and a couple of wins, and this is the business end and it's a game we've got to win against a very good side who have a good home record. If you'd offered me this after that game, I'd have taken it, so it's brilliant, and I think the players are looking forward to it as well." Reid also highlighted the return of Simon Walton from injury, whose set-piece expertise has helped revive Argyle's fortunes of late. Reid said: "When you analyse our results recently, we've got goals from dead-balls. The one at Peterborough, Rory's one against Dagenham and then Walton's. The delivery is so important, and Walton gives us that. Whatever level you play at, dead-balls are important, but they've been crucial for us recently. I think Walton will be a lot better. He went out there with a swollen ankle and been very brave. He hasn't trained today, but the other lads have trained and they've all been bright. They'll be fitter than they were against MK Dons, which is a big bonus. These few days we've just been taking it easy with light training. I've still got Patterson to come back, who got the goal at Dagenham, so that's a boost for us. And Summerfield got another extended run against MK Dons, which is good news as well." With two home games following the Devon derby, Reid is desperate to take maximum points from the last away fixture of a campaign that could yet culminate in the greatest of escapes for Argyle. He added: "Southampton are a good side but they won't relish coming here, and Leyton Orient are a good side who are going for it at the other end of the table. If we're still in with a chance on Saturday then who knows what can happen?"
Rory Fallon will settle for an 'ugly win' at Exeter City on Saturday. Although Exeter are now out of the play-off race, Fallon is not anticipating any easing off from them on Saturday, and he said: "There are no easy games. Both teams are playing for points and it's a derby as well. We're going to have to be on our game. We had an ugly win against Milton Keynes, but I was happy with that. Other results went our way and we've got that game in hand, so it's ours to lose now. But we've got to keep our foot on the accelerator and keep working hard for one another. You never know what's going to come off. We've just got to concentrate on our next game at Exeter and see what happens." Fallon missed the win over Dagenham through a painful and ongoing groin strain. The injury has plagued him for some time and he admits that if Peter Reid had other options, then he probably would be advised not to play again this season. He said: "If we had enough players, then yes, I probably wouldn't be playing. I was exhausted near the end of Monday's game, but we held out and played really well and defended well as a team. Milton Keynes were a good team to beat and we went into the game needing the points and we got them. Everyone else around us either lost or dropped points, so it gives a boost with games coming up."
Argyle reserves ended their season with a 2-0 defeat to Swindon Town at Home Park yesterday. Ollie Chenoweth was the only professional in a young side and, despite the defeat, Adam Sadler was pleased with his side's overall display. He said: "It was a really good performance for the last game of the season and I'm delighted with the young players. We dominated with the ball today but I was of course disappointed by the way we conceded the two goals but it's all part of the learning process. We were a bit short on clear cut chances so we'll need to do a bit of work in terms of the final pass but I thought that overall, we were very good today." Sadler reserved special praise for his midfield duo of Luke Young and Jordan Copp. He said: "I thought Luke Young was outstanding today and showed all the quality in terms of his range of passing and his receiving skills in tight areas. I was also pleased with Jordan Copp, he's coming on leaps and bounds."
David Button is expecting a great atmosphere when Argyle face Exeter City on Saturday. He said: "It's as big a derby as I've seen with other teams in the country so we know how much of a massive game it is. They're a decent footballing team as well so it's going to be difficult. There's a few of their players that we've obviously got to keep an eye on, but obviously we'll focus on ourselves as well. We'll try and keep our preparation as normal as we can, the warm-up and everything will be the same so we can just focus on the game." Argyle have won their last two games, with Button keeping a clean sheet in both to give the club an outside chance of avoiding relegation. "The defence has been great the last two games," he added. "It's helped that we've kept clean sheets as well, we've looked solid."
Simon Walton believes Argyle's fate rests in their own hands and that they now have an 'amazing chance' of escaping relegation. He said: "We've given ourselves an amazing chance of pulling through. It's in our own hands now. If we win our next three games we stay up, simple! As we've said over the past few weeks, each game is bigger than a cup final, if there is such a thing. We'll treat every game the same and try not to put too much pressure on ourselves. It's worked a treat so far, but we're not stupid. Obviously, we know we have to win to stay in the league. We have got tough games to come, that's for sure. But then they are all tough, aren't they? We went to Peterborough and although we didn't win, we showed them what we could do. Milton Keynes had the lion's share of possession, but we defended well and did our bit. We don't fear anyone. No-one, I don't think, really expects too much from us, so we've got nothing to lose. We've given it our all and in the last few games it's paid off." As for the game with Exeter, Walton is relishing the opportunity. "I've not been about for the other two derbies, so this will be my first taste. It's a big game to play in," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. I think we're all on a high now." Walton, who was sidelined until March this season with a cruciate knee injury, added: "My season is only really just starting. For the other lads, physically, it's getting to that time when their bodies are feeling it. Credit to everyone who is putting their bodies on the line for the team. Everyone is pulling together and it seems to be paying off." Walton's standing with the fans has never been higher and he was deservedly given a standing ovation when he was replaced by Anton Peterlin on Monday. He said: "They have been amazing. It's unfortunate it has taken what it has to do it, but we've pulled together. I think it's made the club a better place. We stand every chance and if we stay up, it's down to everyone, not just 11 players. It's the fans and the people who work for no money, who come in every day. If we stay up it'll be a massive achievement."
Peter Reid paid tribute to the character of his players after the victory over MK Dons yesterday. He said: "I thought they were the better side. They passed it better than us and worked us. But for sheer endeavour, character and grit, it was tremendous from my players. Fletcher, Arnason, Walton and Fallon are all carrying injuries but put their bodies on the line. We didn't pass it well. We gave it away too cheaply, but boy did we defend well. At 1-0, we had a great chance for a second goal. Their 'keeper made a good save from Bolasie. I thought he might have scored that. It would have made it a little bit easier. After that, David Button made two great saves to keep us in front. It's a real character three points at this stage of the season." Argyle will continue their fight for survival against Exeter City at St James' Park on Saturday and Reid added: "We have given ourselves a great shout, and that's all you can ask. It's going to be difficult because the game in hand is a very tough one. But we will concentrate on the next game, which is a local derby, and I have found out how special this one is." None of Argyle's relegation rivals won yesterday, but Reid insisted he was not interested in results elsewhere. "It's about what we do," he said. MK Dons spent a lot of time on attack against Argyle, but Curtis Nelson and Stephane Zubar rose to the challenge. "I think if you have a look at the records, since those two have been together, we have been a lot more solid," said Reid. "You won't believe how happy I am with two 1-0 wins in a row. That's the best result in football for a manager. It's a bit nerve-racking, but great." Carl Fletcher carried out an important role against MK Dons, closely marking playmaker Luke Chadwick, and doing so very effectively. Reid said; "We just tried to match him up. But, besides doing that, he got on the ball and was a real leader. He led from the front, and we followed in behind him." David Button had a great game at Dagenham, and continued that form yesterday. Reid said: "He's only a kid and he's learning his trade. Sometimes, youngsters do make mistake, but that's how they learn. It's very difficult to replicate a game in training, and making decisions. He's getting better and his attitude was terrific." Simon Walton's winning goal came when he curled in a free-kick from outside the penalty area, but Reid thought Rory Fallon got a touch on the ball with his head. Had referee Steve Tanner seen that, there is a chance he could have disallowed the goal for Fallon being offside. Reid said: "It was a great ball in from Walts. That's what I want – balls whipped in there with pace. He gives us that when he plays. You will have to let them fight about the goal. I'm not getting involved." Reid thought the win went some way towards making amends for the 2-1 defeat at Peterborough United just over a week ago, and added: "I eulogised about the players being brilliant at Peterborough and we got beat. So, being second best and winning, that's the way it goes."
There was no doubt in Simon Walton's mind that the winner against Milton Keynes was his goal and his alone. Some felt Walton’s free-kick was touched in by Rory Fallon, which could have led to an offside decision, but Walton said: "I spoke to Rory and he promised me he didn't touch, so I'm claiming it. It's my goal. They always say 'aim for the bit between the post and the back of the net'. I did, and it went in." The goal was his first in a three-year Argyle career that has seen him play just 18 games. "The last few weeks, from a personal point of view, have made up for the years gone by," he said. "The last few weeks, with everything that has been going on, have been some of the most enjoyable I have had within football. The spirit and the way the results have gone has just given everybody a boost. We have given ourselves a chance, and we're in an even better place. We've looked dangerous from set-pieces, not just delivery but from the lads getting on the end of it. We've had our rewards." The victory over MK Dons was the first time that Argyle have put together back-to-back clean sheets, and was their third win in a four-match spell which included an unlucky defeat at Peterborough United. "After what happened at Peterborough, to be able to hold out for those scruffy 1-0s gives everybody a boost," said Walton. "It's nice when it finishes but, for those last few minutes, it's not very nice. We have proved, in the last few games, we're no roll-overs. We've played some of the best footballing teams and we have performed. We've maybe not played well, footballing-wise, but we've done the ugly things well. Sometimes they are more rewarding and they definitely boost morale a bit more." Walton lasted 60 minutes before he gave way to an ankle injury picked up at Dagenham & Redbridge, and he was not the only one playing through the pain-barrier. Walton said: "I half-apologised to the gaffer. Any other game, maybe I shouldn't have played, but there was no way I was missing the game. It was my decision and I wanted to play. We've got a few days before the next game so, hopefully, I can rest it and make sure it's right. Everyone's putting their bodies on the line and we're finally getting our rewards. It's going to be tough, but I think we've certainly showed that we've got plenty of character." Argyle will escape the relegation zone if they win their game in hand on their relegation rivals, but that game is against promotion-chasing Southampton and comes on Monday, two days after a derby at Exeter. "There are no easy games," added Walton. "We have got to play teams who have got something to play for, rather than teams that are slacking off around midfield. It's going to be hard, but it always is. We won't go down without a fight."
Argyle beat MK Dons 1-0 at Home Park, the goal scored by Simon Walton after 21 minutes. Argyle: Button, Duguid, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Fletcher, Arnason, Walton, Bolasie, Fallon, Mason. Subs - Summerfield, Peterlin (not used – Larrieu, Timar, Young, Harper-Penman). Attendance - 8,553.
Rory Fallon is expected to return for Argyle today as they take on MK Dons at Home Park. Fallon was ruled out of the win at Dagenham & Redbridge by an injury which was recently diagnosed as a hip problem. Fallon will replace Rory Patterson, who is serving a one-match suspension after being sent off against Dagenham for a second bookable offence. A late decision will be made on the fitness of Simon Walton, who suffered an ankle injury against Dagenham. Peter Reid said: "We are without Rory Patterson but Rory Fallon should be fit, which is a bonus for us. Simon Walton's ankle injury is concerning me. It's bruised and swollen. He's getting it iced and, hopefully, he will be all right. He hasn't trained and we're just keeping an eye on it day by day. Luke Summerfield came on and did well against Dagenham, but we are down to the bare bones of the squad now." Argyle will take confidence from their 3-1 win away to the Dons in January, which came courtesy of stunning goals from Onismor Bhasera, Kari Arnason and Chris Clark. Reid said: "We played very well when we won at their place, but their manager Karl Robinson has done a tremendous job there. They're up in the play-off positions and they play good football. It will be a really difficult game for us, but we've given ourselves a chance of staying up by beating Dagenham, and all credit to the boys for that. Now we've got to go out and do it all over again. This is another cup final for us." Reid did not make training too taxing for his players yesterday, after their win against Dagenham only two days previously. He added: "It was a physically demanding game in the terms of the conditions. It was a hot day, and it was a very difficult pitch to play on because it was hard and bobbly. So we kept it bright and breezy in training yesterday." Reid admitted Joe Mason was in contention for a return to the starting line-up today. He said: "It was always going to be a physical game against Dagenham and I didn't think that would suit Joe. But MK Dons play good football so he comes into the reckoning. Joe has been trying to protect his ankle for a while now. In fact, a few of the lads have been playing with injuries."
Peter Reid knows that Argyle have to pick up plenty of points in their last four games of the season if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation. He is hoping that today’s game will see the same sort of vocal support for his players that contributed towards Saturday's victory at Dagenham, where Rory Fallon and Bondz N'Gala were among the Green Army in the crowd. "I think that highlighted the fact that everyone at this football club is all in this together," said Reid. "The crowd at Dagenham was absolutely fantastic. The relationship between the fans and this club is unique." The three points at Victoria Park leaves Argyle one off the bottom of the table, ahead of Swindon and five points behind Dagenham & Redbridge, Walsall and Bristol Rovers, with a game in hand on all four. "We have given ourselves a fighting chance," said Reid. "We have got a game against Milton Keynes Dons which is now a massive, massive game. If we show the same fight and commitment we showed on Saturday, then that's all I can ask. It was a physically demanding game but the players' attitude and spirit helped get the result. We have got to do that in back-to-back games against a very good footballing team."
Peter Ridsdale is looking to the Green Army to help Argyle’s survival bid. Argyle's acting chairman was bowled over by the support for Peter Reid and his team during Saturday's 1 win at Dagenham & Redbridge and believes that similar backing in Argyle's last four matches of the campaign would give a massive boost to the bid to avoid relegation. "I do not think that, in all my years in football, I have ever seen such magnificent support," he said. "The commitment from the 804 who got behind Peter and the lads for the entire game was, frankly, overwhelming. I have no doubt it played a massive part in bringing home the three points. I know it really lifted the manager and the players. We now have four games, three of which are at home, and I truly believe that our magnificent fans can make a crucial difference to the results in all those matches. A lot of people have written us off, and the odds are stacked against us, but I don't believe that: I believe we can stay up; Peter Reid believes we can stay up; the players believe we can stay up; and the Green Army believes we can stay up. I would make a passionate appeal to all Argyle supporters to get out in numbers and get behind Peter and the players, just like you did at Dagenham. Forget about the rest of the campaign - our season starts on Monday, when we play MK Dons at Home Park. Four games which will decide our fate. Your club needs you; you can make difference."
Peter Reid was proud of the way his team stuck to their task yesterday. He said: "This is a difficult place to come to. John Still has got a very effective side. They put you under a lot of pressure, and I thought we defended well. David Button made a couple of great saves, but I always felt we were dangerous on the break. In the conditions, I think it was a good game, because it was difficult to get the ball down. We have hung on in there, worked hard and we have got a very important three points. It makes the game on Monday interesting. All credit to the players." Rory Patterson received Argyle's 12th red card of the season after raising his arm in an aerial challenge with Dagenham substitute Danny Green. Reid was reluctant to comment, except to say: "I don't criticise referees, but I don't think he's the greatest I have seen." Patterson did not make the cleanest of contacts with his winning free-kick, but the bouncing ball still beat Dagenham 'keeper Tony Roberts. Reid admitted there had been some surprise when Patterson lined the shot. He revealed: "Adam Sadler said to me, 'What is he doing?' And then it went in the back of the net. To be fair, I was having a go at the fourth official for advantage not being played, so what do I know about football?" Reid also paid tribute to the 804 Argyle fans who made the trip to Victoria Road. He said: "This football club is all about the supporters. They were magnificent."
Peter Reid heaped praise on David Button following the win over Dagenham & Redbridge. He said: "He's made two crucial saves in the second half, which were fantastic. It was a really good performance from the kid. He's a good goalkeeper. People forget he's inexperienced and he's learning the trade, but he was terrific today." But it was far from a one man show, and Reid felt that his midfield also played a key part in the victory. He added: "Peterlin got two great blocks in the first half; Fletcher, who's been struggling with an ankle injury, did terrifically well in terms of getting about the park and cajoling; the two centre-backs; I could go on. It was a good, honest, professional performance by the players. Everybody did their job today."
Rory Fallon travelled with the Argyle squad to their hotel before the game with Dagenham & Redbridge, but in the end fell foul to the groin injury that has hampered him for the last couple of games. "I asked him and he said: "it's not right"" said Peter Reid "So I said: ‘I'd rather not put you out there’, because it was a cup final today. We had to have lads committed out there and it worked well. We played well, all credit to the players." Fallon's absence forced changes around the midfield and forward lines and Kari Arnason into the unfamiliar striker's role. Reid added: "We had to change the formation a bit, but Arnason, who I'm not sure has ever played up front, did a terrific job for us until he ran out of legs, and then he went and sat in the middle of the park. It was just a gut feeling to play him there. If you can't get the ball down then he's got a bit of an aerial strength and I thought it worked quite well. We managed to get up the park a little bit and work off him in difficult conditions and we always had Bolasie's pace, and it's always difficult for teams when you've got pace in attack." The late dismissal of Rory Patterson means he will sit out Monday's game with MK Dons. Reid is hopeful Patterson will not be joined on the sidelines by Simon Walton, who was forced off in the second half at Victoria Road with injury. He said: "Simon Walton's got a badly swollen ankle, he just got caught as he was trying to bring the ball down. He's going to ice it 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, so we'll be doing all we can to get him right. We've had our fair share of injuries but it's great when lads come back, it just raises the spirits amongst the players and the supporters as well."
Argyle won 1-0 at Dagenham & Redbridge, the goal scored by Rory Patterson after 48 minutes. Argyle: Button, Duguid, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Fletcher, Arnason, Peterlin, Walton, Bolasie, Patterson. Subs - Summerfield, Timar (not used – Larrieu, Young, Mason). Attendance - 3,559.
Injuries continue to rule out Chris Clark, Bondz N'Gala and Marcel Seip. N'Gala suffered double vision after a clash of heads in training last Friday and dropped out of the squad for the Peterborough game. Seip, who has not played since February 22nd, is still sidelined by a knee injury and Clark has yet to recover from knee ligament damage he suffered against Rochdale on March 19th. Peter Reid was unsure whether Clark would be fit to resume playing before the end of the season in two weeks' time. "Clarky is still feeling this trouble in the back of his knee," said Reid. "He's desperate to get back but he's certainly running out of time, which is a bit of a blow."
Peter Reid knows only a win today against Dagenham & Redbridge will do and hopes fortune favours them more than it did when they lost at Peterborough United last Saturday. He said: "We were all disappointed with the result – not the performance. But as we come to the business end of the season, today's game isn't about the performance. It's about the result. I like to see my team playing well, and you get a satisfaction out of it, but this is a must-win match. We go there in good spirits, but we know it's going to be a difficult game." Reid was not prepared to look any further forward than today's fixture but knows Argyle may have to win all of their last five matches to stay up. He added: "First of all, we have got three points to play for, and that's all I'm looking at. We have got to try to beat Dagenham. You would rather be at a football club where you were playing for promotion. We are at the other end of the table, but it's still a big game. Myself and the players know the importance of it. If we do the basics right, I think we will have a good chance of getting something out of it. I will be impressing on the players that's what we need to do." Reid is making his first ever visit to Victoria Road, but knows what to expect from the opposition. He said: "It will be a different type of game to Peterborough, where we had time to get it down and play a bit of football. In this one, we will have to earn the right to play by winning the physical battle. I think the players will be up for it."
Curtis Nelson enjoyed his first taste of international football and hopes to experience more of it next season. He said: "It was brilliant. I really enjoyed the trip. It was a great experience and a great honour as well. I got on towards the end of the second half, which was great. The standard was really good because, obviously, you have got the best players in England at my age, and the Italians were a strong side as well. Playing on the continent was a new experience for me. It was really hot so it was a different kind of game." Nelson started this season as a second-year apprentice at Home Park, but made his debut against Notts County in the Carling Cup on August 10th. By October, he had been upgraded by Peter Reid to the professional ranks and has gone to make 29 starts and four substitute appearances. His form led to him being selected for the England under-18s squad against Italy. "It's just one of those things that comes out of doing well," he said. "I'm pleased with that and I have got to keep going." The England under-18s head coach is Noel Blake, and he will also take charge of the under-19s as they try to qualify for the European finals next season, so Nelson hopes to have impressed him during the trip to Italy. "He said well done to the whole team after the game because, obviously, it was a good result," said Nelson. "He saw it as a good chance to see what a lot of the players are like. It's something I have got to aim to push for next season. I have just got to keep working hard and then hope I will get another call." Fresh from his England appearance, Nelson played as Argyle lost 2-1 at Peterborough United last Saturday. He said: "It was a really disappointing result, but we did play really well. I was pleased with the whole team performance and I thought we were unlucky to lose there. We have got five games left and we have got to go in with the mentality that we are going to win each and every single one of them. That's what we have got to try to do. Dagenham are fighting for their place in the league, so it's going to be tough." Nelson has played alongside Stephane Zubar at centre-back for the past two months and they have impressed as a pair. He said: "Me and Stephane get on really well, on and off the pitch. I think we are developing a strong partnership." It is not only Nelson's performances which have stood out, but the way he has coped with the demands on him at such a young age. "Physically, it has been really tough, especially when we have been playing Saturday-Tuesday games," he added. "It does take it out of you, making the step up to a faster pace in the games. You get little niggles and things like that, but you have just get to play through them."
The full scale of Argyle's financial problems have bene revealed, with the club's debts spiralling to over £17.5million. Administrators have released details which show that charities, small businesses and public services are among those facing big losses. Those creditors are now being asked to accept less than 1p for every pound owed as administrators plot Argyle's survival. Among those hit are Plymouth City Council, owed more than £300,000, St John's Ambulance, which stands to lose over £8,000, and Devon and Cornwall Police, owed in excess of £36,000. Under the stewardship of former executive director Keith Todd, well over £1million was spent on consultants and planners working on the doomed stadium development project, a pivotal part of the city's bid to land the 2018 World Cup. One family business, Saltash-based Cornish Farm Produce, said Argyle's then-chiefs told them the club's finances were under control. But just days later, when the relegation-threatened club entered administration, the fruit and vegetables wholesaler was left staring at its own cashflow issues and £4,328 it will never fully recoup. Owner Roger Carter said: "We were told Argyle would be sold and everything would be ok. We supported them and now we're left out in the dark. We're managing to get through, but to get that money back we've got to sell about £20,000-worth of stock. If we were in a shaky position then losing £4,000 could have been disastrous for the company." Estover-based Stem Networks is owed nearly £13,000 for its IT services and maintenance. General manager Andy Hartshorne said: "Fortunately it doesn't threaten the business or put jobs at risk. But it is tough to take. Ultimately, the survival of Plymouth Argyle is more important for the city. I'm very keen to help support the club through thick and thin." Speaking after administrators The P&A Partnership released their report and the Company Voluntary Arrangement detailing debts yesterday, Peter Ridsdale said: "This demonstrates what I've been saying since the first day I arrived in Plymouth: that the size of the problem was way beyond anything anybody at the club was willing to admit at the time. If I hadn't have come in and blown the lid on the financial problems then the denial that the club was in means it would have been liquidated by now. The impact the previous management has had, and continues to have, on local businesses is huge." Argyls fans last night vowed to back the businesses left out of pocket as their extraordinary fundraising initiatives continue. Graham Clark, of the Argyle Fans' Trust, said: "My feelings go out to the small businesses who can't afford to lose the sort of money they have. Hopefully the supporters will be able to help them in the future. This just shows how important it is that in the future the club is run as a sound business, with income matching expenditure. We must never, ever get into this situation again. I am absolutely astonished at the extent of the debt and the mismanagement of our football club over the last few years. Clearly the World Cup bid was a very expensive disaster for the club. This demonstrates what happens when a football club is run in a way where football is not the priority." Players and other staff, who have not been paid since December and January respectively, are now owed over £3.3million alone. Unsecured debts to the club's discredited former bosses and their associates total a similar amount. Much of that was lent through Mastpoint, a firm set up by Todd and Roy Gardner, to attract investment through wealthy business contacts. A further £1.2million was borrowed against future season ticket sales through the Ticketus firm. Administrators have contacted major creditors and say they are confident their CVA will be approved at a meeting on May 6th. The £4.93million of debts secured against Home Park, and money owed to 'football creditors' must be settled in full. But at least 75 per cent of other creditors must accept the proposal of less than 1p per pound owed if the club is to survive. HMRC, the only obvious creditor likely to reject the CVA, is owed only £293,000. Brendan Guilfoyle said: "We expect Mastpoint and their associates will support the CVA. We don't have a dominant creditor so we are confident of getting it approved. What we need to do then is get the purchase arrangement tied up, either with a new bidder or with James Brent." It has also been revealed that administrators are charging an average of £267.54 per hour, totalling £228,626 since they were officially appointed on April 15th. That growing bill, plus the cost of their lawyers Walker Morris, will be picked up by whoever buys the club. Neither Todd or Stapleton were available for comment.
Argyle's players have agreed to go without any wages for May so other staff at Home Park can receive more money. Administrator’s had planned to use the funds from the recent transfer of Jack Stephens to Southampton to give each employee at the club 15 per cent of their salaries for next month. But the squad, who have not been paid since December, have decided to forego their share in favour of the non-playing staff. Peter Reid was not involved in the decision by the players, and admitted he had been 'lost for words' by the 'fantastic gesture'. He said: "Everyone at the club was going to get 15 per cent of wages for May, but the players have foregone that and are giving it all to the staff. That shows you what a bunch of players they are. It's a fine gesture. We all hear things in the media, and the red-top tabloids, about highly-paid footballers in the Premier League, and headlines about injunctions and all sorts. I think this is a great story, and worth headlines in the red-tops. It's a great gesture by the players, but it doesn't sell newspapers, does it? That's something that's wrong with our society, in my opinion." Reid has been proud of the way the players have dealt with adversity off the pitch and continued to fight on the pitch. He said: "They are a good bunch of players who have got a great attitude. The 10 point deduction wasn't their fault. It wasn't their fault we had to sell our leading scorer and some of our best players. But they have hung on in there and given this club everything they have got take. That's all you can ask."
Kari Arnason, Rory Fallon and Carl Fletcher will all be included in the Argyle squad for the game at Dagenham & Redbridge. "They're not 100 per cent, but the season's coming to an end and they're still fighting." said Peter Reid. "They still want to go out there and put the shirt on, which is fantastic. It's great for a manager when you've got that attitude from the players. It certainly rubs off on others, and the squad in general deserve a lot of credit for the way they have responded to all that has gone on this season. Fletch's ankle is still a bit sore, but he's going to struggle on. Rory Fallon has got a hip problem, but he's going to be available. And Arnason will most probably need a hernia operation in the summer, but he's struggling on for us."
Carl Fletcher could be fit for the game at Dagenham and Redbridge on Friday. Peter Reid said: "His ankle is still a bit swollen but he says it's feeling easier, which is good news. I think he has got a chance of playing, and he's confident about it as well." Simon Walton and Luke Summerfield have recently returned to the squad following long-term injuries. Walton has started the last two matches after recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury and his delivery at dead-ball situations has been impressive, but Reid has also been pleased with his all-round contribution even though he is still some way short of full fitness. "He has come back and done a tremendous job for us," said Reid. "I think the boy has been outstanding." Summerfield was out for eight months before making his comeback as a substitute against Peterborough. Reid said: "It was good that he got on, but I think we have got to be careful with Luke and not push him too much. He was out for a long time."
The Argyle youth team ended their season with a 4-1 win over Swansea City at Home Park yesterday, the goals scored by Luke Young (2), Jared Sims and Matt Rickard. Argyle: Varazinskis, Sawyer, Richards, Pearce, Clifford, Harper-Penman, Young, Copp, Baker, Rickard, Sims. Subs – Jones, Hart, Vassell (not used - Clarvis, Ord).
Argyle's administrators are hoping to begin sending out details of a creditors' meeting today. The future of the club remains unclear, with three bidders still interested in taking over. Lead administrator Brendan Guilfoyle has said that he is pressing on with the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that would eventually be Argyle's route out of administration. Money owed to football-related creditors, including staff and player wages, and cash secured against assets must be settled in full. But the CVA will offer unsecured creditors offered just a slice of their debt, likely to be close to a penny for every pound owed. Administrators are due to send out letters today to all 220 business owed money and they will be invited to Home Park on May 6th to vote on the CVA. At least 75 per cent must accept the offer for the club to survive. HMRC, which has tried to wind up the club on several occasions, is still owed a six-figure tax sum and may reject the offer. However, Guilfoyle said that he was confident other creditors would accept. Over £5 million of the £9 million-plus of unsecured debts is owed to former directors and their associates and Guilfoyle held further meetings with Keith Todd in London last week.
Carl Fletcher has spoken of his pride at the way his team-mates have dealt with the problems at Home Park this season. He said: "We have got a great set of lads. I can't tell you how proud I am of each and every one of them, the way they work, the way they are every day, and the way they conduct themselves on and off the pitch. They are a credit to themselves and to the club." Fletcher admitted the squad had appreciated the support of the fans during such a turbulent time. He said: "We know how far it is for them to travel. We do it every other week. It was another fantastic showing from the supporters on Saturday. They have stuck by us, and we have stuck by them. Hopefully, we will come out this the other side and be a bit better off. But, obviously, the way things are going, it's a tough time at the minute. It's disappointing, and it just seems as though the football Gods are working against us. But like you try to tell yourself every day 'if it doesn't break you then it's going to make you stronger.' Let's hope so." It is not only the Argyle players who are working without pay. The office staff are in the same position. Fletcher paid tribute to them for the way they have rallied around the club at this time. He said: "They turn up every morning and work hard. I'm sure they get a load of stick on the 'phone from people who want their money here, there and everywhere. I think everyone deals with it differently. You have to look to yourself how to do it. We are all sticking in there and being as professional as we can. Hopefully, we will come through it on the other side. We are looking to the powers-that-be who are taking care of the financial side of it to pull through for us and get things sorted sooner rather than later. All we can do is wait, and keep working hard, keep being professional and keep trying to have a smile on your face."
Carl Fletcher is determined not to dwell on Saturday’s defeat at Peterborough. He said: "It is massively disappointing. The lads performed well. We worked really hard. It sums up the season - nothing going for us. And you know the referee has had an absolute stinker when both teams are moaning at him. We changed the formation around a little bit from last week. Peterborough are a good side at the top of the league, and you can see why, so we had to combat that and compete well, and we did. Obviously, though, they way things are going, it's a tough time at the minute. It seems the footballing gods are working against us at the moment. We can't get too down on ourselves because we've got a tough game next week against Dagenham, who are in the same position as ourselves, fighting for their lives. We need wins. The lads will be the same, they will be giving 110%." Fletcher knocked home a free-kick from Simon Walton to open the scoring and said: "It's about time they stuck me in the box. Usually they stick me on the edge of the box. We probably haven't scored enough from set-pieces so we have got to keep putting balls in the box and hopefully get on the end of it." Fletcher was injured just before Peterborough scored the winner midway through the second half. He said: "I just went up for a header and as I came down I landed on my foot and twisted. I think it's my ligaments, I have done it before in my career. I don't want to say too much yet because I don't know how serious it is. We will see how it goes over the next few days."
Argyle named only six substitutes at Peterborough after Bondz N'Gala suffered an injury due to a clash of heads in training on Friday. Peter Reid said: "He had double vision so we had to leave him out."
Luke Summerfield's return to first team football ended in bitter disappointment on Saturday, after he had a penalty saved deep into stoppage time. Summerfield said: "I'm gutted, to be honest. There are no other words for it. I'm gutted for the boys more than anything, not for me. They were outstanding and didn't deserve to lose at all. I was glad to get on, but I'm gutted I didn't get them a point." Summerfield scored with a penalty for the reserves last Tuesday and had no qualms about taking the spot kick against Peterborough. He added: "I'm always confident in my ability and I don't think I could have hit the penalty any better, to be honest. But, at the end of the day, it hasn't gone in and that's not good enough. We aren't walking away from here with a point or three points like we should have, and I'm just gutted." Posh ‘keeper Joe Lewis had made two other superb saves earlier in the second half, from Yannick Bolasie and Simon Walton. Summerfield said: "I thought Yala couldn't have hit his shot any better. And Si's header was a great one, and the 'keeper has made an unbelievable save. Fair play to him he has had a great game. But we haven't come away with a point, or three points, that we definitely deserved. The boys fought, they dug in really well and the performance was outstanding. The way their goals have come about is just gut-wrenching for them. We were down to 10 men for both. It wouldn't have been so bad had they stuck two in the top corner. It's just not going for us at the moment." Summerfield made his first appearance for Argyle since August 21st, after recovering from a knee operation and added: "It has been a long time since August, and the last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. I was pleased to get back out there, but the way it has finished I'm not happy at all, to be honest."
Jim Paterson was amongst a group of Argyle players clearly devastated after the defeat at Peterborough. "It was really disappointing," he said. "We put so much into the match. We created a lot of chances. The keeper's made a fantastic save from Simon. Peterborough huffed and puffed, they are a decent team, but we limited them to chances. It was disappointing, but these things happen. The attitude is spot on. If you look at the performances from Leyton Orient away, last Saturday against Walsall and even today coming to Peterborough. I bet Peterborough have not had many hard challenges like they did today. We just need to keep doing that until the end of the season, and then who knows? They've got a lot of good footballers. They've got Boyd off the front. The manager wanted Fletch to do a marking job on him, and he got Arnie to play in McCann's area to stop him getting on the ball and getting them started. They had to change their formation. And even after they changed their formation, we scored. We could actually hear their manager at half time going through them. We've come here obviously minus ten points but we are a better team than people maybe give us credit for. We just need to keep on playing and show the attitude we have done. We're not going down without a fight. That's what the fans pay their money to come and see. We'll get as many wins as possible between now and the end of the season." Peterborough's equaliser came during a passage of play in which Rory Fallon was laying inside the penalty area with an apparent head injury, but referee Nigel Miller did not stop play. Paterson said: "I think Rory's taken one in the face at a corner, has gone down, and it's Rory's man who scores with a header. Whether the referee could have stopped it...I'm not one for sour grapes and ifs and buts after a game, but when you're down there, you get kicked. It's disappointing for the way we played that we've not come away with something, but at the end of the day there's five games left, that's 15 points. It only takes a run of games. When we got deducted the ten points we won three on the trot. We've got some big games coming up, but we've never been shy of the big games. We look forward to Friday now. We're away next game, then we've got MK Dons at home, who we beat this season. Then we're away to Exeter, which is a great game. I can't wait to play in that; I missed the previous two games against Exeter. I can't wait to get my teeth into that one. I love a derby! We can only keep fighting, and if we keep playing like that we'll scare a couple of teams and have them looking over their shoulders."
Peter Reid admitted he was lost for words after Peterborough came from behind to beat Argyle 2-1 yesterday. "It's hard going in to have a chat with the players after a game in which they did ever so well and got nothing out of it," he said. "Peterborough are a good side, they are up there with a good chance of winning promotion, or the play-offs - and I thought we were terrific today. I was delighted with the players. I'm just really disappointed we didn't take something out of the game. The players have done tremendously. I wanted to keep a clean sheet. We couldn't and it was disappointing. Peterborough have got some really good players, certainly attacking players, and are a good side at this level. They got two against us but, all in all, we more than held our own. We had one cleared off the line from Zubar, and a couple of good opportunities. Even in the second half, they made two good saves and Bolasie had two shots blocked that would have caused problems. The lads have done a good job for us, but got nothing for it. I was delighted with the performance but this was a must-win game so it's a hard one to take. It's happened. You have just got to accept it. It's football." Argyle remain bottom of the table with just five games left and face a visit to fellow strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge on Friday. Reid said: "It's a going to be a big game but, if the players gave me what they gave me today, I think we'll acquit ourselves quite well there. We have got to keep on playing our football. The players have got to keep on going. There's a good spirit among them, I've got to say. I have been delighted with them today. I am just so disappointed. For them. And for the supporters." Despite the defeat, Reid showed he has retained both his love for the game, and a sense of perspective. "Football can be a difficult game at times," he said, "but it's still a great game...even though you get stuffed when you don't deserve it."
Peter Reid and Carl Fletcher rallied around Luke Summerfield after his last-minute penalty was saved by Peterborough goalkeeper Joe Lewis yesterday. "The keeper made a terrific save low down," said Reid. "It was a great pen in the corner. That's football. You have got to give their keeper credit." Fletcher agreed. "It was a good save from the goalie," he said. "If he goes the other way, it's a goal. Summers showed courage to step up and take it. It's just the way things are going for us at the moment. It was good to see him back on the pitch. Just when things seem to turn around, they knock you back down again, but we'll keep on plugging away. Like you try to tell yourself every day: 'If it doesn't break you, it's going to make you stronger.' Let's hope that."
Carl Fletcher felt the pain of Argyle's 2-1 defeat at Peterborough, both mentally and physically, but spoke in glowing terms of the spirit on and off the pitch at Home Park. He said: "All the lads are working hard week in and week out with no pay, and we wanted to do it for the fans who had travelled up, and all the staff at Plymouth who are keeping the club alive for no money. It's a kick in the teeth, really. We've got a great set of lads. I can't tell you how proud I am of each and every one of them - the way they work; the way they are every day; the way they conduct themselves on and off the pitch. They are a credit to themselves and a credit to the club." Nearly 500 fans showed the same spirit as the players and Fletcher added: "It was another fantastic showing from the fans. They've stuck by us and we stick by them when the times are tough, and hopefully we'll come out the other side a little bit better off. You just want the lads to get some kind of bonus for all the hard work they are putting in because they aren't getting anything else back. It's a credit to the lads, and to the staff, because they turn up every morning, working hard. Everyone deals with it differently, but we're all sticking in there, being as professional as we can, looking to the powers that be who look after the financial side to pull through and get things sorted, sooner rather than later. All we can do is wait."
Referee Nigel Miller declined to discuss his disputed decision which led to Peterborough's equaliser in the 2-1 defeat at Peterborough, leaving Peter Reid and Carl Fletcher in the dark. Argyle were furious that Miller allowed play to continue around Rory Fallon, who was lying in the penalty area suffering from a head injury. Ryan Bennett took advantage of Fallon's absence to head home the equaliser and change the course of the game. When asked whether Miller should have stopped the game, Reid said: "You'd best ask him. I can't answer that. I thought, with head injuries, they were supposed to, but obviously this referee thinks different. It was Rory's man that stuck it in the net, so it's a double whammy, if you like. That's football. Sometimes it happens that way. When you are down there those decisions seem to go against you." Fletcher agreed with his manager. "Rory has gone down in the box with a head injury - he wasn't too sure of his bearings," he said. "As I believe it, if you have a head injury, you stop the play right away. Obviously this referee didn't think so. They worked the ball well and put a cross in, and the guy's headed it in. Rory was assigned to mark him. It kind of sums up our season. It's really disappointing for the lads because they've worked their socks off."
Argyle lost 2-1 at Peterborough United, the goal scored by Carl Fletcher after 38 minutes. Argyle: Button, Duguid, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Bolasie, Fletcher, Arnason, Peterlin, Walton, Fallon. Subs - Patterson, Summerfield, Mason (not used – Larrieu, Young, Timar). Attendance - 6,723.
Peter Reid has admitted doing any planning for next season is very difficult while the fate of Argyle remains unresolved. He said: "You need to plan things. It's a difficult situation for everyone. Maybe I'm being a bit naive, but I thought it would have been a quicker process than this. The administrator is in charge, and I think there are people out there who are interested. Hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later." All the indications are that it could be mid-June before the ownership of Argyle is sorted out. That, from Reid's perspective, is not ideal as it would leave little time to build a squad for the start of next season. Reid said: "You would always like it done quicker, but that's what they are looking at. As long as the club is safe, I think that's the most important thing. I will do my planning as best I can in terms of pre-season, but players are out of contract and, obviously, they want to know their futures. That's one of the problems that arises in this situation, but you have just got to deal with it." The squad have not been paid since December, while the club's staff have been working without wages since January 26. Reid added: "The human side of it is difficult. People have got mortgages to pay. It's tight out there in general because of the fiscal situation, so when you aren't getting paid it's a double whammy on you. People around the football club have done tremendously well to keep going and keep their spirits up." Reid has been impressed by the way the players, and club staff, have stuck to their tasks despite the difficulties they are facing. He said: "I can't fine any of the players, that's one thing! They have been remarkably upbeat, I have got to say that. Everyone at the club has been remarkably upbeat because it's a situation that could get you down, to be perfectly honest. But there is always someone else worse off than you, and that's the way you have got to look at it." Some Argyle players have had to move out of their rented property because they cannot afford to stay there. Reid said: "I think there have been a couple of instances where lads have got together to share accommodation."
Peter Reid paid tribute to Simon Walton ahead of the visit Peterborough United. He said: "Simon surprised us all with his performance for the 90 minutes against Walsall, so as good as it blooding the youngsters and I do like doing that, it's certainly good to get players back who have got experience. It's always pleasing for a lad who has had a really bad injury to get back, and he's worked hard for it. I have said to him that he still needs to lose a stone, because he has got ability, there's no question about that. One of the important things from my point of view was the quality of dead ball he put in, it really put defenders under pressure and that was fantastic against Walsall. Dead balls are a big part of football at any level and he certainly has that ability." Luke Summerfield is set to be added to the squad, while Reid also praised Curtis Nelson. He added: "Curtis has come back with no problems from his trip. I'm delighted for the lad. It's always great for anyone to get recognition from your country. Arnason and Joe Mason haven't trained today but I fully expect them to be fit for the weekend. Summerfield came through the reserves and in training, so he'll be added to the squad. He's a player who can get around the park, can handle a football and pops up with the odd goal." Meanwhile, Reid admits the ongoing uncertainty surrounding potential buyers is not making things easy in terms of preparing for life beyond the end of the season. He said: "The human side of it is difficult. It's tight out there in general because of the physical situation, so when you're not getting paid it's a double whammy on you, and people around the football club have done tremendously well to keep going and keep the spirits up. The administrator is in charge, there's people out there who I think are interested, so hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later. As long as the club is saved, that's the most important thing. I'll do my planning as best I can, in terms of pre-season, but obviously players are out of contract and they want to know their futures. That's one of the problems that arises, but you've just got to deal with it."
Peter Reid has admitted Argyle face a difficult task when playing fourth-placed Peterborough tomorrow. He said: "They are a very good attacking side. When you look at the games they have been involved in, they can score goals but, I think it's fair to say, they can concede as well. Mackail-Smith and Boyd are good players, so it's going to be very difficult for us. We will have to defend well, but we have gone to places this season where no-one has given us a chance and put in good performances. So we are looking forward to it. It's going to be very difficult, but I think it's a good game to be involved in." Mackail-Smith scored twice when Posh beat Argyle 3-0 at Home Park last August. Reid added: "He's an all-action player who keeps going for 90 minutes, so you have got to concentrate. But we got a clean sheet last Saturday and, hopefully, we can go there and be tight again. Mackail-Smith is a very good player, I have got to say that. Maybe you try to stop the service to him. Sometimes, they play with a diamond in midfield, with Boyd at the top and McCann in the holding role. All the team play goes through him. There are a couple of things you can try to do to negate the way they play and we will have a look at that. But it's important we pass the ball well. I thought we did that in the first half last Saturday. We went a bit long in the second half, when we have got midfield players in the team who can handle the ball. If we can pass the ball tomorrow and, hopefully, defend well, you never know what might happen." Peterborough are three points behind second-placed Southampton, so need a strong finish to the season to avoid the play-offs. Reid said: "They have got some good players at this level but, like I say, I think it's fair to say they do concede as well. I think it looks as though it's going to be a decent game. It's a good one to play in. They are up there challenging to get up, and we need the points for a completely different reason. I think it's a game the players are looking forward to and, invariably, the better the opposition the better we play."
Karl Duguid has given an insight into life as one of Argyle's unpaid players. None of the squad have received any wages since December and despite some assistance from the PFA, by way of loans, they are still feeling the effects. Duguid said: "When you aren't getting paid you have just got to watch what you are doing. You are obviously using your savings, and stuff like that, but you have still got to be careful because you don't know how long this is going to go on for. We do have a nice lifestyle and we probably get more things than certain other people, but we aren't Premier League players. We aren't on a £100,000 a week. People don't know, but all your money might be tied up in certain things and you can't get hold of it. Then you are struggling as much as the next man. People might think 'well, they are professional footballers, they earn this that and the other, they can get on with it', but that's not the case. Obviously, the PFA step in and help us as much as they can, but I think they are a little bit wary themselves because they need to get the money back at some point. It is difficult, but we have just got to get on with it. We have got six games to try our hardest to keep the football club in this division and that's what we will be doing. It's our only thought." Duguid added: "It's tough times but we are still professional footballers. What more do you want out of life? I think a lot of people would swap places with us – even now, when we aren't getting paid. A lot of people would say, 'I would play for nothing anyway' but it's a job and you deserve to get paid. We are lucky to get paid for doing something we love." Duguid insisted morale among the players was high, despite the adversity they were dealing with. He said: "If people had watched us training yesterday they wouldn't have thought, 'their heads are down, they aren't getting paid, and half of them don't know what's going to happen to them next season'. That's not the case. The training has been great over the last few months, and we will continue what we are doing. The situation we are in, we could all get the hump and think, 'sod it'. But I think you are giving up if you are going to be like that. That's throwing the towel in, and that's one thing we haven't done throughout all of this. It would be easy to say, 'we got 10 points deducted, what can we do?' But we are trying our hardest. After the deduction, we got the points back pretty quickly." Argyle must overturn a seven-point deficit between now and the end of the season to avoid relegation. It will be far from easy, but Duguid said: "We are still in with a chance, and as long as we have got that chance we will be fighting to stay up. That's all we can do. And if we do stay up I think it gives whoever does come into the club a better foundation to build on." Duguid and his team-mates are desperately hoping there will be a successful outcome to the talks aimed at finding a buyer for the club. He said: "Every day you are just waiting to see what's going on. We are as intrigued as everyone else. We get a little bit of insight, every now and then, but basically we know as much as everyone else. Sometimes it seems as if we take one step forward and then two back. It's just the uncertainty of it all, but that's the way it is and we have got to get on with it. When we are playing, we aren't thinking about all that."
Curtis Nelson's feet will be firmly on the ground at Peterborough United on Saturday and not distracted by his England debut in midweek, according to Peter Reid. Reid considers Nelson's call-up and appearance for England under-18s as an 'honour for the lad and even more so for the football club'. He said: "I've no worries about Nelson coming back from England duty. Being called up for your country is a great honour and I'm sure the lad was as proud as he could be when he came off the bench and went onto the pitch. It's a proud moment in any player's career and he has rightly been given his chance. It's an honour for the lad and even more so for this football club. But we want everyone sharp and on top of their game on Saturday, but I've no worries about Nelson being anything other than committed to the cause. He's built a good partnership at the back with Zubar, after he had done the same with Reda Johnson before him. If anything, Italy will have given the lad a boost. I certainly don't think it will be a distraction." Reid has returned to Plymouth after a scouting trip in the north of England with next season in mind. "I've looked at some players and took in a couple of matches. Basically, it's just a bit of forward planning," he said. "It was profitable as these sort of trips go. But, like I said, it's all about the future now really."
Argyle's administrators say they have ‘ceased dialogue’ with one of the parties trying to take over the club. A consortium led by Paul Buttivant had been asked to prove they had the cash in place by Monday evening but they have still not done so. Brendan Guilfoyle confirmed that he had now ceased dialogue with the group until funds are proved. A source close to Buttivant last night insisted they were not out of the race, promising their position would be clarified today. Guilfoyle appears to now be focusing his attentions on two other bidders, James Brent and an unnamed Irish consortium, with whom Guilfoyle is due to meet in London today.
Argyle will receive a six-figure sum should QPR be promoted to the Premier League this season. When Jamie Mackie was sold last summer the transfer fee was not disclosed, but reports have now confirmed it was £400,000, with a further £150,000 payable should QPR be promoted. However, 20 per cent of that, £30,000, would have to be passed on to Exeter City.
Curtis Nelson made his debut for England under-18s in their 1-1 draw in Italy yesterday afternoon, coming on as a 72nd minute substitute.
Argyle reserves lost 4-1 to Forest Green Rovers yesterday, the goal scored by Luke Summerfield. Adam Sadler was delighted to see Summerfield complete 90 minutes and admitted it would be nice to have him back before the end of the season. "Luke's performance was reasonably good and physically he's looking better" said Sadler. "It's a little milestone in terms of his comeback and to get 90 minutes will be a real bonus for him." When asked if it is possible Summerfield will return to the first-team this season, Sadler added: "That's going to quite a tall ask just on the quality of opposition we've got coming up and the physical demands which are going to be on the boys but you certainly wouldn't rule it out. We'll monitor him over the next few weeks and if we get him close to the level he can cope then - we've seen today his range of passing and his technical ability on the ball so he'd certainly be an asset." Despite the result, Sadler was pleased with a few individuals. He said: "In terms of the game, there were a lot of young boys out there and there are lots of bits and pieces within the game to take positives from. As I've said a lot of times about reserve team football, it's not about the result, it's very much about those lads expressing themselves and showing what they can do. You're looking for the individuals to step forward. I think the challenge for all those players now, with the first-team having such a small squad, is to do enough between now and the end of the season to catch the eye and get in and amongst that first-team. That's the challenge, but there were some good little performances. We've got to be better at both ends of the field. Without question in our defending but also at the other end where we need to be more ruthless. However, between the boxes, some of our football was good and I think we probably dominated the ball without really creating too much so there are little bonuses in there." Argyle: Chenoweth, Quistin, Richards, Pearce, Clifford, Summerfield, Mitchell, Harper-Penman, Young, Jake Baker, Matt Rickard. Subs – Copp, Sims (not used - Head, Berry, Varazinskis).
Kari Arnason has claimed Argyle have 'nothing to lose' as they enter the last four weeks of the season. He said: "The 10-point deduction was devastating and it has been an uphill struggle since then. But often when you have got your back against the wall you come out fighting. I think that's what's going on now. We have got nothing to lose and we are just playing our football, which we should have been doing the whole season." Arnason had been confident going into the season that Argyle could challenge for promotion, but they have struggled for consistency. And that was even before the financial crisis which has crippled the club and led to the departure of several players. Arnason said: "It has been a strange season. At the beginning, I thought we had a really strong team, with Nooney, Brad and players like that. When we lost our top scorer it was a big blow for us. I think we have played some really good football without them, but we haven't always got the results we deserved. Bournemouth at home, when we lost 2-1, was like that. It's those little things that hurt you." Argyle's future is in doubt but the squad are playing on, despite not being paid any wages since December. Arnason said: "The lack of communication is the thing that has annoyed the players the most. We don't know what's going on, but I don't want to go into detail about that. It's quite frustrating, but like we showed against Walsall it's about playing football. Everybody on the team loves to play football and wants to win games." Arnason returned from a two-match ban to play in the victory over Walsall, a suspension which gave him time to recover from a groin injury which he suffered at Carlisle United on March 15th. Arnason was limping when he left Home Park on Saturday, but he was not to concerned about that. He said: "My groin tightened up in the first half, but I didn't pull it. It was from my last injury, I think. I'm not making excuses but it was roasting warm and I have been injured, so I haven't been able to run as much as I wanted to. Even though I was suspended you should keep fit, and I would have, but I couldn't do much. I trained three times before the game on Saturday and felt alright. It wasn't that bad. I was just blowing a little bit in the last 15 minutes." Arnason has been impressed with the contribution made by Yannick Bolasie in recent matches, and said: "The lad has been absolutely brilliant. I didn't play at Leyton Orient last Tuesday but the lads told me he was very good. He was very good on Saturday as well, and his decision-making is getting better. He's not always taking a man on, but trying to play a one-two, because then he can use his speed better. He has got a bright future." The win over Walsall also saw Simon Walton make his first start since recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury. Walton played behind Arnason in a 4-2-3-1 formation and Arnason said: "He worked hard and is physically strong, which helps in this league. Simon is a good player and he showed that on Saturday. He's calm on the ball, which is exactly what we need so we can pass it. Although he's only 23 he has good experience."
Trialists Cameron Mitchell and Ludovic Quistin will again play for Argyle reserves when they play Forest Green Rovers at Home Park today. Both played in the reserves' win against Bournemouth last Tuesday with Mitchell, a second year scholar at Stoke City, scoring one of the goals. He also lined up for the under-18s when they drew at Cheltenham Town last Saturday, but was substituted in the second half because of a hamstring injury. Quistin is a Guadeloupe international right-back who recently had a spell at Forest Green. The game will also see Luke Summerfield continue his comeback from a knee injury.
Staff at Argyle say they are under ‘unbearable pressure’ amid growing uncertainty at Home Park. Office staff and players, who had already agreed to work without pay until the end of April, have been told to expect just 15 per cent of their May salaries. It is reported that at least two players have been forced out of their flats after struggling to afford their rent. Speaking anonymously, a senior member of staff said: "It has been tolerable until now, but every day that goes by it gets a little harder. There are people, a lot of people, who are under unbearable pressure with their mortgages. We need to get this resolved now; there are people at breaking point." Peter Ridsdale said morale at Home Park had become ‘fragile’. He said: "This football club is being kept alive by the goodwill of its staff and players. Without them, it will implode. There are some very, very highly-stressed individuals who just cannot carry on much longer. That, frankly, is a direct result of the shambles that the old board has left behind. They left everything in such a mess that the football club is being held together by a sticking plaster." The sale of Jack Stephens to Southampton unlocked enough cash to pay players and staff 15 per cent of their May salaries, but they must sign a new month-long 'deed of deferral' in exchange. Brendan Guilfoyle said: "The situation with the staff upsets me; there are a lot of suffering people in real hardship now. We all want to move this process on as quickly as possible."
Rory Fallon is nearing the end of his time at Argyle but still remains as committed to the cause as ever. Fallon was a key performer in the win against Walsall on Saturday, 48 hours after Peter Reid had ruled him out of the match because of a groin injury. Fallon said: "I just want to help the team out. The boys are struggling and if the gaffer needs me then I will play, unless I can't walk. I felt like I could do it and I got through it. I'm glad we that won and, hopefully, we can keep winning. We have got six more games and they are cup finals for us. It's going to be tough but I still believe we can stay up." Fallon revealed that complete rest had eased his injury and led to his unexpected inclusion in the team. He said: "It calmed down a lot, so I could play. I didn't need a fitness test. It was only near the end when I started to feel it. We all played well together, so it wasn't too hard for me. I just did what I could do, and I'm thankful we got the win." Fallon could have effectively ended his Argyle career already had he taken the chance to sign on loan for Bristol Rovers last month, but chose to stay at Home Park. Argyle's administrators had been keen on the deal because Rovers would have paid a loan fee for Fallon. "I just didn't feel it was right," said Fallon. "The club have been good to me and I have had some good years here, although it has also been tough. I think people would have remembered me as a quitter had I gone with seven games to go. It wouldn't have been right of me to do that. I'm confident that something will happen at the end of the season. I just wanted to give something back to the club because they have helped me out so well. That's the least I could do really. I love this club and I'm really settled in Plymouth. It's just sad to see what has happened. When I first came here we were looking to go up into the Premier League. Now we could be relegated to League Two. But, no matter what happens, I believe that having new owners will help the club in the long run, and strengthen it. At the end of the day, I think Plymouth, as a city, needs a football club. That's why the lads are not kicking up a fuss about not being paid because we want a football club here. The only way it's going to happen is if we forfeit our wages."
Simon Walton played a key part in Argyle's win over Walsall on Saturday and was praised by Adam Sadler for his overall performance. "We were really pleased with Walton," he said. "First and foremost, he's a very good technician. Walton, Fletcher and Arnason are all lads who are capable of playing a passing game. I thought Walton did very well, both with and without the ball. We saw him tracking back and intercepting, winning headers and tackling. It was really pleasing to see that in the middle part of the pitch. That's so important for us. If we get Fletcher at it, Arnason at it and now Walton at it I think we have a good chance to push on for the six remaining games." Argyle dominated the first half and created a series of chances, but could not make the breakthrough until Yannick Bolasie put them ahead in the 51st minute. "Bolasie works really hard," said Sadler. "He's a young lad who is desperate to learn and improve. Every day he's asking questions, and he's on the training ground practising. I'm just really pleased the last couple of months have been very positive for Yala. I think he has been one of our main threats, one of our star men, of late." Argyle wrapped up the win when Rory Patterson scored in the 88th minute. "I'm pleased for Rory because he's a hard-working lad," said Sadler. "Every day he's practising his finishing and we have seen an improvement. We are all made up for him in the dressing room. He took his goal really well. He had to ride the challenge initially. He showed great composure to sidefoot it in. A lot of players would have blasted it at that point." Walsall had been threatening to get an equaliser before Patterson put Argyle 2-0 up. The closest they came to scoring was in the 77th minute when a 25-yard free-kick was superbly tipped away by David Button. Sadler added: "From the angle I was stood at, I thought it was in. I thought it had beaten him, but at that last-split second he produced a great top hand save. He spent a lot of the game not doing much, in terms of shot-stopping. So to make such a critical save in the late stages was excellent."
The Argyle Youth team drew 0-0 at Cheltenham Town on Saturday. Argyle: Varazinskis, Bradley, Clifford, Berry, Sawyer, Richards, Mitchell, Copp, Rickard, Sims, Clarvis. Subs – Jones, Hart (not used - Ramday, Walton).
Adam Sadler was full of praise for Argyle's players after the win over Walsall. Sadler said: "Whatever happens with the club and our own personal circumstances really has been put on the back burner, and we're concentrating on every single game. We are football people and that's what takes our minds away from personal problems away from the club. The drive back from Orient was a long, tough one but we were a lot closer to our best today and it was much more like it, and we expect that from them right the way through now. We've got a big game next Saturday - a really tough game away at Peterborough, and we'll have to be very close to our best collectively. But the win gives them a really good result and performance to go into that game full of confidence. We've got a manager here who has got so much experience, I think he's well into the 700s in terms of games he's managed. He's been around for donkey's years! But having somebody like that certainly helps. Having good leadership gives us a good focal point and somebody to rely on who knows what he's doing. We can't affect anything outside the walls of the stadium - that's been the message from the manager ever since the problems first came into the club. Training has been bright and as sharp as ever, and I honestly mean this: you wouldn't tell from Monday to Friday what goes on at the club and that the lads are facing the circumstances they are in terms of their own personal situations. It's about the people in this club and everybody associated with the club, it's about looking after the people who are here working tirelessly - for nothing at the moment as it stands - we've got to do it for them. And first and foremost for our fans, who I have to say today were outstanding. The attendance and the support they give the team - they've been like that all season. At Orient the other night they were incredible, so it was important that we did it for them today."
Simon Walton could not have wished for a better comeback after more than two years out of the Argyle first-team. After being named as the man-of-the-match in the win over Walsall he said: "That was the first time I have won an Argyle game as a starter. It went quickly, especially the second half. I surprised myself, in all honesty. Once the adrenalin gets going and with the game going the way it was, you really don't want to come off. The role works a treat, especially when you've got the attacking ability we've got. Arnie helps out as well. Saying that, everyone all helped out. We defended from Rory. Hence the clean sheet." The victory was worlds apart from Tuesday's defeat at Leyton Orient. "You can't put your finger on it." said Walton. "On Tuesday, we got off to the worst possible start; today, from the first minute, we looked like a team that had nothing to lose and everything to gain. We went for it. We put pressure on them; we got about them; and we thoroughly deserved to win 2-0 at least. It was chalk and cheese, hence the reason we are where we are." Despite dominating the first half, Argyle were unable to breakthrough, and Walton added: "When you have as good a first half as we did and you are still 0-0, you start to think 'Is it going to be one of those days?' but, credit to the lads, we kept at it and 2-0 didn't flatter us. The lads who got the goals did their bit but the back four and the goalkeeper can be very proud of the clean sheet." Walton said he never felt worried about making his comeback, even though it came earlier than predicted and is hoping his own rehabilitation will coincide with an Argyle revival. "I'm quite a tough person, tackling and getting stuck in is my game," he said. "If I lose that, I am struggling. The psychological thing with the knee was never a problem; the fitness, being out since July, inevitably is. I've still got a way to go. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not at my peak, but just to be playing, or even training, has been a bonus. I was told to basically write this season off. So, to be starting a game with six games left is brilliant. The situation and the position of the club is a nightmare but, from a selfish point of view, it is pleasing." He admits that the Argyle fans have still yet to see the real Simon Walton, but is determined to rectify that. "I've got to prove something to them, and got to prove to something myself," he said. "I'm not the sort of person who doesn't like a challenge. By no means have I acquitted myself to the best of my ability. It's been a nightmare, to be honest. Hopefully, today was the start of the uphill turn. It's pleasing, but it's only one game. There's a long way to go and a lot of work to do but miracles do happen and, if we keep doing what we did today, individually and as a team, then we've got a chance."
Argyle beat Walsall 2-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Yannick Bolasie after 51 minutes and Rory Patterson (88). Argyle: Button, Duguid, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Bolasie, Fletcher, Arnason, Walton, Fallon, Mason. Subs - Patterson, Harper-Penman, (not used – Larrieu, N’Gala, Young, Timar. Peterlin). Attendance - 7,995.
A new party has entered the race to buy Argyle. An unnamed Irish consortium made a formal move for Argyle yesterday morning. The Dublin-based investment group put its expression of interest to lawyer David Hinchliffe, who is working on behalf of Argyle's administrators. It is understood the consortium has previous experience in property development, but not football. A consortium led by Paul Buttivant is still circling, but administrators have now given them a deadline of Monday to make a firm move. Buttivant visited Home Park for the first time on Tuesday and was given a tour by staff expecting insurance assessors. Brendan Guilfoyle stated: "We have told Mr Buttivant he really needs to prove funds and let us have an offer as a matter of urgency." Guilfoyle is hoping publishing administrators' proposals and a Companies Voluntary will bring about interest from further parties. He is waiting for the Football League to clear the way before releasing the details early next week.
Peter Reid has heaped praise on Yannick Bolasie for his recent performances. He said: "I think he was our best player the other night at Orient. He put crosses in that we should have got on the end of. There were three I can think of where had the strikers been on the move they were goalscoring opportunities. He has been brilliant lately. He has been our major threat. He was disappointed when he got sent-off against Yeovil, but he has bounced back and done great for us."
Peter Ridsdale is planning ahead for next season, even though he does not know whether he will be at Argyle then. Ridsdale is likely to become Argyle chairman on a permanent basis should James Brent take over. But he is not expected to remain at Home Park should Paul Buttivant's consortium become the new owners. However, Ridsdale believes it is vital that planning for next season starts now, so he has begun that task. He also admitted he had been disappointed with attendances for recent matches at Home Park. Ridsdale said: "I'm in a difficult position because I'm in limbo really. I'm here as acting chairman at the moment. On Thursday morning I was in talks about commercial sales and season ticket sales for next year. But I don't know if I'm going to be here for a day or for five years. All I can say is that Peter Reid and I have talked about next season – if I'm still here. If I am, I can assure all of our supporters we will be putting a squad together in the summer that we believe will get us back to League One sooner rather than later. I'm here at the moment to do a job which I said I would do, which is to make sure the club is still alive. If I stay beyond that, and we are in League Two, it won't be for long, I have to tell you. We don't intend sticking around in League Two for a long time, and I don't mean getting relegated further. So we are planning already for next season, but we are in strange situation because we don't know who's going to be around. It's frustrating because I want to get people excited about next season. I want to get people excited about what our plans are for refreshing the squad. I want people to sign up for season tickets and to show the club was worth saving. One of my frustrations at the moment is everybody tells me how important the club is to the city, I need to see that through the turnstiles. For reasons I understand, we are not seeing the overt support through the turnstiles saying 'this club is important to us'. We are from those who have always supported us, but what I want to see is how important we are to the city. People will say 'it starts with what you produce on the park', which I understand. But if you assume it's our job to get it right on the park, my view therefore is it's the city's job to hopefully show how important this club is by buying season tickets and wanting to be part of what we build." Ridsdale is now waiting for an outcome to the talks about the future ownership of the club. He added: "We are in this limbo situation, but whether I'm here or not, somebody needs the pre-planning for next season to take place. If I walk out of here, it will all be prepared for somebody else just to launch it. And if I'm here, we will launch it. We will see."
Paul Buttivant has publicly confirmed that he is trying to take over Argyle. Buttivant is a property developer and a Conservative councillor. He has confirmed he is leading a consortium in a joint venture with a European investment fund manager. The consortium said yesterday that they were awaiting ‘clarification of certain issues’ from administrators and added: “In terms of our aspirations, football is, and will remain, at the very heart of our immediate, medium and long term plans. It is our belief that Plymouth can support a viable football club in the long-term and that the current problems are the result of trying to reach beyond the financial capability of the club. For any serious bidder, it must be a priority to ensure the club’s financial crisis is not repeated. The club must be restructured, rebuilt and taken forward with more prudence. Our aspirations are realistic and are designed to create a viable football business that is sustainable, debt-free and able to thrive operationally, within its financial means.”
Peter Reid was delighted to introduce another youngster to the first-team, when Jed Harper-Penman made his debut on Tuesday. He said: "I brought the sub on and he did a smashing little job for us. You're always wondering who to bring on in those situations and the lad did well against Torquay in the reserves recently so I just thought I'd see how he handled the Football League. He went in there with confidence and handled the ball well, couldn't affect the game but it was a good experience, and if there is a silver lining then we are giving the young players experience - Mason's played a lot of games and certainly Curtis Nelson has played more games than I thought he would, and acquitted himself really well, so that's always a plus sign." Reid admitted there has been contact from other clubs about Nelson. He added: "There's a few people who have been on to me about him. It's something I'm aware of but I don't think he played well against Orient. To be fair to the lad, he's done very well in trying circumstances. As a young player, you're not going to play well in every game, the best players in the world have bad games, but certainly Curtis has done himself proud this season. Do I think he'll go? I think there's a possibility. But if you'd ask me if I thought Ronaldo would go from Manchester United, I'd have gone 'no'. In football, everyone's for sale, and when you're in the situation that we're in at Argyle, it's a given. There's a few players gone from this football club who I didn't want to see go, but sometimes that's out of your hands. When you bring young players through, you want to keep them, but the way it is at the moment makes that difficult." Tottenham Hotspur are one of several Premier League clubs tracking Nelson, according to Peter Ridsdale. Sunderland are another keeping close tabs on him, and it seems inevitable he will leave Home Park this summer. Ridsdale said: "There has been a lot of interest in Curtis. I didn't see who was there from Spurs on Tuesday but I was told they had representatives at the game. They are one of a number of Premier League clubs who have been watching him, and I'm not surprised. I think he has been outstanding." Nelson was part of Stoke City's centre of excellence for seven years before being released by them in 2009, when he was snapped up by Argyle. Ridsdale said: "I know Curtis came via Stoke, but we have had an attitude to blooding youngsters, in part through necessity but also because we have had some good kids come through, that is to the credit of this football club. In the ideal world, I would want to build the future team around the youngsters. But we are in administration, which is not an ideal world. And also, let's not kid ourselves, if we end up being in League Two and a Premier League club comes knocking on the door you can't refuse a lad the opportunity to go. I would have thought if we are being pragmatic about things, the likelihood is we will maximise the value in the current squad to give us cash to build a new squad. Nobody that I have seen is going to walk into this club and start throwing big bucks at it, and nor do I expect them to. When I was at Cardiff City, whatever people say about my time there, we brought in £30 million in cash for players in five years. That's how much we raised, and every year we did better in the league, so you can be smart in the transfer market. I don't know if I'm going to be around next season, but if Curtis Nelson goes because there is a bid it will be only to make the club stronger." Argyle sold Jack Stephens for £150,000 to Southampton earlier this week, a deal sanctioned by administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, and it could result in more money for the club at a later date. Ridsdale said: "I didn't do the deal. It was done by the administrator. But it was a cash deal and there are further payments to be made in the future." Ridsdale would not comment on how much more money the club could potentially receive for Stephens, but added: "If he becomes a very successful player we will benefit." The money for Stephens has been held by the Football League because Argyle have outstanding debts to football creditors but Ridsdale said: "I'm told they will releasing it to the administrator by today. I did check with the Football League in advance that we would be receiving the money. One of the reasons why the deal was done now is because we want to make sure we have got enough money to keep alive until we can get a deal done for a new owner. The urgency would have been less if we had thought the Football League were going to keep the cash. We have done the deal now because we need to keep the club alive, and we believe we will get the cash."
Peter Reid has revealed he has met Argyle's potential new owner, James Brent. However, Reid would not comment on when or where the talks took place, or what was discussed. All he would say was: "I have met him on one occasion." Brent confirmed this week he was ready to rescue Argyle from going out of business but property developer Paul Buttivant is also leading a consortium who are ready to make an offer for the club, so the uncertainty over the fate of the club remains for the time being. Reid is optimistic, however, a resolution to the saga is now getting near. He said: "I think it will be a massive boost for everybody when a new owner is found, and we can go forward from there. Like I have said on numerous occasions, the most important thing is the football club keeps going, which I'm sure will happen." Even though Argyle's ownership remains unclear, Reid is trying, as best he can, to plan for next season. He said: "The first part of the equation is getting an owner in, which is crucial. That's the catalyst for everything else, and the sooner the better. I think everyone is quite confident it will be sorted out, which is tremendous for the football club. It's what we need at this moment in time." Reid admitted he was already working on a 'blueprint' for next term. He added: "I will have a list of players I would be interested in. Obviously, budgets come into the equation but, whatever happens, you have got to plan, and that's what we are doing. You wouldn't be doing your job if you didn't do that. Getting a new owner for the football club is the major priority, but I can't do anything about that. The administrators deal with that situation. And, without wishing to sound boring, I just want to get a result against Walsall tomorrow." One example of planning for the future was when two trialists played for the reserves in their 3-0 win against Bournemouth on Tuesday. They were midfielder Cameron Mitchell, a second-year scholar at Stoke City, and Guadeloupe international defender Ludovic Quistin. Mitchell has already been told he will be released by Stoke at the end of this season, and Quistin played for Forest Green Rovers in a reserve team match against Argyle last month. Reid did not see the trialists in person, but said: "I don't think there is anything wrong with getting players in and having a look at situations."
Rory Fallon has been ruled out of Argyle's game against Walsall tomorrow after a recurrence of a groin injury. Carl Fletcher is also rated as 50/50 by Peter Reid because of a foot injury and Chris Clark is still sidelined by his knee ligament injury. But, on the plus side, Jim Paterson has recovered from a bout of bronchitis and is set to play at left-back and Kari Arnason returns from a two-match suspension. Fallon has been struggling with a groin injury for some time and Reid said: "We rested him for two weeks but he had soreness in the groin after the game on Tuesday. It's too sore to carry on and the medical people will have to monitor the situation. He has been managing it for much of the season." Reid did not want to discuss how he would make up for the absence of Fallon in the game against Walsall. He said: "Whoever gets in there has got an opportunity to go and play. I have got a few options, but I would rather keep them to myself at this moment in time." Reid hopes Fletcher will be able to lead out Argyle tomorrow, despite taking a blow to a foot during the defeat by Orient. He said: "Knowing Fletch he's a determined character and if I was a betting man I would put money on him being out there, but his foot is sore." Arnason’s 10th yellow card of the season led to his suspension but he also suffered a groin injury in the draw at Carlisle United and would not have been fit for Argyle's last two matches anyway. Reid said: "We have given him a couple of days off when he needed it, but he has been working hard and will be available for selection tomorrow, which is a bonus for us." Clark's knee injury is showing an improvement, but not fast enough for him to be available tomorrow. Reid said: "He has done some straight running, and he's going to start twisting and turning, but the physios have told me it's too soon for him this weekend."
Peter Reid hopes Luke Summerfield will be ready for a return to first team duty before the end of the season. Summerfield made his comeback from two knee injuries in the reserves' win against Bournemouth on Tuesday. Reid said: "He got a good 45 in, which is another bonus for us. Obviously, this game against Walsall comes too soon for him, but he can get in full training. Hopefully, he will be available for selection sooner rather than later."
Former Argyle vice-chairman Peter Skinnard has passed away, aged 80.
Peter Reid will not tolerate Argyle letting their standards slip despite their probable relegation and was not prepared to make any excuses for the lacklustre display in the defeat at Leyton Orient on Tuesday. He said: "I just thought all through the game we were a yard off the pace. It was difficult conditions out there, but we didn't win headers in our box or their box, and we didn't win second balls in the middle of the park. I just thought we weren't at our best, and that disappoints me. The players have been tremendous in a difficult situation, and I can only think of a handful of performances where they haven't been up to it. Tuesday night was one of them, and we need to improve for the weekend. If we had got beaten and I thought we had competed as well as we could have done, I wouldn't have had a problem with that. But, hand on heart, I don't think we did and I'm looking for a vast improvement at the weekend." Argyle seem doomed to relegation for a second successive relegation but Reid is not prepared to contemplate that yet. He said: "We have got some difficult games but there are still 21 points to play for." Argyle were without six players because of injury, illness or suspension on Tuesday, which meant Reid had only 14 professionals to call upon. He added: "Listen, what we have got is what we have got. There's no point moaning about it. We have got to get on with it." Reid recalled David Button against Orient and explained he made the decision because of the poor state of Orient's playing surface. He said: "It was nothing against Romain, but with the pitch like it was I think David is a better kicker in certain situations. It was just one of those gut feelings that a manager has and, to be fair, I don't think David had a chance with either of the goals."
Simon Walton returned to first team duty against Leyton Orient after his recovery from a cruciate knee ligament injury, his first appearance for Argyle since February 2009. Peter Reid said: "It's good to get a player like him back. He has had a bad injury. When you have been out a long time, you always wonder how you are going to feel until you get a first team game. He got a booking, which was one of those things, but he got 20 minutes under his belt, which will put him in good stead for the rest of the season." Jed Harper-Penman made his debut in the game as an 83rd minute substitute. Reid said: "I thought Jed was booked for a ride in the Grand National, he's that small! But it's great for a young player to get on and make his debut."
Argyle are now nine points away from safety with just seven games to go after suffering a 2-0 defeat at Leyton Orient last night. The Pilgrims, who needed three apprentices to make up their squad of 17, made the worst possible start, conceding two goals in the first 13 minutes. Seven minutes from time, Peter Reid handed a debut to 17-year-old Jed Harper-Penman, who has taken over the number 10 shirt previously worn by Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Luke Summerfield made his first appearance in an Argyle shirt for eight months in a young Argyle reserves line-up at home to Bournemouth yesterday. Summerfield, who has been sidelined since the summer with two separate medial knee ligament injuries, played the whole of the first-half in centre midfield alongside trialist Cameron Mitchell. 18-year-old Mitchell, who is being released by Stoke, was joined in the home side's line-up by another trialist, defender Ludovic Quistin, who was in the Forest Green Rovers side who drew 0-0 with Argyle last month. Goals from striker Liam Head after 33 minutes, Jared Sims straight after the break and a fine individual effort from youngster Mitchell on 56 minutes gave the Pilgrims a well-deserved 3-0 victory. Argyle: Chenoweth, Quistin, Clifford, Mitchell, Sawyer, Richards, Berry, Summerfield, Head, Sims, Copp. Subs - Clarvis, Bradley, Ramday (not used - Varazinskis, Elcock, Harvey).
James Brent has indicated that neither the future ownership of Home Park nor immediate development are critical to his plans for stabilising Argyle. He said: "The priority is to get the football club on a sound financial footing. The development potential around the stadium is actually very, very limited. The football club owns a very small part of that land and the Area Action Plan around Home Park is very constrained. It's the green lung of the city." Mr Brent wants Argyle to be debt-free, thanks to strict corporate governance and increased non-football use of Home Park. Lead administrator Brendan Guilfoyle met the former banker again yesterday as work continues on a Company Voluntary Arrangement. Mr Guilfoyle said: "We've tried to sift out the time-wasters. Now we welcome James' involvement and urge everyone to work with him. Time is running out."
Argyle lost 2-0 at Leyton Orient. Argyle: Button, N’Gala, Zubar, Nelson, Duguid, Patterson, Peterlin, Fletcher, Bolasie, Fallon, Mason. Subs - Walton, Harper-Penman (not used – Larrieu, Timar, Baker, Young). Attendance - 3,255.
Argyle's administrators are urging club stakeholders to support a buy-out bid from the Akkeron Group, a hotel company owned by Devon-based former banker James Brent. Joint administrator Brendan Guilfoyle said: "Akkeron's offer will provide a better solution to all Plymouth Argyle's stakeholders than liquidation. Time is running out, and I would encourage everyone to engage with Akkeron in a constructive and timely manner to save Plymouth Argyle." A statement from the administrators added that they would "give Akkeron full assistance in seeking to address the conditions that they have set and would encourage stakeholders to support their offer."
Devon entrepreneur James Brent says he is aiming to be in charge of Plymouth Argyle by the summer. Through his Akkeron Group, the North Devon-based investor and former Plymouth City Development Company chairman said was ready to pump enough cash into Argyle to stabilise the club. Increased use of Home Park for non-football events could provide a cash boost without the immediate need for development, he said, while any "modest profits" would go back into the football club. Mr Brent, who is not an Argyle fan himself, said: "The club needs to live within its means. I am desperately sorry for the people who will lose money. Hopefully, we can win back the trust of the supply chain. What I am not going to do is pour a fortune into the club beyond the initial investment; it is incredibly bad for football clubs if they become dependent on a benefactor. What we need to do is bring the cost base down very quickly to a level that is sustainable." Mr Brent said he would become one of four non-executive directors, with an executive chairman and financial director completing Argyle's new-look board. Although the director vacancies would be filled on merit, Mr Brent said he would be "engaging deeply" with the Argyle Fans' Trust, who "have a major role to play in the future governance of the club."
Mr Brent describes himself as a "reluctant bidder" but insists he would be an "enthusiastic owner". He told the administrators early on that he was a 'backup' option. He was prepared to step in – but only if a suitable buyer could not be found. Mr Brent added: "The intention of our interest was always that we would sit there as an alternative to liquidation. We've got to the stage where we're sufficiently worried that there aren't any other bidders." The former Citibank banker has set aside a strictly-capped seven-figure sum for the deal."
Surrey-based businessman Paul Buttivant is preparing a rival bid to buy Argyle out of administration. The former Watford youth player, now a Conservative councillor, is reported to be leading a consortium made up of 'high net worth individuals' from the UK and United States who would pitch in through a purpose-built investment fund. A major European property development firm would then provide financial backing for 'enabling development' on land near Home Park, proceeds of which would be used to finance the club. A source close to Buttivant said the bid would be sent to the club's administrator by Thursday. It is understood that Buttivant's bid has no links with previous members of the board, or those currently involved with running the club. In 2004, Buttivant launched a similar, but ultimately unsuccessful, bid to buy Wrexham who were also in administration at the time. The Paul Buttivant Consortium has been attempting to get involved with a football club ever since, and even made enquiries about buying Argyle several years ago, whilst the club were in the Championship. Buttivant's bid is said to prioritise football, with additional leisure and entertainment facilities also on the agenda to help make the business viable. Additionally, it is believed that Buttivant is willing to engage in talks with Brent about the possibility of a joint deal to buy the club, however confidentiality agreements prevent the two parties from holding discussions. Former board members Keith Todd and Sir Roy Gardner, who have struck a deal in principle with Mr Brent over disputed mortgage debts, are also understood to remain in talks relating to a potential separate bid.
The Argyle Fans' Trust last night "warmly welcomed" Mr Brent's plans for the club. Former Argyle director Peter Jones added: "James Brent's involvement comes as an enormous relief, not just for the football club but for the city of Plymouth as a whole."
Jack Stephens has completed his transfer to Southampton, reported on the Saints' website to be a 3-year deal for a straight one-off fee of £150,000. As the former Torpoint Community College student is still just 16 and not yet eligible for a professional contract, the move takes place outside the Football League's transfer window, although he will not be eligable for first-team action this season.
The Pilgrims' away game at Leyton Orient tonight will be their first for 17 days and Romain Larrieu says the players are looking forward to getting back to action, kicking off a busy run-in. "It has been a long time," said Romain, "It's not very easy, especially this late in the season, to have a couple of weeks with no games, but the gaffer decided to give us a rest and just keep us ticking over, which was good. Training has been decent. We can't wait to get going. It's been difficult because we weren't playing when everyone else was. I even found myself cheering for Exeter on Saturday." Argyle face a tough challenge to stay up, but Larrieu insists it can be done, and that there is belief in the dressing room that the task is not beyond them. "It's the same scenario as we were in when we had ten points deducted last month. It's exactly the same. If we win our next three games, that margin will be gone. We've done it once - a very short time ago - so we can do it again. It's the same players. We need to believe that. That's all we can do. Get as many points as we can."
Argyle's small squad is further depleted for tonight's game at the Matchroom Stadium. Jim Paterson is sidelined by bronchitis and Chris Clark is ruled out by knee ligament damage. With Onismor Bhasera likely to be out for the rest of the season and Kari Arnason completing a two-match suspension, apprentices Jake Baker and Jed Harper-Penman have been called into the first-team squad. Baker, 18, and 17-year-old Harper-Penman are set to be among six Argyle substitutes tonight, with Luke Young, nearing the end of his second year as an Argyle apprentice, also expected to be on the bench.
Argyle will send out a very young side for their reserve team fixture against Bournemouth at Home Park today (2pm) in the Totesport.com Combination.
Argyle's players have again signed an agreement to play without being paid. The Professional Footballers Association will step in to help the unpaid players for the third time this season. Club Captain and PFA representative Romain Larrieu said: "We are going to sign another deferral for April. We've been asked to do it and that's the only way forward for us and for the club, so we are going to do that. And the PFA is, at the minute, stepping in to help us out. It's not ideal but we have got our heads round it. There's no point moaning about it because it's been so long it doesn't really matter. All we can do is play football, and try to keep the club going. Hopefully this situation will be resolved soon. It's not fair on the people who work for this club, for the players or those in the office." The PFA will provide a loan to cover at least part of the wages due to the players, and Larrieu expressed the players' gratitude. "They've been ever-present since day one when we started to get paid late," he said. "They've been looking over every deferral we've been asked to sign just to see if legally all contracts are protected. That's what they are there for and they've been doing their job, which all the lads are very grateful for. The contracts of the young players are very, very low. We've got quite a few of them and they've been playing a lot of games so they rely on appearance money. They haven't seen any of that. It's been difficult for them, but it could be the best lesson that you can get as a footballer in your first full season in a professional team. It's not always rosy."
Damien Johnson has expressed his disappointment in seeing Argyle end up in administration. Johnson, who has been playing for Huddersfield Town before a serious cruciate ligament injury ended his season, is well aware that he is still an Argyle player. He said: "I'm keeping abreast of things at the club. I really enjoyed the six months I had down there. It was disappointing we were relegated last season, but I loved the area and all the people at the club were very good to me. It's heartbreaking to see what has happened there. I hope they can get themselves a buyer and the investment they need to get out of administration. They need to get themselves on a solid financial footing and start the rebuilding process." Johnson has been pleased with how his recovery has gone since his operation, which was performed by the same surgeon as operated on Simon Walton last August. Johnson said: "My operation was a success, thank God. Everything is going according to plan. With these injuries, they are long-term ones so you have got to be patient. I'm not going to play this season so there isn't a mad rush, which I think is a good thing. There is no pressure on me to get back before the end of the season and I can concentrate on my rehab in Huddersfield." Johnson keeps in regular contact with Pilgrims' physiotherapist Paul Atkinson to update him on his progress. He added: "I had moved out of my rented accommodation in Plymouth and have got a place up north, so it made sense for me to stay up here. Both clubs were very good to me about it."
The Argyle youth team drew 1-1 at Yeovil Town on Saturday, the goal scored by Matt Rickard. Argyle: Varazinskis, Sawyer, Clifford, Young (Clarvis), Pearce (Hart), Richards, Harper-Penman, Berry, Rickard, Copp, Baker (Sims). Sub not used - Ord.
Jack Stephens is set to sign a four-year contract with Southampton today, subject to passing a medical. Reports suggest Southampton will pay an initial £145,000, an amount which could eventually double, with add-ons based on first team appearances and a senior international call-up. Peter Reid said: "He's a young boy just starting his career. He has played in the first team here and this move is a good opportunity for him. He has certainly got all the attributes to go on and become a player. He handles the ball well and he has a good physique, and he's going to grow even more, you can see that. I wish Jack all the very best for the future. It's just a pity that, at this moment in time, the club haven't got the ability to say 'no' to these kind of offers. That's the shame of it all, but it's a fact of life for us."
It remains unclear whether Luke Summerfield will return to action from a knee operation before the end of the season. Peter Reid said: "We did a session early in the week which tested the stamina of the players and he was way off the pace, but he's coming on. We are just taking him day to day. When he's comfortable about going into a reserve team game we will put him in there. He still gets a little twinge in the knee, but that's understandable. It's breaking down the scar issue."
Businesses owed money by Argyle are set to be offered a settlement of just one penny in the pound. The vast majority of the debt is owed to 220 companies, large and small, who were hit by the financial mismanagement of the former board of directors. Other unsecured creditors include season-ticket holders and shareholders. Administrators are hoping to announce details of a creditors’ meeting at the end of next week, when the club’s Company Voluntary Arrangement will be presented. Money owed to football-related creditors, including staff and player wages, and cash secured against assets must be repaid in full. However, Brendan Guilfoyle said last night that only a nominal sum would be offered to other creditors. That is likely to be just a penny for every pound owed, or potentially even less. If fewer than 75 per cent of creditors agree to the deal, the club could be forced out of business. Over £5 million of the £9 million-plus of unsecured debts is owed to former directors and their associates. That includes £2 million of mortgages controlled by Keith Todd and Roy Gardner, though a dispute over the security of that cash is ongoing. Todd has been trying to find fresh bidders for the club this week and property developer Paul Buttivant is expected to make a firm swoop next week. Buttivant’s plans for the club are understood to depend on large-scale commercial and retail development, including schemes on public land beside Home Park. Devon-based entrepreneur James Brent is also believed to remain in talks with Plymouth City Council, administrators, and Peter Ridsdale. Neither party has confirmed their interest, but Brent is expected to make a statement early next week. He has stated that Argyle should be run ‘for the benefit of the fans’.
The head of the PFA, Gordon Taylor, has admitted he is ‘concerned’ about the future of Argyle. The squad have not been paid since December, and this week agreed to defer their wages for March and the union is continuing to assist some of the players who are in financial difficulties. Taylor said: "We will be helping where there is a need. That's our job. But, obviously, that can't go on forever. We need the club to find a lifeline. The situation is getting serious. We are seeing what we can do to help in the hope there will be a saviour for the club." Even though the squad have not received any wages in 2011, none of the players have walked out on the club, citing a breach of their contracts. Taylor said: "That's to their great credit, but I'm sure you can imagine how they are feeling and the insecurity they have about their futures. For the moment, they are just hoping there can be a successful outcome to this, but it's no use me saying we aren't concerned because we are." Taylor also had praise for the way Peter Reid and his players had coped with the situation. He added: "It's a difficult job for Peter and the players to keep their chins up, but I have got every confidence they will be doing their best for the club between now and the end of the season. The club is in a corner but I hope they can battle out of it."
Peter Reid has insisted morale among the players remains good, despite the crisis at the club. Argyle return to action next Tuesday, after a 17-day break, during which Reid has allowed the players some time off training. He has no concern over their fitness levels, and believes being away from Home Park in the current circumstances will have been of benefit to them. Reid said: "It's just a case of keeping them bright, mentally and physically. I don't think it's necessary to have them in every day. The mood in the dressing room is remarkably good. I think the players have come through this really well. The most important thing now, from our point of view, is the Orient game, and spirits have been up in training."
Peter Reid has congratulated Curtis Nelson on his England under-18s call-up. Reid said: "When anyone gets a call-up for their national squad, at whatever level, I think it's firstly a great personal honour and secondly a great honour for the football club. I think since him and Zubar have got together at the centre of defence it has made us look a lot stronger. Curtis has done really well in there. The thing that pleases me about the boy is his composure. He has played against lads who, let's say, at this stage of his development are more physical than him and he has handled it very well."
Peter Reid has seen the gap between Argyle and safety widen over the past two weeks, while his side have been inactive. He said: "It's difficult, but there is nothing you can do about it. I always go on about what you can affect, and channelling your energies into that. We can only affect it when we play. That's all we can do. We can't affect anything when the other teams play." Argyle's game against Leyton Orient on Tuesday will be followed by seven more before the end of the season. Reid added: "Whether the break will be a good thing or a bad thing, only the games will tell us that. We have got some real tough ones coming up, which I'm looking forward to, and I'm sure the players are."
Jack Stephens is close to making a decision on whether he will sign for Southampton. He has been to Southampton this week for talks and to see their academy set-up and Peter Reid said: "I have spoken to Jack and he was very impressed with Southampton. He's going to take 24 hours to think about it and then tell us of his decision. I don't want to put pressure on the lad because he's only young and a lot has happened to him. Sometimes you forget how young these players are. He wants to have a chat with his parents and rightly so, and then we'll come to a decision."
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