A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle's inconsistent start to the season continued with a 2-1 loss away to Morecambe. Argyle took the lead through another Reuben Reid penalty but held the lead for only a minute before Kevin Ellison equalised for the home side. They got their winning goal through Padraig Amond with 6 minutes left on the clock. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, Branston, Trotman, Berry (Blanchard), Alessandra, Blizzard, Hourihane, Boco (Harvey), Morgan, Reid. Unused subs: Cole, Richards, Young, Blackman.
John Sheridan believes that competition for places is key if the Pilgrims are to be successful this season. John has made seven new signings this summer before adding Neal Trotman to the ranks in the first week of the season. Now, with the transfer window shutting on September, he is hoping that internal pressure for a space in the side will encourage all of his players to shine. "I want to have a strong squad and people fighting for places," said John. "I don't want anybody in their comfort zone thinking that they're going to be playing week in week out. I think it's important that I've got people pushing each other. I've got one or two players fit and looking stronger and it's good because it'll keep people on their toes and fighting for their spot in the side. It's important that whoever has got the shirt at the moment goes out and performs because there's one or two people who are itching and dying to get a game and at the same time, I want them to be ready for when they do get a chance." Although the transfer window closes in a week's time, the loan window will be open. Sheridan said: "I think I've got a good, strong squad at the moment but there are one or two areas that I would like to strengthen if we can. I know what the circumstances are, I know what my budget is and I'll work around that. At this moment in time, everyone's fit and available. Any manager in this league is going to use the loan system and I'm sure that we'll have to use it at some point." Meanwhile, John confirmed that there had been no offers for any of Argyle's current squad, he said: "No one has enquired about any of our players. I wouldn't stand in anybody's way if they get the opportunity to play football if they're not playing here and someone asked about one of our players."
Trialist Hamza Bencherif will keep on training with the club for a while longer following his appearance in Tuesday's development match. John Sheridan said that whilst the Algerian midfielder is behind on his fitness levels, there is enough reason to give him longer to prove his worth: "I know what Hamza's all about. He's played against my teams a couple of times. He's been strong and he's got a presence about him so we'll have a look at him and see how he gets on. I think he lacks match fitness. He played in the game the other day and he did okay but you can see clearly that he hasn't done a pre-season and fitness-wise, he's way behind the other players."
Injured forward Matt Lecointe is making good progress after a successful operation to repair his cruciate ligaments. Whilst he will still be out of first team action for quite some time, Sheridan confirmed that things so far have gone as well as can be expected and he has confidence in Lecointe to make a full recovery: "The operation went very well, by all accounts. It's a long progress. It's really early but it's an injury where you need to take your time and recover from things properly. Everything went really well and lots of players have recovered and gone on to have really successful careers from the same injury. He's a young lad and hopefully we can get him in the best shape we can."
Algerian midfielder Hamza Bencherif played as a trialist for Plymouth Argyle in their "development squad" game against Bristol City at Home Park yesterday. Bencherif was released by Notts County at the end of last term. He spent part of pre-season training with Chesterfield and was on trial at Mansfield Town until last week. Bencherif played for 78 minutes of the game against Bristol City, and the powerful 6ft 3in midfielder was a good attacking threat. Argyle assistant manager Gary Owers said: "The opportunity popped up to have a look at Hamza. He has just come in, so it was difficult for him. He travelled down on Monday night from the Midlands and he has been pitched into the fray. He's going to be here for a couple of days."
Argyle lost 2-1 in a friendly match against a Bristol City development eleven in which a mixture of first team players and apprentices as well as one trialist were fielded. Kevin Krans opened the scoring for Bristol City in the 35th minute before adding his and City's second from the penalty spot shortly after the break. Argyle got a goal back with ten minutes left in the shape of a Tyler Harvey penalty but it did not prove to be enough. Argyle: Cole, Allen, Blanchard, Richards, Purrington, Gurrieri (Lane), Young, A Trialist (Asumadu-Sayki), Blackman, Harvey, Vassell. Subs unused: Hannah, Summers, Wheatley, Hutchinson.
Guy Branston admitted that Plymouth Argyle put in a "Jekyll and Hyde" performance as they beat Rochdale 1-0 at Home Park on Saturday. "As a defender, it's always great to keep a clean-sheet. It was a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde performance if I'm honest," He said. "The first half, we were on the front foot and in their faces. In the second half we sat back and Rochdale had a lot of the ball. Luckily, we held tight and ground out the result. That's two wins out of two, which is brilliant." Marvin Morgan had three good chances in the first half, but was denied by goalkeeper Josh Lillis on each occasion. Conor Hourihane also hit the crossbar with a powerful shot, while Rochdale could not come up with much in response. However, it was a different story after the break. Branston said: "We were probably a bit disappointed to come in at half-time and not have been two or three up. Then, they had an early opportunity to score at the start of the second half and we were on the back foot. You give a good team like Rochdale the ball and they will hurt you. That's what they were doing, and fair dos to them."
John Sheridan believes Argyle can continue to push up the League Two table. "I believe we could be in a really healthy position in three games' time, if the lads believe it. When you are winning football matches, it just builds confidence. You feel better in yourself when you have a won a game and you have jumped some places." Argyle's victory against Rochdale came courtesy of a 25th-minute penalty from Reuben Reid. Rochdale manager and former Argyle defender Keith Hill thought it was a 'soft' penalty. Sheridan expressed his view on this: "It looked like a penalty, but I was far away, but I'm pleased Reuben scored." Argyle created enough chances to have been more than 1-0 up at half-time but Rochdale were on top after the restart. Sheridan believes that the fans played their part in holding on for the win: "We were on the back foot towards the end and the fans were getting behind the team. I have told the players, if they give effort, the fans will stick with us all the way."
Despite the win and good performance in the first 45 minutes yesterday, John Sheridan knows there is still work to be done after having to defend for much of the second half against Rochdale. "I thought we played really well in the first half," said John. "We caused lots of problems and could have had the game sewn up by half-time. One-nil is always precarious. I think the opposition still believed they could get in and full credit to Rochdale, who came out and played. In the second-half, we were sloppy, dropped ten yards, and we didn't hold the ball up front like we did. We just couldn't get going in the second-half. It was definitely a game of two halves, but we've won the game 1-0. It's two wins on the spin after two defeats and that's what we are going to take." Rochdale came at Argyle after the break and forced them into defending for majority of the half. Despite some nervy times, the defence held strong for the team's first clean sheet of the campaign. "Rochdale are a good team," said John. "They played really well against the so-called favourites Chesterfield last week in a game they should have won. I knew it was going to be a tough game. They have good players on the ball and they play good football which causes you problems. It's always a good habit not to concede and end up winning the game which is a plus point and can only breathe a bit of confidence into the players. However well we defended, we shouldn't be defending; we're at home. We're playing Rochdale at home and we dominated the first half so we should have never have ended up scrapping for a point, or in danger of conceding for a point. It should never have got to that stage and that's what the players have to realise to sort out themselves on the pitch." Argyle now sit ninth in the table going into next Saturday's match against Morecombe. "We have to try and get on a run now," John said. "We've got Morecombe and then two home games, so I said to the lads 'There are four or five games that if you believe it – I believe it – we could be in a really healthy position in three games' time. When you look at the league table and you're winning football matches, it always looks different; you feel better in yourself when you've won a game and you've jumped five or six places."
John Sheridan is pleased with the way Ruben Reid and Marvin Morgan are starting to develop an effective partnership: "Strikers get judged on goals: Reuben's got one, Marvin scored last week, hopefully it'll continue and we carry on winning games. Marvin kept going until the end – I know he'll do that. That's what he gives you. But I said to him 'I'd rather you be in the box and think goals'. He worked his socks off and I think he's just a better player when he's playing higher up the pitch; playing against defenders; and playing to his strengths. Likewise with Reuben. They both can cause defenders problems when they play up against them. And, in the first half, and like we saw at Cheltenham, they can be a right handful. They got us going; they affected the game; and they could have scored more goals. Reuben could have slipped Marvin in as well in good areas; Conor's shot hit the bar, which would have made a world of difference; and Rommy had a great chance to just pick someone out." After half-time, the game changed, with the Argyle regressing and Rochdale dominating. "I've told the lads that I'm not happy with the second-half performance, but it's two wins," said John. "It's a good reaction from two early defeats in the league. Sometimes you sacrifice the performance and get the points."
Reuben Reid also acknowledges the growing partnership. After scoring the winning penalty yesterday, Reuben said: "A lot have people have said already that we are a threat at this level, but I don't think we have even got started yet. Physically, we have been good, and at running, but I can't wait until we get that bit of understanding where we're passing well to each other; he's dropping the ball to me and I'm slipping him in; and vice versa. Then we could really be a force as long as we can both stay fit. As a striker at this level, it is nice to have a partner with you; if you are not going to be a passing team and play football, you are going to need someone next to you, sharing the bulk of the...I don't want to say 'donkey-work' but, effectively, that's what it is, really. When it's just you up there, it's like you are a lone ranger, so it's nice to have someone next to you who is obviously a willing runner and physical, as well. Then things open up for you and you have a lot more space to play." Now he is setting his sights are on making it a hat-trick of wins next week. "With the players that had come in and the way pre-season went, we were really disappointed with the results at Southend and Fleetwood," said Reuben. "Not just the results – I personally thought that the way we played at Southend was abysmal. It's always a long week after a loss and it's not a nice feeling, so it'll be good to go into this week, knowing you have won. Hopefully we can build on that, have a good week's training and get ready for Morecambe."
Argyle today recorded their second win in a row and the first home win of the season beating Rochdale 1-0 at Home Park. Reuben Reid scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot halfway through a first half which Argyle dominated. Rochdale had the better of the goalless second half but the greens stayed firm to secure the win. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, Trotman, Branston, Berry, Allessandra, Blizzard (Young), Hourihane, Boco (Blackman), Morgan, Reid (Gurrieri). Substitutes (not used): Cole, Blanchard, Richards, Harvey.
John Sheridan has confirmed that Paul Wotton will soon return to first team action after suffering broken ribs on the opening day of the season at Southend. The Argyle manager explained how Wotton is set to become available again within the next fortnight and has made progress quicker than expected: "Wottsy has started running now and is only about 10 days to two weeks away from being available. He's been running and doing bits that I wouldn't have thought he would be doing so I'll probably say two weeks and he'll be available."
Sheridan additionally spoke of how he felt his team was finally starting to properly gel together. Despite Argyle's poor start to the season, the excellent win at Cheltenham last Saturday in addition to a number of previously unavailable players now back up for selection have provided the manager with some hope for sustained success. He said: "I've started to see the team gel in patches, but I don't want it to be up and down all season. I've brought in a number of new players and some are still getting used to knowing peoples strengths. Football's about knowing each others strengths as they are all different for different players. We have one or two coming back with Maxy and Jake returning this week and Brano and Andres returning last week we look quite strong. We've got a couple of young players in the squad who are learning so I have 14 or 15 strong players. Any one of them can play but I can only pick 11 however I think we are strong in most departments now. The ones who aren't involved in Saturday will figure in the game against Bristol City midweek. It's important we keep them fit for if they get the chance to play they will be ready to slot in. Regarding Jake's injury, he should be ready for Saturday and contesting a place in the side." Finally, he elaborated that we would soon see who the number one goalkeeper for the foreseeable future would be and that the rotation between the sticks would come to an end: "I won't keep swapping and changing the 'keepers, I don't think that's right. I want whoever gets the number one spot and is in the team to work hard to stay in the team. Likewise the one who isn't, I want him to work hard to try and force his way in and when his chance comes to grab it with both hands."
Meanwhile, Marvin Morgan has come to the defence of his strike partner Reuben Reid in the face of criticism from sections of supporters. Morgan believes that Reid's body language has been misunderstood and is not a fair reflection of his true character or style of play, saying: "Reubs is only young but he has had a few clubs. He's a really good player. I have seen good things from him in training and we are starting to get an understanding. I think fans will look at Reubs and think he doesn't care and talk about his body language but that's just him as a player. I run around. I try to tackle and I argue with the referee. I'm probably everything that fans love to see from a player. Reubs is a different character to me and I think sometimes you have to understand players and understand people's characters. Some people are different than others. Reubs is a massive player for us and I think he does do a lot.". He went on to speak in glowing terms of Tyler Harvey, for whom he has great hopes for the future: "Young Tyler is unbelievable. I'm telling you this now, he's going to be a massive player in the future. He has got a lot of ability and I get on well with the lad. He's going to be a really good player for Plymouth Argyle."
The date and ticket information for Argyle's Johnstone's Paint Trophy match at Cheltenham has been announced. The tie will take place on Tuesday, September 3, kick-off 7.45pm. Tickets will be priced at £10 for adults and £5 for over 65s and under 16s and will be available from the Home Park Ticket Office later this week.
Marvin Morgan is feeling relaxed, having scored his first goal for Argyle. "You don't want to be selfish as a striker, but as a new player you really do need to get the first league goal out of the way. It gets you settled down and more relaxed, and feeling confident in yourself. We had a really good week in training last week. It was hard but enjoyable and we got a lot out of it. I felt confident going into the game against Cheltenham I was going to score. That's just because of the week of training. The gaffer knows what he wants from us and now we know what he wants. We are a new team because we haven't played with each other before, and I think what we do in training in the next couple of weeks is going to be crucial in how we play and how we go into games. I think Saturday showed what we have got in store. We didn't play to the best of our ability but we won 3-1 and it could have been more." Describing his goal, Morgan said: "Trots did well to win the header and the gaffer is always on our case about second balls. All I was thinking was 'hit the target'. The goal is massive and you know where it is, but you might try to put so much power into the header that it goes over the bar. As Sean McCarthy says to me, six-yard goals are bread and butter ones for strikers. I have grown up like that. When I was playing in non-league, I had a manager who told me 'your six-yard goals are crucial'. Anything from outside the box is a wonder goal for a striker. Anything from six yards is what you are paid to do. I love the ball to my feet. I like to run with it and dribble, but, at the end of the day, I get judged on goals. That's the harsh realities of football. I could have 20 man-of-the-match performances but if I have got no goals I'm quite worthless. As long as I get my goals and assists, and play well for the team overall and work hard, I will be happy." Morgan believes he is already benefiting from working under Sheridan. He said: "The gaffer is one of the reasons why I came here. I had offers from other teams who might have given me a better financial deal, but you need to be playing for a manager who is going to bring the best out of you, and I believe he will. I just have to get used to him, and I think I am. I have started to understand him and he has started to understand me, as a player and a person."
Reflecting on the 3-1 win away at Cheltenham, Conor Hourihane has admitted it was about time Argyle put in a good performance. "It was a massive relief and about time we put in a good performance as well. If we had gone three League games without having a good performance, people would have been getting more edgy and frustrated. That is the standard we are going to set now and, hopefully, we can take it on from here, it was a really good, solid performance. It's fantastic when you go 3-0 up away from home in the first half, It makes your job a lot easier," he added, "but I was disappointed with the goal we conceded. We wanted a clean-sheet, but you can't complain really about 3-1." Continuing, Connor appreciated the contribution of his team mates: "Marvin was a handful, and so was Reuben. I think there were a couple of us, myself included, who hadn't been up to scratch since the start of the season, especially in the two League games. So we were happy on Saturday that it all came together. It was great for the two lads, Morgan and Boco,to get off the mark, especially Rommy. He didn't have a proper pre-season. He came in halfway through and you can see game by game he is getting better and better. He's definitely one who can chip in with goals, and Marvin is going to get you goals regardless. He's a good player for this league." Hourihane, on the scoresheet himself, said: "I hit it clean. It was a good strike. I always say that as a midfielder you need to chip in with the goals. I like to get forward but the gaffer has me holding a little bit with Dominic Blizzard, which is fine. I get myself to the edge of the box and, if anything comes out to me, that's my opportunity to score goals, so I'm happy with that." Now he's looking forward to the next match of the season, home to Rochdale, who have picked up four points from their first three games, including a 2-2 draw at home to Chesterfield last Saturday. "In the two years I have been here, we have struggled to get back-to-back wins. After our first win away, to a tough Cheltenham team, we are looking to kick on now."
John Sheridan says his side can challenge for promotion after earning their first points of the season with a 3-1 win at Cheltenham. "I don't want to talk about relegation, I want to talk about play-offs and promotion. I think we can get out of this league in my first full season at the club." He added: "If that puts pressure on me then so be it. I've got to get that into the players. If we perform like we did against Cheltenham the fans will support us non-stop but if you play like we did at Southend and against Fleetwood then it's not good enough. I'll accept losing football matches but the manner in which we lost the first two league games wasn't good enough and we didn't deserve anything from the games. This was a good performance and you can just feel a bit of a lift. We've done things a little bit differently on the training ground. The players have taken on board what we're trying to do and where we're trying to go." Argyle went 3-0 up in the first half, but Sheridan insisted there was still room for improvement. "I might moan when we're 3-0 up because I'm still looking for things we can do better," he said. "That's the way I am - we're not a good enough team to take our foot off the pedal. Cheltenham are a very good home team but in the first 10 minutes we got away with a couple of things which we didn't against Fleetwood - that's football. After that we looked very comfortable. Obviously getting three goals in the first half is always a good cushion for you to take into the second half but I thought it was a very good all-round team performance."
John Sheridan has stated his pleasure in the performance from the re-shaped defence which played their part in the Cheltenham win. John recalled Guy Branston to partner Neal Trotman in the centre of the back four, played Curtis Nelson at right back, and switched Durrell Berry to the left. With Luke McCormick also brought back to keep goal, the back line was breached only once by a deflected free-kick. "I think the results we have had made me throw Guy Branston in and he didn't let himself down. We'd lost two games and hadn't played well. It was similar to last year when I threw him in. He can talk for fun – we all know that – so he's a presence. He does what he does – heads it, kicks it – and I though he did very well today. We know what he's about. It's a tight pitch and Cheltenham put you under pressure, but he and Neal are dominant players when the ball is in the air. You can see the presence they've got. They are both big, tall, strong, aggressive in the air. You won't get many better at heading the ball. They are not Lawrenson and Hansen, but they did very well today as a partnership, the first time they had played together." Playing Durrell Berry on the opposite wing to usual also had an impact, "I put Durrell at left-back because of Jermaine McGlashan. If he gets in a game, he can dictate but I thought we kept the two wingers very quiet – Sam Deering is a very good player as well. I played him at left-back in pre-season, against MK Dons, and he didn't look out of place, and he has started the season really well, so I was very comfortable with the decision I made. Durrell did his job and I think Nelson did well at right-back, as well. We look solid, other than the first ten minutes."
"It's a tough place to come to – they don't lose many games at home – so I was very pleased to get the three points." That was John Sheridan's summation of Argyle's 3-1 dismantling of Cheltenham yesterday, after ending their 21-game unbeaten home run. "It was a very good team performance," said John. "We can feel a bit of a lift at the first win." Despite the recent lack of goals, John had showed faith with the same midfield and attack and was rewarded with some fine team goals in an attacking display led by Morgan and Reuben Reid. "For an hour, those two played really well, I like my strikers playing as strikers. Everyone's playing this 'striker up front and one in the hole', a Dennis Bergkamp, but we're in the second division and we're not Arsenal, so I want my strikers to play as strikers. I told them to both play up and play high up the pitch and I think you could see the difference. Marvin was tremendous today, with his work-rate, and Reuben, again. It's good to get three goals from different scorers, and different players involved. I know I've got players who can score in attacking areas; if we all chip in with what I think they could get over the season, I think we'll be okay. It was good Rommy got a goal, another player who worked his socks off." Despite the easy win, John believes there is even more to come from his players. "I'm even moaning when we are 3-0 up because I think we still do things on the pitch that we can do better," he said. "I could take my foot off the pedal and think '3-0 and we've won the game' but I'm not like that. We're not a good enough team to think that, so we've got to keep on our toes. I won't change, whether we win or lose. I've got to believe and stick to my beliefs. That's just the way I am."
Argyle put in a much improved performance to secure a 3-1 win away at Cheltenham Town. Goals from Marvin Morgan, Conor Hourihane and Romuald Boco gave Argyle a three goal lead at half time. Matt Richards clawed one back for Cheltenham midway through the second half, but it wasn't enough to stop Argyle taking all three points. Argyle: McCormick, Berry, Branston, Trotman, Nelson, Hourihane, Alessandra (Gurrieri), Boco, Blizzard (Young), Reid (Harvey),Morgan. Substitutes (not used): Hannah, Richards, Purrington.
Argyle have been drawn to play away at Cheltenham in the first round of this season's Johnstone's Paint Trophy. The tie will be played in the week commencing September 2, 2013.
John Sheridan says that he has maintained his faith that the current Argyle side can produce goals. Whilst acknowledging the poor start to the season and lack of scoring potency thus far, Sheridan still believes that his loyalty in his players will be rewarded, stating: "It's a big concern. With the players I have got in and around my team in attacking areas, I don't think we have had enough good attempts at goal. It's a big concern because goals are going to win you football matches and, at this moment in time, we don't look like we are going to score, but I have got faith in them. I'm going to stay strong and believe in my players. I think that's the only way forward. We have done a lot in training towards that this week and, hopefully, it will pay off on Saturday." He did not however rule out moving for new additions in the transfer market: "We are always looking for players and if they become available James Brent, Martyn Starnes and Jason Turner are all willing to help. If I feel it's right and we need to bring someone in I'm sure the support will be there."
In other news, the Devon Expressway Derby away to Exeter City on Saturday October the 5th has been moved from a 3pm kick-off to 1pm for police reasons.
James Brent's plans for the regeneration of Higher Home Park, including a redeveloped grandstand for PAFC have been unanimously approved by councilors in what will go down in history as a landmark day for the club and the city. The scheme which will include a new grandstand for the club and a range of retail and leisure facilities had planning permission approved by a council vote at the planning hearing this afternoon. The development will begin this Autumn and will conclude at an unspecified time in 2015. James Brent said: "Securing planning consent is an important milestone and heralds a new and exciting chapter for Plymouth. I would like to put on record my sincere thanks to the overwhelming number of individuals and representative groups who worked with us on the shaping of the scheme and for supporting what we want to achieve for them and future generations. What we propose is not a departure from what city forefathers wanted when they set aside Higher Home Park and Central Park for the recreational enjoyment of local people. We will be faithful to this vision but offer a range of new indoor and enhanced outdoor amenities. Clearly in the 1920s no one would have anticipated a time when IMAX cinema technology would entertain film lovers from across the region, but we are also funding over £1.1 million of improvements to the surrounding parkland because we recognise that exercise in the fresh air is an enduring leisure activity for many. Plymouth deserves to have sporting and leisure facilities and hospitality services it can be proud of."
The news is also met with approval from Argyle's staff. New Chief Executive Martyn Starnes spoke of the commercial possibilities: "Revenue from the new grandstand is as vital to the progress of the club as what happens on the pitch. We need to improve our performances and attract more supporters to come to watch matches in better-quality facilities. Providing high-quality hospitality for our fans on match-day, and from functions during the rest of the year, will help generate the additional revenue that can be invested in a team to take us back up the leagues. It is a virtuous circle - greater performances, greater attendances, greater revenue, greater investment - which the club needs." John Sheridan added: "If you are not excited by them, there's something wrong with you – the plans look excellent. It'll make the stadium a brilliant stadium to come and play football in."
Sheridan has also told defender Maxime Blanchard to take as much compassionate leave as he needs from Home Park, following the death of his brother. The club confirmed that Blanchard was told the news at the end of last week and is currently taking leave. The manager said: "Our thoughts are with Maxy, and we have left it with him," said John. "It's a sad thing to happen to anybody – we worry about football matches and getting a result, then things like that happen. Obviously football is the last thing on his mind. I'm sure that, when he's ready, he'll come back. I've told him not to worry about anything else, 'just do what you have to do'."
Guy Branston played for an hour on his comeback from a calf injury when a Plymouth Argyle XI lost 2-0 away to Yeovil Town yesterday. Branston had been out of action since the 0-0 pre-season draw away to Bath City on July 16. Guy put in a typically strong defensive display before he was replaced after an hour by Tom Moxham. Coach Gary Owers said, "Brano played for an hour and came through it fine. We will see how he is tomorrow."
Former Argyle players will be among those taking part in a Legends Cup tournament this weekend to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Devon FA. Argyle, Exeter City and Torquay United will be represented, and there will also be a Devon FA team. The tournament will take place at the Devon FA headquarters at Coach Road, Newton Abbot, on Sunday. Argyle have been drawn against Exeter in the first semi-final at 1pm, before Torquay take on the Devon FA Legends (1.45pm). The Legends Cup final will then kick-off at 3.30pm. The gates open at 12noon and entry for the day will be £2, with under-12s free.
An Argyle eleven today lost 2-0 to a Yeovil Town eleven in a behind closed doors friendly game at Huish Park. Former Argyle loanee Dean Parrett started the game in central midfield for The Greens having been training with the club this week. Yeovil midfield trialist Conor Henderson and striker Kieffer Moore scored the two goals of the game. Argyle: McCormick, Vassell, Richards, Branston, Purrington, Gurrieri, Parrett, Young, Allen, Lane, Harvey. Substitutes:Hannah, Asumadu-Saki, Wheatley, Moxham, Hall.
Meanwhile, former Argyle striker Warren Feeney's move to Salisbury City has been rubberstamped. Whilst Feeney had been training with his new club and had agreed a deal for weeks, he has only recently put pen to paper on a deal which will see him take up a joint role as player/assistant manager with Salisbury.
Jake Cole has explained how he feels that his competition with Luke McCormick for the Argyle number one spot is healthy for both players and to the team. Cole: "I'm always happy to play. Me and Luke work really well together. He's an excellent 'keeper and we can push each other along.Obviously, it's a close one to call, and it will be tough throughout the season, but that's credit to the gaffer for giving us both a contract. Luke is a top man so I would never have a problem with him. If we can push each other along then it's only good for the club." Cole went on to express his confidence that Argyle can overcome on pitch problems this season following their poor start to the season: "The gaffer keeps on top of us. He's very strict within his work. That's the way we all know he is, but I think everyone was very frustrated after the game on Saturday. Our squad this season is a lot stronger and there is more competition for places. With the players the gaffer has brought in, I'm sure we will all pull together and we will be moving in the right direction."
John Sheridan has declared himself to be very pleased with Durrell Berry's contribution so far this season. "Durrell has started the season really well," said John, after the 2-0- home defeat to Fleetwood. "I'll pick him out, which I don't usually do, but he is the one that is playing at a level which I expect the other players to be doing. He's on the front foot, he's doing his job, and is in people's faces. He's played against Junior Brown today and he's kept him quiet. He's done his job, and that's what I expect. That's what he has done in every game he has played. Even at Southend, where there weren't many plusses, I think he was one of them. He's giving me a seven or eight out of ten, and I need six of seven of them. If we do that, we'll pick results up."
An Argyle XI will take on Bristol City in a Development fixture at Home Park on Tuesday, August 27. The match kicks off at 2pm and will be open to the public. Argyle members will gain free entry while non-member adults will be be charged £2 with concessions gaining entry for just £1.
After the 2-0 home defeat by Fleetwood on Saturday, John Sheridan was keen to stress that he does not feel that his players are falling short when it comes to physical effort, but that perhaps the problem thus far lies within the heads of his men. "We've got to stay focused," he said, "It's only two games but, performance-wise, we're just not at the races. There were probably nine or ten players not at the races. They put the effort in, but they didn't put any thought into the game and what they were doing. It's too many. You can get by and get a result when it's one or two, but when it's seven, eight, nine, you don't get a result. It's not about running around and looking like you're working hard. Sometimes your mind takes care of how you play. I get frustrated that we're taking corners and they end up taking a shot at goal. It's ridiculous. Everyone knows what their jobs are." After naming the same team that started at Birmingham, John saw Argyle put Fleetwood under early pressure. However, they gifted David Ball a goal in the tenth minute, and allowed him to get his second within minutes of the restart. "I thought we started really well, on the front foot and got at them a little bit. The killer was the two goals. At the time, it was against the run of play, very quick after each other, and you find yourself 2-0 down. We just didn't pick up after the two goals. Full credit to Fleetwood, who kept catching us on the break, but we just totally switched off. That shouldn't be the case. It doesn't matter that it's 2-0, there was still 75 or 80 minutes to go, plenty of time."
Argyle lost their opening home fixture of the new season 0-2, going down to two quick David Ball goals in the first half. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Trotman, Nelson, Blackman, Alessandra, Hourihane, Blizzard (Young), Boco (Gurrieri), Morgan, Reid (Harvey). Substitutes (not used): Richards, McCormick, Purrington, Lane.
After the disappointment of the opening match of the season, John Sheridan looks forward to tomorrow's home tie against Fleetwood Town. "They have got good players; have spent a bit of money for this league; and have brought one or two players in who know this league. They are one of the teams that are fancied by everyone, so I expect a very tough game, but we have got to concentrate on ourselves: if we go out with the mentality we did the other night, I know we've got a good team with good players." He continued to talk about the improvement at Birmingham, "To perform like we did against Southend was a big letdown for me, but, full credit to the players, I thought they responded really well. We worked our socks off; there was plenty of effort; and we created a lot of problems for Birmingham, who are a really good team, in my eyes. It was a shame we didn't get anything out of the game, but it was a good response from the players. That's what I wanted, more than anything. I can accept getting beaten as long as we put our workload in and do things the way I know we can do them. If we can set that standard and keep that over six, seven, eight, nine, ten games consistently, we will win more games than we lose." Despite the midweek match requiring extra time, John is happy the players will be more than ready for Saturday's showdown. "I don't look for any excuses," he said. "I think Tuesday was a good test for us, good for our fitness. There were one or two tired legs, but we got through the game well. I thought we finished quite strongly."
John Sheridan took some pride from the 2-3 extra time defeat at Birmingham City last night, though admittedly tinged with a few regrets. "The big plus from the game is the performance," he said. "The players have responded really well. I'm very pleased with the performance. It's just a shame we didn't get anything out of the game. The performance was a massive improvement and it's that level of performance that we have to take into our league programme. The first goal, after the break, we switched off. Our shape was okay and we were defending well, and then five minutes later we go out and concede. Then Jake's made a great save from the penalty. In extra-time you say: 'Go on – believe, because we're right in this game'. But we switched off again. We believed we could get something out of the game, and we came back from behind twice. That's a good thing – we showed character. Even at 3-2, we kept pushing. We weren't frightened of trying to get the equaliser." On Saturday, Fleetwood Town visit Argyle's first home game of the season, and the manager knows he has plenty to do. "There's a lot of tired legs in there; they're aching," he said. "But we'll rest them as much as we can to get them prepared for Saturday's game. It's our first home game. I'd love to get off to a winning start for our support. I thought our support was unbelievable tonight. They're unbelievable, the way they get behind the team. I think they got behind the team the way they did because they saw the effort the players were putting in. I would have loved to have just got to penalties and given us something to shout about. But we've just got to carry on improving out performances. It wasn't the result on Saturday against Southend, it was the way we played, because I know we're a lot better team than that. And I think, tonight, showed it. If we play like that we'll be alright in our division."
Lewi Alessandra thinks the first goal he netted in Argyle colours is the best he has ever scored. "The ball broke, I just came on to it, got a good touch, and it sat up for me to hit perfectly," he said. "I was just happy to see it fly in the top corner. I struck it very cleanly. I've scored many in training that are similar, maybe, but probably it was my best in a game situation. I was happy to do it on that side so I could celebrate in front of the fans - I'll take that for my first one." Lewi also scored a late equalizer to take the game into extra time. "The second one probably felt better, due to the timing," said Lewi. "It wasn't as good a finish but the timing gave ourselves a chance in extra-time and I enjoyed the celebrations."
Argyle today lost 3-2 after extra-time in the first round of the league cup away to Championship side Birmingham City. Birmingham twice took the lead in normal time but were twice pegged back Lewis Alessandra's first and second goals for the club. The home side however took the lead for a third time very shortly after extra time commenced and this time Argyle did not reply. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Trotman, Nelson, Blackman, Alessandra, Blizzard (Young), Hourihane, Boco(Vassell), Reid (Harvey), Morgan. Substitutes (not used): McCormick, Richards, Purrington, Lane.
The Chairman of the Plymouth Argyle Supporters' Board has given a strong endorsement to the plans for a new grandstand at Home Park. Edmund Shillabeer has called on Plymouth City Council's planning committee to 'support our football club' when they meet on Thursday, August 15. The proposed 4,800-seat grandstand would be part of a wider £50 million redevelopment of Higher Home Park by Akkeron Group. There would also be a 10-screen cinema, 120-bed hotel and 1,500-seat ice rink on the site, plus a 400-space car park and retail outlets. There has been criticism from some supporters, including the Argyle Fans' Trust, about several aspects of the multi-million pound plans. The Trust believe the grandstand is too small and that further redevelopment of Home Park will be prevented by an access road surrounding the stadium which will lead to the cinema and hotel. But Shillabeer has issued a statement in which he makes it clear the PASB back the plans for the grandstand. He said: "The Plymouth Argyle Supporters Board welcomes the decision to replace the existing grandstand at Home Park as part of the redevelopment of Higher Home Park. The PASB represents supporters from all sections of the fanbase, both organised groups and individual members. We welcome the fact that the new stand will be financed from the other developments at Higher Home Park and at no cost and, therefore, no debt to the football club or the city. We acknowledge that many fans would have liked a larger stand built, as would we, but we see the grandstand development as of critical importance to the future financial stability of our beloved Argyle. This is why on August 15 we urge the planning committee and all councillors on Plymouth City Council to support our football club. Despite our recent troubles, Plymouth Argyle is still the city's major brand. It is about time our stadium was completed and without a single penny of council tax payer's money. When people say 'not now, later', we say 'the time is now'. Let's finish the job."
Argyle have signed Neal Trotman until January as they seek additional defensive cover in the wake of an injury to Paul Wotton who broke his ribs during Argyle's 1-0 defeat by Southend on Saturday. Trotman will team up with manager John Sheridan for the third time in his career, having previously played under him at Oldham and Chesterfield. He was available as a free agent after being released by Chesterfield and has also played at Preston and Rochdale. "He's come here to play and he'll play tomorrow," said John Sheridan. "He's a good player, he's big and strong; and he's done very well for me in the past. I'm very pleased to have signed him and glad that he was available. I'd like to think that he'll fit in very well here. He's very aggressive with his game and he's an old fashioned centre-half – good in both boxes." He continued: "We are struggling with one or two injuries in that department so I needed a quick fix with the games coming up. I thought it was ideal to go and get Neal. He'll come in, give us a bit of presence and It's up to him to get a place in the side. He's been doing pre-season with a number of other clubs who wanted to sign him but he didn't feel it was the right move. I know him, he knows me, and hopefully he'll come in and impress."
Marvin Morgan admitted he felt for the Green Army after the defeat at Southend. "The disappointing thing is we didn't perform well," said Marvin. "It was 1-0 and people might think it was a tight game, but Southend played really well and we weren't good enough. I feel sorry for the fans who came all the way to watch us. It was a tough game. It was a scrappy game for a striker. It was just a battling game, more than anything. No-one was in the game to influence the game. We have got to bounce back. We have got bigger games to play and tougher games to play. There are going to be ups and downs and, obviously, we are hoping to be, at the end of the season, in or around where we need to be."
John Sheridan was very disappointed with Argyle's performance at Southend which resulted in a 0-1 defeat. John said: "I'm very disappointed with the performance. It was the first game of the season and I expected a lot more. I don't think we got going at all. We had one or two little chances in the second half but Southend deserved the victory. You do all the running in pre-season and you look sharp and fit as anything and then the first game comes along and everyone looked tired. At the end of the day, I had too many players who didn't perform and it cost us." He continued: "I expect us to play a lot better but I have just got to let it go now. I have let the players know what I think. We need to sort it out as quickly as possible. We wanted to come here and get off to a good start. We didn't get going at all and I thought we looked really leggy. And the reason we looked leggy was because we gave the ball away so many times it was unbelievable." Southend did not allow Argyle any time on the ball when they were in possession and the visitors could not come up with a response to that. "Obviously, it was a home game for Southend and you expect them to be coming at you, but I expected us to deal with it. I expected us to cause them a lot more problems than we did. There are no excuses, we just didn't get going at all. It shouldn't be the case, though, the first game of the season. I didn't see that coming. I don't take any positives from the game," added John. "I don't think any player performed the way I want them to."
Jake Cole looks set to start the League Cup first round tie at Birmingham City tomorrow. John Sheridan said: "Jake could play at Birmingham and then I will make my decision who's going to be the regular No 1. I have said it before, they are both evenly matched. I thought Luke did well at Southend."
Argyle suffered a blow at Southend when Paul Wotton was substituted at half-time because of a rib injury. Paul was hurt in a collision with goalkeeper Luke McCormick towards the end of the first half and needed treatment on the pitch from physio Paul Atkinson. He did not come out for the second half and was taken to hospital for X-rays, with Jamie Richards replacing him at centre-back. John Sheridan said: "I think it is a rib injury. We will just have to wait and see until he gets back from hospital."
Argyle started their new League Two campaign with a disappointing 0-1 defeat by Southend United at Roots Hall. Southend took the lead through striker Barry Corr in the 14th minute and that proved enough to secure all three points. Argyle: McCormick, Berry, Wotton (Richards), Nelson, Blackman, Alessandra, Blizzard (Young), Hourihane, Boco, Reid (Harvey), Morgan. Substitutes (not used): Cole, Vassell, Purrington, Lane.
John Sheridan will be without both centre-backs for Argyle's season-opening trip to Southend United in League Two tomorrow. Maxime Blanchard starts a two-match suspension, which will also include the League Cup first round tie away to Birmingham City on Tuesday and Guy Branston is ruled out by a calf injury.
Owner and chairman James Brent says Argyle are capable of returning to the Championship. "We have to be a lot more smart in the way we use our facilities to generate income. We do believe it's a Championship club and there's the capacity to do that sustainably, we'd clearly like to see the club move back to the Championship - that's the direction of travel. But we've deliberately not put pressure by saying we have to achieve promotion this season. But John Sheridan is incredibly competitive and puts pressure on himself to excel."
John Sheridan had stated that the play-offs were his aim for this season. Sheridan said: "The first aim is to get the points to stay up, which is usually 50, although it was 52 last season. Any manager will tell you that, and then you will look at anything above that. I think we can be pushing in and around the play-offs – I really do – and even automatic [promotion]. I like putting pressure on myself. The players know where I want to go and what I want. I'm not someone who is going to be hoping we finish tenth and it's a success on last season. Tenth doesn't get us anything really, does it? I want to be in the play-offs, and in and around the promotion area."
Argyle's youngsters finished this year's Northern Ireland Milk Cup with a defeat, losing 2-0 to Country Down, but that does not detract from their achievement of finishing eighth out of 20 teams in the Junior Section.
John Sheridan has been speaking about his squad in the run up to the season start at Southend on Saturday. Left-back Andre Blackman in particular has been getting a fair bt of press attention. "Andre is going to be a good player for us," said John, in response to press enquiries about the ex Celtic defender. "I was very pleased to get him. I have got one or two younger players who can fill that role but I don't think they're quite ready to start as a first-choice. He's naturally fit, very sharp. He's got that in his locker. He's trained with us for ten days now and I like the look of him. It's about game-time now." With Andre on board, John is content with his squad – although, like most managers, he would not mind the odd tweak here and there in the coming months. He said: "I'm realistic – I know what my budget is. I feel as though I've got a good enough squad if I can get everyone fit: we've got Guy Branston, Andres Gurrieri and Max Blanchard, who is suspended, who can come back and, all of sudden, it looks really strong. There are one or two players who I would like to bring in if I can work one or two things out, which will probably happen, but, at this moment in time, if we can keep everyone fit, I am quite optimistic we can start the season well. On paper, we have got some very hard games, so it is important we hit the ground running." One player who remains in John's thoughts is Jordan Gele, who has left the Westcountry after impressing in a midweek game at Clevedon. "I would like to another look at him," said John. "I thought he did alright at Clevedon, but, with a first-team game on Saturday and on Tuesday, it would be difficult to have a good look at him. We are arranging one or two reserve games, so he will probably figure in the next few weeks. "Whoever wears the colours this season, they will be assured of the best support in the division; around 1,000 members of the Green Army are set to invade Roots Hall. "They have supported us really strongly," said John. "The away support has been unbelievable. I know they will be there in their numbers. We had a very good result there last season; if we can give the same sort of performance, we will have a good chance."
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