A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle's dreams of automatic promotion out of League Two are now over following a dramatic 2-2 draw with Cambridge. Victories for Accrington, Oxford and Bristol Rovers ensured that the highest position Argyle could finish in League Two is 5th. Argyle will now certainly face Portsmouth in the play-offs and all that is yet to be determined is which club comes 5th and which comes 6th. The match stayed goalless until the last 20 minutes when Jamlile Matt shot Argyle into the lead. Argyle retained the lead for a while but two quickfire goals from Cambridge put them into a two goal led. A 90th minute equaliser from Graham Carey ultimately proved irrelevant as Argyle were left facing a play-off clash. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh(Forster), Hartley(Tanner), Mellor, Houghton, Boateng, Sawyer, Matt, Jervis(Wylde). Subs: Dorel, Harvey, Rooney, Purrington.
Derek Adams believes that the quality of football in League Two this season is greater than that which has come in seasons before this one and has praised Argyle's durability by saying: "I'm told that the standard has been a lot better than it has been in previous seasons. I have been told there has been a lot more football played by the majority of the teams. From my point of view, I think it has been very competitive. On any given Saturday you just don't know what a result is going to be.
"I have spoken to other managers and supporters as well. They think the standard has upped in this division, especially this season. A lot more teams are passing the ball and being creative. I think it has been a very good product.
"If you look at the four clubs that were relegated from League One last year, none of them will be in top seven this season. And only Plymouth Argyle from last year are a team that are in the top seven."
Derek Adams is not yet willing to give up on automatic promotion and insists it is still the main thought in the collective minds of the pilgrims. He said: "We must win on Saturday, there is no two ways about it. We’ve put ourselves in the position where with two games to go we still have the chance of finishing in the automatic promotion places, but we do need to win the match. Cambridge are like ourselves; both teams have got to kick on this game, from our point of view we’ve got to go there and be positive, and get at them from the start. There’s been a lot more football being played by the majority of teams,” he said. “From my point of view, it’s been very competitive, any given Saturday the teams that you go up against, you just don’t know what the results are going to be. If you look at the league table, the teams that had been relegated from League 1, none of them will make it into the top seven. Plymouth Argyle are the only team to make it into the top seven the last two seasons and shows you just how competitive it is. Talking to managers and supporters, the standard has upped in this division. A lot more teams passing the ball and being creative; I think it’s been a very good product. “We have played really well away from home this season. It was something that I’d looked at when I came here, at the beginning at June, to get away wins, because they are important, and that has shown this season."
Luke McCormick has said that he is frustrated at being unable to influence the Pilgrims results in spite of conceding a lot of goals: “I’m not getting a great deal of work but unfortunately we haven’t kept clean sheets. It’s been a huge frustration and it’s hard because when you’re not making saves, but still conceding goals, you question yourself. I’ve had to break down my game and look where I can help out more here and there. For the last two or three months going back to Wycombe I haven’t really had much of an impact on the game. I haven’t been able to make a lot of saves; the goals we’ve conceded have been good chances and they’ve scored goals where I haven’t really been able to help.”
McCormick also went on to echo the words of his manager Derek Adams in saying that he has not yet given up on a top three finish. He stated: "Last Saturday certainly wasn't part of the script. For whatever reason, we have come away disappointed – and hurt, to be honest. No doubt that's exactly how the supporters felt as well afterwards. "We learn from it and we move on to Saturday. There are still six valuable points to play for. Who's to say there is not another twist in the story. There are six massive points to play and, ideally, we would like to go into the last game of the season still in with a chance. We saw it last season with Bury, who snuck in on the last day. We are still in the hunt and still part of it. Three massive points on Saturday will hopefully send us into the last game against Hartlepool with a shot.
"It has been a long old season and we have worked too hard for our heads not to be up. We are disappointed in the sense that we felt could have secured automatics probably already by this point. But you can't look back, and bury your heads in the sand and dwell on it. We have just got to keep moving forward because there are points to be played for and who knows what can happen."
McCormick finally reiterated that he is as determined as he ever was to stay at Plymouth Argyle beyond the end of the season, saying: "Obviously, the contract situation is out of my hands. It's out all of our hands to a degree. I'm in the same boat as everyone else where we wait and see what the manager wants to do. I would hope that I would still be here next season. Argyle would be my first and second choice. If it's not to be then hopefully there will be somewhere else, but certainly I would like to remain here.
"Understandably the club are waiting to see where we are going to be next season. I think it's the same for the majority of footballers up and down the country. There will be a lot of players out of contract this summer. Everyone is waiting to see what budgets they are working with. I don't think it's ideal, but it's a situation that I think we all understand and accept.
After the demoralising defeat against Dagenham on Saturday, Derek Adams hopes to take the experience and use it to re-energise his team ahead of the vital last two games to come. Adams said: "We had a lot of opportunities against Dagenham," said Derek, "and the stats will tell you we had the majority of the play. It was just one of these freak afternoons where you find yourself 3-0 down at half time. You've got a long way to get back into the game but the players showed a lot of good determination to try and get back to try and win the match. We've come off of two fabulous away victories at Portsmouth and Leyton Orient, and we need to go and do that again with the likes of Cambridge and Hartlepool. From our point of view, nobody would've guessed that we would've lost to Dagenham & Redbridge last week, and that's the nature of football. We knew we had five games to go; we needed to win four games out of five, and we've still got the possibility of doing that. We've got two games to go and six points to play for, and if we can get these two victories you never know what's going to happen. There's always a twist and a turn over the season.
"Our ambition is still to finish in second place," said Adams. "We've got two places up for grabs in the automatic promotion places with two games to go, and we can still finish second or third. Going into the last two games of the season, that's something that we've got to try and do. It is possible. We win our two games and we finish on 83 points, and we would be very disappointed if 83 points didn't get you promotion. It's been able to get automatic promotion a good number of times. That's what we've got to try and do. Other teams have to draw or lose games, and that is possible.
"Portsmouth play at Wimbledon tonight, so that'll be an interesting game because that can obviously affect Cambridge's chances of getting into the play-offs - or they've still got a chance on Saturday. It makes for an exciting game on Saturday. They'll be looking to impress and we're looking to finish the season strongly."
Adams also revealed that whilst some players have triggers to extend their contract, none of them are confirmed as being under contract for the coming season due to uncertainty over which division we will be in. Adams said: "All the players are contracted here until June 30, and some of them will be under contract after that because they will be offered terms due to options in their deals. From my point of view, it's always good to have a hungry player looking to try to impress – if it's here or if it's somewhere else. We have got a budget for one division and another budget for the next division. Until we see how well we do this season we are not able to offer contracts. It's as simple as that."
Adams finally gave praise to captain Curtis Nelson who has been selected for the League Two team of the season, saying: "It's very good for Curtis to be nominated in the Team of the Year from his fellow professionals. He has played really well this season for us and deserves that award. It's good that people who have played against him have recognised how difficult he has been to play against. He has played at an early age and I think that will always benefit him in the future. A few players have been excellent for us this season, and as a group we have been outstanding at times, but there has been a lot of good players in the division."
The disappointment of Derek Adams was clear for all to see after Argyle's 3-2 loss to Dagenham & Redbridge, calling himself "devastated" with the result. Adams blasted Argyle's poor defending and finishing, saying: "You don't give yourself a chance when you're 3-0 down at half-time. We didn't defend well enough today; we lost three goals defensively and you've got a long way to get back. It's man-for-man marking. If you lose your man you're confined to conceding a goal. We probably could've done better not to give away the corner kicks. Overall we've had enough chances to score more goals today, but when you're 3-0 down then you've got a lot to do. We know what happened, how we lost the goals, but overall I think that we should've taken the chances that we had at the other end, as well. So collectively, we haven't done well enough today. We just needed to change the shape a bit - we had to go for it. We had to have a lot of attacking players on the pitch. We scored two goals; we could've scored more but we can't be 3-0 down. We put Gregg Wylde and Jake Jervis out as wing backs, we had two up front, we had one off, we had attacking midfield players, but we just didn't get the goal that we needed.
"We've had chances: we've had open goals, we've had ones past the post and over the bar. We've had numerous corner kicks into the box where we could've scored goals off of, and we did score one. We've had umpteen chances in the game to get ourselves back in it, but we haven't been able to do it. We probably didn't have enough in and the around the 18-yard box at times, from an attacking point of view, and that's something that we probably needed today. We did in the second half when we had to change and chase the game. The two midfield players - they looked a wee bit leggy today. They've played a lot of games for two young kids, but they did look like they struggled today.
"I'm devastated today, because I didn't see us losing three goals," said Adams. "The manner of the three goals were very poor, except for the second goal - but we still could've done better to close them down, because he's hit the ball from 20-odd yards. Overall, we haven't got the win that we needed."
Adams also now admitted that it would be highly difficult for Argyle to win automatic promotion: "If you can't win against the bottom side in the table when you need to win then it's going to be extremely difficult. You can't be inconsistent at this time in the season. You have to be on top of things all the time. They saw the players were willing to try to get forward and get goals. There was a lot of effort there. At times we chose the wrong option but, overall, the fans have been very good with us this season."
Argyle have suffered a devastating 3-2 loss at home to already relegated Dagenham which has almost ended chances of automatic promotion. The visitors raced into a shock 3-0 lead in the first half and whilst Argyle pegged two goals back, every other side in the promotion race won and Argyle's chances are all but over. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor(Tanner), Nelson, Hartley, Purrington(Forster), Houghton, Boateng(Harvey), Jervis, Carey, Wylde, Matt. Subs: Bittner, Bentley, Rooney, Sawyer.
Derek Adams expressed the importance of caution ahead of the game against Dagenham and not taking the result for granted. He said: “They have got a lot to play for,” said Derek. “They have contracts to play for; a new manager who will be assessing his squad for next season. They did give us a tough time at Dagenham the last time. They gave us a difficult afternoon on that day and we did well to get away with a point. They are all tough games at this stage of the season. You only have to look at the results from the other night to see there is no easy game. People are looking to do something - either get into the play-off places, stave off relegation or impress a new manager – and they are all things we will come up against. But all the other teams are exactly the same. Everybody likes to predict football scores. You look in this league and there are not a lot of millionaires from getting the odds right on a weekly basis. That tells you how difficult it is to predict and how competitive it is.
“We have got bit of momentum now. From my point of view, the performances are very good. We’ve been really unfortunate – against Wimbledon and Exeter, and you can put Accrington into that as well – we could be on a much better points total. To go away from home to Portsmouth and to Leyton Orient, it shows you the character and strong mentality that is in the squad -we’ll need that for the last three games. It looks like Reuben and Carl McHugh will be out for Saturday’s game. They are going for scans to find out the full extent of the damage. We’ve shown throughout the season that we have a squad that is very tight, but within that tightness we have very good quality. We’ve made some good acquisitions in the summer and during the season, and combined with the players that were here last season, they’ve got a spirit. They know what happened last year, in the play-offs, and they felt it. It’s up us now to push on.”
Graham Carey said that Argyle will go into the penultimate home match of the season with all the confidence in the world and stated that Argyle use pressure to their advantage, not as something that can cripple them. The Irish playmaker explained: “It is just down to the players to deliver now. We don’t want to be in League 2 next year, nor do the fans, nor the staff, nor anyone else. It’s up to us to get the job done. If we play the way we have in the last two games, with that fight and determination, it’s only going to be a positive and it’s up to us to go and win. The way we have performed, we have all the confidence in the world to go do that on Saturday. As a team, we’re all feeling good and in a good place mentally, as well, which is important after some of the defeats we have had. We’re feeling good, we’re feeling strong; hopefully we can kick on. The way we have been preparing for games is that the next one is the biggest game of the season and we’ll do that on Saturday. The timing of the injury wasn’t the best. It was midway through the season and I was ready to kick on then. It was unfortunate and it’s taken a while to get back to full fitness because of the timing of it, but I feel better now than I ever have. I’m getting sharper and hopefully I can be more sharp on Saturday. There are certain things you don’t do at points in the game. At the Portsmouth game, it was basically ‘get the ball into the corner and see the game through’ – because it was so late on, there was no reason to do anything different. At this stage of the season, it is important to do that. There is a time and a place for tricks and long shots, but, if you are winning in the 85th-90th minute, that’s not the time to do it.
“The manager says to everyone ‘go out and express yourself’. When we don’t have the ball, get into a shape and be hard to beat but, when once we have it, go and express ourselves, especially in the final third. He gives us the freedom to do whatever we want and, as players, we really appreciate that.”“The way we played and the way we got those results shows that we have mental character to go all the way, and that’s what we’re looking for. Last week, everyone wrote us off and it was a great way to come back. We went into the Portsmouth game with everything to play for and the team showed great character and determination. There was a little bit of luck as well, which we’ve been lacking the past few weeks. We’ve been playing well in big games and just not getting the results. It was just about getting over the finish line and figuring out how to win big games. I think we did that. If we use that as a platform, there is no reason why we can’t get maximum points in the rest of the games. There is still a lot to play for. It’s not over yet and it’s up to us to go and get maximum points now. There is a lot of pressure because we put pressure on ourselves. At the start of the season, we had a goal, which was to get out of this league and that’s still the same. Pompey was a big game, a massive three points, and that propelled us to Tuesday, gave us the confidence in that game. There is no bigger pressure than the pressure we put on ourselves. We always have confidence in ourselves because we know we have been playing well, but I think the last two performances show we have a different side to us, as well.
“I don’t think anyone thought it would be this close,” said Graham. “To have four fighting for the two places is great for the league and it’s very competitive. It’s just down to who keeps their nerve, and we have shown, in the last two games, that we have the mental strength to do that. We just have to worry about ourselves. If we carry on doing what we’re doing, just focus on Saturday, we will be alright. It’s shown throughout the season, that, when we get an early goal, we tend to control the game a lot more, but we still need to be patient. There is no reason to go gung-ho – it’s a long game. We need to be patient, play our football, and play with that work-rate and determination that we have in the last two games, especially, and I think the result will take care of itself.”
Carey also reflected on his time at Home Park so far and spoke philosophically about it: “It’s been good; it’s been competitive; there has been some good football, at times. I think the standard of the league has gone up since last time I was down here. There are lot of teams that want to play good football, and we’re one of them but the main thing is winning. I’m happy; my family is happy; I enjoy my football here; I enjoy working under the gaffer; everything suits me down here. I couldn’t be happier, playing every week and playing with the group of lads that we have. I don’t think you’ll find a tighter group in the division. We have a very good squad – probably one of the best in the league, I think; the young lads coming in, like Ben Purrington, don’t look out of place. It’s up to players on the pitch to keep the jersey because we have quality players on the bench to come on and change, if not win, games.
"As long as I'm not left-back, that's the only thing. It was one of the times in my career where I didn't really enjoy it. I prefer it in midfield. To be fair, wherever the manager wants to play me, I will play. As long as we get wins, that's the main thing. Apart from the injury I had, I couldn't be happier. I'm playing every week and with a good group of lads. I don't think you will find a tighter group in the division. "It has been good to come down and play in England."
Derek Adams gave a less than positive update on currently injured players Carl McHugh, Reuben Reid and Josh Simpson. He said, speaking first of the former two and then of the latter: "They are having scans, hopefully this week, to assess the damage. Both of them are very unlikely for Saturday.
"He could possibly be ready for the last game of the season but that's the earliest."
Two Argyle players have been recognised for their good performances in League Two this season. Curtis Nelson has been named in the PFA league two team of the season whilst Graham Carey has been voted the 6th best player in the division in a managers poll.
Peter Hartley is insistent that whatever Argyle's destiny this season, the one certainty is that they won't go down without a fight. The defender said: “We never say die, we’ve never given up, and we’re going to fight until the death, until things are out of our hands. We said, before the Pompey game, ‘we’re just going to take it a game at a time; we’re not going to look at what’s happening around us; we just concentrate on our job’ and we’ve picked up maximum points in three days. We go on to Dagenham and we look to win that game. We have got Dagenham, Cambridge and Hartlepool – we want nine points. Then we’ve done our job. Whatever happens around us happens. We can’t control what other teams do. The only things we can control are what happens in that dressing-room and on these pitches. We’ll stay focused. We won’t be looking at how other teams are doing or who other teams are playing – all we care about is Dagenham on Saturday and three points after 90 minutes. We can only do what we can do. If we can pick maximum points up, I’d like to think we can get automatic promotion. It’s what I want.”
Derek Adams believes that Argyle not only won but turned on the style when they beat Leyton Orient 3-1. He was full of praise for a good performance and explained the rationale behind a switch to a 3-5-2 formation, saying: "To come away from home and score three goals, and play as well as we did, was an excellent performance for us. We have had to go away from home to Portsmouth and to Leyton Orient and to take six points out of six is not easy in this league. We were able to do it with a wee bit of style against Orient. Jake does what he does. He scores goals. Graham Carey made another two and Peter Hartley scored his first of the season. We had to deal with the presence they have up front and I thought defensively we were sound.
"It was to counteract the direct style that Leyton Orient were going to play, with Gnanduillet up front with Simpson. We knew Ollie Palmer would come on at some point in the game, and we knew Simpson would run in behind with the flick-ons. So we just counteracted that by putting one more in there to stop the threat they could cause. You need to be in the game to win a game. You have to see out the opening periods of games away from home. You are the away side and you will not get it all your own way, and I thought we managed the game very well."
Adams also made great pains to praise the roles of individual performances in the game both starters and those who came off the bench: “Graham’s obviously been a big player this season, and he’s back to his best now after his injury. He’s creating a lot of opportunities for us - from set plays and in open play. One to Jake Jervis, who’s got one from another free kick, a header, and Jake’s been able to get the third one on the counter attack. The two loanees are 20 years of age, the two of them. They play above their years; one at Chelsea, one at Crystal Palace. It’s been a great learning experience for them, and you can see by the way they move the ball and make tackles, and now they know when to play forward. Jordon’s a central defender by trade. He goes and heads the ball; he’s an old-fashioned centre half. He is struggling a wee bit and it was a risk putting him on, but he’s been able to get through it. We’ll dust him down and look at them Wednesday and Thursday. I’d like a fully fit squad, but we’ve seen tonight we’ve got Jake Jervis and Jordon Forster coming on and doing well. The target is to win as many games as we can, and that’s the last three games of the season. I’ve said since the start of the season that the target is to win every game, and we try to do that on a weekly basis. It’s a very good league, it’s very competitive - you see that with the scores tonight. We need to keep working away and try to gather the points it’ll take to try and get into that automatic position.”
Peter Hartley was also on hand to sing the praises of recently maligned Jake Jervis, amongst others, who defied critics by scoring two goals from the bench. Hartley said: Jake has been different class. It’s been a long season and people have come in and gone out. I think Jake was very unlucky to get dropped to the bench because he played well against Portsmouth on Saturday, but he’s come on and scored two goals which just shows the character of the guy. He’s basically said to the gaffer ‘There’s two goals – start me on Saturday and I’ll score you another two’. I remember going a little bit too early,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was offside. Nelse was stood in an offside position and he came back onside, and I just ran into the space Nelse came from. It’s the first time I’ve scored in over a year so I’m absolutely delighted, but as long as we win the games, I’m not bothered who scores.
“Carl was phenomenal before he went off. He takes to it like a duck to water in the middle of me and Nelse – we do all his running for him and he looks like Beckenbauer! Reuben's had a few niggles. It’s frustrating him a lot and it gets him down, but he’s a great athlete and a fantastic pro and I have no doubt he’ll come back stronger because he’s a mentally strong person. We have got 21 boys in that dressing-room and it means the world to every single one of them. So, whoever comes in, I know will take the chance with both hands. You’ve seen it with Ben Purrington, when Gaz has gone out. We have just got to stick together as a team and look to pick maximum points up from every game.”
Jervis himself added positive words about the general team performance and looked forward with optimism, saying: “Peter Hartley’s been trying all season and had a few chances. He’s took his time on that one and finished it well, and I’m happy for him. I think that’s the problem with zonal marking: players are running in on you and you’re stood still. We took advantage of that. The crowd started to go against them from then, and then we got another one and that kind of killed them off; and we managed to get another one at the end. There was a lot of space where Graham was crossing, in that front area, because they were marking zonal. There was just a little signal beforehand, and he obviously puts it on a plate most times. He’s done well and I’ve managed to a get a head on it. For the second one, I just took my time and finished well.”
“As with any forward player and the players we’ve got here, we’ve got to obviously score goals. We’re up there to get the goals. I started the season really bright, and hopefully I can finish it really bright as well. It’s only going help the team. It’s massive. We’ve managed to do it quite a few times this season - back to back wins in a short space of time. Hopefully we can keep it up. We’re just concentrating on us winning games - that’s all we have to do. Obviously a few teams are having a bit of a wobble, so hopefully we can keep going. It’s exciting a lot of people. It’s good to get nervous; the boys have embraced it, and you can see that with the performances in the last two games. We just want to win games.”
Argyle have made it two wins on the bounce with a crucial 3-1 victory at Leyton Orient to climb back to level points with 3rd place in the league. Argyle played well for most of the first half and took the lead on the stroke of half-time with a Peter Hartley volley. Jake Jervis came on and scored twice in a second half - goals which were sandwiched by an Orient penalty that momentarily reduced the scoreline. The only clouds over the match were the losses of Carl McHugh and Reuben Reid to injuries. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh(Forster), Hartley, Mellor, Houghton, Boateng, Carey, Purrington, Reid(Jervis), Matt(Wylde). Subs: Dorel, Harvey, Tanner, Sawyer.
Jake Jervis has reflected fondly on his first year with Argyle and hopes to be at the club for some time to come, speaking with contentment at how he has settled into the club: "It's possibly the most enjoyable season I have had in football, to be honest. I have really enjoyed it and there are a great bunch of boys here. Obviously we haven't done as well in the second half of the season as we did in the first, but hopefully we can finish it on the high. "We have had a similar team and players. We have had a few loan boys in that have helped us massively. It was a big boost for us when Hiram Boateng came back. You can get boys that are used to academy football and they can't come out of it, which isn't any fault of their own really because of the way academy football is now. I think everyone has come in and done their part, and they have all improved as footballers as well. You can see how big a club it is with the crowds we get. I'm always proud to put the shirt on."
After tweets from Portsmouth forward Gary Roberts claiming that Peter Hartley should have been sent off following a disputed elbow incident on Saturday's match, Derek Adams disagreed with both Roberts assessment and the medium which he expressed his views: "It definitely wasn't a sending-off. The yellow card was suffice. It was a challenge in the middle of the park, maybe about 40 yards from goal in a wide area. The referee called it correct. It's not something we want to see, players going on Twitter and having their say. It's something, hopefully, our boys stay away from."
Derek Adams expressed his delight with his Plymouth Argyle charges with the passion and character that they showed to get back into the game from a losing position. Adams eulogised both his team and individual players, saying: "We had to stop them to start with. Their two full backs get forward. We lost a poor goal from a quick throw in from their point of view; not really by them playing any good football through us. A quick throw and a cross into the box - we could've dealt with it better. They're at home; they've got a very passionate support, and from our point of view it was about keeping them quiet. We knew as the game went on we would get chances. We would change the approach to the game, and that's how it worked. Overall I'm happy with the shape we had to the team, and then going on to win the match. Again today, we lost a goal, and then showed great character to come back.
"I'm delighted for Jamille Matt getting another goal," said Adams, "because he had to work hard today. It was a well taken goal: a great ball in the box from Graham Carey, and a great header from Jamille. He's a nuisance up there, he occupies defenders, and he's been a great signing for us.
"Gregg Wylde trains and plays exactly the same way, every day. He's got a great temperament for the game. You don't play for Glasgow Rangers in the Champions League unless you're a good player. He's played under Walter Smith at Rangers; he's got undoubted ability, quickness, and he's very direct at times as well. It's just good for him to get another goal, and an important one at that. He can always pop up with goals. I think that's his eighth goal this season from a wide player, which is outstanding. Defensively I thought we were outstanding today, dealing with crossed balls with Curtis Nelson, Peter Hartley, even Kelvin Mellor and Ben Purrington and Carl McHugh. It was an outstanding performance from that point of view. The two in the middle of the park Hiram Boateng and Jordan Houghton worked tirelessly, and you need Jake Jervis as well to give us a work rate, and we had a lot of players working hard today. From our point of view, it's a great win for us today. We showed a lot of character throughout the 90 minutes. It's not easy coming here as I've said before, but to come away from here with three points at this stage of the season is what matters. Performance-wise we've done very well. A magnificent performance from us today - we've grounded out a great win and a deserved three points. To come away from here with three points is obviously very good."
Adams also went on to praise his side's supporters as well as giving an injury update on Jordon Forster and Gary Sawyer who both had to miss the game due to injuries. Adams said: "You've seen our supporters today," said Derek. "They were absolutely outstanding, and we managed to give them a win away from home in the Dockyard Derby. This was a top-level game today, between two very good sides, and some good football on show. As I said during the week, attendances are up by nearly 20% this season, and that tells you that they're with us. We're taking people into Argyle. We've taken 2,000-odd today, they've packed out the away end and we could've taken a lot more. They've shown us tremendous backing, and they've enjoyed seeing us on the road this season, because we're giving them something to shout about.
"Another tough match for us on Tuesday. We'll be in tomorrow morning preparing ourselves, then we'll have to travel on Monday again to London. We've got a number of good games coming up and we're just hopeful we can keep the performances going. Gary Sawyer has a slight knock. At this stage of the season and as with Reuben Reid last week, we have to be careful. The two of them obviously couldn't start the game, and we had to leave them out. They are hopeful for Tuesday night; it gives them that wee bit longer to get ready for Tuesday. We'll assess them tomorrow and Monday. But Ben Purrington came in there as well, today. He's always done well for me when he's played, either in midfield or at left back, and I'm delighted for him as well."
Character is the main attribute that Gregg Wylde believes saw Argyle over the line in their 2-1 victory over Portsmouth on Saturday and hopes that Argyle will carry that strength forward for the rest of the season: "It's a great time to start scoring again! I remember Graham Carey crossing it. I think I touched it in front of me then hit it underneath the keeper's legs, so I'll claim it. Sometimes it's not easy to come off the bench, and obviously I'm not happy being on the bench, but to come on and have an impact like that, I'm happy. Coming off the bench to score the winner in a Dockyard Derby is massive for the boys, and massive for the club as well. It was good to send the supporters home happy tonight. After the defeats we've had, hopefully this is the start of the next four games that we can go and try and win. It's a win for us, and hopefully we can continue that on Tuesday. We're in tomorrow morning, we regroup, and we'll be ready for Tuesday. It just shows you the character of that team in that dressing room," said Gregg. "We trained Monday to Friday very, very hard, and off the pitch as well we're quite close together. We know when we don't play well and we know when we do play well. Like the gaffer says, we needed to come away from here with three points; that's the most important thing. If we don't play well or we do play well, it's the win we need at this time of the season. Sometimes you play well and don't win. In some patches we could've done better but to come away with the three points is what's important."
Argyle are back in the League Two automatic promotion race after a dramatic 2-1 win over Portsmouth in the Dockyard Derby. Portsmouth took the lead in the first half and were by all accounts the better side for most of the game but two subs for Argyle turned the game around. Goals from Jamille Matt and Gregg Wylde in the last 5 minutes won Argyle the game and closed the gap on third place to just one point. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Purrington(Wylde), McHugh, Boateng, Houghton, Jervis(Reid), Matt, Carey. Subs: Dorel, Bentley, Harvey, Tanner, Rooney.
Argyle have announced a change in the ownership structure of the club as well as two new appointments to the board of directors. Simon Hallett and his associate and brother-in-law John Morgan have been appointed as directors of the club.
The appointment sees highly successful businessman Simon, a Plymothian and lifelong fan of the Pilgrims, invest a "substantial sum" in Argyle in return for a significant minority share in its ownership. Simon, 60, who is the Chief Investment Officer of a "well-established US-based global investment management firm", and John Morgan, an agribusiness consultant who lives in Devon, become the seventh and eighth members of the club's board. The other six remain chairman, James Brent, who will retain a majority shareholding, and part-owner Tony Wrathall, who keeps a 5% shareholding, as well as David Felwick, Richard Holliday, Peter Jones and the Chief Executive, Martyn Starnes. Neither Brent or Wrathall are selling any shares but merely the percentages of their current shares have decreased due to new shares being purchased for Hallett to buy. Hallett said:
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be involved with Argyle,” said Simon. “It really is the realisation of a boyhood dream. We started talking at the very start of 2016, and I've learned from talking to James and his colleagues, and from doing due diligence, that this is now a really well-run club, not just one pulled back from the brink of disaster with some money and good business sense. Argyle has a superb Academy, and a wonderful Community Trust – both, in my view, key elements in building a sustainable and successful club – and, of course, the team is making great strides forward. However, there’s always room for improvement, and I hope that my involvement can help contribute to that.”
Morgan added: “I am incredibly impressed with all that I have learnt so far about the club. I am particularly keen to learn more about and contribute to the development of the Academy, being a great believer that home-grown talent is a, if not the, most important element in a community-focused club such as Argyle. My ‘secret shopping’ trips to watch games this season have provided very real evidence of the passion supporters have for the club. I will do what I can to deliver on their and my dreams for the club in the future.”
Finally James Brent concluded: “My colleagues and I are delighted to welcome Simon and John on to the PAFC Board. Our ambitions for the club are well aligned and we look forward to their contribution in moving the club forward as we leave the shadows of administration well behind us. The future for Argyle is bright and brighter still following today's announcement.”
Derek Adams knows his players’ commitment and determination will not waver in the Sky Bet League 2 run-in. The Argyle manager has seen results go against his promotion-chasing Pilgrims in their last two games, where individual errors, rather than a poor team display, have cost them a top-three automatic promotion spot. He believes though that our commitment will see us over the line: “We need players who are going to put their body on the line: Jordon Forster is one of them; Carl McHugh is another one – they don’t think too much about anything else but stopping that ball going in the net. We have got a lot of players like that, and we’ll need them. Performance-wise, we have done really well – we are performing at a high standard – but we haven’t got the wins that our play deserves over the last two games, against Exeter and on Saturday against Wimbledon. That’s the frustrating thing. We need to eradicate the individual errors that have cost us points in games and we will do okay. In open play, we control large spells of the game; we have got an attacking threat just now; we just need to get away from given away goals very cheaply. It is nothing to do with teams going through us; it is individual errors that have caused the goals. We just keep on shooting ourselves in the foot at this moment in time, where we are either going to draw the game or win the match and then we give away that advantage. You look at the Accrington game; the game on Saturday; and at Exeter. At this stage of the season, you don’t need that.”
Whatever happens in the remainder of this season however, Adams believes that Argyle have over-performed in relation to their circumstances in this season, saying: “From my point of view, I am delighted with the season we have had,” he said. “We have done exceptionally well this season. We’ve matched the points total we had last season; I think we’re six goals off scoring the most goals for 12 seasons at this football club; we have done well defensively; and we have got five games to push into the top three. It is about improving on the season before and keeping it going. At the start of the season, our aim was to put ourselves in a good position, and we’ve done that; it was all about gaining momentum, and we have been able to do that. We have had a very good season – we just need to keep on going. We have obviously raised the expectation of the football club. When that happens, I have always said, as a manager, you have got to keep your feet on the ground. I have done that throughout my time here. I am one of those managers who is able to get the best out of his players and put people in a very good position. The players have been able to do that, as well. Sometimes you get overachievement and, with overachievement, you get people expecting more and more. We have been able to do that this season
“Look at the squad we have. Compared to other teams, we have done well with a tight squad. We haven’t a lot of a core squad; we have had to take in a number of loanees throughout the season. The people I speak to on the street can’t believe how well Plymouth have done this season, and it’s testimony to the players and the staff. We know that we have got to work to a budget. Every club is like that. We aren’t a club that can go out and spend money like it was done in the past. We are sound financially now, which is really good. I am delighted that this football club is now on an even keel and doing it the right way. We have shown a consistency over the campaign, and, win-wise, we are one of the best teams in the league because we have won more games than most of the teams in around about us. Performance-wise, I think we have played really well against a lot of teams – no team has been better than us for the majority of the game, which is really good. It’s a tough league we’re in.”
Adams also did not rule out the chance that Danny Nardiello will play for Argyle again, in spite of the fact that he is now training with parent club Bury. Adams explained: "Daniel is training with Bury but there is still a possibility, depending on form or injuries, for him to come back."
Jake Jervis has admitted that tough questions have to be asked and that Argyle's recent poor results cannot be sugarcoated ahead of the trip to his old club Portsmouth on Saturday. Jervis said: "It was disappointing. Like the week before at Exeter we have had the majority of the game again and not managed to take advantage of it. It was all us and I couldn't see anything apart from a win for us but we made a mistake and we suffered for it. Of course, the mood in the dressing room afterwards was down but we have got to pick ourselves up and I think we have done that well this week in training so far. Positivity is important but, at the same time, you have got to be real about things, and say 'this needs to be better' and 'that needs to be better'. We have done that and now we can go forward. You can't sugar-coat it or pretend it's not happening. You have to be real and face it straight on.
"Everyone wants to go up automatically and you can see how many teams are in there to get one of those places so it's going to be an exciting finish. We were top of the table at Christmas and that's when expectations go up. Everyone expects you to go on and win the league, but it doesn't go like that sometimes. It hasn't for us but we are still in there and hopefully we can go up automatically.
"I'm really excited to go back to Portsmouth and play. Obviously, it's going to be a great atmosphere from both sets of fans. They have got big expectations, like ourselves. They should be up the league, like us as well, so they are going to push us hard."
Derek Adams has given an update on his Argyle strikers situations, including the fitness of Reuben Reid, the absence of Danny Nardiello and the recall of youngster Tyler Harvey. Adams said respectively: "Reuben hasn't trained on Monday or Tuesday and we will see how he is towards the end of the week.
"We have got six loan signings and Daniel doesn't come into the reckoning because we can only use five. The five other ones are fit and four of them are in the team and Craig Tanner is on the bench at this moment in time."
"Tyler comes in because we are light in numbers and he gives competition for places between himself, Jamille Matt and Reuben Reid. He scored a few goals for Bath and between now and the end of the season he will be in and around the squad. He has had a boost to his confidence. He has been out to Bath and played games, which was the purpose of it. He has come back early from his loan deal because we have got a situation where Reuben Reid is injured. It's just to give us that extra depth into the squad. "I think that his best position will probably end up being as a striker. In the modern game you need people with a good touch and good control, and he has got that. He can score goals at any given time so that's the position I see him playing."
Departing loanee Oscar Threlkeld has given his thanks to Plymouth Argyle for developing him as a player. Threlkeld was sad to be missing the end of the season with Argyle but was excited about the prospect of playing for parent club Bolton in the championship, as they have recalled him to see his progress before the season ends. Threlkeld said: "I have enjoyed my time down here. The club has taught me a lot as a player and as a person. I want to say thank you to everyone – the fans and all the staff at Home Park – for supporting me since I first came through the door. I have gained my experience down here and grown up. Now it's time to go back to Bolton Wanderers and show what I have learned.
"Maybe it doesn't look like we are giving it our all on the pitch, but we are. Things just aren't going our way. The boys know what we need to do. It's time to buckle down and try for automatic promotion. I will be anxious to know their results."
Argyle forward Tyler Harvey has returned to Home Park having been recalled from his loan at Bath City. The 20-year-old Plymothian had been at Twerton Park since March 11. Harvey made his mark on the Vanarama National League South side, who are managed by former Argyle assistant boss Gary Owers, scoring four goals in six appearances. He was also named man of the match twice, once after scoring twice in injury-time of a 2-1 win against Weston-super-Mare when the clinching goal was a 45-yard strike.
Derek Adams has yet again found himself praising Argyle's performance but bemoaning errors at both ends in Argyle's 1-2 loss at home to Wimbledon. Adams said: "I think we were the better team in the first half. I think we had the most opportunities in the first half, and they've really only scored with one counter attack. We knew that was their best option today - it was going to be the counter attack. That's how they got their first goal. It was poor defending from our point of view, but we've been saying that for a few weeks now. We haven't been able to take chances and we haven't defended properly. Overall in the 90 minutes we had a lot of good play. We've obviously lost two really bad goals today. We said the same last week at Exeter: two games that we looked in good positions to win, with the amount of good play that we had, and opportunities, and we haven't been able to see out the game. I think the good play we've had, the opportunities we had, we should've gone on to win the game or even draw the game. It's two weeks in a row where we've been in very good positions, we've made individual errors and it's cost us. I can sit here and make all the excuses - we haven't taken the three points. I feel that at times today we played very well, but the aim of the game is to get three points. Defensively we've come up short. We've created chances but we haven't been able to get that second goal. Overall, we've had enough opportunities to win the game, but it's a game where we've come away with nothing. We can't afford to keep conceding soft goals; we have to score an excellent goal. We haven't been given many free goals and I think that other teams have. Overall I thought the team showed a very good willingness to try and get the victory."
Adams also admitted for the first time that Argyle would find it very difficult to make it into the automatic promotion places at this stage, saying: "As a manager it's very difficult. I think that as a manager, sometimes you can't do anything. When you make individual errors it becomes very difficult, and I think today was one of these days where we made errors, we haven't taken chances and we haven't scored goals. It's not an easy situation to solve, because if it's a number of different individuals that the mistakes have fallen on, then it becomes harder and harder. Heads are down. To come in two weeks in a row and lose two games, it's very disappointing. Heads are well down, because we put ourselves in a fantastic position and we've let it slip, twice in two weeks. We're in a difficult position now. I think that automatic promotion is going to be very difficult, because of the way we can't defend our lead, and we haven't taken the chances. I think it's going to be very difficult to get into those automatic places. That's just because we haven't been able to take the three points over the line. It's up to the players now to back in Monday morning with the coaching staff and get going.
Argyle are now three points off the division's top three following a demoralising loss at home to AFC Wimbledon. The visitors took the lead in the first half before a fine Graham Carey effort equalised after the interview. A looping header by Adebayo Akinfenwa sealed a victory for the visitors in the dying stages however and strengthened their own play-off push. Argyle: McCormick, Forster(Mellor), Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Houghton(Wylde), Boateng(Tanner), Jervis, Carey, Matt. Subs: Dorel, Purrington, Rooney
Argyle have extended the services of Fleetwood loanee Jamille Matt until the end of the season. Matt, who has impressed so far for Argyle, initialled only signed for 28 days but his parent club have enabled the extension up to and including the play-offs if needed.
In spite of Argyle having dropped back out of the automatic promotion places, Derek Adams is still confident about the prospects of his Argyle side to gain automatic promotion and he re-iterated how pleased he was with recent performances, saying: "We have had a fantastic season. We have had the best season for many a year at Plymouth Argyle. With six games to go, we are two points off second and it's fabulous position to be in. I think that any Plymouth Argyle fan, at the start of the season, would have been more than happy with the position we are in. I don't think we need a reaction from the players from that game because we played ever so well. We were the better side. We have got to do the business ourselves. If we do that we will be fine. We can't look at anybody else to do us an favours. It's important to win every game that you play in and that has been the same throughout the season."
Adams also dismissed claims that Saturday's visitors Wimbledon are at all a bogey side to Argyle and instead focused on our good performance and victory over them on the opening day of the season. Adams said: “I don’t believe in bogey teams. It’s been shown over the years that there are clubs that struggle against certain teams and then it takes turns. I think that we have been to places this season where we hadn’t won before. These statistics are there to be broken.
“First game of the season was a good occasion,” he said. “They were good goals; overall it was a very good team performance and it’s always nice to start the season well. It was a hot summer’s day and a very good performance from us. We played very well on the day and we got the first victory of the season. It was a very long time ago but it doesn’t feel a long time ago. We’ve gone really well this season and I’m delighted with the position that we are in.
“They’ve changed their formation a few times this season. They started against us 3-4-3; they’ve played 4-4-2; they’ve played 4-3-3. They have changed it about a wee bit this season but they have roughly the same personnel that they had at the start of the season."
Finally, Adams paid tribute to Oscar Threlkeld who will return to Bolton following the expiration of his loan spell after Saturday's game. Adams said that Threlkeld has turned from a boy into a man during his spell at the club: : "Oscar has changed as a player and a person since he came here. He was a young boy when he came. Now he is going out a man. His playing style has changed, he has matured as a person – on and off the pitch, and I think that coming on loan has really benefited him. I'm delighted that he has been able to play a vital part in our season. Bolton want to have a look at him. He's out of contract and it gives them an opportunity to see how he has progressed since being here. There are livelihoods at stake every Saturday. For the players it can change their week on and off the pitch. Their mood changes with a win, and with a loss there can be huge disappointment, and that can lost for a wee while."
Carl McHugh agreed, praising not just the development of Threlkeld but also that of Craig Tanner and Hiram Boateng. He said, first of Threlkeld: "I think he has done brilliant. He had a slow start because the team were doing really well so he had to bide his time and wait to get in, which isn't an easy thing to do. He stayed very professional, trained really hard and waited for his chance. He was probably one of our best players over that spell when he was in midfield and will be a big loss to us when he goes back. He's a great lad around the changing room as well. Everyone has a lot of time for him. He's a very positive character and we will miss him, definitely.
"You can see in it them. They have improved as players, and off the pitch they have grown up as people as well. It's probably the first time they have moved away from home. It all makes a massive difference."
McHugh also admitted that the immediate aftermath of the Exeter loss was amongst the lowest points in his career but that the disappointed was equalled by his desire to get back out onto the pitch and win promotion. He said: “It's probably the worst I've felt after a game – since I've started playing, anyway. It was just horrible, the way the game obviously ended, and it's been a tough week. It was good to get back out on the training pitch Monday and Tuesday, and we're just looking forward to the game. The game can't come soon enough, really – for me anyway – just to try and get it out of your system. You have to be strong in these situations and you have to look forward. Obviously you don't forget about it because it hurts, but you take that hurt forward and try and use it to your advantage over the last six games. If you feel sorry for yourself in football, football doesn't feel sorry for you. You have to be tough and you have to get on with it, because no-one's going to do you any favours – you have to do it for yourself. You can't worry about anyone else's results; you have to worry about yourself, and we've got six games. It's not in our hands, but it's in our hands if we win enough games. We're just looking at it one game at a time. I know it's an old cliché but we are. We just have to put every focus and every effort into the next game, and we have to try and get as many wins as we can between now and the end of the season, but our focus now is just Wimbledon on Saturday. You can't worry too much about who's going to win here or who's going to win there, because in football it never works out like that. There's going to be shock results between now and the end of the season for every team involved, and we just have to worry about ourselves. Look after ourselves, do our own job and hopefully we'll be alright come the end of the season.”
Argyle have unveiled their new away kit for the 2016/16 season. A primarily white kit with a green band around it pays tribute to the 1964-65 Second Division campaign, when Malcolm Allison was manager and can be seen on the club's official site.
Derek Adams had special praise for on-loan Chelsea midfielder Jordan Houghton's performance during Argyle's defeat to Exeter City. "Jordan Houghton was my man of the match today," said Derek. "He had an outstanding performance. He was head and shoulders above anybody else on this football park, and that's why I've taken him here. He broke up play very well, his use of the ball was excellent, his running forward, his intelligence off the ball and on the ball - the boy's got a bright future in the game. He's very knowledgeable about the game, picks up good areas, and when you're at this level at 20 years of age, I'm delighted with him."
Houghton was one of the key creative forces that allowed Reuben Reid and Jamille Matt to terrorise Exeter's back line all afternoon. The striking tandem now have four goals between them in the last four games, and Derek is pleased with their all-round contributions to those matches. "Totally dominant today against their two centre backs," said Adams of Jamille and Reuben. "They worked really hard. They've caused teams problems; Jamille's scored another goal, Reuben's helped him get that goal. We've seen that from them in previous games. They've managed to take the ball in, link up play and get opportunities."
Luke McCormick was surprisingly beaten at his near post for Exeter's first goal, but Adams expects his goalkeeper and the rest of his squad to remain confident and positive as they prepare for the final six games of the season. "Luke has made great saves for us this season," said Adams. "He'll be disappointed, but Luke is a strong character and he'll manage to come back from it. It leaves us needing wins to get going. It's not a crushing blow. The players are lifted: for 90 minutes we've dominated a football match and didn't look like conceding."
Two goals in the last ten minutes from young Exeter forward Ollie Watkins turned the 103rd Devon Expressway Derby on its head and put a dent in Argyle’s promotion ambitions, ensuring a 2-1 win to the Grecians. Jamille Matt’s third goal in as many matches in the 57th-minute seemed certain to give Argyle an 11th away win of the season, so dominant were they, but City’s dogged defending kept the home side in the game. When Watkins equalised with a long-range shot that deceived Luke McCormick ten minutes from time, it appeared that the Pilgrims would have to settle for a point. However, the 20-year-old produced another superb strike from distance in time added on to give the home side a victory that had looked unlikely for all but the final minute of the match.
Argyle: McCormick, Forster (Mellor), Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, Jervis, Houghton, McHugh, Carey (Tanner), Matt, Reid. Substitutes (not used): Simpson, Wylde, Purrington, Boateng, Dorel.
Argyle's 2-1 defeat to Exeter City was a bitter pill to swallow for Derek Adams. "For 90 minutes we were by far the better side," said Derek. "Nobody here can say that Exeter deserved to win the match - they didn't. We were the better side for 90 minutes. If anybody else here tells me they were the better side, then they don't know anything about football. We passed the ball well, we got the ball into their third, we had more shots on target than them. We dominated for 90 minutes, and it would be a silly man to say Exeter deserved to win the match."
Nevertheless, that is exactly what the hosts did. Exeter's stand-out player, Ollie Watkins, brought his side back on level terms with ten minutes to play, catching out Luke McCormick at his near post. Watkins then took centre stage in injury time, finding space 30 yards out before a stretching effort found its way into the top corner. "We made a mistake," said Adams. "They've scored a goal where the boy's sliding in and he's managed to get it into the top corner. It was a lucky goal. He's sliding away and he's managed to hook his foot round it. Does he mean it? He tries to get the ball on target and he's able to get it into the top corner. That's the nature of football. You can't legislate for an error, and you can't legislate for a goal that's managed to go into the top corner in the last, dying seconds of the game."
Whilst the defeat still leaves Argyle very much in the race for automatic promotion, the result is undoubtedly a tough one to take - and one that Adams feels his side in no way deserved. "Today is a day that we're disappointed because we've lost a derby match," said Adams. "I think Exeter will be wondering how they've managed to win. We were just unfortunate to come out on the wrong end of things today. We have lost the match, and the manner that we've lost it in is very hard to take. For 90 minutes we passed the ball well, got it up to our strikers - we deserved to win the match."
Derek Adams and half of his Pilgrims squad head to St James Park tpmorrow for their first taste of a League 2 game in Devon's county town, but there is no shortage of derby experience in the Argyle ranks. Players and staff on duty at Exeter have taken part in little local spats in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and the Scottish Highlands, as well as Devon. "When the atmosphere is what it's like – it's a full-house and both sets of fans want to win the game – they are the enjoyable games," the manager said. "It's the same as any other derby; both sets of fans don't like each other and both teams want to win the game. Derby matches are like that all over the world and both teams want to get one over each other. When you go into a derby match, it is important that you beat your rivals. We are no different. We enjoyed victory over them here this season and we know what it is to win against them. We look forward to going there this Saturday. There's a big rivalry between the two teams and it's important you win the game for the fans. Both teams will be very competitive. We've got a very good away record and that's something we're proud of; we will need to have that level of performance to go and win on Saturday." Adams added: "It's easier said than done, but when you get to the ground, and both sets of supporters are in there and the atmosphere is electric, both teams will want to go and put on a good show and want to win the match. We know that we won there last year; we've won here this season in the cup. We've played them twice this season; we know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Likewise them with us."
Apart from Ryan Brunt's long-term cruciate injury – which was operated upon this week – Argyle's only injury concern is defender Oscar Threlkeld, who missed Monday's 3-2 win over York with a slight groin strain. Threlkeld is one of seven loan players at Home Park, of which only five can be named in the match-day squad. Another is former Exeter favourite Daniel Nardiello. "We can only play five loan players and it is very difficult, when we have got seven, to fit everybody in," said Adams. "All the loan players are in the same situation; when you come on loan, it becomes difficult when a club has got over the allowed number to play in the team. "Daniel is in the same situation as Oscar Threlkeld, Craig Tanner, the lot of them – everyone understands that."
The manager is pleased to see that Tyler Harvey is making a success of his loan move to National League South side Bath City. The 20-year-old has scored three goals for Bath, including both in their 2-1 come-from-behind win against Weston-super-Mare on Easter Monday. Bath went behind in the 90th minute but Harvey struck twice in stoppage time, first from the penalty spot and then with a stunning shot from almost on the halfway line. Adams said: "It's very good for him to get game-time at Bath and I think he's enjoying it." Asked whether Harvey had a future at the club, Adams replied: "We have got a lot of players who are out of contract and it's too early to talk about that."
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