A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
John Sheridan has hinted that his does not always subscribe to the adage that you should never change a winning side. Sheridan added to this that he does not feel any pressure to stick to the players who attained a 4-0 victory at Fleetwood and instead holds to the mantra that he will always pick the side that gives us the best chance of victory on that day. Sheridan: "I'm not frightened if I have to change the team from the other night just because we won 4-0; if I feel someone is going to play and affect the game on Saturday because we are home, I will make that decision. I've done it before. I always try to pick a team that is going to win us the game on the day."
Argyle have made the surprising move of re-appointing former director Tony Wrathall back onto to the board of directors. Owner James Brent has also sold Wrathall 5% of the club. Wrathall first came onto the board in February 2005 and left six years later when the club went into voluntary administration. James Brent has foreseen that this is an issue which is capable of causing a divide in the fanbase and has issued a statement attempting to alleviate those doubts. Brent said: "I am fully aware that Tony's appointment will raise some questions among the fan-base. However, it is one that I am comfortable with. After taking over the club, we very rapidly got to the bottom of what had gone on in the period leading up to administration. It became abundantly clear that Tony was in no way responsible for the meltdown. Indeed, without his continuing financial support, the club would have failed many months earlier. Tony loves Argyle, and he wants to do all he can to contribute to its recovery, including financial investment. That makes total sense to me, and to all the other board members."
Wrathall himself has issued a similar statement of re-assurance, stating his apologies for the harm that was caused around the administration period, whilst affirming his resolution to make things better. Wrathall stated: "I appreciate that many, many people have suffered very badly as a result of what happened at the club, and I am extremely sorry for that. I thought long and hard, and came to the conclusion that the best way of trying to put this right would be, after a suitable period away, to offer the club my help as it looks to build again. That is why I have offered my services, and I am delighted that Argyle have invited me to rejoin the board."
Conor Hourihane believes that the play-offs are very much possible for Argyle this season, but only if the home form improves. Hourihane was happy with the performance of both himself and the team at Fleetwood but acknowledged that consistency remains an issue: "Credit to the lads, it's a great win, beyond our wildest dreams. We'd have come up here and taken anything but to win 4-0 is a great result. We've always played decent away from home. Obviously, people speak of our home form being not the best but our away form...we seem to maybe play with a bit of confidence and go out with no fear and pass the ball about, and it seems to work for us. We've mentioned, in the dressing-room, that, after these good away wins, we need to start winning home games now. Fingers crossed that it starts with Morecambe on Saturday now. We've still have eyes on the play-offs. That's all our aims. That's what we are pushing for, but we need to be winning in front of our home crowd because that's really important."
John Sheridan is a man not often moved to unleash superlatives, so when he comes out with one, you know something special has just happened. "I thought we were outstanding," said the Argyle manager after the Pilgrims' thorough dismantling of promotion hopefuls Fleetwood Town on a bitter Tuesday night on the Fylde coast. Reuben Reid opened the scoring midway through the first half, and Luke Young added one immediately after the break. A diving header following a corner form Max Blanchard, and a late direct free-kick from skipper Conor Hourihane completed the rout. "We were a threat all night. In the first half, on the break, I thought we looked really threatening. You have got to work hard against Fleetwood; they do move the ball and have got one or two good players, and are having a good season and I expect them to be up there at the end of the season. But we got in and around them and we forced them to make mistakes. We didn't let them settle and didn't let them play. We were the team who was on the front foot and I thought we caused them problems all the time we were going forward." The victory was the first time that the Pilgrims had scored four times away from home since October 2012, when they beat Barnet 4-1 in a match in which Young and Blanchard also netted, as the players took on board their manager's advice. John said: "I can only keep saying 'Have a bit of confidence in yourself as footballers and go out and got out on the pitch and be confident' and I think we did that. I think we looked a really good team tonight. Obviously, to score four at Fleetwood is very good and the plus was we were working very hard to keep a clean sheet. At 3-0 and 4-0, I could see players running 60-70 yards to make sure we're not going to concede. I like that. They want to fight for each other. To score four away from home and to keep a clean sheet is always pleasing, so full credit to all the players. The defenders worked hard to keep a clean sheet and we were still trying to score more when we were 3-0 and 4-0 up. I felt we were trying to score every time we went forward." Despite the emphatic win the first 4-0 away victory by the Pilgrims for more than two years, there seems very little danger of any laurel-resting in the build-up to Saturday's home clash with Morecambe. "Football is a funny old game," said John. "We got beat 4-0 two weeks ago. I wasn't getting praised anywhere. So, when you get praise, just accept it, and when you have a difficult result – we don't mean to lose on purpose; we don't mean to play badly on purpose – accept it and work hard. I like to set standards. If you are going to get anywhere you have got to work hard. I've said before, I don't want players playing in this division; I don't want to be managing in this division. We're alright, but we haven't done anything. Where are we? Eighth. We're just closer to the teams above us. The good thing is we have proved ourselves against a good team in this division. Whoever comes here normally gets outplayed and outpassed and usually gets beaten. It's just another game. Three points and results have gone our way. We have just got to keep this little run going."
The win at Fleetwood has reignited hopes of a play-off push. John Sheridan said: "I have said we have got to win five or six games on the trot, get up there and try to get involved with the other teams. It's still really tight – we've won our last two so it gets you closer to people but you can soon slip away. You can win three or four, but you can lose three or four, we'll concentrate on ourselves, work hard and try to get a result on Saturday." Despite the thumping victory, John will not necessarily give a green light to the team that earned it when Morecambe come to Home Park. "I won't be frightened if I have to change it," he said. "Morecambe will be a different game. They are tough and organised and always hard to play against, so, if I have to make changes on Saturday even if we won 4-0, I won't be frightened of doing it."
Argyle have won their third away game in a row for the first time in seven years, an astounding 4-0 victory at Fleetwood. Reuben Reid put Argyle 1-0 up in the 21st minute, a lead which Argyle carried through to half-time. Shortly after the break, a Luke Young shot made it two. Two goals from set pieces doubled Argyle's lead in the last 20 minutes. Maxime Blanchard headed in from a corner and Conor Hourihane scored directly from a free-kick. Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Trotman, Nelson, Berry, Wotton(Obadeyi), Hourihane, Young, Parsons, Reid (Morgan), Alessandra (Boco). Unused subs: Dawson, Harvey, Gurrieri, Purrington.
John Sheridan is keen to see Tope Obadeyi in action again. "He likes it here and I think he likes working under me," said Sheridan. "Plus it's not a fortune to get him, so it suits us. I don't know why he's not playing at Bury – and there's probably people asking why I am bringing him back here because he's not getting a start at Bury – but I just think he's got something. He's got pace and he did well for me. He was excellent in his last game before he left at Port Vale. I don't think he wanted to go back. I am pleased to get him. He will give us something a little bit different." Tope's resumed loan now means the manager has a number of options in attacking positions. "There's nothing wrong in having plenty," he said. "They all want to play, as well. Like I say, I can only pick 11 but I try to look after them the best we can. The bench is quite strong at the moment."
Whether the bench at Fleetwood tomorrow night will be quite as potent depends, to some extent, on Nathan Thomas recovering from a back injury that ruled him out of the trip to Essex, and on how Jason Banton's groin responds to treatment following his early substitution on Saturday. "It's a shame," said Sheridan of Banton's injury, "because I think it was probably the best that he's started in a game. I played him in the hole [behind strikers Reuben Reid and Lewi Alessandra], where he wants to play. He did well there for me last year. I think he can play anywhere. Lewi's the same – he can play left, right or down the middle and I think that's Jason's preferred position."
Reflecting on his 480th appearance for Argyle on Saturday, but his first since early October, Paul Wotton said: "The gaffer hasn't got to explain anything to me. I don't go knocking on his door. It is what it is. I feel as fit today as I did when I was 26. I work hard in training. If I play, I play. If not, I'm there for the boys. It's not really an issue. I was pleased to play, but even more pleased with the win." Wotton has always been a fierce and proud competitor, so spending so much time on the bench this season has been difficult for him. "Of course it is frustrating," he said. "Every time the team is named, you do get disappointed. If I didn't, then I would quit. I would retire. But, at the minute, I have still got that desire to play. If I had embarrassed myself on the pitch, I would walk away. But I think you could see today it was the same Paul Wotton – loud, gobby and brash."
John Sheridan was too modest to claim credit for it but Argyle's 2-1 victory at Dagenham & Redbridge owed as much to his tactics as it did to a fine team performance which contained some memorable personal contributions. First-half goals from Reuben Reid and Lewi Alessandra, either side of a home leveller from Zavon Hines, gave a much-changed Pilgrims side their second successive away victory and put them back in the division's top ten. At the heart of it all – and one of four changes from the previous week's 4-0 home larruping by York City - was veteran defender Paul Wotton, brought back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines to marshal a five-man defence in which Matt Parsons made his debut at left wing-back. "I think three at the back suits him," said John. "We all know he hasn't got the legs he used to – I don't think he's ever had the legs! – but he's an organiser and talker. That's a good thing about him. We lack that; we are very quiet as a team. So, when he's on the pitch, he sees it like a coach and he plays the game, seeing things going on around him. He's very vocal, which I like. We need one or two more of those. I changed the formation, brought one or two people in, and it they all did well. It was a good team performance. It's a hard place to come. It's credit to the players, more than anyone. It was a great response after a disappointing 4-0 defeat last week. It showed character from the players." Reuben scored inside the first five minutes – for the second away game running – after Conor Hourihane's free-kick had cannoned back off the crossbar, but Lewi's goal 12 minutes before the break, volleying home Matt's cross at the near-post, was the pick of the Pilgrims' pair. John said: "We had good possession of the ball; Andres Gurrieri slid in for the tackle and it ends up going to Matty. It was a great ball from Matty and a great finish from Lewi. That's what strikers are there for. Usually, when we score first, we don't lose many games, so it's good to go in at half-time with an advantage. The second half was a bit scrappy; we could have played if we believed in ourselves a little bit more. But we hung on and dug in – it's a difficult place to come, so to come and get three points is a good effort from the players." Lewi's strike took him to ten goals for the season, following Reuben into double-figures for the campaign, and John said: "I'm greedy – I think they should both have more goals, as well, with the ability they've got. They are a handful – you could see that in the first half. It's always good when strikers score goals. They've both scored and worked their socks off for the team." It was left to a defender to round off the win when Curtis Nelson, who had an outstanding afternoon, blocked what looked like a certain goal from Hines late on. "He's quick, he's strong and he's read the situation," said John, of his young centre-back. "He's got that in his locker and it was a great last-ditch tackle. The lad would have scored if Nelse hadn't made the tackle."
Argyle's victory at Dagenham not only extended their hosts' winless eight-game run against the Pilgrims since becoming a Football League club, it also re-ignited Green hopes of pinching a play-off place. John Sheridan acknowledged that his side are still some way off securing their Football League status after breaking the 40-point barrier, but is looking up, rather than down, the division. "I've mentioned the play-offs and I'll keep mentioning them until we can't get in them," said John. "Forty-two points isn't enough, but I try to look at the other end of the table. I still think there is going to be someone who comes out of the pack and gets in the top seven, so why can't it be Plymouth?". John continued: "For us to come away after getting beat last week – everyone was a bit down, and that's understandable – gives everyone a bit of a lift. We have shown a bit of character throughout the season. Give the players a pat on the back – it's them that go out on the pitch. We were lively and could have made the game a lot easier than it was but we've won the game. The second half was scrappy but, like I say, it was a good team performance."
Argyle maintained their place in the play-off hunt with a 2-1 win at Dagenham and Redbridge. John Sheridan made four changes in all to the side that lost to York the previous weekend, including a re-call for Paul Wotton. Reuben Reid opened the scoring inside five minutes when he picked up the pieces of a Conor Hourihane free-kick which rebounded off the crossbar. Dagenham had briefly been on level terms thanks to a goal from Zavon Hines, but Lewis Alessandra ensured the Pilgrims went into half-time in the lead with a fine finish 12 minutes before the break. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Wotton, Nelson, Parsons (Purrington), Banton (Gurrieri), Hourihane, Young, Alessandra, Reid (Morgan). Substitutes (not used): Boco, Young, Harvey, Obadeyi, Dawson.
John Sheridan has said that the time has not yet come for him to offer new contracts to any of Argyle's players whose contracts will expire this Summer. Sheridan noted that whilst he understands the pressure of having an expiring contract and has some players in mind for whom he wishes to offer to, there are other factors that first need to be determined- the league in which Argyle are playing in being one. Sheridan did however hint that some deals will be offered before the end of the season:"It's no concern whatsoever to me. That's just part and parcel of the job. Listen, if I lose my next five games I will be unsettled.I have got in the back of my mind one or two of the players who I would like to talk to and offer new contracts.I will know when the time will be right to do that. We don't know what division we are going to be in. I have had it myself, you need to know what your future is. The players have got families and its their lives. I totally respect that. I would never delay anything for a purpose of trying to take the mickey out of anyone. I'm doing it for a reason and I will do it when the time is right. It won't be the last game of the season. Whether I have to have a quiet word with one or two players that I'm going to offer them new contracts, I will do that. At this moment, I'm just going to hold on a while and the time will come when I have to do it."
Argyle have re-signed Bury forward Tope Obadeyi on loan until the 25th of March. Obadeyi, who previously enjoyed a loan spell at Argyle earlier in the season was recalled by Bury manager David Flitcroft early in January. However, he has today allowed the former Bolton player to re-join the Pilgrims on loan. He will go straight into the squad to face Dagenham this weekend and will wear squad number 28.
Argyle have confirmed that the game against Chesterfield at home will now be played on the 18th of March. Due to Chesterfield's victory over Fleetwood in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Tuesday night, they will be playing out the final of that competition against Peterborough at Wembley that weekend.
The return from injury and suspension of a handful of players has stayed manager John Sheridan's hand in consideration of further reinforcements for Argyle over the final third of the season. Last Saturday's bench in the 4-0 home defeat by York contained outfielders Durrell Berry, Marvin Morgan, Luke Young, Tyler Harvey, Nathan Thomas and Andres Gurrieri, all of who are pushing for promotion when the Pilgrims visit Dagenham & Redbridge this weekend. "I think we're settled for the last 16 games," said John. "There might be one that comes in who I feel we might need, but, if everyone stays fit, I think we're quite strong enough. I've probably got too many players now. I don't know how many times I've said it – the hardest part of my job is not picking lads. I've got lads like young Isaac Vassell and Jamie Richards, who train every day, who go over to the gym every afternoon, who need football. They never give you a problem; they train properly." Isaac and Jamie were omitted from the squad for York, but included in a strong Pilgrims' side that took on Torquay United in a private match at Home Park on Monday. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, with Andres Gurrieri scoring the Argyle goal. "I thought one or two needed some game-time and they had a good run-out," said John. "Hopefully, by the time Saturday comes around, they will be a bit fitter and sharper, because training is totally different to playing – once you get in a match situation, you find out how quick it is. Obviously, there are one or two who want to play and who are pushing for a start."
Argyle's home game against Chesterfield will be moved for the third time following the Spireites' continuing success in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Chesterfield progressed to this year's Wembley final following their 3-2 aggregate JPT northern area final victory against Fleetwood, despite losing Tuesday's home second leg 1-0. The final will be played on Sunday, March 30, meaning Chesterfield's scheduled league game at Home Park the previous day will have to be postponed. No new date has yet been set for the re-arranged fixture.
The Argyle dressing-room inquest following last Saturday's 4-0 defeat by York was not a long one. "I've told the players: 'Forget about the result – it's gone, there's nothing we can do about it. We have got to show a bit of character and try to get a result now'," said John Sheridan. "Last week was a poor result. We knew what was at stake and where we would have been if we could have got a good result; everything would have been a lot healthier. But it's gone now." With seventh-placed Southend losing, the Pilgrims missed out on a chance to narrow the points gap between themselves and the play-offs, but John is still confident Argyle's season can extend beyond their final league match at Portsmouth on May 3rd. "I'm not getting carried away by one result," he said. "I feel as if the team has been doing okay. We were on a decent run, to be fair – in the top five in the division. The result was upsetting because we knew what was at stake. One or two other results went our way, and that's the unfortunate thing. We haven't capitalised. There was an opportunity and sometimes, when we are getting there, we just don't really go for it. I want us to have a bit of belief. I still believe we can get into the play-offs. That's really the way I feel. There are ten teams that are thinking they have got a chance. Someone's going to come out of the pack and why can't it be us? But we can't keep letting games go by because we are making it a little bit harder as each game goes by." One of those teams harbouring similar ambitions are Dagenham & Redbridge, who host the Pilgrims this Saturday. John said: "Last home game, when we drew and had wanted to win, we went and won away; we have got to try and do that. We have got to put the defeat by York to the back of our minds, if we can, and go out and get a positive result. It will be a hard game at Dagenham. They have got a good home record and they are a team which is in and around the same area as us, so it will be a difficult game, but we will go there and try to win. They have got some good players; they have got a bit of pace in the team; and I thought they were a decent team even though we beat them 2-1 here. They are having a decent season and will feel that, like a few teams, if they can get a couple of wins they can have a little bit of hope of getting in the play-offs."
The decision to send off Neal Trotman in opening minutes of Argyle's 4-0 defeat to York City will not be met by criticism by John Sheridan. Trotman was adjudged to have denied Ryan Bowman a goalscoring opportunity in the 11th minute, and with the resulting penalty being dispatched by Wes Fletcher for York's first goal, left the Greens with a mountain to climb. However, the manager refused to disagree with the referee's decision. "I don't know if Trotman got the ball, but it looks like a sending off to me," said John. "You see them every week, so no excuses there. It had an effect on the game; it's happened so early on, so it obviously makes things difficult for us."
John Sheridan has urged his players to bounce back and show character after their 4-0 loss to York City. Argyle suffered their heaviest defeat of the season after having to play the majority of the game with ten men when Neal Trotman received an 11th-minute red card for bringing down Ryan Bowman in the penalty area. "It hurts, because we know what we're trying to do and achieve, so we've just got to bounce back," said John. "We won't hide. I'll accept whatever's been said and face everyone. Hopefully, we'll show a bit of character, which we have done on a few occasions this season. I could blame the sending-off, but we just didn't deserve to win. Today just wasn't our day, and I won't make any excuses." Wes Fletcher converted York's early spot-kick, but John insisted that his side were very much in the game for the rest of the first half. "I actually thought, in the first half, we did pretty well after the red card," said John. "I thought we responded really well. Up until the second goal, we were the better team. We were definitely in the game. Curtis Nelson's had a good chance, and if Conor Hourihane's shot is on target, it's a goal. I think the killer blow was York's second goal just before half-time. It just set us back a bit. If you go into the second half 2-0 down, shooting towards our fans, I think we've got a chance."
John Sheridan believes his aggressive substitutions played a part in the Pilgrims' defeat by York City. John found himself in the unenviable position in the second half of choosing whether to cut his team's losses – 2-0 down and having had centre-back Neal Trotman sent off – and accept defeat, or go all-out and attempt an unlikely comeback. "At 2-0 down with ten men, we're still in the game, so what should we do?" he said "Do I put us in a position to chase the game or accept that it's 2-0 and try and keep it to that? I made some substitutions – whether they were the right ones, I don't know. I thought Nathan Thomas and Durrell Berry would give us legs and energy, but I don't think it worked out too well. Maybe I should have gone with players with more game know-how. I've made substitutions before and they've worked out for me, but today I don't think they did." Eventually, Argyle conceded two more after a "ragged" final ten minutes, but you would be hard pressed to find someone willing to criticize John for trying to get something out of the game. "Whenever I've had a man sent off, I've always thought we can get something out of the game, and it's worked for us a few times," said John, who will now prepare for next Saturday's visit to Dagenham & Redbridge. "But I'll have to hold my hands up – we got well beaten. Sometimes it works, and it didn't work today. We'll have to work hard to pick the right team to play well against Dagenham. We'll have to hit the ground running, looking to forget about today and get a good result there."
Argyle have suffered their biggest defeat not only of the season but also of John Sheridan's tenure as manager, going down 4-0 to York. The greens were up against it from the start following Neal Trotman's 11th minute dismissal for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. The resultant penalty was duly converted and Argyle were a goal and a man down. York doubled their advantage in first half stoppage time. The game looked like petering out at 2-0 until two very late goals from York completed the humiliation in stoppage time of the second half. Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Nelson, Trotman, Purrington, Blizzard, Hourihane, Banton (Berry), Boco (Thomas), Alessandra, Reid. Subs: Dawson, Harvey, Morgan, Gurrieri, Young.
John Sheridan has publically praised the performance of Argyle forward Lewis Alessandra after his goal at Northampton last weekend. Sheridan said that in spite of Alessandra coming in for some criticism earlier in the season, he never lost faith that he could have something to offer. Sheridan:"I think some of the things he does on the pitch with the ball, Premier League players can't do. I think he's been excellent all season. He was getting a bit of stick earlier in the season, but I knew what he had and I know what he's got in his locker, so I knew he would always come good. Like any player, I'd like him to believe in himself a little bit more, but I think he's been brilliant throughout the season and I'm pleased he's getting one or two goals. He's got great body movement, and no-one ever talks about how hard he works for the team. No matter where I've played him, whether it's down the middle, left or right, he's always got on with his job. They are the type of players you want in your team. So all credit to Lewi – and hopefully he can bang one or two more in."
John Sheridan has called off the club's search for a new striker- for the time being anyway. Sheridan has tried to bring many strikers to Home Park on loan since Caolan Lavery was recalled to Sheffield Wednesday but for one reason or another he has had little luck. Now however, Marvin Morgan is finally recovered from the shoulder injury which kept him out for over 4 months and it expected to be named amongst the subs tomorrow. Sheridan explained his decision: "I'm going to have a very hard job picking the substitutes' bench on Saturday. So be it – that's part and parcel of my job, and I don't mind doing that. With Marvin coming back I don't think the need for a striker is as important as what it was probably two or three weeks ago."
Argyle have stated that they a 'very confident' that tomorrow's League Two match against York City will not fall foul of the weather conditions. The club issued the following statement at 1.30 today:"Despite the recent inclement conditions, we remain very confident that the game against York City will be on. As it stands, the pitch is fine, and taking into account the current weather forecast we do not foresee any problems. We have no pitch inspection planned."
Argyle have also won the Football Trader and Collector best program award for League Two. Spokesperson and sub-editor for the magazine Alan Budd has said that the Pilgrim is "an excellent production" and scored highly in the categories which were used in making the magazine's decision such as lay-out; interesting content; reasonable advertising; and value for money.
Argyle have announced that 9 members of the academy have been offered two year apprenticeships with the club, with 8 being let go. Jack Calver, Cory Harvey, Owen Jones, Liam Knowles, Jake Miller, Billy Palfrey, Jamil Roberts, Benjamin Steer and Jason Vincent have been given 28 days to consider their offers and will begin their apprenticeship in pre-season should they agree. Academy manager Kevin Hodges said: "These decisions are not made lightly and I have spoken with our development phase coaches, as well as our first-team manager and his coaching staff, prior to ultimately having to make any final decisions. We would encourage them all to continue to focus on their final months in school and their exams, as well as their football. Congratulations to them all – they have all worked very hard to get to this stage of their development as young footballers. Sadly, we have informed eight players they are not being offered an apprenticeship. Many of these boys have been with us since the age of nine and, along with their families, have made a huge commitment to the club. I am sure, at this moment, they are extremely disappointed. They do have the option to remain with the club to continue training and playing with us until the end of this season. They may take up the option of the Community Education Programme which runs alongside our LFE Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence programme. They are also able to attend national exit trials where scouts from other Academies can offer trials with other professional clubs. Some of them will remain in education and some may opt for a different vocational apprenticeship. We, as a club, have a moral obligation to monitor these players' exit routes and their progression. I have to say, on the whole, many of the parents said some very complimentary things about our Academy and their son's experiences at Plymouth Argyle, despite being given this news."
Matt Parsons wants to put the frustratingly stop-start beginning to his Argyle career behind him and look forward to challenging for a place in the team. 22 year old Parsons has not yet played for Argyle due to injuries and lack of match fitness although he has said he is fit for the upcoming game against York on Saturday. His thigh injury was picked up in a behind closed doors friendly at Yeovil last month but the left-back now says he is finally close to being ready. Parsons: "I played about 60 minutes in it and I took a knock on my quad and it has been tight ever since. I think it has turned into more of a strain. I tried to come back and train and I just made it worse. I'm getting back from that now and I'm feeling better and better. I started training on Monday and it is feeling alright. If all goes well, I will be available for Saturday."
Tickets for Argyle's League Two game at Fleetwood on the 25th of February are now on general sale to all supporters from the Home Park box office.
Coming to Home Park, after a ringing endorsement from Caolan Lavery, is a new experience for young goalkeeper Cameron Dawson, although he is not exactly a stranger in town. The highly-rated 18-year-old Sheffield Wednesday custodian, who has joined Argyle on loan until the end of the season, trained with his new team-mates on Tuesday morning after his transfer two days earlier. "It's my first time away from Sheffield," said the 6ft 4in England Under-19 international, "my first loan experience. I'm really looking forward to it, to testing myself away from the comforts of home. I've got family down here if I need them and I'll spend a bit of time with them. I've visited Plymouth a few times, so I know bits and bobs about it. I've never been to Home Park before, never been to a Plymouth game, so I'm looking forward to Saturday when we get York here, and hopefully another three points." All of Cameron's family are lifelong Owls fans, so the chance to work with a Hillsborough living legend was never likely to be passed up, even if Cameron's terrace recollections of John Sheridan playing are a little hazy. "I was a bit young, but I've heard lots about him - the fans love him up there," he said. "So when I got the chance to come here and work for him, I jumped at that chance." Argyle were given a strong rep to Cameron by Wednesday team-mate Caolan, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at Home Park earlier in the campaign. "I went and spoke to Caolan about it and he said: 'Jump at the chance, get yourself down'. He said: 'It's a great club, great people; you'll enjoy yourself down there.' I was already decided, but it's nice to hear those words from Caolan, who speaks very fondly of his time down here. For me, it's all about getting first-team experience and being around a first-team set-up, working with the manager and his staff and learning things off new people."
After the second of two home draws on the bounce the previous week, Argyle manager John Sheridan emphasised the need to restore some equity into Argyle's play-off push by winning away from home. His players' immediate response was to comprehensively beat bottom club Northampton at Sixfields and push the Pilgrims into the top ten in Sky Bet League 2 for the first time since the opening weeks of the campaign. "We fully deserved the win," said John. "It was a really good professional performance. Full credit to the players; they responded really well. After drawing the home games, we needed to come away and get three points. When you are drawing and other teams around you are winning, a draw doesn't seem a good result, even though you are not losing. We have lost one in the last nine now, but we have drawn four. We are trying to get as high up the table as possible, and catch the teams above us, so, when you are drawing games, it's difficult." Attention now turns to stopping a run of three successive home draws when York City visit Home Park on Saturday. "Eight points from four games would be a good outcome," said John. "If we can do that towards the end of the season, we will have a chance."
Reuben Reid and Lewi Alessandra took their joint tally for the season to 23 goals in the Pilgrims' 2-0 win at Northampton but it was a forward with fewer goals and fewer appearances under his belt that caught the eye at blustery Sixfields. Rommy Boco was called in as Reuben's strike partner and played an important part in Argyle's first win in Northampton for more than 60 years. "He worked his socks off," said John Sheridan. "I just wanted to go a little bit more attack-minded and get someone closer to Reuben: I thought Rommy, with his work-rate and willingness, would push us further up the pitch." Reuben took his individual goals total for the season to 14 with an opportunistic strike in the fifth minute that bamboozled off-form Cobblers' goalkeeper Matt Duke. "I'm pleased he scored and I'm pleased with the way he scored, as well," said John. "It was just an instinctive goal. He has not hit it great, but he has reacted and anticipated, and it's in the back of the net. "They are the goals Reuben should be scoring more of. You have got to work hard and see things. He should have 20 goals and then everybody would be talking about him. That's what I tell him. He should have had another couple today for me, but he has worked his socks off again." Lewi's goal, six minutes before the interval, was his ninth of the campaign – although he and many others will tell you one of Argyle's FA Cup five against Lincoln should also have been credited to him and not marked down as an own goal – and owed at least a little to the conditions, with the wind sweeping his cross past Duke. John said: "Lewi has put it in a dangerous area – if you put it between the posts and no-one touches it, sometimes they go in the net, and that's what has happened."
Returning to the first team, Argyle goalkeeper Jake Cole knew he was going to be in for a tough second half during the Pilgrims' victory at Northampton after watching his Cobblers counterpart Matt Duke struggle for 45 minutes in near gale-force winds. Duke conceded twice in the first half as Argyle made the most of having the strong Sixfields wind at their backs to score through Reuben Reid, after five minutes, and Lewis Alessandra, after 39. The second half was a different story as the Pilgrims had to deal with playing into the fierce elements. Odds were long on them keeping their first clean sheet since New Year's Day, but they pulled it off magnificently to win 2-0 and climb to tenth place in the division. "I knew what I had to come in the second half," said Jake. "Obviously, he struggled a lot with the kicking, and it's hard when you've got the wind that much in your face but you have got to deal with it the best you can. It's also difficult with balls coming into the box, and all sorts of things you have to deal with. We defended great. We said before the game that, if we could get a clean sheet, we'd get the result we wanted. Going in 2-0 up at half-time was probably the most important thing for the second half. We just had to stay tight at the back and not concede. If it was 1-0 at half-time. we'd still have been happy but that second goal calmed the lads a bit because, in then second half, you know they are going to have the wind behind them and put balls in and put pressure on. But we dealt with what they threw at us. The boys showed great character in the second half and we are all pleased with getting a clean sheet and three points away from home. There were difficult balls to deal with, with the swirling wind, but they were up for it and got the better of it." The best of Jake's second-half saves came from Gary Hackett's wind-assisted corner, which was arrowed in under his crossbar. He said: "The player has whipped it in and it's got a bit of pace on it. You'd like the front man to clear the ball but I ended up stepping up and I got a hand on it, and I was buzzing to keep it out. I managed to get a really strong hand on it. It was quite weird the way it went off to the opposite side. It was handy that I kept it out and we kept it to 2-0." Jake was making only his second league start of the season following a campaign-ending injury to team-mate Luke McCormick. "It's an opportunity for me to play some games, which I'm pleased about," said Jake, "but Luke's done excellent this year and we're good pals and get on really well. It's tough on him but I am going to try to take the chance and hopefully it goes well from now until the end of the season. I've been here before many times. Nothing's new You go out there and you give it your best. You prepare right through the week and then you've got to perform. Whenever you get the chance, you've got to perform well." The victory, after six winless games, rekindles the Pilgrims' hopes of making the end-of-season play-offs. Jake said: "We've had a couple of draws at home and, as the gaffer said, if we can get another win away from home, it makes up the two points. It's in the reverse order to the way we'd like to do it - we'd like to get three points at home and nick a point away - but, whatever way we did it, we've got to go and get the results. It's a great three points today."
Marvin Morgan's long journey back from his shoulder injury is nearly at its destination. He missed out on Saturday's visit to Northampton, but is already in the manager's thoughts as a possible pick for seven days later, when York come to Home Park. "Marvin has looked really good in training this week – we had a little bit of a game on the pitch the other day – and he is not far off," said John. "I'd be looking at the York game regarding Marvin being involved, or the one after that. He's 50-50 for York." Whether there will be any further pressure on the forward positions depends on John finding a player whose ambitions match his own. "I am asking clubs, and the clubs are agreeing and the managers are agreeing, but it's totally down to the player at the end of the day, and they don't want to come," he said. "It's totally down to the player. Most of the clubs I am ringing, the players aren't getting regular football. If I was a player and I wasn't playing somewhere and a club came in for me and offered me the chance of playing football, it wouldn't matter here it was, I'd go. For the chance of playing first-team football. They are a different breed today. Some are in a bit of a comfort zone and like sitting round on a Saturday afternoon, which is wrong in my eyes. It is really difficult. I am looking for a striker who is hopefully going to improve us; who fits in our budget – I can't just bring anyone in. I could probably get a cheap striker, but he'd just be part of the numbers and I don't want that, He'd be another body. I want somebody who is going to improve us, and that's what I am looking for. I don't want to keep going on about it because I am saying the same thing – I am working my socks off to try to get one in and I will carry on doing that until I get one in. I'm hoping someone will come in: if not, I will pick someone who is already at the club and hopefully they'll go out and score one or two goals for us." Marvin is not the only Pilgrim who might be pressing the manager for selection against York. "Next week is probably the time when we will have three or bodies back," said John. "Matt Parsons; Durrell Berry; Andres Gurrieri is suspended. We have got a strong enough squad."
With gale force winds and a sodden pitch, Argyle adapted best to the poor conditions and ended up 2-0 winners against bottom of the league Northampton Town. Playing with the wind, goals from Reuben Reid and Lewis Alessandra ensured Argyle's lead at half time. Having to face the wind in the second half, the job would be difficult, but Argle held strong and picked up their first 3 points since new years day. Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Trotman, Nelson, Purrington, Alessandra, Blizzard, Hourihane, Banton (Harvey), Reid, Boco. Substitutes (not used): Young, Wotton, Thomas, Richards, Vassell, Dawson.
Argyle have signed Sheffield Wednesday's under-21 goalkeeper Cameron Dawson on a youth loan from Sheffield Wednesday until the end of the season. Dawson, who has represented England at under-18 and under-19 level, will go straight into the squad for the match at Northampton.
John Sheridan confirmed that Marvin Morgan is edging ever closer to being in contention for a Plymouth Argyle return, possibly for the match against York in a weeks time. Sheridan said: "Marvin has looked really good in training this week – we had a little bit of a game on the pitch the other day – and he is not far off. I'd be looking at the York game regarding Marvin being involved, or the one after that. He's 50-50 for York."
The return of Morgan however is not something which will stop the gaffer from looking for a new striker. Sheridan confirmed that he was still asking around: "I am asking clubs, and the clubs are agreeing and the managers are agreeing, but it's totally down to the player at the end of the day, and they don't want to come. It's totally down to the player. Most of the clubs I am ringing, the players aren't getting regular football. If I was a player and I wasn't playing somewhere and a club came in for me and offered me the chance of playing football, it wouldn't matter here it was, I'd go. For the chance of playing first-team football. They are a different breed today. Some are in a bit of a comfort zone and like sitting round on a Saturday afternoon, which is wrong in my eyes. It is really difficult. I am looking for a striker who is hopefully going to improve us; who fits in our budget – I can't just bring anyone in. I could probably get a cheap striker, but he'd just be part of the numbers and I don't want that, He'd be another body. I want somebody who is going to improve us, and that's what I am looking for. I don't want to keep going on about it because I am saying the same thing – I am working my socks off to try to get one in and I will carry on doing that until I get one in. I'm hoping someone will come in: if not, I will pick someone who is already at the club and hopefully they'll go out and score one or two goals for us."
It has been confirmed beyond any doubt that Luke McCormick's season is over. After previously having announced that he would have a 'prolonged absence', the club have today confirmed that McCormick will not play again between now and May following dislocating and fracturing a finger in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Mansfield. On a more positive note however, the goalkeeper will not require surgery and instead can wait for the injury to heal naturally. John Sheridan said that he has faith in Jake Cole to deputise: "It gives Jake an opportunity. That's the good thing about it – I have two very good keepers and now Jake's got a chance to step in, and hopefully, he'll perform like he did at the end of last season, when I first came into the club. I've got full confidence he'll do that. He trains properly – he trains very hard – and he gets on well with Luke and has done very well when he has played in cup games for us. He's a very good keeper."
Sheridan went on to reveal that he is in talks with a Championship keeper about coming to Argyle as number two for the rest of the season, confirming that he is an under-21s player. He added: "He will be a number two at Argyle. But if anything does happen to Jake, it gives him a better chance of first team football than at the club he is at."
Tickets for Argyle's trip to Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday 22th February are now on sale. Tickets are currently on sale to members - one ticket per member - and will go on general sale at 9am on Monday 10th February.
Argyle winger Nathan Thomas has said that the team are not demoralised following the recent run of bad form and are in fact still aiming for a play-off spot. Thomas said how failing to make the play-offs would still be seen as a disappointment by Argyle players and that he hopes he will be starting matches for the first team soon. Thomas: "You have just got to keep doing what you are doing and playing well, and results will come. We are still there or thereabouts – three or four games won on the bounce and you are in the play-offs. I've never played in a league where anybody can beat anybody. We're talking about top to bottom. You can see the quality we have got in our team. We have got a lot of players who have played at a higher level. I definitely think we can challenge for the play-offs. That's the big goal for the season. If we don't get in the play-offs, we are going to be very disappointed. That's what we have set our target as. It's in our own hands. Every week, I hope to start. I wanted to come to play football. I think, gradually, over all the little spells I've been getting, whenever I've had the chance, I've done pretty well. I don't think I've had a bad game yet. I think I've put myself in good stead, hopefully, to get a start; if not, I'll do the same again – when I come on, I hope I can come on and make a difference. I can go past people. That's what I do – that's my job and, when I get my chance to do it, I like doing it. It's the worst thing on a Friday afternoon when you know you're not in the team, and you go home disappointed. But I look at it this way – I'm only young and there are players out there who have played 200-300 games at this level, and I've played seven. You have just got to be patient and, when you get the chance, make sure you take it. If I get my chance, hopefully I can take it and cement my place in the side."
Luke McCormick is set for "a lengthy lay-off" after badly injuring a finger on Saturday. The Argyle 'keeper was forced off during the 1-1 draw with Mansfield at Home Park after being fouled by opposition midfielder Sam Clucas. Luke, 30, is awaiting the verdict of medical specialists later this week, but Argyle physiotherapist Paul Atkinson said: "He has fractured and dislocated his finger and early indications are that it is going to be a lengthy lay-off. It's obviously worse for him because he is a goalkeeper. If he was an outfield player, we might be able to strap up the injury and he would be able to carry on playing." Paul treated Luke for the injury to the ring finger of Luke's left hand, during the match, and the pair subsequently saw a consultant. "The consultant has asked a colleague, who is the specialist on hand injuries in the South West, for his opinion," said Paul. "Luke will be seeing him on Wednesday. After that, we will be in a better position to give a more precise time-frame for treatment and recovery." Luke played no further part in Saturday's game following the clash with Clucas, which came in the 61st minute of the match, and was immediately replaced by substitute goalkeeper Jake Cole. Luke and Jake have shared Argyle goalkeeping duties this season, with Luke beginning all but one of the Pilgrims' 28 League matches, and Jake starting in all seven cup games as well as the home league game against Fleetwood. The two have already swapped over during another game this season, with Luke coming on for injured Jake during the home FA Cup second-round victory over Welling United.
John Sheridan refused to be content with a draw, after another late Argyle equaliser salvaged a point for his team. A dramatic 96th minute strike from Lewis Alessandra ensured a third consecutive 1-1 draw at Home Park, after Matt Rhead put visitors Mansfield Town ahead fifteen minutes from time. Whilst being satisfied with the Pilgrims' late rally that fans are becoming accustomed to, the manager is eager for his side to be ones in the ascendancy throughout the game. Said John: "Again, we finished the game really strongly, I wish we played like that in the first 60 or 70 minutes, and it was the same against Cheltenham. It's a shame really, because I'd like us to start how we finish - it would give us an advantage." Whilst Mansfield's lead was quite possibly against the run of play, Argyle seemed to lack a killer instinct in the final third - and John knows this played a part in costing his side a win today. "Even in the first half, I thought we got into some good positions, but it was just the wrong pass - sometimes balls behind players or to the side - that let us down," said Sheridan. They cost you in the end. I think the game was there for us if we wanted it. It's hard, and I fully understand the supporters; I keep saying after games that I want us to push on and get in the playoffs. We all want that. The draining thing, that frustrates us all, is not winning games at home. If we did, we could put ourselves in a really good position." The solution to the Greens' current lack of home proficiency is simple in John's eyes: Pick up wins away from home, and bring that form with them back to Devon. "I think we've just got to try and get points as quickly as possible. I don't want to keep saying the same thing, but to get anything back from these games, we have to go and win two away games." John continued: "In games like this - where it gets a bit drabby - it puts everyone on a bit of a downer, but we've just got to kick on. We went to the final minute and showed great resilience. Now we just have to win some away games."
An altercation between Luke McCormick and Neal Trotman in Argyle's 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town didn't go unnoticed by John Sheridan, in fact, he was pleased by it. After a mix-up in the Pilgrims' penalty area ended with Trotman getting in the way of his 'keeper, the two exchanged words and a couple of pushes and shoves. "I see nothing wrong with that," said Sheridan. "I wish it happened a few more times, to tell you the truth - preferably not with each other! They were both booked, and it's gone now. If they were actually fighting each other I'd fine them both, but they weren't. That's just part of football. I think it was just a case of one player calling for the ball and the other not calling for it. It happens all the time. It's nothing, and I don't see it as a problem." McCormick had to be substituted soon after with a dislocated finger, and John was sure that this was the only damage done in the dressing room. "I think Luke's dislocated his finger. He's just seeing the physio now to see if they can put it back in."
A last minute goal by Lewis Alessandra was enough to secure Argyle a 1-1 draw at home to strugglers Mansfield Town. Mansfield took the lead with around 20 minutes to go but it was not enough to secure all the points. Incidentally, this is the second time a last gasp goal for Argyle has been significant against the stags this season following Neal Trotman's stoppage time winner at Field Mill in October. Argyle: McCormick(Cole), Blanchard, Trotman, Nelson, Purrington (Thomas), Blizzard (Harvey), Hourihane, Young, Banton, Alessandra, Reid. Substitutes (unused): Boco, Vassell, Richards, Wotton.
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