A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle are hoping the thigh injury suffered by Jason Banton is not too serious. John Sheridan said: "He has picked up a bit of a thigh strain. Hopefully, he won't be out for too long. It's a shame because he's a massive threat. He took his goal brilliantly and he's a big player for us." Banton's replacement at Kingsmeadow was Jamie Richards, who made his league debut for Argyle. Richards played at left-back with Onismor Bhasera moving into the midfield role which had been vacated by Banton. Sheridan said: "It was difficult for Jamie because he has not played at left-back a lot but I thought he did all right. He's a steady player and he has done well in training. He's working hard to try to impress me and try to force his way into the team. I don't think he did anything wrong. The pace of the game caught up with him in the end, but he did okay." Sheridan thought Reuben Reid had his best game for Argyle since starting his second spell at the club. His one-month loan from Yeovil Town ended on Tuesday night and Sheridan is having discussions about his future. He said: "I will talk to Reuben and to his club. I thought that was probably his best game for us on Tuesday. He worked a lot harder. I had a chat with Reuben. For me, he should be one of the best strikers in this division. Reuben knows he has got to work harder. If he does that, and moves the ball quickly, he can be a big player for us. I will have a chat and see what everyone's feelings are. I will make a decision and whatever one I make, hopefully it will benefit us." Argyle's draw against Wimbledon leaves them three points adrift of safety with 12 games to go. Sheridan said: "There was a lot at stake for both teams so, obviously, it was tense. They were at home and it was a chance for them to get further away from us. And it was a chance for us to get a positive result and get closer to the teams around us. I thought it was a good battling performance. We worked really hard. I can't fault their effort." Barnet come to Home Park on Saturday, our points clear of Argyle after beating Southend United on Tuesday. Sheridan said: "It's a massive game on Saturday. They had a great result. All the teams at the bottom are in form at the moment. I know we have only taken a point out of the last three games, but we are all scrapping. I believe we can get out of the position we are in. The most important thing is not to be in the bottom two at the end of the season, and I have got to make sure we do that. There are going to be a lot of twists and turns."
Jamie Richards made his league debut for Argyle at Wimbledon on Tuesday night, but his introduction came as rather a shock to him. “It was a great feeling to get thrown in,” he said, “I wasn’t expecting it when it was a winger that went down. I never thought it was going to be me that would come on, but it was brilliant that it was. We had Paris, Andres and Youngy who can all play out wide, so it was a great feeling. The gaffer picked me out in training the other day and said ‘Be ready, because I might throw you in’ and he asked me if I’d ever played left-back. It was a little indication and I’ve been working hard in training. Thankfully it’s paid off.” Richards is aware that the step up in class at a young age is the main thing he will have to adjust to, should he wish to be involved in the first-team on a regular basis. He said: “It’s hard for me to make that adaptation from reserve-team football to first-team football. You’ve got to switch on and concentrate so much more because the pace is so much quicker. A few times I got caught out on the ball. In a reserve game, you’re used to having a bit of time to pick out a pass but in this it’s a lot quicker and you get someone close you down. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready for that.” The draw at Wimbledon left Argyle and their opponents occupying the League 2 relegation slots. “To get a point out of that, it was a vital point,” said Richards. “Three would have been nice, but it’s still a point that is vital at this stage of the season. It was really good first half. In the second half, we dropped off it a bit but I think that’s going to happen in these sorts of games. Barnet is an absolutely massive game. If we get three points from that, then tonight’s point becomes a great point.” Over 800 Argyle fans backed the team at Wimbledon, and their support enhanced the excitement of Richards’ night. “It’s brilliant when they get behind you,” he said. “For me, and maybe it’s different for other players and I’m not used to it, if you hit a good pass and they get behind you, it’s a great feeling. I just want to go on and do it more. Fingers crossed, hopefully the gaffer knows he can trust me and I’ll always give 100% if he does throw me in.”
John Sheridan is unequivocal about Argyle’s prospects of remaining in the Football League. He said: “I definitely believe that we’ll get out of the position and we won’t be in the bottom two at the end of the season, and that’s the most important thing. I’ve got to make sure we do that. There are going to be a lot of twists and turns. We have got to try to win one or two games sooner, rather than later.”
It took Wimbledon just two minutes to equalise after Jason Banton opened the scoring for Argyle in last night’s 1-1 draw at Kingsmeadow, something that John Sheridan found unacceptable. “The biggest downer was the way we conceded,” he said. “We completely switched off. I wasn’t happy with the way they celebrated the goal. I’m pleased to score a goal, but I saw people run 60 or 70 yards, just get organised quickly and get our shape back. We’ve just scored a great goal, got ourselves in a winning position, then 30 seconds later you’re screaming your head off because you’ve just conceded a very, very soft goal. If you hold on to the lead a little bit longer, you get a bit of belief that you can go on and win the game but it was a bad time to concede, very disappointing. We just didn’t keep hold of the lead for long enough and it gave them a bit of momentum and they came back at us.” Apart from the post-goal switch-off, Sheridan was pleased with the defensive work and noted an improvement on previous performances. “It was a good battling performance,” he said. “I thought we worked really hard. Again, we defended really well. We’re not conceding many goals. We’re working hard as a team, not many teams play through us. If we were cute enough, we had good opportunities to use the ball better in the opposition half. If we’d had done that, I think we could have caused them more problems. That’s been a big let-down for us. We created little chances and I think we’re improving, but we have got to improve quickly because I see lots of silly little things that we do. We’re in the ascendancy and then we do something stupid and we end up conceding corners and free-kicks where they are going to be a threat. We need to be cleverer on the ball and know how we can cause problems for the opposition.” Banton scored his third goal in four games since joining Argyle on loan, but limped off soon after and had his left thigh heavily strapped. “It’s shame, because he’s a massive threat,” said Sheridan. “He struck his goal brilliantly. He’s a big player for us. Hopefully, he won’t be too long out.”
Argyle drew 1-1 at Wimbledon, the goal scored by Jason Banton after 26 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Branston, Charles, Bhasera, Banton, Cox, Hourihane, Ugwu, Murray, Reid. Subs – Richards, Chadwick (not used – Chenoweth, Wotton, Cowan-Hall, Gurrieri, Young). Attendance – 4,480
Paul Wotton is relishing the challenge of Argyle's vital trip to Wimbledon tonight. He said: "It's a big game. There is no getting away from it. It's not just another game. It won't make or break the season but we know how important it is. We have done well in the last two away games so we have nothing to fear at all. We are looking forward to it. We don't want to put the performance right from Saturday, but we want to put the result right." Argyle were also involved in the relegation battle when they played at Wimbledon last March, and their 2-1 win was a crucial factor in them eventually staying up. Wotton said: "We take heart not only from last season's result but from the last two away games. I'm not saying we are going there full of confidence but we are certainly not doom and gloom, that's for sure. There were ups and downs in the relegation battle all the way. We were in the bottom two for a long, long time. It will change." Argyle were the better team in the first half at Northampton but could not turn that into any goals. Northampton put them under more pressure after the break and made the breakthrough in the 70th minute. Wotton said: "We came in at half-time and were happy with how we had played, without scoring. We got in some real good areas and I thought we more than coped with their physical threat. They do what they do well. I thought we coped with it all game. To concede the goal in the manner we did was disappointing. The great thing is we have got another game and we haven't got time to dwell on it. I think it would have been a long week in training else. If we can get three points tonight, Saturday kind of gets forgotten about."
Nick Chadwick returns to the Argyle squad after completing his six-match suspension tonight. Argyle coach Gary Owers said: "He's available and he has worked very hard during his suspension. He has kept his head down, which was the right thing to do in the circumstances. He gives us an extra body up front to consider. He will come into the squad and I think he will figure somewhere in John's thinking." Sheridan could choose between Chadwick and Reuben Reid to lead the attack tonight. Reid has started the last five games but has not got any goals. Owers said: "We’re certainly competitive and the games have been very, very close. We just need someone to score a goal for us. The onus is on everybody in the team to try to score a goal. If you look at Saturday’s game, a couple of centre-halves had opportunities, the lads in the middle of the park were getting into the box a little bit more. It’s something we have got to solve very, very quickly. If we are not going to score a goal, we are never going to win any games between now and the end of the season. That simply can't happen. In the first half, I thought we were very positive and we took the game to them. You have got to try to score when you are on top of games and obviously that’s a problem for us at the moment. In the second half, we never quite got to the levels of the first half, but we were still in the game. The goal changed the course of the game, they got stronger and we sort of fell away a little bit.” Reid's one-month loan ends tonight and Owers confirmed no decision had been made yet on whether it would be extended. The same applies to Jason Banton, whose loan from Crystal Palace expires after the game with Barnet on Saturday. Argyle will assess the fitness of Durrell Berry before tonight’s game. Berry was ruled out of the defeat at Northampton on Saturday by tendonitis in a knee, so Maxime Blanchard filled in at right-back. Owers added: "We have got quite a big squad and it's just trying to find the right balance to see us through to win the game tonight."
A win away to Wimbledon tonight would see Argyle move above their opponents on goal difference, and Gary Owers is looking forward to the match. He said: "It will be a very competitive game tonight. It's a small pitch, tight surroundings and a good atmosphere. It's a game we are going to look forward to and, hopefully, bring something back to Plymouth at the end of it. Why would you not look forward to it? We aren't going into games with fear. We are going into games trying to get out of the situation we are in. It has been a horrible weekend, the result was disappointing and you come off the pitch and you find yourself at the foot of the table. But we haven't got to wait a week to try to resolve the issue. This game has come around very quickly. We have got 13 games to go and, the way I look at it, we have got to improve our position by two places to avoid relegation. That's the name of the game and that's a fight we are all in, so bring it on. We are bottom of the Football League and my motivation, as a player, would be to get out of that situation as quick as possible." A near-capacity crowd of around 5,000 is expected at Kingsmeadow tonight, with Argyle set to have more than 700 away supporters. Owers added: "Our away support is brilliant. It's unbelievable. What can you say? It's something we don't take for granted. We are really grateful we have got that support and we hope we can give them something to crow about. It made a difference at Aldershot and the fans were terrific on Saturday. That certainly made a difference. We need them on board because every game we play now is going to be important."
Video evidence has shown that the referee was correct to award the goal which saw Argyle lose 1-0 at Northampton Town on Saturday. The Argyle players protested that Jake Cole had been fouled when trying to catch a corner but, as replays showed, it was Paris Cowan-Hall that impeded him. Paul Wotton was booked as the players protested and John Sheridan voiced his anger towards the fourth official, and continued to do so. That led to Sheridan receiving a lecture from the referee during a break in play. After the final whistle, there were further complaints to the referee from Argyle, with Cole and Gary Owers in long conversation with him on the pitch. Sheridan spoke to the media only minutes after the match had ended and had not had a chance to see any TV coverage of the incident. He said: "It's a clear foul on the keeper. It's only him who doesn't see it. It's ridiculous." Guy Branston was also adamant Cole had been fouled when he was interviewed. He said: "It's alright saying it's a tough job for referees but that's a blatant bad decision. It has cost us a goal in a game we were on top of." Branston was also very critical of the overall performance of the referee. "The referee couldn't wait to stop things," he said. "There were fouls going on, yes, but some of the stuff he was stopping it for weren't even fouls. It's very disappointing. The lads are gutted in there. We are now bottom of the league and a clean sheet would have really set us up for a good game at Wimbledon." Branston was among the most vocal of Argyle's players as they appealed about the decision to award the goal. He added: "You are fuming and you challenge them in the way they to want to. You go over there and approach them in a nice manner. Then they still want to get the cards out because you are approaching them."
John Sheridan highlighted Argyle's lack of goals as a cause for concern after they slumped to the bottom of the table. He said: "We are defending well as a unit, and we are working hard for each other, but we are not scoring goals. If we are not scoring, we are not going to win anything. The results have gone against us and we find ourselves at the bottom now. We are in a scrap. We have got to look at how we are going to try to create more chances and score goals to win games, and we have got to do it quickly." The visit to Wimbledon tomorrow will be followed by another 'six-pointer' against Barnet at Home Park on Saturday. Sheridan said: "They are big games. They are two teams who are near us. It's difficult to take that we are bottom, but we have just got to stay together and believe we can get out of the position we are in. That's what we will carry on doing. We have got to focus on the performance, not the result. I thought we played really well in the first half. If we can take that into the game against Wimbledon we will have a chance of winning." Sheridan revealed Durrell Berry had been ruled out of the game against Northampton because of a knee injury, so Maxime Blanchard was a late call-up to the team to play out of position at right-back. Berry's late withdrawal from the squad on Saturday morning meant Argyle had only six substitutes on the bench.
Guy Branston issued a rallying cry to his team-mates after the defeat at Northampton saw Argyle sink to the bottom of League 2. “It’s bitter,” he said. “As any footballer will tell you, a loss lasts longer than a win. It hurts me even if I consider getting relegated, because I have never been relegated before. I’m proud of that. I have worked very hard for that record and I don’t want to lose it this season.” Branston is part of a defence that has conceded just three goals in their last five games, but the team have only managed to win only once in that spell. “I thought we did very well against a really good side,” Branston added. “They are near the top of the table for a reason, they are organised, compact, hard to break down. The lads are gutted. It’s make or break, these games now. There’s no messing about, we have got to score goals. We have to be positive. We have got to go out and score goals and win.”
John Sheridan admitted that the controversial goal that sent Argyle to the bottom of the table knocked the stuffing out of his players. The decisive strike went down as an own goal by Jake Cole after one of a series of goalmouth scrambles from a corner. Argyle players called for a foul but it appeared that a collision with Paris Cowan-Hall jarred the ball from Cole’s hands. Sheridan said: “It set us back so much because, up until the goal, we were well in the game. We defended really well and played some decent football when we had to. They are a horrible team to play against, everything’s coming into the box, everything’s high, they are all 6ft 2in. I’ll give my lads credit. We were competing and compact and we were right in the game. The goal set us back, the manner of the goal, and we just went a little bit. We really didn’t get going and get back in the game.” The best opportunity Argyle had came when Jason Banton beat three players in a run where he cut in from the left and was denied only by a great block from a defender. Sheridan said: “It was an unbelievable bit of football and we had one or two headers we could have done a lot better with. They are good opportunities and you have got to take them.” The defeat leaves Argyle bottom of League 2 ahead of two important games this week against other relegation-threatened sides, at Wimbledon on Tuesday and home to Barnet on Saturday. “They are big games,” said Sheridan. “Two teams who are near us or around us. They are all tough games. We played against a team today who have the best home record in the division and we have matched them, but we have lost the game. It’s difficult to take, because we are bottom, but we have just got to stay together and believe we can get out of the position we’re in. That’s what we’ll carry on doing. We have just got to focus on the performance, not the result. If we battle like that and play like that, especially in the first half, I thought we played really well, and take that into the game against Wimbledon, we will have a chance of winning.”
Argyle lost 1-0 at Northampton Town. Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Branston, Charles, Bhasera, Banton, Wotton, Cox, Hourihane, Cowan-Hall, Reid. Subs – Ugwu, Gurrieri, Murray (not used – Chenoweth, Young, Richards). Attendance – 5,382
Argyle can expect to face a barrage of long throw-ins from their former centre of excellence midfielder Ben Tozer, when they take on Northampton Town at today. John Sheridan said: "If you have got something that's effective, there is nothing wrong with using it. I think both of their goals last came from his throws. It can cause you big problems and it's important we don't give cheap throw-ins away in silly areas. But he does throw it from the halfway line so there really isn't too much you can do. We will just have to defend the first ball and then people will have to get their bodies in the way." Argyle had to deal with a long throw-in threat at Aldershot Town last week, and the presence of Paul Wotton playing in a midfield holding role, was one of the main reasons they withstood that test. Wotton was not included in the starting line-up for the defeat by Oxford United last Saturday, and Sheridan said: "He will be in the squad. He did well for me in the last away game so he's in my thoughts, as are a few players. I always put a team out that's going to try to win us the game."
John Sheridan is only too aware of the problems his side have had finding the back of the net recently. He said: “Goals are a big problem for us at the moment. There are eight teams that I feel are going to be in the fight to avoid relegation. We’ve got the best defensive record out of the eight. At the same time, we’ve only scored four goals, we’ve only conceded three, so the big problem is that if you’re going to win football matches, you’re going to have to score goals. Our performances have got to be more positive and we’ve got to believe that we’re going to create problems for the opposition. That’s something that I’ve got to look at. Maybe I’ll need to pick a different formation when we play at home but, whatever I have to do, I’ll do it. We’ve got two tough away games now against teams that are going to be in your face, trying to upset you and put you on the back foot. We’ve got to go and believe that we can get something from both games.” Argyle are just above the relegation zone, and Sheridan added: “You can win one and you jump two or three places and it looks a lot healthier and then, the following week, you lose one and you’re back where you started from. That’s the way I think it’s going to pan out and I can see it going right to the end. With any team when you’re struggling like this the thing is to try and get the wins, get them as quickly as possible, and, if you can, get a little bit of breathing space. We’re going to lose games. That’s why it’s important that we try and get one or two victories as early as possible.”
John Sheridan hopes to see Warren Feeney play again before the end of the season. Feeney limped out of Sheridan's first match in charge after just eight minutes, but is now well on the road to recovery. Sheridan said: “Warren is still bubbly and lively and he’s just stepping up his training. Everything is going really well for him. He’ll be working hard to try and get back before the end of the season. He’s a quick healer; he works very hard; and he’ll want to get back to prove he’s worth a place in the side.”
John Sheridan knows Argyle are big underdogs when they play Northampton Town tomorrow. He said: "It's going to be tough. I know how Northampton play and we have been working on what their threats are. They do the ugly things, and do them really well. That's why they are up near the top, but we are going to fight to get something out of the game. Northampton have won their last five at home but we won our last away game. That's what I will look at." Two points cover the bottom five clubs in League Two but Sheridan believes all the teams up to York City in 17th are still under threat from relegation. He said: "There are eight teams who I feel are going to be in the fight to avoid relegation. In the last five games we have got the best defensive record out of all of them. At the same time we have only scored four goals. If you are going to win football matches you need to score goals. I think our performances have got to be more positive and we have got to believe we are going to create problems for the opposition. That's something I have got to look at. Whether I have to pick a different formation when we play at home, I will do that. Whatever I think I have to do to get a positive result, I will do it." Argyle have back-to-back away games to concentrate on, with the trip to Northampton followed by a match at Wimbledon next Tuesday. Sheridan added: "We have got two tough away games now, against teams who are going to be in your face and try to upset you, and force you on the back foot. We have got to believe we can get something from both games. I have had a meeting with the players and I want them to be brave. I would rather see them do the right things, and be confident of doing the right things, than not trying it at all. I wasn't happy at all with the style of the performance last week and I know we can do a lot better. We will go to Northampton and we will have a go. Hopefully, we will get something."
Anthony Charles is set to play against another of his former clubs tomorrow. Charles signed for Argyle last month after he had his contract at Northampton Town cancelled by mutual consent, and returns to Sixfields Stadium after just five weeks in Plymouth. He said: "It's just the way the fixture list is. It's a game we have to prepare for, and I have to prepare for, in the right manner. I'm looking forward to going back. I still speak to a number of the players there. For me, it was a real good place. They have a great set of lads and I think that's probably reflecting in how well they are doing on the pitch. I don't have a bad word to say about anybody there." Northampton are sixth in League Two and have a home record of 11 wins, two draws and three defeats from their 16 games. Charles said: "They are probably one of the strongest teams in the league. Away from home, results don't really go their way, but it's going to be a very difficult game for us when we go there. We have to be focused from the off. Teams have gone there, not many I know, and got results. Hopefully we can be in that small number by putting in a very good performance." Northampton have a lot of attacking options but Adebayo Akinfenwa is usually their main threat. "Physically, he's probably the strongest player there is," said Charles. "If he gets the ball there is no fighting him because you are not going to get it off him. One, you have to stop the ball getting to him and, two, you have to try to make sure you are not too tight on him. The best thing to do is keep him out of the box." Argyle and Northampton both flirted with relegation last season but, this season, Northampton have built an experienced squad which is challenging for promotion. Charles said: "The team has moved on from last year. They have got two big men up front in Clive Platt and Bayo, and Chris Hackett is very direct in what he does and causes problems. It's not just that. There are going to be numerous things we are going to have to focus on for the day. But we can't get too distracted because we have our own way of playing and we need to make sure we do that. They are the home team and with where they are in the table, they are going to be favourites. You would probably expect them to come out all guns blazing in the first five or 10 minutes. We need to make sure we keep their fans quiet, and that means us starting well."
John Sheridan has admitted that Curtis Nelson has been ruled out for longer than expected by his groin injury. He said: "Curtis has had a scan. He had a little niggle when he was doing some running and is going to be another 10 days to two weeks. It's going on a little bit longer than I thought it would but he knows his body. He has been working hard trying to get fit. He will know when he's right. There isn't a lot else you can do about that." Rene Gilmartin is also 10 days away from a return to action after a hamstring strain, and Warren Feeney remains a long-term absentee with ankle ligament damage. Nick Chadwick completes his six-match suspension tomorrow and will be available for the visit to Wimbledon on Tuesday. Sheridan said: "He has missed a few weeks of first team football and, unfortunately, he hasn't been able to play in any reserve games as well. He has trained every day with the lads so I don't think his fitness levels will be too bad but when you haven't played for a while in competitive football it just takes you a little while to get used to it. I'm sure he's champing at the bit because he has missed a lot of games." With Feeney out, and Sheridan reluctant to throw Tyler Harvey into the thick of a relegation fight, Gozie Ugwu this week had his loan spell extended for a second month. Sheridan said: "He's young and he wants to play first team football. Unfortunately, he got an injury in the first week he was here and hasn't played too much. He's getting fitter now. He has trained for two weeks and the lad will want to try to prove his worth. He's pleased that I wanted to keep him and I'm hoping I have made the right decision. It doesn't mean automatically he's going to be playing, but I think we need that strength in depth." Sheridan threatened to make changes to his team after the poor display against Oxford and is set to carry that out for the trip to Northampton. He said: "There will be one or two different players, that's for sure. I just think it's important everyone is on their toes. Sometimes you are better taking someone out and giving them a little break. You can talk all day to them, but sometimes a little break is probably the best way and, hopefully, they respond in the right manner and then force their way back into the side. There are a few players who haven't been playing who think they should be playing so I will probably make one or two changes."
Gozie Ugwu has vowed to do his best to improve Argyle's hopes of avoiding relegation over the next month. "I'm really pleased to have my loan extended and, hopefully, help Argyle start moving up the table," he said. "I've not really had the chance to contribute yet, owing to an injury in training shortly after joining on loan. I came down here to play football and score goals. That's what I still want to do. Plymouth are well-known as a big club with loyal fans and I believe, like most people, they shouldn't be where they are. I like the people at the club who have made me feel welcome and like the other players I want to help turn around their fortunes by getting as many points as we can over the coming weeks." Ugwu was at a loss to explain the poor performance at home to Oxford. "I don't know why we started so slowly. We improved after the break and created a few chances," he said. "After going four matches unbeaten, it was a poor performance and result, but the spirit in the dressing room is fine. There are still plenty of points to fight for. I'm eager to help us get as many as we can."
An Argyle XI beat Witheridge 7-2 in the quarter-final of the St Luke's Devon Cup at Edge Down Park last night. The goals were scored by Andres Gurrieri (3), Luke Young, Jamie Richards and Isaac Vassell (2). Kevin Nancekivell was delighted with the performance of the team, and said: "It was a good result and a decent performance on what proved to be a difficult surface. I thought the players' application and attitude was spot on and I was pleased to win so comprehensively." Argyle will now face either Exeter City or Tiverton Town at home in the semi-finals.
Argyle's fight for Football League safety has delayed the appointment of a new chief executive at the club. There has been a vacancy for a chief executive since the departure of Martin Baker in December but James Brent has declared the priority of his board of directors is on ensuring the club are not relegated. Chartered accountant Tony Brown, who has previously worked at Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City, has taken on the role on an interim basis until the end of the season. Brent said: "What we are focused on is trying to avoid relegation. That is the number one priority again." Brent has been Argyle's owner and chairman since October 2011 but is keen to pass on the role of chairman to someone with more football experience than he has, but not right now. He said: "I want to see us stabilise things and hand it over with the club in a happier state than is the case now. We are relatively open-minded about what to do. We could have an executive chairman working full-time. My personal preference though, to be honest, is a full-time chief executive and a non-executive chairman providing challenge to the chief executive. That's the model I like."
Argyle have extended the loan period of Gozie Ugwu, meaning he will be available up to and including the trip to Chesterfield on March 23rd.
John Sheridan has admitted Argyle are putting themselves under pressure with their own mistakes and he wants to see his players show more bravery when they are on the ball. He said: "We do passing drills, and touch and everything, and they do it well, to be fair to them. They look bright in training and when it comes to the match I see the ball bouncing off people and passing it the wrong side of people. Our biggest problem since I have been here is we don't keep the ball long enough. If you don't keep it the opposition are going to put you under pressure. We don't keep the ball long enough. I have been putting it in their heads 'we need to keep the ball longer' but it's our biggest downfall. If it keeps happening, obviously changes are going to have to be made." Argyle are away to promotion-chasing Northampton Town on Saturday before playing two of their relegation rivals, AFC Wimbledon and Barnet. Sheridan said: "It doesn't matter who you play, they are all tough games. We know we are in a scrap and we need to play a lot better, especially at home. I don't know what it is with them. For some reason, instead of playing forward they will go backwards. You have got to be brave." Sheridan picked out Lee Cox as the only outfield player to come out of the game against Oxford with any credit. He added: "I thought Coxy played well, especially in the second half. He tried to get us in the game, but as a team we were very flat."
Conor Hourihane cannot explain why Argyle are struggling so much in home games. He said: "I don't know what happens to us when we are at home. I can't put my finger on it. I guarantee you we will play well against Northampton. Whether we win or not or draw or not, I don't know, but I guarantee we will play well. It's not going for us at Home Park at the moment. It's a strange one. We just have to keep going and, hopefully, it might turn around." All seven of the signings made by John Sheridan since he was appointed as manager played against Oxford, and Hourihane said: "People use the excuse you have to gel as a team, and all that, but I think that's a load of rubbish to be honest. We train enough every day to know each other. We just have to keep going and keep fighting." Results elsewhere on Saturday did not favour Argyle, but Hourihane said: "We just have to look at ourselves. I don't really care about anyone else. We have to get our heads down, show a bit of courage to stand up and be counted, and move on to next week." The game at Northampton is followed by a trip to Wimbledon, after which Argyle play Barnet at home. Hourihane said: "They are big games. Let's call a spade a spade. They are six-pointers. We need results out of them, it's as simple as that, really." Argyle were poor in the first half against Oxford and fortunate not to trail by more than one goal. Hourihane said: "At least we put up a fight in the second half. We had chances but they could have had five because we made a few bad mistakes. It's one of those things I suppose. You just have to forget about it and move on. We are all disappointed. I know we were four games unbeaten before Saturday but the form at home hasn't been good enough, definitely not. You want the fans to be on your side and our form hasn't been good enough. When you get on a little run people start coming back, which is nice, but then when you lose in front of them it is disappointing. At half-time they booed off us and I think we probably deserved that because we were rubbish. Like I say, our home form hasn't been good enough. Hopefully, the next two away games we will put in good performances."
John Sheridan blasted the sloppiness of his side after the defeat by Oxford United on Saturday. He said: "You wouldn't think we were a team unbeaten in four and after a really good result last week. We came into a home game against a team who haven't won in five and you would think we would be the confident ones going out on the pitch. I'm very disappointed, especially with the first half performance. We looked frightened. I don't know why. There wasn't any energy. There was a great opportunity to push away from one or two teams near the bottom. We just didn't get going. That should never be the case. It was probably the sloppiest we've been. We were sloppy all over the place and I hate that. I have a big downer on people who are sloppy. They get paid good money and should be able to go out and perform a lot better than they did." Sheridan used only one of his substitutes against Oxford, but threatened to shake up the side for the visit to Northampton Town this Saturday. He said: "I'll have to look at it. There are one or two players who want to be in the team and think they should be in the team, so I might make changes. Some of the decisions we made were criminal. Oxford have some good players. I think they are one of the better teams in the division. I knew what to expect but we were the home team and there was no urgency to us. I can't answer why it was because we are unbeaten in four, we got a great result last week, and you would think we would be buzzing. There was a lot of talking before the game from the players, but none of them were talking once they went out on the pitch. I'm frustrated and disappointed with the way we played. It's not right and it shouldn't happen." Sheridan did not see any point in ranting at the players immediately after the game. He said: "I don't think it's a time now for me to be in there and giving them rollickings. I would love to, though, because I think the performance merited it. I want one or two players to look at their performances. People always say that my teams play football but we haven't played much football since I've been here. We've just got to try to get some confidence. At home, we don't get going and I don't know why. The crowd do get behind us, but we're not giving them much to cheer about at home. I've got to look at it. If I have to make changes, I'll make changes. I've got players who I think can play football. They've looked all right in training. I'm not a lover of changing my side, but after that performance I might just throw one or two in. I don't mind losing football matches. I expect us to lose football matches, but not in that manner."
An Argyle XI will play Exeter City in a friendly at Home Park on March 4th at 2pm.
Conor Hourihane issued a rallying cry to his team-mates to knuckle down as Argyle fight against relegation. “We have to up it,” he said. “Even though we were on a good run, we are not playing good enough. We have to knuckle down, we have to start putting shifts in, we have to know what it means. It’s a tough battle down there, we found that out last year and it’s going to be a tough battle again so we have to work hard. People were saying ‘You’re four games unbeaten, you’re doing well’ but you can’t get worked up on that. You have got to take one game at a time, no matter if you are winning ten games in a row or losing five games in a row. You have to take one game at a time. It was a poor performance. We could have conceded five, although we could have scored a couple, as well. It was a strange old game to play in. You can’t play well every week. We have just got to get up and get on with it, and move on to next week.”
Argyle’s defeat to Oxford United marked the third game in succession where they have failed to score at Home Park. John Sheridan said: “We have to play a lot, lot better, especially at home. I don’t know what it is, they just don’t seem to have the confidence. I saw little things last week where they looked confident, and it was a battling performance we got. For some reason, instead of going forwards they’ll go back. We’ve got to be brave. We do passing drills and touch in training. They do it well, to be fair to them, and they look bright. Then it comes to match-day on the Saturday and I see it bouncing off people and they’re passing it the wrong side of people. Our biggest problem since I’ve been here is that we don’t keep the ball long enough. The opposition, if you don’t keep it, are going to put you under pressure. I’ve put in their heads that we need to keep it longer. But it’s our biggest downfall. It keeps happening, and changes are going to have to be made. I don’t want a team like that. People say that my teams play football; we haven’t played much football since I’ve been here. I think we’ve got to try and get some confidence. At home, and I don’t know why, we don’t get going. We need to get going from the first whistle and get the crowd behind us, and they will get behind us, but we’re not giving them much to cheer about at home. I thought, second half, we had a go. We had one or two opportunities. But if we’d started the game like that and got the crowd going, we would have been in the game a lot better. We had nothing all over the pitch.”
Argyle lost 1-0 to Oxford United at Home Park. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Branston, Charles, Bhasera, Banton, Cox, Hourihane, Cowan-Hall, Ugwu, Reid. Subs – Murray (not used – Chenoweth, Blanchard, Gurrieri, Young, Wotton, Richards). Attendance – 7,189
John Sheridan is taking Tyler Harvey out of the firing line as Argyle battle against relegation. Sheridan does not believe it would benefit Harvey's development to be part of the struggle for survival and also has similar concerns over Luke Young. He said: "It's very difficult to play in a team who are fighting relegation. I don't think you are learning the game properly because everything is a dogfight. It's not a case of me not thinking they are not good enough for us. It's just that they are at a young age and I don't think it has been a good experience for them. I see a lot of good things in both of them, and I have had a chat with them. Tyler is a lovely footballer and I really like what he has got in his game. I have explained to him I don't think it's a time now for a young kid to be thrown in and expect him to do this, that and the other. Likewise with Youngy because he's still a kid. Hopefully, they will learn and take on board what I'm trying to tell them. It's not a case that I'm kicking Tyler out of the squad. He's training with the first team all the time now. Then a massive thing for him will be when he does a pre-season with the first team and he will be a lot, lot stronger."
Argyle youth team goalkeeper Christian Walton has signed for Brighton and Hove Albion. Argyle will receive an undisclosed fee for Walton and will also 'further benefit' as his career progresses. He will complete his apprenticeship with the Seagulls before turning professional in the summer on a contract until June 2016.
John Sheridan is ready to sacrifice style for substance as Argyle fight for survival. He said: "I think there is a lot more improvement in this team. I do like to play attractive football but, where we are and what's at stake, sometimes you have to sacrifice it. That's what I will settle for if we are going to get the points and keep working as hard as we have done because we seem to be getting our rewards. But everyone knows I would like us to play better and I'm trying to preach that to the players. Hopefully, it will come. I think we are improving a little bit. The new players are still bedding in and training hasn't been ideal with the weather. The training ground isn't the way I would like it so it makes things difficult, but we are working the best we can. We know our ball retention has got to be a lot better. I would like us to improve on that." Argyle will try to build on their recent results when they take on Oxford United today. Sheridan added: "I watched them the other night. They lost the game but have still got very dangerous players, attacking-wise, so we have got to be respectful of that. We know it will be a very tough game. On their day, they are probably one of the better sides in the division, in my eyes anyway."
Lee Cox has had the chance to settle into his new surroundings in Plymouth this week and is set to make his home debut against Oxford United tomorrow. Cox said: "Last weekend was a bit of a blur, just with how quick everything went. I have had a good week of training and it has really helped me. I have got to know the lads and it's made me a lot more confident." Cox played at Home Park earlier this season, whilst on loan with Oxford. He made 17 starts and two substitute appearances for them before his loan ended on January 1st. He said: "They have got some very good individual players and some good honest lads. In the time while I was there the results were a bit up and down but there is definitely good quality at that club. It will be a very interesting game. If I'm starting tomorrow they won't be my friends on the pitch. I think that's the professionalism footballers have to have. It will happen week in, week out where players are up against people they know." One of Oxford's main threats is striker James Constable, someone Cox knows well. He added: "I'm good friends with James Constable. I used to travel in with him every day. I know a lot of his strengths. He is a danger. He's strong and powerful and can score goals so he needs to be marked. Cox has already noticed similarities between Argyle and Oxford, who have both played at a higher level before falling on hard times. He said: "Having come to Plymouth and seeing the stature of the club, it should definitely be a lot higher than what it is. It's the same with Oxford. They have got good facilities and a good stadium."
Romain Larrieu will welcome former team-mate Luke McCormick back to Home Park tomorrow. McCormick is set to be between the posts for Oxford United, which will see him return to Home Park for the first time since his 2008 drink driving conviction. McCormick returned to football in November with Truro City, then Oxford signed him on a contract until the end of the season. Larrieu said: "I'm happy for Luke that he got given the chance to do his job again because, at the end of the day, that's what he does. Whatever happened has happened. He has messed up a lot of lives, including his own. He was sentenced and has come out now. Oxford have given him the chance to play in the Football League again and I'm glad he decided to take it. I look forward to seeing him tomorrow." Larrieu is a father of two and admitted he had found it difficult to come to terms with the tragic events surrounding McCormick. "We have spoken a couple of times since he has been out and we have texted each other but there wasn't any contact when he was inside," he said. "We have talked about that and he fully understood. It was really hard for me because I'm a dad as well." McCormick played 11 times for Truro, managed by Lee Hodges, before he was approached by Oxford. Larrieu said: "I'm glad he made the decision to sign for Oxford. He wasn't sure what to do until the last minute. He has got nothing to lose. He probably didn't expect to get another bite at it but he has kept himself fit." McCormick made 157 appearances for Argyle, the last coming in April 2008. "I don't know what response Luke is going to get from the fans tomorrow," said Larrieu. "I hope it's a good one. We had a great working relationship. We both badly wanted to play but we were able to put that aside. Whoever was picked, it never really made any difference in terms of how we would be with each other. We kept the competition between us on the pitch." Another of McCormick's team-mates was Paul Wotton, who said: "Luke is a good friend of mine. We played in successful teams together. I have got a lot of time for him and my family has got a lot of time for him. I'm thrilled to see him back in the Football League. I hope he gets a good response tomorrow because he was a fantastic goalie for Plymouth Argyle. What has gone on has gone on and he's rebuilding his life. I hope he's on the losing side but I will be the first one to shake his hand and give him a hug after the game."
Gozie Ugwu only played for eight minutes last weekend, but has already done enough to impress John Sheridan, who is keen to keep the striker past his current loan expiry date. Sheridan said: “He’ll be involved on Saturday and he’s biting at the bit to play. I’ll make a decision tomorrow, or maybe on Saturday whether I’ll play him. I’m going to get in touch with Reading and explain to them. They’ll be having the same thoughts that I’m thinking, let him get games under his belt and take it from there. I haven’t spoken to Reading yet but I don’t imagine there being a problem. Gozie’s happy enough but it think it’s just trying to get a game and he’s trained all week so will be pushing for place. When he came in, the idea was for him to get games under his belt and try and score goals. Unfortunately, he’s been injured so it’s been hard to judge him. He hasn’t trained much but he’s now got a full week in, he got on against Aldershot so it’s probably the best and most positive he’s felt since he’s been here so hopefully he can get involved on Saturday.”
John Sheridan expects a tense finale to the season as Argyle fight against relegation. He said: "I think it's going to go right to the wire. I really do. Teams are going to get drawn into it, hopefully. We are going to lose some games, but we are going alright at the moment. We have just got to keep picking points up from games and then everything will take care of itself. I have got a points tally in my head which I think will see us safe. I have also got a points tally which I would like to get from each month. I'm not going to say what they are. It might be the kiss of death. My staff know, the players don’t know, but I think it’ll keep us safe.” Sheridan has won two and drawn two of his four games in charge, three of which have been at Home Park. “Eight points from 12 is not bad,” he said. “Two points from each game is promotion form and we’re playing to that standard and we’re getting results but, I keeping saying it, I’d like us to play better. There still is that bit of nervousness, even from my self. I get edgy, because we know how massive the result are for us if we can win games. We’ve just got to keep picking points up from games and everything will take care of itself.” Sheridan also confirmed that Rene Gilmartin and Curtis Nelson are both still ruled out by injury.
Paul Wotton could draw level with Fred Craig at third place on the all time Argyle appearance list, if he plays against Oxford United tomorrow. John Sheridan praised Wotton for his display against Aldershot but stopped short of confirming his selection against Oxford. “You’ll find out I don’t like to give away too much about my team!” he said. “Wotts came in and did very well last week. I went with my instinct and I thought it was a game where he could help us out because he’s a good talker. He’s very vocal and he came in and did well. Obviously, this is a different game, we’re at home, and whatever team I put out will be one that will try and win us the game.”
Nick Chadwick has admitted he cannot remember a harder time in his career than during his current suspension. He said it has been doubly frustrating that his six-game ban has coincided with Argyle's unbeaten run under John Sheridan. Chadwick said: "I can honestly say this has been the most desperately frustrating time that I can remember in my career. Outside of a long-term injury, this has been easily the worst period for me, personally, and not only because the club are doing well and I'm not playing my part in it. It wasn't the best example to set to the new gaffer who was watching the game, but it's me who has paid the price. After all, he has brought in one or two forwards but hasn't seen me play. I've got to show in training how keen I am to win my place back. But there's nothing I can do about it, I can't turn back the clock much as I'd like to. I've got to take it on the chin and just work my socks off to be as fit as possible. I've got two more games to sit through and believe me it's not easy when you're fit and keen to be a part of helping Argyle keep moving upwards. You don't spend as long as I have at Argyle without having a genuine affection for the club. So, yes, it's going to be a challenge. But I will be so relieved when I'm free of this suspension."
Paul Wotton will move into equal third in the all-time Argyle appearance list should he take part in the game against Oxford United on Saturday. He played his 466th competitive game for the club at Aldershot Town last weekend, and said: "I'm not one who ever set out to do anything like that. I just wanted to play for my hometown club and I have been really, really lucky in my career. If it comes on Saturday then it's something I will be really proud of when I finish my career, as I will about all my other achievements in successful teams. It takes some doing, it really does. If it comes on Saturday great, if it doesn't, it doesn't." Kevin Hodges holds the club record on 620 appearances with Sammy Black second on 491. Wotton said: "I hope I'm not the last of a dying breed. I really do, but possibly. I think it would be a rarity. I hope it gets beaten because it would mean someone had given Plymouth Argyle great service." Wotton's start in the win over Aldershot was his second since recovering surgery to cure a nerve problem in his back. He said: "The result was huge. I think it was just two teams who knew they were in a relegation battle and at times the quality wasn't great, but we needed to win and we did. Psychologically, I think it was a big boost to everyone involved with the club. I was a little bit surprised to start the game. I'm at an age now and a stage in my career where if I'm not playing I'm not going to go and knock on the manager's door. I feel good, the back feels good and I was thrilled to play, and it went okay. If I play the next game great, if I don't then whoever is playing I will be right there supporting them. It was a nice surprise to play and I'm glad it went well. We have had two wins and two draws out of four since the manager has come in. It's eight points out of 12 so it all bodes well." Oxford are next for Argyle and they are a club which Wotton is familiar with. He had a loan spell there, from Southampton, in late 2010 and played four times. He said: "I enjoyed it at Oxford. I had a couple of months there and there were a lot of games postponed. I got on really well with Chris Wilder and Mickey Lewis. It's a good club. We have had some good battles with them since I have been back at Plymouth. It's a home game on Saturday and we are looking forward to it. We will try to get back-to-back wins, which would be massive."
Jason Banton has admitted he has learned a lot from former Crystal Palace team-mate Wilfried Zaha. Manchester United signed Zaha last month and immediately loaned him back to Palace until the end of the season. Banton has also trained at Palace alongside former Pilgrims Yannick Bolasie and Jermaine Easter. He said: "You are training with the likes of Zaha, Bolasie, Glenn Murray and Jermaine Easter at Palace. There is a lot of talent there you can feed off. You just learn every day." Banton signed for Palace in October, when Dougie Freedman was manager of the club. Soon afterwards Freedman was replaced by Ian Holloway and Banton revealed there were similarities between Holloway and John Sheridan when it came to their football principles. He said: "I have learned a lot at Palace. Firstly under Dougie Freedman, who then moved on to Bolton. Ian Holloway came in with his enthusiasm and his style of football is very similar to John Sheridan. It's great to come here and be able to play a similar way. Sometimes you go on loan and you are playing a whole different style of football. Ian Holloway and John Sheridan both like attacking football and, luckily enough, I'm an attacking player."
Lee Cox has gone from being an 'outcast' at Swindon Town to part of an Argyle squad fighting for survival. Cox had not figured in the first team plans at Swindon this season, and has not even been training with Paolo Di Canio's senior squad. He spent the first five months of the campaign on loan to Oxford United, his last match coming on January 1st, after which he returned to Swindon. Cox admitted he was excited by the challenge facing him, but admitted he was short of full fitness. He said: "I have not been having the hardest training regime at Swindon. I know when I'm 100 per cent fit and I have still got a bit to go. I'm going to do a lot of extra training this week to be ready for the game on Saturday." Cox signed for Swindon at the end of January 2012 after moving from Inverness Caledonian Thistle. He played seven games but then fell out of favour with Di Canio, with his last appearance coming in March. He said: "I didn't really know why I wasn't in the team last season. They bought me and then within weeks I was an outcast. I have not been training with the first team. There are a few of us that he didn't want to train with the first team. He has got his squad he wants for this season. It has been difficult but I'm forgetting about that now. I'm just looking forward. Every 90 minutes that I play, I will give my all. I will get some tackles in and get on the ball. I'm excited for the challenge and raring to go. I'm looking to get Plymouth as far up that table as I can. When I sign for a team, I will give 100 per cent for the cause." Cox is also looking to learn from John Sheridan, adding: "With the career he has had, I definitely want to listen to him and take advice. I'm looking forward to working with him."
Jason Banton’s two goals against Aldershot Town gave Argyle their first away win in ten games on the road and kept John Sheridan’s unbeaten run going. It also moved them above their hosts and kept them out of bottom two “We knew the importance of getting a win today, so to get the three points, especially away from home with the great support, was massive,” Banton said. The first goal came from a free-kick which Conor Hourihane played short inside for Banton to fire home. He said: “I didn’t think Conor was going to play it across but he eventually did and I thought: ‘Get my head down and out my foot through it’. It took a deflection but I’m still claiming it.” Banton had a hand in all three goals, with Aldershot’s equaliser coming when Guy Branston’s clearance hit him. Banton had the last word though when, five minutes before half-time, Reuben Reid’s run found him in space on the left, from where he cut inside and curled a low shot into the far corner. “There was a bit of a mix-up and Coley made a good save” Banton said, about the Shots’ equaliser. “Unfortunately, it fell to one of their players. But we showed the firepower to come back on the counterattack and Reuben picked me out for the second goal. He did really well to pick me out after that long run. I was just glad I could finish it. We do quite a lot of that at Palace and we’ve done a bit at Plymouth so I just thought I’d take the opportunity to do what we’d practiced.” There were no further goals, and Argyle had to defend well in the second half to take home the points. “We were under the cuff for most of the second half but, when you’re down there, you have got to do the nitty gritty,” Banton added. “Sometimes you ride your luck. Obviously we’re not in the best of positions, but we’re not in the worst of positions. To get the three points was the main thing, and to grind things out is sometimes what you have to do.”
Lee Cox made his Argyle debut on Saturday, before visiting Home Park or Plymouth. He settled in well, though, and played a vital part in the win. “I literally heard about it on Thursday,” he said. “I got told to get my boots ready for the game, because I was going to playing a part. I didn’t know if I would be starting, but I definitely knew I was playing a part. It was a bit of a shock. To save me from coming to Plymouth on the Friday, I got picked up, so that helped me out a lot. It was difficult. I know Ronan and Brano, so they got me settled in. It was hard to know names, but once you’re on the pitch, you all know the football language. I think I’ve still got a bit to go towards fitness. I’ve not been having the hardest regime in training at Swindon, so I know, when I’m 100%, and I’ve got a bit to go. I’ll put in a bit extra in training next week and be ready for the game. It’s what I need. I’m up for the challenge. Every 90 minutes I play, I’ll give my all and get some tackles in. I’m excited for the challenge and ready to go. Argyle play at an impressive stadium, and the fans today were unreal. That was a bit of a shock, seeing how many fans came to Aldershot. It’s good stuff. If they carry on like that, I’m sure they’ll inspire us to more wins. It was a scrappy game, the ball was in the air, more than on the floor, but sometimes those games come about, especially in a bottom-of-the-league clash. I think everyone dealt with that well. I know I’ve only been for one game, but I could see everybody wanted to win it. From first impressions, there’s some good honest boys here. Defensively we did well, and obviously, with it being a scrappy game, you can’t really what we can do going forward. We had little spells, but we’ll see more in the week in training and hopefully next week.”
John Sheridan decided to call on the experience of Paul Wotton at Aldershot Town yesterday, a decision that paid off. He said: "I threw Wottsie in there. I felt we were lacking a bit of height. I know what Aldershot are good at and I thought Wottsie came in and shielded the back four. He reads the game. That's why he has played for so long. He has been a good player and has got a lot of experience, and the biggest thing for me is he talks. He gets a grip of people on the pitch because I think we are quite a quiet team. That's one thing I knew he would be, vocal, and help one or two of the younger players." Sheridan also gave an immediate debut to Lee Cox, and said: "Coxy did well for his first game. He just got on the bus with the lads. You can see he's a bit short of match practice and he doesn't know many of the players but he was part of a good win. Considering Aldershot are one of the teams in and around us, it's a massive win for us. If we had been beaten, it would have been a big step for Aldershot to get away from us. It was a great effort from the players. Again, I don't think we have played great but they didn't half battle. That's what they have done for me. They have battled in the last four games. I don't think we have played well in any of them but that's two wins and two draws, and I will take that all day. They are working very hard for each other but I would like us to retain the ball better. To come away and get a result against a team who are near the bottom with us is a great boost." Jason Banton's two goals came in only his second appearance for Argyle. Sheridan said: "He's a threat. When he gets the ball he excites me anyway. I don't think he gets enough of the ball. We have got to know what his strengths are. He can be a match-winner. He just gives me that little buzz when he gets the ball. They were two great goals. There was a bit of a deflection for the first one, but it's a shot and it's on target. And it was a great finish for the second one. It gives you something to fight for, and we have held on in the end." Argyle needed a bit of luck, with Aldershot having three penalty appeals for handball waved away by the referee. Sheridan said: "They do put balls in the box and they are a handful. They are a decent side. We have had them watched a couple of times. You have to defend the second balls and the scraps. I think there were one or two penalty decisions which did go our way but sometimes you need a bit of luck. We will take that. I have seen them given, and I have seen them not. It was our day. I'm very pleased to get the three points." Gozie Ugwu made his debut, as an 82nd minute substitute for Reuben Reid. Reid had led Argyle's attack for most of the match with support from Banton and Paris Cowan-Hall out wide. Between them, they had plenty of pace, and Sheridan wants to see Argyle exploit that more. He said: "I would like us to use it a little bit, and know when to use it. I would really like us to keep the ball longer, I keep saying it, but I think we are slowly improving. That's four unbeaten now and for a team in our position that's not a bad little run we are on. They are all tough games in this division. I know, on our day, we can beat anyone and that's what I have got to put into the players."
The win at Aldershot yesterday gave John Sheridan his first chance to see the Green Army on the road. “I thought the fans were brilliant,” he said John. ” I know it’s one of the closer games for them, four hours! I thought they were absolutely tremendous, and that’s not just me trying to get on their side. To come to Aldershot, and you’re a team in the bottom three, to have that support…I’m just pleased we got the result for them.”
Jason Banton thinks Argyle are set up to attack their way out of relegation trouble. “I didn’t know the manager before but John’s definitely brought in players who he thinks can keep Plymouth in the league,” he said Jason. I’m sure that, if we carry on this way, in a couple of weeks time, we won’t be down there, we’ll be looking to push on and be safe. The gaffer has set us up really well for counterattacking, as you saw by the second goal. That’s what we’re good at. We’ve got a good shape, defensively, and we’ve got the players in Paris, Reuben and Gozie, when he came on, who can go in behind. Plus, we’ve got players like Paris and myself who, with the ball at their feet, can do a lot. We’ve got players who can score goals and we can climb the table.”
Argyle won 2-1 at Aldershot Town, the goals scored by Jason Banton after 5 and 40 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Branston, Charles, Bhasera, Banton, Wotton, Cox, Hourihane, Cowan-Hall, Reid. Subs – Ugwu, Blanchard (not used – Chenoweth, Gurrieri, Young, Murray, Lowry). Attendance – 3,241
Lee Cox has two ambitions while he is at Home Park, to help Argyle stay in the Football League and to add to a CV that includes successful spells in Scotland and England. “It will be good for me to show the Plymouth lads and the fans what I am capable of and hopefully help Plymouth get up the league,” he said. “I played a good number of games Oxford United the first half of this season, so I am fit and raring to go. I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping to get Plymouth up the league, away from the drop zone, and for myself to get a good number of games. It’s been difficult for me at Swindon, but that’s football, you get opportunities somewhere else, and I’m getting this opportunity now. It’s up to me to take what I’ve got to Plymouth. I like to get stuck in and get amongst people. Hopefully, I will show that as soon as I get the opportunity to.”
Argyle's 'six-pointer' at Aldershot Town holds no fears for Guy Branston. He said: "It's exciting. As a new player coming into the team you want to play in exciting games. Going to Aldershot is going to be exciting for us and exciting for the fans. We need the points and they need the points. We can't keep taking a point. We have got to get wins as well because we need to start moving away from the bottom of the table now." Argyle are expected to have around 1,000 supporters at the Recreation Ground tomorrow, and Branston said: "It's unbelievable. As a footballer, you want to turn around and see your gang. That's what you want. When you turn around and look at 1,000 fans on an away trip you are thinking 'come on, let's have this'. It still gives me tingles up my spine. The A303 will be a vibrant place on Saturday. Sparkford services are going to be busy, as are all the little villages along the way. These away matches are great for the economy."
Argyle have signed Swindon Town midfielder Lee Cox on an ‘emergency loan’ until the end of the season. John Sheridan said: "“He’ll add to the strength in that department, where I think we’ve been a bit short. I’ve tried Max there, but I think I’ve only got Conor and Youngy, and I know Wotts can play there, obviously. It is a position which needs strengthening and I think he’ll do that. He played for Inverness in the Scottish Premier League for two years and did really well for them. He has played a bit part for Swindon and has been on loan at Oxford this season. The results when he was there were really good. The SPL is a very tough division and he handled himself well. He’s got endeavour, a very high work-rate. He will get up and down the pitch and get in people's faces. He has competed at a good level and I think he will add to what we have got and hopefully improve us." Cox trained at Swindon yesterday morning before meeting up with the Argyle team coach on its way to Hampshire for the game against Aldershot. Sheridan said: "I thought it would be a bit silly for him to spend three hours coming down here and then hop on a bus back to where he had just come from. He's fully fit and he will be pushing for a place in the side. Just because he's coming, it doesn't mean he's automatically going to play."
Gozie Ugwu could make his debut for Argyle against Aldershot tomorrow. The striker returned to training with the squad yesterday morning after an ankle injury and, provided he does not get any adverse reaction, will be involved at the Recreation Ground. John Sheridan said: "Gozie trained yesterday morning, which is good news, and hopefully he will come through it. I think the lad is desperate to get a game of football. It has been a frustrating time for him. The lad has come to play games and hopefully score goals for us. It's just one of those things. There isn't a lot you can do about it. He would have been involved if he felt as though he was fit enough to play." Curtis Nelson had been a first team regular for three months until he was ruled out of the draw against Dagenham. Sheridan said: "He has got a sore groin. I think he could play but it's to his benefit that he gets some more treatment. Hopefully he will get better with it, instead of playing and aggravating it, and then being out for a lot longer." Tyler Harvey did not take part in training yesterday, and according to Sheridan is 'probably struggling' for the game, whilst Rene Gilmartin is still receiving treatment for a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Warren Feeney has seen a specialist about his ankle injury and been given the go-ahead to step-up up his rehabilitation. Sheridan said: "I think it's going to be a five or six week time-scale on Warren getting back, but apparently he's a quick healer. I know what he's like. He will be buzzing to get fit and playing."
Guy Branston has admitted it was his own fault his move to Aldershot last summer did not work out. He said: "Unfortunately, it didn't work out for me at Aldershot. It was all my own fault. I had a few little niggles, didn't get in the side and didn't change Dean Holdsworth's mind to play me. I looked at myself and how I trained and I trained well. Sometimes you can only train as hard as you possibly can and if the manager doesn't change his mind about you he doesn't change his mind. I would say this to any kid, football is about opinions. It's who a manager is happy with at the time. If they are happy with a certain player in the team, don't get disheartened. You have to focus on your own ability and what you do on the training ground. If you know you are doing the right things, you have just got to keep going and ticking along." One of Branston's four starts for Aldershot came at Home Park in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie in October. Branston said: "I haven't got anything to prove to Dean Holdsworth. He saw me every day in training. I have got nothing to prove to myself either. I had a disappointing time at Bradford and went to Aldershot to prove myself and, again, it didn't work out. Now I'm here, which I'm more than happy with. I don't look at the negative side of things and proving people wrong. I know what I can do. When I'm in form I don't think there is anyone much better in this division. I might sound arrogant or confident, or whichever way you want to look at it, but I do believe that. That's how I am as a person." Branston knows a lot about the Aldershot squad, but John Sheridan has not asked him about their players, and their strengths and weaknesses. Instead, Sheridan has been focused on trying to ensure his side play to the best of their ability. Branston said: "The gaffer is not like a lot of managers. He doesn't worry about the other team. He worries about our team and what we are about, and how we train and how we play. I'm a big believer in that anyway. I think if we turn up right tomorrow we will win that game." Anthony Charles is a former Aldershot captain, and Argyle coach Gary Owers was also Aldershot's assistant manager from November 2009 to January 2011. John Sheridan said: "I don't know what the circumstances were when the two lads left Aldershot. Hopefully, going back there will give them a lift and they will want to get a positive result and perform well for us. Gary did well when he was the assistant manager there with Kevin Dillon so he knows a little bit about them. I think they are all looking forward to going back and getting a good result for Plymouth."
John Sheridan believes Argyle are better now than when he took over as manager almost five weeks ago. Sheridan has brought six new signings to the club, and are unbeaten in his three matches. He said: "I think it has improved us because we are unbeaten in three games. It is hard when you bring in so many new players. It's not ideally what I would really like to do, but I think it's something I had to do, to give everyone a lift. We have got a short period of time to try to get a few wins. I wish it was pre-season so we had six or seven weeks to work with them because they are all new to each other. They all get on with each other and are a good group. Training has always been spot on. We are working very hard, but I would just like to take it into the games a little bit more. I don't think we have played well in any of the three games but we are unbeaten, so when we do play well I'm expecting we will get one or two wins." Argyle have been linked with Swindon Town midfielder Lee Cox and Sheridan has not denied that. When asked about the speculation he said: "I can still bring a loan player in, and I think it’s important that I bring someone in. I’ll definitely bring another body in to strengthen us and, hopefully, give us a bit more strength in depth. There’s lots of players whose names are touted about. Agents are still ringing. They are trying to get players out to play football. There are plenty of players available. We’ll bring someone in who will hopefully strengthen us as a team and as a squad.”
Argyle's fight for survival continues tomorrow at Aldershot Town, who are one position and one point above Argyle in the table. John Sheridan said: "It's my first away game and I'm hoping we go and be a bit more relaxed, and have the confidence to pass the ball around a little bit better. We know it's going to be a tough game. Aldershot are the home side and they will see a good opportunity of getting three points. Hopefully, we will go and get an away win, which has been very rare. I have seen them a couple of times and they are a decent side. I think they are in a false position because they have got some good players but the table doesn't lie. They are down there for a reason. They are fighting for the cause but we will go there and we know we have got to try to win the game."
Argyle beat Torquay United 2-0 in the friendly at Home Park yesterday afternoon, the goals scored by Paul Wotton and Jamie Lowry. Argyle included eight professionals in their starting line-up, and three apprentices, Ben Purrington, Colin Watson and Tyler Harvey. However, Harvey was substituted in the 11th minute after he was hurt following a heavy challenge from Torquay centre-back Angus MacDonald. After treatment Harvey hobbled away on crutches with his right knee bandaged. Kevin Nancekivell said: "Tyler had an impact injury to the side of his knee. I have spoken to Paul Atkinson, the physio, and he's hopeful that it's not too serious. Tyler is on crutches but only as a precaution. Fingers crossed he could be available for Saturday. We will wait and see what develops over the next 24 hours." Andres Gurrieri was the pick of the Argyle players in the win, and Nancekivell added: “The lads acquitted themselves really well. They passed the ball well at the right time and showed a good desire and intent to play the game the way it should be played. Everyone’s come out with some positives, so they will definitely be in John’s mind when he comes to think about Saturday’s team. There were a lot of positives, some good performances, another clean sheet. Jamie Lowry showed up really well but it's a job to pick anybody out. Whether it’s under-18s, reserves or first-team, winning becomes a habit, clean sheets become a habit. We’re starting to do that now, so it all bodes well. We’ve had a few important games in the last 18 months and we’ve got another one on Saturday. We know what’s coming, we know what we’re expecting from Aldershot. But we are confident we have got more than enough in our changing-room to go up there and get three points, which we do need.” Argyle: Chenoweth, Watson, Blanchard, Richards, Purrington, Gurrieri, Wotton, Sims, Lowry, Harvey, Lecointe. Subs - Vassell, Hutchinson, Allen (not used – Walton, Summers).
Curtis Nelson and Gozie Ugwu could return to training with the Argyle squad tomorrow after recent injuries. Nelson was ruled out of the draw with Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday by a groin problem, and Kevin Nancekivell said: "Nelse has been feeling his groin for a couple of weeks so it was a case of pulling him out and giving him a week off to let it settle down." Ugwu injured his ankle in training the day before the draw with Accrington Stanley. Nancekivell said: "I believe Gozie is hoping to train on Thursday. He was back to Reading for treatment at the end of last week but has been in with us all this week."
Anthony Charles leads a significant contingent of ex-Aldershot players to their former club next Saturday. Charles, Guy Branston and coach Gary Owers have all played for the Shots, who are one point and one place above Argyle. “I spent many a year there,” said Charles, “I’m sure Guy and Gary have noticed that one coming up, and now it’s the next game. So we’ll take whatever we need to from the Dagenham & Redbridge game, the pros and cons, into next week’s game, which is a massive game because the two teams are in a tight position. We’ll see how we do away from home. There might be a little less pressure on us and, personally, I don’t think Aldershot have been great at home over the past few years. We have to set our target of going there and trying to get three points. If we can do what we have done in the last couple of games defensively, and create, we should be okay. It’s always been a tight league, especially at the bottom. At the moment, one point can jump you one or two spots; three points can take you three or four, maybe.”
Five of John Sheridan’s six signings since he took over at Home Park started against Dagenham & Redbridge and the manager admits it will take time for all of them to settle in. “It’s difficult on the training ground,” he said. “It’s an absolute bog. I’m probably telling different players to do different things than they’ve heard under different managers. I know how I want my team to play. Hopefully they’ll take things on board. It’s still early days. Two clean sheets is something to look positive about. I thought we looked solid and defended well when we had to. It’s just having that nous and creativity in the final third that could win us the game. I thought our shape looked okay. Since I’ve been here, I don’t think any team has played through us, but, again, I think we gave too many corners away. I’ve made it clear to the players that the opposition are getting corners from us switching off from throw-ins. It’s frustrating because we’re going to concede if we’re not careful. The plus side is that we’ve been defending them well. We’ve got to believe in ourselves and not ignore the simple things. Simplicity makes good players and we do ignore the simple things. I’ll show it on the video and hopefully they understand and take it into the next game.”
Jason Banton played his first game for Argyle on Saturday, and it was also his first start in senior professional football. He was replaced by Andres Gurrieri towards the end of the game but did enough to catch the eye of his manager. John Sheridan said: “I though Jason played really well for his first game. He was a bright spark and took care of the ball. He hasn’t played much first-team football and got a bit of cramp at the end, but I was very pleased with debut. He’ll excite you. You could see what he was trying to do, it just didn’t come off. But he did some really good things. I like the way he gets the ball. He’s positive and takes care of it. He looks comfortable with the ball. He caresses it. I’m really pleased. He put in a good performance. It’s just a shame we didn’t quite get that win.”
Anthony Charles has made a good start to his Home Park career, with two clean sheets in two games, playing in two different positions, but would have preferred that start to be a little bit more spectacular. “We had a clean sheet, that’s something as a defender I’m happy with,” he said, “but, at the end of the day, we need three points. We had enough chances to come away with a win, a couple in the first half and a couple in the second, and I think they had one in the first five or ten minutes when we didn’t start sharp. A point is maybe not ideal, but, in the position we are in, you have got to take it. You have got to start building and, hopefully, with that point, we can start totting up. We’ve got the point. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the three. I feel as though we were comfortable but there wasn’t enough urgency to push on and get the three points. You want to start winning home games. That’s probably your best chance to get points on the board, in front of a big crowd. We had chances. That’s good. It’s always nice to be creating chances. Hopefully, if Lady Luck is with us next week, we can turn one point into three. Charles took over from the injured Curtis Nelson at centre-back, and said: “You want to play, no matter where you are asked to play, you are going to play. I’ve have played the right-side centre-half many times before, so it’s not unnatural. It’s just something that maybe takes a few minutes to get used to, but I’m out there playing and, after recent months when I haven’t been playing regularly, I’m just happy to be playing. I’ve have got a spot in the team where ideally I’d like to play, but, if I’m asked to play in any position when it benefits the team and were we can get our target, I’m happy to do that. It’s not about one person. It never has been at football clubs. It’s about the team.”
John Sheridan hopes Curtis Nelson will be fit for the trip to Aldershot Town on Saturday. Nelson was ruled out of the draw with Dagenham & Redbridge by a groin injury which had been troubling him for a while, and Sheridan said: “He has been playing the last couple of weeks with a bit of a groin injury. He trained the other day but it was still sore. I think it’s better that he missed a game and gets a week’s treatment in and is then ready for the next game, instead of being out for a couple of weeks.”
Argyle have failed to score in their last two games, but are also unbeaten since John Sheridan arrived. A 0-0 draw against Dagenham & Redbridge meant another frustrating afternoon, and Sheridan said: “We played better today than the previous two matches. I was pleased with the way we played, I’d like us to play better, but I think we should have won the game with the chances we had. It got a bit scrappy towards the end, but I was happy. It’s another clean sheet, two on the spin. I didn’t feel in danger, I didn’t think we were going to lose the game. Dagenham are an organised side. I know John Still, his set-plays are strong, they’ve got some big lads. But I thought we defended well again. I don’t think our ’keeper had much to do. We all want to win, we were all getting stressed on the sidelines. You can see the lads, towards the end, get edgy because we’re trying hard to win the game. I can’t ask for much more, just the quality. Our pass-appreciation and keeping the ball in the opposition’s half for longer periods and taking care of it, was our downfall today. If we can do that and get the other team on the back foot a bit more, we can create space. We know what the problem has been, it’s been scoring goals hasn’t it? We had great chances, there’s no blame on anyone, but if one of them goes in, it’s a totally different game and they have got to come at us. But it didn’t happen. When you’re top of the league, those things go for you. I still think we can play better. We just didn’t get the breaks.” Next Saturday Argyle travel to Aldershot, who are just one point and one position above the Pilgrims. “Today feels like a defeat,” said Sheridan, “because we know the importance of winning football matches. But I said to the lads that we’re three unbeaten and next week’s a massive game. Away from home, we might be a bit more relaxed. I’m hoping that’s the case. The fans were right behind the team. Brilliant. It’s a shame we’re just not giving them the results they deserve for their support. We’re not in the bottom two. We’ll keeping working, we’re improving and hopefully we’ll start winning as few games.”
Argyle drew 0-0 with Dagenham & Redbridge at Home Park. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Branston, Charles, Bhasera, Hourihane, Young, Banton, Cowan-Hall, Reid, Murray. Subs – Lecointe, Harvey, Gurrieri (not used – Chenoweth, Blanchard, Lowry, Wotton). Attendance – 6,234.
The Argyle connection at Crystal Palace led to Jason Banton making the move to Home Park. Banton had ‘a couple of options’ when it came to clubs wanting to sign him on loan, but picked Argyle after recommendations from Yannick Bolasie and defender Darcy Blake. Banton also insisted he was not put off by Argyle’s position in League Two. He said: “I’m 100 per cent up for the fight. I wouldn’t have come down here if I wasn’t. I think every game you play in should be treated like a cup final anyway. I spoke to a few people. Yannick recommended that I should come here and Darcy Blake thought I should do as well. I was especially struck by the way Yannick put it over to me.” Banton first found out about Argyle’s interest on Thursday when he was told by Palace’s assistant manager Keith Millen in a phone call. He then travelled to Plymouth by train on Thursday night and trained with his new team-mates for the first time yesterday. Banton said: “The manager picked me up from the station on Thursday night. We are staying in the same hotel and we had a good chat then. I want to get as many minutes as possible and help Plymouth to get some good results. I think there are similarities between Ian Holloway and John Sheridan. They both like their teams to play an attack-minded style.”
John Sheridan hopes Jason Banton will bring some excitement to Argyle. Sheridan believes he has the pace to stretch opposition defences and make Argyle more of an attacking threat. He said: "Jason has been at some really good clubs. I have seen clips of him, and spoken to one or two people who know him, and he can be a very exciting player. I thought it was important we got a player who is going to gain us that ground, 30 or 40 yards on up the pitch, quickly. He will get at people. He was involved in the Palace first team against Stoke only a couple of weeks ago. He's highly recommended and, hopefully, he's going to excite us, give everyone a lift, and play at a good tempo."
Robbie Williams and Rhys Griffiths both parted company with Argyle yesterday, after John Sheridan told them they did not figure in his plans. Sheridan said: "It's not a nice thing to tell people, but it's totally for the benefit of the lads. They are both experienced players and I don't think it's right for them to be sitting around at their stage of their careers. Hopefully, they will go and get somewhere else, which I'm sure they will. I have just got to look at what is going to be good for us. Having too many bodies and people not really doing anything is something I don't really need, and I don't think the players need it." Sheridan has plenty of cover at left-back even after the departure of Williams, with Onismor Bhasera and Anthony Charles both capable of filling that role. Sheridan also admitted he had been impressed by apprentice left-back Ben Purrington when he played in the friendly at Saltash United on Wednesday. “I really liked the way he played,” he said. “I said to the kid: ‘Your age doesn’t bother me, if you keep playing like that, you’ll be putting things in my mind that you’re good enough and you could to be involved’, even if he is 16.”
John Sheridan has been satisfied with his start as Argyle manager, but admitted his team must play better to escape the threat of relegation. He said: "I would have liked to have won both games, but I'm new to the players and the players to me. Under the circumstances we are in, I think four points is not a bad outcome. Obviously, performance-wise I would like to play a lot better than we have. There are lots of things I would like to improve and we are trying to do that on the training ground. I think you can see the nervousness of the players. We got off to a good start in the first game and that gives you a chance of winning, which we went on to do. For us as the home team, we are conceding too many corners and people are creating too many chances, especially in the Morecambe game, but the plus side is we defended them very well. Performance-wise, I would like us to be more dominant when we are at home, and that's what we are going to try to do. Hopefully, we can start that against Dagenham. It's about getting points at this moment in time. I have said before, I like my teams to go attacking and be confident. That's something I have got to try to instil in the players. When you are losing a lot of games and not playing with confidence, it doesn't matter who you are, unfortunately you do put pressure on yourself. I'm hoping if we can get a good result on Saturday it might just give the boys a lift. Seven points from nine would be a really good outcome in my eyes, so that's what we will be looking at." Sheridan has a reputation as a hard taskmaster from his time at Oldham Athletic and Chesterfield, but does not believe now is the time to be critical of his players. He said: "I wasn't happy with the way we played against Accrington but I have got to try to take the positives. Listen, if it was 10 games into the season and we gave a performance like that, I would be straight on the players' case, but I don't think it's a time to give rollickings out. I have just got to try to give them a lift, so what I did is take the positives out of the game. Despite all the corners against us, we kept a clean sheet. We know to win games we have got to improve attacking-wise and just have more belief than anything else."
Rene Gilmartin is set to be sidelined for 'three or four weeks' by a hamstring injury, according to John Sheridan. He said: "It’s the same injury that he missed the previous week’s training with. He’s just aggravated it. It's a grade one tear, I think, so he's probably going to be three or four weeks. Obviously, it gives an opportunity for Jake to come in. He made a great save near the end against Accrington and didn't do himself any harm." The manager also revealed Gozie Ugwu was only 50-50 for the visit of Dagenham & Redbridge tomorrow because of an ankle injury. He said: "Gozie is struggling. He trained yesterday but his ankle is still a bit tender so we will just have to assess him. There is not a lot you can do about it. He's more gutted than anyone. I'm gutted because I was hoping he would come and score goals and do well for us. It's not one of those injuries where he could just get through the pain barrier. He is a bit sore. It's 50-50 at the moment. If I was a betting man I would probably say no. We will have to look at the situation and what's best for him, whether he gets treatment here or goes back to Reading." Sheridan admitted he had found it difficult to sign experienced recruits. He said: "I have looked at players in the 27-28 mark, even 30, but they have got families and they don't really want to uproot. I understand that, so my mind-set is to go with young, enthusiastic players."
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