A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle head into the New Year at the top of League Two but Luke McCormick still knows that there is some way to go and that nothing is won yet. McCormick did however praise the strength of the unit so far and hoped that it would continue for some time to come. The goalkeeper said: "We've acquired a fantastic amount of points in a relatively short space of time so we're really happy with where at up to this point - but there's still a long long way to go. It's just half a job done at the moment. I think we had a tremendous team of individuals last season but I think we're more of a unit, more of a team this season. We've got a lot of quality within the ranks. I think consistency has been the big word. We've been able to put in some good performances and also get some cracking results. We've been able to come from behind which we've struggled to do at times. I think the bond and knit we have between the lads is as good as I've ever seen it and been involved with. That carries a long way because they're the lads that are fighting together on a Saturday. We spend a lot of time together so it's important that we're a close group and that's exactly what we are. We're a really well drilled unit and we work hard on the training ground. We know our responsibilities and our jobs. By the time Saturday afternoon comes we're well rehearsed. We've got a good work ethic about us which also helps and we're enjoying our football which is crucial. Hopefully we can emulate what we did all those years ago."
Derek Adams believes that Argyle's lofty position in League Two is down to the high standards that have been set over the 24 league games thus far. He said: “We’re in the position because we’ve performed to a very high standard – not because of any other reason. We’ve picked up 49 points now out of 24 games; we’ve done that with hard work and the graft of the players, and the quality we have in the team at times. That’s the reason we’re there; there is no other reason. It’s a very good points total at this stage of the season. We’ve got players that have got very good character about them. You look at the front two lads in Jake Jervis and Ryan Brunt today: they’ve worked ever so hard. Carl McHugh went from playing centre midfield into the back three. Ben Purrington came on, Josh Simpson came on as well. Having that in your squad can only help you. You’ve got to try and think ahead and plan ahead, and that’s what we try to do. We’ve come away with nine points in the last three games, and it’s moved us into a very good points total.”
Adams also praised what he felt was another deserved win at a difficult venue in Newport: “To win away from home is never easy, but we’ve been able to do that. This is one of the most difficult venues to come to. If you look at the clubs this season, they’ve found it difficult coming here and getting a positive result, but we’ve come away with three points. There was nothing in the first half. They had one ball in and they got the goal. But over the 90 minutes, I thought we were the better team, and probably should’ve scored a few more goals. We knew in the first half it was going to be difficult. Over 90 minutes we had more possession, more chances on goal, we probably could’ve had a couple of penalty kicks in there as well that we didn’t get, but to win the game is magnificent. Great goals from Jake Jervis and Ryan Brunt, but today was about getting the result. It was never going to be easy under the circumstances, and we’ve been able to pick up six points in two games. We changed the formation about a wee bit. We started 4-2-3-1 and switched to a diamond formation at half time, and changed to a 3-5-2 later on in the game. We’ve got the fluidity to change formation; we’ve got the players who can do that, as well. It saw us to the end of the match."
Jake Jervis has attributed Argyle's victory to sustained pressing and pressure on their hosts. This was especially true, he says, when they were taking advantage of the slope of the pitch in the second half: “It was hard work from the boys. In the second half, we set up to press them. They had the slope of the pitch in the first half, and we took advantage of it in the second. Me and Brunty worked hard up front and put pressure on them and I think Josh coming on, pressing the ball, making things happen, was a big difference. You had Carl McHugh in there, Oscar Threlkeld and Josh – they are all going to press and win you the ball, and that’s what they did. Then it’s down to me and Brunty to get a goal, and we got one each, which is good. It was a header, which I’m happy about. I got in the box and peeled off my man, and managed to get a flick on it. I feel like, most games, I’m going to score a goal so I’m confident, and I’ve had chances. As long as I keep getting in position, I’m going to score and I did that. This season, I’ve been used more out on the right and I think it’s benefited me because it’s let me play various possessions get on the ball more and run about.”
Argyle have made it three wins in succession and 6 points from a possible 6 over Christmas weekend with a 2-1 victory from behind at John Sheridan's Newport. Ironically, given that Sheridan only won one game from behind (at home) during his entire tenure as Argyle manager, the match was won from a losing position. Newport took the lead early in the game but goals from Jake Jervis and an on-form Ryan Brunt won Argyle the match. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld, Jervis, Tanner(Purrington), Wylde(Simpson), Brunt. Subs: Walton, Harvey, Rooney, Smalley, Reid.
At the exact halfway point of the season, Derek Adams has declared himself delighted with the progress of his Pilgrims this season. He added his hopes that things could get even better once he has a full squad of players back at his disposal: "We are obviously delighted to be top of the table. We have played the first 23 games and have got 23 to go. The points total of 46 is excellent and it has been a hard effort by the players and staff to get us to where we are. It was nice to see Josh and Reuben coming off the bench. They haven't trained a lot but it was good to have them back in the squad. We have got Hiram Boateng and Graham Carey still to go but when we have them back we will have a very competitive squad. What I would say is that we have done well to gather the points we have done. "We want to win every match. We have put ourselves in an excellent position. I don't think any Plymouth Argyle fan would have thought at the start of the season we would be in this position."
Derek Adams was generally pleased with the performance of his side against Yeovil on Boxing Day but gave particular praise to three players: Oscar Threlkeld, Ryan Brunt and Carl McHugh. Adams said: “Ryan worked really hard today and got his just rewards with the goal in the second half. It was a good strike from Craig Tanner, and any good striker will follow it up. Ryan did that. He was unfortunate not to have scored a couple more today. Ryan has played really well in the games he’s played for us. He’s worked tirelessly up front, and that’s something you need in this game. I thought McHugh and Oscar Threlkeld did really well today. I thought Oscar probably nicked it from Carl for man of the match. I thought he was outstanding, with the way he ran the ball down. But the two of them combined well, passed it well, created openings and really destructed the possibility of anybody doing anything for Yeovil.
“Over the 90 minutes, our play thoroughly deserved the three points. We created chances, and the way we passed the ball as well, we were in total command of the game. It was windy out there, but I thought that both teams handled it very well. It was an entertaining match. I thought we started exceptionally well in the game. We had a number of opportunities in the opening 15 to 20 minutes, and Yeovil struggled to get into our back line. The concentration has to be kept to a maximum in this league. You play against a lot of teams who come to Plymouth and really take off their guard and go for it. At times, Yeovil played like that, but we picked them off at times and created some good movements and good positions to get into. It was good to get a clean sheet today, but it was also good that we didn’t really come under pressure, so to speak, inside the 18-yard box. I thought our team shape and the way we set up were excellent. There was a magnificent turnout from the Plymouth Argyle fans. For them to stay behind and applaud the team off the park shows you the connection the players, the staff and the fans have at this football club. We’ve managed to gather momentum now, and we’ll look to try and continue that.”
In spite of wishing to sink his Newport side on the way to an Argyle victory on Monday, Ryan Brunt has not a bad word to say about former manager John Sheridan who gave him a chance in the football league once more: "To me, John was fantastic. I have got no bad words to say about him. But I think we have just pushed on this season, the whole team and the whole squad. We have done really well. We have gelled as a group and it's going in the right direction, but we can't take our foot off the gas.
"We worked hard but we have also seen it out in the right way. We knew we had this game at Newport coming up. We have got a few injured players back now, which is nice to see. You sit with your family on Christmas Day and they are all eating turkey and puddings. You are thinking 'we have got the game tomorrow' so it's always on your mind, probably more than any other game is. But to come out and get three points was the main thing and we have done it. That was really pleasing for the whole team.
"It's a good habit for a striker to have. It was deja-vu of Cambridge at home last season. Any goal is nice for me. Craig's shot has moved and the 'keeper has had to save it. Luckily, it has come into my path.
"The back four were really good today. Carl McHugh and Oscar Threlkeld ratted around in the centre of midfield. I think it was a solid team performance and we needed that at home really, just to put our little bad spell behind us."
Argyle have won their first home match in almost two months with a 1-0 victory over Yeovil Town. Ryan Brunt scored the game's only goal in the 59th minute on the rebound from a shot from Craig Tanner that was parried away by the Yeovil keeper. Argyle had an additional boost from the long awaited return of Reuben Reid to the matchday squad. Argyle stay top of League Two at the exact halfway point. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld, Jervis, Tanner(Simpson), Wylde(Reid), Brunt(Purrington). Subs: Walton, Harvey, Rooney, Smalley.
Derek Adams has hit out against the practise of playing two games in three days over the festive period. He cited the difficulty of squad rotation during a period of gruelling intensity, saying: "It's difficult for teams in League One and Two that don't have big squads. It doesn't give them an opportunity to rotate their squad. We haven't been able to do that this season. There are games where you would have liked to have maybe changed the team around a bit to give somebody a rest but we haven't had that opportunity. Over the Christmas period you play Saturday, Monday, Saturday. It's like going back to the 60s and 70s when teams used to play on Christmas Day and then Boxing Day. I understand it's a holiday on the Monday but I don't think it's fair to ask teams to play Saturday and Monday. It's a difficult couple of days but we have to get through it. It's not going to be easy. The last time I had to do that was when Ross County reached the Scottish Cup final. We had to play four games in a week. We played Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, Saturday. It can be difficult. I have looked into Newport's team and personnel, but my sole concentration is on the Yeovil game. Then right after the Yeovil game we will move onto Newport."
Argyle will have to be on the very top of their game to beat second-from-bottom Yeovil Town according to manager Derek Adams. He does not think Yeovil's lowly position in League Two will make the tie any easier: "This league is very difficult and you have seen that with a lot of results. Barnet went away to Oxford and won 2-0. You can never tell in this league. We will have to be ready for it. Take nothing away from Yeovil, they have been a Championship club in the last two years. We will have to be on top of our game. We have performed very well over the last six months to get to the top of the league. It's a tough league and with the way we have gone with a squad which has been very tight compared to the other teams around about us we are delighted with the progress we are making. Darren Way is a Plymouth lad and was a season ticket holder at Argyle so he will be looking forward to coming here. He will have his team pumped up and ready to go. They will be on the front foot from the start and we have to deal with that. They have done that in recent weeks and come away with some positive results. The injured players are progressing well, but slowly. We are hopeful we can get them back very soon."
Argyle's players will have an early start on Christmas Day to allow them to have dinner with their families, Adams also revealed. He said: "We will do the same session as we have every Friday. We will start a wee bit earlier at half-past nine to allow the boys to get back and see their families for their Christmas meal around about lunchtime. We will not eat here at Home Park. We will allow them to eat with their family. It's nothing new to professional football players. They can enjoy their Christmas dinner and being with their family. Some of them will not be with their family, which is obviously going to be difficult, but they have got a job to do. They will get that time to spend with their family later on."
Derek Adams may have his plans for the January transfer window but is refusing to comment on individual signings following reports in the Nottingham media that Argyle are interested in signing former England international Alan Smith. Adams said: When the transfer window is open you are always going to get speculation. That's just the nature of the business. We don't say anything until we have signed any given player. I'm not going to say I'm in for a player or I'm not. Somebody will be able to tell you that probably before I do. We have a plan in place and we are working to that plan at this moment in time. We will try to add to the squad in the January to help the players that have done so well this season. We are speaking to clubs and agents so it's nothing new. I don't think it will be done early this January, just with the way the transfer window has worked out. It will be very difficult for anybody to play on January 2. I think it will be later than that."
Derek Adams expressed delight in the willpower of his squad following the dramatic 2-1 win at Hartlepool- but joked that he wasn't always feeling so warmly towards a certain member of the squad following the penalty from which Hartlepool scored. Adams said: “I didn’t love Kelvin to bits then but I loved him to bits when he scored the goal. He didn’t really have to give away the penalty – the ball was crossed and the boy wasn’t on the end of it. The pace of the ball was far too quick. He didn’t have to make the challenge; he has fouled him. He just got himself in a bad position, but he got himself in a very good position to score the winner. The goals came from players who are not renowned for their goalscoring qualities but Carl McHugh had a great touch with his right foot and, technically, it was an excellent strike with his left. It’s a difficult game, coming here, but it’s a terrific win for us. We’ve seen teams come here in the past and struggle to get a point or struggle to get a win. In the first half, we had to weather the storm, from the point of view that it was windy and we were playing against the wind. It was important that we got ourselves in the game and got ourselves in at 0-0 at half-time; we knew we would have better opportunities in the second half. Three points is massive in this league – we know that. We know that when you are trying to get yourself in a very good position, you need to win football matches – the more wins you can get, the better opportunity you have. We’re obviously delighted to be top of the table. The performance levels have been very good and I think we deserve to be there.”
Adams also made a point of praising Argyle's new and improved away form having already equaled the total number of away wins in the whole of last season: “We have got the same away wins now as we had in the whole of last season and that’s very important at this stage. Our away form is excellent and you need to do that to do well in this league. It’s important you look to see how you can improve the side and that was one of the areas we had to improve this season,” he said. “Yes, we need to win at home, but it’s important that you can win away from home as well. It’s not easy: when you are looking at the Christmas period, there is a lot of expense to come away from home,” he said. “It’s fantastic backing we had today. They sung their hearts out and we appreciate them coming with us today. They are all big games – there is no bigger game than any other. The next game is the biggest game; we see that week in week out in this league. Anybody can beat anybody in this league.”
Adams was also glad to have Luke McCormick back at his disposal following recent injuries and hoped that the squad would soon be back to full fitness. He stated: “When you have that solid base to go forward, you are going to have a better opportunity of winning games. They have got a good understanding. It has been difficult over the last couple of weeks because we have had to change the squad around a bit. We have still got the injuries to come back to give us competition, but what I have got is a very good group of players who want to play in this side. Luke’s a very good presence for us. He’s an experienced goalkeeper. It’s tough on the likes of Christian Walton and James Bittner but Luke McCormick is one of the best goalkeepers in this league. Hopefully, by the turn of the year, we have got a clean bill of health and competition for places. We will try to strengthen in January, as well, and we’ll see where we can go from there.”
Argyle's man of the moment Kelvin Mellor gave his perspective on his matchwinning goal and revealed that he had a premonition of what was to come before the match. Mellor explained: “You couldn’t write it, to be fair. I didn’t want to go in to the dressing-room at 1-1 and everyone being disappointed – it makes the journey even longer. I was so happy and relieved to get that final goal to win the game. The ball came in from the left. I think it might have been a misplaced pass from Ben Purrington but, luckily, it fell to me. It bobbled a little bit. I just thought I’d hit it with the inside of my foot, take it as clean as I can and, hopefully, it hits the back of the net. I did actually say to Wottsy before the game ‘I fancy a goal today.’ He laughed at me, but I shoved it in his face. It’s nice to get the winner.
“I saw the ball come in and the guy was between me and Curtis Nelson. I thought ‘I’ll try and block him off’ but they all tell me he was nowhere near the ball and he was never going to get the ball. I thought there was a player in between me and Nelson and one behind me, and I thought ‘I need to do something here.’. I was quite fortunate not to get sent off, really, but the ref was good today. He said ‘It’s not a sending-off; it’s a yellow card.’ He thought Fenwick was not going to get the ball either, but I touched him. Hartlepool got well back into the game – they thought they’d go on to win with the momentum from the goal – but I feel, as a team, we played well and we deserved the win. I thought we communicated well and, as unit, did well. We didn’t really give them any chances whatsoever, other than the penalty. It’s nice, going into the break, being top of the table: the manager’s happy; the players are happy; we’ve got to crack on from here.”
Argyle have returned to winning ways emphatically with a 2-1 win at Hartlepool United courtesy of a last minute winner by Kelvin Mellor. Mellor's winner was redemption for giving away a penalty for Hartlepool's equaliser just 5 minutes earlier. Carl McHugh had given Argyle a 75th minute lead. Argyle return to the top of League Two following dropped points by Oxford and Northampton. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld, Jervis(Harvey), Tanner, Wydle(Purrington), Brunt(Smalley). Subs: Walton, Bentley, Hall, Rooney.
Argyle may be making their longest away trip of the season to Carlisle United but Derek Adams believes that home advantage will be scant advantage, particularly in the light of Hartlepool being stretched to extra time against Salford in the midweek FA Cup second round replay. Adams said: “They played on Tuesday night, and they’ve been able to progress to the next round of the Cup. Obviously they’ve had to exert energy, so that’s definitely something we have to try and take advantage of. If we’re able to run faster and run more than them, then it will give us an opportunity. On the flip-side, they’ve got the confidence that they’ve won the other day. They’ve done well at times in the league, they’ve changed their squad a lot since season – they’ve taken in a good number of players and it’s always a test going there; Plymouth found that out last year, losing 3-2. We’re hopeful we can go there and win the match. Oxford have gone there and won 1-0; Leyton Orient went there and lost, so we know it’s a difficult venue, but I believe we’ve got the team and the players to overcome that and get a positive result. We’ve had a lot of long trips this season, time-wise. Maybe not so distance-wise, but we’re hopeful that we get a clearer run up the M6 than we do going across to London. It’s proved troublesome this season, going across to London. I think that we’re seeing that teams are going away from home and having a right go at the opposition. The onus is always on the home team to go out and try and win. That then in turn leaves gaps in the defence and leaves you a wee bit open at times. Your home fans always want you to go and try and win the game. Teams play more and more on the counter-attack nowadays, and that’s why you’re seeing away teams picking up very good points. It’s just who performs better on the day. We can look into so many things, but you need your team to go and pass the ball well, create chances, and be stronger and harder than the opposition. That’s what we need to be. We’ve got to be wary, but I feel that I’ve got more than capable players here to go and win the match.”
With the door to the first team opened by injuries to regular starters, Derek Adams has challenged his young players to seize the initiative and prove they are worthy of a place in the first team. He said: “I’m not going to go into injuries – I’ve had enough of talking about injuries. We’ve got 18 players to choose from and when you get that, everybody feels involved. We have had the younger players playing in the Peninsula League on a Saturday, but they’ve got to earn their place in the first team. Right now, they’re lucky enough to get into the first team because of injuries, but what I want them to do is to really push on and push for that first-team berth. These games over the festive period are always good. The players will have their family around about them, they’ll be able to watch the games, and sometimes that helps them. We’re hopeful that we could get some injuries back by that time, and we might be able to do that. We always knew it was going to be tight. I’m looking to strengthen the squad in January, and that’s something that I’ve always done, and will continue to do, throughout my managerial career. You might not get the player you want in January, but there are a lot of options in January to take players. It’s just about finding the right player at the right time to take into your football club.”
Peter Hartley believes Argyle's recent tough run on form has brought the club together even more. He made the claim that Argyle are still capable of winning the League Two title in May: “I think it’s obviously disturbed our form, our confidence but it does it to every top team – I mean, look at Man United! It’s the same there as what’s happened to us, really. It’s really good to see that we still picked a couple of points up, and we’re getting boys coming back now. Every day, someone’s feeling better and better, so we’re slowly climbing that hill again to where we belong. It’s been tough, but it’s brought us closer together as a team. There’s always got to be people pushing for places in the first team, and there still is, to be fair. Tyler Harvey’s been coming on and doing really well, and he’s training unbelievably – it’s the best I’ve seen Tyler since I came to the club – so he’s definitely warranted the pitch time he’s getting. Obviously Deane Smalley’s back fit now, so this is why you need your squad. It’s not just about the 11 people on the pitch; it’s about the 22 people in the dressing-room. All successful teams have a good, strong dressing-room. If we get through what we’re getting through now at the minute, I think it will stand us in good stead for the stronger games we’ve got coming up towards the end of the season. There’s still a real buzz and confidence in the dressing-room. People are saying we’re a bit low on confidence and stuff – I can see where they’re coming from, but the group of players we’ve got are more than capable of winning this league without a problem, if we keep everyone fit.”
Derek Adams is braced for a busy Christmas period but has said that his Argyle side will treat it like business as usual. He explained: “It’s always the same: you just work over the Christmas period, it’s not a problem. It’s a job, it’s an occupation. We’ll come in on Christmas Day; we’ll come in on Hogmanay; we’ll train on New Year’s Day, and get on with it. That’s just the same as everybody else has to: hospitals, the fire brigade, the police, they’re exactly the same, and it’s not a problem. We’re on 40 points; we’ve won the second-most games in the division;we’ve got the second-best goal difference; so, if you look at it, we’re going really well. We’ve got in a very good position early in the season. We’ve got 20 points from our home games; 20 from our away games. We’ve got 40 points from 21 games – last season, it was 40 points from 28 games. When you look at it, we’re ahead of schedule. I’m a realist, and we are in a very good position because we’ve worked hard. We have had our injury problems, and that’s why we’ve maybe not won the games that we’ve had, but we’ve drawn games at home and away from home that are big points. Wins are vital – I know that from the past and from winning championships, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Peter Hartley has revealed how he thought he would be out for three months after receiving bad news about a foot injury. He aggravated a previous weakness in a training ground incident but it was not as bad as first feared. The defender, recently returned to the side, said: “I kicked the bottom of Ryan Lane’s foot so I sort of opened up an old fracture where the bone had fused and calcified in my foot that I didn’t even know about. Thank God it wasn’t an actual fracture. I got the news that I broke my foot so, mentally, I was thinking three months out, and then the guy’s rang up a week later saying we can inject it. I had my mindset on coming back in three months so that benefited me a lot. I felt like Christmas had come early. When the gaffer put me straight back in on Saturday, I felt like I was making my debut; on Friday night, I couldn’t sleep! I was so excited to play – I was chomping at the bit. I had a little down patch five days into my injury where I was thinking the worst, and I met the local chaplain, Arthur, and just said a little prayer with him, and obviously it must’ve worked.
“I’m feeling better every day, and just getting through training, working hard and getting my fitness back. I worked hard whilst being injured, so I don’t feel as though I’ve missed much, with regards to being off the pace with the boys. I’ve worked really hard since I got injured, because I just had my mind set on coming back fitter and stronger. To be honest with you, the games are easier than training, so the more games I play, the more recovery we do, and the less training we do. Training is tough, but we’ve got a really, really talented group of lads, and we set very high standards. No-one accepts anything below what we have a bar with, and if you train hard, the games are easy; that’s the motto we go for. It works out better for me with the type of injury I’ve got, because I can literally play, rest, recover, ice, and play again, rather than having to play, and then get through the training sessions for another game. The more games I have in such a short space of time, it works out more beneficial for myself, because I’m literally playing, recovering, then focussing on the next game.”
Argyle's usual Harpers Park training ground has been rendered unplayable by heavy rain in recent weeks but Derek Adams revealed the steps taken to counteract this: “We went to Marjon. We have been there for the last few days. Our training pitches have been - and are - out of commission at this time. The way the weather has been, with the heavy down pours, it becomes very difficult. Luckily we have a great university in town with great facilities. At my last club we had an indoor training facility where we had a 3D pitch, it was nice to go in there out of the elements, but no we train outside here. We are dealing with the amount of rain that we are getting at this moment in time. It rains a whole lot more here in Plymouth than it does in Scotland. It is really cold in Scotland but it does rain here more!
"I don’t think we’re feeling sorry for ourselves; we have picked up some very good points against Leyton Orient and Dagenham, but unfortunate to not pick up a point against Cambridge on Saturday, with a late goal from them. From our point our view we are just going to keep ticking along and try to pick up as many points as we can. We have done really well so far. We have picked up 40 points in 21 games and it is excellent progress.”
Derek Adams has given his latest update on the injuries to Reuben Reid and Hiram Boateng respectively- showing more optimism about the latter than the former. Adams said of them each: "You are not going to replace him because you would have to go out and spend money. It's difficult at this stage in the season to do that. He has had a setback from the same injury as before. He has been out for longer than I anticipated. I'm not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. I rely on the medical staff to get the players back as quickly as possible because it's an important job for the football club.
"He has missed a good number of games. I think it's nearly six weeks now he has been out. He's getting there and as soon as he's ready to start training then he will come back to us. He will be working hard at Crystal Palace and I don't think it will be too long before we see him back in action."
Gregg Wydle has vowed to put things right on the training pitch after Saturday's defeat to Cambridge. He vowed to work on the things that went wrong and build on the few pearls of light from the game. The winger said: “It’s two games in a row that we’ve not played well. We’ve not taken the three points in the last two games so I think we’ve got something to work on in training field. I think we started the second half and did quite well. When we got the goal I thought we could go on and get the three points, but it’s just an error at the back that’s cost us at the end of the day. We just need to get on with it.
“People make mistakes. I know Pete is a big influence in the team; he’s a good friend of mine as well. I just tried to say that to him in the changing room. We just need to move on these things happen. I think we missed him last week against Dagenham. He’s come back in and done well. Hopefully we can pick up six points in the next two games and put us back on track. The Christmas period is coming up, this is the time you need to not drop points. We’ve worked well up til now and we don’t want to ruin it. Overall, I think we just need to sit down on Monday, regroup and hopefully we can get everybody back on the field."
Derek Adams believes a draw is the least Argyle deserved from their 2-1 loss to Cambridge at Home Park. Whilst he conceded that the visitors had the better of the first half, he felt that the second was very even. Adams gave his assessment of the game: “It’s good play from Jake Jervis down the right-hand side, a cross from him, and then a header from Gregg Wylde. It’s something that we’ve spoken about since the start of the season. It was a good way to get back into the match, and to see us get back to 1-1. I think they tried to attack, but I don’t think there was much in the match. I think Cambridge had the better of the first half, without doubt. In the second half, we came into the game and scored a good goal to make it level, and probably 1-1 would have been a fair result. When you’re so close to the end of the game just to slip and allow them to get a shot at goal… that’s what happened. It was a difficult one, because of the way the goal happened. He played like he had never been away. Peter is a whole-hearted player, and it’s difficult for him, because the slip at the end has allowed them to get a shot at goal. There is a problem with the pitch. Hopefully it’s going to be fixed during the week. That was probably one of the reasons. It’s got an algae on the pitch, and it has to be treated, and hopefully that will be sorted during the week.”
Loanee defender Luke Croll has been recalled by parent club Crystal Palace and will no longer be available for Argyle selection. Adams reported on the recall and explained why he did not use any substitutes in the match against Cambridge: Luke Croll has been recalled by Crystal Palace, and he’s gone back there. There’s nothing I can do about that – Crystal Palace wanted him back. I thought it was difficult. We had a very young team on the pitch, and all it was going to do was make it even younger. I didn’t think that I had a lot of options. I’ve watched them in the reserves, I’ve watched them in the development games, and I didn’t feel that today was the right time to put them on. It’s a difficult afternoon playing against a team that have got vast numbers in their squad to take on.”
Derek Adams believes injury to be the reason for Argyle's recent drastic drop-off in form. He said that any side would suffer for losing many of their best players, explaining: “The reason is that we were without a lot of important players. We’ve got a tight squad, and we can’t do without the players we’re missing. We’re missing five players today who are regulars in the team; when you have that out at this level, it becomes very difficult. That is not an excuse: that is reality. I think that any team in this division, if they are missing their second-highest goal-scorer and most creative player in Graham Carey, Reuben Reid, Hiram Boateng, and Luke McCormick, they’re going to find it difficult.
"Luke McCormick trained on Thursday. He had recovered from his groin injury, and then he picked up a finger injury last week. He’s close to a return, yes. We’re obviously disappointed, and a number of them we’re not going to see until the new year, which is a huge disappointment. We’d rather that they were back quicker than that. I don’t see any difference from the 18 than the 18 that will go to Hartlepool next week. I find it quite alarming that we’re in this situation, but it’s difficult because we’ve been on such a good run. We are still high up in the league, but we’ve to do without a number of top players. We’ve got to get on with it. We’re doing that, the players are doing that, but it’s frustrating that we’ve got a lot of important players out.”
Gregg Wylde is pleased to be back amongst the goals for Argyle having not scored since August but would rather they came in happier circumstances. He said that he has been trying to add goals to his game: “I’ve had a few nips in the ear with my dad and the manager saying I just need to get back on the score sheet. [It should be that] if I’m not assisting, I’m scoring and if I’m not scoring, I’m assisting. I think it’s good to score but it’s disappointing we lost that goal at the end. Jake said at the start of the game he’s due me a goal and he said at full time it was good to see me scoring. It was a good ball, I just went to the front post and put it in. It was good. I’ve had a few shots on goal in the last few games," he said, "but I think I need to start scoring goals. I’ve created goals but I think there’s a lot to still be worked on going forward and mix my game up a bit as well.”
Argyle's disappointing run of form has continued in spite of the two week break with a 2-1 defeat at home to Cambridge. The visitors took the lead early on in the game and in spite of an Argyle equaliser from Gregg Wylde with 20 minutes to go, they went on to grab the winner. Argyle have now lost 3 out of their last 4 competitive games at home and slip to 3rd in the league. Argyle: Walton, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld, Jervis, Tanner, Wylde, Brunt. Subs: McCormick, Bentley, Purrington, Harvey, Hall, Rooney, Smalley.
Derek Adams stated that Argyle's two week break to prepare for their game against Cambridge was just the right amount of time and expressed his hope that his players would be back to their very best form. Adams: The players have had a break on a Saturday; I think that they needed that. They’ve got a bit of refreshment about them physically and mentally. They’ve played a lot of games this season and they had the weekend off. We worked hard before that and we’ve worked hard this week. We’re only concentrating on league form and we’ve won the most games this season in the league. We’ve got one of the best away records and one the best home records. If you look at it we’ve done exceptionally well; we’ve only lost two of the last 15 games this season. From that point of view, I’m very good with stats, you can spin it whatever way you want. There’s only one stat you need to know and that’s points.
“It’s a difficult match for us but we’re at home and we’ve got to take the game to Cambridge. They’ve got Barry Corr, who is one of the top strikers in the division; he’s scored a lot of goals. They’ve got a number of loan players in and they have recruited a lot in the summer. It’s a long season and we just have to concentrate on ourselves. We’ve got a team that are looking to go and win the match.”
Adams also gave an insight into the role of chief scout Greg Strong in sussing out opponents and ensuring the little variables needed to win the games are within Argyle's control. Adams explained Strong's role: “His main task is to go and see the opposition before we play. I always like to know from somebody watching the game. We watch it on videos as well, which gives us an insight and we can break it down. It’s always important that somebody can see the whole pitch and see where the team have their strengths and weaknesses. When he’s up there in the north west he’s got the motorways. He can go north, south, east and west and quite quickly. He’s been a number of times to London this season so he’s been on his travels. I worked with a chief scout in Scotland, Stuart Millar, for seven or eight years and that relationship is important because it’s important that you see the game from somebody else’s eyes as well. On your own you can miss things and it’s important that you listen to other people.“
Adams also refused to be drawn on the future of Argyle's 5 loan players, stating that nothing has been decided yet: "I haven't spoken to any of the players yet, but I'm in constant dialogue with their clubs. We will just assess things between now and the January period. It's not always in our hands. We can push things along, but the other clubs have got to make decisions as well. We will have to look at that. It's about the loan players putting in performances, like anybody in the squad, to prove they should stay. They have all done really well so far this season and it's something that has been very positive."
Carl McHugh has highlighted Argyle's run of Christmas fixtures as a chance to regain their dominance at the top of League Two: “We’re really looking forward to it. It’s a massive opportunity for us to get some points on the board, and we’re raring to go. We want to kick on now and stay up at the top of the table. We’ve done really well so far this season. We may’ve had a little blip in the last few games but we’ve done really well over the course of the season and we’re nearly at the midway point. We want to go on now and stay at the top of the league. They got a new manager recently and, to be fair, they’ve got some decent players in this season. They’ve given it a bit of a go. They've got Barry Corr from Southend so they’ll be a decent side, definitely. It’s going to be a tough game but we’re confident. At home, we’re confident against anyone really, with the supporters behind us. We’ll just be worrying about putting on a good performance first, then hopefully the result takes care of itself. Dagenham was a really disappointing performance, and personally I want to get back out there as quick as possible. If you’re having a two-week break you’d rather finish it off with a victory so you can enjoy it that little bit more. There’s always a tinge of disappointment after the Dagenham game went really, but it’s given us a chance to recharge the batteries, and we’re all raring to go for Saturday.”
McHugh also declined to use Argyle's recent injuries as an excuse for the recent poor form. Whilst he said that we will inevitably miss players of the calibre of Hiram Boateng and others, we still have the players in the squad to be able to surpass the difficulties arising. McHugh said: "They are part and parcel of football. You are always going to get them. It's a slog of the season with a lot of games. It's inevitable people are going to pick up little knocks and injuries. The people coming into the team are going to have to step up and we just have to stick together and get through it. Hopefully, we will have everyone back ready for the last stretch of the season and then we can give it a good push. You are going to miss a player like Hiram Boateng. He has been massive for us. Coming in at the age 19 and playing like he has done, week in week out, has been unbelievable. I have enjoyed playing with him but hopefully we will get him back soon – and for the rest of the season. We just have to overcome it. We have got plenty of good players in the squad who can come in. It gives chances to other people to stake their claim for the rest of the season. We just have to stick together and come through it. I have done alright so far. Adapting to a new position has been different but I have really enjoyed it. It has made it a bit easier having good players in alongside me. I just want to keep going and be consistent over the course of the season. There is no point having a good start to the season and then fading away."
Argyle's first match of 2016 away to Carlisle United will be played away from their usual home ground of Brunton Park. Their ground has only just been deemed safe for staff to return to following recent flooding that has decimated the playing surface. The match will be hosted by Blackburn's Ewood Park and will still take place at 3pm on Saturday January 2nd.
Argyle's League Two game at home to Northampton Town, originally schedule for January 9th has been moved back three days to Tuesday January 12th. This is due to Northampton's participation in the FA Cup third round. They will host MK Dons on the day.
Derek Adams explained that he is still very keen for Argyle's development players to play a part in the future of his Argyle side but does not feel they are ready just yet. He gave a report on their progress and said how keen he was for them to go out on loan and get some match action. Adams: “It’s important that at their age that they’re pushing to play in first teams and I think that going out on loan could help their development in the near term. Louis Rooney has come from under-18 football and now he’s into full-time football. They are developing as players. Training with the first-team everyday is a different avenue and we’ve seen that from the likes of Callum Hall, Aaron Bentley and you’ve got Ben Purrington, Tyler Harvey./“Ryan Lane has been given an extra year because of his knee injury and he’s still paid as an apprentice. He’s been given an extra year to try and get him back on track; come the summer we have to make a decision if he’s worth, like the rest of them, a new contract to be a first-team player. We’ll continue to judge everybody. They have to now push and be ready to play in the first team on a consistent basis but before you can do that you need to play well in the reserve games and development games on a consistent basis. All these players that I’ve mentioned need to be top performers on a weekly basis and then when they come into first-team training they have to then stand out as well. Until they do that they’ve got to push on. It’s not easy when you’ve got a good group of players like we’ve got."
Chairman James Brent has given a progress report on Derek Adams' time at the club so far. Needless to say, it is broadly positive. He then went on to elaborate on the financial state of the club: "I'm absolutely thrilled what Derek and the team have achieved. I guess the expectation was it would take some time for the new management team and the additions to the squad to settle in, and yet they have got off to a flying start. The approach we took was, as a board, to sit down and work out 11 characteristics that we wanted of the new manager. We then long-listed and short-listed, and interviewed, according to those characteristics. We marked separately so we didn't know what each other was thinking and everyone on the interview panel agreed that Derek was the person that best met those objectives. Quite a number of the objectives went beyond playing winning football. There were quite a few of the 11 that did relate to engagement in the wider club, and bringing youth together with the first team, and so on.
"By footballing terms, it's actually pretty good financially. We have paid back a lot of debt and we turned a profit last year as, I think, one of three League Two clubs to do so, and this year is looking stronger again. I don't think football will ever be a place where people make fortunes. I think it will be a place where many people lose fortunes – and that shouldn't be us, I hope. In terms of the revenues, season tickets are up marginally but matchday tickets are substantially more, and the retail and hospitality spend is looking positive."
Argyle are well-prepared for the January transfer window, according to chairman and owner James Brent. In the light of recent speculation about Argyle's best players and calls for Argyle to offer new contracts to those stars, Brent stated that the club are well prepared for all eventualities: "My personal approach in life is if we have an asset that other people hanker after and desperately want to buy, that has got to be good news. It means we have got something which everyone else believes is good. I think if no-one is interested in your players then it probably suggests you have got less good quality players. So it's a quality problem to have, but we have a manager who is incredibly detailed in his preparation. If he hadn't got a scenario for every conceivable event I would be quite surprised. It's one of those things that we can't influence, whether people do come in for our players or don't.
"I think new contracts are a question for the manager. We have monthly discussions between the manager and the board, and the tactics of what he does and when is primarily a decision for the manager which needs board approval. But I think you can rest assured the board are likely to support what the manager wishes to do. Clearly, there have been discussions over recent months as to what he wants to do.
"Derek has shared his views on that and I think there is a meeting of minds between the board and Derek on the support that he would like and the support the board is willing to give. From what I have seen about football, I absolutely do not believe in large squads, and Derek doesn't either. Independently of Derek's thoughts, there is no evidence I can see that large squads create winning teams. I think having tight squads and investing your money in the best quality players that you can afford, and having challenge for places is great. But having large numbers of professional footballers sitting around not playing competitive games is, I think, a really bad strategy."
Ex-Argyle captain and current defensive coach Paul Wotton has paid tribute to his current young prodigy and current skipper Curtis Nelson. Wotton said that whilst Nelson still has a lot to improve about his game, he has come on hugely in recent years. Wotton: "He's quicker than I was! Nelse has done great. He's a good professional and has played a lot of games. He knows he has got lots to work on still, things that will improve him as a footballer, but he's doing okay and, at the minute, he's part of a successful team. There are things I have spoken to Nelse about, and the manager has spoken to him about. Listen, every player in the world can improve on something. It's just certain things that would hopefully help take him to the next level, which would be great to see. He's a fantastic athlete, with power and pace, but the higher you go the better the players are, and the movement of centre-forwards will be far better. Physically, he can play as high as he wants to really, but you need other things in your game.
"I think he's improving as a captain all the time. There are things off the pitch that a lot of people don't realise you have to do as a captain, which I was never too keen on, but Curtis is a good organiser and keeps the boys together in the changing room – that type of thing. He's an intelligent boy and picks things up quickly. Defensively, we have been solid. I used to live for clean sheets and it's something I try to instil in the defenders. A manager once said to me 'clean sheets win you promotion'. We haven't kept one for the last couple of games but, at the minute, we have got the joint best defensive record. We are always striving for better and the defenders take on board what we say. Every goal you can sit there and dissect and say 'well, he should have this and he should have done that' but you are never going to keep a clean sheet in every game – it's impossible. Overall, we are pleased with the defending.
"The boys have performed really well this season and shown a good desire and a good work ethic every day, and we have had our rewards on the pitch so far. It has been a strange week in training because you are not really preparing for anything. It has been about keeping the boys ticking over and then they will get a well-deserved rest because they work hard every day in training and are a fit bunch of boys."
Craig Brewster gave a brief progress report on Argyle's players who are coming back to fitness following the development game against Newport at Home Park: “We had three under-18 players in the starting 11 and they’ll get good experience from that. It’s another step on the way up their ladder. There’s been a few guys come back from injury long-term. Deano: it was really good to see him. I thought his performance was really good, he looked like his old self. Louis Rooney playing wide right, gives us a threat. Brunty through the middle, after a fantastic goal the other day and Tyler Harvey playing where he enjoys playing. It was a bit end to end today. For all the hard work we did, then a couple of minutes later they would equalise or they would go ahead and we fought hard to equalise. We’re disappointed with losing the goal with two minutes to go but they were a threat up top and we found it tough defensively. I thought it was a good game. Newport came and they were decent, there were one or two experienced players in their team and trying to get that balance is always what you’re looking for in a team. They were a threat going forward and you can see why the boy Collins is rated highly, he was a threat all day to us. I thought Rooney was a threat today. He looked hungry, he looked sharp and strong. He was a threat to them. Smalley played a couple of Peninsula games on a Saturday morning and got another 80-85 minutes under his belt which will do him the world of good. I thought he looked bright today."
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