A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Carl Fletcher has admitted Argyle are facing another fight against relegation. Asked whether his team were in a battle to beat the drop, he replied: "Yes, definitely, as it stands. With our performances we shouldn't be anywhere near where we are, but you have to deal with the situation thrown at you. It's obviously disappointing not to get the result today because we have been on a good run. We will just get on with it." The transfer window opens on New Year's Day and Fletcher wants to add to his squad. He said: "Money-wise, there is nothing there to splash out with. That's the business side of football you have to deal with. There are definitely people we want to get in, and we want to get them in straight away, but we can't do it until we get the finances right." Alex MacDonald is a transfer target for Fletcher in January and reports also suggest he is interested in Southampton's former Argyle left-back Ryan Dickson. Dickson has not played any first team football for Saints this season and attended Argyle's the draw with Torquay United at Home Park on Boxing Day.
Darren Purse wants a speedy resolution to his future, after being told he can leave Argyle during the transfer window. He said: "I'm taking every game as it comes. I enjoy playing down here. There are one or two irons in the fire at the moment but there are things to be discussed. We will see. I don't think anything is going to happen in the next week or so. After that, when we have got a free week, it might all change but at this minute in time I'm a Plymouth player. I will carry on playing as well as I can do for the club that are employing me. If anything is going to happen, I want to get it done sooner rather than later. I don't really want this hanging over my head too much. It's not a nice thing to have hanging over your head. It's the first time in my career I have been put on the transfer list. It doesn't sound nice, but that's just the way it goes. I understand why it has been done and I hope there will be a conclusion to it over the next week or two." Meanwhile, Purse made no excuses after Argyle's the defeat by Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday. He said: "It's tough to take. They have had one shot on target and scored. We can't keep missing chances. It was an opportunity for us to win a game of football and we didn't take the chances that were given to us. It's not just the forwards. It's a team thing. We need more quality in the final third." Purse held his hand up to one missed chance in the second half, when he headed wide from a corner taken by Luke Young. He said: "I hate getting beat and I think everybody in the dressing room is hurting after that. It's a tough defeat to take but you have to come out fighting, and we have got to go and do that at Bristol Rovers. There is no point crying about it. We have lost a game of football we didn't deserve to lose. Now we need to go and produce another performance similar to today and, hopefully, we can stick the chances away." Bristol Rovers are 23rd in League Two, above only Wimbledon on goal difference. Purse added: "It's a massive game. They are not on a good run and have got a new manager. They have had a day's rest today because their game was called off, so everything is probably in their favour. We need to come out and prove to everybody we are a good side."
Argyle are due to play Bristol Rovers on New Year's Day, and will face a Rovers side a little fresher than they are. Rovers' home game with Rotherham on December 22nd was postponed, and their fixture with Cheltenham this weekend also fell foul of the weather. Carl Fletcher will assess his squad to try to ensure the best result possible. "Rest is important," he said. "It's a key factor in getting ready for the game. There's not a lot of work you can get in, in a short space of time. We're travelling up on Monday evening to be ready for a one o'clock kick off. They didn't play today and they didn't play the other day. We've had two games where they've had none. We've got a few bumps and scrapes. Baz came off with blurred vision from his bang on the head, so we'll have to wait and see. But we've got good players who can come in and produce something."
After an afternoon where his side largely dominated the game but came away pointless against Wycombe Wanderers, Carl Fletcher had one word to sum up his feelings. "Frustrating," he said. "It's disappointing not to get a result because we've been on a good run and should have got a lot more. We dominated about 90% of the game. Wycombe had one chance and scored, and we didn't score. That was about it. In everything apart from the final third, we dominated and were really good. The lads' effort and work-rate was great, but we didn't put the ball in the back of the net. We dominated start to finish, but couldn't get that goal. We could have been 3-0 up after eight minutes. Just that lack of quality in the final third that eluded us. That's the make-or-break area. All the good players, at the top level, can do it in that area. It's disappointing not to get a goal from our dominance. Even after the goal, we had enough chances and enough possession to get back in the game. We just didn't get the goal the rest of the game deserved. On performances, we shouldn't be anywhere near where we are, but you deal with the situation that's thrown at you." Fletcher brought on Warren Feeney and Rhys Griffiths, as well as Mark Molesley, in a bid to snatch a goal, but it was not enough. Included in those substituted was Tyler Harvey, who picked up a knock. "We needed to freshen it up," said Fletcher. "If you are not producing something in a game, you look to try and change it to try and get back into it. That's why you have substitutes. Tyler felt his calf. Tyler came off because he was injured."
Argyle lost 1-0 to Wycombe Wanderers at Home Park. Argyle: Gilmartin, Nelson, Blanchard, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Bhasera, Cowan-Hall, Harvey, Chadwick. Subs – Feeney, Molesley, Griffiths (not used – Cole, Berry, Gurrieri, Lennox). Attendance – 6,983.
Colin Sexstone has called on Argyle fans to stick by the team, as they bid to escape any relegation worries. Reflecting on his first couple of months with Argyle, Sexstone said: "It's a club that is not dissimilar to Bristol City. I recognise a lot of similarities. It's in the West Country, of course, though much further south. It has got a good bedrock of support. That is shown by the crowds. I know there has been some disappointment with the crowds this season, but my guess is that in the league we are in and the position we are in we are not doing badly. I think it's very important for that fan-base to stick with the club during this period, and it's very important for the club to try to grow that fan-base so we can be serious contenders going forward for next season. I have been impressed by the directors but we realised we were a bit short on football experience. That's one of the reasons we are looking at a director of football." Argyle went seven league games without a win before beating York City on December 8th, and have since drawn their last three fixtures. Sexstone said: "It's a tough season, obviously. I have been through that myself a number of times. I know it's easy for directors to say 'we have got to stick together' but it's not so easy for fans to think that. They come along, pay their money and want to see the team win. Football fans are the same over the whole country. It is important we do as well as we can at home. Whatever we do, we have got to protect our league position. That's crucial. Coming out of a period of administration is never easy and there are still quite a lot of costs left with the club. People sometimes say 'how does a small club in League Two with less income do well and balance their books'? But they haven't had the recent history of a club like this, which has got a big stadium that is expensive to run and to maintain, and will have an expectation that other clubs sometimes don't have. Quite rightly so. It needs to have an expectation. Yeovil are a good example really. I know them well down there. They get much smaller crowds than Plymouth do and they are in the top half of League One, but there is no great expectation there. They are punching above their weight and the fans realise that. Their ambition is to do as well as they can and stay where they are, but for Plymouth staying where we are is not an option. Or it shouldn't be an option. That obviously puts pressures on you. For us now, where we are, our primary aim must be to maintain our position in the League and then build from there."
Argyle are to start another round of interviews as they seek a director of football. Some new candidates have come forward in the past fortnight since John Ward decided not to take up the vacancy at Home Park. There is speculation linking Sean O'Driscoll with the role, after his shock sacking by Nottingham Forest. O'Driscoll had been set to become a 'mentor' to Fletcher in January until, at the last moment, he was offered the chance to become first team coach at Forest. Fletcher was asked whether O'Driscoll could be a contender for the job, and he replied: "I'm not too sure to be honest. He only got sacked on Boxing Day so it's very fresh. I couldn't possibly comment." O'Driscoll's departure from Forest came with them only one point outside a play-off position in the Championship. Fletcher said: "Nothing shocks you in football. It's the same as Di Matteo at Chelsea. I stopped many years trying to figure out why people make decisions in football, whether it be players, managers, owners or the FA. You just have to deal with what you are given." Speaking to a newspaper before O'Driscoll was sacked, Argyle director Colin Sexstone said there was one 'stand-out' candidate from the new applications. He said: "We want to move quickly, but we also want to do it correctly. We are doing some interviews very shortly. We have had more interesting candidates come up that we haven't had before so we are going to have a chat with them. I would say there is a stand-out candidate but there are a couple of complications so we have to work on that." Sexstone was keen to emphasise the director of football would have an input into team selection and tactics but the final responsibility on both would rest with Fletcher. He said: "Only one man can decide on tactics and team selection, and that's the manager. We don't want to do it by committee. But we certainly expect the manager to ask for the input of the director of football. We would also expect the director of football to give the board the same sort of advice on how the team are performing and what players are available, for example. That's why it's very important we try to get an experienced ex-manager because we want that person to have an input." Sexstone insisted Argyle had not ruled out appointing someone who was already employed at another club, and were not restricting their search only to people who were out of work. He added: "There were a number of people who are in work who have approached us but maybe they weren't quite the right fit for us. It's always an extra complication when you have to get somebody out from another club, clearly on the cost."
Carl Fletcher knows there will be high expectations on Tyler Harvey after he scored on his full debut against Torquay United. He said: "In football at any level you have to manage fans' expectations. He's still only 17 so let's not get carried away. He has come in and done well in his first game. We will look after him. We have got good experienced lads in the changing room that keep his feet on the ground and will help him along. He kind of epitomised the whole team's performance against Torquay. It was great he came in and did well, but there were a lot of guys out there who did well. It was a case of getting someone out there who would do well for the team. That's why we went with Tyler. We knew he would make an impact with his enthusiasm and his workrate, and with his quality on the ball. He has been a regular scorer for the youth team so we had no doubts he would get chances and he took one of them." Darren Purse was very complimentary about the striker, via twitter. He tweeted: "Congratulations to Tyler Harvey on making his full debut and scoring too. Thoroughly deserved man of the match as well." Harvey is one of a trio of talented Plymouth-born teenagers, along with Luke Young and Matt Lecointe, who have already made a mark at their hometown club. Fletcher said: "We want to bring the young players through and we want them to do well for the club. I think it's great the local lads have come through the youth team. Nelse wasn't born here but has come through that direction. That's pleasing from our point of view. They are doing well and it shows promise for the future. They also know what this club means to people and the history of the club. Where we are at financially, we just can't go out and spend loads of money on players so you have got to produce your own." Curtis Nelson has performed consistently for Argyle this season, either in the centre of defence or at right-back, and Fletcher has been pleased with his progress. "He's doing well," he said. "He has got a lot of assets to his game. He's very athletic and good in the air so he's a threat in both boxes. He has got this long throw as well. His energy and enthusiasm to do well is pleasing. That's all you want from your players. The young lads have been pretty consistent this season."
Argyle are close to concluding a permanent deal for Alex MacDonald from Burnley when the transfer window opens. However, Carl Fletcher must move players on before he can recruit MacDonald, or anyone else, because of the financial situation at Home Park. Fletcher said: "I have spoken to Macca. He wants to come and we want him here. It's all done verbally, we have just got to wait on finances. We have got nothing to play with at the minute and we have just got to wait and see where we go with that. It's like any kind of business, you have got to try to run it properly. With all the trouble we have had at the club over the past few years, there is no point throwing money about. You have got to run it as a business. I'm sure everyone involved with the club, and all the fans, appreciate that. We have got good fans who are understanding of where we were and where we are now. We have to cut our cloth accordingly. We are a club with great traditions and we want to be here for years and years in the future, so we have got to make sure the finances are done in the right way." Darren Purse has been transfer-listed in an attempt to free up some funds, but Fletcher would not comment on whether there had been interest in him from other clubs as yet. He said: "As it stands at the minute, he's our player until the end of the season. Unless another club comes in and wants him, and everything works, he's going to be our player. That's where we are with it. If he stays, then great. If he goes, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. In football, things can change so quickly from one day until the next. But, as it stands, he's our player and our captain and an important part of the team." Meanwhile, Fletcher is also hoping to extend the short-term contracts of Joe Lennox and Isaac Vassell. Both have deals which expire on December 31st, and Argyle are awaiting approval from the Football League that new deals for the pair will see them still comply with salary cap regulations. Fletcher said: "We want to give Vas another six months and see him develop. He's still coming into himself and growing. We see something there with him, and obviously Joey can produce stuff for us. From the footballing side of it, I would like to keep them but it's just down to finances now."
No-one will be leaving Home Park on the cheap when the transfer window opens, that is the message from Carl Fletcher. He said: "Where we are as a club, and as many clubs are, we can't afford to turn down good money for players, whoever it is. You have got to cut your cloth accordingly. That's football, and that's business. You have to deal with it. Personally, from a selfish point of view, if a player's doing well, you want to keep him. If other clubs think we've got players they want, the most important thing is that we don't get short-changed. We don't have to sell for a low-cut price like I think we have done in the past for a lot of our youngsters." However, transfer speculation will take a back seat to the important task of attempting to beat Wycombe in the final game of the year at Home Park this weekend. Fletcher added: "All we're thinking about is Wycombe on Saturday and trying to pick the best team that will give us the best chance to win the game."
Tyler Harvey made it 'the best Christmas ever' for his family after scoring on his full debut for Argyle. The 1-1 draw with Torquay United saw the 17-year-old apprentice equalise in the 90th minute, and his dad, Lee, a former striker for local clubs such as Liskeard Athletic and Saltash United, was 'the proudest father in the world' after the game. He said: "It's the best Christmas ever for the whole family. We were all at the game. When we heard he was starting it was really exciting. During the game itself, I was in his boots half the time and he played very, very well. It's the club we have all been brought up with and the club Tyler has done his apprenticeship with. He has come through the ranks, good times and bad times, and has come to the pinnacle of his youth career. Now it has all led to him making his full debut in a Devon derby against Torquay on Boxing Day and scoring the equaliser in the last few minutes. You couldn't write a script any better. I'm probably the proudest father in the world at the moment." Harvey was told by Carl Fletcher he would be starting only a couple of hours before kick-off. His dad said: "He was in for training on Christmas Day and Kevin Nancekivell told him to watch what he ate and to prepare for the game. Pursey picked him up this morning and took him to the ground. We had a call from Tyler after 11 o'clock and he said the gaffer had called him into his office and told him he would be starting. That was it. It was pretty exciting for all of us from there on." Argyle were on the brink of defeat until Harvey popped up with the first senior goal of his career. Lee Harvey said: "It was from Luke Young, initially, which is great because he's another player who has come up through the youth ranks and we are very good friends with him. It looked as though it was congested in there but Tyler seemed to have time on the ball. He just opened up his body and slotted it in with his left foot. He probably only had a tiny window to aim for. I was climbing around on the framework up in the Grandstand at that time. It was fantastic." Harvey did not show any signs of nerves against Torquay and that did not come as a surprise to his dad. "I think he broke the ice at Bradford," he said. "It's a massive club and it was in front of 9,000 people. That was unexpected as well. Tyler adapted better than I thought to tell you the truth, and I do take my hat off to the crowd that they do encourage the youngsters when they come through. Not just for my son's benefit, but I hope it really does pay dividends for Argyle." Harvey will complete his apprenticeship at the end of the campaign but has already agreed a professional contract for next season. His dad added: "He won't be satisfied until he's scoring 20 goals a season. He's a striker and that's what he lives and breathes for."
Carl Fletcher was relieved Argyle came away from the derby against Torquay United with a point. He said: "I thought we played really well and pretty much dominated the game. The conditions were terrible today. Windy, rainy, everything. To fall behind was disappointing but our reaction was good. We had a few chances after they scored before we got the goal. I felt that was the least we deserved. We were on the front foot and we took the game to Torquay. We created numerous chances and could have had a few more goals. But, from being a goal down with not long left, we are pleased to get the equaliser." Fletcher claimed Argyle should have been awarded a penalty in the 83rd minute for a foul on Conor Hourihane. Instead, referee Graham Salisbury showed a yellow card to Hourihane for diving. Fletcher said: "I thought it was a penalty. I think it's just the way it's going at the minute. Everyone is talking about diving all the time so the referees feel they have got to do something about it. To be fair, the referee had a good game apart from that and the free-kick he gave against Pursey, which eventually led to their goal. We had lots of half chances and things were getting blocked and they weren't falling to us. All you can do is keep plugging away and keep trying to do the right things and eventually it will turn for you. We did that, and I thought we had a real good performance. We would have loved three points but it's our third Devon derby this season and we are still undefeated so that's a positive to take out of the game."
Carl Fletcher praised Tyler Harvey for showing a lot of confidence on his full debut for Argyle. "I'm pleased for him," he said, "He's a local lad. He's come in and showed all the exuberance and energy that you'd expect from a young lad playing, but he showed a bit of quality too, which was pleasing. We weren't playing him just hoping he'd do well, we see it in training every day. He's technically good and he looks after the football. You can see, the way he plays, he's older than his years. He encapsulated the team's performance. We were solid, made mistakes at times and lacked a little bit of quality in certain areas, mainly down to conditions. But they worked hard for one another and we were organised. At times we played some good stuff." Fletcher also had some words of praise for his wide men, Onismor Bhasera and Paris Cowan-Hall. He said: "With Paris, you know he has lots of energy and drive. He's got good pace, so we were pleased to have him on the pitch. Both sides, Baz as well, worked their socks off. When we got the ball wide we looked dangerous, like we could create something. It's important that we get a bit more quality in those final third areas, whether it be shots at goal or crosses or finishes. But generally the all round play was really good today." Mark Molesley was not in the squad, still suffering from the hamstring injury that saw him miss the trip to Accrington. "It was just probably too soon today," said Fletcher. "We tested him on Monday with a bit of work, but we'll have to wait and see for Saturday."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Torquay United at Home Park, the goal scored by Tyler Harvey after 90 minutes. Argyle: Gilmartin, Nelson, Blanchard, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Bhasera, Cowan-Hall, Harvey, Chadwick. Subs – Griffiths (not used – Cole, Berry, Lowry, Feeney, Gurrieri, Lennox). Attendance – 10,003.
When asked how far Argyle have come since the beginning of 2012, Carl Fletcher said: "A long way. The years before have been such a downward spiral, with the wheel turning one way, it's hard work to get them turning back other way. We're speaking about putting down foundations, not just for now or a couple of years, but for 10, 15, 20 years. That's not just the playing side, that's the club as a whole. We're working hard to try to keep progressing, keep going in the right direction. It was always going to be a tough slog to get things right, but we've got a group of players that are working hard and trying to do the right things. That's pleasing."
Rene Gilmartin was modest about his man-of-the-match performance against Accrington Stanley. It was particularly difficult conditions for goalkeepers, with driving rain adding to an already saturated pitch. Gilmartin said: "These are the games you are not used to, but they are great to play in. You are not going to see attractive football on a day like today. It's just attitude and desire to win a game of football. I'm delighted it was on because you prepare all week and today was game-day. I would like to congratulate the ground staff at Accrington Stanley. They deserve credit for the game going ahead. Looking at the pitch at the end, it hadn't cut up a lot. They have done a good job. I'm sure it was a good game to watch. It was all over the place, to be honest. I think both teams could have won. There were chances at both ends and people will say it was a good point and a fair result. But I would like to see us win a game like that, come here and take the three points, and off we go." Gilmartin was making his 10th appearance for Argyle since signing in the summer, having replaced Jake Cole in the team. Gilmartin said: "Today was probably the busiest I have been in a game, and that's credit to the defence how we have played over the last few weeks. I was just doing my job, trying to keep the ball out of the net. They are just saves. I don't look for praise. I feel good about myself when I know I'm training well, and then a game like this one comes along where I felt ready. Preparation meets opportunity. Today was the opportunity to have a game like that and I made a few saves."
Carl Fletcher is optimistic Mark Molesley will be fit for Argyle's derby against Torquay United on Boxing Day. "I would like to think he will be fit," he said: "With the way his hamstring is, it wouldn't have been a great day for him on a boggy, wet pitch." Maxime Blanchard will return to the squad following his suspension and there could even be some involvement for Paul Wotton. He travelled with the rest of the squad to Accrington, suggesting he is close to returning. Paris Cowan-Hall could also be in line for a recall to the starting line-up on Boxing Day. He had been forced to sit out the draw at Exeter because of a dead leg and Joe Lennox was preferred to him on the right of midfield on Saturday. Carl Fletcher said; "Joey deserved his start after last week and ran himself into the ground and Paris came on and changed it up for us. That's what you want your subs to do." After back-to-back away draws, Argyle now have two successive games at Home Park, and Fletcher added: "We have two home games now and we are looking to get some good positive results. We are really looking forward to Boxing Day and we should have a big crowd there."
There were no dressing room recriminations after Warren Feeney missed a late penalty that would have given Argyle all three points from their visit to Accrington. Nick Chadwick said: "He wanted to step up and take it, and he'd scored two late penalties at Morecambe so he deserved the chance to take another one. Unfortunately the keeper's made a good save. That's football. No-one's pointing any fingers at Feeno. If he hadn't scored two late penalties at Morecambe, we wouldn't have got three points there." Rachubka was subsequently sent off for aiming a head butt at Chadwick, after the striker had slid in to try to win a loose ball. "I thought I was going to get on the scoresheet and get us the winner, but he did really well to fingertip it away," said Chadwick. "Then, for some reason, he got a little bit angry that I wanted to try and score. He put his head into mine, and he probably regrets it. It was handbags, really. There wasn't a problem with the discipline of our lads. We all stuck together. Away from home, that's what you need to do." Carl Fletcher, when asked his opinion of the incident, said: "The 'keeper pulled off a great save from Paris. The ball spilled loose and Chads has gone to try to get it. They have both gone in together and it was something off the ball, I think. I'm not 100 per cent sure but, obviously, the ref felt it was enough to deem it a red card." Rachubka had also been slid into by Feeney earlier in the second half when he spilled a shot from Onismor Bhasera. Fletcher added: "That's what I want my strikers to do. If the ball is skidding about, or whatever, you want them to go in there and compete."
Carl Fletcher paid tribute to Rene Gilmartin after a great display in Argyle's draw at Accrington. "He did well today," said Fletcher. "He's got a big frame and he's a big presence. With most of them, I'd expect him to save, but he pulled a couple of good ones out. That's what he's there to do. It was skiddy and it was wet and things were bouncing off. We had four or five people around him as well, putting their bodies on the line to keep the ball out of the goal." Fletcher also had words of praise for the Accrington groundstaff, and said: "It was excellent work from their groundstaff and everyone involved to get the match going ahead. The pitch was fine. It was wet and not ideal, but we were really pleased the game got the go-ahead." Attention now turns to Home Park and the Boxing Day derby with Torquay United. "We're really looking forward to it, we should have a big crowd there," added Fletcher. "We've got two home games now and looking to get some good, positive results."
Argyle go into Christmas on a four-game unbeaten run after winning a point at the soaking Crown Ground. Onismor Bhasera's first goal of the season gave Argyle the lead, and after the home side levelled early in the second half, they finished strongly, with Paris Cowan-Hall winning a penalty from which Warren Feeney saw Stanley goalkeeper Paul Rachubka make a save. Argyle also hit the crossbar through Darren Purse. "I'm really pleased with the lads' commitment and desire and their hunger to do well for one another," said Carl Fletcher. "We didn't play great, but it is a great point for us, with the rain and the wind, and six and half hours on the coach yesterday. Certain basic things, we didn't do, we could have been better at. I'm really pleased with the way we recognised the fact that we had a bit of an off day and we dug in to grind out a real tough result – that's four undefeated and a good away point. After going in front, I'm disappointed we didn't hang on to all three, but you have got to give credit to Accrington, they came at us and put us under pressure. Days like today show a lot of character, to grind out a result, and get positives from it, even when we're not at our best. We'll take the hard-earned point. The lads just rolled their sleeves up and dug in for one another. We worked hard and we could have won it at the end, we had a penalty and we hit the bar. In terms of quality, there were little bits few and far between during the game, but those little bits could have changed it for us."
Nick Chadwick believes it a measure of Argyle's growing self-belief that they came away with a point from Accrington. He said: "With the weather and the conditions, we always knew it was going to be a scrap and that's the way it turned out. We were unfortunate, after going ahead and getting a penalty, that we didn't take all three points. We are probably a little bit disappointed but, maybe, at the beginning of the season, we might not have got anything out of that game, coming here in awful conditions on an awful pitch after a long journey, it had all the hallmarks of a home win. But we are a lot tougher, mentally, now. You can tell we are coming off the back of some half-decent results. We're getting things out of games. That mentality is a good thing and it speaks volumes that we're a little bit disappointed that we didn't get three points. The club has come from one hell of a position not so long ago. I don't think anyone needs to get too doom-and-gloom about what we are trying to do. We have got a lot of young players and I think we missed the experienced ones at the beginning of the season, when we played well without getting results. Now we're starting to pick up results. We come somewhere like this today. Yes, we haven't won, but we picked a result up. If you can keep picking results up, it builds momentum, builds confidence and we can go on a run. We all know it's a results business, but the fact that the club is right behind the manager and the players are right behind the manager speaks volumes." Chadwick was just behind Bhasera as Robbie William's 27th-minute free-kick rebounded from a post. "It was a great free-kick from Willo," he added. "He brings, not only that quality, but a little bit of experience back into the team, as well. It's nice to have him back out there, it's another experienced player for us and he has got great quality in his left foot. Once Accrington scored, I thought we got back in control of the game and there was only going to be one team that was going to win it but, unfortunately, we couldn't convert another chance. I was right behind Darren Purse's header. He was really unfortunate. It was a great header and we both thought it was going to loop back in."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Accrington Stanley, the goal scored by Onismor Bhasera after 27 minutes. Argyle: Gilmartin, Nelson, Berry, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Lennox, Bhasera, Griffiths, Chadwick. Subs – Cowan-Hall, Feeney (not used – Cole, Lowry, Harvey, Richards, Lecointe). Attendance – 2,012.
Argyle have prepared as best they can for their game at Accrington Stanley today, despite the wet weather this week. The squad used the 3G artificial pitch at Saltmill Park, Saltash, on Thursday morning and Carl Fletcher said: "It hasn't been too bad. Our training pitch at Harper's Park held up really well earlier in the week. We trained there on Tuesday and it was fine. We had a bit of work done to it in the off-season and we are reaping the benefits now. It was out of action on Thursday, which was a little annoying because later in the week you want to work on your team shape and things like that. You obviously have to change from grass to astroturf and you have got players who can't train on astroturf. It's not the same size as the pitch so you have to modify things to accommodate your needs due to the weather."
Former Charlton Athletic joint-manager Steve Gritt has been interviewed by Argyle for the post of director of football, it has been reported. Gritt was one of three candidates on the original short-list for the role, before John Ward turned down the job.
Carl Fletcher carried out a spying mission on Accrington Stanley when they played in the FA Cup earlier this week. He said: "I went up to see Accrington at Oxford. It was a good opportunity for me to watch them. It's very rare me, Ro or Nance get to see a team we are playing so close to the game. There was nothing in the game. It could have gone either way and they (Accrington) were unlucky with injuries." While Accrington have had FA Cup commitments this week, Argyle have had no distractions. Asked whether that would be an advantage for his side, Fletcher replied: "Maybe, maybe not. You just have to wait and see. You can't really tell until the day of the game. Whatever side we put out, we have always got good energy and lots of legs. I think our fitness levels are really good at the minute." Fletcher pointed to Argyle's draw at Exeter City last Saturday as an example of that. He said: "Even against Exeter with 10 men we still looked strong. We were able to cover the distances we needed to." Argyle's only previous trip to Accrington's Crown Ground was in February this year when they won 4-0, with Alex MacDonald getting two of the goals. Fletcher added: "We had a good result there last season. It brings back happy memories. Hopefully, we can go up there and put in a good performance and get a good result. It's a long journey for us but we have got to make sure we are fully prepared and ready to face a tough challenge. They have got a different manager to when we faced them last time. They play with a different formation and there is obviously different personnel. We will look forward to the game but we have got to be at our best to have a chance of getting a result."
Robbie Williams has admitted his stomach injury kept him out of action for a lot longer than he expected. He said: "It has been a frustrating time, where I'm sat there watching the boys. I'm just glad to get back involved. I had a stomach strain but it never got any better so I had to go and see a specialist in London. I had an injection and let it settle down. Touch wood, I'm pain-free at the minute and, hopefully, it can be pain-free over Christmas." Williams had been struggling with the problem for some time, but after playing in the home defeat by Wimbledon on October 6th, he could not continue doing so. "It got to a point where I was in too much pain to carry on so I had to have something done about it," he said. "It just took a lot longer than I thought but I'm back now and, hopefully, I can get myself in the team and kick on. I was pleased to be involved against Exeter. It was a big game and we got a good result. We could have gone on and won it in the second half. When we changed it around and brought on Chaddy and Feeno I thought we looked strong. They were holding the ball up and bringing in the midfielders. It looked good in the second half, so let's see what happens over Christmas." Argyle's game at Accrington Stanley tomorrow is the first of five league fixtures in 15 days. Williams admitted it would be an important period for the club, and said: "We have got five games in two weeks and if we can get more wins than losses then we will be in mid-table. Then, after Christmas, hopefully we can have a push. There is only Wottsie now who is injured. Get Wottsie back in and everybody is fit, and I think we have got a good chance because we have got a strong squad."
Carl Fletcher is keen to retain the services of Joe Lennox. "I want to keep Joe here," he said. "We've just got to wait now for it to be finalised, financially. Just like every other club in the Football League, we've got to make sure our budget is right and sort it out through the League. We're just going through that but, hopefully, we can get something done."
Mark Molesley has extended his loan spell to include all of Argyle's games up to and including the visit to Bristol Rovers on New Year's Day. Carl Fletcher said: "I had to have a bit of time on the phone to Eddie Howe at Bournemouth to try and keep Mark on the same arrangement as we had him for the first month, so I owe him one, which I hope he forgets about. It's ideal for them and for us. They've got a player who they want to get games and he's doing well for us, so we want to keep him here. He has got a little bit of an issue with his hamstring so he's touch and go at the moment. He's played four games for us now, having not played at all the year before. It's not that bad, but we're not sure whether he'll make it for Saturday yet."
Darren Purse has admitted he does not want to leave Argyle and insisted his commitment would remain the same for as long as he stayed at Home Park. He said: "The gaffer pulled me in a couple of weeks ago and told me he had to cut the budget. There is no rocket science about it. You have just got to get on with it. I don't really want to go but, on the other hand, I have got family that are 200 miles away. It might work out well for both parties if he can clear a little bit of the budget and maybe go and get two or three players in. I came here to achieve something and I still believe we can do that but, sometimes, things are out of a manager's hands. It's another thing the gaffer has got to deal with. I'm disappointed because I do enjoy playing down here but that's football, at the end of the day. You just have to get on with it. It's not going to stop my commitment to the club. I still enjoy playing football. I still like getting up for three o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, and that's what it's all about. Wherever that may be, I will carry on doing it." Purse took over as Argyle's captain in the summer, and continued: "I love captaining the club. We have got some good young players here. If I do leave in January there are other captains about, people like Wotto and Conor, who has done wonders when he has taken it over. There is a good foundation if I do leave, but we will just have to see what happens come January." Purse is optimistic about Argyle's prospects for the rest of the season. He said: "The first half of the season is just about getting yourself in position. We are definitely not in a position we wanted to be in at the start of the season, but we have to take it and roll with the punches we have had. We have got people coming back from injury. If you look at our bench on Saturday, I bet you it was one of the strongest benches in League Two this year. We have got a good strong squad and let's see what sort of a run we can go on. If we win two or three games over the Christmas period we won't be looking down, we will be looking up, and who knows what might happen come January."
Guy Madjo was a 'model pro' despite dropping out of first team contention at Argyle towards the end of his three-month loan spell, Carl Fletcher has stated. Fletcher was vague, though, when asked why Madjo had not played in recent weeks, despite their difficulties scoring goals. "It's just the way it is," he said. "It's what we choose for what we think can win us the game. He has been a model pro and he has trained hard every day." Asked whether there was any chance of Madjo returning to the club in the transfer window, Fletcher replied: "I'm not too sure yet. We have got to sit down and see where finances are for January, and see what we have got, and what we haven't got, and then we will go from there."
An experienced Argyle side, containing nine professionals, beat Ivybridge Town 1-0 at Home Park last night in the Devon St Luke's Cup second round. Isaac Vassell scored the only goal of the game in the 11th minute. Argyle: Chenoweth, Watson, Williams, Lowry, Bradley, Richards, Lecointe, Sims, Vassell, Harvey, Feeney. Subs - Allen.
John Ward is set to be named as the new manager of Bristol Rovers today after turning down the chance to become Argyle's director of football. Ward had been expected to be unveiled by Argyle as early as today, after verbally agreeing last week to become director of football. However, Mark McGhee was fired by Rovers on Saturday. A statement issued by Argyle this morning read: "We had planned to appoint a director of football this week. Following a detailed interview process involving more than 20 high-quality applicants, we offered the position to someone. However, that person is now looking at another appointment so we have decided to look elsewhere. We continue to believe in the merits of appointing a director of football and our aim remains to complete the process as quickly as possible. However, this is a key role for the club and we will not hurry into a potentially poor appointment."
Darren Purse was proud of the way Argyle battled back to draw 1-1 at Exeter on Saturday. He said: "We were a bit aggrieved with the goal we conceded. It took a massive deflection and ended up in the bottom corner of the net. It was their first shot on target apart from the free-kick they had as well. We came out for the second half and dominated the game, although they did have a couple of half chances towards the end. We played well and I think it was a performance that probably deserved to win the game." Joe Lennox's equalising goal came after a period of pressure from Argyle, and Purse said: "For the first 20-25 minutes of the second half we really got at them. When you are 1-0 down you do press and you do leave yourself open, but we were getting good balls in the box and creating chances. It was good encouraging play and the lads were taking the bull by the horns really. We could have sat back and tried to hit them on the break but we really pressed on and won the ball back in their half of the pitch. They didn't get out of their half and we thoroughly deserved the goal we got. It was a great time for Joe to get the first goal of his career. He will go down in Plymouth Argyle folklore now. He's a good young player. He makes mistakes, like most young lads do, but he's a winger and he can get away with it. When he pops up with goals like that you have to pat him on the back and say 'well done' because it was a great strike." Maxime Blanchard was sent off in the 88th minute for a second bookable offence, and Purse said: "It wasn't his fault. There were a couple of mistakes before it. Nelse lost the first header and I got sucked out to try to win the second header, so he has been sent off more for other people's mistakes. He had to do it. It's one of those things and we managed to hold on for him. Down to 10 men you are always going to get that bit of pressure on you, especially when you are away from home. But the way we stopped the game when we needed to was very professional. We played the percentages. We turned them round and Chaddy did well up there on his own, and that's what you have got to do. It's great seeing the young lads we have got in the side learning how to kill off games. We have probably been a bit naive at times this season but it's nice when you come to a place like Exeter and you can grind it out when you do go down to 10 men."
A double substitution made in the second half helped Argyle secure a point at Exeter on Saturday, according to Carl Fletcher. Argyle were trailing 1-0 when Fletcher sent on Nick Chadwick and Warren Feeney in the 66th minute, with Rhys Griffiths and Conor Hourihane making way. He said: "You don't want to go too gung-ho too early on. If you go out and try to get an equaliser straight away it could be 2-0 before you know it and that's game over. We had to keep our shape and try to work things. We got the ball down in the second half and we were on top. We made a couple of substitutions when we needed a goal and it gave us a bit of impetus." Prior to the game Exeter were seventh in League Two, 13 positions and 12 points better off than Argyle. So, in the circumstances, Fletcher was pleased to leave St James' Park with a draw. He said: "Exeter are in the play-off positions and are there on merit. They are a good side so we knew it was going to be tough. It was disappointing to go a goal down. I thought we were in control of the game. We set up well. I think they changed their formation a couple of times in the first half to combat us. I think the goal was a little bit against the run of play. In the second half, we came out on the front foot and put them under a lot of pressure, and got the goal we deserved. We rode our luck a little bit, and Jamie Cureton didn't have his finishing boots on, which we are delighted about. I think in the grand scheme of things, an away point in a derby game on the back of a home win last week it's a good day." Joe Lennox made only his fifth start of the season because of a 'dead leg' to Paris Cowan-Hall. "He has had two or three knocks on it in the last couple of weeks and just couldn't recover from it," said Fletcher. "He could have tried to play through it but any kind of knock on it and he would have had to come off." Fletcher had words of praise for Argyle's 1,226 travelling supporters at St James' Park. He said: "We are so lucky. We take so many fans away from home. We get letters and so forth from other clubs commenting on how well the fans have behaved and things like that. I'm glad we got that equalising goal from them because they deserve it."
John Ward remains the favourite to take over as Argyle's new director of football, according to newspaper reports. Those same reports suggest he had commitments elsewhere at the end of last week, which has delayed his appointment. Carl Fletcher was asked on Saturday whether the appointment would be announced this week and he replied: "Possibly. It seems to be more of a big deal outside the club than inside, which is usually the case with football. I think with all clubs in the country, the media make a lot of things but when you are actually inside the club it's business as usual. We are just getting on with trying to play well and get results."
Joe Lennox looks to have earned himself a new contract at Argyle, after scoring the equaliser in the draw at Exeter City on Saturday. Carl Fletcher said: "I think if we let him go now I will get lynched, he has just scored against Exeter! I will speak to him next week." Although short in stature, Lennox is a whole-hearted player and Fletcher believes he is making good progress. He said: "Joe is still young and still learning the game but he has got a little bit of something. He has got a good touch, a great turn of pace and he can beat a man. You saw today he worked his socks off for the team. That's something he hasn't learned in the past because, playing youth-team football, and things like that, he didn't have to do that side of it. I'm pleased he got his goal because he worked so hard for it." Lennox admitted he did not see his 20-yard shot end up in the net as he had fallen to the ground. He said: "It was a good feeling when it went in. I didn't really see it go in. As I shot I fell to the floor and then I heard it hit the post and all the fans scream. That's when I knew it went in. That goal gave us a boost and we were pushing on to get all three points but they dug in well and I think a draw was a fair result. I think it was always going to be a close game, with it being a Devon derby. I thought the atmosphere was going to be a bit louder but it was a big crowd. I think all the fans were up for it. We came out for the second half and pressed them well and, luckily, we got the goal. It's the highlight of my career so far, my first goal in the Football League. I will hopefully get plenty more." Lennox was told by Fletcher at training on Friday he would be starting the game. He added: "I was glad to be given the chance to get a start. I thought I played well and I got the goal. I always thought I was going to be given the start as Paris was injured, so I was ready. I think the team are playing with confidence now. The league is so close, and if you get a few wins you can get right up the table."
When asked whether the draw at Exeter City was a well-earned point, or a missed chance to secure all three, Luke Young said: "You can look at it as a bit of both, really. I don't think they caused us many problems first half, and it was a lucky deflection that went in the net. We were in control, but it was that bit of luck that we didn't get. In the second half we showed what we were made of in the dressing room and what we've been doing in training. I feel we deserved to get the three points." Young was playing in his first game Argyle's local rivals. "It's the first derby against Exeter that I've actually played in," he said, "It had a bit of a special occasion feel to it. To come away with something, to not get beat, was something I'll remember. Everyone knew the importance of it. Everyone knows that Plymouth/Exeter is a big derby game. It's a derby that we haven't had much of late, but everyone knew their jobs and it showed out there what we are capable of. If I'm playing and starting, I'm happy. It's nice to have that variety in positions. If the gaffer needs me to go somewhere in midfield or a little bit higher up then I feel I can do that. When you come into derbies and you are away from home, there's that little bit more pressure on you. At Torquay, a point was a fair result. A point here, we'll take obviously, but we did enough to win the game. But we'll look forward to the next few games. We've got Accrington away next week, which will be a tough game, and one we'll use to get ready for Boxing Day."
Carl Fletcher was pleased with the way his side dealt with Exeter's attacking threat on Saturday. Jamie Cureton and John O'Flynn, who had scored 10 of City's last 12 goals between them, were kept quiet, as was former Argyle striker Alan Gow. Cureton missed a golden chance just after half-time, seizing on a misplaced header from Robbie Williams, who was playing his first game for two and a half months. "He's been out that long, I think he forgot what colour we play in!" said Fletcher. "Once he got through it, he was alright, and it was pleasing to have him on there towards the end, with his experience. You miss a chance, and things like that can change a game. We were on top at the time, on top in the second half, and on top when we got the goal. Cureton's been in the lethal form this season and is always a danger, as are Gow and O'Flynn. They are bright players and have got good technique. I thought we dealt with Gow quite well. We asked Conor to be a bit more disciplined today in where he played and what he had to do when he didn't have the ball. He did it well, and that showed in the fact that they brought Gowser off."
Carl Fletcher was relatively pleased with Argyle's performance, and result, at Exeter yesterday. He said: "In the grand scheme of things, an away point in a derby game on the back of a home win last week is a good day. Exeter are in the play-offs and they are there on merit, they are a good side, so we knew it would be tough. I was disappointed to go a goal down in the first half. We were in control of the game, and I think the goal was a little bit against the run of play. In the second half, we came out on the front foot and we did well. We put them under a lot of pressure and got the goal we deserved." The game was nearly over before that when Jamie Cureton was played in on goal by Robbie Williams' indecisive header. "We rode our luck a little bit," said Fletcher. "Jamie Cureton didn't have his finishing-boots on today, which we're delighted about." After that let-off, Argyle upped the tempo to take charge of the game, and increased the pace with the introduction of Nick Chadwick and Warren Feeney. Fletcher said: "You don't want to go too gung-ho too early on. If you try to get an equaliser straight away, it could be 2-0 before you know it and game over. We had to still be professional and keep our shape, but once we got the ball down, we were on top. We made a couple of substitutions when we needed the goal. You want your subs to give you a little bit of impetus and it did." Despite the dominance, Argyle could not find another goal and all but settled for a draw after Maxime Blanchard was sent off for a second yellow card offence. Fletcher had no arguments about the decision, and said: "We didn't mark properly at the throw-in, their player got through too easily and Max has taken one for the team." Durrell Berry could not win his place back following a suspension which saw him sit out the victory over York, as Fletcher decided to go with the same defensive unit. "It was a really tough decision and I wasn't sure all week," he said, "but the back four did so well last week. It was our first clean sheet in a while and we won the game, so it was case of sticking with it. I spoke to Durrell and he understands. He'll be looking for his opportunity to get back in, which he'll probably get now Max is suspended. That's the way football works."
Paris Cowan-Hall missed the game at St James' Park through injury but Joe Lennox more than adequately filled in for him. His equaliser earned Argyle a deserved point, and he said: "I just cut in and hit it with my left foot, trying to score. It took a little deflection, I think, and went in." Lennox has now started three league games this season, with two coming in away games to Devon rivals. Lennox said: "They're the two biggest games to play in during the season. When I get to start in Derby games that gives me confidence in my own performance, and to play well. It doesn't put more pressure on me. Every game I play I do as well as I can, it's all you can do. I think it's just about work rate, this game. Whoever works hardest gets the result. Maybe they worked harder in the first half, but we came out and worked harder in the second. It's a fair result, I think. We brought Feeno and Chaddy on, as we wanted to try and get a goal, so it gave us more attacking options to get crosses in the box. I think we're all pleased to get a point. When we had a man sent off we needed to stay tight and defend as a team. I thought we did that well. We all stuck together. It's good to get a point, but we could have had three."
Carl Fletcher paid tribute to Guy Madjo after the striker's loan spell came to an end. "He's done great," said Fletcher. "We brought him in when were bare bones, with no strikers, and he's a real good character, a real nice guy. All the lads like him and we wish him all the best for the future. He's been a model pro and he's trained hard every day. I think he might have enjoyed his time here. He would have liked to play a few more games, but that's just the way it goes." Fletcher did not rule out a fresh move for Madjo in the New Year. He said: "We have got to sit down and see where finances are for January and what we have got and haven't got, and go from there."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Exeter City, the goal coming from Joe Lennox after 73 minutes. Argyle: Gilmartin, Nelson, Blanchard, Purse, Bhasera, Gurrieri, Hourihane, Molesley, Young, Lennox, Griffiths. Subs – Williams, Chadwick, Feeney (not used – Cole, Berry, Lowry, Harvey). Attendance – 6,447.
Mark Molesley has admitted he is grateful to Carl Fletcher for taking 'a gamble' on him. He said: "I'm very grateful for the opportunity. Plymouth, I suppose, took a gamble on me. I hadn't played any football this season, and a very limited amount last season due to injury. I suppose it was a gamble from the gaffer to bring me in. I'm glad they took the punt and I hope that both of us are getting something out of it. You can't beat playing. I had completely forgotten what it was like and the feelings you get, the nerves on a Friday and a Saturday morning, the excitement and the adrenalin. You can train until the cows come home but there is no replicating a match situation. I'm just delighted to have got some games under my belt and I will continue to try to improve with every one." Molesley's one-month loan ends after the game at Accrington Stanley next Saturday but he is not looking any further forward than that. He added: "All I'm doing is concentrating on one game at a time. I have been out a long time and I don't want to get ahead of myself in any way. What I can say is that I have worked so hard to get myself back out on the pitch and it's important for me to be playing football."
Luke Young hopes to realise just about every Argyle supporter's dream when they take on Exeter today. "Being a local lad, I have grown up watching Argyle play against big local teams like Exeter, Torquay, Bristol rovers and Bristol City," he said. "It is a big incentive for me to try and do well against Exeter and it's a game that I'm really looking forward too." Having scored his first ever Argyle goal in a derby match, against Torquay United, Young anticipates a lively atmosphere and knows the form book goes out the window on derby day. He said: "Its going to be a great atmosphere. I am expecting some abuse from the home fans but its part and parcel of the game which, as a local lad, I'm going to relish. Going into a derby game, the league positions don't really pose as much of a factor. We are more than capable of going up there and getting a win."
Mark Molesley has only been at Argyle for three weeks but already knows about the importance of the Devon derby at Exeter tomorrow. He said: "I have been told by lots of people, fans and players, how big this game and I'm excited at the prospect of it. It's a bit of added spice and a bit of added pressure, but it's the same for both teams. A win really would lift the spirits at the place and then we could look to build on that. We can't get sucked into the pressure of this game. We just need to concentrate on what we need to do. It's going to be a sell-out and everyone is very excited about the game all the way through the club, so it's up to us as players to go out there and put on a performance." Molesley has impressed since moving to Home Park, and has thoroughly enjoyed his time at Argyle. He said: "I have been made to feel very welcome. It's such a friendly club. I have had family come down to watch and they have been well looked after. The pitch is lovely and the fans are great. I knew it was a big club but you just don't realise how big it is until you come here." Argyle's win over York was their first in 10 games and Molesley admitted it had been important to stop the rot and pick up the points. He said: "I have played three games now and in the first two I thought we did enough to win them but hadn't. Unfortunately, that seems to be the story of the season from speaking to a lot of the players, but we had a clean sheet, two goals and three points last Saturday. With a win against Exeter, all of a sudden the whole picture changes." Argyle have a fully-fit squad for the trip to Exeter, with the exception of Paul Wotton, who is close to recovering from a back operation. Robbie Williams has returned to training after a stomach muscle injury and Carl Fletcher said: "He starts to come back into the thinking. Apart from Wotts, we have a full squad to choose from and it's good to have players that are playing well." Durrell Berry is also available after serving a one-match suspension against York and Fletcher added: "Durrell has been arguably one of our most consistent performers this season. But then last week, the back four got our first clean-sheet for a while. It is a tough one but, with Willo back as well, from my point of view, it's a good headache to have."
Carl Fletcher has identified former Argyle striker Alan Gow as a potential match winner for Exeter City tomorrow. Fletcher has labelled Exeter as the favourites to win the game but has promised Argyle will be 'fully focused' on the task. Fletcher said: "Paul Sturrock brought Gow here and at the time I thought he was a good addition for us. We had a team with a lot of players who would work hard and dig in and he had the flair to turn a game. He had some performances and probably didn't get the amount of games he should have had here really. With all players of good quality like that, you have to take the good bits and the bad bits. Gowser is a real good professional, he works hard and has got a lot of talent. We will have to make sure we keep a close eye on him." Fletcher twice played for Argyle at St James' Park, firstly in April 2011 and again in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie four months later. "It's a big game and I think everyone is looking forward to it," he said. "From our point of view, it's important we are fully focused and don't get carried away with everything that is going on. You still want that passion and desire and hunger to go out and do well, but you have got to keep a lid on it and use it in the right way." The early kick-off means the pre-match routines will be different to normal, such as what and when the players eat. Fletcher said: "With Exeter being so close it's not too bad. You usually find games with early kick-offs are a little bit subdued but I don't expect that to be the case tomorrow. Exeter have been doing well and have got some good players. They will go into the game as favourites, definitely. We will just try to put in a good performance and get a good result."
Argyle are upbeat going into the Devon derby against Exeter City on Saturday, according to Luke Young. He said: "We can go to Exeter, our local rivals, on a high and on the back of a good performance. Anything can happen on derby day. I think everybody knows that. It's just a case of going out there and giving it your all. I think we have got the quality to go to Exeter and get a result." Meanwhile, Young has praised the impact made by Mark Molesley since he arrived on loan from Bournemouth last month. He said: "I think he has given us something a little bit different in midfield. He does like to drive at the defence and it just opens up more space for other players to make their runs. It's always nice to have a different variety and, to be fair to him, he has come in and done really well."
Carl Fletcher has been pleased with the impact made by Mark Molesley since he joined Argyle on loan. He said: "He has suffered quite a bit with injuries over the last couple of years but has started three games in two weeks. He has fitted in well. I have got good connections at Bournemouth and Fletch has always spoken highly of him. I think he's enjoying his football and that comes across in the games."
John Ward is set to be appointed as the new director of football at Home Park, according to reports. A club statement issued yesterday said: "From a high-quality field of candidates, we have identified the person who best fills the necessary criteria that will take the club forward. We have begun the process of discussing contractual matters with our preferred candidate and hope to be able to make an announcement regarding his appointment shortly." A new chief executive is also on the cards at Argyle as the club announced yesterday that Martin Baker, who had been acting chief executive since January, had left 'to pursue other interests'.
Luke Young thought Argyle were finally rewarded for their recent endeavours when they beat York City on Saturday. Young, who returned to the starting line-up after recovering from a shoulder injury he picked up at Fleetwood Town last month, said: "It's always nice to come back into the starting 11, but it was all about the team. Everyone worked hard for each other and put in a good shift, and kept a good passing team at bay. We put them under pressure when we needed to, pressed them high up the pitch and they couldn't live with us. I don't think Reg had much to do. That shows we worked hard off the ball." Young admitted Argyle were desperate to put in a good performance before the trip to Exeter. He said: "We have had a few results which we maybe haven't deserved but they haven't gone our way. It was nice to come into a home game, really looking forward to it, to try to set our stall out ready for next week." It was from Young's corner that the ball hit a defender, giving Argyle the lead. "If you put a good ball in the box then anything can happen," he said. "Luckily, it got a deflection off someone and went in. That's the kind of luck we have been waiting for. Normally it doesn't fall for us like that, and it was a great time to score on the stroke of half-time. At 1-0, you are always on a knife-edge, but I don't think we were under pressure that much. They didn't really cause us any problems. They didn't get the ball in behind us. We kept the play in front of us as much as we could, defended when we needed to and got on the ball when we needed to. When you get the second goal you can breathe a little bit more and try to see the game out." Young was injured in a tackle at the end of the first half at Fleetwood and ended up missing the next four matches. He said: "It was just a tackle. Their lad cleared the ball and he caught me as well. I fell over him and landed on top of the shoulder. I felt it straight away and I told Paul at half-time. I thought it might ease off after I warmed up at the start of the second half but it got worse as the game went on. I tried to get through it as much as I could and played the 90 minutes." Young admitted he could have returned to action sooner but Carl Fletcher did not want to risk him aggravating the injury. He added: "I can understand where the gaffer was coming from with that. I took that on the chin, worked hard in training and got my reward by being back in the team today, and I feel that I had a decent performance."
Carl Fletcher was relieved after Argyle's win over York City on Saturday. The victory ended a sequence of seven games without a win and Fletcher said: "It's a big relief, and it's a clean sheet as well, which we are delighted with. I thought the lads were very professional. We completely dominated the game. I don't think York even had a shot on target. It wasn't anything majorly different to what we have been doing over the last couple of months really. But we got that rub of the green and the couple of goals which the performance deserved. We have had it so often this season where we are in control and then something falls to them and it goes in the back of the net. You are always worried like that, especially at 1-0, but thankfully we got that second goal to ease the nerves around the place." It was only York's second defeat in 11 away league games this season and Fletcher added: "York are a good side. We knew if we gave them time and space they could pass around us and pick us off. The lads did their jobs, and they did it for themselves and for one another." The opening goal, which was an own goal, came after Argyle had dominated the first half in terms of possession without creating too many chances. Fletcher said: "There was a melee and it just went in. That's probably the luck we have not had lately. After that, to be picky, we could have had more quality in the final third with balls in the box, and that was just about decision-making at the end of the day. Other than that, we looked solid and for a team with a lot of young players out there we looked fairly mature and in control. That was a pleasing point for me." Nick Chadwick's goal was only his second of the season, and Fletcher said: "I spoke to Chaddy on Friday and told him I wasn't going to play him. He has done well for us the last four games. He has been working hard and been getting bumped and bruised. He probably didn't get the goal he deserved in those games. I went with Griff because he looked a bit fresher and sharper, obviously with Chaddy playing a lot of games lately. I told Chaddy to let Griff do all the hard work and get all the knocks and elbows in the back of the head, which he did great for us. I said to him once the game had got stretched he could come on and get his goal, and it panned out that way which was brilliant. For any striker it's great to have an open goal one yard out! I'm really pleased for Chaddy. He was out of the squad a couple of months ago and wasn't involved at all but he has really knuckled down and worked hard. He has improved in every aspect and it's great for us. That's what you want. You want people playing well and training well, and pushing for a place in the side." Darren Purse returned to action after a three-match suspension and put in a strong defensive display. Fletcher added: "It was good to have him in there and he had a good performance, but I think the whole team did their jobs. They did the little things well. We made sure York kicked from the goalie because they have got small forwards and we won the headers. We did the basics right and that's key to any kind of football match."
With the loan spell of Alex MacDonald over, Andres Gurrieri moved from his recent wide position to play just behind lone striker Rhys Griffiths against York City, and put in an excellent performance in doing so. Carl Fletcher said: "I like him wide as well, because he comes in off the line and is very difficult to defend, but just off the striker in the little hole is where he is dangerous. He has a knack of picking up loose balls and he has great energy. He's still young. People don't realise that. He always wants to do well. Him in that position is a big bonus to us. It's a difficult position for some people to play, because you've got to be defensive minded at times, have a willingness to run forward, and to sacrifice your own game at times. He does it well. He picks his moments well of when he can run in behind or drop short. He's not going to get it right every time, but his willingness to do it is a bonus."
Argyle beat York City 2-0 at Home Park, the goals coming from a Jamal Fyfield own goal after 45 minutes and Nick Chadwick (90). Argyle: Gilmartin, Nelson, Blanchard, Purse, Bhasera, Gurrieri, Hourihane, Molesley, Young, Cowan-Hall, Griffiths. Subs – Chadwick, Lowry, Lennox (not used – Cole, Richards, Feeney, Harvey). Attendance – 5,881.
Paul Wotton is closing in on a return to action for Argyle. Wotton has not played since mid-September because of a back operation but is now feeling much better. He said: "I'm progressing well, but slowly. I'm desperate to get back and play but it has got to be right. Recovering from any injury could always be quicker but, at the end of the day, it is what it is. I'm on the right track." Wotton started the first six games of the season before he was sidelined and required surgery. He said: "It wasn't a back injury as such. I had a disc bulging on a nerve and I was getting pain down my leg, which was excruciating. I played three games with it and it was tough. People keep saying to me, 'How's your back?' but it's fine. It was a nerve problem. It had to be sorted and I'm really pleased with how I'm feeling and how it's going. I have got a target date in mind of when I hope to be back playing but I will keep that to myself." Wotton has found it hard having to watch from the sidelines. He said: "I hate it, but it has got easier as I have got older because you are mature enough to know you are not fit. When you are younger, you question whether you should have played." Argyle have picked up only one point out of a possible 21 since they beat Rochdale on October 20th, and Wotton added: "I hate saying this but I do think we have been unlucky in games. I haven't been around the lads on the training ground a lot but in the changing room the spirit is still high. You have got to keep working and keep believing in what you are doing and eventually it will turn for you."
Conor Hourihane expects to 'retire' as Argyle captain this weekend following a three-match spell as skipper. "I think Pursey may come back in and take it off me on Saturday," he said. "It will be a bit disappointing, but that was always going to happen. It's been a great honour for me and I've really enjoyed doing it. You try to lead by example, have good energy on the pitch, talk to the lads." Whether captaining the side or not, Hourihane is determined Argyle will get back to winning ways against York. He said: "Seven or eight games ago, we were looking up the table, and now we're starting to look behind us. If we can get three points on Saturday, it will be a big boost for us because there are a lot of games coming up and, if you can get a nice little run in December, it can change the table. The performances aren't bad. We're conceding some sloppy goals, but we have been working hard in training and are putting some good stuff together. Hopefully, on Saturday, it will come our way."
Conor Hourihane has responded well to the responsibility of becoming Argyle's captain, according to Carl Fletcher. Hourihane has led out the team while Darren Purse has been suspended. Purse is available for selection against York City tomorrow but his future at the club is unclear after he was transfer-listed for financial reasons. And, so it remains to be seen whether Purse will play against York and, if so, who will be the skipper. Fletcher said: "Conor has taken it in his stride and has deservedly been wearing the captain's armband in the last few games. "He hasn't felt any kind of added pressure, which a pleasing thing. He's a good pro. He works hard every day in training and puts his all in for every game." York have impressed on their travels this season, winning four and drawing five of their 10 away games. Fletcher said: "The reports we have had on York are that they are a good attacking side. We are going to have to make sure we are right defensively to give us a chance tomorrow. They play football the right way and have got a lot of good energy and are very bright. We are going to have to make sure we are switched on, not just when the ball is in play but when it goes dead as well." Argyle have a Devon derby next Saturday, when they play Exeter City at St James' Park, so a win against York would be a timely boost. Fletcher said: "I wouldn't say it's essential but it would definitely help. We are crying out for a win really, just to give everyone a boost. It's hard when you are playing okay and you are just not getting the results to show for your efforts." Luke Young could be added to Argyle's squad tomorrow after a shoulder problem but Robbie Williams is still sidelined by a stomach muscle injury. Fletcher added: "Willo is progressing but he's nowhere near match fit yet."
Carl Fletcher has no doubts about the commitment of transfer-listed Darren Purse. When asked whether Purse was still part of his first team plans he replied: "Definitely. He's a professional and he has got a drive to do things the right way. I think that's probably why he has played for so long and at such a high level." Fletcher admitted that Purse had been made available with some reluctance on his part. He said: "The club has got to be run right and we have got to make sure the books add up because we don't want to end up in a situation like we were before. It's just one of those things you have to deal with. It's something new from my point of view that you maybe have to lose players you don't want to just because of finances but I think that's football in general. You have got to look at the bigger picture as a whole and sometimes make a sacrifice." Purse was not made available for interview by Fletcher, but the defender underlined his commitment to Argyle on twitter this week. He said: "Shame about the result tonight but penalties are a lottery. Saturday is the most important game now. Need to get back to winning ways. Just because I've been put on the transfer list it doesn't stop my commitment to Argyle. Looking forward to being up for selection Saturday." Argyle will have to make a defensive switch tomorrow because Durrell Berry is suspended after he was sent-off against Oxford. Fletcher said: "It's disappointing Durrell got sent-off on Tuesday because the back four has been doing well. They probably haven't got the clean sheets they deserved in the last few games."
Carl Fletcher is preparing for a busy January transfer window. Fletcher wants to strengthen his squad and has several targets in mind, but knows he will have to balance the books when it comes to players moving in and out of the club. Darren Purse has already been transfer-listed, and yesterday it was announced that first-year professionals Jordan Copp and Jed Harper-Penman will not have their six-month contracts renewed at the end of December. Fletcher said: "We are looking to strengthen a few areas of the squad, to be honest. People have got to leave so we can get others in, to make sure there is money is available. It already starts now, with agents on the phone to us about players. We have been doing our homework over the last couple of months. There are a few people we are looking at and trying to make contact with. We will just see how it goes." After the recent departures of Scott Griffiths and Alex MacDonald, Argyle have two remaining on-loan players, Guy Madjo and Mark Molesley. Madjo has fallen out of favour in recent weeks and has not started a game since the home defeat by Burton Albion. Fletcher said: "Guy comes in and works hard every day. He has been a good pro while he has been here and we are glad to have him. With the way it has been with the games lately, he probably hasn't got the minutes he would have liked, but that's football. You can only pick 11." Fletcher admitted Madjo had lost out to other players at times when it came to team selection because they were better at defending set pieces than him. The manager described that as a 'frustrating' situation to be in but he said: "It's something you have to look into and adjust to because dead-ball situations are such a big part in the lower divisions."
Carl Fletcher has admitted it will be a blow to be without Durrell Berry when Argyle face York City on Saturday. Berry will serve a one-match suspension after he was sent-off for a second bookable offence against Oxford United in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Tuesday. Fletcher said: "We gave the ball away, which led to Durrell getting sent off. I think he was unfortunate to get booked in the first half. Their guy just fell into him, but once you are on a yellow card you are always on a tightrope. It's a shame because Durrell has been doing really well." Fletcher has a couple of options open to him to replace Berry at right-back. Jamie Lowry could play there, or Curtis Nelson could be moved from the centre of defence, which could see transfer-listed Darren Purse return to the team. Purse, 35, has been suspended for the last three matches after he was sent off in the 3-0 defeat at Fleetwood Town on November 17. Fletcher was frustrated by Argyle's defeat to Oxford, and added: "We probably didn't play as well as we have done over the last few weeks, but in the second half we had some good periods and some good chances. We should have seen the game out, really, but we didn't. It was a poor goal from our point of view. Then you go to penalties and it's a lottery. We worked hard at keeping Oxford at bay and restricted them to minimal chances. They had a bit of possession but it was fine, we kept our shape. We probably didn't keep the ball as well as we could have, but once the rain started coming down it was very difficult."
Carl Fletcher was frustrated by Argyle's exit from the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last night. He said: "We probably didn't play as well as we have done over the last few weeks but in the second half we had some good periods and some good chances. We should have seen the game out really but we didn't. It was a poor goal from our point of view. Then you go to penalties and it's a lottery. We worked hard at keeping them at bay and restricted them to minimal chances. They had a bit of possession but it was fine, we kept our shape. We probably didn't keep the ball as well as we could have, but once the rain started coming down it was very difficult." Fletcher had words of praise for Mark Molesley after his display in the game. He was replaced by Jamie Lowry with seven minutes remaining and the manager was keen to stress that he was withdrawn due to fatigue, and not form. "He got on the ball and was a driving force from midfield," said Fletcher. "He was knackered at the end of the game, that's only his second game in a year. He was cramping up and all sorts. I had to think of the game on Saturday. We had to make sure he didn't pick up a little injury. It was a real Catch 22, I didn't want to take him off because he was doing well but you could see he was physically tiring and that's when you get your injuries." Fletcher also had some parting words for another loanee, Alex MacDonald, who scored Argyle's goal on the night, bending in a free-kick from wide on the left flank, which seemed to be intentional. "I presume he was shooting," said Fletcher, "but I'm not sure! It's his last game, so obviously we thank him for his efforts." Many fans would like to see MacDonald return a for a further loan spell or on a permanent basis. "We'll see," said Fletcher. "Hopefully. We'll see what we can do in January."
John Ward is reported to be a contender to be appointed as Argyle's new director of football. Ward was the manager of Colchester United until he was dismissed in September and had previously been the manager of six other clubs, including Bristol City and Bristol Rovers.
Argyle drew 1-1 with Oxford United in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at Home Park, but lost 3-1 on penalties. The goal was scored by Alex MacDonald after 20 minutes. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Blanchard, Nelson, Bhasera, Gurrieri, Hourihane, Molesley, Cowan-Hall, Chadwick, MacDonald. Subs – Griffiths, Lowry, Harvey (not used – Cole, Richards). Attendance – 2,383.
Darren Purse has been transfer listed by Argyle. Financial, not footballing, reasons are reported to be behind the decision.
Alex Macdonald is keen on a permanent move to Argyle during the transfer window and Carl Fletcher has admitted he wants to conclude a deal in January, finances permitting. MacDonald said: "As it stands at the minute, I'm going back to Burnley. I haven't spoken to the manager up there yet. Under the previous manager we were talking in terms of me coming down permanently. At the minute, nothing is sorted but it's something I'm open to and something me and the manager have spoken about on a number of occasions. It's up to the two clubs now to agree something and then give me the okay to open talks and get personal stuff sorted out. I don't want to go back to a club if I'm not going to be playing. There is nothing better than playing on a Saturday. I enjoy that the most. I think maybe it is time for me to move on from Burnley but that, at the minute, is out of my hands. It's not up to me. I will see what happens over these next few weeks now." Fletcher has been pleased with the contribution of MacDonald to the squad over the last three months. He said: "We knew Macca from last season. He came in and slotted in seamlessly. He has got good quality and good enthusiasm, both on the training pitch and off it. He's one of the lads really. We will look to try to do something in January. Macca has said he would like to be here. We will try to sort something out and see if it gets cleared from upstairs. It would be a good addition to the squad." MacDonald added: "I have always said, since I have been down here I have enjoyed it. I like the place. It's a great club and I love working under the manager. It's not just the playing side of it either. I can go over to the offices and chat with Rick, and Sue and Jason have been brilliant for me. It's a real good club, and a club where I feel at home." Argyle will be looking for their first win in nine when they play Oxford tonight, and MacDonald added: "I'm looking forward to it. It should be a good game, and it's one we are looking to win. Personally, it's the last game of my loan and, hopefully, I will go out with a good performance and a win."
A short-list of candidates for the new post of Argyle's director of football has been drawn up and interviews are scheduled to be carried out by an appointments panel, chaired by director Colin Sexstone and including Carl Fletcher, over the next 10 days. An Argyle spokesman said: "The club has received a good response from high-quality candidates. An appointments panel has considered these applications and short-listed a number of candidates." Carl Fletcher said: "From my point of view, I have been a manager for just over a year and I'm still learning. This is the first football club James Brent has owned so we are both novices. We are both learning day to day and it would be good to get in someone with a bit of experience who I can bounce ideas off, or help when I need it. I really enjoy the training and things like that. I don't have issues with that. But when it comes to budgets and other off-field aspects, I have not come close to doing that before because I have played football for all my career. Help on that side of it would be a bonus. I just want to learn. It's important we get the right person in, someone who wants to be at the football club and gets on with the manager. You have seen it at Exeter City with Steve Perryman and Paul Tisdale. They get on really well. I think it wouldn't work if they didn't get on." Fletcher believes someone with managerial experience in League One and Two, rather than at a higher level, would be beneficial. He added: "There is no point bringing someone in whose ideals about football are punting it up to a big man and going from there because that's not how we want to play football. We want to keep the ball on the ground, if we can, and play when it's on. Someone with the same ideas as me would be a benefit. I'm learning every day and it would be great to have someone with that experience who I could ask, 'Did we do that right?' and they can say, 'Yes, you did' or, 'You might want to think about doing it this way'. I'm not a closed book. I don't think I know everything about football. I'm sure there are managers who have been in football for 10-15 years who are still learning all the time. For me to get better, it's important to get the right person in." John Deehan had a spell as Argyle's director of football towards the end of last season but his contract was not renewed in the summer. "It was a different time and different circumstances then," said Fletcher.
Argyle return to action tonight after a 10-day break and with a spot in the last eight of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at stake. Carl Fletcher explained his players' training schedule had been adjusted because of the break but added: "The lads have worked hard and are looking forward to the game. You only need a couple of wins and, before you know it, you are playing for a place at Wembley. It will be a tough game against Oxford. They had an exciting cup tie away to Accrington at the weekend." Robbie Williams is still sidelined by a stomach muscle injury, but Luke Young could return to the squad tonight. Fletcher said: "Youngy seems to be okay. He has got a problem there but the pain has eased off. It could be one of those things which you have to play with and hope it doesn't get any worse."
Alex MacDonald plays the last game of his loan spell for Argyle tomorrow, but hopes it will not be his last for the club. "I've always said since I've been down here that I enjoyed it," he said. "I like the place and it's a great club. The move is something I'm open to and something me and the manager have spoken about on numerous occasions but now it's up to both clubs to sort something out." Having scored against Southend fairly early on in the season, goal-scoring opportunities have been hard to come by for MacDonald in recent weeks. He added: "We have missed a few chances, myself included, and it's the small margins that are costing us in these games. I don't want to bring it down to lady luck but if you look back at some of the games, some decisions haven't gone our way but we can't solely blame that on where we are in the table. But it's not like were playing badly or that were struggling to compete with teams in this league."
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