A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Colin Sexstone insists the new director of football role at Argyle will be a permanent post, no matter who the manager happens to be. He reiterated that Carl Fletcher's position would not be undermined and stated that axing Fletcher as manager, is ‘not an option for us'. Nevertheless, Sexstone admitted should a change of manager be deemed necessary, then the director of football would be asked to take over team affairs, 'but only on a short-term basis'. He said: "The board are excited about the prospect of appointing a director of football and see it as the way ahead for clubs like Argyle. We've been at pains to point out that the role will not affect Carl's position as manager. It will strengthen it. But the post is here to stay and will be a permanent one at the club. We want someone who has managed at this level but who has no ambitions to manage again. The successful applicant will have no influence on team selection or tactics. That will be the coach's decision alone, in the present case, Carl's. We believe in Carl, Argyle have an outstanding young manager and we are doing all we can to help him develop into a successful one, too. But as a young manager, naturally, he lacks experience so we want to bring on board someone who has the necessary background and years in the game to help him. Carl will be fully involved in the selection process and can sit in on the interview and give us his views about the applicant. But he Fletcher will not have the final say on who is appointed. That will be James Brent's or my decision alone. A director of football is the way forward, I'm certain of that, although it shouldn't be seen as a threat to the manager, whoever that is. But if it was felt a change of manager would be beneficial to the club, then the director of football would take over. But only on a caretaker basis until such time as a new manager is appointed."
Argyle are looking to appoint a Director of Football. The club have begun the process of seeking an experienced football person to support Carl Fletcher and his coaching team. The appointment follows a recommendation from new director Colin Sexstone, and James Brent said: “Colin was brought to the club for his extensive knowledge of the game. He has met with Carl Fletcher and, like the rest of the Board, is very impressed with Carl’s talent and enthusiasm. He has also identified, as we already knew, a lack of relative football experience across all areas of the club. It is a reason why we were so eager to bring Colin to the Board. We are not talking about pure knowledge, we are talking about the type of football experience that can only be achieved by many years service in the game. The Board, and Carl himself, feel the best way to address this area at first-team level is to appoint a Director of Football in a supportive role to the football management team.” Sexstone said: “Since my appointment, I have had the chance to get to know the club, including talking with Carl Fletcher, whose passion and commitment for his task are quite striking. The club appears to be in pretty good shape after its problems of last year. However, as the Board has acknowledged, it does not possess the sort of in-depth football experience which I think can greatly benefit Argyle. I believe this can be addressed by appointing a Director of Football, initially until the end of the current season. It demonstrates the Board's determination to support the manager, as well the manager's willingness to embrace that support. Some of the most successful clubs at home and abroad have employed such a person for many years and we believe that this will become much more prevalent in this country with the onus placed upon clubs to comply with Financial Fair Play directives. Argyle are taking an early position on what we think will become a trend in English football to employ a Director of Football, Sporting Director, Technical Director or similar. I am pleased that Carl totally shares the same foresight and welcomes the idea, and he will be a key driver in appointment process.” Carl Fletcher said: “I welcome the Board’s support, and to playing my part in helping to select the right person for this club.”
James Brent has admitted Argyle's fans have 'every right' to be frustrated by the club's recent results. He said: "The results we have had have been disappointing but I think it requires careful thought to work with Carl on how to get it right. From my perspective, in the majority of the games I have seen we have been the stronger side, but we have not been able to turn that into wins. That's the challenge for us all to work out. The fans have every right and justification to feel very disappointed and very frustrated by the results. That view is totally shared by the board and myself. What we will do is try to do the right thing rather than the popular thing." Finances are tight at Home Park but Brent has not ruled out some more signings when the January transfer window opens. He said: "We will be having a discussion with the manager well in advance of the January transfer window to see where he thinks the gaps are in the squad and what his recommendations are. The board will then consider that."
Mark Molesley has predicted better times are around the corner for Argyle. After making his debut in the defeat by Chesterfield on Saturday, he said: "Sometimes things don't quite go for you, but it's up to us as players to make it happen. I'm sure we will if we carry on applying ourselves like we did here. We were on the front foot, we pressurised them and we created lots of chances. If we carry on like that the tide will definitely turn for us." Molesley's debut was his first competitive match of the season after recently recovering from an Achilles injury. He said: "It has been a bit of a whirlwind. I met the boys for the first time on Friday and I was pleased to be starting a match. I thought we dominated the game. I'm sure the stats won't lie. In the first half, I lost count of the amount of corners we had and the pressure we had on the goal. If one of those goes in, it changes the whole complexion of the game, but football can kick you in the teeth. If you don't get that goal, there is always the worry they can get down the other end and nick one, and that's what they did. Then they just dug in and made it difficult for us, and held on to their three points. It's disappointing, definitely. On the possession and the chances we created, I think we did enough to win two or three games." The first Molesley knew about Argyle’s interest in him was when Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe told him last Thursday. He said: "I haven't played much football this year and I was keen to get some minutes under my belt. Our manager spoke to me on Thursday morning and said that Plymouth might be interested. I came here with Aldershot at the end of last season and when I realised a club of Plymouth's stature were interested I jumped at the chance. I'm very delighted to be here and have the opportunity to play for such a big club." Carl Fletcher started his career as a player at Bournemouth and Howe was one of his team-mates. Molesley said: "Last Wednesday, Bournemouth didn't want me to go out on loan. They wanted to keep me around. But I think once he spoke to the gaffer here he realised it was an opportunity for both clubs to, hopefully, get something out of it. I'm just looking to get back on that pitch. Football hasn't been too kind to me over the last few years. I have worked hard and I'm hoping that will pay off, first and foremost for Plymouth, and then see what happens at the end of it." Molesley was pleased he lasted the pace against Chesterfield after such a long break without any first-team football. He added: "I have had a good month of training, and I had a reserve team game before I came here on Tuesday. I have lasted the 90 today. I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling it at the end because I was a little bit. I enjoyed the game but I'm obviously gutted about the result." Molesley admitted there had been a sombre mood in the dressing room after the game. He said: "After you have dominated a game and come off losing, you are going to be disappointed. We will reflect on it and come back stronger for it."
Argyle felt they dominated large periods of yesterday’s game against Chesterfield, but still emerged pointless. “It’s tough to take, really,” said Carl Fletcher, “The pleasing thing is that the lads are playing well and working hard for one another, but the down side is that we aren’t getting any results. I end up sounding like a broken record but, again, we’ve dominated a game in every sense, chances, attempts at goal, possession, corners. It just didn’t bounce for us today. It seems to be the way we’re going. All the hard work we’re putting in just isn’t rubbing off for us. We don’t just smash the ball around and hope something goes our way. We try to get into certain areas and make the right decisions at the right time. We’ve been working on getting on the front foot and getting teams penned in when we can, and I thought we did that well. We just didn’t have bit of luck fall to us so we could get that finish. We’re just really disappointed that the results aren’t following the performances. It’s the only stat you look at the end of day. It’s football. That’s why people watch it. It’s why all their fans travelled down from Chesterfield to see the game, because you are always in with a chance, however the game goes. In one box, it’s not going for us, and in the other box it’s not going for us. We could have easily won the game 2-0 or 3-0 and been quite comfortable.” It also looked as though Joe Lennox’s cross had been illegally deflected by the arm of Chesterfield’s Nathan Smith in the closing stages, but claims for a penalty were ignored. “We should’ve had a penalty in the second half,” said Fletcher, “but the ref didn’t see that one. “I think it was a clear one, it hit his arm three yards inside the box. I think the linesman was that side, too, so I’m not too sure why he’s not seen it. But that’s just the way it’s going at the moment. I think we must have driven over a few black cats.”
Mark Molesley put in an impressive performance in his Argyle debut yesterday. Carl Fletcher said: “He’s experienced and he has played in this league before. He showed some real good and energy and quality, keeping the ball and making forward runs. He’s obviously knackered at the end, but we’re really pleased to have him here.” Molesley replaced Jamie Lowry, denying him the opportunity of playing against his former club. “Jamie was out for three months,” said Fletcher. “Since he’s come back, he’s had to play loads of games, because of injuries and suspension, and two of them have been with ten men. With Youngy’s shoulder and Wotts still not back yet, we needed to shore up that midfield and I’m glad to get Mark in.” Alex MacDonald put in another industrious performance, playing just off front man Nick Chadwick for the bulk of this game, switching to the right flank after the introduction of substitutes Rhys Griffiths and Guy Madjo. “He’s lively, he’s busy and gets around people,” said Fletcher. “He likes to play there, and he’s been doing well for us out wide as well, as he has good delivery on his crosses. Wherever you play Macca, he always gives you 100%.” The game against Chesterfield went ahead after a very wet week, but the Home Park pitch stood up well to the deluge, which continued during the game. “You could pour the Atlantic Ocean on that pitch and it won’t affect it,” said Fletcher, “It’s hard as nails and it’s got really good drainage. “We’re really lucky. Sometimes, maybe during the summer, it’s too hard, but, for days like today, it was never an issue.”
Argyle lost 1-0 to Chesterfield at Home Park. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Blanchard, Nelson, Bhasera, Gurrieri, Hourihane, Molesley, Cowan-Hall, Chadwick, MacDonald. Subs – Madjo, Griffiths, Lennox (not used – Cole, Richards, Lowry, Harvey). Attendance – 5,711.
Tyler Harvey became the 21st player to be given an Argyle debut in Carl Fletcher’s reign when he came on as a second-half substitute at Bradford City, and he did not let anybody down. “He fitted in, like we knew he would,” said Fletcher. “We’re wary of his age but he got hold of the ball and kept it for us, like we expected him to. He’s scoring regularly for the youth team, so his confidence is really high and it was great for the young lad to come on and get his debut. We’re pleased for him. He’s a Plymouth lad and I think all of his family are local, too.”
Matt Lecointe has seen his progress slowed by a series of injuries this season, but has overcome those problems now and is waiting for a chance to return to first team action. Carl Fletcher said: "I think Matty has been unfortunate. He has picked up a few little niggly injuries and he’s missed a fair chunk of the season. It's just one of those things. He's going to get that when he's younger and he's growing and developing. Matty is a good player and has got time on his side. When you are younger and you get injuries, and you are not training all the time and not involved in games, it’s a learning experience for the future so it will benefit him in the long run. It will benefit him in the long run really. It's just something you have got to take on board about being a professional footballer. You are not always going to be able to train every day and play every weekend. There are going to be times, through no fault of your own, when you are going to have to sit out and you have to deal with that situation."
Carl Fletcher has praised the professionalism of Argyle's stand-in captain Conor Hourihane. He said: "Conor understands the game. He knows what we want and he always gives 100 per cent. It was a no-brainer really. His professionalism and attitude, day in and day out, is something a lot of people can learn from." Fletcher will have to check on the fitness of several of his players before naming his team to take on Chesterfield tomorrow. Luke Young is suffering from a shoulder injury and Rhys Griffiths was ruled out of the trips to Fleetwood and Bradford by a hamstring injury, but has done some training this week, according to Fletcher. He also stated Nick Chadwick and Alex MacDonald had both sustained 'impact injuries' against Bradford. Guy Madjo is in contention for a recall to the starting line-up after recovering from illness. He has been an unused substitute for the last three matches and Fletcher said: "He was ill for the majority of last week and missed training but he's fine now."
Jamie Lowry will face his former side when Chesterfield visit Home Park tomorrow. Lowry spent nine years with the club, from the age of 16, before joining Argyle last summer. He said: "I was there a long time and I still have a lot of good friends at the club. I speak to them quite regularly. With what has been going on up there, they have kept me in the know. I have a lot of good laughs with them. They have picked up a few decent results lately. They have had a new manager come in and the lads said he's working them hard and they are really impressed with him. They are on the turnaround from the poor start they had so it's going to be a tough game for us. I expect them to be in our faces and that it will be played at a high tempo." Lowry was taken on by Chesterfield in 2003 after leaving school in Newquay. He said: "My family originate from up there so I went for a trial when I left school. I always wanted to be a professional footballer and the first opportunity came at Chesterfield. Thankfully, it worked out." Lowry attended some of Argyle's development centres as a schoolboy but never made it to the centre of excellence at Ivybridge. He admitted it was a wrench to leave Chesterfield in the summer, but first team opportunities had been limited for him after recovering from a knee injury. He said: "It was quite tough to leave, having been there all of my career, but I think the time was right anyway to move on. I wasn't playing regularly after my injury. I had a tough time with that. I needed a few more games and it wasn't working out there. Now I'm down here and hoping to crack on and keep improving." Argyle have not won any of their last six league games, but Lowry believes their performances have deserved more than that. He said: "The performance was there against Gillingham and that's probably our benchmark now. We have got to try to aim for that kind of performance consistently. But, at the end of the day, we want the three points more than anything tomorrow. We will take that over a good performance."
Carl Fletcher is confident he can turn around the fortunes of Argyle. Fletcher has asked fans to 'get behind' the players as they seek a return to winning ways and despite some fans wanting to see Fletcher replaced as manager, he said: "This isn't pressure. You have got people going off to war, and people with illnesses. That's pressure. This isn't pressure, it's a game of football." Asked whether he was confident he could turn around Argyle's fortunes, Fletcher replied: "Yes, otherwise I wouldn't be here. Whatever you do in life, do you give up the first time it gets a little bit difficult? There is no point me saying we are going to work harder now because that suggests we weren't working hard before. We will be working hard, as we always do, to try to get good results and good performances. The performances have been decent lately. We just maybe haven't got the rewards we deserved." Four of Argyle's last six league games have been away from home, and all have been against teams challenging towards the top end of the table. Fletcher said: "We have had a tough run recently and we have held our own in pretty much all of the games. I would ask the fans to get behind the lads. That's the main thing. The lads go out there to work hard and try to do the right things and get good results."
Argyle have signed midfielder Mark Molesley on a one month loan from Bournemouth. Carl Fletcher said: "I'm really pleased to get Mark in. We had to do a bit of negotiating to make sure that the move was viable and we pulled in a couple of favours. Mark is a solid player who has been successful at this level before. I spoke to Eddie Howe about Mark and he couldn't recommend him highly enough. Ed's opinion is one I trust and I'm sure that Mark will be a great asset to the squad."
Conor Hourihane has thrown his support behind Carl Fletcher. Hourihane insisted the players did not want a change of manager, and said: "Definitely not. The gaffer is terrific with us and everyone is behind him." Hourihane captained Argyle for the first time when they lost at Bradford City on Tuesday, taking over as skipper because Darren Purse is serving a three-match suspension. Hourihane was pleased to have been asked to lead out the team but frustrated by the result. He said: "It was a great honour for me when the gaffer told me I was going to be captain. I found out on Tuesday afternoon. I was delighted. I must be doing something right, so it was nice to get the armband. It was the first time I had been captain in a competitive game. Hopefully, there is more in the future. It was a great honour but it could have been any of the lads. I thought there were 11 leaders out there. There was lots of talking and lots of encouragement, which was good to see. Looking at the game, we played very well. We put in a great shift and I thought we definitely deserved to get something out of it. We had our chances but you don't always get what you deserve in football. We will keep going and I'm sure the results are around the corner. The performances are there, and we just have to keep at it." Jamie Lowry almost equalised on the stroke of half-time, but the Bradford 'keeper made a fine save. Alex MacDonald also shot wide from a good position early in the second half and Argyle continued to press forward, with Tyler Harvey sent on as a substitute for his senior debut, but an equaliser proved elusive. Hourihane said: "I thought we were reasonably comfortable in the first half. They probably had more possession than us but we didn't feel under too much pressure. It was a scrappy goal and I thought we could have cleared it, which was disappointing. We had a chance at the end of the first half and could have gone in at 1-1, and Macca had one at the start of the second half. It would be worse if we weren't getting chances. At least people are getting in the right positions, and that's the main thing." On Saturday Argyle host Chesterfield, and Hourihane added: "Hopefully, there will be a big crowd and everyone will get behind us. I'm sure if we put in another performance like we did at Bradford there will be no doubt that we will get something." Meanwhile, Carl Fletcher has explained that Luke Young was ruled out of the game against Bradford by a shoulder injury suffered at Fleetwood Town on Saturday.
Argyle have drawn one and lost six of their last seven games, following the defeat at Bradford City last night. However, Carl Fletcher has seen enough to be optimistic, and said: “Some games you play, you don’t play very well, get completely dominated and you end up winning the game. Other times you do really well and have a good performance and don’t win the game. That’s just the way things are going at the moment. The important thing is the lads don’t get too down about it. You’ve got to take the positives through some of the performances. It will turn around, because that’s the way football is. Sometimes you get a run of results where you can’t buy a win. But you only get out of life what you put into it. Those lads work their socks off each and every day to try and do the right things, to be better players and better people. You can’t fault them for that.”
Argyle slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Bradford City last night. Carl Fletcher’s side were second best throughout the first half, and went into the break a goal down. However, in the second period they were the better side but could not gain even a share of the points. “We knew that first half they were going to come at us, and we were a little bit standoffish,” said Fletcher, “But we stuck to our task, and they got one of those goals where it was bobbling around a little bit, it fell to their fella and he stuck it in the corner. I thought we probably had the two best chances of the game, and in the second half we were a lot better. We were on the front foot a lot more, and we’re really disappointed not to get anything out of the game. The lads dug in. We knew it was a tough task. They’ve got Hanson and Wells up front, arguably the best front two in the division. One’s six foot four and the other’s like a whippet. They’ve got some really good experienced players that have played at a higher level. It just seems rub of the green isn’t going our way, and it’s a shame because through the lads’ efforts, and the fact that we’ve been playing teams in the top four or are odds on for promotion or the play offs, we’ve stood up and been counted.”
Alex MacDonald pulled no punches in his assessment of the defeat to Bradford City last night. “I should have scored,” he said, talking about a chance he had following a Nick Chadwick flick-on mid-way through the second half. “I had a great chance. But I’m more worried if I’m not in those positions, getting those chances. It’s something that I’ll keep working hard on, keeping coming into training, keep doing all that I can. Tonight was the story of our season, really. We’ve come to a place like Bradford and put in a good performance. We knew that Saturday against Fleetwood wasn’t acceptable but tonight we played well, we battled. We did everything but score, myself included. But, I believe in my own ability and know that if a chance like that comes again, then I’ll back myself everyday to hit the back of the net.” The game was MacDonald’s first start since returning from compassionate leave following the death of his grandmother, but he felt that the time off did him good. He said: “It was a time I needed off. On that Wednesday when my grandma passed, I don’t think I should have played but I didn’t want to let anyone down. That will come with experience. Everyday I’m still learning my game under the manager and he told me that I didn’t have a choice about having time off. He said that I needed to be with my family and it’s done me the world of good. I’ve come back and I’ve benefited from it. It all makes me a stronger person and makes me want to succeed on the pitch even more.” Having started on the right at Bradford, MacDonald was moved up front, just behind Nick Chadwick, midway through the first-half. He said: “I thought tonight I put in a good shift and I was just happy to be out on the pitch. I’ve been dying to play up front, to be honest. I think that me and Chaddy have a great understanding with each other. He knows what I’m going to do and I know what he’s going to do so I enjoy playing with him. We have a good relationship on and off the pitch. Obviously, I’ll play anywhere but my favourite position is up top. We’re just not getting lady luck at the minute. If you look at their goal, it was scrappy as anything, it’s taken a deflection. The boy who scored hit it into the ground and it’s somehow gone in the corner. I don’t think big Reg could see it. They are the small little things that aren’t falling for us at the minute so all we can do is keep working hard and hopefully it’ll come.”
Argyle lost 1-0 at Bradford City. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Blanchard, Nelson, Bhasera, Gurrieri, Hourihane, Lowry, Cowan-Hall, Chadwick, MacDonald. Subs – Harvey, Feeney (not used – Cole, Richards, Madjo, Griffiths.S, Lennox). Attendance – 8,843.
Carl Fletcher believes Argyle have not been getting 'the rub of the green' in recent matches. He said: "We haven't been turned over by anyone. Yes, we lost 3-0 on Saturday but we conceded two late goals after we went down to 10 men. We have been competitive in each and every game we have played in. We should have beaten Gillingham. We are just not getting the rub of the green. Towards the end of last season, when we were keeping a lot of clean sheets our goal led a charmed life at times. The ball would hit the post or crossbar, or be cleared off the line. That was the way it was going for us then. It's not going that way for us now. We have just got to keep working hard, dig in and do the ugly side of football, and get the win that we know we probably deserve." That will not be easy to achieve against Bradford, and their strikeforce of James Hanson and Nakhi Wells. Fletcher said: "Wells was kind of in and out last season but has really come to the fore this year. He works well off big James Hanson, but they have got quite a few good players. Will Atkinson is one of them. We know him from his time with us last season." Valley Parade is the biggest stadium in League Two, and Fletcher added: "It's really nice there, and not too dissimilar to our ground. We had a good game there last season. It was proper football with blood and guts and lots of tackles flying in. They like to get the ball down and play, and so do we, so it should be a good game tonight."
Rhys Griffiths’ Argyle career is continuing to be plagued by a series of injuries. He was ruled out of the defeat at Fleetwood Town by a hamstring strain, which he suffered in the draw with Gillingham the previous weekend, and will also miss the game at Bradford City tonight. Carl Fletcher said: "It never seems to be anything long-term, just a couple of weeks here and there. It's disappointing from our point of view and for Griff as well. He's here on a one-year contract and wants to be involved in as many games as possible, and we want him to be involved in as many games as possible." Fletcher admitted Argyle had amended Griffiths' training schedule to try to help him steer clear of injuries. It is more in line with what he was used to when he played in the Welsh Premier League. Fletcher said: "For part of the week he does his own stuff and then he joins in with the rest of the squad." Nick Chadwick replaced Griffiths in the second half against Gillingham and made his first start in nearly three months at Fleetwood. Fletcher revealed Chadwick's return to the first team had followed 'a heart to heart chat' between them. He said: "I spoke to him and mentioned a couple of things I wasn't happy with. He was left out of the squad for a few weeks. Since we had that heart to heart chat he has shown the same hunger and desire that he had when he first came back to the club last season. He's a big personality in the changing room and has worked really hard in training. He deserved his chance to play on Saturday and I thought he did well."
The loan spell of Scott Griffiths ends after the game against Bradford City tonight. Carl Fletcher said: "Scott has fitted in well with the lads. He hasn't played the last few games but he always gives 100 per cent, whether it's in training or in matches. He's a very likeable character and we were really lucky to get him here."
Darren Purse has protested his innocence over his dismissal at Fleetwood Town on Saturday. Carl Fletcher spoke to the referee after carrying out his post-match interviews with the media, and said: "The referee told me he hadn't seen it but the linesman who was furthest away did. He said Pursey had kneed their guy in the back of the leg. He described it as being like when John Terry was sent-off when playing for Chelsea against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals last season. Pursey said he hadn't seen the guy and that he had backed into him and thrown himself to the floor." Purse and the rest of the squad travelled to Yorkshire on Saturday night and Purse found out after arriving at the team hotel that one of his grandparents had died, so Fletcher allowed him to leave to be with his family. "These things put everything into perspective," said Fletcher. "We sent him home so he could make sure everything was sorted out at that end. We can put everything else to one side and speak about it later in the week."
Argyle have prepared well for their game against Bradford tonight. The squad travelled to a hotel on the outskirts of Shipley in West Yorkshire on Saturday night. The players were allowed time to themselves on Sunday, with many of them using the gym facilities and swimming pool at the hotel. Then yesterday morning they trained at Football Conference North club Guiseley, in preparation for the visit to Valley Parade tonight. Carl Fletcher said: "It was not too far away from where we have been staying. They had a good 3G pitch we could use. It was a light session and we didn't do anything too strenuous. It was just to get their legs going again." Fletcher admitted the facilities at the hotel had been excellent. "The staff have been really accommodating and helpful," he said. "You can't all be together 24/7 so the lads have had the chance to go off and have time to themselves. They have rested their bodies and minds to make sure they are ready for the game tonight."
Argyle will be without Darren Purse for the next three games after deciding not to appeal against his red card at Fleetwood. Carl Fletcher did not see Purse’s incident with Jamie McGuire, which was also not picked up by the TV cameras covering the game, and he said: “There is no video evidence. We can’t see anything. The linesman saw it and told the referee to give a straight red card. He’s got one account and Pursey’s got a different story. You can’t go to an appeal board for that. It’s just his word against theirs.” Purse became involved with Fleetwood midfielder McGuire, and it eventually led to the second dismissal of his Argyle career. He was possibly fortunate to only be booked by referee David Webb in the 76th minute after a clash with McGuire. Then, moments later, the pair were involved in an off-the-ball incident, which was not spotted by Webb. He consulted with both of his assistants and then pulled out his red card. There were some reports over the weekend that Purse was sent-off for a second bookable offence, but Fletcher confirmed it had been a straight red. McGuire took to Twitter on Saturday night to protest his innocence. He wrote: "Listen, not my fault Darren Purse got sent-off. Thought he could bully me, not a chance. That's why he got sent-off." It is not clear whether Purse will face further punishment for confronting Fleetwood captain Steve McNulty after he was red carded. Purse took a swipe at McNulty before heading for the dressing room, taking a kick at the retractable tunnel on his way. When Fletcher was asked about the incident involving Purse and McNulty he replied: "I didn't see that. I was too busy speaking to the ones that remained on the pitch to try to sort out what we needed to do formation wise." Fletcher also confirmed that he has allowed Purse to leave the hotel at which the team has been based in the north of England, for family reasons.
A terrible beginning and ending to the game made Argyle’s first visit to Fleetwood one to forget. They conceded a goal after just 90 seconds on their way to a 3-0 defeat, with the last two goals, coming in the final ten minutes of the match after Darren Purse had been sent off. Carl Fletcher said: “It was not good enough. We just didn’t mark our man. The game changes straight away, in the first two minutes. It kills everything you have been working on all week and the game-plan you set up for. Once we got over the initial disappointment of the goal, we found a foothold in the game and were doing alright. When we finally got on the ball, we had some good chances and were looking forward to the second half, to progress that, but it just didn’t happen. The way it went in the second half was disappointing because you don’t give yourself a good opportunity to get back in the game. It was always going to be difficult here but, once we went down to ten men, it was even more difficult. Maybe, if we’d kept 11 men on the pitch and did a few little things a little bit better, we might have had that chance. We would have liked to keep it to 1-0 going into the last few minutes, so we could have a right good go, but we didn’t. Once the second goal went in, it was unfortunate that it came off Nelse, the game’s over. It was a case of put Max on to try to shore it up, recognise we weren’t going to get anything out of the game and save ourselves for Tuesday.” On Tuesday, Argyle visit Bradford having not won any of their last six games. “There is pressure in everything, whatever you do,” Fletcher said, “especially if you want to do it well, if you have high standards of yourself and expect high standards of other people. In this division, you can just as easily have six wins as six losses, so we’ll make sure we’re ready to go again at Bradford.”
Carl Fletcher showed some sympathy for Darren Purse after he was dismissed during the defeat at Fleetwood. Purse was red-carded in the 79th minute for an off-the-ball incident, and Fletcher said: “Every game is different and sometimes a will to win spills over into actions that maybe you wouldn’t normally do. I’ve been in games when you do things on the pitch that, in the cold light of day, don’t seem normal. It’s hard for people to understand, if you have not played the game, that, with the adrenaline, the frustration, the will to win, and the hard work, you do things you normally wouldn’t do.” Purse is set to miss Argyle’s next three games, so Maxime Blanchard will return to the side. “Max comes in,” said Fletcher. “You can’t worry too much about the ones that can’t play, the injured or the ones that are suspended, you have got to concentrate on the ones that are available.”
Argyle lost 3-0 at Fleetwood Town. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Purse, Nelson, Bhasera, Young, Hourihane, Lowry, Cowan-Hall, Chadwick, Feeney. Subs – Madjo, MacDonald, Blanchard (not used – Cole, Gurrieri, Griffiths.S, Lennox). Attendance – 2,657.
Rene Gilmartin believes Argyle’s goalkeeping set-up is serving the club well. “Me and Jake have been working very hard together,” he said. “There’s a good team-spirit and the two of us keep a high tempo to keep the pressure on each other. The gaffer’s got two goalkeepers. He has tough decisions to make and that’s going to be one of them throughout the season. You accept your position, if there’s another goalkeeper in, you support them as much as you can. I’ve been a number two elsewhere and it’s not a nice place to be. I don’t want to be good at being a number two because I want to play, be a part of the team, and win games with the team.” Romain Larrieu is not the only former Argyle ‘keeper on the Home Park coaching staff. “We work a lot with Rhys Wilmot,” said Gilmartin, “and he deserves a mention for all the hard work he does with us. He’s a policeman and it’s not easy for him at times, with his other job, but I’ve got a lot of respect for him with the work he does with all the ‘keepers here, me, Jake, Ollie and Chris. We’ve got two former goalkeepers at the club who know the club, know the fans, and know the way it is, they’re good people to talk to.”
Nothing will please Rene Gilmartin more than if he does not see any action at Fleetwood on Saturday, but he still wants to be involved. ‘Reg’, as he is known in the dressing-room, said: “If I don’t have much to do, then the team is playing well and we’re on top and more than likely winning the game. But you do want to be a part of it, you do your little bits and pieces in the dressing-room with the lads, and, if it’s a quiet game, my voice will still be hoarse. You’re still a part of a team, there’s still 11 of you out there, and you affect the game as much as you can. But, if it’s a quiet game for me, hopefully it’s a lively game for the strikers.” Fleetwood are the favourites to win promotion again this season but that does not faze Gilmartin. “Look at Gillingham, we played them off the park,” he said. “League position doesn’t mean an awful lot when you’ve got a team-spirit and everyone’s feeling good in the camp. On the day, anyone can beat anyone in this league and I’d like to think that we can do that. We just need to get our performances and our consistency and we’ll hopefully pick up a few wins. It was great to get my league debut, to get in the team and show the gaffer what I can do. I was disappointed that we didn’t get the win, but we showed the fans the spirit we have in the camp. We’ve got a lot of leaders who are all fighting in the same direction.” Gilmartin missed out on being able to challenge Cole for the position earlier in the season after injuring himself in pre-season training. “You have to accept injuries in your career,” he said. “Obviously, it wasn’t an ideal pre-season for me in that I came in and did a bit of damage in the first week. I’ve had to be patient, I’ve done a lot of work in the gym and in rehab with the physio department here and it’s worked out well. I’m getting my opportunity now.”
Argyle's squad will be staying in the north of England after the game at Fleetwood Town tomorrow, in order to prepare for the match at Bradford City on Tuesday. Carl Fletcher said: "We are training on Monday at Guiseley, which isn't too far from the hotel. Apparently, they have got quite a nice 3G/4G pitch that we will use. We aren't going to do too much on Monday anyway because it's a Saturday-Tuesday turnaround. It will just be nice for the lads to stretch their legs and have a feel of a football." The team will spend a lot less time on a coach as a result of staying in the north after playing Fleetwood, and Fletcher continued: "You are looking at a minimum of seven hours to Fleetwood, and probably the same to Bradford. That's 28 hours of travelling, stuck on a coach, in a short space of time. If it's Saturday-Saturday, you kind of get on with it but, in this case, I think it makes sense to stay up." Meanwhile, Fletcher has welcomed the appointment of chairman Colin Sexstone as a non-executive director at Argyle. He said: "It's definitely a bonus to have someone who has got football experience, in terms of being around a club and working at a club." Fletcher regularly attends Argyle board meetings to update James Brent and his directors on football matters, and he added: "I speak direct to James at least once a week. I can phone him up if I need him. I have also got Jason Turner and Martin Baker if I need anything."
Argyle will come up against one of the most experienced and talented squads in League Two when they play Fleetwood Town tomorrow, a squad which includes former Argyle midfielder Damien Johnson. Carl Fletcher said: "They have got some really good talented players to choose from. I got on really well with Jonno. We used to chat and talk about stuff, which was great, and I have spoken to him since he left the club on a few occasions. He's a real nice, down-to-earth fella. He has been injured and I'm not sure if he will be back tomorrow. I will try to call him, but I'm not sure he will give too much away! It will be nice to see him anyway and have a catch up anyway. He's a family man and keeps himself to himself. He has got good morals and he's a great pro for young lads to learn from and see how he carries himself on and off the pitch."
Conor Hourihane has put his recent problems with referees behind him and is focused on producing performances which will ensure he stays in the Argyle team. Hourihane has had to serve two separate one-match suspensions in the past three weeks. He received a fifth yellow card of the season in the defeat at Cheltenham Town on October 23rd, the referee deciding he had dived when challenged by an opposing player. He then returned to the starting line-up for the FA Cup tie at Dorchester Town, but was sent-off for a second bookable offence in only the ninth minute. Carl Fletcher was furious about Hourihane's booking against Cheltenham, which led to his first ban. Hourihane said: "Sometimes the referees get it wrong. I think diving and all that kind of stuff has been in the papers quite a lot recently. I think some of the referees are looking at too many Premier League games. It's one of those things and you just have to get on with it." Fletcher allowed Hourihane some time off to spend with his family in Ireland when he was suspended for the trip to Rotherham, and Hourihane added: "Come three o'clock that Saturday I was thinking, 'I would just love to be out there'. It was very frustrating." The circumstances of his dismissal against Dorchester were widely criticised. Hourihane said: "Obviously, I don't think I should have been sent-off but you just have to move on. The gaffer was very supportive of me and I think everyone that saw it knew the referee had got it wrong. Fair play to Dorchester, they won the game. I didn't really watch it, to be honest. I was in the dressing room for a while and I was in the stand for a while, but I couldn't watch it. It was a frustrating day all round for the team. I was delighted to get back out there on Saturday against Gillingham because it was a frustrating week for me, and it was good to get the point off the league leaders. Before the game, I think we would have taken a point, just to stop the rot. We have to look at the positives. Hopefully, it's onwards and upwards." Argyle took a 2-1 lead against Gillingham in the 80th minute with a goal from Luke Young, but conceded a late equaliser. Hourihane said: "When all the lads put in a good shift and we are all play well, not many teams will stop us. Hopefully, we can take that into the game at Fleetwood tomorrow and get something off them as well." Argyle's trip to fifth-placed Fleetwood tomorrow is followed by an away game against Bradford City, who are in fourth position, on Tuesday. Hourihane is not daunted by that prospect, however. "We played very well against Cheltenham, and they are right up there as well, so we are not far off," he said. "Hopefully, a win is just around the corner for us."
Carl Fletcher has been impressed with Curtis Nelson’s form so far this season. He said: “Nelse’s come back this season and he’s worked hard and come back really fit. He’s willing to learn which is pleasing and maybe, when he played before, people expected too much of him, asked him to do things he maybe wasn’t that comfortable with. He’s so athletic and strong and good in the air, so it’s making sure that he does the things that he’s good at and that he does them really well and then everything else will take care of itself. It’s a case of knowing your game and is the same with every player. It’s about playing to your strengths.”
Paul Wotton has stepped up his return from injury. “He’s just started running this week so we’ll just build it up slowly,” said Carl Fletcher. “You’ve got to be careful with back injuries so it’ll be little bits at a time. Paul’s very professional it he way he looks after himself which is probably how he’s continued playing to the age that he is. He’s very focused on what he needs to do whether it’s eating the right things or doing the right stretches. We’ll keep an eye on how he goes.”
Newly appointed director Colin Sexstone believes Argyle can reclaim their place in the Championship, but insisted it will take some time. He said: "I'm delighted to have been asked to join the Argyle board in this capacity and will do all I can to help restore the club's fortunes in whatever way I can. If I didn't think I could be of any use, or that James and his fellow board members were sympathetic to my vision of how the club can be run, I wouldn't have joined. I really believe there is a good future for Argyle and that there is a common will from board and fans alike that the club will succeed. Obviously, after watching from afar with horror how close Argyle came to going out of business or the League, it's clear the job of restoring their fortunes is not going to be achieved overnight. The important fact is that it can be done, but with patience. It would be the height of stupidity if one didn't learn from previous mistakes and I don't think that's likely to happen here. So, I've been asked to try and help the club raise revenues without it impacting on the fans. I've had success with that in the past at Bristol City and at Gloucestershire and know that it's possible to get the right balance, so that ambitions can be realised on and off the field. It's not easy and sometimes fans and those with the club's interests at heart will feel frustrated at the perceived lack of progress. For example, I have watched Argyle play on a couple of occasions recently and it's fair to say that the quality of their performances have varied. They were poor in what was a poor game against Wimbledon but then they were unlucky not to have done better than drawn against Gillingham, who are top of the division. But, in my view, this up-and-down form is only natural as Argyle are an evolving side and so consistency is going to be hard to achieve. But can Argyle get back to the Championship? Yes, they can, but it's not going to happen overnight and it will need to be done having set in place a sound financial foundation."
The Argyle youth team were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup last night, losing 3-2 at Oxford United. The goals were scored by Tyler Harvey and Matt Lecointe. Argyle: Walton, Watson, Purrington, Elcock, Bradley, Summers, Lecointe, Allen, Harvey, Hutchinson, Wheatley. Subs – Hall, Lane (not used - Asumadu-Sakyi, Hughes, Moxham). Kevin Hodges said: “Naturally, I’m very disappointed for the boys. I have to say, in the first 40 minutes, the players performed fantastically well. We were totally in charge of the game, we played at a real nice, high tempo and very rarely did Oxford get out of their own half. Our goalkeeper, Christian Walton, was more of a spectator. We’ve got the break, we’ve got the goal, Tyler Harvey took it very well and very calmly, and we were in charge of the game. It’s an important stage, seconds before half-time, and we lapsed defensively and let in a relatively easy goal which gave Oxford a massive lift and we came in perhaps a little disappointed. We stressed that they’d been performing well, to expect Oxford to come at them in second-half for the first 20 or so minutes, but to be ready for them and respond. Unfortunately, we didn’t respond and they got a little bit of an upper hand and they got a little bit fortunate with the second goal which was a miss-clearance from us that which came off one of our players and into the back of the net. But, we responded again, got another goal and got ourselves back in the game but they went and scored in the last ten minutes. Overall, I felt we were the better team. I did stress before the match that we’d have to be on our game defensively, and that was our weakness on the evening. We didn’t clear the ball when we need to and we conceded three really basic goals which was a shame. But, it’s a development process, and the boys will learn from this. They’ll pick themselves up and hopefully get a result against Torquay on Saturday.”
James Brent has admitted to 'a lot of frustration' over Argyle's fortunes on the pitch this season. He said: "Maybe I have got green tints and I certainly have no experience but watching the games I have, I haven't see one team that has looked any better inherently than ours. To me, I think we gift-wrapped three points and handed them across to Burton Albion. It was just beyond frustrating. I didn't go to Cheltenham but everyone I have spoken to said we should have won that game, and at the very least got a draw. Dorchester Town was a total disaster, but I guess that's what makes the FA Cup exciting. Unfortunately we were the victims of the excitement rather than the perpetrators. There is a lot of frustration but we will do whatever we can to support the football management and, hopefully, see better results."
James Brent has confirmed the opportunity for the Argyle Fans' Trust to purchase up to a 20 per cent stake in the club remains on the table. The offer was first announced by Brent in January with a deadline of September 30th, but, despite a couple of meetings with the Trust, Brent stated he had not had a formal response. He said: "Clearly, if there was an enthusiasm and passion to do something then we aren't constrained by that deadline, but I'm not sure there necessarily is."
Colin Sexstone, a former Bristol City chief executive and chairman has been appointed as a non-executive director at Argyle. He said: "I am absolutely delighted to join the board of Plymouth Argyle and will try to use my 16 years of professional sports experience to help the club to increase their revenues and build a team to make sure that they get back up the leagues as soon as possible. I have always enjoyed my visits to Home Park, where the fans have impressed me, and this is a very exciting time for the club. I have only joined the board because the chairman and other directors impressed me with their commitment and determination to build a club based on solid foundations, but with realistic ambitions going forward." James Brent said: "I am delighted that Colin has agreed to join the board of Plymouth Argyle. He has a wealth of experience in leading major sports clubs, most recently having spent 11 years as chief executive and then chairman of Bristol City. He shares the vision of the rest of the board and management team that Plymouth Argyle should sit at the heart of our community in the South West peninsula and provide our supporters with football at a high standard in a hospitable environment."
Rene Gilmartin will get the chance to stake a claim to be Argyle's regular goalkeeper. Carl Fletcher thought Gilmartin 'didn't have a great deal to do' in the game against Gillingham, but seems committed to giving him an extended run in the first team. He said: "You are fair to one, you have got to be fair to the other as well. There might have been times in the past where we could have left Jake out, but you make the decision to stick by them and you keep going. I have got two good goalies here. They both work their socks off in training and are very professional, and I'm really lucky I have got both of them. Rene has had a few injuries he has had to deal with and it has been frustrating for him. He has just come down here and wants to be 100 per cent fit so he can give a good account of himself to push for a place. But you know with Reg he has played league football before, and he's 6ft 5in and has got a real big presence about him. I think the more games he plays he will only get better and better."
Kevin Hodges knows his Argyle under-18 side will have to be at their best when they play at Oxford United in the FA Youth Cup second round tonight. He said: "It's two in-form teams. Since Oxford played us in the early part of the season, they have been on fire in front of goal. As a team, we will have to be really strong defensively and, hopefully, we can go up there and perform as we did in our last FA Youth Cup game against Exeter. The challenge for the young players is they have got to try to repeat what we did against Exeter in an away game. It's part of their learning process, to be able to go away from home and compete, and try to perform to a level that's needed. I'm looking forward to it, and the players seem to be looking forward to it. Our lads have proven they can perform on the big stage by beating Exeter at Home Park. Can they repeat it? Football is all about consistency and, over the course of this season, the players have performed quite well. We have had a few little blips and they have overcome those and shown a really positive reaction. We have beaten Oxford this season, but this is a Cup game and I think it's a case of who performs on the night." Argyle's squad will include Matt Lecointe who started the season in the club's first-team squad until he was sidelined with an injury.
A return to the Championship remains the target for Argyle, according James Brent. Off the pitch, the club is carrying out a restructuring process which could result in a maximum of ten redundancies among non-playing staff and Brent has also had to use his own money to fund a shortfall in expected income caused by attendances at Home Park dropping below the break-even figure. Brent insisted the restructuring at Home Park had been planned since he rescued the club from administration last year and was not in response to any financial problems. He thought that the set-up behind the scenes at the club was ‘disjointed’ and added that the changes were aimed at resolving that. He said: "We have an infrastructure which is small by Championship standards but large by League Two standards. It is disjointed in that it evolved rather than being created. So what we have done is we have stood back and said: 'What is the right structure for a League Two club with aspirations of playing in the Championship?' A number of League Two clubs run on a largely volunteer basis. We don't aspire to that because we are keen to move back up the divisions, but what we have isn't right either. So we have tried to come up with a structure that we think does work for that purpose and then looked at the staffing requirements relative to that." Brent stated that some of the departures from Home Park would be by way of voluntary redundancy. He said: "The view we took, which I still passionately believe in, is that it was right to go through the process prescribed by law. It is looking for opportunity to mitigate the consequence of restructuring, as opposed to someone just going along and making people redundant. We are going through that process now and we want to complete it as quickly as we can because it provides uncertainty. But we want to make sure we don't leave any stone unturned to mitigating the impact of that. By doing it as a proper consultation, the number of compulsory redundancies has already come down quite materially. The number of compulsory redundancies won't be anything like ten. It will be a much lower number. The motivation for doing the exercise was not driven by lower than expected gates. We wanted to take a year, get our feet under the table, and work out what was the right structure going forward. The gates have been lower than we had forecast. We are running behind budget in terms of revenues, but I have funded that."
James Brent expects the newly-elected Plymouth Argyle Supporters Board (PASB) to be a voice to raise 'matters of concern' among fans. The PASB had their first meeting with the club's directors on Friday night and the two groups will get together every three months, although a representative of the PASB will liaise with acting chief executive Martin Baker on a more regular basis. Brent said: "I think the first meeting with the PASB went very well. We discussed the way we will conduct future meetings and the relationship between the PASB and Plymouth Argyle Football Club's statutory board. We will meet quarterly with the PASB, but if there are urgent matters the proposal is that they will appoint a representative and he or she will liaise with the chief executive in between." Brent wants the PASB to set the agenda for the quarterly talks between them and the club's directors. He said: "We will have our statutory board meeting and after that we will sit down with the PASB. Clearly there are standard items on the agenda, such as previous minutes and apologies for absence, and so on, but the core of it will be set by the PASB. If I was to set it, the argument would be that I would set it to my convenience rather than to others. What I'm assuming is the PASB will meet in between our meetings and bring to the fore matters of concern to fans that will then form the core of the agenda to debate with us."
Luke Young thought there were a lot of positives to come out of Argyle's draw with Gillingham on Saturday. He said: "Some people, the fans for example, might have taken a point from this game at the start, looking at our last results and who we were playing. But, as a group of players, we were going into the game to win it. I think we did enough to win it but they threw everything at us and, unfortunately, they nicked it right at the end. The tempo we played at was the key for us. From start to finish we were at them and they couldn't really handle it. All they threw at us, we dealt with well. I think we should have nicked it, personally, but you have got to look at the positives. There are a lot of positives, so we have got to try to take that into next Saturday." Gillingham arrived at Home Park having picked up 19 points out of a possible 24 away from home. Young said: "They are flying high but we wanted to show them what we are capable of, and I think we did that. Nobody likes losing, whether it's in the FA Cup, in the league or in little five-a-sides in training. It was a great game for us to try to put things right and I think we showed what we are capable of against the league leaders. We are capable of beating anybody on our day. I think we passed it at the right times and we hit long balls into Griff and Feeno and worked off them at times. That helped us, making the right decisions at the right time." Argyle took a 2-1 lead against Gillingham in the 80th minute when Young received a short pass from Nick Chadwick and hit an 18-yard shot into the net. Young said: "I gave a little shout to Chads and it was a great touch by him, right into my path. I didn't have to break stride. I got my head down and kept my eye on the ball, and got a good strike on it. Luckily it went in." That looked to have secured maximum points until former Pilgrim Adam Barrett popped up with his late equaliser. Young said: "It was just one of those things, maybe a lack of concentration when they were piling the pressure on. The ball fell to them in the right place and they put it in the back of the net." Young had played much of this season in the centre of midfield for Argyle, but started on the left against Gillingham. He later switched to the right side after Andres Gurrieri was sent on as a second half substitute. Young added: "I don't mind where I play as long as I'm in the team. I feel like I give 110 per cent in whatever position I play in.
Luke Young looked to have scored a winning goal for Argyle on Saturday, but a late equaliser from Gillingham snatched away the three points. However, it did not detract from a very good afternoon for Young. “I’m pleased for Luke,” said Carl Fletcher. “He did well. We had him playing on the left side and the right side. He’s only 19. I think everyone thinks that because he’s out there playing week in week out that he’s older than he is, but he’s still only 19. He works hard, and he’s coming on, which is great.” Completing his first 90 minutes for Argyle was Jamie Lowry. After being injured early on in pre-season, Lowry returned to the squad at Barnet, and has gradually been upping his activity. Fletcher said: “That’s three games in a week for Jamie. I spoke to him yesterday. We named the team yesterday and he was in it, and he was honest with me, and he said ‘To be honest, I feel knackered’. I said ‘we’ll get training out of the way’, we didn’t do a lot yesterday, it was nice and light, ‘have a sleep and see how you are in the morning.’ I asked him to be honest with me, which he was yesterday, and he said he felt fine. I was really pleased. Jamie gets the ball and keeps it. He reads the game really well. We’re very lucky to have him here. When you’re struggling and you’ve been out for a long while, then you play a few games and you’re tired, you get it, try and keep it, then get your breath back really. But later on in the game today, the way he read situations and picked up second balls and things like that were really helpful to us as a team.”
Carl Fletcher put family before football by leaving Alex MacDonald out of Argyle's team to play Gillingham. MacDonald returned to the North West following the death of his grandmother, and Fletcher said: "I sent him back. I kind of took it out of his hands because I think it was the right thing to do. It's not like Plymouth is around the corner from Manchester. I said to get back, be with his family and make sure everything is alright there. I’ll speak to him over the weekend and see how he is getting on. I’ll see him back when he is alright.”
Argyle staged their own Remembrance Day respects before the game against Gillingham. Buglers from the HMS Drake-based Devonport Royal Naval Volunteer Band played the Last Post before kick-off, and that was followed by an immaculately observed one-minute silence. Gillingham manager Martin Allen said: "It was special being in Plymouth on Saturday. The band before the game were outstanding. I enjoyed watching and listening to them. I thought it was a great English occasion for football, to be honest."
Following four consecutive defeats, Carl Fletcher was pleased with Argyle’s performance yesterday, if not the result, after Gillingham equalised in the 89th minute. “It’s really gutting,” he said. “I’m still feeling it now. I think it will take me until tomorrow or Monday for the disappointment to go away. We deserved to win today. We take a lot of confidence from the way we performed. We switched off a couple of times, once in the first half and once in the second half, and it’s cost us. It’s disappointing, but my lads were brilliant today. Absolutely brilliant. They worked hard for one another and showed a good bit of quality. Gillingham are top of the table and steamrollering anyone they come up against, and we showed a lot of heart and desire. And a lot of quality as well. We should have won the game. Simple as. It was a daunting game. We’d just lost four on the spin and then the league leaders are coming. They’ve got some good players, they are well organised and know what they are doing, and we really stuck to our task well. It’s a credit to the lads who work hard for one another. It’s wasn’t a case of nicking a goal here and there, we played well. We played with the ball, and looked fairly solid without it for the majority of the game. They all knew what their jobs were today. We had a game plan of what we needed to do and I thought we stuck at really well. Even when we went 2-1 towards the end of the game, we kept the ball in their half and kept possession, we were just unfortunate with the goal that came.”
Carl Fletcher made several changes to his starting line-up yesterday, in an attempt to freshen things after a four-match match run. The most notable change was the inclusion of Rene Gilmartin in place of Jake Cole, and Fletcher said: “He did okay. He didn’t have a great deal to do, really. He’s come in and it’s his first league game for us, so it would have been nice to get a win for him. I spoke to Jake in the week and it was just a case of just going with your gut. I said to Jake ‘I don’t know if this is the right decision or not, but I’m going with my gut instinct.’ I think sometimes you have to do that.” Gilmartin had started the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against Aldershot and the FA Cup defeat at Dorchester but now could have a run in the first team in the league to stake his claim. Fletcher said: “He’s had a few injuries, in pre-season and early in the season, that’s he’s had to deal with. It’s been frustrating for him. It’s come down here and wants to be 100% fit so he can give a good accounting of himself and push for a place. Reg has played league football before, he’s 6ft 5in, and has a real presence about him. The more games he plays he’ll only get better and better. If you’re fair to one you’ve got to be fair to the other. There might have been times in the past where we could have left Jake out, but you stick by him because it’s a decision you make and you keep going. I’m really lucky because I’ve got two real good goalies here who both work their socks off in training and are very professional. I’m very lucky I’ve got both of them.” Fletcher also made an alteration to the back four, with Darren Purse returning to the side to partner Curtis Nelson, rather than Maxime Blanchard. “The fact is we haven’t had a clean sheet in 14 games now, we needed to change something,” he said. “I thought we coped well with a difficult strike force today. We won our headers. After they got their equaliser in the first half and after their equaliser in the second half we looked a little bit shaky, which we’ve been trying to work on, and we’ve said to the players it doesn’t really change, they’ve still got to the basics right. I thought the effort they put in today as a group of players, and as a group of men, was really pleasing to see.”
Argyle drew 2-2 with Gillingham at Home Park. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Purse, Nelson, Bhasera, Young, Hourihane, Lowry, Cowan-Hall, Griffiths.R, Feeney. Subs – Gurrieri, Chadwick (not used – Cole, Griffiths.S, Madjo, Blanchard, Lennox). Attendance – 6,396.
Carl Fletcher has called on his squad to put the disappointment of their recent results behind them. He said: "If you are not disappointed after you lose a game then you are in the wrong profession. It's about dealing with those disappointments. In life, everybody gets a knock back now and again. You have to deal with them and come back stronger. You can sit around moping about it, or you can take it on the chin and stand up, stick your chest out and go again. It will make you a stronger person in the long run, and that's not just football, that's anything." Argyle are only four points clear of the relegation zone, but Fletcher said: "I don't look at the league table too much. I just look to the next game and try to win it. That's all you can focus on. You can look at the league table and study it as much as you want but it's all ifs and buts. It's just a case of concentrating on what you can change." Argyle's four successive defeats have come after a promising run of results in early October. Fletcher said: "We were going in the right direction and performing well, and we got a few wins on the bounce. But, before you know it, it's four defeats and it's a kick in the teeth. It's disappointing, but that's football. You have to get on with it. There is no point in worrying about things that have gone on in the past. You try to do well in every game, you try to learn from your mistakes, and you try to enjoy the games as much as you can. Everybody wants to play well and get results but there is no point putting added pressure on it. Pressure is looking after my kids for five minutes and trying to stop them pulling each other's hair. That's pressure. We have got to go out there with smiles on our faces and make sure we do our jobs and try to enjoy the challenges ahead." Meanwhile, the deadline for 'emergency loan' signings is approaching and Fletcher admitted he would like to bolster his squad before then, but added: "I think we would have to try to get some out before we get some in."
Darren Purse is in contention for the game against Gillingham at Home Park tomorrow. Purse has been ruled out of the last three matches after he had an injection to try to relieve the pain of a persistent toe injury, but has now returned to training. Carl Fletcher said: "Darren has been training the last few days. He had been out for over two weeks so it would have been a bit much to throw him straight back in against Burton, but he's in contention for a place tomorrow." Fletcher also confirmed Nick Chadwick was fit, even though he has not been selected in the squad of 18 for the past couple of matches. His place on the bench has been taken by Tyler Harvey. Meanwhile, Fletcher is set to make a decision on whether to play Alex MacDonald against Gillingham after further talks with the striker. MacDonald was substituted during the defeat by Burton and Fletcher later explained that he had learned of the death of his grandmother that morning. Fletcher said: "I will see how he's feeling and go from there. I'm not going to make him do anything he doesn't want to do. As long as his mind is right, he will be in contention to play tomorrow. I spoke to Alex before the game and he said he was fine to play but you could see he wasn't fully there, mentally, which is understandable. Taking the football side out of it, the right thing to do was to let him come off and get his head right."
Carl Fletcher wants his players to prove how good they are when they take on Gillingham tomorrow. Gillingham are five points clear at the top of the table, and Fletcher said: "No-one expects us to win, really. Gillingham started the season well and it has snowballed for them, and they are getting some good results. We have got nothing to lose playing against the leaders. They are there on merit, scoring lots of goals and keeping clean sheets. It's a chance for us to go out there and show what we can do. Can we be organised and know what we are doing defensively but, when we win the ball, can we keep it and create stuff? We know it's going to be a tough game for us but we are looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can give the fans something to shout about."
Carl Fletcher says he does not feel under any more pressure despite seeing his side suffer a fourth successive defeat yesterday. "The pressure's no different than it was last week or six months ago," he said. "Every manager's under pressure to get results, so no different than before." Supporters booed Argyle at the final whistle and the crowd of 5,219 was their lowest since they lost to Port Vale on September 10th last year, the final home game before Peter Reid was sacked. "It's the crowd's prerogative, they pay the money and they come in," Fletcher said. "But at the end of the day we're all healthy and we'll all go home and see our families and tomorrow's another day."
Carl Fletcher admitted to being baffled at the sudden turnaround in last night’s game against Burton Albion. “I’m a little bit miffed as to how we lost the game,” he said. “It was a little bit of a sloppy start, but we got ourselves back into the game. It was two sides who had a tough game on Sunday. It was a little bit dead, a little bit flat. I thought we were very professional in the first half. Very solid, and did what we had to do. In the second half we got our rewards, our tempo was a little bit higher. We had complete control of the game, really. Then we lost 2-1.” Argyle were rarely troubled by Burton until an equaliser that came from a corner kick. “They’ve had two corners all game, I think,” said Fletcher. “We had total control of the game, but we still ended up losing. In the first half the game was a pretty much a non-event but we did our jobs and stuck to our tasks. As the game went on we got better and better, got a foothold in the game, and then we came out second half we did really well. We had enough chances to see the game out. But the game is for ninety minutes, not for seventy. We’ll go through the DVD again and reassess it. We’ll have a look at the whole game. There are always good things that you miss out and there are things we can improve on that we don’t see at the time of the game. We’ll dust ourselves down, we’ve got a quick turnaround for Gillingham and we’ll look forward to the game.”
Alex MacDonald was replaced in the first half against Burton Albion last night by Paris Cowan-Hall, and Carl Fletcher explained the decision after the game. “Macca’s had some bad news. His Nan passed away this morning,” he said. “He said he still wanted to play, but I think he mentally wasn’t right, so I took him off. You could see he just wasn’t there, which is understandable. I gave him the option and he said he wanted to play, but once the game started you could see he wasn’t fully focused, so I took him off.” Fletcher had some words for Curtis Nelson, who admirably dealt with experienced Burton target man Calvin Zola. “He did well,” said Fletcher, “Calvin Zola is a physical presence, six-foot-three and athletic. He causes defenders a lot of problems in this division, but Nelse stuck up to it well. He and Billy Kee, who came on, they’re up there as the best strike partnership in the division, I think. I thought Nelse did well in the job he had to do.”
Scott Griffiths dropped to the substitutes’ bench for last night’s game with Burton Albion, after playing six consecutive games since joining Argyle on loan from Peterborough. “Scott’s had a lot of games recently,” said Carl Fletcher. “He’s done brilliantly since he’s come in but he didn’t have a lot of games before he came here so it was a just a case of giving him a breather. We are lucky we had the option to be able to do that.” Griffiths was brought in as cover for the injured Robbie Williams and Fletcher confirmed that Williams is still on his way back to fitness. He said: “He’s not there yet. He’ll be another couple of weeks.”
Paul Wotton hopes to return from his knee injury by the middle of December. "I'm progressing really well, it's just over three weeks since the operation and the nerve pain I had has disappeared," he said. "I feel really good. I don't think it was wear and tear, it's the sort of thing anyone could have. It needed sorting out, I played with it for three or four games and I struggled with it. It's sorted now and I'm busting to get back."
Argyle lost 2-1 to Burton Albion at Home Park, the goal scored by Paris Cowan-Hall after 49 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Nelson, Bhasera, Young, Gurrieri, Lowry, MacDonald, Madjo, Feeney. Subs – Griffiths.R, Lennox, Cowan-Hall (not used – Gilmartin, Griffiths.S, Richards, Harvey). Attendance – 5,219.
Carl Fletcher wants to see Argyle 'stop the rot' when they play Burton Albion at Home Park tonight. He said: "It's important to stop the rot. It would be ideal if we can get a win but we are looking for a good all-round performance as well. I want the players to go out and enjoy themselves. It's a game of football, 11 versus 11. We need to be organised and know what we are doing in certain situations of the game. But I think it's a case of going out there and expressing themselves and showing everyone what good players they are." Argyle will be without Conor Hourihane for the visit of Burton, following his sending-off against Dorchester Town. Jamie Lowry and Luke Young are set to be the central midfield pairing against Burton in the absence of Hourihane and Fletcher said: "Conor was really disappointed but it's just one of those things. You can't legislate for other people's decisions. Fair enough, if it's two bad tackles and it's two yellow cards we can explain things to him and he can learn from it. But the way it was, and the way it was dealt with, was no fault of his own. He can still play a part tonight, being around the lads and being in the changing room. It's important for the ones who aren't playing or involved. He can then focus all his energy on Saturday." Lowry has started the last two matches after recovering from an ankle ligament injury he suffered in pre-season and Fletcher added: "I thought Jamie looked sharper again on Sunday, which was good. You know when he gets the ball he's always going to try to keep it for you and do the right thing."
Andres Gurrieri has been described as a 'real good team player' by Carl Fletcher. Gurrieri will come up against his former club tonight when Burton Albion visit Home Park, and Fletcher said: "I think Andres has done well. He has settled in and, especially recently, he has found a good bit of form. For me, if I was playing against him I would be worried about him, with his energy and enthusiasm and his quality on the ball. Whether Andres is playing, is a sub or is not playing, he always has a smile on his face and always gives 100 per cent. He's a real good team player and we are very lucky to have him here." Gurrieri knows many members of the Burton squad so should be able to provide his manager with a useful insight into tonight's opponents. Fletcher said: "We welcome any kind of information we can get, and then it's down to us whether we use it or not. It's a quick turnaround from Sunday but we are looking forward to it. Every team we play we try to make sure we are fully prepared for. Every team we play throws different obstacles at us but we will set up a game-plan. After such a tough game on the legs on Sunday, it isn't ideal. We would have liked a full week so you can get done what you want to do. Burton have got some good players. They work hard and have got dangerous men who can get goals. I think Zola and Kee up front are a good partnership. They work well together. We have got to make sure we know our roles and go and express ourselves when we have got the ball."
Carl Fletcher knows how important it is to leave no stone unturned when researching opponents and has turned to social media for information that may give his side an extra advantage. “The biggest thing we have found these days is Twitter,” he said. “It’s another source of information because you have players saying they are on the bench, they are playing or if they are injured. We like to find any kind of information we can get and then it’s up to us whether we use it or not. We have someone that goes through that and gives us any updates allowing us to get every ounce of information we can which we try and use to the best of our ability.”
Argyle are considering making up to 10 of its non-playing staff redundant as part of a ‘restructuring’. The club has not made any official comment about the potential job losses, but staff were told at a meeting yesterday. It is reported potential redundancies are part of a restructuring planned when James Brent took over the club last year, and not due to any financial problems at the club. Newspaper reports state the club has started a statutory consultation period and will be talking to staff in effected departments from tomorrow. It is also understood the club hopes to avoid compulsory redundancies with volunteers coming forward. But it is possible compulsory job losses may be inevitable.
Carl Fletcher raised his spirits after Argyle's FA Cup defeat by Dorchester Town by attending a fireworks display with his family. He said: "I had the hump on Monday morning. The disappointment affects you. But I took my kids to see some fireworks and a bonfire that night and the enjoyment on their faces put things into perspective again. At the end of the day, we have lost a game of football and it's disappointing, but we move on and get on with the next one. We have to make sure we are together as a group and are looking forward to the challenge ahead." Argyle's FA Cup exit against Dorchester came after successive league defeats at Cheltenham Town and Rotherham United. Fletcher added: "I just wanted to stick my head under the duvet on Monday, to be honest, and lock all the doors. You can get caught in this bubble of football, football, football all the time, and you get sucked into everything. But the way the kids were so excited by a few flashing lights and stuff kind of kicked me into gear again, which was good." Fletcher opted for the fireworks display in Cornwood rather than the much larger event on The Hoe in Plymouth. He said: "We have got three young kids so taking them down to The Hoe is difficult. We would have ended up losing them about 12 times. It was really good at Cornwood, the way it was set up and everything. It was ideal for us. They saw some fireworks and had a hot dog, and we went home before we froze to death."
James Brent has backed Carl Fletcher after Argyle’s FA Cup defeat at Dorchester Town. "We've had absolutely no discussions," he said, when asked if he had considered changing manager. "We've said we'll back Carl to achieve success and that is very much the plan we're following. The reaction to losing is typically to look at changing the management set-up and I've got no doubt some fans will be looking for a change. But I get many more people writing to me saying 'don't blink and give in to others who are hankering for a change in the management team, we have a great manager who will go far and please support him'. I think I get more criticism for the short nature of Carl's contract than for the fact that he's on a contract."
The dismissal of Conor Hourihane had Carl Fletcher fuming after the FA Cup defeat at Dorchester Town yesterday. He said: "I could say the referee spoiled the game, shouldn't have sent Conor off and had an absolute shocker in the first half and really let himself down, but that's too easy. I understand that, by the letter of the law, once the referee says you have got to wait for the whistle and you still play the ball in that it's a booking. Conor said he heard a whistle, and I think that was when the referee was trying to move the wall back. That might have been the whistle Conor heard. I think it's a case the referee has got to use some common sense there. To lose a man like that so early on, in what we always knew was going to be a tough game for us, was very disappointing. The referee will go home and won't really give two hoots about the game. He will probably have a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine, and go to bed and have a good night's sleep. I have got Conor who's going to miss the next game and going to get fined. It doesn't affect them and maybe sometimes it should." Six other yellow cards were issued by Collins, during a tie played on a heavy pitch which had been soaked by all the recent rainfall, with players from both sides repeatedly losing their balance. Fletcher said: "It wasn't a dirty game. The rain had poured down and the pitch was cutting up. It was slippy and slidey. You could have worn five inch studs and I don't think you would have been able to stay on your feet. It was a FA Cup tie and there were going to be mistimed challenges when people went for the ball. It's a contact sport and for me, personally, I think the referee just let himself down."
Carl Fletcher was disappointed after Argyle were knocked out of the FA Cup yesterday. He said: “We knew Dorchester were a good side and keep the ball, so we had to make sure we were right defensively. And we were, we just switched off at the start of the second half and I don’t think we really had the quality or the decision making later on in the half to really get where we wanted to be. I think they worked their socks off. They really worked hard. We knew it was going to be an uphill struggle after the red card. I always want better, but we can’t get too down. We’ve worked hard and dug deep in tough conditions. We put a shift in. But if your decision making isn’t right on the ball then it doesn’t matter who the players are.” After Hourihane’s sending-off, Andres Gurrieri, who started the game playing just off Rhys Griffiths, had to play a deeper role alongside Jamie Lowry. Fletcher was pleased at the contribution Gurrieri made, and said: “I thought Andres was immense today. I thought the ground he covered, and when he got the ball he actually kept it well for us. We all tried to do the right things, but our decision making and our quality wasn’t right.”
Rhys Griffiths admitted Argyle had 'under-performed' in the FA Cup defeat at Dorchester Town. Griffiths described the early dismissal of Conor Hourihane as 'farcical' but did not use that as an excuse for their performance. He said: "It killed the game in some respects, but in the face of adversity we have under-performed. Rather than go away and look at the referee, we will go away and look at ourselves I think. We had waves of pressure without actually producing anything. We have all got to look at ourselves. I'm bitterly disappointed, personally, with the way I performed." Even after Dorchester had opened the scoring, Griffiths was positive Argyle could at least force a replay. "You never give up hope and you keep pushing," he said. "We had the pressure to score but we just didn't produce it. They played well and I take my hat off to them, but their goal was a lapse in concentration. I think everyone thought the ball was going to run out of play. I thought it was out of play from where I was, so I probably slipped into the same trap, and then the boy has finished it well." Hourihane's early dismissal raised hopes among the home fans, and probably the players, that they could cause an upset, as it proved. Griffiths said: "All of a sudden they were buoyant, and the last thing you need is a non-league team who are buoyant. This is what the FA Cup is all about. We woke up to snow at our hotel this morning and, even then, you think, 'Is the pitch going to be covered in it?' There are no excuses, though. We dominated them without producing any quality whatsoever. We are all feeling sorry for ourselves now but we can't dwell on it. We have got to pick ourselves back up. We have still got so much to play for this season. We have got to go back and I'm sure the manager will put us straight."
After the defeat to Dorchester Town yesterday, Carl Fletcher was immediately looking to get Argyle’s league campaign back on track. He said: “At Cheltenham we played really well and should have possibly won, or at least got a draw. Then you go to Rotherham and you know it’s a tough place to be, and then obviously you lose today and before you know it, it’s three defeats in a row away from home. But we’ll keep perspective on things and look at each game individually. We’ll see who’s okay and good enough to play. With a heavy pitch and being down to ten men for such a long period, we’re going to have get them as fresh possible for Wednesday.” Burton Albion visit Home Park on Wednesday, followed three days later by Gillingham. Coupled with the difficult games is a suspension for Conor Hourihane after he was sent off at Dorchester, which means Jamie Lowry, will continue in the side. Fletcher added: “Jamie Lowry, that’s only his second game, and he’s going to have play again Wednesday. We played him today because Youngy had four bookings and we didn’t want to lose him. We’ll make sure we recover right and we’ll go again. We’ve got a big week, Wednesday and Saturday at home, two tough games. Burton drew today, 3-3 from two goals down. We’ll lick our wounds and get on with it.”
Argyle lost 1-0 at Dorchester Town in the FA Cup first round. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Blanchard, Nelson, Griffiths.S, Lennox, Gurrieri, Lowry, Hourihane, Bhasera, Griffiths.R. Subs – Young, Feeney, Cowan-Hall (not used – Cole, Richards, Madjo, Harvey). Attendance – 3,196.
The FA Cup defeat at Stourbridge a year ago has not been mentioned in the Argyle dressing-room during the build-up to this season’s competition. Carl Fletcher has not used last season’s result as either a carrot or a stick in this week’s preparations. “He doesn’t have to,” said Maxime Blanchard. “The players who were here remember it. I think it was one of the worst moments of the season last year. We know it’s going to be a tough game. We don’t need reminders like that. We just need to be positive, to work hard, and the result will come.” Argyle go into the game after a disappointing performance at Rotherham, but Blanchard said: “The game before doesn’t matter. We just have to get on with it and try to make it good the weekend after. We were alright against Cheltenham. It was just a one-off against Rotherham. We weren’t too high, and still working hard, after the three wins in a row, and have still been doing the same after two defeats in a row. It doesn’t change anything, whether we win or lose, we work hard on the training pitch.” That hard work will be needed if Argyle are to overcome Dorchester. “We know upsets happen every year and we know it’s going to be a hard game,” Blanchard added. “Dorchester are going to be on it, they are going to be really good, maybe even better than usual, and we have to cope with it. There is the possibility, in a few games, to play a massive club and try to go as far as we can, and playing against a Premier League club, or a Championship club, is a good thing to do.”
Carl Fletcher believes Argyle are 'fully prepared' for their FA Cup first round tie at Dorchester Town tomorrow. He said: "Dorchester have got a good home record so their fans will be expecting them to do well. We will go there and make sure we are fully prepared, and enjoy the game. It's a little bit different because it's on a Sunday but we are looking forward to it. There should be a full house and it's a nice little ground. We have spoken to certain people about Dorchester, we have had them watched and we have got a DVD. They are playing with a lot of confidence at home. In any game we play, whether it's in the FA Cup or the league, you have got to earn the right to play your football. That might take 10 minutes, it might take 20 minutes or it might take 80 minutes. The game will dictate that. Whether we have to dig in and fight for every ball, or we are able to get it down and play a little bit, we will be fully prepared for it. It's almost a local derby and we are looking forward to playing it. I'm sure it will be a great game for all the fans." Argyle lost 5-0 to Yeovil in a pre-season friendly at the Avenue Stadium and Fletcher admitted it was good they had recent experience of playing there. He said: "It definitely helps because you aren't going into the unknown. I don't think it's vital but it's a bonus. I know a fair bit about Dorchester as a club. With me being from Bournemouth as well, there are quite strong links. A lot of our players used to go on loan there." Although there will be pressure on Argyle to avoid an FA Cup upset, Fletcher was pleased with the tie, and not only because it is not too far for his players to travel. He said: "We didn't really want to get a team in our own league because it's a bit like the same old same old. Whether it had been a team from League One or non-league, at least it's something different and that's what you want the FA Cup to be. It's different from the league and you look forward to it."
Argyle’s FA Youth Cup second round tie at Oxford United will take place at the Kassam Stadium on November 14th at 7pm. The winners have been drawn at home to Barnsley in round three.
James Brent is dreaming of FA Cup glory for Argyle this season. He said: "I'm very excited by the game, but very respectful of Dorchester as well. We are hoping we will get the right result and move forward to the second round, but are not being dismissive of our opponents. They will want to slay a giant." There is £18,000 in prize money for the winners, in addition to each club receiving £63,800 broadcast fees as the match will be shown live on ESPN. More cash can be made by drawing a Premier League club in the third round, but Brent is not looking that far forward, and nor is Carl Fletcher. Brent said: "Carl is very measured and takes it game by game. He's very balanced. He doesn't think that any team is a walk over or any team is unbeatable. Clearly, the dream is to progress through the FA Cup and turn into a giant slayer. That's the excitement of the competition."
Scott Griffiths will return to Peterborough United when his loan spell at Argyle ends on November 20th. There is no prospect of him extending his stay at Home Park beyond that, however, despite some good performances since his arrival last month. Robbie Williams is nearing a return to action after a stomach muscle injury while Onismor Bhasera is also available. The finances of keeping Griffiths at Home Park are prohibitive for the club, and Carl Fletcher said: "Willo is not quite ready yet. We thought he might be back in time for this weekend but it will be a little bit longer. We needed to make sure we were covered by extending the loan of Scott."
Carl Fletcher would not be drawn on whether Darren Purse would be fit for the trip to Dorchester tomorrow. Purse had an injection for a troublesome toe injury on Monday, after sitting out the defeat at Rotherham United. Fletcher said: "Darren had a jab in it on Monday and it has had a few days to settle down. We will keep monitoring him." Meanwhile, Fletcher shrugged off speculation earlier this week which linked him with the managerial vacancy at his former club Crystal Palace. When asked what he made of the speculation, Fletcher replied: "Not too much really. I was flattered, but more worried about getting my little girls swimming lessons this week, with half-term and all that, to be honest with you."
Jamie Lowry is as aware as all his team-mates that Argyle will need to be on their mettle from the first whistle at Dorchester Town tomorrow. “We know it’s going to be a tough game,” he said. “Dorchester are a non-league team and going to get the crowd right behind them and get in our face early doors, and it’s up to us to make sure we’re on the front foot and get on top of the game as early as we can. Winning games in any competition against any opposition is good for you. It gives you a lot of momentum. The manager has mentioned what they’re good at and what their weaknesses are, every game we have, he goes through the preparation and we talk about the opposition. We know they are going to be up for it. We know what to expect, we’ve all played in FA Cup games against lower league teams and it’s going to be a fight to start with.”
James Brent has revealed extra funds have had to be pumped into Argyle after lower than expected attendances at Home Park. Despite this, Brent insisted the club were in a good position at the first anniversary of his takeover of the club. Brent admitted he had ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ the past 12 months as the owner and chairman but it had not been without its challenges. He said: “The crowd numbers are a bit lower than we expected so we have had to put more money into the club than we anticipated, but that’s fine. We are in good financial fettle. We have a very loyal and significant fanbase by League Two standards. So while our average gate of 6,300 is disappointing relative to what we hoped for, for many clubs in League Two, and even some in League One, it would be an absolute dream to achieve that. We aren’t a million miles away from our break-even figure and with winning football we can get back on track.” Brent has learned over the last year that running a football club is similar to his other businesses, but with one significant difference. He said: “Having not followed football before, I have thoroughly enjoyed the games we have won and been thoroughly frustrated by the games we have lost. Football is a business, and not that different to other businesses, apart from the fact you have no reasonable prospect of making a profit. Making money out of football is very, very challenging. We have a relatively high level of fixed costs and a variable income stream. Clearly, the aim for all football clubs is to make sure the spectator experience is good and brings in the crowds, which enables you to fund the costs.” Funds have been provided for a sizeable squad by League Two standards, bolstered by a series of loan signings and Brent admitted criteria had been laid down for Carl Fletcher to achieve. He said: “What we have been trying to do is support Carl in developing a winning team which plays attractive football and doesn’t do so at the expense of our youth set-up. That’s very much what Carl is focused on. I think the honest truth is we are still very much a work in progress. We feel the club should be performing at a higher level than it currently is, but we recognise we need to give Carl time to build a team and a style of play which delivers that. We asked Carl to focus on three things, one was to focus on winning football, two was to improve the quality of the football spectacle, and three was that we brought forward our youth. Carl is doing a great job in terms of improving the quality of the football spectacle and has brought forward some of our talented young players. The results are less good than anyone would like to see, but we're pretty early on in the season." Brent preached the message that patience was needed, not reckless spending, which led to Argyle ending up in administration. He said: “We would rather be doing better than we are at the moment but feel we are progressing in the right direction on the pitch, and we will do that on a sustainable basis. Whether it’s the pasties, the Family Stand or the membership packages, we have tried to do our best to respond to the requirements of the fans, who, after all, are our customers. I think that has gone well, but there is more to do. There are further initiatives to be implemented.”
James Brent is still aiming for work on a much-needed new grandstand at Home Park to start in 2013. He said: “These things always take a frustrating amount of time but we are on track. We have a team assembled who are doing the detailed planning and we are bringing tenants into the scheme. It is subject to planning permission, but it's in the master plan for the Home Park and Central Park area. It's a tight timetable, but if we achieve the timetable we will hopefully be on site in the late summer of next year."
James Brent says he is no closer to bringing in a dedicated chairman for Argyle than he was when he announced his intentions in January. "The plan is that we'll bring in a chairman," he said. "It's a probability that it will be a non-executive chairman. It's not that I don't love doing what I do, but it's just in terms of competency. I do not have the CV, in my view, that makes me a great chairman of Plymouth Argyle Football Club. It's a question of timing, but what I'd like to do is hand over to the new chairman a club which is achieving both on the pitch and off the pitch. The intention is that we will appoint a non executive-chairman with the football nous that I do not have, but we have not identified anyone for that role."
Argyle have extended the loan spell of Scott Griffiths. He will now be available up to and including the trip to Bradford City on November 20th and also has permission to play in Sunday's FA Cup tie with Dorchester Town.
Argyle's Devon St Luke's Cup second-round tie at Ivybridge Town, which was postponed on Monday, has been re-arranged and will now take place on November 21st at7.30pm.
Ollie Chenoweth has joined Frome Town on a month's emergency loan.
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