A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle saw out 2016 in style by returning to the top of League Two with a 2-0 victory over visitors Crawley. It took the Greens a while to find the opening goal but Oscar Threlkeld and Craig Tanner combined to give a comfortable win to the home side. Argyle: McCormick, Miller(Tanner), Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Threlkeld, Fox, Jervis, Carey, Slew(Smith), Garita(Bulvitis). Subs: Dorel, Osborne, Goodwillie, Rooney.
Derek Adams warned Argyle not to underestimate tomorrow's visiting Crawley Town side but also stated the strength in depth of his own side following the recent upturn in form. Adams said: "Dermot Drummy has come out of the academy system, and likes to play his football out from the back. They have a number of players that are different from last year; it has changed around quite a bit. We will be mindful of the fact that they have some good players there. They are very expansive and open, and it should be a very good footballing match.
"We have shown with the players we have – Slew, Garita and Jervis were unplayable at times on Saturday – and Graham Carey as well can play in that area and go and score goals. You need a number of players in your team that are different from other teams, and have that creative edge, a wee bit of quickness; players that score goals and put you in a good position.
"It's not easy, but we've shown that physically we have done well. After the Newport game we recovered well to play Wycombe, who had ten days rest, compared to the few we had. The players looked in good shape. I think it's better this year than it was last year. It's more competitive. From the bottom to the top, sides are all beating each other. You only have to look at the number of teams that have pushed up the league in recent months and weeks, like Exeter and Cambridge, that tells you how competitive it is, and what a tight league it is."
Derek Adams gave the latest of what now seems to be a regular update on the progress of Argyle's injury situation. Adams said: "Jimmy Spencer has had the boot he had on taken off, which is progress. He is hopeful to be back at the end of February, which is a big boost to us as we thought it was going to be longer. We're delighted with that news.
"For Ryan Donaldson, we're looking at six weeks from when it happened, before he can take part in any games. After two weeks he'll start training again in an uncompetitive way. It keeps his legs moving, his muscles moving, and he doesn't lose any fitness to a great extent.
"Gary Sawyer has trained with the first team, last week and this week, and is progressing well. I am hopeful of playing him on Saturday in the South West Peninsula game. We'll possibly give him 45-60 minutes in that match. Gary has been a very good signing for us since he came here. He is experienced, and has been out for four months now, which is a long time."Ben Purrington came through well, with no ill effects from his injury. The same with Bulvitis, coming though as well. It was good to get them some match time.
"We have got injuries and we just have to be careful with them, to get through this 48 hour spell. It is a very difficult schedule; we have to play on a Saturday, then travel and train on a Sunday, then play on a Monday at 3pm. It is not easy."
Adams also hinted that Argyle could be looking at 'two or three' new additions to the squad in the upcoming January transfer window. He said: "We are looking trying to add to the squad. It's going to be a busy month, but not too bad. We would like to take in a number of players to compliment what we have here. I don't see it being too busy, but we will make signings in the window, because we need to strengthen the squad. If you look at the period where we had injuries, we did not have masses of depth, and we want to make sure we do towards the end do the season. We have a number of players we are looking at. It will probably be around two or three. Nobody will be in for the first of January, put it that way. But we have the month of January to do business, and we are already speaking to people. We're just looking to strengthen the team. I don't want to go into specifics at this moment in time because then people will draw conclusions. It's important that you add a wee bit of quality to the squad, and that competitive edge. We certainly need that. We really need extra cover in some areas."
Sonny Bradley admits that the upcoming game against Liverpool will be one of the biggest of his career but said that he would be focusing on the immediate games first where a crucial 6 points are up for grabs against Crawley and Barnet. Bradley said: "It's a massive game for me on a personal note and probably the biggest of my career. I think that a couple of the other lads will potentially feel the same way. I want to be fit and I want to be 100% ready for it, but before that we have Crawley and two days after that Barnet. We've got to concentrate on Crawley and Barnet. They're our main focus. I don't think it is right that the games are so close together. You need at least 48 hours for your body to recover but there won't be any moaning about it. We've just got to get on with it. If the lads put in a shift against Crawley and then are not fit for the Barnet game, we have more than enough in our squad for players to step in, fill places and still be strong. So we'll be looking for six points in these two games and then we'll go on to Liverpool. f you want to play in the Liverpool game, it's important that you put a shift in against Crawley and Barnet."
On the subject of Crawley, Bradley admitted that he had little intelligence to offer about the side, despite being their former captain. He said: "I was there a couple of years and I got to know a lot of people at the club. It's a very good club run by some very good people. It's going to be good to see a few of them, but all I think about is winning the game. "It's just another game. I said this before we played Portsmouth, when we kick-off on Saturday I'm not going to treat them any differently to anybody else. I think they had a fairly good start to the season considering how much change has been made at the club. They will be coming with a real positive vibe and I'm sure they will be looking to get something from the game but, from our point of view, we have got to keep home performance levels up. If we perform like we did against Wycombe, and possibly defend a little bit better, I think we can get all three points. I looked at their teamsheet from Boxing Day and I think there were four starters from last season so, obviously, that is a lot of change. I think there has been a lot of change in the way they play as well. At the start of last season we were quite direct up to Matt Harrold.
"But Dermot has come in from a Premier League academy and under-21s background and he wants to get the ball down and play a lot more. I'm not sure how much advice and tactics I can offer to our team. I spent maybe a month with Dermot when he came in and he will definitely have them organised and they will definitely be trying to play football so it will be an interesting game."
Derek Adams reiterated that he thinks Argyle did well enough to win the game against Wycombe and that a mixture of poor refereeing decisions fused with defensive errors handed the visitors a point. The manager said: "We played very well. We passed the ball well, created openings; we've hit the bar, hit the post, had a number of penalty claims turned down, and probably deserved to win the game. We haven't won in the end but I think there was only one team that was trying to pass the ball and move it. We have been 3-1 up and we've lost a goal when Sonny Bradley is fouled by Akinfenwa to make it 3-2 – he's pulled back; he's twisted – it shouldn't have been a goal. They get themselves back into it and then they score at the death.
"We were very good in the first half, a top performance; in the second half, we got ourselves sucked in to a wee bit of a battle and it became fragmented, and that allowed them to get into the game. Jordan Slew scores the first one when he comes in side Harriman. He twists him inside outside and then round about, and then has the shot and the goalkeeper couldn't handle it. The second one was good play from Garita down the side and Jake's made a very good run across to get the goal. Connor Smith's hit the post; Garita's hit the bar in the second half; then we score from a corner kick - a great delivery from Graham Carey and the ball was just behind Yann Songo'o and he's twisted his body to get his foot round the ball.
"For the first goal, Graham gives the ball away in the middle of the park and it's an easy goal from their point of view. I know Kashket has to do well and he does; the second goal is a foul on us; and the third goal is a very good strike. We had to clear our lines. It's a long ball into our box; we haven't headed it far enough and we haven't cleared our lines. It is a very good strike into the corner but we probably should have cleared it a wee bit better."
Derek Adams expressed his displeasure with Wycombe's defending during the 3-3 draw, claiming that they could not handle Argyle's forward line. He said: "When we went down the sides of them, Harriman went off – he couldn't live with Slew, he was out on his feet; Jacobson had to resort to rugby tackles to get the better of Jake Jervis. They couldn't live with them. Jacobson takes out Jervis and should have been booked, doesn't have anything happen to him then gets booked later on; it should have been a sending-off. Garita had done well for us against Newport and is coming back to fitness. He was a handful today; Stewart and Pierre couldn't handle him at times. He was upsetting them, which was good to see. He's made a goal and he's taken the ball in for us. He's a strong player. Top performances from the front three.
"They resorted to rugby challenges in the game. They were off the ball at times, as well. I think the officials missed it and that is disappointing because it looked like it was going to be a very good win for us."
Jake Jervis agreed that Argyle's performance warranted more just just a point based on the flow of the game: "For the whole of the game we controlled it, though obviously there were little spells where they got goals. I think we're happy with our performance, but it would've been better, obviously, if we got three points. I think with the way they played, regardless of what point it is in the game, it's going to be difficult: up to Akinfenwa, who's going to pin things in and make it difficult. They were always just booming it long, so obviously they made it difficult that way. I enjoyed it. I'm disappointed I didn't get a few assists with balls into the box, but at the same time, overall I was happy with the performance from the boys. If we were positive, we'll be able to take on most players. Obviously that's what we did today and we enjoyed it.
"Because the next game is Saturday, we use it as a normal week and just prepare for that. It's the same as last year: we know the Saturday-Monday is going to be difficult, but we're going to try and pick up as many points as we can."
Argyle keep their unbeaten record but have been knocked off the top of League Two following last gasp heartbreak with a 3-3 draw at home to Wycombe. The visitors went 1-0 up early on but Argyle established a 3 goal advantage through Slew, Jervis and Songo'o. The chairboys pulled one back almost immediately after through Akinfenwa but it was late sub Myles Weston who secured the spoils were shared. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis, Carey, Slew, Garita. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Purrington, Osborne, Tanner, Rooney, Goodwillie.
Argyle fans may have been forgiven for fearing the worst when Ben Purrington joined Gary Sawyer on Argyle's injured list but Oscar Threlkeld has been a more than able deputy on his weaker side according to manager Derek Adams. Adams said of Threlkeld: "He was excellent. He is quick, strong in the tackle, and covers well with his good foot. He has played well for me in a variety of positions. I'm delighted to have him. When the ball is on the opposite side of the pitch you want your left-back to cover round, and he did that very well.
"Ben is progressing well. He has been out for about five weeks with his injury, and we are hopefully that he can keep progressing and get himself around the squad again."
Derek Adams confirmed that his players will not be resting on their laurels of the win at Newport but will instead be on the training ground on Christmas Day preparing for the crunch Boxing Day match against Wycombe. The gaffer said: "We'll have plenty of time. We didn't get back until the early hours, but trained Thursday morning, and are preparing for Wycombe now on Boxing Day. We've got three days to get the players refreshed and ready to go. Some of them will have gone on the bike, or gone for a run, or gone in the swimming pool. Those that didn't play had a training session. It becomes a mixed morning. They were in very good mood. They've performed very well this season, and it's great for them to get the opportunity to play at Anfield now. We had to recover. It was important that they did that, so we could assess if there were any problems. We were working to the purpose of getting back into the swing of things before the Boxing Day game. They will be off Friday, then in on Saturday and Christmas Day. We're training on Christmas Day. We've got an important fixture on Boxing Day, so we'll raining on Christmas morning, then spend a little time in the afternoon with families. We've hopefully come through unscathed. We have a couple of training sessions to go, but it looks like we'll have the same squad on Boxing Day.
"We're obviously delighted to progress to the third round, and we have a very good tie in Liverpool away from home. We've only got two weeks until the game; we have three games to play between now and then. We want to pick up as many points as we can. It's the nature of what happens. If there is a distraction, it is caused by all the publicity. We can't do anything about that. The players are obviously delighted that they've been able to progress through two tough games against Newport, and to win the first game against Mansfield as well, they've been able to show very good character. I think it's very important. It obviously helps a great deal with the cash flow – there's a new grandstand to be built – and it's something that can help."
Our away League Two game game at Yeovil Town will now take place on Tuesday, January 31. The match, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, January 7, has had to be moved because we are now playing Liverpool in the Emirates FA Cup third round on that weekend. We will be wearing a special one-off burgundy kit for the match as both our home and away colours clash with the Glovers' shirts.
Graham Carey admitted the date at Anfield is his dream FA Cup tie...and not least because he is a Liverpool fan himself! Argyle's second round hero spoke about his excitement and also the decision for Paul-Arnold Garita to take the first of Argyle's two penalties rather than himself. Carey: "It's brilliant. It will be a great day out for the fans. We knew it was going to be tough tonight. We've been here in the past and beat them with penalties – and we beat them again with a penalty. Going to Anfield, from a personal perspective – I've been a Liverpool fan all my life – is going to be a great day. My whole family are Liverpool fans. I'm sure a few will make the trip over. I'm sure I'll have a lot of requests for tickets tomorrow! I've been to a few games there. It's a great place to play football. We're going to enjoy it – but we'll go there and try to get a result. No-one will give us a shot of getting a result, but we've shown that we can battle as a team, and it's the FA Cup. You never know. This group of lads have a main aim this season, and that's to get promoted. We'll enjoy that day when it comes, but first of all we need to get back to the league and rack up more points. The FA Cup won't be a distraction whatsoever.
"We knew with the conditions it was going to be a long night. We've grown as a team over the last couple of weeks. We've started keeping more clean sheets, and finding ways to win tough games like this, and Accrington. Not many might have thought we'd keep two clean sheets. We've started to learn how to grind games out. Previously, when we've been on a bad run, we've been too open at times, but now at Accrington, and Doncaster at home, it's hard for teams at this level to break us down. We know we have the pace on the counter attack to hurt teams, and that's what we do.
"I felt confident, scoring a few penalties earlier this season. It was a good penalty, I sent the keeper the wrong way. I heard a few of them saying 'go left', so I went right. We don't really have a designated penalty taker; usually me or Jake takes them. Jake wasn't on the pitch, so it should have been me taking it. I'll hold my hands up and I say I should have taken the first one, but Arnie was confident. He's worked hard for the team and come back from injury, so he fancied his chances of scoring. As a team, we support each other, even if you fail, but he still worked hard all game and caused them problems. When the second one came, there was only going to be one taker. We got through – that's all that matters."
Derek Adams admitted feeling nerves during what was a fairly even game at times at Newport, but said that his players came through the other side because they are essentially winners in nature. Adams: "They are winners and that's why they have been able to get through to the next round. They went and won headers and they put their bodies in good areas to stop crosses. We spoke about it before the game; we knew the next round was going to be a trip to Anfield. We are obviously looking forward to it. It will be a terrific day for the supporters and for the players to go there.
"You do get nervous when the game is toing and froing. There was a lot of running from both sides and you think you are going to score, and then, the next minute, you think they are going to score. It was one of those games; it became quite open towards the end. We did get opportunities in the match and didn't pick the right pass at times but you always felt there was a goal in us somehow. It was a difficult night and a hard-fought match, and that's what you get in the FA Cup. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't a good footballing game from the point of view of passages of play. It was grit and determination that both teams showed. I think both sets of players have got to take a lot of credit for that."
Argyle will play Liverpool at Anfield in round three of the FA Cup after beating Newport 1-0 after extra time in the FA Cup second round replay. A tight fought encounter ended goalless after 90 minutes before Argyle were awarded a penalty in the first half of extra time. Paul-Arnold Garita missed but the Greens got a second bite of the cherry shortly afterwards. This time, Graham Carey made no mistake. Argyle will go to Anfield live on TV. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis(Garita), Carey, Tanner(Goodwillie), Slew. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Purrington, Osborne, Rooney.
Derek Adams might have thought he had seen the last of Newport's pitch this season, but a trip to Anfield is the prize tomorrow as Argyle return there for the FA Cup second round replay. Adams said of the tie and the pitch: "They've taken every possible measure. They have a balloon tent over the top to protect it from the rain. The FA have obviously assisted in it, and credit to them. It helps Newport under difficult circumstances. We are just hopeful the rain stays off. There was a rugby game there on Friday night. But we have to deal with the circumstance. They are playing there for one reason or another – and we'll deal with it. It's not the easiest pitch to play on. It can be bobbly and sticky in certain patches. It's a rugby pitch, and Newport are playing their games there. You can't play pretty football on it. It's not conductive to that. You have to play in a different style. They are not easy venues to go to, but we have done well there in the past.
"We have got a football match to think about and it's more important than anything else. There is no more motivation needed than to get through to the next round of the FA Cup. The players don't have to wait for the draw in the next round to find out who they are going to get. They know that Liverpool awaits the winners. We will drum that into them and hopefully we can put on a really good performance. It's a big occasion for everybody. That's why the television cameras are covering the game."
For the first time in a while, Derek Adams had genuinely positive news to bring on the Argyle injury situation. He said of the players in doubt: "Bulvitis hasn't missed too many games. He's been back in training and looked good. Ben Purrington started training on Monday, so we'll see how he is today and tomorrow, and assess things before tomorrow night. Gary Sawyer will hopefully be back into full-time training the following week. David Ijaha is a bit slower, and is with the physio just now. He is not progressing as quickly."
Derek Adams used the victory of promotion rivals Doncaster in the lunchtime kick-off as motivation to beat Accrington on Saturday. He explained: "As we knew last week that we would go back to the top of the table, we knew that Doncaster had won their game – they had played earlier in the day – and it was good for us to get the win. We told the players that Doncaster had won and that a 1-0 win would get us back there. You have got to have a game-plan and the game-plan was to see us into the second half – I always like to have that plan in place – and then we changed things about. We knew that Accrington would try to come at us. I thought we could win the game. At the start of the match, it was important that we looked after them. They were going to go out all guns blazing, as Accrington manager John Coleman had said in his programme notes, and we sat off the game and allowed them to have the ball. We dealt well with the ball into the box; it didn't really concern me because I thought they were pushing players forward and we would be able to counter-attack them after that. It was a very hard game. We always know that, when you come to Accrington, it is going to be difficult. Today was no different and we are obviously delighted to take the three points home with us. We should have been 2-0 up in the first half; we had two good opportunities. Jake Jervis should have got in behind his man, and Slew should have hit the target.
"In the second half, we had umpteen opportunities, as well, when we could have broken away and scored. They had opportunities, as well, and put a bit of pressure on us, but we dealt well with it. I thought we created a lot of chances. We were in and around their penalty area in the second half and should have scored a good few more goals. We played very well on the counter-attack when they pushed bodies forward and we could have scored three or four if we had chosen the right option.
"The players played well last weekend and deserved to play this week, and it was a very good professional performance. Accrington have beaten Doncaster, Portsmouth and Blackpool and we have come here today and won the match. We work at different things all the time and we don't really change too much during the season; we do tinker a wee bit, but we work hard every single day."
Adams believes Argyle are on course to set an all-time club record, just one season after equalling the 86-year-old previous best. Saturday's 1-0 Sky Bet League Two win at Accrington was the Pilgrims' eighth from ten away matches this season. With 13 more aways to come, topping the 12 away victories achieved last season and in 1929-30 is well within their grasp.. Adams said: "It is doable. We have come to the football club and tried to move it on and tried to beat records. Last year, we equalled a club record of 12 away wins, so we would like to do better than that this year. We have started very well and we would like to continue that."
Craig Tanner's goal on Saturday put him into double figure goals for Argyle across various loan spells but he wanted to push on and get more as Argyle's promotion push continues. Tanner said: "You come to a place like Accrington, and they have quality players like Billy Kee then you add in everything – a long journey, small changing rooms, everything – but overall three points is all we can ask for. You can't win every game playing pretty, like Barcelona. Sometimes you just have to sit in, defend, and take your chance when it comes. It's an unbelievable win for the lads. I think the three of us can take some credit, as can the manager for making the subs at that time. We've got a squad here full of good players. Our depth will be tested around this time, over the Christmas period. Having Bully back and Arnie back is all positive. Four is an ok tally. As a forward I want to chip in with a few more and help the promotion push in any way I can. Hopefully I can grab a few more over Christmas."
Tanner also recalled the nature of the goal, saying: "Ozzie picked up the ball and cut in on his right foot. I saw the pocket in front of me and drifted in to that. I got on the half turn and thought about a shot, but I saw Goodie in a better position, played it to him and continued my run. It was superb from Goodie; a brilliant ball, perfectly weighted with great disguise and a bit of composure. If it was on my left foot I probably would have missed. Luckily it was on my right and I scuffed it in!
"We've had a little blip, which every team will do. You won't go through the season undefeated – it shows the character, how we've bounced back. We go into Wednesday now with two wins and three clean sheets. We know our quality. You're going to lose; you don't suddenly get down in the dumps. Everyone loses, but you keep your positive mentality and it's how you then kick on and get the results back. It's nice to be top, but it's easier to look up than look down. When you're at the top you are a scalp to take. We'll ignore the table when in it comes to that sort of thing."
Finally, Derek Adams gave praise to the impact of Argyle forward David Goodwillie and said that he has been a good player for Argyle so far, in spite of his lack of goals. The manager said: "It was a great ball from Goodwillie; the vision from Goodwillie. Goodwillie is fantastic player. Sometimes people don't see him making the runs and don't find him but, today, he found a great ball for Craig Tanner. Craig's turned himself well and managed to get the ball on target and it's gone into the back of the net. These players are big for the football club. We need a substitutes' bench; we need a squad; and we are starting to get that back now.
"He's a top player. He's probably too good for this division – we are lucky to have him – but he hasn't had the break to get the goal he deserves. He's hit the bar a few times; he's had blocks on shots on goal; his movement is very good."
Argyle will (for the second season in a row!) go into Christmas at the top of the League Two table. The greens won 1-0 at Accrington following a late Craig Tanner winner from a David Goodwillie assist: a game in which subs were crucial to determining the outcome. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Smith, Fox, Donaldson(Goodwillie), Carey, Jervis(Tanner), Slew(Garita) Subs: Dorel, Osbourne, Bulvitis, Rooney.
Derek Adams stated his belief that those involved in the running and management of football clubs should have some kind of qualification and understanding of the game rather than merely having the money to be able to buy the club. Adams theorised: "I think something has to be put in place where boards, directors should have a qualification around football, rather than just having money to come in and buy a football club. Football managers understand the running of a football club. Football clubs are run by people that, the majority of the time, don't have football experience. That causes a huge problem. That happens all over the country, and they get influenced by outside influences. It causes the football manager huge problems. That is what is wrong with the game. The game is never going to improve unless people at boardroom level have some sort of football education and licenses to know what they are doing. It doesn't have to be an ex-player. It has to be somebody that has had a business background in football, or a footballing background – playing, coaching or managing – and they have to be in or around the board. Too many clubs in this country are run by people that have no experience – and I mean NO experience – of being around the football world. The football world is completely different to a business background.
"We have to be very careful who we are listening to. With the world of social media, and newspapers having columns, they pick teams for managers when there are only about 25 votes. It isn't helpful for a football manager. We are in a difficult position. We had a Fans Forum here last week. We had 8,500 at the game, and we had less than 1% turn up to a Fans Forum. The people that are speaking out about different aspects in the football club are the minority, not the majority. People that write and say things, and use what is said in forums, etc, are the minority, not the majority. That was shown last week at the Fans Forum. Being a football manager is a difficult occupation. With time, you enjoy it, and there are many people out there who want to be one. Job security is a problem. It's not something you can say you are going to be here for five or ten years, because that is just not the case. I'm here as long as Derek Adams wants to be at the football club, or Plymouth Argyle want me to be at the football club. It's a two-way thing. It's no different to anywhere else."
Adams looked back on the game against Saturday's opponents Accrington last season as one of his toughest days in football and hoped to make amends, saying: "Accrington was up there with the game against Exeter as the worst experiences I have had as a manager. Two games that we were in a position where we were winning with less than ten minutes to go. If we had won those games we'd be in the division above now. For one reason or another we didn't do it. We don't want to have that experience again. It's always a difficult match. They are a team that did really well last season, and will be looking to kick on again. They are only nine points off the play-offs. They are in there, and we have to be guarded about the three games they have won at home this season – Doncaster, Portsmouth and Blackpool. That tells you that they do up their game, and they did well away from home against West Ham as well. We have to be mindful of that. They are a team that have good ability around their squad. Accrington were very unfortunate last season. They were minutes from getting promoted, and that can hurt badly.
"We're just trying to win the game on Saturday to put ourselves in a good position. We are better this season by a point. We've had a very good start to the campaign. You have to look at the season as a whole. We have 46 games to play – you'll win some, draw some and lose some. You don't get too high when you win, you don't get too low when you lose. At times we are going to have a lot of the ball and create chances. It is something we are always going to do. We had a lot of possession in some games and were not able to score. In some games, we are not going to see as much of the ball, because we don't want to see as much of the ball at times – we can control the game in a different way. That's what we did last Saturday."
Adams also said that he did not fear the prospect of bids coming in for Argyle's star performers in January, saying that it was a positive indictment on the season Argyle have had: "We've got a very good squad and every time there is a transfer window, if somebody comes along and bids money for a player that we can't refuse, then that's the way it is. The football club has got to move in the right direction. It's a selling club when it has to be a selling club. It wants to keep its best players when it is possible. We would like to have everyone here when the transfer window closes at the end of January. I'm delighted that people are interested, and I'm sure the players are as well. We've had a lot of good performers this season. I'm sure there are scouts and managers watching our games on a regular basis, because they want to see why Plymouth Argyle are at the top of the league. The reason is because we have a lot of talented individuals. Sonny Bradley has been a very good signing for us. He has been nominated for a player of the month award. He has presence; is very good in the air; he reads the game very well. He is a left-sided centre-half, which is at a premium. He has fit in well to the style of play we have had this season. Any player that plays in the division for so many seasons understands what it is to play week-in, week-out with the amount of game time you have to play, and you have to play in a certain style at times. He understands that. We have him, David Fox, Luke McCormick; a good spine to the team with experience of being captains at clubs before. I think that is important to have around your squad."
Connor Smith is a player who has recently come back into Argyle's starting eleven and he believes this squad have what it takes to get out of this league. Smith said: "We've got a few players who have the experience of winning promotion from this league - that is massive. We want to avoid the play-offs. We are looking to stay in the top three, but obviously we want to win the league. We know we have got the quality to go on big runs and get good results all season. We have got players on the bench who can easily come in and not weaken the side. Strength in depth is a good thing and hopefully that will get us through at the end of the season. It's a massive result. We started the season with consecutive defeats and went on a run, so hopefully after the period that we have just had, we can go on another big run. Accrington is a tough place to go. They are a decent side and very physical. I know that they are struggling this season but we know the qualities that they have and of course it's going to be a very tough game. We'll go up there and dig in, it won't be a pretty game but we'll hopefully go up there and get three points. We want to be top all season. It's good to look at the halfway point of the season and be top of the league. It's a good place to start and then hopefully we can kick on again after Christmas. It can be challenging but we have a group of lads who want to play every game and we have the strength in depth of the squad, which is massive too. We have players who can come on if people are tired. We should be able to deal with the fixtures over Christmas."
Derek Adams was delighted to see his side go back to top of the table, a position they have occupied for much of the season. The manager said: "We're obviously happy to go back to the top of the table. We've been there for a long time this season. I knew that Luton against Carlisle was going to be a difficult game for both these sides, and a win was always going to be putting us top of the table. I thought they coped with the conditions very well. Both teams passed the ball at times; Doncaster probably passed the ball more than us today, which was going to be the case. We were quite happy with that, because they were going to pass it in their own half.
"I don't really care who takes the penalties said as long as it goes in the back of the net. That's my philosophy. I thought it was Graham Carey that was going to take the penalty - he was the last one to take one. As I've said before, whoever is confident on the pitch gets to take the penalty kick. Jake was that person today. He hit the target, and if you hit the target you can't complain. It was a very well-taken penalty."
Sonny Bradley described his pleasure at what he described as 'the best result of the season' and went on to give his analysis of both penalty decisions and the red card incident respectively, saying: "They are a very good team. I think if you look at the names on the team sheet, there is some very good players in that squad; in my opinion a couple of the best players in the league. It was always going to be a difficult task, especially because our confidence has not been at it's best. We have dug in today. I think a few people have wrote us off before the game. That is the feel I got this week a little bit around the club. But that has never been from the players or the management. I have just spoke to the gaffer, he has just said his piece after the game and he said all week he knew we were going to be winners. We warmed up properly before the game, everyone was bang up for it and we have gone out there and we have done the job.
"I was a good 50 or 60 yards away from it so I could not see whether it was inside or outside the box. I think that is what they were arguing with the referee about. I don't think they were arguing whether it is a foul or not because he has absolutely cleaned him out in my opinion. Whether it was a penalty or not I do not know, I was just delighted to see the referee point to the spot. I was a bit nervous when the ball rattled the bar because I thought it was coming back out. Luckily for Jake it has hit the line and bounced back into the roof of the net. In the end you can say it was a great finish but he had me on edge for a minute!
"I think it was a penalty. I think Foxy came across and dangled a lazy leg. I call it a lazy leg because you have got to just stand up there and show him outside and get rid of the ball. I think we had chance to clear it before it got to that point so we will probably look back at that and be a bit disappointed.
"It was nothing really. I didn't see Coppinger put his head towards Luke. I thought the referee could have just moved everyone away and at best probably could have dished out a couple of yellow cards and that would have been that, I did not really see a red card in there anywhere. Obviously the referee or the linesman has seen something I have not seen. I was right amongst it trying to break it up so whether something has happened that I have not seen, it might have. That is irrelevant to me now though, all I care about is the three points."
Sonny also spoke about the awe inspired by his Argyle teammate Graham Carey: "It was an outstanding finish. They were dominating the ball at the time. It was a slip from their player and you have got to make sure you have got big studs on when Graham Carey is about. If you let him get in and he's running at the centre-half, it's panic. It's a defender's worse nightmare when someone like Graham gets the ball down at his feet and he runs at you. He can go left, he can go right. All he has to do is shift it onto his left foot half a yard and he will put it in the top corner. A bit more of that from Graham over the next few games and we will certainly be looking to put a little run together."
Argyle kept their first clean sheet in months against a high-scoring team in Doncaster, and Derek Adams was impressed by his side's defensive and attacking prowess. He said: "Without the ball, I think that we were excellent at times," said Adams, "keeping our shape and negating the space for them to play in. We allowed their two centre halves [time] on the ball and kept a good line. Later on in the game, they did go for it. They took off their centre half, I think it was their left back as well, and put on a midfield player to another area of the pitch. They took their right back to centre half; it probably didn't help them in a respect from a defensive point of view, but offensively they were going for it. After that, we knew we would get opportunities in the game because we've got very good, creative players. We've got a lot of quickness in the team and it was only a matter of time before we scored. Teams are going to come
"An outstanding finish. He took it very well; he turned it onto his left foot and curled it into the corner. He played as an inverted winger today in a 4-3-3 formation, allowing us to stop space in behind and stop space in the midfield, where their players were going to get time on the ball. We allowed them time on the ball because you have to be a very good team to play through teams. I thought today that when we won it back, we were able to counter them with Graham Carey one-on-one with the defender. A very good performance from us today, I thought, from start to finish. Tactically and technically, an excellent day for us. We've been able to win 2-0 at home, which is an excellent result."
Sonny Bradley also said that the defensive performance was very much one to be proud of: "It is a defensive performance that we are very proud of. It is a clean sheet that we can build on now. We went on a decent 14 game unbeaten run, and if we can put another one of those together in the second half of the season then I certainly think we will be up there in the top three. I thought everyone at the back today was brilliant. I'll point out Oscar - he was to the left of me so I see more of him, but he was outstanding today, he put his body on the line and when you have got a left back who does that for you it makes your job a little bit easier. I was well aware that they scored a lot of goals, but I was also aware that they have got the second worse defensive record in the league. We knew it could have been a game full of goals so the fact that we have kept them out is an extra little bonus for us. I think they have had a good go at us. There were a couple of chances in the first half. It could have gone either way but in the end we have kept them out and we are delighted with that.
"It did kind of look like an away performance", said Sonny, "but what mattered today was the result and the three points. We have played three or four games lately here; we have dominated the ball against Barnet and Grimsby, have not scored a goal and have not come up with the result. It's been disappointing. Today it was important that we were solid - that is our second clean sheet in a row now so we are delighted with that and hopefully we can just build on that now. Some people say 2-0 is a little bit worse than 1-0. But not when you are going into the last 10-15 minutes of the game. They have had a penalty an a man sent off. It has all just gone our way a little bit today. I think the last few games, I think there is a few things; take Connor's chance at Newport and a few things at Barnet and Grimsby where it has not quite gone our way. Were we the better team today? Probably not. I think it was quite even. When it came down to it we put the ball in the back of the net and we kept a clean sheet and that is what it is all about."
Argyle have returned to top of the league in style with a 2-0 victory over existing league leaders Doncaster. A fine individual effort from Graham Carey and a Jake Jervis penalty that went in off the bar secured the victory. The win was made certain at the end when Doncaster missed a late penalty which saw James Coppinger sent off in a melee with several players from both sides. Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis, Carey, Donaldson, Slew. Subs: Dorel, Palfrey, Rooney, Fletcher, Osborne, Goodwillie, Tanner.
Derek Adams flatly denies that Argyle are the underdogs ahead of the visit of Doncaster Rovers in spite of the disparity in form between the two sides. The manager says: "When we're at home and we've had as good a season as we've had so far, I think we will still be the favourites to win, but other people will maybe tell me differently. Like ourselves, they are consistent – 12 wins out of 19 games. They have lost four games this season; we have lost five. Both teams go into the match as the most consistent ones, along with Carlisle, at the top of the table. It's a good football match. It is a big game; it's first against third and, from our point of view, it is an opportunity to get back on top. If we can get three points, I would hope to be back on top again. We play games at the top of the table all the time; we have been fortunate to do that for the majority of the time I have been here. We have never been out of the play-off positions very often and we want to continue that.
"We are where we are and you finish the season with the points total you have because, roughly, that's what you deserve to have. Last year, we got to the play-off final; this year, we want to do better than that if we can. We are always punching above our weight. People don't like me saying that, but that's the reality of the situation. We want to win the game and go back to the top of the league.
"We just have to deal with the presence that they have, but we have to play our own game; keep the ball; create the opportunities again; and be more clinical."
Derek Adams is delighted to see Argyle's game with Newport televised on BT Sport, saying: "We are obviously delighted that the game is going to get a lot of publicity. It's good for the football club that it's going to be shown to the world, so to speak. It's about promoting your brand and we will be able to do that live on BT Sport. Everybody will be looking forward to that game. It's great for so many people that are Plymouth Argyle fans and Newport fans that they will be able to tune into it."
He will be pleased to know also that BT are screening the game between Liverpool and the winner of Argyle's replay. The game will be played on Sunday January 8th at 1.30 PM.
Yann Songo'o is relishing the chance to play top of the table Doncaster on Saturday and believes the opposition's expansive style could actually benefit Argyle. Songo'o said: "It will be an interesting game. Doncaster is a really good side. They are a team which came down from League One, so it's going to be a good game. It's going to suit us more because Doncaster like to play football as well. I think the game is going to be open so there are going to be loads of chances. We knew that time was going to come. It's football. It's hard to go the whole season unbeaten. Other teams are playing deeper against us so it's getting harder for us to try to score. But I think we have done really well this season. We are still up there in the promotion places. No-one is panicking. We know we are going to go back to winning. We lost our striker Jimmy Spencer and have had a couple of other injuries. It's not an excuse but I think that has affected us a little bit. Hopefully against Doncaster we can come back to winning.
"The mentality I have is that I will play everywhere. I will do my best wherever the gaffer puts me. My normal position is more as a centre-back but I enjoyed playing in the midfield Wherever the manager puts me I will always give 100 per cent so, for me, it doesn't matter the position I play. We are working on that in training and getting better. It was really solid against Newport and hopefully we can carry that on."
Argyle's FA Cup replay with Newport to determine who will travel to Anfield in Round Three has been moved to Wednesday December 21st to be televised on BT Sport. Ticket details will be shortly available on the club's official website.
Derek Adams has given the latest injury assessment on his 'walking wounded' squad of players. The manager said: "We had eight out on Saturday through injury and suspension. That is a lot in a squad of 24 with three goalkeepers. We have Jordan Slew back on Saturday, and hopefully we can get the others back as soon as possible. Will be it be Saturday? I'm not sure yet, but they are working their way back to fitness. We'll look at Ben over the next few days. He's been out for a couple of weeks now, but it wasn't as bad as we had feared. We'll just monitor his progress.
"Nauris is still out. He played against Morecambe, and has a hamstring injury now because it's moved up from the calf into that side of the leg. He's progressing well, we are hopeful he will back training sometime next week. Nauris is probably behind Ben, but they are both back in with the physio. Bulvitis will definitely not be fit for Saturday, not sure about Purrington yet. Ijaha will hopefully be training next week.
"Garita's got a knee problem; he had that at Bristol City before, and he's gone back to Bristol City to get a scan on his knee. That was the reason he missed out on Saturday. It's too early to say when he will be fit, we've just got to wait to hear from Bristol City before we can make a judgment. He had the scan late on Monday, so we're just waiting for the results.
"Ryan Brunt's not close. He's on the anti-gravity machine, has just started to run on that this week. He then need to come off that, get his fitness levels up, and have no reaction to that. I said a while ago that he was behind schedule, and he still is.
Gary Sawyer is going to see the consultant today, to see how he is progressing – it is eight weeks since his operation. We'll get a better idea after today how close he is to returning to training."
Derek Adams refused to let the possibility of an FA Cup tie with Liverpool distract from his side's league schedule but did rue missed opportunities to win the game in the first leg, saying: Both teams know what is at stake in the next round for them, and that is something both will be looking forward to," he told the club's official website after much duress. The replay is a tie that will generate a lot of interest from both sets of supporters, and is an important game for both clubs. To get to the next round is important; we'll leave that for now. We must look to Doncaster first, this Saturday.
"We had enough opportunities on Saturday. We put a few great balls across, and if we went 1-0 ahead we probably would have won the game by more than that. But we haven't done that, and we have to go to a replay. We had a couple of chances that we feel we should have taken: the biggest one being when the balls came through the players legs with Connor Smith two yards out, but he was just unfortunate that he wasn't ready for it to go in the back of the net. If we make it 1-0 the game is over and we go onto the next round."
THE winners of Newport vs Argyle's FA Cup second round replay will meet Premier League giants Liverpool in round three. Details of the replay are to be confirmed shortly.
Derek Adams was left to rue his side's lack of firepower after failing to break down Newport's stubborn defence. He said: "It wasn't easy, with Newport going down to ten players and defending very well. We didn't work their goalkeeper enough because they negated the space. For the first 15-20 minutes, we did really well. I thought it was going to be a good performance. Then the sending-off probably helps them – they become two banks of four and one up front, and close the space down. We had a lot of the ball but were just unable to find the opportunity to get the goals. I thought we probably played better when it was 11 against 11, than when it was against 10 against 11. They stopped the space. We didn't play as free-flowing as we did when we had 11 against 11. We didn't pass the ball quick enough and we became very direct at times, and haven't been able to get the finish."
Argyle's FA Cup tie with Newport will go to a replay following a 0-0 draw at Home Park. Newport had ten men for most of the game following the sending off of Sean Rigg early in the match. Argyle huffed and puffed but could not break down a steady Newport defence. The replay will be played on Tuesday December 13th. The match was notable for the debut of apprentice Alex Fletcher in an Argyle shirt. Argyle: McCormick, Miller(Donaldson), Songo'o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis, Tanner(Fletcher), Carey, Goodwillie(Rooney). Subs: Dorel, Osborne, Palfrey, Bentley.
Director Simon Hallett revealed that plans for a radical overhaul of Argyle's grandstand will be unveiled in early 2017. He said that the new stand would take the 'shell' of the old grandstand but would be drastically refurnished. Hallett: "We remain absolutely committed to an improved grandstand. We are now at the stage where we have plans that we hope to be able to take to the fans in the new year. And we remain committed to getting it done by 2019, ready for 2020. The current plan is more than just refurbishment but it's going to take the core of the old stand. I don't think we are at the stage where we are going to knock the whole thing down and make it absolutely brand new. Just calling it refurbishment is under-stating the scope of work. It will be a very attractive building, I think, when it is completed. It will have conferencing facilities, offices for our staff and it will have facilities for our players. It's going to be something between a complete knock-down start again and refurbishment. A major upgrading is probably the good way of putting it. It will achieve a lot of the objectives of the much bigger plan that we had before.
"How confident am I? I'm a fairly optimistic person. I can't put a number on it, but we own the ground and we are looking at ways of financing it which we think will be on sensible terms because it's going to cost a lot of money. We are just waiting on negotiations about financing in order to then move ahead and start thinking about presenting our proposals for the major upgrade to the fans. I don't see any particular obstacle. We should know in a few weeks about financing. I would hope that sometime in the first quarter of next year we would be able to show something to the fans. I know there have been too many promises made in the past that we have not been able to fulfil. But 2020 is going to be really important for Plymouth, and I hope for Devon and the South West as well. So it's important that we have a sporting facility at a club that is at the centre of the community, and is acceptable for the kind of players that we hope to have come, and for the spectators. My view is that Home Park looks nice when you are looking from the directors' box. But if you are looking from the Lyndhurst Stand it doesn't look very good and the fan experience is not at the level that we want it. So 2020 provides a bit of discipline here. We are going to need to get it done before then. It will be a terrible thing if we don't get it done. How confident am I? I'm about as confident as I can be that we will get it done one way or another."
Derek Adams is used to playing Argyle's FA Cup opponents Newport County as it is the 3rd time that the two clubs have met this season already. He stated however that Newport should not be underestimated and both sides would be wanting to put an end to recent losing runs. Adams: "We were obviously on a long unbeaten run ourselves, of 14 games. Both teams are now coming off runs they would like to turn around; they are coming off a two-game losing streak and we are coming off a three-game losing streak. We've played them in the league and the Checkatrade Trophy already this season so both teams are acquainted with each other. They have had a wee bit of change in formation; a change of manager from the Checkatrade Trophy to the league game; and now, from the league game to the FA Cup, they have changed certain personnel within the squad, as well. Obviously Jon Parkin has moved on to York. It's a wee bit different from the last game we played them. Graham has gone in there and he has done really well to start with. We would like to try to progress through to the next round at the first attempt," he said, "and we be going all out to do that on Saturday. We did really well against Mansfield in the first round, to go away from home and win 2-1; now we come into this game looking to progress to the next round. It gives us a break from league action; it's a home tie; and it's a good one because the FA Cup is a competition we would like to progress in. We want to have a run in it. That would be beneficial for us over many different permutations for us, if we get through to the next round."
Oscar Threlkeld has confirmed that spirits remain high in the Argyle camp in spite of the recent poor run of form. He went on to talk about the experience of playing at left-back after spending most of his career as a right-sided player: "Everyone needs to know everyone because it pulls us all together. If someone is not doing something on the pitch, we're not scared to say it; the lads are on you for good reason because they obviously want you to do well. My injury was frustrating because I just wanted to play. Everyone is such a tight group here and we all still interacted with each other, which is a good feeling because, at some clubs, you may be injured and then nobody wants to know you. We have a very good squad. Me and Craig Tanner are still causing havoc - 100%. That is just our personalities. It runs through the squad. We are always together; we all have a laugh and play pranks on each other.
"Being a right-footed player at left-back doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. It has its benefits - I can cut inside, which allows me make a cross, shot or forward pass. I've played everywhere through my career. In the Under-13s, I played up front against Liverpool; in the Under-15s, I went in nets against Manchester United. I literally have played everywhere. Sometimes I wish I was just in one position and sometimes I don't. I want to be good so I don't move about, I want to be the first name on the sheet; but also, if somebody gets injured, who's going to play there? Me. It's good. 100%. Pros and cons. Playing left-back is very similar to right-back. If the ball is on the other side, I need to look across.; if it's 2 v 1, then I have the license to tuck in more further forward; if it's 2 v 2, then I've got to make it a 3 v 2 and support the centre-backs."
Derek Adams has welcomed the attention reportedly being given to youngster Ben Purrington and has said that he deserves it for his impressive performances this season. Adams said: "We haven't heard anything from any club, so that's obviously speculation, but it's always nice to see your players attracted to other clubs. These clubs track a lot of players and Ben, being at 20 years of age and good experience playing at left-back – he played 15 games on the trot before his injury; he's made more than 45 appearances for the club at such a young age...I'm sure there will be interest in him. He is showing that he can play at this level. We're just glad he's doing well for us. He and Gary Sawyer unfortunately are out injured at this moment in time but they have got good competition for places in that left-back area. It can help them. It has shown that, if they go in and do well in the first team, then people are watching. It's good for Ben that his development is progressing at the football club and people are noticing. We have got him under contract, which is good from the club's point of view."
Oscar Threlkeld said that whilst progression in this season's FA Cup is important, promotion to League One is the number one target. He added however that a good run in one could help with the other, saying: "In the league, we want to get promoted," he said, "that is the main aim; in the FA Cup, you want to see how far you can get. Nobody is talking about who they want in the next round because we're taking it one game at a time. Yes, we have the chance of a good draw, but we'll take it as it comes. We've got to beat Newport first. If we can draw a big team in the FA Cup, that would mean a lot to us; if we can beat Newport and draw a big opposition, it will be a benefit for us. It will be a great experience and we'll give it a good go.
"We always have blips, every team has blips now and again – it's about how we react to them. At the start of the season, we played very well and no results were going our way. We then went on a 14-game unbeaten run – we need to get back to winning ways and hopefully carry on another run. We need to work on defending corners and set-pieces better – we have been doing that all week – and we need to concentrate more and talk more defensively on the pitch. When we went on the winning run, it was because of our defensive play from top to bottom; we need to get back to those winning ways. We've got a good enough squad to do so."
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