A Round-up of Argyle News
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Derek Adams confirmed that Kyle Letheren will get a chance to continue in the team with Matt Macey being out through injury. He said: "Macey had a collision with a Wimbledon player in the second half of the game and came off worse for wear, so he missed the Burton game because of that. He's got a dead leg and is out for Oxford. Matt Macey is here for the full season. Arsenal have a recall clause in his contract for January, we don't have one the other way, so it would be up to Arsenal to recall him. Arsenal's goalkeeping department are in constant contact with Rhys Wilmot, my goalkeeping coach. They speak frequently with the way he has been performing. Letheren has got an opportunity now because of Matt's injury to get some game-time. That's what happens in football, somebody gets injured and you get the opportunity to claim that jersey."
On injuries generally, Adams explained: Riley took a knock to his knee, the other knee from what he had a problem. He is a doubt for the Oxford game, still a possibility, but a doubt. Ash Smith-Brown has played in recent weeks and was up to game-time. You can't tell if he's left-footed or right-footed, very capable with both and up with game-time. It was a game being played in a quick manner and wasn't going to allow someone to come in and feel their way into it. Ash has been a regular up until Saturday.
"Canavan trained on Thursday and Friday, and he gave us a bit of balance as a left-sided centre-half. Niall has only missed ten days training with a rolled ankle. We took Carey off because we were concerned about the Burton full-back getting forward and putting crosses in. We put Luke Jephcott on, who can do that job going backwards and could also maybe run-off the right-back. Joel is a doubt as well. He came off against Wimbledon; he kicked the ball up the line and felt a pulled muscle. Conor Grant will start training next week and Jamie Ness the following week."
Derek Adams was encouraged by a competitive showing in Argyle's 1-1 draw away to Burton, speaking about the character and determination of his squad. He said: "Obviously a very good performance from us today. I thought we were the better side. We created a lot of good opportunities; a nice goal from Ruben Lameiras. A fantastic support from us today that we took here, and we look forward now to the next game. Everybody's working hard, and we're looking to keep on moving forward."
Goalscorer Ruben Lameiras agreed with his manager that Argyle deserved all three points, saying: "We deserved to get a little bit more from the game. The first five minutes weren't the best, we conceded early but then we took control of the game. We created some chances and, with the quality we've got, we needed to bury those. Unfortunately, we couldn't get as many goals as we wanted but it's something to build on. It shows that we've got a lot of character and experience in the squad to deal with these things. In the situation we are in right now, we have to keep fighting. We can't roll over and make it easy for teams, and we got something from the game. The boys had a few chances, I had another one blocked by the defender, and we need to keep fighting. The dressing room has a lot of senior players and young hungry players, so it's about doing it on the pitch. I'm disappointed we didn't get all three points but the team dug in. I think I scored six last season and I just want to keep going. I want to play football and I've always been determined. We need to recover, train properly and try to kick-off the New Year in the right way."
A strong performance was not enough to secure all three points for the greens as Argyle ended 2018 with a point, away to Burton Albion. The home side went into the lead early on but were pegged back by Ruben Lameiras on his return to the starting eleven. Kyle Letheren deputised for the injured Matt Macey. Argyle: Letheren, Riley(Smith-Brown), Edwards, Canavan, Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox, Sarcevic, Carey (Jephcott), Lameiras, Ladapo(Taylor). Subs: Cooper, Moore, Wootton, Wylde.
Derek Adams explained that Argyle reverted to a three at the back formation for the trip to AFC Wimbledon to cope with the aerial threat of James Hanson. Adams set out his reasoning: "We thought that Hanson would cause us problems and we dealt well with him when he was on the pitch. We felt we would go with the three centre-halves, with one covering and not allowing them any space in behind. That proved to be correct, they didn't get in behind us. When they did have opportunities, it was from a corner-kick. It's always difficult for a wing-back and the role we needed them to play. They stopped their wide players from playing and that allowed our three central players to get on the ball. We had an overload in midfield and two strikers up top to try and give us that goal-scoring edge. We played the two because we'd changed the system to three at the back. We had Freddie and Taylor to play off each other and they got in behind.
"Burton have progressed well since coming down from the Championship," said Derek. "They've been able to get to the semi-finals of the League Cup. They've beaten us already this season in a close encounter at Home Park but we're expecting a different game from that."
On fitness issues, Adams said: "It was about recovering yesterday, training again today and then travelling. We've been to London and now we're going to Birmingham, so it's not been the easiest schedule for us. Ladapo is fine but we've got a few issues with a couple of players to assess before tomorrow. Conor Grant and Jamie Ness are still out and won't be back until after the Oxford game on New Year's Day. We're slowly getting our injured players back but, because of the quick turnaround, we've got to find out who we've got ready for the game on Saturday."
Adams also bemoaned a mixture of bad luck and bad defending to blame for Argyle's glut of conceded goals as he desperately hoped for a turnaround at a stadium new to him as a manager: "We've given away far too many easy goals and we haven't had a settled back four because of injuries and poor form at times. Once we get that, we can have a sound footing going forward. It has been very frustrating, we would always like to be solid and have a bit of flair in the forward areas. We would like a solid foundation to play on and we haven't had that so far. It's about personnel, getting everybody fit and organised. We've had to chop and change, play people out of position because of the injuries we've had. We look at training and the way the players are in training. We look at the balance of the team and we went to Wimbledon with a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 because we knew the threat Wimbledon would cause. We dealt well with it and didn't have too many opportunities from the long ball. On the other side of the game, we lose a little bit going forward. We've got priorities in the transfer window and have to strengthen the squad. I would hope we had some players in before the Southend game. We have got that gap because of the FA Cup. We've allowed clubs to know that players are available and it's about players going out and coming in. We haven't had any enquiries about young players going out on loan but they are all available. We've obviously got Jordan Bentley and Dan Rooney out on loan, and we're looking to extend the loan deals with them at Truro until the end of the season to give them game-time."
"It is my first time at Burton. They've always been in the Championship, we've been in League Two and up to League One, and they've gone in the opposite direction. They've been a bit varied since coming down but obviously got to the semi-finals of the League Cup, and have done very well in that. They're sitting in mid-table in League One and a good game we had with them down here earlier in the season. Performance-wise against Accrington, we deserved more out of the game but didn't get it. On Wednesday against Wimbledon, there wasn't much in the match. We were on top of the game when we made a mistake and gave away the goal. From that point of view, we want to go to Burton and try to get the three points."
Derek Adams lamented the cost of individual errors in Argyle's loss to Wimbledon, with a scuffed backpass from Yann Songo'o falling directly to the Wombles striker for their winner. Adams analysed: "We started the game very well and an unbelievable goal to get us up and running. It was a terrific strike and set us off on the right foot. Obviously, their strike as well was a very good one, not as good as David Fox's, but a very good strike. Then, we gave away a goal at the end and we were on top of the game at that moment in time, pushing for the goal. Yann Songo'o makes a huge error and they score the goal. We were solid, five at the back, sometimes three. We dealt with the aerial threat we knew would come in from Wimbledon and stopped them in the middle of the park. We tried to give them trouble at times and did that in the second half. It was hugely disappointing and has been the story of the season. At the vital times, when we've been in very good positions, we've allowed the opposition to get a goal back.
"The errors that we've made have been hugely critical and we've not been able to pick up points. The players will have to stop making errors. We were under no pressure, the ball was played out of the area, Yann had time and chose the wrong option. It's a huge error that has cost a point and might have cost us three points. We thought we had scored right at the death but the error always sets you back, and you get a sucker-punch. We obviously don't want to be there at the bottom but I don't think today's victory for Wimbledon was fair on us. We coped well with the threat they had at home and should have taken something from the game. We have to stop making the errors we're making. There are not a lot of teams playing through us but we can't afford to make the basic errors. I've said it all season and, if you look at the goals we have conceded, some of them have been horrendous."
In defence of his own position as manager, Adams hit out: "My position have been called into question from the moment I walked into the football club. Some supporters didn't want me here in the first instance and that's what happens. I've been here for three-and-a-half years and I'm aiming to stay here for another four-and-a-half years. I signed a long-term contract in the summer and I look forward to that time. I've been very loyal to this football club in the summer, I was loyal before, and they've been loyal to me as well. Boxing Day was huge because we were right in the game and, at 1-1, I thought we could go on to win the match. We're just getting hammer-blow after hammer-blow at this moment in time and then having to change to get the goal back. It's the situation we are in at this moment in time but I've had criticism from the moment I walked in the door, and every manager gets it. Not every supporter is going to be happy with every manager who walks in the door. I'm here to try and get us out of the bottom-zone. We did it last year and will aim to try and do it again this year. There is a lot of work behind the scenes to get players in and it's all busy."
Argyle are back to the bottom of the league after a 2-1 loss to AFC Wimbledon on Boxing Day. A fine David Fox volley from 40 yards put the greens into the lead but Wimbledon pegged them back immediately after. A late winner saw the home side secure victory. Argyle: Macey, Edwards, Songo'o, Sawyer, Riley, Fox, Sarcevic, Carey, Smith-Brown(J Grant (Lameiras)), Taylor, Ladapo. Subs: Letheren, Moore, Wootton, Jephcott, Wylde.
Derek Adams confirmed that Argyle would have a new defensive option for the trip to Wimbledon with Scott Wootton returning from a lengthy injury. Adams said: "Ness is not available, he's still out with a calf strain and we're waiting on Freddie," said Derek. "We hope it's not serious and he is ready for Wednesday's game. Wootton played 90 minutes and good for his progress. It allows him to get some fitness and he will be in the squad, but we will see how he is [in training] because he has been out for a long period of time."
Ahead of Wimbledon, Adams added: "We've played them a lot and we know a lot about them. They were obviously promoted to League One as well as us. It will be different. By the looks of it, they have changed the side a wee bit and they are a physical team. Neal had changed his team this year to become more physical, we saw that in the first game here. We understand they've changed their philosophy a wee bit from years gone by."
"The pitch is in very good condition now that Chelsea have taken it over and five or six thousand in a compact area generates a very good atmosphere. Three points moves you a number of positions up the table and allows you to catch a number of teams, so it's a very important game for us. We knew going into the Accrington game, if we had won that, we would have pulled Accrington into it as well. There are 23 games to go and it's extremely tight. We've got to score with the amount of opportunities we had in the game. We had the best chances to score, their goalkeeper has made some good saves and a shot blocked on the line as well. We have to take the opportunities when they come along, especially at 0-0."
"We will come in and train on Christmas Day. The players will be in for around 1pm and train until 3pm. We then leave around 5pm for London. We will do exactly the same training today as we would on a Thursday for a Saturday game. Sometimes, we will name the team, sometimes we won't. We will work on shape on Christmas Day and set-plays. It really just depends on whether we're going to change the team or not because, if you keep a settled team, you don't go through the same rigmarole every week. They won't get a chance to have their Christmas lunch, so they'll have that today. They will eat before we travel to Wimbledon, the chef will come in and prepare us food to make sure the players have eaten before we leave. We hope to arrive at the hotel around 9.30pm on Tuesday night. I can't do anything about travelling, it is where Plymouth is in the country and we have to get on with it. The chairmen of all the clubs have decided they want the derby games away from this time of year because they feel clubs will always get bigger crowds at this time of year, no matter who you're playing against. It's all down to finances and the chairmen of all football clubs."
Derek Adams expressed frustration as a three goal second half blitz that saw Argyle throw away the game against Accrington on Saturday. He said: "A strange game, we had a load of attempts at goal and lost 3-0. If you can't defend well enough and don't take your chances, the amount of chances we had today, it should have been enough to win the game. They scored against the run of play and a poor goal from our point of view. They quickly got another two but we had chance after chance, which was either blocked or saved by the goalkeeper, so a strange game today. We had the bulk of the play, 0-0 at half-time, and either side would have thought they could have been ahead. You've got to score and we had very good situations when we've not been able to score. We're not scoring enough goals with the chances we're creating and allowing the opposition t get goals out of nothing. Today was a prime example because we had the better opportunities, especially at the start of the first half, but you've got to take them.
"The manner of the goals were too easy and the two centre-halves were to blame, simple as that. They've got to do better; the first one was a flick-on that anybody could score but the other two were preventable. We defended well at times but then gave away three goals. If we'd taken our opportunities, then we would have scored the same number, or more, as them. The game is simple: you defend one goal and score in the other. We came off a very good away win and obviously didn't want to lose today. We've had a lot of good opportunities in the game and they've been more clinical than us. We are working hard to win, we would have all loved to win today and have a nice Christmas Day. Unfortunately, we haven't, and we need to work even harder to rectify that."
Gary Sawyer admitted that conceding three goals was a tough pill to swallow as Argyle took another step back after the step forward of the week before. Sawyer said: "It is a tough one to take for us. I thought, in the first half, we were fine; we had chances. We started the second half really well and then – it's been a downfall of ours recently – we conceded the goals and couldn't get ourselves back in it. That's not good enough from us and that needs to improve. It was an end-to-end game for the whole 90 minutes, quite a fast-paced game. They got the goals and we didn't, so we are the ones sat with our head in our hands. It was like a basketball game, effectively. That's how football goes, sometimes. We're the ones licking our wounds."
"To let three goals in is not good enough. We need to improve, collectively and individually. We have to take a proper pride in that. Especially at home, we are not giving ourselves enough of a chance to go and win games, unfortunately. When you go 1-0 down, 2-0 down, you have a mountain to climb. We don't want to be conceding goals and if you concede one, as long as it's not in the 95th minute, there's still enough time to put that right. That's the frustrating thing when the second one goes in and, obviously today, we had a third one going in as well, which has happened numerous times. You haven't got a chance if you can't keep the ball out of the back of the net."
Looking ahead to Wimbledon on Boxing Day, he added: "It's a big game, but I think every single game that we have got now is a big game. We have to approach it like that. We have got the second half of the season left to come to gather as many points as we can. It's a massive game, considering where both teams are. It's three points at the end of the line and we have got to go there and try to take them. Looking forward, you'd rather this be happening with the amount of games we have got left, rather than with five or six games left. We have got enough time to put this right and everyone in that dressing-room will trying their best to do it."
"Stick with it. We're definitely not going to lie down. Fans pay their money and they have got a right to vent how they feel. You know, as a footballer, that happens, but you try to dust yourself off and we go again. We'll be in training on Monday morning and then everything is geared towards the next game. All my focus now is on the next training and the next game. We're in this for the long haul. We have got a fit group of lads here and a willing group of boys. You don't want to be too down in the dumps, although it's hard, the position we're in. We were in this situation last year and it's something we have got to dig ourselves out of. We are the only ones who can do it."
Argyle have gone crashing back down to earth with a bump, a 3-0 loss to Accrington meaning Argyle are 23rd at Christmas. All three goals came in a brief spell just after half-time. Argyle: Macey, Riley, Songo'o, Sawyer, Smith-Brown, Fox, Sarcevic, Jephcott, Carey, J Grant(Lameiras), Ladapo(Taylor). Subs: Letheren, Moore, Edwards, Purrington, Wylde.
Derek Adams paid tribute to captain Gary Sawyer who put in a commanding performance on his return to the side against Rochdale, stating the importance of somebody who understands the football club being on board. He said: "Gary started off his career as a centre-back at Plymouth Argyle and he can play that position well. He reads the game well, he talks and he organises. As you move into the latter stages of your career, you either move backwards or inwards. Gary has moved inwards. It's important that you have a voice and Gary is very good around the changing room. He's a leader and has been at Plymouth Argyle, on and off, for a number of seasons now. When I came into the football club, he was my first signing and I think it's important that you have a player who understands Plymouth Argyle."
Argyle begin the festive schedule of four League One games in the space of 10 days with the visit of Accrington Stanley on Saturday. Adams said of the busy schedule: "We will take it one game at a time. We look at Saturday first, try and get the three points, and that follows on to the two away games and a home game. It is a space of time where you can pick up victories. We've got to go to London and go to Birmingham, so we'll train and travel on Christmas Day. We'll travel back on Boxing Day, train again, travel again and then play again. It's just what it is."
On Accrington, Adams added: "They've got a good number of points already but they're not too far ahead of us in the table, which means, as we did last week at Rochdale, we want to claw them back in. They have changed their squad a small amount from last season. They lost a couple of players sold to Ipswich for good money and they've taken in a few loans. They are a club that are punching above their weight and they don't have any expectations because of the small fanbase they have. What they do have is an energy and togetherness that takes them very far. We're looking to win the four games over this period and we've shown against all teams that we can compete. We've played against Wimbledon and beaten them, we played well against Burton Albion and Oxford. The only team we haven't played is Accrington. As a promoted side, you sometimes get the fortune that nobody knows the type of team you are and that's what Accrington had at the start of the season. Now they're in a situation, like ourselves, where they need to pick up more wins. We won last Saturday, drew the week before and have some momentum."
"We would have hoped to be in a better position than we are at this moment in time. We feel, at times, we could have picked up some more points and been further up the league. In the second-half of the season, we've obviously got to address that. We've got better consistency through team selection and our injury situation is improving, which is allowing the players to get a better feel for each other. We've still had to change our backline a number of times over recent weeks, which you don't always want to do, through injury or poor form. We have to be better defensively and continue to take our chances when they come along. We have improved at that but we have to do better defensively. We'll look to strengthen different areas in January and work with the players we have here already to make us better. At this time of year, clubs might have injury problems and may need to look at what players they can take in before they release any. It's a quick transfer window, only open for a month, which is good because it allows you to get things done quickly."
Derek Adams confirmed that Ruben Lameiras is back in the Argyle squad for the visit of Accrington on Saturday but that Argyle are far from a clean bill of health. He said: "We've got the same squad as we had at Rochdale but Ruben is back from illness. Scott Wootton will be back in training this week. Niall Canavan's ankle is still sore, we're hopeful he will be back in training soon but he won't be in for Saturday. Conor Grant is improving but we're not sure if it will be before the start of the New Year. We would like Conor Grant, Scott Wootton and Niall Canavan to be back as soon as possible. If that is the case, we would have everyone fit."
Meanwhile, it is unlikely that Stuart O'Keefe will ever play for Argyle again following a long-term injury. Adams confirmed: "O'Keefe is still back at Cardiff. He's got an achilles injury and they want to keep him there for treatment. We would rather he came back to us for treatment but their medical team have asked him to be there for treatment. It will probably be the end of his loan spell because Cardiff want him to stay there until the injury is recovered. Stuart has got six months left on his contract, so he's obviously looking to stay at Cardiff or see what other possibilities are available."
Derek Adams has spoken about the availability of certain Argyle players as the transfer window looms closer. He spoke of loan and permanent departures: "All the reserves are up for loan, they have been for a period of time. All nine of them are out to tender so to speak, they are all available. The clubs that have been circulated through the EFL and that has been going on for a good period of time, then we assess, is it the right football club for them? Is it the right time for them to do that? Speculation is speculation, it's never going to go away. Until anything is concrete, we continue to work to try and get players into the football club. It is a difficult period in December, sometimes you go quickly. Other times, other clubs hold on to their players until they can get other players in. We are in that slot, so to speak, at this moment in time. We have had a number of enquires for some of our players and Freddie isn't one of them. At this moment in time "no" is the answer. He has done very well and we look to continue his progress like the other players. If you are going to score goals in this division, then people are going to watch."
Looking ahead to Saturday's clash with Accrington Stanley, Adams said: "We have come off a win, they Accrington have come off a loss, we understand that and want to continue the progress we're making. They started the season very well, as a lot of teams do, they got good points on the board. They are fresh to the division and they have a number of very good players in their side. I think in the first stages of the game at Rochdale, we had a few opportunities where we probably should have been ahead in the game." We get a fortunate goal in the end. We haven't had a lot of fortune this season and we are due some."
Luke Jephcott has praise poured upon him by Argyle manager Derek Adams after his battling full debut in awful conditions at Rochdale. Adams said of the youngster: "We knew Jephcott could run off of Matt Done, and he did that a couple of times. It was not an easy game for him to come in but he played his position well; he got up and down the pitch. He did tire later in the game, which he was going to do, but he did well for us. He's a young boy, another one getting an opportunity."
Captain Gary Sawyer spoke of 'the coldest game he has ever played in', a tricky return to first team action: "It's been a long road back and to get a win was massive for the team. It's nice to get back in the team. It's been 11 weeks since I did it and it feels fine. I pride myself on staying fit and it hasn't felt too long a road. The gaffer asked me to play, I wanted to play, and felt good. In the first couple of weeks, when I was in the cast, it felt like a long journey but once you get out of that, you can get on the bike. It's a big bonus for me because you never know. It's nice when there are only 10 minutes to go and you're in front. It was the first time in central defence with Yann, other than training. Yann is more aggressive and better in the air, but I thought it worked well.
"The conditions were the coldest I've played football in and the rain was just like ice in your face. It was blowing into us in the second half and hard to get out, but we had a lot of chances in the first half. We had to stick together and the boys did well. We had good chances and tried to build on that in the second half. We haven't had a lot of luck, so it was nice to get the rub of the green. The own goal like that happens now and again, pitches can dig up. It was a long journey up for the boys, horrendous conditions and a tough day, so a massive bonus to go home with three points. The goal is to get above that relegation mark and this was a massive step for us. We can now focus on next week. We will have a bit of recovery now and then back to training. The boys dug in and are playing with spirit. Rochdale is not an easy place to come, a long way from home."
After what has been deemed to be a run of bad luck, Derek Adams spoke about the relief of finally getting some luck go in Argyle's favour after a comedic own goal secured three points on an afternoon of freezing and torrential conditions in Rochdale. Adams said: "It was a tough encounter, conditions were very difficult, but we've come through it and won the game. The pitch held up very well today – it was a firm pitch – but the amount of rain we have had made it difficult for both teams. Rochdale had to deal with us in the first phase of the game and we had to deal with them in the second. We started very well. We took the game to Rochdale and we had four or five attempts on goal early in the game. We probably should have gone ahead, but we didn't and came into half-time at 0-0. Then, Rochdale had their chance in the second half, going down the slope. Both teams tried to get down the sides of each other and pass the ball and create openings. We had to deal with the threat that Calvin Andrew always gives Rochdale, and we dealt well with Ian Henderson, as well, because he can pop up and score. Throughout the afternoon, we limited them to few direct opportunities on goal, but they still plugged away."
"Sarcevic did really well down the side, picking up the second ball and playing on the front foot. We had changed the formation just at that time and it was great that Joel was again in the box, getting a goal. We haven't had much fortune this season, and there is no doubt that, a good number of times this season, we should have had more points than we did. We have got a group of players that are very positive and they want to do well. They dug in well today because the conditions for both teams were horrendous. We're absolutely freezing and will be glad to get a shower. Next week is another big game for us because Accrington have done well. It's a lot brighter because we closed the gap between ourselves and a lot of teams, and it gives us an opportunity to push on and catch those teams. We can still do better – we know that – but it's work in progress."
"I thought our fortune was going to turn at some stage because things were going against us. We had Niall Canavan getting injured in training, so he missed out, and you think 'Wow!' We had been working on things since Tuesday. We took in Gary Sawyer to replace him and he was excellent on his return. He and Joe Riley haven't played any reserve games and they have come in and fitted in well to the team. Both of them have got big hearts and that's something you need when you come to Rochdale on an afternoon like that. We just deal with adversity. We've dealt with it well and will continue to do that. Yann does a good job for me anywhere, because he gives 100%. He's winner and it's important you have these types of players in your team. For Gary and him to do so well is great because both of them talk well."
Skipper Gary Sawyer spoke similarly of the game on his return to the side, saying: "That's the coldest I have played football in, I think. The rain was just like ice hitting your face. It was blowing into us in the second half and it was hard to get out. They pinned us in a bit. It was just one of those games where you have to grind it out and stick together. The boys did it really well. "We haven't had a lot of luck recently, so it was nice to get a little bit of the rub of the green and go away with a win. It was a screamer wasn't it? It's part and parcel of football. It happens every now and again. The pitches dig up a bit. Keepers are the ones who put those little divots in the ground to kick the ball. We will take a winning goal any way we can get it. It was a long journey up here for the boys in horrendous conditions. To go back down the road with three points is a massive bonus for us. It's something we are working towards now, every day in training and every game we get. That's the goal, to get above that line, and obviously try and match up the table from that. This is a massive step in the right direction for us and now we can focus on next week."
Argyle have picked up their second away win of the season with a 2-1 victory at Rochdale. Joel Grant scored the opener for Argyle but the greens were pegged back almost immediately after. A fluke own goal however, saw Argyle take all three points back to Devon. The match was also notable for the start of Luke Jephcott in a league match- the first player born in the new millennium to start for Argyle. Argyle: Macey, Riley, Songo'o, Sawyer, Smith-Brown, Fox, Sarcevic, Jephcott(Taylor), Carey, J Grant, Ladapo(Ness). Subs: Letheren, Moore, Edwards, Ainsworth, Wylde.
Derek Adams spoke positively of how relations were developing with new chairman and owner Simon Hallett on his first visit back to the UK. He explained the smooth transition, saying: "We've spoken at length a good number of times and I've spent time in his company. It's been good and always handy for him, when he comes over, to see how the football club is being run through all sections. He's been talking to all departments at the club and it definitely gives him an understanding. When you become owner or chairman of any football club, you need to find out the smaller things because they eventually become the bigger things. He's been able to get a better feel of what is happening at the football club. It has been relatively smooth because the chairman was a director previously and part of the Board. It has been a bit different because the grandstand is being built and a lot of focus has to be on that to get it ready for August next year. It's always nice when your boss is complimentary and he's been like that with staff across the football club. There are a number of managers in the club working well within their departments."
With Tom Purrington appearing in his first matchday squad in a league match, Adams spoke about the similarities with Purrington and his older brother Ben who was sold to Rotherham in 2017: "He has performed well in the games that I've seen and it was to give him that boost, as well as showing the others you will get the opportunity if you do well. He is a centre-midfield player. He has played at right-back and centre-back, but we see him as a centre-midfielder. They are very good young professionals, they don't cause any bother. They're both quiet but will get stuck in as well. It definitely helps to have a brother in the game. He's able to speak to Ben, who is at Wimbledon now on loan from Rotherham, and ask things about our training and the things I like in a player.'
Adams also looked ahead to Rochdale, Argyle's next opponents and their style of play, saying: "I've been there a number of times and we were there at the end of last season on a Tuesday night, which was a good game. Rochdale are a team that go for it, they play their game as if there is nothing to lose. It gets to a stage in the season when they may have to sort themselves out, perhaps defensively, to get more points, or keep doing what they're doing. It's an opportunity to go there and try to close the gap on Rochdale to four points, which would be beneficial to us. They are sitting in 18th position and we would like to close the gap. There are a number of teams in League One and League Two that don't put too much pressure on themselves as a football club. They try to accumulate as many points as they can in the first half of the season. It used to be Morecambe who would fly at the start and then tail off. There are a number of teams like that and Rochdale really do come at you. I always feel that when you get to the run-down at the end of the season, it can be beneficial because you've got no distractions. We've got 25 games to go and it's all business now."
On the injury situation, Adams reported: "Gary Sawyer is looking good and has trained, but until he gets out playing, the bone is still healing. He just needs to get a wee bit more training and we had hoped to have a game on Tuesday night. Gary's been here for many years, off and on, he's a good talker, organiser and well respected. Jamie Ness will be assessed before Saturday's match but everybody else who played last week will be in the squad. Conor Grant has got a grade two calf strain, so he's been out for a bit of time now and looks like he'll be out for another week or two, which is disappointing. Scott Wootton is due to return to training next week."
In spite of Argyle's disappointing elimination from the FA Cup, Walsall's progression means that Derek Adams is glad to have a Saturday off after the busy Christmas period. Adams said: "It's great for Walsall to get through in the FA Cup and it gives us a Saturday off after what is going to be a hectic spell. We are happy in a way to get a Saturday off. We would prefer to be in the FA Cup third round but it does give us a Saturday off that we haven't had."
Adams also spoke about Argyle's prospects of bringing new players in in the January transfer market upcoming. He said: "We're speaking to other clubs and to agents, finding out if players are going to be available. Every manager in the league is doing that at this moment in the time. That's the stage we are in and so are most clubs. It takes up a bit of time because you've got to be in contact with many people. Before you sign a player, there are a lot of processes that you need to go through. The reason it doesn't really start going until the end of January is that, when you speak to clubs and players, they've got to make decision on leaving their clubs on loan or permanently. It can happen very quickly or in a slow process. It will get quicker as we get into January. We've spoken to our players who will be available to go out and clubs have shown an interest. It's like us showing an interest in players at other clubs, it's the same process."
Argyle's game against Walsall, previously scheduled for Saturday January 5th will instead be moved to Tuesday January 22nd. This is due to Walsall's participation in round three of the FA Cup on that weekend after beating Sunderland in their replayed game.
Matt Macey held his hands up in culpability for at least one of the goals conceded as Argyle shipped three goals against Bradford City. The Arsenal loanee did however promise to come back stronger in the games to come: We got the point and the boys dragged me out of jail a bit. Personally, I'm really frustrated and the boys are frustrated. I hold my hands up and should have done better with the second goal. I had a tough afternoon and I apologise for that because it was really important to get the three points, which we haven't done. In that split second, I made the wrong decision to make that save. It's so frustrating when you do all that work in the week, go into the game feeling good and that happens. It's why most people don't want to be a goalkeeper as a kid.
"It's not to say the lads on the pitch don't take responsibility or make mistakes, but it's highlighted as a goalkeeper. I've made mistakes in the past and had difficulties, but come back stronger by doing what I believe in. When the team need me, I want to help them out and I did that a little bit in the end with the late save. I had long spells of just watching the game. I could see everyone buzzing around and the graft they are putting in is unbelievable. It's incredible to see when you get punched in the stomach and it has been a tough season. Clubs, players, everyone involved goes through this. The good thing is we're not shooting ourselves in the foot through lack of effort, preparation or not caring. I hope the fans can see that it kills us when we don't get the result we want.
"At some point, it has to happen results turn in our favour, but we can't just keep saying it and I'm very aware of that. As a group, we're doing everything to pull together and we believe that the right things will bring rewards. I'm a believer that no one players wins you a game or costs you a game. The boys stick together, rally around and we've been doing that all season. The amount of times we've played teams off the park and dominated the game, but shoot ourselves in the foot. If we get rid of those little errors and prepare now for next Saturday, Christmas brings the opportunity to shoot up the league."
Derek Adams believes that the fantastic run of goalscoring form from Freddie Ladapo fully justifies the decision to keep playing him through the earlier poorer run of form. He spoke of a player who has defied the doubters, arguing: "A lot of people would have had him out the team but he has done exceptionally well. He has got a goal every other game. For a striker in this league, at a team that is creating chances, he's been brilliant. I'm delighted with his signing this season."
Derek Adams praised what he believed to be another sparkling attacking display by his Argyle charges netting three goals in Saturday's draw. He said: "It was an exciting game for League One football. Attacking-wise, we were unbelievable at times today. We can open up teams, create chances, we have taken three today. We had a lot more opportunities to take. We have given them some really good opportunities, teams don't play through us, we give away some really ridiculous goals. We have to change, that's what has to happen. We can give people information, we can work with them but, sometimes, it's either got to sink in or they have got to do it. At this moment in time we are giving away some really easy goals to the opposition. The concentration has to be better, being smart with your head and that means that the process has got to go down from the brain to the feet very quickly, and that has not happened today. It has become a theme but, if you can't keep the ball out at one end, then you have got a problem. We had a problem today where we have given them goals that were our mistakes really. I have got a number of injuries along that back-line, Joe Riley has come in and done fantastically well, it was another good performance from him. Gary Sawyer was on the bench but he hasn't played for 12 weeks, Scott Wootton is out injured, Ness and Conor Grant as well. We are chopping and changing, we put Edwards back to centre half today with Niall Canavan, and Songo'o into midfield because we haven't got much left in the squad to change things at this moment in time."
Adams particularly noted the strong mental attitude to come from behind on three different occasions: "They are a team and a set of individuals that keep on going. They have got belief that they can get back into games, they have more belief than some people. To come back three times today, in a big game, shows the mentality of the squad. That mentality will see us keep pushing forward and picking up points. We are a point closer to the teams above us, we have closed the gap to 16th position, we are looking upwards and we will speak in a positive way. Other people will speak in a different way because we haven't won the game. We haven't won the game because of individual errors, not about teams passing the ball through us, not about a great goal. It was end to end at times and chances being created through good play and bad play at both ends. Obviously, Bradford coming away from home, they'll be happy with a point. They may be disappointed because they were ahead three times. We are disappointed because we allowed them to quickly get ahead in the game. To go behind three times, we have shown, as a team, tremendous character to come back into the game. The way it went we could have won it at the end and we could have lost it as well."
Argyle drew 3-3 with bottom club Bradford in a thrilling match at Home Park. Three times Argyle went behind and three times they came from behind. Freddie Ladapo scored two goals (the first and the third) whilst bagging an assist for Freddie Ladapo for our second. Argyle remain four points from safety. Argyle: Macey, Riley, Edwards(Taylor), Canavan, Smith-Brown, Songo'o, Fox, Sarcevic, J Grant(Lameiras), Carey, Ladapo. Subs: Letheren, Purrington, P Grant, Sawyer, Wylde.
Derek Adams has confirmed on-loan Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne has returned to his parent club. The 21 year-old stopper was initially signed on a long-term loan deal but did not make a single appearance for the Greens after he suffered a broken ankle in training, while on Pre-Season duty in Holland, in July. Adams said: "He was on loan to us until January. The loan has been cancelled between ourselves and Wolves. When January comes about, he will return to Wolves. We have stopped paying Wolves as of the end of last month to allow him to play for their under-23 team. We have still got money in there that we can use from the point of view that he has gone back to Wolves. That contract will be cancelled, so we can use his money. We have also got players who will move out, we will use that money as well. We took in Matt Macey to replace Harry when he unfortunately broke his ankle, so, from that point of view, we were able to use the finance somewhere else."
Adams also gave a lowdown on the lengthy list of injuries currently plaguing Argyle as Argyle prepared to face bottom of the table Bradford City. He said: "Ryan Edwards did okay in the combination league game, he came through it well. He has been out for a number of weeks now, so he is one who needed some game-time and he was fine."
"There is progress being made. Scott Wootton is coming on slowly. Hopefully, he will be in full time training by the end of next week. Gary Sawyer is doing really well and is going to join training with us. We will see how he feels and hopefully get a full week of training next week as well. He had obviously broken his foot but the healing process is over now, it's just about how he feels. Conor Grant has got a grade two calf strain, so he is going to be out for two to three weeks from now."
"Joe Riley came back and he played straight away. All we are trying to do now is speed up the recovery time by working them hard in training. If there is a game, we'll play them in a game but, if there's not, they could come straight into the squad. We have had a difficult time with injuries, the length of time they have been out for and the seriousness of the problems, so we have got to be happy that we are seeing progress. We have got 24 in the squad, it only takes a few injuries for that to dwindle quite quickly."
On the subject of the squad, Adams had more to add about potential additions ahead of the upcoming January transfer window. He said: "We will have players that will go out and there will be players that come in. I always have to balance the books and, by doing that, players will move out, we will recoup some of the money and we move on to other targets. It's difficult because we have a lot of things that we have to pay for at the football club. The stadium needs to be redeveloped. We have got to understand there is not a bottomless pit at the football club. We have got targets and we are obviously speaking to clubs about them. I try to do the best I can with the budget. It's not my job to go and ask for more money; it's just not me. If more resources are found for me, then I'll accept it, but I don't go grovelling to anybody for anything – I work with what I've got and do the best I can. It is a priority – we are speaking to individuals about the role of chief scout; we will make a decision in the future. That is an ongoing process, it is something we would like to try and do but it's not something that we are required to do. There are two ways we can do it: we can do it on a short-term basis to start with or we can look to the summer period where you get somebody for a longer period of time. It might be that we do that."
Looking forward more generally to the Bradford game and the rest of the season, Adams said: "We are always under pressure every day. If you are not, then you are probably in the wrong occupation; it's something we all thrive on. We are in a position where we want to win football matches and do well for the football club. It would be wrong to say that we are not under pressure; we are under pressure every day to succeed." There is pressure in all games. It doesn't matter who you're playing. When you are in the position that we are at this moment in time, then the players have shown they can deal with that pressure. They did that against the likes of Gillingham and Scunthorpe, even at home against Sunderland, as well. They actually thrive on that. Now we have 26 games to go to get the required points to move us forward."
Simon Hallett admitted that he would be more nervous than relieved to see the completion of Plymouth Argyle's grandstand development after the long process of getting the project started. Hallett said: "Of course it's a lot of money, and it's an important project, for the fans and for the future of the club. This is going to be a structure that is going to be around for years, so we want it to be good. The amount of money is large but the end product will be worth it, I hope. Everybody is working hard to make sure it's worth the money. Until it's finished, generating revenue and making our fans – and customers during the week – happy, we are going to be nervous about it, or I'm going to be nervous about it. It's going to be much more relief, trust me. "It's always nice coming to Home Park and seeing the people. The fact that I'm chairman doesn't really make much difference. I'm not big on titles. I don't actually like being called chairman, especially by people who have called me Simon for the last couple of years. That's taking some getting used to, but I think Home Park is in really good nick. I'm pleased with the progress of the grandstand. The contracting company have done a good job keeping it in reasonable shape considering the scale of the work. I'm not involved in the project on a day-to-day basis. Jon Back takes care of that. I follow it through the board reports on a monthly basis, Jon's blog posts and Steve Dean's photos on Greens on Screen. There has been a lot of information about it. There has been a lot of video and photos about what has been going on. The one thing that has surprised me is just how quickly you get used to it. I was at the Oxford game sitting in the Lyndhurst and at first you come in and it's like 'oh, that's a bit different'. By half-time, you just completely fail to take any notice that there is something a bit different going on.
"I have been pleased with the progress so far and I don't think it has damaged the fan experience too much. We had a few wobbles early on that I think have been overcome. It's like any large project, construction or otherwise. When you get to the outcome, there is a line from beginning to end that the progress is up and down. I think we are pretty much on track at the moment. The job of the contractor is to make sure they make up the downs with a few more accelerated bits, and I think that's what they have successfully done. That's certainly what they have got a track record of doing. I don't want to appear too relaxed about it. Somebody asked me this morning if I was nervous about it and the answer is 'hell, yes'. I'm not going to be relaxed about this until it's done and we have got the first people sitting in their seats. Demolition takes a long time, particularly it's worth remembering when you are refurbishing rather than starting again from scratch.
"You have got to be more careful. You can't just blow everything up and then put a new building on top. If anybody is disappointed by how long the demolition has taken, I'm sorry but that's the nature of the beast here. We will start to see real progress in the next couple of months. As I say, I'm going to be nervous about it but we are absolutely not going to rush and cut corners. This has got to be done properly. That's partly by choice and partly by budget constraints. I know there are some fans who would prefer the pillars to go, and there are also some fans who want us to keep them. We are obviously not going to be able to please everybody, but given what we can do with the budget I think it's going to be a really good looking stadium. If we had had much more money available, we could have had a cantilever stand and no pillars. Maybe we would have thought of that. But we are subject to budgetary constraints and I think this is a pretty good compromise. It's going to look good, it's going to be traditional and it's going to be a good facility."
Derek Adams praised the resilience of Joe Riley for his capable performance having just came back from nearly three months out injured. Adams said: "Riley was very good and you couldn't tell he had been out for eight to ten weeks," said Derek. "His composure on the ball and the way he won his headers was pleasing to see. He hasn't played for that time, trained for about ten days and we need to get our injured players back as soon as possible, which is what we're trying to do.
"Stuart O'Keefe has been struggling with it for a while and felt he couldn't continue with the pain, so he has gone back to Cardiff for treatment. I would hope he will be back as soon as possible because he's not damaged it too seriously."
In spite of the second loss of the week, Derek Adams hailed a greatly improved performance as a battling Argyle side went down 2-1 to Oxford . Adams said of the performance: "We were night and day from the Shrewsbury performance. We were far better than Oxford, the side on the ascendancy. We had 17 opportunities to their nine, which shows how dominant we were over the 90 minutes. It would have been great to be in the third round but, performance-wise, we were better than Oxford and I'm sure Karl Robinson would admit that. We had the better opportunities in the match to get through. Over the 90 minutes, we've lost the two goals, which were poor from our point of view. We scored a goal from Sarcevic and it was a thoroughly good performance, back to the performance we had against Fleetwood, back to being on the front-foot. We were the side on the front-foot but they scored early in the second half, which was their best period in the game. They didn't do anything in the first half because we had total control but a 10-minute spell in the second half got them two goals. The ball ricocheted to them for the first goal and there is a handball in the build up to the second goal. Yann Songo'o headed the ball against Jamie Mackie's hand and it fell to one of their players, so it should have been a foul to us in the lead up to the second goal. We also had a number of players booked in the game and their right-back should have been booked for persistent fouling; he gets away with it and a lot of inconsistencies from the referee, which didn't help the situation."
"We were very good, we were the better team and had double the chances that Oxford had. They are obviously very fortunate to go through to the second round of the FA Cup because we controlled good spells of the game. We were unfortunate not to go ahead in the first half with the chances that Joel Grant had and Freddie Ladapo had, but we need to take our chances. The corners we had were right in the six-yard box and we probably didn't attack them well enough. We needed to score in the first half to give ourselves an opportunity. It was a cup tie and getting the first goal is always going to be beneficial. The players were fantastic, the work-rate and will to get back in the game was clear to see. We played them off the park at times, created a number of opportunities in the second half, especially from balls through to Freddie Ladapo or Ryan Taylor. We were unfortunate not to get ourselves a goal. Over the 90 minutes, we had to change things to get back in the game and we did that."
Graham Carey agreed, adding: "It was one of those days. It was frustrating because we played so well for long periods in the game.To get nothing from it is pretty sore, but there has been a lot of positives. It's just the 10-minute spell in the second half where we got punished for our mistakes which let us down. It's hard to be positive straight after the game, but when we look back on it going into a busy December there has been a lot of positives. We were delighted with the start we made. We knew if we could start right we could be on the front foot. That is what happened, and we just didn't take the chances which we created. Us going forward, as a front four and midfield, we need to take our chances and get a lead, then it releases the pressure on the back four. If we keep going 60-70 minutes without scoring, then the opposition are going to get a chance and if they take it they are going to go ahead. "It's up to us to get a foothold in the game, get the first goal and release the pressure on the back four. I think we showed how much we wanted to be in the competition after the affiliation we have had with it over the last few years. We really wanted to be in the next round and we gave everything towards the end. It just wasn't enough. It's going to be hard every week if we need to score two or three goals to get a result. But we know that we need to do our bit up front to release the pressure on the back four. If we are 1-0 at half-time then it's a totally different game, which it probably should have been."
Argyle are out of the FA Cup and now left with only the league on which to focus after a 2-1 loss to Oxford, in which all of the goals came in the second half. The visitors went ahead in a spell just after half-time. Antoni Sarcevic pulled one back for Argyle but it was not to be enough. Argyle: Macey, Riley, Songo'o, Canavan, Smith-Brown(Lameiras), Fox, Ness(Taylor), Sarcevic, Carey, Ladapo, J Grant. Subs: Letheren, Moore, P Grant, Jephcott, Wylde.
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