A Round-up of Argyle News
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Following todays game, Bobby Williamson said: "The way we defended the situation leading up to the penalty was not good. It was a stupid foul and you wonder what players are thinking about when that happens. Our away record is not a good one and we will have to do something about that next season." Williamson was also angered by the rumpus which followed the penalty decision and brought a booking for Luke McCormick. McCormick pushed Ade Akinbiyi to the floor and Williamson said: "I will be having a word with him, although in no way was it violent conduct and I thought the Burnley lad went down very easily."
Argyle lost 2-0 at Burnley. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Taylor, Evans, Chadwick. Subs - Milne, Capaldi (not used - Larrieu, Gudjonsson, Lasley). Attendance - 12,893.
Argyle yesterday confirmed that David Norris has committed himself to Argyle for the next two years, signing a deal that extends his stay at Home Park until 2007. Norris said: "I'm delighted to have finally sorted this out and pleased that I can continue my career at Argyle. It is a club which is on the up, and I'd like to play my part in taking it further. I'm very pleased. I never wanted to leave Argyle anyway. I have had two good years here and we are in the Championship as well and I wanted to stay in this league." Paul Sturrock was believed to be interested in taking Norris to Sheffield Wednesday and Norris said: "I did have other options and I had a couple of big decisions to make but the bottom line was that I didn't want to leave here. It's a big weight off my mind and it's good it has been done before the end of the season. I can enjoy my summer now." Many of Norris' appearances for Argyle have been on the right side of midfield but he does prefer a more central position, which he has been given in recent games. He said: "When I first came to the club I was a central midfielder but under Paul Sturrock I played on the right. I do enjoy it there but in the centre you can get involved in the game more." Bobby Williamson was thrilled Norris had committed his future to Argyle despite interest from elsewhere. He said: "At this stage of the season he's probably playing as well as he has done all year. That shift inside the park has rejuvenated him and he's looking fantastic in there, but I don't know how he would do in a four centrally. That's why I have been playing with a three in midfield and going with three forwards and trying to be as positive as we can be. Hopefully, that shape will be food for thought for next season if the wide players we have got at the club aren't doing what is expected of them." Norris did not have the best of starts to the current after suffering a thigh injury and Williamson said: "I think it took him a long time to get over that. Missing the start of the season is a big blow for any player when they have worked so hard during the course of the pre-season. It took him a while to get his fitness levels up and then get the run in the team he needed to lift it again. When you look at his performance at Nottingham Forest it was fantastic. He just keeps going and we need players of that ilk. I enjoy working with him and he's a good pro - and a great kid - as well. I know he enjoys being here and he has proved that by signing his deal."
Bobby Williamson has included Steven Milne and Chris Zebroski in the squad travelling to Burnley
Mickey Evans has admitted he was relieved to sign a new one-year contract but hinted that retirement could be a possibility next summer. He said: "I'm just pleased it's all sorted out because it has been going on for a couple of months. I never wanted to leave the club, and I think everyone knows that, and I'm happy to play another season. As long as I'm competing for a place in the team week-in, week-out, I will carry on playing. But when I'm in the reserves every week then I think that will be the time to knock it on the head. Personally, I have really enjoyed this season. It has been hard, but anyone who thought it would be otherwise was kidding themselves. I have probably played a few more games than a lot of people thought I would."
Bobby Williamson has not ruled out the possibility of Dexter Blackstock playing for Argyle next season.
He said: "It's difficult because we don't know what's going to happen to Southampton. I really don't know until we find out what status Southampton will have next season. He might be surplus to requirements, or they might need him. If they don't need him then I would certainly have him back, but I don't like talking about that because it might look as though I'm illegally tapping the boy up. I can assure the fans I'm trying my hardest to get the best quality players to this club and Dexter certainly comes into that category. Akos Buzsaky does as well. But we have got to be realistic. Dexter is in the Premiership, which is a fantastic level, and if he has got the opportunity to play there I'm sure he would take it, rather than playing with us. With Akos, the transfer fee involved just now is very, very high." Williamson has taken satisfaction from the fact both Jason Dodd and Blackstock have admitted to enjoying their time with Argyle. He said: "That's the most important thing. Players that come into this place have got to enjoy being here. They have got to enjoy the training and being part of the squad, even if they are not always selected, and if they get an opportunity to play in the team they do their best. I want players to enjoy their work because the pressure on football players nowadays is very demanding. If they don't enjoy it, they are never going to do their best on a Saturday."
Dexter Blackstock has been recalled by Southampton from his loan at Argyle. Blackstock had been due to play his final game for Argyle at Burnley on Saturday but due to Southamptons injury problems, Argyle have agreed to Harry Redknapp's request for Blackstock to return early. Bobby Williamson said: "Dexter's has gone back to Southampton. Harry Redknapp phoned me earlier and explained he had injury concerns and asked could he have Dexter back. I said of course. Dexter's been great for us and I hope he goes back there and scores goals that Harry needs to keep Southampton in the Premiership. Dexter's been fantastic - it's been a pleasure working with the kid. He has got all the attributes to go on and have a successful career. He's worked his way up, worked hard, got the ability, the talent and the stature. There's nothing stopping him."
Hasney Aljofree will undergo surgery today to correct his nose, which was broken last Saturday. He will miss the game against Burnley so Mathias Kouo-Doumbe is expected to return to the side
The new Argyle home and away kits for next season will be launched on Tuesday, May 3rd
David Norris is reported to have signed a new two-year contract, which would keep him at Home Park until June 2007. Argyle now have only two players who will be out of contract in the summer - Romain Larrieu and David Worrell and it is believed both players have been offered new terms
Argyle's reserves lost 4-0 at Swansea this afternoon. Argyle: Larrieu, Drew, Routledge, Laird.S, McKeever, Bond, Marshall, Summerfield, Reski, Zebroski, Brotherton. Subs - Kendall
Bobby Williamson has compiled a list of players he wants to sign this summer. He said: "We have plans afoot, we know what areas we want to strengthen and have an idea of who we want to bring in. We have targets in place and we will work as diligently as we can to try and get the best players we can. There are clubs who will be paying more money and we might lose out. But it is not about who pays the most money as to who will be the most successful. It is how you treat people and make sure you give them a good working environment. There will be no major surgery - I'm not into that. Nothing is done like that, everything is done progressively." Williamson took over last April and following promotion into the Championship his team have encountered stiff opposition. "Nobody knew how we would fare," he added. "Players who had proved themselves at a lower level had to try and show they could do it in the Championship - and quite a few have done that. Others players have moved on for one reason or another. I've learnt a lot about the squad I inherited. It was difficult coming in when I did. This was a team that had not been used to losing many games and that takes a bit of getting used to. The fans' confidence was also high but it was never going to be the case that we would win most games this season. There are a lot of big clubs and good teams in this division and we found it hard but I think we have competed and given everybody a game."
Dexter Blackstock has thanked the 'great fans' for their support during his three-month loan spell with Argyle. He said: "The fans have been great to me all the way through my loan, and great for the team as well. The away support has been massive and, yes, it would have been nice to sign off with a home game, but it wasn't to be. I would like to thank the fans. They have been loyal to me from day one and, hopefully, I have paid them back." Blackstock added that he would take away some great memories from his time with Argyle. He said: "We have had some great results and I'm glad to be part of a team that has survived in this league. I have fitted in well with the rest of the lads. It hasn't been a problem. I have taken to them well and they have taken to me well. It's good that we got on well and, therefore, got on well on the pitch. You pick up little points from everyone's game and you can only get better with playing. Experience is a massive thing. I have learned a lot since I have been here, which I can take back to Southampton." Blackstock thought the victory over Nottingham Forest was one of Argyle's best performances during his loan period. "We really did get the ball down that day and pass it through them," he said. "They couldn't live with us. There have been a few other really good performances and it has been good in general. We have been very good at home. We have been very solid and hard to beat, which you need to be to survive in this league, I think." Blackstock is hoping he can end his loan spell by scoring at Burnley. He said: "I look forward to playing in every game and it will be no different on Saturday. It's always good to score goals, but getting a result up there will be the main thing."
Bobby Williamson has not abandoned the idea of playing with wide men, despite his recent team selections. He said: "If one system isn't working, I've got to try and change it. We've got to be more flexible and less predictable. If we're a team that just survives on crosses, then other teams will work hard and prevent us profiting from that route. There has to be more to our game than just crosses into the box, although that style is my preference. I think it is more productive that way. If we can get players to the byline and get balls cut back between defenders and the goal, then I think we've got more chance of scoring goals. That's what we always work hard at, but if it doesn't happen then we've got to look at other methods of getting goals." Asked if searching for wide players would be a priority in his summer transfer dealings, Williamson said: "At this moment in time, it looks that way. Bjarni Gudjonsson can play in wide areas. He's a good crosser of the ball, and that's where he does his most productive work, but we've tended to use him elsewhere in the team. Young Ryan Dickson is another one who can put balls into the box, but he's being rested just now. It's an area of the team where we have got options, though. Scott Taylor has played there on numerous occasions, Dexter Blackstock has played wide as well and he has also created problems for the opposition. The more options we have, the better." Before Tony Capaldi came off the bench to score last Saturday, fans had been chanting his name. Williamson said: "I'm aware of Tony's talent and ability." Capaldi rescued the point in injury time by following instructions and Williamson added: "We got a throw-in and Tony took it short to Peter Gilbert. He got it back and put a cross in, and thankfully he didn't stand and watch his cross. He worked his way into box and followed it, and got his goal. That was pleasing, because we encourage players to move with the ball. Tony has done that and found himself on the end of it, and he's finished it."
Two youngsters from Crystal Palace will play on trial for Argyle in tonight's reserve game at Swansea - midfielder Scott Marshall and striker Jamie Brotherton
Hasney Aljofree may continue to play until the end of the season, despite suffering a broken nose during last Saturday's game. "Hasney's nose is broken," Bobby Williamson said. "It's not the prettiest sight, but it's not life-threatening or career-threatening. He's just a wee bit uglier. He'll be fine, but it might put him out for a bit if he decides to have an operation. I don't think he's too vain, to be honest and he might wait until the end of his career before he starts thinking about his looks, but if he wants it done then it's something we'll have to consider. It will be down to him, it's the player's prerogative. He took a few knocks against Coventry, but he dished out a few as well. That's part and parcel of his game. He's certainly in contention for a place this Saturday, unless he decides to have this operation. He'll discuss that with the doctor tomorrow, if he wants to, but there are two games left and I'm sure he'll want to be involved in them."
Bjarni Gudjonsson could be available for this weekend's trip to Burnley. Bobby Williamson said: "Bjarni has been working for the last couple of weeks now and he trained today so he'll come back into contention for Saturday." Gudjonsson may play in tomorrow's reserve-team game at Swansea City although the majority of the team will be youth-team players. "It will predominantly be kids going up there," Williamson added.
When asked for his reaction to Peter Gilberts comments last weekend, Bobby Williamson said: "I've not got a problem with Peter, and he hasn't got a problem with me. I'd be disappointed if he wasn't upset at losing his place. If he was happy, then somebody else would be unhappy. I'm sure all the players that are not involved in the team are upset. They all want to be playing. I pick the team accordingly and I'm not expecting them to be happy. That's just the nature of it." Williamson wants his players to go through proper channels before they make such revelations in the future, however. "Peter hasn't spoken to me regarding his website," he said, "and I'll have to bring it up at board level and see what advice I get from our directors to determine whether or not he should be doing it. We'll speak about Peter's situation at the next board meeting."
Bobby Williamson has started planning pre-season friendlies for Argyle in July. In addition to the testimonial match for Torquay's Tony Bedeau, Williamson confirmed the club were close to confirming some more games. "I don't think we can actually disclose that just now, but we are working diligently behind the scenes to get that organised," he said. "We are looking at a tour as well and as soon as we get things finalised we can let our fans know. We are working hard to try to get that sorted as quick as we can because a lot of fans want to get their holidays booked. There are plenty of options. We could go to Scotland or we could go overseas. We will look at what's the best option for us and what our needs are and, hopefully, that will be fulfilled. We have got a loyal, passionate support who will follow us everywhere and we need to let them know so they can get themselves organised for the pre-season. Me and the chief executive are working away at that, trying to get it finalised."
Decisions on the future of three Argyle players who have been out on season-long loans will be made in the next fortnight. Gary Sawyer and Marcus Martin have been with Exeter City whilst Matt Villis has spent the season with Torquay United. Bobby Williamson said: "I have spoken to the three boys and I have told them what I think. We will be sitting down again before the season concludes." Williamson also plans to speak to Exeter manager Alex Inglethorpe and Torquay boss Leroy Rosenior. "Matt Villis has done a job for Leroy at Torquay," said Williamson. "He has filled in on a number of occasions and has got a lot of first team football under his belt now. Gary Sawyer has done very well at Exeter and Marcus Martin has played his part there as well. I will have to chat with both managers and we will see what's best for the players to move forward."
Following his stoppage time equaliser on Saturday, Tony Capaldi said: "I knew five minutes had been added, but I didn't know how long was left. I thought, with the way the game was going, we were going to end up losing 1-0, but then Mat went for the line and pulled the ball back. It's all a bit of a blur, but as it came to me I was waiting for a free-kick to be given against us. But it wasn't given and I had a go, it took a little deflection and it ended up in the back of the net. As the ball was coming across I thought one of their players was going to clear it, but Scott Taylor put in a challenge. Whether it was a free-kick or not I don't know, but it wasn't given. We could have had at last one penalty in the game. Maybe the referee was looking to even things up and he has done, fortunately for us. If we'd got that penalty in the first half we might have had a comfortable victory, but in the end we've had to rely on another vital late goal for a point. If this result had gone against us, we could have been in real trouble. There's never likely to be much pretty football played at this late stage of the season, with so much on the line for clubs. You've just got to make the most of your chances when you get them." Capaldi is hoping Argyle can end their season in style with good results against Burnley and Leicester. He said: "We have got to keep on going and it would be nice to get a mid-table finish because the league table at the end of the season doesn't lie. If we finish in mid-table then it points to quite a good season." Capaldi's goal was only his second in the league this season and he added: "I haven't scored many more important ones than that. I was just pleased to get on the pitch and to get my goal was a bonus."
Bobby Williamson stood by Paul Wotton after Tony Capaldi's late goal secured a draw yesterday. He said: Wotton lost possession there, but you can also look at whether we were picking up, coming out behind him. Someone's culpable there. It not just one man's fault when we concede goals and lose games, it's a team effort. That's the way we take it, everyone is responsible for dropping two points today." Williamson was pleased at the way his side kept plugging away, even deep into stoppage-time. "We don't give in," he said. "That's the nature of the game, you never know what you can do until you keep trying. You never give up hope. You keep prodding and prying, and we've done that. We got the break right at the death. It's a hard-luck story for Coventry. I must admit, they went about their business very well. They were keeping possession, running down the clock, but we got the break right at the end, and, thankfully, we've taken it. I think they are a better team than their position suggests. I think there are quite a few teams down there that can play - it's a very tight league, with a lot of good teams in it. There are not many easy games in this division. We're in there, fighting. I'm glad we kept going all the way, and I'm glad we got a point because we worked hard for it." Williamson had started with a 4-3-3 line-up for the third successive game. "I wanted to be positive," he said. "I wanted to go with three strikers on the park, and I was hoping that we would have troubled them more. That never materialised. I think our final ball always let us down. I think our leading-up play was decent, but we picked the wrong option with the final ball. It's something we have got to keep working at." Williamson felt his team might have earned a penalty in the first half, when Steve Staunton leant into the ball on the blind side of referee Lee Probert. "It was a handball," said Williamson. "He played it with his hands. Whether the officials have seen it, whether they think it's deliberate or not, you have just got to take the good decisions with the bad, and I felt that was a bad decision. We don't get many penalties here."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Coventry City at Home Park, Tony Capaldi scoring in the 95th minute. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Blackstock, Evans, Chadwick. Subs - Capaldi, Kouo-Doumbe, Taylor (not used - Summerfield, Lasley). Attendance - 18,443. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Bobby Williamson has warned his players that taking it easy against Coventry City today will not be tolerated. "The players can't relax," he said. "As long as we've got people paying good money to come and watch us, we'll give it our best. If I see any complacency settling in, I'll change it. I'll put somebody else in who is desperate to play. We've certainly not assuming that the season is finished. A lot of managers are saying that 51 points will be enough to stay up. I think Micky Adams is saying that if they win down here they'll be safe, but you don't know. There are still a lot of permutations. The majority of teams below us might need two wins from their last three games to be safe, which is going to be hard for them to achieve. We've got three games left and we want to accumulate as many points as possible, and that starts against Coventry. If we beat Coventry we'll be six points clear of them with a better goal difference. It will be very difficult for them to win their last two games and get above us, if we don't pick up anything from our last two games. Our aim is to win tomorrow and take it from there. I'm still looking at the teams above us. We want to get above Burnley if we can. I believe we should be in the top half of the table. We've had a lot of decisions going against us that have cost us points."
Mickey Evans has not ruled out the prospect of extending his playing career beyond the end of next season. He said: "I've always said that, when I'm not playing on a regular basis, that will be time to quit. I've never wanted to be a burden to anyone, and the last thing I want is to find myself in the reserve side not fighting for a place. I know I've got a decent year. I'm looking forward to next season, and I'll take it from the end of next season. If that's the time to retire, then so be it. I'm taking it one season at a time. If this time next year I'm feeling good and I'm up for it again, then I'll go for it for another season. It's been a learning curve for the club this season, but we haven't learned enough. There's something wrong. Every year you've got to try to improve and we've done that over the past four or five years, however. The goal for next year is to do that same and establish ourselves as a half-decent Championship side. It is a hard league, it is a high standard of football, it has been a big jump, probably a little bit bigger than most of the lads appreciated. It's been difficult for us this year with an inexperienced side, but we can only grow stronger because of what we've been through this year."
Bobby Williamson will keep Coventry, and the Argyle fans, waiting to find out what formation he will use today. He said: "We've got to be as flexible as possible in this division and not be too predictable. If the wide players aren't delivering crosses, then we can change things. I've watched Coventry recently and I'll pick a team that I think is going to trouble them."
Peter Gilbert has hit out at his recent omission from the first team after the loan signing of Jason Dodd. The left-back claimed he felt 'hard done by' and thought the club should have shown more faith in him.
Gilbert also revealed he would be travelling with the Wales senior squad to a training camp in Spain at the end of next month. Gilbert said: "The gaffer brought in Jason Dodd from Southampton on loan and he took my place. Mr Williamson explained to me that it was purely an experience thing, but I was nonetheless disappointed. I feel I have performed consistently well this year, and actually felt I was running into a bit of form. We had beaten Sheffield United, Crewe and Brighton convincingly and I felt I had done well in those games. Despite then losing away to both Sunderland and Millwall, I thought I had made a good enough contribution in to hold onto my place for the trip to Cardiff. Unfortunately the gaffer thought otherwise. It has been very frustrating because, like any other footballer, I want to play in every game. It has been tough being out of the team and I feel hard done by. I have played the whole season and I felt Jason Dodd should have been brought in as cover for me, rather than the other way around. I do, however, recognise what a good player Jason Dodd is. He taught me a lot in his short time here and I picked up things which should stand me in good stead. He's a model pro and it was good to play alongside him in training." Williamson wanted to keep Dodd until the end of the season, but Gilbert is hoping his departure would open the way for his return to the team. He said: "It's disappointing for me that Plymouth wanted to hold onto him until the end of the season, though. I wanted the club to show more faith in me. However, now that he has gone the door has hopefully opened for me to get back into the side." Gilbert was told by John Toshack at the end of March that he would be included in the Wales squad for their Spanish training camp. He said: "On the international front, I'm delighted to announce I have been named in the full Wales squad for our summer trip to San Sebastian. I had a couple of really good chats with John Toshack while I was in Austria with the under-21s and he was really positive towards me. A few days later I received a letter telling me I had been selected for this tour, and obviously I was absolutely delighted. Mr Toshack wants to give youth a chance and I think that's great. I'm really looking forward to working with him."
Steven Milne is still struggling to overcome his persistent knee problem. Bobby Williamson said: "He's still feeling the knee. He has played a few reserve games now and the season might be running out of time for him. If needed, Stevie can be called upon but we have got four quality strikers I feel and I think that's enough to be involved in a squad of players for a weekend match. He's not over the knee operation he had last year, that's for sure, and we will not risk him in any reserve matches in case he sets himself back further. We will see how he is over the close season and pre-season."
Doncaster Rovers defender Nicolas Priet has been training with Argyle this week. The Frenchman has been told he will be released at the end of the season. Priet has spent three days on trial at Home Park but it is unclear whether he will return next week
Victory over Coventry would ensure Argyle's place in the Championship for next season, and would get Bobby Williamson's second year in charge off to a great start. "I can't believe it has been a year, I must admit," he said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It has been great. It has been the usual roller-coaster ride with ups and downs along the way but, over the piece, it has been a great season football-wise, I feel. We have had a few really bad performances and dodgy results, but not many. I'm proud of the way the guys have gone about their business. We have something to build on for next year. We have come up and done things gradually. Nothing was going to be done radically - that was decided at the end of last season. I feel we have progressed during the course of the season. We had to change and it has taken time for players to settle into things but I think it will set us up nicely once we get our next result."
Bobby Williamson has confirmed that Paul Connolly will almost certainly be unavailable for tomorrow's game. He said: "Paul's x-rays came back and nothing's been broken. It is still very tender and he's not trained and if he doesn't train tomorrow then he will be ruled out for Saturday but I will wait and see." Bjarni Gudjonsson will also miss out but Paul Wotton could be available. Williamson said yesterday: "Paul Wotton trained today and the indications are that he is fine. So we will see how he is tomorrow and if there is any reaction - we are not expecting any."
Luke McCormick has promised his hometown club no favours when Coventry City visit Home Park tomorrow. He said: "It will be very strange for me, but I'm sure it would have been even stranger had it actually been at Highfield Road. Hopefully, we can get the three points tomorrow and get ourselves to safety. I think Coventry need the points more than we do but we didn't have a good result at Stoke. Tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to put that right. There will be no chance of me chucking any in. Well, not purposefully anyway! It's more of an incentive to keep a clean sheet, playing against the club you have supported all your life. We have still got three games left and there are points to be won. It's our first season in the Championship and we want to finish as high up the table as we can. Coventry have got some good players and I think they are in a bit of a false position with the people they have got available to them." McCormick was a season ticket holder at Highfield Road in the late 1990s when Coventry were in the Premiership. He said: "I was with their centre of excellence until I was about 13 and then, for whatever reasons, I was released. I found myself down here a couple of years later. All my family are in Coventry and I get up there as much as I can to see them and my friends. There will possibly be 10 or 12 people coming down tomorrow, including my old schoolteacher. He has been in touch with me. I have also had a lot of phone calls this week from people wishing me all the best. I'm really looking forward to it. It will be a big day for myself." McCormick was bitterly disappointed not to play for Argyle when they travelled to Highfield Road in November. He said: "It was really frustrating having to watch it from the stands. It was the first game I looked out for when the fixtures came out in the summer. I wasn't able to be involved in it in any kind of way and that was very disappointing but, hopefully, I will make up for that by keeping a clean sheet tomorrow."
Bobby Williamson has thrown down the gauntlet to Peter Gilbert after Jason Dodd returned to Southampton at the end of his one-month loan spell. Williamson is hoping Gilbert will have benefited from working with Dodd over the past month. He said: "The reason you have got experienced players is to help your younger players come through. Peter is still in that category. He's still a young player and I hope he has learned a lot from Jason and taken a lot of things on board. I'm sure he's desperate to get back in the team and stay in the team. If Peter gets his opportunity tomorrow, hopefully, he performs to his capabilities and stays in the team for the rest of the season. If he doesn't do himself justice, I might have to look at things again. It has been a long season for Peter and it has been a huge learning curve for him as well. He has established himself as a first team player but sometimes you like to take the younger lads out of the fray and rest them for a while to get them hungrier. It's not that he was playing badly. I feel he needed that competition and needed to be rested and he will come back a better player for it I hope." Jason Dodd is out-of-contract at the end of the season and there has already been speculation Williamson might try to sign him over the summer. He said: "It would be wrong of me to speak about that. He's a Southampton player and it would look like an illegal approach if I start speaking in the longer term with Jason. As I say, we are grateful to Southampton for allowing him to come here in the first place and I wouldn't want to be spoiling that relationship."
Today, Bobby Williamson released an 'anniversary' statement on Argyle's official site, he said: On Wednesday this week I completed my first year as manager of Plymouth Argyle. It's been an extraordinary year and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. We've had our ups and downs, the downs are hard to take but that's football, it's a learning curve and you become stronger through the bad times. I can't believe the time has passed by so quickly and we're back in the same position as when I arrived last a year ago, needing three points from the last three games. I'd like to believe that the team and squad of players that we've got is better than what we had at this time last year, my belief is that we've got players that can perform at this level but we need to keep adding to the team and try to constantly improve. When I joined Argyle the aim was to try and consolidate in this division, we're three points away from that. We've had some bad games and some right good performances, I look at the good performances. I've really enjoyed this season, I hope the majority of the fans have, and I'm looking forward to better things to come in the future. I wanted to give the players who were here, that had got us through the divisions, an opportunity at this level. Some of them will probably feel they never got an opportunity because we did bring in fresh blood but I did say when the guys were brought in that they were to ADD to the squad and not to replace the team. The new players had to fight their way into a successful team, not many of them did that, Stevie Crawford did to an extent, he was an ever-present, unfortunately for other reasons he had to go back to Scotland, and there's been a few others who have found it difficult, because we've got good players at this club. There have been changes but it's been done gradually and that's the way it's got to be done in football and these changes will keep occurring. You do go through transitional periods generally at the beginning of the season, it does take time for new players to come in and settle and feel part of things and get used to living in Plymouth. They have to learn the expectations of our fans, and that does take time. Like this season when we had to make the changes during the course of the season, that's not always going to be the case but I hope we've survived it and can build on what we have next year. I can't compare our fans to any other club I've played for or managed, there's nobody as passionate or as loyal as the fans at Home Park. They travel everywhere at great expense involving a lot of time and hardship, their loyalty is tremendous."
Mickey Evans has signed a new one year contract with Argyle that will keep him at the club until the summer of 2006. Bobby Williamson said: "We are delighted Mickey has decided to give us another year's service. He has proved to be a handful in this division and I hope that will be the case again next season. He will never be the 20-goals-a season striker most clubs are looking for but he certainly contributes on and off the park. He's great in the dressing room and let's people know what this club is about."
Bobby Williamson announced at a press conference today that he had just spoken to Harry Redknapp. "Harry wanted Jason Dodd to remain at Southampton for the rest of the season to help out with their relegation battle, and as cover for injured players." he said. "Jason's experience is invaluable around the dressing room and training ground, as we found here. I wished both Southampton and Jason all the best, he has been a great asset in the four games he has played for us."
Argyle's final two home games of the season are both close to being sell-outs. Currently there are only a few seats left in block 20 for Saturday's game against Coventry City, although there is still plenty of standing room on the Mayflower Terrace available. The Leicester City match on May 8th, is heading the same way, with no seats available in the Lyndhurst and only front rows in the Devonport end
Argyle have injury worries ahead of Saturdays game. Paul Connolly is struggling with the foot injury he received playing for the reserves in mid-week and is awaiting the results of his x-ray. Bjarni Gudjonsson is almost certainly out of the game having not played since picking up a thigh injury for Iceland against Italy on March 30th whilst Paul Wotton is battling to recover from his shin problem. Bobby Williamson said: "We are hopeful Wotton will be available for selection on Saturday. He trained on Tuesday and is feeling better than he did." Meanwhile, Williamson said that several first team players got a useful workout in the reserves' win over Cardiff on Tuesday night, including Nick Chadwick. "Players who don't feature in first team matches will usually play in reserve games," Williamson said. "Chad wanted to get a game under his belt, and hopefully that will help him for Saturday."
Bobby Williamson is waiting until Thursday to speak to Harry Redknapp about any further loan agreement for Jason Dodd. "I am waiting for Harry to check his resources after their very valuable point against Bolton last night," he said. "He needs to see what he has available and what he needs to do for Southampton, which is fair enough, but I am hoping Jason will return. He has brought in great experience to the team and has done very well. He has steadied the defence and has been invaluable. If he doesn't, so be it we have a squad of players and those who have been out will have something to prove when they come back in. Also those who have played with Jason will have learnt from him, which will hold us in good stead."
Argyle will play Torquay United during next pre-season in a testimonial match for the 'Gulls Tony Bedeau. The game will take place at Plainmoor on Saturday, 16th July
Bobby Williamson began his career as Argyle manager a year ago today, and will be hoping that the anniversary of that date coincides with Argyle retaining their Championship status. If Argyle beat Coventry on Saturday and Brighton fail to win at home to West Ham, Argyle will be safe. However, Williamson will not view staying up as a cause for celebration. "If we manage to stay in this league, and it's looking very likely that we'll do that, then I won't be jumping through hoops," he said. "I don't think staving off relegation is anything to be celebrating. I never feel that a job is finished, but we have proved that we can play at this level. We've given teams some very difficult games, even teams that are up there challenging. We've taken points off Wigan and Sunderland, and we should have taken points off Ipswich. It's pleasing that we've done that. I knew it would be very difficult. It's been a long season and we've been up against a lot of strong teams, with big squads and a lot of money. Some clubs have thrown a lot of money at it, but we've not done that. We've done things gradually rather than radically, and I feel we've progressed during the course of the season. We've had to change the team and it's taken some time for players to settle in, but I think what we've done will set us up nicely for next season. I can't believe it's been a year, I must admit. I've thoroughly enjoyed it. It's predictably been a roller-coaster ride, with ups and downs along the way, but overall it's been a great year, football-wise, I feel. There have been a few really bad performances and dodgy results., but not many, and I'm proud of the guys in the team and the way they've gone about their business. They've given us something to build on for the future." Williamson is content with his professional life. "I've loved it," he said. "The only slight downside has been that my kids are up in Scotland, but they come down from time to time. This is my life, this is what I love doing. Football is my passion, and this is where I want to work. If other aspects of my life have to suffer, that's just too bad. I'm totally focused on trying to do this job to the best of my ability."
Paul Connolly was having a precautionary X-ray today after suffering a foot injury playing for the reserves last night. Connolly was substituted at half-time and Bobby Williamson said: "Connolly is going for a X-ray today and, hopefully, it is nothing too serious." Peter Gilbert was also taken off at half-time as Williamson did not want to risk him picking up a problem as well and leaving him short of defensive options on Saturday. Williamson added: "We took Gilbert off as a precaution because I couldn't afford two full-backs to get injured in the one game and leave me with just one."
Bobby Williamson believes it will have been great experience for Luke Summerfield to be involved with the first team squad last Saturday. He said: "Luke has trained with us on numerous occasions and will probably train with us between now and the end of the season. I think he's the one out of all the youth players who has showed us that he could possibly make the next step." Argyle could make sure of their Championship survival by beating Coventry on Saturday, but even should they do so, it is unlikely Summerfield will make a first team debut before the end of the season. Williamson said: "I only pick players who deserve to be picked. That's the way it has got to be. If youngsters get in the team it's because they deserve to be in the team. Nothing else."
Argyle reserves beat Bournemouth 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Chris Zebroski and John Routledge. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Routledge, Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert, Drew, Summerfield, Lasley, Reski, Chadwick. Subs – McKeever, Watts, Smith (not used – Kendall)
Jason Dodd will officially rejoin Southampton when his loan period comes to an end tomorrow. Harry Redknapp said: "I need all my players around me at this time and I love Doddsy's attitude. We are a team that doesn't talk to each other at the back and we left players unmarked for Villa's goals on Saturday. At least two of those goals were poor ones to concede. People didn't do their jobs. We have too many quiet players." Peter Gilbert is expected to return to the left-back role. Gilbert and Paul Connolly are both expected to start for Argyle in tonight's reserve fixture at home to Bournemouth. Mat Kouo-Doumbe, Nick Chadwick, Keith Lasley and Steven Milne are also due to play, while Bjarni Gudjonsson and Romain Larrieu will play if deemed fit enough. Gudjonsson was injured playing for Iceland in a friendly international in Italy on March 30th. Bobby Williamson said: "Bjarni trained yesterday and we will see how he is. If he's up for it we will give him a half, but we don't want to rush anybody back. I just feel quite a few of them haven't played in recent weeks so they will need to be selected."
Argyle are hoping Paul Wotton could be fit for the game against Coventry City on Saturday following the shin injury he suffered at Stoke. Wotton spent the weekend on crutches but Bobby Williamson has not ruled him out of his plans. Williamson said: "Paul didn't train yesterday and he will be getting intensive treatment on his injury. We are still hopeful he will be fit and available for selection for the weekend." Williamson did not put any blame on Chris Greenacre for the injury. He said: "I felt Paul tried to get to a ball he probably had no right to get to and the player has landed on him. Hopefully, he's a quick healer. He's probably one who will say he's fit when he's not fit and that's obviously a concern for me as well. I will need to see him training to make sure he's 100 per cent because the last thing I want to do is put him out there when he's not fit." Wotton received treatment on the pitch before making his way to the touchline and soon returned to the fray but, in the end, he had to be substituted. Williamson added: "He said he was fine and he went on and obviously he wasn't. We had to take him off. But I would rather have players like that, that try to get through it rather than players who take the easy option and limp off. Paul certainly doesn't come into that category."
David Worrell admitted that Argyle only had themselves to blame for Saturday's defeat at Stoke City. "The goals we conceded were very poor," Worrell said. "I don't how we came in at half-time 2-0 down, because for the first 25 minutes we played really well. We passed the ball around as well as we had done at Forest, but then we let in two very poor goals from our point of view. We're very disappointed. The throw-in for the first goal should have been defended better but it was a decent ball in and that was hard to defend against." Stoke's second goal took a cruel deflection off Paul Wotton, in a similar way to David Norris's goal at the City Ground seven days earlier. "Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it doesn't," Worrell added. "We got the luck last week, but this week it didn't go for us." Dexter Blackstock had scored twice at Forest, but missed a decent chance early on at Stoke. "To be fair to Dexter, at least he's getting in there," Worrell said. "I thought he did really well, and he's going to be a very good player. He's a young boy, but he's very confident in his own ability. I'm sure he's going to go on and make a name for himself." Worrell hopes to retain his place at right-back until the end of the season and help Argyle confirm their safety. He said: "I was disappointed with the result today, but it's good to be playing again. It was a missed opportunity at Stoke so we've got to make sure we beat Coventry next Saturday."
Paul Wotton reflected on the defeat at Stoke and said: "I don't know how we lost that one. I know we have lost another away game but there were definitely positives to take out of it. The first goal was completely against the run of play and the second one was a very unfortunate deflection off me. Luke had no chance. I thought we had a great start. We were passing the ball well, we had all the possession and we were dictating the game. Dexter had a very good chance and if we could have scored early on I think we would have gone on to get a similar result to the one against Forest. I think Stoke were there for the taking, to be honest."
Argyle are set to appoint Mark Rivers as their new Football in the Community officer. Rivers is currently the Football in the Community scheme manager at Reading and will take over from Geoff Crudgington
Bobby Williamson said after yesterdays game: "I think it was only in the first-half we created anything to be honest and we never took our chances. If you don't take your chances that's what happens, you lose football matches. They got a goal pretty easy I felt and good luck to them, but I felt we gave them away and lost the game. We were missing that spark I think but I didn't see much of a spark from Stoke either. There didn't seem to be anybody on the park who had that creativity and that telling pass in the final third. Whenever we did get people into good positions to deliver, we never had the people in the box to take the opportunity and I felt it was likewise with Stoke. They worked a good goal from a throw in, I was disappointed we never cleared it once it did come into the box. Last week we got the benefit of a deflected goal, this week it went against us for their second. That's football, it can be a referee's decision or it hits the bar and comes to a player or not, that's part of football. One week it goes for you the next against you. They got the goals though and won the game. Good luck to them. I feel for our fans who have got that long journey and it is disappointing for everyone concerned." Dexter Blackstock opened the scoring early against Forest and possibly should have done the same against Stoke. Williamson said: "Dexter had a good early chance but I don't think he got a good connection on it and maybe his feet weren't great either, maybe he slipped I don't know but he's disappointed obviously. Strikers will score goals and miss chances that's just the nature of it. The good strikers are the ones that keep going back in there and keep trying to score. It's the same with goalkeepers. They will make saves and they will cost you at times. You have just got to believe in them, and I do believe in the boy. I think he will score more goals, although it certainly wasn't his day." Williamson tried to freshen things up with his changes but to no avail: "I tried to change it today and it hasn't worked and in hindsight it is clear to see but if I do not use the substitutes the fans will rightly ask why I have let it peter out at 2-0."
Southampton are expected to recall Jason Dodd from his loan spell due to injury problems. Harry Redknapp also wants to add the experience and leadership qualities of Dodd to his squad. Bobby Williamson said: "Southampton have a couple of injuries and Jason has gone back to see what the story is. I'm waiting for a phone call from Southampton and Jason this afternoon."
Argyle lost 2-0 at Stoke City. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Aljofree, Dodd, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Taylor, Evans, Blackstock. Subs - Lasley, Capaldi, Chadwick (not used - Kouo-Doumbe, Larrieu). Attendance - 13,017.
Ryan Dickson will not play again this season as a sudden growth spurt has left him feeling aches and pains all over his body. Bobby Williamson said no risks would be taken with the health of the player: "He has grown a few centimetres in just a short space of time and, by all accounts, that takes it out of kids. If you work them hard during those growth spurts you can do them a lot of damage. We have got to be careful so we will take it easy with Ryan."
Despite the reserves' heavy defeat on Tuesday, Bobby Williamson hoped some of Argyle's' youngsters would have learned valuable lessons. He said: "We got heavily battered by Cardiff - a very experienced Cardiff team to be fair. Romain Larrieu would have been playing but he hurt his shoulder in training the other week. Connolly and Gilbert had flu and I felt Capaldi needed a rest. He has had a big month behind him. It was disappointing because you don't want kids to go out and get heavily beaten but, hopefully, they will learn."
Argyle are expected to confirm shortly that Puma will be their kit suppliers next season. taking over from TFG Sports, with new home and away strips for the 2005/06 campaign
Tickets for Argyle's last away game of the season, against Burnley on April 30th, have gone on sale to Green members. They cost £17 for adults, £11 for over-60s and £8.50 for under-16s. The tickets will be available to White and Pilgrim members on April 19th before going on general sale on Thursday
Bobby Williamson has warned fans that it will be no easy task to win at the Britannia Stadium today. "I know the fans will be disappointed if we don't the same sort of result," he said, "but so will I be. I pick the team with a view to winning games. If we don't, then there's no one more disappointed than me. We'll go there and give it our best, but we cannot get complacent and assume this is going to be an easy game. I don't know how anyone could even contemplate thinking that way." Williamson did pledge that his team will approach the game in a positive frame of mind. "We don't go anywhere and try to sit tight for a draw," he said. "We always try to go and win games away from home. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't happen." Stoke's last two home matches have resulted in defeats and Williamson added: "They'll want to get back into winning habits. We're well aware of what Stoke's strengths and weaknesses are, and hopefully we can nullify their strengths and exploit their weaknesses, but it's easy saying that. We've got to go up there and do it. It would be good to get back-to- back away wins, but it's extremely difficult to do that in this division. I think a lot of people don't realise how difficult a league this is. There are a lot of people who have spent vast amounts of money to try and challenge and have found themselves trying to stay in this division. Usually money will guarantee you should be up there challenging, but it doesn't always work that way."
Injury and illness problems have prompted Bobby Williamson to add Luke Summerfield to this weekend's travelling party. "Luke has been included because he is further ahead than the rest of the youngsters at this moment in time," Willaimson said. "There's a chance he might be on the bench."
Mickey Evans will be hoping to play his part in another Argyle away win today, when the team travel to Stoke. Evans still plays a key role in the team, despite competition for his place from the three strikers signed since Christmas. "You need to have four centre-forwards at a club, and that's what we've got. It's difficult to play every week," he said. "I've probably surprised a few people with how many games I've played this season. I'm just pleased I've had a half-decent season, and I'm quite happy with the way I've played." Evans has only scored four times this season, but his ability to lead the line and create chances for others remains invaluable. Last weekend at Forest he found himself operating as a solo target man, with Dexter Blackstock and Scott Taylor filling wide roles. "Both Scott and Dexter worked very hard on the wings, and they broke forward well," Evans said. "When you play up front on your own, you can get a bit isolated up there sometimes. The lads in midfield gave me plenty of support, though, and that made it a lot easier for me." Argyle are not safe from the drop yet, but their recent run of form suggests they should be playing Championship football next term. "Now we're on a little run, we want to keep that run going," Evans added. "That would give us confidence for the start of next season. A top-half finish is not out of the question. We've had a good start, a bit of a rubbish middle and at the moment a good ending to the season. I think if we'd said at the start of the season that we would finish 15th, the majority of fans would have ripped your arm off for it." Evans is very hopeful of being at Argyle next season as he revealed that he expects a new contract to be agreed soon. "We're still in talks," he said, "but hopefully it will be sorted soon. I don't want to leave. I'll give everything I've got until the end of the season and we'll see what happens, but I'm very optimistic."
Argyle travel to Stoke tomorrow looking for a second sucessive away win but Bobby Williamson warned: "It would be good to get back-to-back away wins but it's extremely difficult to do that in this division. I think a lot of people don't realise how difficult a league this is. There's a lot of people who have spent vast amounts of money to try and challenge and have found themselves trying to stay in this division. Usually money will guarantee you should be up there, challenging, but it doesn't always work that way. We're well aware of what Stoke's strengths and weaknesses are, and hopefully we can nullify their strengths and exploit their weaknesses, but it's easy saying that, we've got to go up there and do it."
Bobby Williamson has refused to be drawn on whether Dexter Blackstock will play for Argyle next season. Reports suggest that Southampton are unlikely to sell Blackstock to Argyle, or anyone else, but they may be interested in letting him leave on an extended loan spell next season, as long as they secure their Premiership status. "I admire the boy, for his ability and just as a person," said Williamson. "I love working with him. He has got great enthusiasm for the game and that's what you should have at 18. He has got a good attitude and I definitely like working with him. Hopefully, in his time here he will learn a lot and take it on board to make him a better player for the rest of his career - wherever that is I don't know." Williamson would not comment on whether he would be interested in taking Blackstock on a season-long loan. He said: "I will talk to Dexter and to Harry Redknapp if I feel it's something we could do, but I'm not prepared to speak about it publicly because it would be wrong of me. He's a Southampton player. We are just delighted to have him here. He's helping us and we are helping him develop as a player. The intentions were Southampton would get the benefit of that in the long run and nothing has changed there."
Bobby Williamson is hoping to extend the loan of Jason Dodd until the end of the season. He said: "I will speak to the people at Southampton after the Stoke game. Obviously, Jason wants to be here and we want him here but it's up to Southampton really. Hopefully, we can do the business and extend his loan period."
Bjarni Gudjonsson has been ruled out of a return to his former club tomorrow by his thigh injury
Hasney Aljofree believes all the Argyle squad deserve credit for dragging themselves out of relegation trouble. "It was a massive relief at Forest and you could tell by the reaction of the fans as well," he said. "I felt sorry for Forest, to be fair, with the pressure they were under. It was unbelievable. It was a bad day for them but the way we went about the game was brilliant and we were delighted we got the result. It was a big week for the players and we have all responded well. I think there was a lot of pressure on us and all the boys in the squad stuck together and we have got the big results we needed." Aljofree has put in some impressive performances at centre-back in recent weeks and said the presence of Mathias Kouo-Doumbe on the bench was one of the reasons for his good form. Aljofree said: "I played with Graham last season and we had a good understanding then so it wasn't too hard when I came back into the team to kick on again together. But with Matt Doumbe not being in the side you have got to try to perform as well as you can because you are never guaranteed to play." Aljofree also thought the loan signing of Jason Dodd had been a successful one. He said: "Jason has been good to have around the place. He's a really nice fella. He has helped calm us down when we have needed it and he's a great talker as well. Fair play to Doddsy, he has come in and done a really good job for the club." Argyle are aiming for back-to-back victories on the road when they visit Stoke tomorrow. Aljofree said: "It's another big game for us. We have got to go there believing we can win it. They have not been the best recently. I think they have dropped off the pace so we have got to go there full of confidence knowing we can win away from home now. I think all the teams in the league have got two really good centre-forwards but Stoke have got four. We are going there to keep a clean sheet because we know we have got players who can score goals. We have got to try to get as high as we can in the league. We are concentrating on trying to get a result tomorrow and you never know where we can get in the league."
Luke Summerfield may be named in the first team squad tomorrow because of a 'flu-type virus afflicting Peter Gilbert and Paul Connolly. Neither Gilbert nor Connolly were available for training yesterday after being told to stay home by the club doctor. Bobby Williamson said: "Both of them were in bits yesterday and not reported in today. We will see how they are tomorrow, but Luke might be added to the squad if they don't pull through."
Bobby Williamson has admitted he was 'disappointed' Hasney Aljofree delayed signing a new contract until after Argyle had virtually guaranteed their Championship survival. Williamson however, insisted he was delighted Aljofree had committed his future to the club. Williamson said: "He had to make his mind up and reading between the lines he was waiting to see what division we were going to be in before he committed himself and I'm disappointed to hear that. He should have had belief in our ability that we were going to be in this division anyway and signed his contract a while ago. Maybe it was a ploy to boost up the ante, I don't know. But I don't want to read too much into it. We are delighted to have him and I hope he has another three successful years." Aljofree admitted there had been other options open to him before he decided to re-sign for Argyle. He said: "That's part and parcel of football and you have got to be looking out for yourself anyway. You never know what's around the corner but I'm delighted now I have committed my future to the club. Hopefully, I can just get on with the football now. It's near the end of the season but I'm happy everything is sorted. Playing in this league is a big bonus for me and the results recently have shown we can compete at this level. The away results haven't been the best but the win against Forest has played a big part in my future here really. I want to be playing as high as I can and I am ambitious myself so the club staying up, although not mathematically yet, has done it for me."
Paul Wotton has not ruled out the chances of Argyle making the Premiership. When asked about the possibility he said: "Norwich are back in the Premiership and they are no bigger than Plymouth in terms of catchment area or potential. Preston could also be in the Premiership next season and they are no bigger than us either. We aren't the sort of club to pay players £10,000 per week but we are one of the few clubs not in debt so we will be here for a few years to come." Wotton admitted the win at Nottingham Forest had virtually ensured Argyle's Championship survival. He said: "Forest would be the first to admit that they were poor on the day but you can't take anything away from us as we played very well in a crucial match. While we aren't mathematically safe it would take a set of freaky results to send us down now - 52 points is generally regarded as the benchmark for staying up and we have got 51 with games to play. "We are pretty much safe now but we need to try to get as many points as we can, starting with this weekend's game against Stoke."
Jason Dodd is keen to stay with Argyle until the end of their Championship campaign. He said: "I'm really enjoying myself and I'm pleased I have contributed to three great results. I hadn't played any first team football for three months before I came here because of a back problem. The aim was to go out and let people know I can still play, that I'm fit and it puts me in the shop window. I mentioned to the manager that if he wanted me to stay until the end of the season I would be happy to do so and he was equally keen." Argyle picked up seven points in the three matches that Dodd has been involved in, and have conceded only one goal. "As a defender, I would rather win every game 1-0," he said. "A clean sheet is quite important to me. The team had been conceding goals away from home in the previous games and I know the manager was hoping my experience would benefit the back five. I think the lads have been great. The two centre-halves - Hasney and Cocko - have been exceptional. Luke hasn't been over-worked but when called upon he has been up to the task, which is the sign of a good goalkeeper. Shelly and David Worrell have shared the games at right-back between them and they have done really well, too." Dodd is not the only Southampton player who has been instrumental in Argyle's fight against relegation, with Dexter Blackstock scoring four in his 12 appearances. Dodd said: "Dexter has come down here and the supporters have taken to him because they know what they are going to get from him - a lot of hard work and a lot of ability. I'm staying in the same hotel as Dexter and I know he's really enjoying himself. And when you are enjoying yourself you play your best football." Dodd was thrilled with the performance against Forest and also impressed by the support of the Green Army. He had been told the passionate fans by his former Southampton team-mate Neil Heaney. Dodd said: "Neil told me the support would surprise me and he was right. We had 2,500 there and they loved every minute of it, which was pleasing. As a player, first and foremost, you want to do well for yourself but you also want to put a show on for the people who pay their money. When we were coming home on the coach they were hooting their car horns and waving at us. It was a really great day." Argyle have virtually secured their Championship status with back-to-back wins but Dodd insisted: "The lads haven't really talked about that. We are not looking behind us. We have got four games left and they are all winnable ones and it gives us a chance to finish the season strongly. We go to Stoke on Saturday and if we win there that will put us one point behind them."
Argyle's reserves lose 7-0 to Cardiff reserves at Home Park.
Drew, Watts, Lasley, Bond, Reski , Zebroski, Milne. Subs – Mason, Summerfield, Smith
Hasney Aljofree rejected the opportunity to join Sheffield Wednesday to sign his new contract with Argyle. Aljofree was offered terms by the League One club, but resisted the call of teaming-up with Paul Sturrock to remain at Home Park. Reports suggest that Argyle were able to offer him a better financial package than Wednesday
Bobby Williamson has ruled out the idea of deliberately giving Luke McCormick and Romain Larrieu an equal number of first-team games. Williamson knows that Argyle are lucky to have two such capable keepers, but is also aware that keeping both men happy is a difficult task. "I'm gutted for Romain," Williamson said, "but if I wasn't gutted for Romain I'd be gutted for Luke. The guys know that. I treat them all fairly, although it's difficult when you're selecting a team. Somebody is going to feel hard done by. That's the nature of the game, but I do feel for these guys because they work hard on a weekly basis and they want to be playing the game on a Saturday." Williamson is uncomfortable with the concept of a rotation policy for his goalkeepers. "It would be great to give the 'keeper being left out more games, but it's difficult," he said. "Players get used to having one of the two behind them. I don't know if a rotation system works. I've seen it used at international level way back with England, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea in club football. I'm not aware of many clubs using it. It's just hard luck for whoever finds himself out of the team, but I do feel very sorry for Romain. When he came to the club he soon became the number one, and Luke was only a kid, still developing. Then Luke got an opportunity because Romain suffered a serious injury and he proved that he could do it. Luke is a good goalkeeper. It's been nip and tuck between the two of them all season. I can understand the frustrations of whichever one is left out, but we need two quality goalkeepers. Romain, being the professional he is, has gone on with it, although I know he is disappointed. I've spoken to him on numerous occasions but I can't give him any satisfaction, really, because I've still selected Luke." Larrieu is due to line up for Argyle's reserve team against Cardiff City tonight. Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, Keith Lasley and Steven Milne are also expected to start. "I would be hoping to play some of the guys who haven't been involved in recent weeks," Williamson said. "The fans have made it known to me that they want to see guys who haven't performed in the first team play in these reserve games. We've got to keep these guys ticking over, because they might be needed. I'm hoping Cardiff send a reasonably strong team so we can get a quality game."
Hasney Aljofree has agreed a new deal which will keep him at Home Park until 2008. Aljofree said: "I am really honoured to be given this contract - you don't get many as long as it these days - and very happy. It will take me towards my 30s, so I hope the club will get the best out of me. Everything else is fine. I'm settled here with my family, Plymouth is a great place, and I have had a good time since I've been here. Things are going really well and there is no reason for me to look to move anywhere else." Bobby Williamson said: "I am delighted Hasney has pledged his future to Argyle. He has done very well for us since he returned to the first team and this contract will give him some security which we hope will benefit him and us. Has's move to Sheffield Wednesday was so he could do a job for them in an area in which they were lacking, and get some first-team games under his belt so he could come back and do a job for us. Unfortunately, because he was injured, that didn't happen, so he's had to be patient and wait for his chance, which he has taken. The beginning of the season didn't go as we had hoped, or Hasney had hoped, but that is all history now." Aljofree added: "Up to Christmas, this season was a bit of a nightmare for me. All the time, it seemed I was training on my own, with just the physio for company. The gaffer kept encouraging me and, now I've finally got the shirt, it's my intention to keep it. That won't be easy. Mat has done really well since he's been here, and Cocko and Wottsy are also good players, so there's plenty of competition for places, which is the way it should be." Paul Stapleton also expressed his happiness at Aljofree's decision. He said: "We are very pleased Hasney has committed his future to Plymouth Argyle. We were aware that a lot of clubs were showing an interest in him coming out of contract in the summer, and we are delighted he wants to join us in our quest for future glories."
David Norris has revealed his desire to play a more central midfield role. Norris was moved inside in an attacking 4-3-3 formation at Nottingham Forest on Saturday and he put in an outstanding performance. Norris said: "It just gives me that licence to get about the pitch more, and that's what I enjoy doing. Sometimes, on the right, if I'm not in the game I will try to force myself into it, and it often doesn't work. But when I'm in the middle I can pick and choose where I make my runs and I know that I'm going to be involved in the game quite a lot." Argyle's win at the City Ground was their first away win in five months. Norris said: "With how we have played away from home recently, we were up for it on Saturday and it showed right from kick-off. The formation paid off. Wottsie said before the game 'don't be afraid to push on and get forward because you know I will be sitting behind you'. That's the difference between playing two in there and three in there. Me and Akos had the licence to push forward whenever we wanted and with Mickey and two other strikers ahead of us we ran riot really." Norris scored his third goal of the season against Forest, when his shot deflected off Wes Morgan and looped into the net. Norris said: "It gave us a two-goal cushion and came at a good time as well. We knew if we kept it at 2-0 until half-time their crowd would get onto them and they would be under pressure." Norris was also instrumental in Argyle's third goal: "Jason Dodd put a great ball in and I headed it on myself and chased it," he said. "Defenders sometimes take a gamble when they are doing that so I slid down on the ground and, luckily, I managed to keep it in. Dexter had made a great run and it was just a side-foot in for him. I think it was one of those games where things came off for me. I tried the back-heel at the end and sometimes I back-heel it onto my shin and it goes out for a goal-kick. On Saturday things seemed to come off for me, and for the team. It was a massive win for us. It has been a good couple of weeks for us, with getting all those points and just about securing our safety. In some of the games before we have not played too much football because the pressure has been on us to get the points. But I think you saw on Saturday that once we got the first goal, we did play some good football." Argyle still have four more games remaining and Norris insisted there would be no easing off. He said: "The aim is to pick up as many points as we can before the end of the season. We want to finish as high up as we can."
Bobby Williamson has promised Argyle will not ease up, even though they are on the brink of Championship survival. He said: "We are not far away but we have still got a bit to do. We certainly can't afford to take our foot off the pedal. As long as the fans are paying good money we will keep working hard for them. There are still a lot of points to be picked up, and dropped, by the time the season is over. We want to make sure we get more points than we lose. We are capable of beating anybody if we play as well as we did on Saturday and that's comforting. We had fantastic support again as well and I'm sure they will travel up in decent numbers to Stoke. I hope we send them home happy, like we did on Saturday." Williamson admitted even at this early stage of the week it would be difficult for him to change the starting line-up for the game against Stoke. He said: "There wasn't a bad player on Saturday and it was very difficult to single out anybody because it was such a good team performance." Williamson opted for an attacking 4-3-3 formation after seeing Forest beaten at Coventry City last Wednesday and said: "That's why I go to watch the opposition beforehand. We see how they shape up and I pick the team accordingly to trouble them. That has been the case all through the season. We always get the opposition checked before we take them on and then we work on it in training. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't, but there is always a reason behind it. Some fans feel they have been justified in criticising the shape of the team or the selection this season, but I don't think so. We watch the opposition and pick the team accordingly. That's why David Worrell was brought in rather than Paul Connolly. Paul has done reasonably well and I felt for him, not being included on Saturday, but I also feel for the rest of the guys who don't get selected. We need that competition, and nobody can sit back and rest on their laurels. They have to keep producing the goods. Sometimes I have got to leave out a fans' favourite just to rejuvenate him and push him on again."
Argyle's under-18's lost their Merit Division game 1-0 at Colchester United on Saturday. Updated under-18's results and table can be found here
Argyle Reserves lost 3-1 at Bristol Rovers this afternoon, Clay Bond scoring the goal for an Argyle side made up entirely of scholars. Stuart Gibson said: "Clay Bond was excellent. Every time the ball was in his area of the pitch he competed for it. I was really pleased he scored with a spectacular goal. It was worthy of all the effort he put into the game." Argyle: Schofield, Drew, McKeever, Summerfield, Routledge, Laird.S, Reski, Bond, Hoyles, Zebroski, Watts. Subs - Kendall, Evans.D, Davis
Dexter Blackstock scored two goals on Saturday and dedicated the victory to the travelling Green Army. "It was a massive, massive win for us," he said. "That's given us the cushion we need now and hopefully we can pick up a few more points and we'll be well clear of relegation. That win was for the fans, because they've travelled far and wide, and in massive numbers, without seeing us win away since I've been here. I remember, when we played at Sunderland, there were so many fans there on a Tuesday night. This win was good for them and good for us." Blackstock's first goal came early in the game, in the third minute: "It was a good goal to settle the nerves," he said, "and it got the crowd on their backs, because they haven't had the best of times lately. It unsettled them. I was a bit surprised to get the ball, because it seemed to spin off a defender, but it fell down nicely for me and it was good to get the finish." After David Norris put Argyle two up he then created Blackstock's second goal. Blackstock said: "Chuck chased a lost cause and he did wonders to even get the ball. He managed to win it and somehow run it along the line. He played it across goal and it was a nice tap-in for me." Blackstock has now scored four times for Argyle. "It's gone really well for me here," he said. "I'm enjoying it. It's still a learning curve for me, and it's good to get out there and play first-team football. The Championship is a very high standard, and for me to go out and test myself in it and for other people to see how I do in it is good for all concerned." Blackstock was part of a three-man attack on Saturday playing on the left in a 4-3-3 formation, with Scott Taylor lining up on the other side of Mickey Evans. "I thought it worked really well," Blackstock said. "Trigger did really well up there on his own. He had a really hard job looking after the ball, with two defenders to deal with."
Bobby Williamson explained why he had chosen to recall David Worrell at right-back in preference to Paul Connolly on Saturday. He said: "Paul has played the last couple of games and did very well going forward. Today, I felt we needed legs defensively and I gave David the nod. He did well. I felt David's experience over Paul's enthusiasm would be more beneficial to us, and that's not a criticism."
David Norris wants to stay at Argyle beyond the end of this season. Contract talks are ongoing between him and the club and Norris is hoping to reach agreement sooner rather than later. He said: "I'm hoping to stay because I have had a good couple of years here and I would like to extend it. They have offered me a contract here and we are still in discussions about it. It's getting towards the end of the season so I would like things to be tied up as soon as possible if they can. From my personal point of view, I would like that peace of mind going into the summer. Hopefully, that's what will happen, but I don't know for sure."
Bobby Williamson refused to agree that Argyle were now safe after their victory at Nottingham Forest.
"Other teams will pick up points between now and the end of the season - we have got to make sure we do likewise and see where we end up," he said. "We got ourselves in a great position, but we've got four games to play and we can hopefully continue in that form. It's consistency which has been our biggest problem this season." Argyle were in control of the game from the moment Dexter Blackstock scored in the third minute. Williamson said: "I didn't think we did much wrong today at all. Everything went accordingly. It probably went as well as could expect, to be honest. We got at Forest, had a flurry of corners, got an early goal, and that was it. Our game was to try and get an early goal, and put their fans on a downer. I was at their game in midweek and I did notice that, the longer the game went, the fans did get a bit disillusioned. I felt, if we could do that early in the game, we'd have a chance. It was great to get the early goal. It settled everyone down, and we knocked the ball about very well. I didn't think Forest played terribly badly but we played as well as we could - everything came off, and I was very pleased with that. There's no team in this league which is that great. There's a lot of teams playing consistently well, good teams, but I think we are as good as any team if we can play as well as we can do. Home or away, we have got to give a good account of ourselves and, thankfully, we got the result and the goals." Williamson paid tribute to the contribution of Blackstock, but is resigned to losing him after the penultimate match of the season at Burnley. "I'm really pleased for the kid," he said. "He's been great for us. It will benefit him, and Southampton. I think he's got a big future ahead of him. I'm really pleased to have him. It would be wrong of me to talk about keeping Dexter longer as Southampton have done us a massive turn by letting him come and join us." The win was Argyle's first away from Home Park since they beat Wigan in November, and Williamson paid tribute to the Green Army at the City Ground. He said: "It's been a long time, long overdue for all our fans who turned up in good numbers, and who have followed us all over the country since we played Wigan. We have not played as well as we can do, and they have seen us capitulate on a few occasions, which is disappointing, but that wasn't going to happen today. The fans played their part and I'm glad we have repaid them." Williamson preferred David Worrell to Paul Connolly in defence, saying: "I felt Dave's experience, rather than Paul's enthusiasm would be more of a benefit to us today. That's not a criticism of anybody. I felt we needed legs, defensively. I felt Jason Dodd was an inspiration, but you can't single anybody out: Chuck Norris was a different class - he was everywhere; Paul Wotton played a captain's role; big Mickey played his part - there wasn't a bad player today. When Luke McCormick was called upon, he made a save. It was just a great all-round team performance."
Bobby Williamson wants Akos Buzsaky to make his loan move to Home Park permanent. The loan deal was with a view to a full transfer, and Williamson admitted that he would like to pursue that option. "The fans have certainly taken to him, and I like him," he said. "I think he's a fantastic talent. He's still got a lot to learn and he may learn it with us. I do substitute him from time to time because he does run out of steam - he covers every blade of grass. That will come with experience. Once he starts learning the game, he will be a better player, and I hope it's with us. There was a figure in place that we could work towards if he enjoyed being here and we enjoyed working with him. I think both parties have shown we do like each other."
Argyle won 3-0 at Nottingham Forest, the goals scored by Dexter Blackstock after 3 and 59 minutes, and David Norris (24). Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Aljofree, Dodd, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Taylor, Evans, Blackstock. Subs - Lasley, Capaldi, Chadwick (not used - Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert). Attendance - 28,887. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Lee Hodges looks set to miss the rest of the season because of his persistent back injury. Bobby Williamson said: "I would never rule him out, but he's not training with us just yet. He does feel there has been an improvement this week, which is great, but it's going to be difficult for him to get his level of fitness back up again. But if he gets himself into shape, he could come into my mind." Bjarni Gudjonsson, who has been sidelined by a calf injury, should return to training on Monday
Paul Stapleton has confirmed that talks have started about the future of Akos Buzsaky. He said: "The process has started and, personally, as far as I'm concerned I would like to see the boy sign for Plymouth Argyle. He's living in temporary accommodation and cannot make too many plans at the moment. To me, he's proven he can play at Championship level, although I'm no football expert."
Argyle are thought to be ready to offer a professional contract to Ryan Dickson. Bobby Williamson said: "Ryan Dickson is very much part of the future of this club."
Today 2,500 Argyle supporters will travel to the City Ground and the away support is greatly appreciated within Home Park. "It's fantastic," Bobby Williamson said yesterday. "Our fans are very passionate, which doesn't make it any easier for us when we lose games on our travels. We know just how disappointed they are." David Norris is hugely impressed at the faithful backing of the travelling fans. "It's a big surprise that we've sold so many tickets for Nottingham," he said, "since recent away performances have been terrible. They've been behind us all season, and now that we're getting into the final few games it's great to have that many fans behind us. We owe them a performance and a win, and if we could get that win against Forest then maybe we could relax a little bit." Argyle have been relying on their home form to keep them out of trouble, but some overdue success on their travels would take the pressure off them. "We've got to go for wins away from home," Norris added. "This could be us just about safe, if we can get a result this weekend, but if we lose at Forest and other results go against us then the last two results at home are going to be undone. We would be right back in trouble, and we'd have to rely on the last three or four games and we'd have to pick up maximum points. We've got to do it tomorrow, if we can." Norris knows that points matter more than performances at this stage of the season. "There's so much pressure," he said. "It gets through to the players. They know what's at stake. You can't expect too much attractive football, the result is too important. The key factor is whether or not you get the commitment and the passion to earn that result."
Argyle have sold out of their entire allocation of 2,500 tickets for tomorrow's match at Nottingham Forest
Paul Wotton has insisted comparisons between Akos Buzsaky and David Friio are wide of the mark. Wotton believes Buzsaky is a completely different type of player from Friio but hailed his tremendous football ability. He said: "People are going to compare Akos with David but I think they are completely different. David was more of an English-type of player. He was a box-to-box midfielder who made late runs and scored a lot of goals. Akos has got tremendous football ability. He is more creative, wants the ball all the time and has two great feet. He also can shoot from distance. He's only a young lad and it's going to take time to adapt to the English way of playing, but if you are a good footballer - which he is - you will do that. It's not only the style of football Akos has had to get used to, he has had to adapt to a new country and a new way of life. His English is great and he's brilliant in the changing room. He joins in with all the banter and he's a good lad. I was absolutely thrilled for him when he scored the other night. You could see how much it meant to him by the way he celebrated. He dropped a shoulder and was past me - like he did when he sucked in three of their players and made the space for his shot. It was a very important goal for Plymouth Argyle and he couldn't have chosen a better time to have scored it." Argyle's victory over Watford lifted them to 16th in the Championship table, four points clear of relegation and Wotton admitted: "To say it was a big game is an understatement. It was absolutely crucial. Even though we won it, it's all to play for and the five games we have got left are going to be like cup finals. We have worked too hard to get into this league, with blood, sweat and tears, to see it go to waste. We are not safe yet, but I'm sure the teams below us would swap positions with us." Argyle will be trying to complete the double over Forest having beaten them at Home Park in August. "We were flying at the start of the season and I remember it being a really good game to play in," said Wotton. "They got back into it with a goal that should have been ruled out for offside, after we should have had a penalty for a foul on David. But we got a penalty in the last minute and, fortunately enough, I scored from it. It was fantastic because Nottingham Forest are still a massive club. They are a Premiership outfit with unbelievable tradition and history and I'm sorry to see them down there, but that's football for you. They are down there for whatever reason and we have got to go there and pay them no respect and treat them as we treat every other team."
Bobby Williamson and Jocky Scott were both at Highfield Road to watch Coventry beat Nottingham Forest on Wednesday and Williamson said: "I felt Coventry deserved their result on the night but I'm not certainly not going to under-estimate Forest and what they can do. They have got players who have performed at a very good level and who on their day can cause us damage. But we will be focussing on what we can do to nullify their threats and hopefully ask a few questions of them. Quite a lot of people are surprised Forest are down there, but somebody has got to be down there. It's what you do over the course of a season that will determine which division you are playing in the following season. There is no divine right to anything in football." Williamson insisted the mood at Home Park had been positive, even before the victory over Watford. He said: "It never went that low, to be honest. Outside the club it might have been different, but people out there don't know what I know. We have got a lot of determined people in here. It has not changed at all, but maybe the perception outside has changed a bit. Maybe people have got more belief in us now that we can get through this period." Williamson admitted there could be changes to his line-up tomorrow, saying: "It has been hard for Scotty Taylor because he has been in and out, but most of them have been in and out of the team. If they get a goal or two then they have got a good chance of staying in the team for the next game. None of the strikers scored the other night so it's all back in the melting pot."
Bobby Williamson has highlighted the importance of Mickey Evans to Argyle. Evans has only scored four goals this season, but Williamson believes he is still feared by opposing teams for his aerial ability. He was substituted in the 55th minute of the Watford match after being booked for dissent and had become increasingly frustrated as the referee gave a series of free-kicks against him. Williamson said: "I never really had the idea of playing him for the full 90 minutes anyway. I don't know if all our fans see Mickey's strengths. What he does do well, he causes teams trouble when the ball is in the air. He is more than capable of doing that and a lot of teams in this division know that. When they see his name on the teamsheet they are concerned. Watford do not have two dominating centre-backs and we recognised that fact. That's why Mickey was used instead of one of the other strikers. Scotty Taylor and Nick Chadwick will feel hard done by because they were sitting on the bench but I feel I have got four decent strikers and I have got to try to use them as I see fit. They will get a chance to play their part between now and the end of the season. Hopefully, at the end of the season they can look back and say they did their bit for the cause and helped the club."
Tomorrows game at Nottingham Forest is heading for a sell-out and Bobby Williamson is looking for his teams first away win in more than four months. "I do believe, that, when we have lost goals in recent games away from home, heads have gone down slightly. That's a confidence thing, I don't think it's a lack of effort. Jason Dodd has been brought to the club to give us that bit of experience at the back and I'm hoping that will be as beneficial to us away from home as it has been at home. What we have been lacking is that bit of composure. We have been giving away possession too cheaply away from home. I don't think we have enough players who recognise the fact that there's going to be a spell away from home when the home team's on top and their fans are up, and that's when you have got to kill the game and keep possession. I'm sure Jason Dodd recognises that but it's not down to one individual - they all need to be talking and encouraging each other to stay strong in these moments they are under the cosh. The more players we have got who recognise that and weather the storm, the better." Williamson refuses to set a safety-target for his team, or to look beyond Saturday. "Our target is to get three points this weekend and build on it. "The season lasts the season and I wish people would understand that and just let it develop, rather than trying to forecast what's going to happen at the end of it," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen, and it's up to other people what they think, but I'm certain the players will not take their foot off the gas. We have made it clear to them. Even if we were free from relegation problems, we would still want to win the next game because our fans turn up in good numbers and pay good money. There is no way we are going to sit back and say: 'Well, that's it, we have done it, the season is finished.' The season is not over until the last game."
Reports suggest that Argyle have provisionally (provided they stay up) agreed a fee of 400,000 Euros (£282,000) with Porto for Akos Buzsaky, and that discussions between the club and the player's agent have also gone well
Bobby Williamson was happy with the points, but not with his teams performance after the victory over Watford. He said: "We know we have to fight for everything, and we certainly did that tonight. We need to play better than that, I'm afraid but If we work as hard as that in the five games we've got left, and show the same commitment, then hopefully we can play a bit of football as well. You have got to show that commitment and application to win the battle to then go and play your football, but that battle was never won at any time. Watford came here, hit the post, and went a goal down. Breaks go against you sometimes. We hit the post and the ball went in - we're delighted with that, but it's gone against us in the past. I just keep saying to the guys 'Keep working, keep your heads down, keep believing, and hopefully we'll get there'. We have got to keep playing like that between now and the end of the season, the same attitude and application, but hopefully not the same performance." Williamson had substituted Akos Buzsaky during the draw with Cardiff but shared the player's joy at scoring with his quick free-kick. "I'm really pleased for the kid.," said Williamson. "It was long overdue. He showed good composure - not enough of us did that in the penalty area. I wasn't best pleased with him taking as quick as he did, but it's worked for us. The more players you have who can improvise, the harder it is for the opposition to work out what you are going to do. I like players who can improvise it, but they have got to do it within the structure of the team. If he had played the whole game on Saturday, he might have been knackered and not scored his goal. Fans have got to trust me and believe that what I'm doing is for the right reasons. I've got to look at every angle." Williamson refused to read too much into the win, saying: "As far as I am concerned, if you have supporters paying good money to watch us, they are all big games and will be treated as such, but it's come to the stage of the season when the prizes and disappointments are being dished out and we have got to fight for everything we get. We certainly did that today. 1-0s are a bit nervy but we'll take them. Watford closed us down at every opportunity. When they got the ball, they tried to play, as well. We tried to stop them and I don't think Luke had many saves to make. Their goalkeeper didn't, either. If we'd have lost tonight, it would have put us under a bit more pressure. The pressure's still there. I try not to let outside influences put outside pressures on us. We have a hard-luck story, like everybody else. I think we should have had more points by now and been out of this situation, but we're in amongst it, and, as long as we've got a fighting chance, I can live with that. I'm sure there are a lot of people looking at all the permutations, but I am only looking at our match at Nottingham Forest on Saturday."
Akos Buzsaky scored his first goal for Argyle last night and was thrilled. He said: "I have waited for this day and it has come, so I'm very happy. Now, I think about the future. Maybe the next goal, maybe the next victory. We must look forward." Buzsaky revealed how he had told Mat Doumbe before the game that he going to put his name on the scoresheet. Buzsaky said: "Matt is a very good friend of mine and before the game we spoke about this and I'm very happy it has happened. I like to take free-kicks quickly because there is more chance to score. Tony was free on the left-side and I passed to him. He gave it back to me and it was a great attack, I think, for us. It was wonderful to get my first goal for Argyle." Watford enjoyed plenty of possession but found it hard to break down the Argyle defence. Buzsaky said: "It was very difficult in the second half because Watford, I think, is a good team with good players. They started to play the ball and we had to defend." Argyle's next game is at Nottingham Forest. Buzsaky added: "This victory and the three points was very important, but we have five more matches. It has happened, but it's the past now and we must look forward. We are going to Nottingham Forest at the weekend and that's the most important thing for now. We need to get more points, and we must do our maximum on Saturday."
Bobby Williamson believes Jason Dodd has been vital to Argyle edging clear of the relegation zone. "His contribution has been immeasurable," Williamson said. "He has brought a lot to the team - players of his experience and ability are hard to come by. That's why he has been at Southampton as long as he has - you know what you are getting with him over the years. And now we are getting the best out of him at this moment in time." Williamson also praised the rest of his side for the last two games. "I knew exactly what he would bring to the party when I signed him - and I am pleased, so far, he has not been in a losing side. He has played his part so far, along with the others, as it is very much a team game. He gets everyone organised at the back and he has that experience, which he can pass on to others. He also does not panic in possession, and has good composure. I remember when I brought Ian Durrant to Kilmarnock towards the end of his career. He did the same thing. He made players round and about him better players." Some fans were not happy Argyle relied too much on playing long balls up to Mickey Evans on Tuesday night. Williamson added: "I know we have played better than that other times this season. But we have won the game and I'll take that alone at this time of the season. I would like to see us playing good football, but in the right areas of the park. Look at Crewe and Burnley. I saw highlights of their games on Tuesday night, and they gave goals away through playing too many passes in their own half of the pitch. I would like to see us playing football, that is our aim. Most of all, I want to see us get away from near the bottom."
Argyle beat Watford 1-0 at Home Park, the goal scored by Akos Buzsaky after 10 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Dodd, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Capaldi, Evans, Blackstock. Subs - Taylor, Chadwick, Lasley (not used -Gilbert, Kouo-Doumbe). Attendance - 15,333. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Bobby Williamson does not make a habit of asking Mickey Evans to play two games inside four days or less, but tonight could prove an exception. "Mickey knows his limitations as well as I do," Williamson said, "but he's an influential player for us when he plays as well as he can do. He caused Cardiff a lot of problems on Saturday, he had a good assist for the goal and he was unfortunate not to get himself on the end of Jason Dodd's cross that could have brought us another goal. We'll just need to monitor his fitness. I feel we've got decent strikers at the club and some of them haven't really had a run because of the number of forwards we have." Williamson agreed that his team selection in recent weeks has been a case of 'horses for courses' rather than a quest for the best partnership. "That has been the case, to be honest," he said, "and it's been unfortunate for certain individuals that we've changed the team. Scott Taylor never got enough time on the park on Saturday. That was my decision, but he'll play his part before the end of the season." Williamson knows that making the most of home advantage is crucial this evening. "We've really got to start the game brightly," he said. "I don't think we did that on Saturday. I think Cardiff started a bit better than us. I just hope that, if we get a break or if we get chances, we convert them, because it's important that we do that. If we can get ourselves in front, I'm sure we can keep it that way. I'd be confident that, if we get the first goal, we can go on and win the game. If we concede the first goal, I'm confident that we'll keep battling and that we'll get opportunities to get back in the game. It's whether we take them or not. We took one on Saturday, even though Cardiff defended well and in numbers. That's what we've got to expect at home."
Paul Connolly found his place under threat when Jason Dodd arrived on loan. Dodd had played the majority of his 399 games at right-back, Connolly's position, but in the event made his debut at left-back against Cardiff. Connolly said. "It was a good sign from the gaffer. It's good that he's shown faith in me to keep me at right-back. Jason has played there for most of his career in the Premiership. It's good for the young lads like me and Luke to have Jason there helping us. You can tell he's got so much experience. Even on the training ground today, he was always giving us useful information. That can only improve you as a player. He's always talking to you. On Saturday he was giving me advice at half-time in the dressing-room. It's good for me because he's a player I can look up to, since he's been successful in the Premiership." Connolly is desperate to help Argyle win tonight against Watford. "It's a game we must win," he said. "Even a draw is no good to us. I think we'd have settled for four points from these two home games this week, although obviously we wanted all six. But if we can beat Watford then it brings them even more into the relegation fight and gets us even more out of it." For Connolly, this season has brought his first experience of a struggling team. He said: "I know where I'd want to be. I'd rather be at the top than at the bottom. It's not very enjoyable. It's much more tense, there's more at stake. If we go down, it would be a disaster for everyone because all our hard work of the last two seasons to get where we are now would go out of the window. It's important that we all stick together, so that we pull through this. I think we will. The Argyle team spirit is still there. If the fans think it's gone, then they're wrong. It's embedded into the club."
Bjarni Gudjonsson is still sidelined by a thigh muscle problem. Bobby Williamson said: "Tonight has probably come too early for Bjarni. He is still getting treatment from the physio and working away with him."
Tony Capaldi is hoping Argyle can build on the second half showing in their draw against Cardiff when they meet Watford tonight. He said: "I think that's going to be it now for the rest of the season. I don't really think there is going to be too much pretty football played in any game because they are all so important at this stage. I think there are going to be battles every week and we are up for the challenge. Hopefully, we will get the right results." Capaldi admitted Argyle had been 'a bit flat' in the first half against Cardiff but they turned it around after the break. "We knew we had to step it up in the second half and we came out and did that. I think we totally dominated and caused havoc in their box. A few things didn't fall for us but we got our chance and Has has finished well and we got a well deserved point - and maybe should have got all three. When you are playing teams around you in the league you don't really want to get beaten by them. So a draw, even though we were at home and the fans wanted us to win - as we did ourselves, was not a bad result." Capaldi is hoping Argyle can avenge their defeat by Watford at Vicarage Road in August. He said: "We have got the advantage because we are at home. They beat us at their place, which was disappointing, especially as we dominated the first half. We are looking for a win tonight and we know what to do. We have got to start at the same tempo as we did in the second half against Cardiff and I think if we do that then we will be good enough to win. They have got a new manager and had a bad result at the weekend so it's important we don't let them settle into the game and get a rhythm going. We need to get on top of them early doors - and an early goal would be nice as well." There was an 18,000-plus attendance at Home Park on Saturday and another large turn-out is expected tonight. Capaldi said: "The fans have been great all season. It was a good atmosphere on Saturday and they really kept us going in the second half. Unfortunately, we just didn't get that little break we needed to get the winner but I'm sure the fans will be out in force tonight. It's extremely tight at the bottom but the one good thing about that is if you string two wins together you are basically out of it. It's important we just concentrate on ourselves and not other teams. We had pressure for most of last season, from Christmas onwards, when we were going for promotion and it has been basically the same this year as well so the boys are used to it now. I think we have got enough in our locker to get ourselves out of it."
Hasney Aljofree was relieved to score what could be a crucial goal for Argyle in their fight for survival. "It has been a long time coming," he said. "It gets on my nerves really because I go up for every corner and it seems to always avoid me, or if it comes to me someone gets in front of me, so it was a nice one to score today. I think I should score a lot more. Hopefully, I can get another few goals by the time the season finishes. I remember when I scored the goal I nearly took my top off. Someone said 'don't do it, you have been booked' and I thought 'oh God, yes.' So I nearly lost my head. I got it with my right foot and everyone started laughing at me. It's not my best foot but they all count." Aljofree thought the draw was a valuable point for Argyle, especially as they had lost the previous two matches. He said: "We are disappointed not to win in the end because I think we had a good share of the game and had a lot of chances. But a point today is a big result for us so we can't really complain. At the end of the day, if you don't lose it's a good result, I would have thought. I think we started off very well but they got a corner and Luke pushed it to the edge of the box and no-one was picking up the guy and he scored. Wottsie tried his best to save it but it has gone in the net and it was a big blow to us. Everyone here wants to stay in this league and believes they can play at this level. I think the whole game we showed that the determination was there, especially after recent results, which weren't good enough. The big thing today was to try our hardest - win, lose or draw - to show the fans we are trying our best." Aljofree added: "We did try to win the game today and by us attacking the way we did do it left us open quite a few times but, credit to the boys, everyone dug in. At the end, Paul Wotton ran 60 yards to chase a lad down in the corner. If he hadn't done that, he could have gone on and scored a goal."
Jason Dodd was disappointed not to mark his debut for Argyle with a win on Saturday. He said: "It's disappointing because you play the game to win. I felt we got to grips with it more in the second half. We struggled in the first half. Their two centre-forwards did very well and they played a lot of route one football. We got a grip of it in the second half and, to be fair, I just felt we were a bit unlucky and we couldn't get that last little chance. But we deserved at least a point and it would have been devastating if we had lost the game so the positives are we finished the game strongly. Hopefully, we can take that into the game against Watford on Tuesday." Dodd has made a very positive impression on his team-mates since he arrived at the club and Hasney Aljofree had words of praise for him. Aljofree said: "He's a great talker, has great experience and he helped me out. He's someone good to learn off."
Bobby Williamson admitted that the home game against Watford on Tuesday haa assumed a greater significance after yesterdays draw. "We have got to focus on what we are doing," he said. "We've got Watford here on Tuesday and it's a massive game for us. There's a lot of points to be played for and we're in there, fighting. All I was hoping for at the start of the season was that we'd do ourselves proud and give a good account of ourselves. We have. We've let ourselves down on our travels, but I know the reason for that and we're trying to rectify the situation. It would have been a travesty if we had got nothing out of the game. We worked very hard for the cause and I hope the fans appreciate that and turn up in good voice on Tuesday and get behind us. We played a lot of decent stuff, although Cardiff defended very well. We are the home team and the onus is on us to get at them, keep our fans up, get them onside - to be fair they were brilliant again today - but we just couldn't get that winning goal, which I felt we deserved. We merited that, possessionwise. We were in their last third more than they were in ours. You are always concerned, it gets a bit nervy the longer the game goes on, and they are capable of hitting you on the counter. Thankfully, they never got a second, and I'm disappointed they got a first." Williamson received some criticism after replacing Akos Buzsaky with Dexter Blackstock in the latter stages of the game. "I wasn't prepared to accept a 1-1, so we went with another striker and tried to get the three points," he said. "Unfortunately, that didn't materialise. The fans see all the positive stuff from Akos. I can see the negative as well. This is a young kid who has come in to this club from abroad. He doesn't know the English game yet, he doesn't know what is expected of him. We're hoping he's going to produce a bit of magic to get us a goal, but, defensively, he's still got a lot to learn, although I don't want to be overly critical of him. I can understand fans getting frustrated when they see a good player coming off the park but he will learn what is needed of him. At times, when Akos is in good possession and makes a pass, he tends to play the European style, just taking the weight off the ball too much, and the tempo gets slowed down. I'm trying to explain to him that we can't do that in England because the players we are playing against are going to put pressure on the ball and a slow ball is harder to deal with than one that is zipped in to feet. The fans will not notice that, and I don't expect them to. I just want them to come along and support whoever is on the park, and get behind them, as a majority of our fans do. There's a few who disagree with everything I do, but I can't worry too much about that. I don't think it matters who I take off these days - the fans aren't going to be happy with it. That's part and parcel of football and I've got to accept that but I'm the man who's got to make those decisions. I can't take a poll during the game and ask fans who they think come off. As a manager, I will not be selecting players if they are not doing themselves justice - it doesn't matter if they are important players for us. I've got to be fair to the squad of players and pick the team accordingly. Scott Taylor found himself on the bench, and he was unfortunate. I just though Chadwick's strength would have been more of a bonus for us and more of a problem for them. I though Mickey Evans was superb today. I don't think he lost any balls and caused then all sorts of problems and that's why he stayed on for the full 90 minutes." Williamson also had words of praise for Jason Dodd. "Jason had a good, solid, debut," he said. "He's probably an unsung hero throughout his career. He's a steady Eddie with ability. He knows when to pass the ball, he knows when to hold on to it, and, when he passes it, he usually finds on of our players. He talks and he motivates, and I think he's a good addition."
Argyle draw 1-1 with Cardiff City at Home Park, the goal scored by Hasney Aljofree after 60 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Dodd, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs - Taylor, Blackstock (not used - Lasley, Gilbert, Kouo-Doumbe). Attendance - 18,045. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Bobby Williamson is confident that his team can succeed today. "Team spirit does get knocked at times when results aren't going well," he said yesterday, "but I don't think it's ever been a problem here. There are times in games when maybe there's a lack of fight, but I think that comes down to confidence and experience. Those games have been few and far between. I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of really bad performances we've had this season. I do think it's a travesty that we've been pulled into this relegation dogfight. We're in it, though, but we've got a fighting chance with seven games to go. Nothing will be settled tomorrow. I don't think anything will be settled on Tuesday either, even if we've won or lost both games. It is still an important match tomorrow but, then again, all games are important. I wouldn't want to lose perspective on any of them." Jason Dodd likes what he has seen so far of Argyle's team spirit. "The lads are up for it," he said. "You find out a lot more about players when they're up against it. It's easy for players to perform when you're doing well. This is when we find out if the players have really got the balls to come out and do it. This is when we find out who the true characters are."
Jason Dodd will make his 400th league appearance today, but his first outside the top flight of English football. Yesterday, Dodd said: "I'm a good organiser, I'm a good voice. My distribution is very good, and I'm reasonably good at dead balls. I'm really looking forward to it, and I've settled into the dressing room fantastically well. The lads have made me feel very welcome. The week's training has been fantastic, I've really enjoyed it. I'm just waiting for the big game now." Dodd turned down Brighton, Millwall and West Ham, who all made approaches on transfer-deadline day, to keep his word to Bobby Williamson and sign for Argyle. He hopes to be here until the end of the season, and he has not ruled out the prospect of returning next term. "I'm not saying that I'm only going to be here until the end of the season," he said. "You never know. I still feel great. I still feel fit, but I've been in the game long enough now. If I can't do it, then nobody needs to tell me. I will know that. It's going to be strange, I've not played in this division before. I don't know what to expect or how different it's going to be to the Premiership. I'm looking forward to the challenge and finding out. Hopefully I can bring something to the side that will keep us away from the relegation zone. We've got two massive games coming up, against Cardiff and then Watford on Tuesday. If we can win those two games, then maybe we could push on and achieve a mid-table finish." Dodd has played in many positions over the years, which makes it very hard to predict what role he will fill today. "I've played left-back, right-back, centre-half, right-midfield and centre- midfield," he said. "I've said to the manager that I'll do a job in whatever position he wants me to play. At the end of the day, though, the most important thing against Cardiff will be the result. For me, wherever I play, it's all about getting the three points."
Argyle's under-18's won their Merit Division game against Oxford United 2-0, the goals scored by John Routledge and Chris Reski. Updated under-18's results and table can be found here
Bjarni Gudjonsson is unavailable today after he sustained an injury playing for Iceland on Wednesday against Italy. Tony Capaldi, Peter Gilbert and Dexter Blackstock however, all returned unscathed from international duty. Bobby Williamson said: "Bjarni pulled a muscle in his thigh against Italy and there's no chance for him to recover in time for today. We are not sure about him for Tuesday either. It's a blow but it's something we have got to deal with. Thankfully, the other three have come back and they are fine."
Argyle's reserve game against Cardiff has been re-arranged for April 13th at 7pm
Bobby Williamson is staying tight-lipped about the future of five players who will be out-of-contract this summer. Romain Larrieu, David Worrell, Hasney Aljofree, David Norris and Mickey Evans are all reported to have been offered new deals, but in some cases the length of the contract has been a sticking point. Williamson said: "I'm not prepared to talk about contracts until they are concluded, one way or another. I don't see why we should be highlighting the fact to other clubs that we have got five players coming out of contract."
Luke McCormick believes Jason Dodd will be a valuable addition to the Argyle squad. He said: "I think his experience will be very important to us. We have two young full-backs in Paul and Peter and they can learn a lot off him. You can tell he has played at the highest level just in training. He's also a good talker and I think he's a great addition for us." McCormick has fully recovered from the eye injury he suffered at Sunderland earlier this month. "It was a bit un-nerving at the time," McCormick said. "In the second half I couldn't see a thing out of the eye, which made it very hard. Thankfully, all the blackness and the bruising has disappeared now. It was very sore but it healed up really quickly - quicker than I thought it would - and it never stopped me training."
Jason Dodd is set to make his debut for Argyle against Cardiff tomorrow, but Bobby Williamson is refusing to reveal what position he will play. "I think we have seen in the last half-a-dozen away games that we are missing somebody with a bit of experience and somebody who can communicate and pass on information," said Williamson. "I'm not saying the guys in the team don't do that, but they are not doing it clearly enough in my opinion, and that's why Jason has been added to the squad. I'm hoping he can add that to us, especially away from home." Williamson believes Dodd is relishing the change of scenery. He said: "I think it will take years off him, coming to another club and trying to prove himself. He can play anywhere along the back four and can slip into midfield if necessary so it's good he has got that versatility about him as well in case we do pick up injuries along the way." Williamson cannot wait for a return to competitive action after the fortnight break. He said: "It has been a long two weeks, especially when you have lost the last game. I have learned things about certain individuals from the game and I hope we can rectify the situation tomorrow."
Argyle have launched possible designs for next seasons new home and away kits. Three designs for each can be seen here on the official site and details of how to vote are also there
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