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Argyle's patchy run of form has continued with a 1-0 loss to struggling Notts County at Home Park. The visitors went ahead midway through the first half after a comedy of Argyle errors which saw Songo'o, McCormick and Bradley contrive to gift County the lead. Argyle could not find a breakthrough. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik(Jervis), Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Carey, Sarcevic, Tanner(Spencer), Kennedy(Slew), Spencer. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Donaldson, Blissett.
Derek Adams gave a pre-match assessment of Argyle's game against struggling Notts County, warning as he always does against complacency: "Everybody in this division is fighting for something. Down the bottom of the table, or in the middle to top. Three points is vital for everyone. There's no easy games between now and the end of the season. It's good that we are at home. It's nice to not have to travel as much as we have done. We're the same in every game: we just try to do as well as we possibly can. There's no difference for us, home or away. We've got a good record in both. It's good to be on the road, picking up points. Notts County on Tuesday night is the next game on the rota, and we have to do as well as we did on Saturday against Luton. With 14 games to go, it is an important spell. We have a lot of games to play, and a lot of points to pick up. We want to take as many as we can from these games.
"They've changed manager, taking in Ameobi up front and Stead is fit as well. We'll wait and see what their team is and assess their strengths and weaknesses. They've been playing with Ameobi and Stead up front in recent weeks. They've got good experience in their side, but from our point of view we'll have to keep them quiet and our creative players will have to get on the goalscoring sheet.
"We've got a doubt with a couple. David Fox is one, who came off in a bad challenge on his ankle at half-time at Luton. It's cut and bruised. We will assess him Tuesday morning, to see if he can play at night. It's not great, but I don't want to rule him out, just to see if the swelling comes down on his ankle. David is an experienced player. He has come in and used the ball well; he's very calm; he keeps the ball ticking along. His influence in the team has been very good since he came in.
"We've seen a few robust challenges over recent weeks. We're a very good footballing side. We went to Luton the other day and they are very direct, they go from back to front quickly. We have to deal with different aspects of the game, but we've shown this season that we can do that. We have a few knocks and bruises but we just have to assess. We've nothing too serious, which is good. We've had a long trip to Hartlepool and then away from home against Luton. We've dealt well with that, and the squad is starting to look strong again.
"We're looking at roughly the same squad. No-one that wasn't in the squad on Saturday is likely to come back in from injury. We're in a very good position. We had an excellent performance away from home against Luton, and we go into the Notts County game on Tuesday night with good confidence."
Derek Adams was content to take a point home from Luton Town and at the same time paid tribute to the efforts and performance of his players. He praised: "We're delighted to come away with a point. We went a goal down it was a poor goal to lose and then to come back into the game and score in the first half ...we knew that Luton conceded goals here and we were able to get that equaliser. We had more possession than Luton, more shots than Luton that's testament to the players. We have a very good away record and we've added to that today. We probably could've won the game in the end, but we'll take a point and move on. Coming here and keeping the gap between ourselves and Luton was important. We got the ball wide we knew we could cause Luton trouble in the wider areas and Graham Carey put in a terrific ball; Craig Tanner makes a run to the front post and puts it in at the front post."
Craig Tanner gave his analysis of the game on his return to the side: "They came out the traps very quickly today. They threw everything at it and went a bit kamikaze, because they know they needed to catch up with us. You see it week in, week out throughout the leagues: people do hit you on the counter and you get runners. Sometimes you get the luck of a break or the bounce of the ball; that's all part and parcel of football. Maybe we'll have to through that on the analysis and see what we could do differently.
"For the goal, Tayls has done really well. G's done a great little run. Tayls has squeezed the ball through and I was the only one in the box, so I had to get across the front post. It's a great ball from G and I didn't have to do much with the finish. If you are out on the right, you're not going to score from outside the box; it's something I needed to work on. I've been working on it with Brew and Wottsy, and luckily it's paid off.
"We've dug in well. I think we probably had the better chances in the first half, then we've managed to get a goal and see it out. It's a credit to our back four, plus Luke. I thought we were in control. Ozzie's made a vital header at the end and some great blocks. Raz came on and stopped some crosses. He's been doing that all season. That's probably one of his strengths: getting round on the cover. He's done it numerous times; I think it goes a bit unnoticed at times. I think you've got to come here and take your away points. They haven't gained anything on us, so it's probably a better point for us than it is for them."
Tanner admitted that he had had to be patient to get his chance but philosophically said that it was part and parcel of being in such a good squad. Tanner said: "It got to 60 minutes and that's when you've got to realise that maybe a point is a better result than keeping me and Matty on more attacking players and maybe costing us. I think that's a credit to us: seeing out the game with our game management. It's a team game. We all dug in and I think that showed. You've got be patient. It's a long season and it's a team game. I've just been doing my extra work on and off the pitch and just waiting for my opportunity. I've been patient and fortunately I've managed to get a goal. We've got a great squad full of great players, so it's just down to me to work hard and when I do get my chance, I've just got to take it. I'll remain patient, be a squad player and see what happens.
"We've got three home games now. The Green Army should get behind us so we'll see what we can do. When they're cheering you on, it's a twelfth man."
Argyle have had a tight fought 1-1 draw with Luton in the promotion six pointer at Kenilworth Road. Luton opened the scoring within the first ten minutes but a goal from Craig Tanner equalised twenty minutes after on his return to the side. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley, Sawyer, Fox(Sokolik), Carey, Tanner(Spencer), Sarcevic, Taylor, Kennedy(Donaldson). Subs: Dorel, Jervis, Slew, Bulvitis.
Derek Adams thinks that after the next three games (two of them against promotion rivals Luton and Carlisle), Argyle's position will be a lot clearer. He said however that all games are big games at this stage of the season: "It's a big game at this stage in the season, every game is but when you are playing against a team that are in close proximity to you, it does make it even bigger. A win puts you in an excellent position going into the last 14 games, and that's what we are going to try to do. It's a game that we really want to win and open up a bigger gap between ourselves. It's two sides that are pushing hard this season, and we have done well in the big games this season. We have beaten Doncaster; we've beaten Exeter, who were on that long unbeaten run; we drew here against Portsmouth; we've had very good cup-ties against Liverpool. So the players are ready for it; we know what it is we have got to do in the big atmosphere.
"You have to keep control of the ball for long periods of the game to quieten down their supporters. It'll be a very good atmosphere; we are going to take 1,000-plus supporters with us and that generates a very good Saturday. I think there will be goals in the game. Luton have had only three clean sheets at home, so that tells you they are open and expansive at times, and they can be very direct. You just have to look at the other teams: Doncaster go to Newport, the bottom team in league, and draw there; Cheltenham go to Luton and win there; Carlisle get beaten by Newport it just tells you how difficult a league it is. Everybody has got to understand that, at the top of the table, we are fighting for points, but, at the bottom of the table, people everybody's trying to stay in the league. Performance-wise against Exeter, Cambridge, Leyton Orient and Hartlepool, we have been very good; I have been delighted with the performance levels. In all these games, we probably should have picked up more points than we have because of the control we have had but, at this stage of the season, you take any point and move on."
Jimmy Spencer spoke in depth about his recovery from an ankle injury he picked up three months ago, enabling him to come back into the side ahead of schedule. He said: "It's just a relief really. For every player it's hard being injured. You are here to play football, not to be in that gym two or three times a day at times. It was a relief to get back out there. It was just unfortunate about the result."
"In the morning you come in and get treatment first and then you go over to the gym. Obviously, with my injury it was all about balance and getting my co-ordination back, and strengthening around the ankle. At the same time, you have got to keep your fitness up for when you come back. But you can do as much bike work or swimming, or any kind of fitness as you want in the gym, as soon as get back training it's totally different. Your body has got to adapt to the different movements and stuff."
Meanwhile, Derek Adams rejected suggestions that Saturday's game against Luton was a chance for revenge following the loss on the opening day of the season, saying: "Not really. It was one of those days. We didn't take our chances on the day and they were able to get the victory. We have moved on since then. A lot of water has gone under the bridge. It wasn't a 3-0 game but that was the scoreline. We can only look at the next game."
Derek Adams has shrugged off criticism following Argyle's failure to beat Leyton Orient and Hartlepool pointing to the inconsistent nature of the division. Adams said: "We will just be trying to win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season. "But teams at the bottom of the table make it very difficult. Doncaster went to Newport and drew. Carlisle go to Newport and lose, and Cheltenham beat Luton at home 3-2. It's a difficult league, and I have said that since the start of the season. You just can't tell on a weekly basis what the scoreline is going to be.
"We went away to Cambridge and won, and won at home to Exeter. And we have taken a point at Hartlepool. If we had said over that four games we would take seven points I think we would have been happy with that."
Matty Kennedy has said that he is slowly learning about League Two and specifically the overly physical nature of the division. Kennedy said: "After the first game, I was like 'how can Cambridge be that good like they were in the second half, and away down the table?' That's the way this league is; unpredictable. As a person, I'm trying to learn League Two. Against Hartlepool, you think 'keep going, keep going, keep going' but in the back of your head, it's three points gone, so a point like that changes the whole atmosphere, the whole game. It's another point on the board, so we can't be too down about it. I knew it was a big club but I never knew the fans got behind the club so hard. Fair play to them. They have got good expectations, but they are a good set of fans. It's a joy to play in front of them. I've got three goals and an assist in four games. My first game was just trying to get my fitness. Against Exeter, even though I got a goal and an assist, I was nowhere near what I can be. The last game and today, I have been picking it up. I am getting fitter and fitter every game
"We have to go there and do a good job. It's going to be hard, going away from home they are a good team but I think a win's coming for us, so hopefully we can go there and get it done. I get kicked all the time in League Two. I don't know why people just keep kicking me. The gaffer said I just need to deal with getting the kicks and it'll make me hard."
A frustrated Derek Adams attributed Argyle's failure to beat Hartlepool yesterday as a result of missed chances. He gave his analysis of the flow of the game: "We could have been three or four goals up with the chances we created, and should have taken. Then they get a goal against the run of play, and you've got to get yourself back into the match. We could have taken our chances better when they came along. In the end Hartlepool have been able to get that goal, and we have had to show very good resilience to get back into the match. Over the 90 minutes we were the dominant team, the one that created the most chances.
"The game turned from the point of view that they had something to hold on to," said Derek. "It wasn't that they passed the ball well or did anything. They wanted to play on the counter attack after that, which you understand. Before half-time we felt, when they scored, it put us on the back foot a wee bit. We had to get ourselves back into the game. We still had good bits of play, and we could have scored in that time, but you get yourself back in at half-time, and get going again in the second half. In any game, we want to get the three points. Away from home is no different from at home. It's important that you pick up points. Away from home, we've won 10 games. We taken a point here, and we move on.
"They're all important. It doesn't matter what week you're playing in. We're playing away from home again, and we've got a good away record. We've done exceptionally well away from home. We've come a long way eight-and-a-half hours to get a point. It's a long way, and we were delighted we had such a large following with us today."
Goalscorer Matty Kennedy gave his assessment of Argyle's defending and his equalising goal, but first revealed he was actually a doubt to be fit for the game. He said: "I was kind of a doubt to play. I had pulled a muscle in my back just after the game against Orient. On Friday night, I couldn't move in my bed; I was really struggling. I 'phoned the physio and said 'I don't think I'm going to make the game' but I've been taking painkillers and obviously it paid off.
"We were creating, but we weren't creating clear-cut chances, so it wasn't looking good for us. If we didn't get a point, coming away here would have been a nightmare, a disaster. To get that goal for the team, and for the staff and the whole squad, it's good for me to help the boys get there. We want to win this kind of game. I don't know what happened with the goal but I think, defensively, in the last couple of games, as a team, we have not been good enough. We shouldn't be conceding goals like we have in the last couple of games. Fair play to Hartlepool for getting the goal but, if we want to get promoted, we can't be conceding that goal.
"At the end of the day, we've created chances and not taken them but that's an away draw on the board and we just need to pick up and go again.
"I've been practicing that at Cardiff, beating my man, coming inside, and working on my technique, all the time trying to find the far corner. The last couple of games have been similar goals. To be fair, it was a belter so I'm kind of happy about that a double step-over made it a wee bit better."
Adams said on the subject of his decision to bring on Jimmy Spencer for his first game in three months: "He hasn't played for a long period of time but he has trained with the squad continuously. He took the ball in well at times; it wouldn't have been easy for him coming on, but he showed in glimpses what a good player he is. We have good competition now in that area. He and Ryan Taylor can both play in there, and it is important we have that until the end of the season. I wanted to win the game. It was probably a little bit high risk, because they could get on the counter attack, but with ten minutes to go I wanted to try and get the win I felt we deserved."
New defender Jakub Sokolik had similar sentiments: "It's a bit disappointing. We should have got three points out of this game, but we got a point and there's an important game coming up on Saturday, so we have to get together and get something out of that game. It was the second goal he has scored like that," said Jakub. "He is a good player; he wants to score goals. It was a brilliant goal for him and for us. We should have scored one or two in the first half, but we didn't and we conceded a kind of soft goal, I would say. These sort of things happen we just have to improve. I think we should have done better, to be fair, but it is what it is.
"On Tuesday, we didn't see the game out very well. We should have got three points, definitely. It happens. We just have to stick together as a group and keep going until it is done. At this stage of the season, every game is hard and important. We have got to prepare as we prepare for every single game. Everyone fights everyone wants to win so it's always going to be hard, wherever you go. We just have to be prepared for it, mentally."
Argyle have drawn 1-1 with Hartlepool thanks to a late equaliser from Matty Kennedy. Hartlepool took the lead against the run of play around half an hour in. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o(Donaldson), Fox, Jervis(Spencer), Carey(Blissett), Kennedy, Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Slew, Tanner.
Before Argyle's trip to Hartlepool, Derek Adams gave updates as to the fitness of Sonny Bradley and Antoni Sarcevic both of whom limped off with injuries against Orient: "They're not too bad. Sarcevic will be out for Saturday, but is not as bad as first feared. For Sonny Bradley, there is a possibility he will be fit for Saturday. He has a thigh strain that I think he picked up in the warm-up. He felt it, and it gradually got worse. That's the good news; there are no long-term injuries. They are both big players for us. Sonny Bradley has been a rock at centre-half. He has been a big signing for us. Good on the ball, very good defensive and offensively. He's one we would like to have fit. Sarcevic has come in in the January window and scored two goals, in two and a bit games. He's looking a really good signing. I'm hoping he will be fit for Luton. That's what we're looking at.
"When I was in the transfer window, looking for five players, we've taken in a goalscoring midfielder; a wide-man was always going to be the one, in Kennedy he's scored two goals; Taylor has been exceptional since he has come to the football club; Sokolik has helped in defence; and Blissett we have hopes for. He has found it difficult only because Taylor has shown the form he has. He's come to a big football club. It's a massive club, and the demands are different to playing in the National League. That's not disrespect, it is just a matter of fact.
"Taylor has been an excellent signing for us, and you look at Sarcevic, who has come in and scored two goals. Kennedy has done the same. It is important we have goalscorers in the team. We probably have about ten players who can contribute in that area.
"Matty is one that I have tracked over the January transfer window, and we were able to get in near the end, which was very positive. I have to thank Neil Warnock, a former manager here, for allowing me to have him, because he was in and around their first team. He's come here, has been given starts, which he needs, and showed what a good player he is. I'm delighted with him. He is very confident; he is direct; he likes to get on the ball and take it for a dribble. He completes passes as well when he is in the final third, he finds a striker. He was unfortunate not to score twice on Tuesday night. We've got a lot of goalscorers in the team. We don't have a 20-goal striker, but we have ten players that can score goals."
Derek Adams spoke about the often frustrating expectations of being Argyle manager especially when in a league Argyle are perceived by many as being too big for. Adams said: "It's important that you are calm and collected as a manager and that is what we are at this football club. The other night we were two minutes away from winning the game. We didn't defend and manage the game well enough to win. It's not about lifting ourselves up. We've been at this football club for a year and a half now. When you win a game, you think you've won the league, and when you lose a game it is the end of the world. That is the nature of the club, and the area. We have be sure, and be calm. That's what we are. For 88 minutes we've won the game; we've come off a 3-0 win against Exeter; we've beaten Cambridge; we're one of the form teams in the league; we're sitting second in the league, three points off top place with a game in hand. We know there are 46 games in a season. After the first couple of games of the season it was all doom and gloom, then you go on a good run and everybody says you've won the league. I don't get carried away with media attention etc. Everybody has an opinion, but at the end of the season you find out your position in the league. This football club has been in the Championship, then went through the divisions. It's got a very large supporter base, which is helping us greatly, but with that brings great expectation. If you're a Plymouth Argyle fan, you've got to be very happy."
David Fox spoke about his midfield partner Yann Songo'o whom he believes to be an unsung hero for the club. He eulogised: "Yann's been brilliant. He's been one of our most consistent performers, and he's played in a couple of positions, which is great for the team. He's great to play alongside and he sacrifices a lot of his game for the team a lot of the time, he'll be doing the dirty stuff that no-one really notices but he's very effective in what he does. He's never injured; he rarely misses a game; he doesn't miss training. He is the sort of player that you build teams around. He maybe goes unnoticed in some aspects, but certainly not by the boys."
Following Argyle's disappointing loss to Orient, Fox also admitted that Argyle are seen as a target by clubs lower down in the table who raise their game when playing the greens. He explained: "When you are up there, you are there to be shot at. I think teams see us as a scalp, which can make it more difficult. I think a lot of teams do raise their game because it's an enjoyable place to come and play: nice pitch; big crowd; it's what players want to do. It's something we're kind of used to, something we've got to deal with. We've dealt with it alright so far; we have just got to keep going. We've dealt with it all season. You try to keep your head down: we haven't got too high after any victories and we haven't got too disappointed after a defeat. Those that can keep their heads calm, maintain their focus and understand what it is going to take are the ones that are normally successful, so it is important we blank out the external noises coming from everywhere and focus on winning football matches.
"We have got to get promoted. That's the whole aim of the club before I even walked in the door. We are probably one of two or three whose target was to get automatic promotion, and there are a lot of teams that feel they can achieve it, as well. Ultimately, our aim at the minute is to try to catch Doncaster, and that is how we have got to look at it. You have got to try to look above you, keep trying to catch them. Then, hopefully, getting promoted will take care of itself."
Derek Adams attributed a combination of bad defending and bad refereeing as reasons for Argyle's shock loss to Leyton Orient last night. The manager said: "The referee didn't have a good night. I'm really unsure how Leyton Orient had 11 players on the park: Kelly should have been sent off for his tackle on Sarcevic. Hunt should have been sent off as well how he stayed on the park, I'll never know. His first tackle in the middle of the pitch, he should have been booked for; he's then had numerous challenges after that; he's kicked the ball away quite deliberately, as well...if that's not enough...the referee has got to have seen that. Throughout the night, big decisions, he got wrong. Over the night, the referee didn't have his best night. The referee didn't control the game in the right manner.
"We had to change our team about that's just natural but we weren't hard enough, defensively; we allowed them to get in and cause us trouble. We were the better side in the first half; in the second half, I thought Leyton Orient were the better side. We didn't defend well in the second half. To be in a position when we were 2-1 up and under no real threat and then, all of sudden we lose 3-2, we didn't defend well enough. In the end, Leyton have won the game when we could have been 3-1 or 4-1 up. We had chances in the game. I thought we played really well in the first half and should have been out of sight. But we weren't and Massey caused us problems. He was the best player on the park by a mile. He ran at us and did really well. We were looking like a really confident side but things went against us that we didn't deal well with."
Argyle had a heartbreaking loss for Valentine's Day with a late 3-2 defeat to relegation-threatened Leyton Orient. Argyle went 1-0 up early in the game through Antoni Sarcevic but soon last both him and defender Sonny Bradley to injuries. Orient equalised shortly before half-time but a Matty Kennedy goal early in the second half restored Argyle's advantage. Two late goals from the visitors however gave Argyle a sucker punch. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley(Bulvitis), Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox, Sarcevic(Donaldson), Carey(Jervis), Kennedy, Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Slew, Tanner, Spencer.
Ryan Taylor spoke about his dream Argyle debut and the role the fans had to play in securing a vital win against Exeter City. The former Oxford man said: "It was a great three points. We needed it to open that gap up a bit more. It's 11 points between us and fourth place; it's a very nice gap, but we've got to keep pushing on now and going for promotion at the end of the season. Three good goals from the team, it was a good team performance. We negated their strengths well, they tried to over play and we took advantage of that. In the end it was a very positive result, the manager was happy in the changing room at the end. We need to push on now and go again on Tuesday. It's nice to get that goal early and I've done that now, but I'll be looking to push on now and just keep scoring as many as I can. It was a great little slide ball by Matty Kennedy, he's come inside and he's slid it in for me. I've taken a good first touch, I think the defender has tried to nick in but I've placed it in the bottom corner. It was made by the pass from Matty, and he obviously got a good goal. Graham put the ball in for him, a nice ball. The quality is there for all to see with these type of players, so we need to keep pushing up the league and get promoted.
"They added the 12th man today, they were so loud and I'm hoping it's going to be like that every week. I was a very good day out for the supporters, and I think all the team enjoyed it as you could see."
Derek Adams was keeping his head firmly on the ground however ahead of the game against Orient on Tuesday saying: "The players are delighted. But quickly, you've got to move on to the next game in our profession. You don't get long to celebrate. The supporters will enjoy it for a lot longer. It was a fantastic atmosphere on Saturday. There's been a lot of good games here in recent times and that was another enjoyable one. We've dealt with that well throughout the season," said Derek. "After the big games, we've been able to respond in the right manner. If you look at us, we went to Cambridge and were home to Exeter; two important games. Our players have got very good character about them. We've got experience in the squad and they want to go out and get the three points that will move us on. I look at Orient's team over the season and they've got a decent squad about them. It's a difficult league and we'll have to be at it again tomorrow night. I don't really concern myself with the opposition. I need to look at what my team can do offensively and defensively to win the game. We obviously do watch them and go through clips but our main focus in on how well we can do against them."
Derek Adams hailed the importance Argyle's victory over Exeter in the Devon Expressway Derby but focused mainly on the importance of the win for Argyle's league position. He said: "They were very direct today, Exeter but in the end we allowed them to have the ball deep and they launched it forward. I didn't think that they would do that; I thought they would play a wee bit more, but that probably helped us today and we dealt with it well. It's an important victory for us today, if you look at the rest of the results. Winning a Devon Derby, again, only helps the supporters going into work on Monday morning. At this stage of the season, you're about winning games. Today was a big game for us because it was a derby match, but also with 18 games to go, it's important you win as many as you can. We're trying to win as many games as we possibly can, and see where it takes us."
Adams also credited the win to a week of hard work at the warm weather training camp in Spain: "It was an accomplished performance from us today, from start to finish. We looked a very good team today. We passed the ball well. We scored two very good goals and obviously the penalty kick as well, but over the 90 minutes, it was an excellent performance. I thought at times today, we did look superior, and that's important when you're in a derby match.
"I'm delighted. We had a very good week in Spain. The players came back and look refreshed, they looked fit; it was something we'd hoped for, and they've repaid us by having a really good performance on derby day. It was a top-class day for us, coming back on Thursday and getting ourselves prepared. With the supporters just having a derby match and winning that, it's important. We're scoring goals, we've kept two clean sheets and played against teams that were so-called in-form, and come away with six points."
Finally, he gave credit to the new signings, two of whom scored critical goals in the win. He said: "I thought they were terrific today. Every single one of them contributed to the team and to the game today. It's not easy making your home debut in a derby match, but they showed a lot of confidence. They're experienced and I think that was important today. They're players we've taken into the football club to help us, and they've all hit the ground running. We had worked on that in midweek in Spain. We looked at how we could get the ball into the hole and then get behind them. The first goal was probably one of the best goals we've seen here this season. We've got good competition in the forward areas. You look at our bench and it's very strong. You look at the ones that are out injured; we've got good competition at this moment in time. Last year, it was difficult for me in my first season. A lot of the budget was used before I could even get here, and I was only to take a few players in. Now, I've been able to take in the players that I think the football club requires."
Argyle have emphatically beaten Devon rivals Exeter City 3-0 to secure the double over the Grecians and extend the lead over fourth place to eleven points. Goals on their home debuts from Matty Kennedy and Ryan Taylor fired Argyle into a 2-0 lead at half-time. Argyle saw out the second half well before a goal from the penalty spot from substitute Jake Jervis sealed it in stoppage time. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox(Donaldson), Carey(Slew), Sarcevic, Kennedy(Jervis), Taylor. Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Tanner, Spencer.
With the highly anticipated Exeter game drawing ever nearer, Derek Adams wants Argyle supporters to make Home Park into a cauldron for the game. He stated the importance that a good atmosphere has on a big derby game: "It's three points, but it's important to the people of Plymouth because it is a Devon Derby. We've shown earlier in the season with a commanding performance against Exeter how well we can do in these games. I think that the atmosphere here when it's packed out is excellent, and the players feed off of that. We know that when we go to Exeter they are very hostile and it's a cauldron at times, and that's what it has to be here tomorrow. Our supporters have to be on the back of the Exeter players from the first minute, have to cause them a lot of trouble, and we'll be doing that on the pitch as well.
"It's always a big match, we'll see that on Saturday. I think that happens when you have ex-players playing for the opposition; when I was back in Scotland they used to get lots of abuse when they came out and played against each other, and that's the nature of a derby match. When you go over that divide and you sign for someone else you're due a wee bit of stick, and that's what will happen on Saturday.
"I'm not concerned with Exeter Football Club, all I'm concerned about is Plymouth Argyle, and the talent that we've got in our side that Exeter will have to deal with. There's a lot of goals in our team, a lot of pace and creativity. We've scored a good number of goals this season, we've defended strongly at times. It's more about them worrying about us, than us worrying about them.
"We're ahead of them performance wise, but their team is the form team in the league, and we go into it with high spirits. You look at it over a season, you don't look at it over seven games, and this season is over the whole term. After 46 games we sit down and look at the league table. From my point of view nothing is won in February. It is built up to be a very good occasion, and it will be, because there's great rivalry with the clubs. It is a big game, but it is just another three points; that's what you get for winning the match. The occasion, the supporters from both sides, the rivalry between the clubs. That's what will make it a big derby match tomorrow."
Finally, Gary Sawyer spoke about a long road back from an injury that plagued his first half of the season, saying: "It's been a tough time for me. It kept me out for a long time. I'm glad to be back, the physio and everyone has worked really hard to get me back and it's good to be back involved. It's probably the longest injury in my career. I never thought that it was that serious at the time. I knew I'd damaged something because of the pain when I hit the floor. I didn't come out for the second half because I was really struggling but that was more that I didn't want to kill the way that we were playing. I couldn't feel like I could run properly. I felt that it would die down during the week but it didn't. I feel good now. The first couple of games are always going to be a bit of a shock to the system. I haven't played for five and a half months and the first game back was the first 90 since I last played earlier in the season. I got myself in good enough shape so I knew that I was fit enough to play, it was just getting back that sharpness that you can only get by playing."
James Brent spoke about the ongoing temporary seating saga as well as the generally building sense of anticipation ahead of possibly the biggest Devon Derby in decades. Brent said: "Given where the two clubs are in the league, at a very critical time in the season, it's not surprising that tickets flew out of the door. Exeter struggled to sell much more than half of their allocation over the last couple of years but they sold out their full allocation very early on as well. It will be a full stadium with lots of emotion. Clearly we hope the fans on both sides keep the banter to appropriate levels.
"I work in Exeter on Monday mornings with the biggest employer of Grecians, and with quite a few Green Army members as well. It's great to go into the hospital with a win and have some gentle banter. As chairman of the football club, it's the really the potential to get another three points. We have taken three points from Exeter and we want the other three. But as a fan it's much more emotive.
"We incurred a loss bringing the seats in in for the Liverpool game. It wasn't a huge loss. It was very much motivated by trying to make sure that as many fans as possible saw what was a very high profile game. I think if we were to bring the seats back we would need to be very careful of sight lines. There are quite a few issues we have learned from that."
Saturday's Devon Derby between Argyle and Exeter is sold out to the available capacity. Tickets are not being sold for the temporary seating on the Mayflower terrace, occupied during our FA Cup tie against Liverpool. It will, however, be used to accommodate guests of the Argyle Community Trust.
Martyn Starnes said on the matter: "The temporary seats, installed at a significant net cost to the club and enabling an additional 1,600 or so fans to watch the Liverpool game, will still be in place on Saturday. However, given the unintended and unforeseen consequences of impaired sight lines, and following consultation with supporters and our partners on the Safety Advisory Group, we have significantly reduced the capacity in those seats for the Exeter match. The tickets we have made available in that area have been mainly sold to junior members of groups associated with our Community Trust. We are now planning to remove the temporary seats and this will be undertaken next week. We're not yet able to confirm whether this will be achieved before or after the match on Tuesday night against Leyton Orient. This is going to be subject to the availability of the contractor."
Derek Adams reported back from the warm weather training camp in Marbella where Argyle are currently staying. He spoke about the benefits of the camp and what Argyle are currently getting up to in Spain, saying: "It's about taking the players away to train in a different environment. The new players can get to know the players that have been here before, and also work hard for the three days that we're here. It gives us a bit of time together - morning, noon and night - to start to build relationships, as well. We trained a double session yesterday and today. It's going well; the players are enjoying it. It's been good, so we can't complain. They're really in the zone and they've got time to relax out of training, which is important. They can freshen their minds and their energy and get focused for the end of the season. We've got between eight and ten teams training around this area, and we're going to watch Dynamo Kiev play against against Osijek from Croatia. It's a good opportunity for us to watch other teams play, watch other teams train, and it gives us a better insight to teams' training methods. We've got the full use of two pitches, brand new built in 2016. There's a Korean team training beside us and in the same hotel as us, so it's good that we have other people around about us."
After the game, Derek Adams revealed that the Argyle team are going away on a mid-season warm weather training camp in Southern Spain before the big game against Exeter next weekend. Antoni Sarcevic spoke in anticipation about the trip, saying: "With both teams doing really well in the league, it makes it nice for the spectators. Hopefully, we can please our fans and get the win. I just can't wait for next week now. It'll be hard work, as the gaffer said after the game, getting us ready for Saturday. It's not a holiday halfway through the season, but it's nice to get away and get in a different climate and push on until the end of the season. They have settled in nicely and think they will be great assets to the team. They are good players and, with the lads on the bench, it is a strong squad, which is very competitive."
Debutant Matty Kennedy spoke about how a mixture of the persistence of Derek Adams and the fondness for Argyle of Cardiff manager Neil Warnock was responsible for securing his loan move to Home Park. He said: "The gaffer here has put a lot of interest into me over the last wee while, and before I went to Cardiff. That's what made me want to come. Hopefully, when I get myself fitter, I can produce more and more like I did in the first half through the whole game for him. Obviously the gaffer at Cardiff knows him well and he's a big fan of Plymouth so that helped, but the gaffer here is probably the main part, because he was so interested, and obviously Plymouth's a big club which shouldn't be where it is."
Kennedy also spoke about his performance in the Cambridge win at the weekend and hoped he could build upon the foundations in games to come: "I thought I'd scored on my debut. The 'keeper's made a great save, so fair play to him. When it left my boot, I thought it was going in. It's one of those things. I'm sure I'll get a goal at some point, but not today. All the boys are absolutely buzzing. We came for three points and we have done it. That's the main objective.
"I enjoyed getting the ball wide. That's what I like to do, take players on, creating a few chances for the boys. In the second half, we went more defensive, but, in the first half, we dominated them. I think that's why the manager took me off; we were winning and just defending, so I think that was a good choice. It's a bit more of a fight than the Championship, but it was a good feel for me to try to get used to this league. I've not played at this level, so it was a bit difficult, trying to get used to the game. It was a good run-out for me. I've not played many minutes this season, so I should get fitter and fitter for the team.
"There's a lot of talent in the team, so hopefully we should do the job by the end of the season. The first time you play with others, it is difficult to see how they play but I think that, as every game goes, we will get better as a team."
Antoni Sarcevic too was delighted with his contribution to the game where he scored the winning goal (his first in over a year) and promised that the best from him was yet to come. He said: "Today, I thought I had to stamp a mark on the team and it was nice to get a goal and get the three points. I saw Graham Carey doing his stuff and just thought I'd get on the end of his cross. It was nice to see it go in. All that matters is the win and to keep pushing on up the table; a goal's a bonus to me. There's so much more to come. Where I am at today, I am happy, but I know I can get a lot further on.
"The 'keeper has made two great saves, from me and Matty, in quick succession and we thought it could be one of those days because we had a good half. It was nice to see my header go in and see the game out. The second half wasn't pretty but that was down to Cambridge trying to affect our game, and they did, but the defence stood tall and it was just brilliant for all 11 out there to get the win. We know, with our defence, how solid they are, with Sonny and Jakub, and Yann in front of them. It's a good three to have protecting Luke McCormick. They are happy in there.
"They are the best wins you can get. Everyone's put their body on the line to get the three points and it feels so good. Like Wottsy said, that's the best clean sheet of the season so far. They are alright because, most of the time, I was just looking at the ball going over my head before chasing it back. I wasn't doing much attacking in the second half. I felt really good and am absolutely buzzing that we got the win."
Derek Adams praised a mixture of excellent attacking football in the first half and a defensive rearguard effort in the second half as being responsible for Argyle's excellent victory at Cambridge. He said: "In the first half, I thought it was the best we've played for a long time. It was really good, excellent play, and we probably could've been four or five nil up at half-time. It's very important coming into a new club to get up and running quickly. We've got him in a goal-scoring area. We had so many chances in the first half and he's been able to get a good header on the cross. In the second half, they just launched the ball forward and we had to deal with it. Today, we had to deal with the presence that they put up front. Cambridge became direct and they launched the ball forward. We defended extremely well. Set play-wise, we knew that's what Cambridge would focus on, and we dealt with it. If you're looking at open play, we've done really well. We haven't conceded goals from that because we look solid. We have to continue that, but today was about being solid in and around the box when they had corner kicks. I don't like to talk individually but collectively, I thought that the group did really well today. The new players came in and worked extremely hard. They took us up the pitch. It was a really good performance from us in the first half and the second half. We take 1-0, we take a clean sheet and we take the three points home."
Argyle's promotion bandwagon has kept rolling on with a 1-0 win at Cambridge courtesy of a goal from Antoni Sarcevic making his first start for the Greens. He scored a headed goal just before half-time and Argyle survived an onslaught in the second half to see the game out. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Sokolik, Bradley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox, Carey, Sarcevic, Kennedy(Donaldson), Taylor(Slew). Subs: Dorel, Bulvitis, Blissett, Tanner, Jervis.
Ryan Donaldson is pleased with the depth of talent and competition in the Argyle squad, explaining that he thinks all the players help oneanother to push on. He said: "You try to get in the team any way you can here. We have got so many good players, it helps to be able to fill in anywhere. I've played quite a lot of positions this season and I want to carry it on. We all push each other on. Competition for places is what you need to be successful and we have got that. We're a good squad; we're a tight squad; a lot of good players; and we want to bring success to this club. We have got a lot of players who have got the same mindset. I think that helps."Training and playing together is the easiest way of doing that. Good players, good experience, people who have already been promoted from this league that's always important: as many people as you can with promotion-experience is key. I'm sure they'll be helping us to get where we want to go. We've got one target, one aim, now and everyone knows what that is, so we are looking forward to trying to get that. Like I said, we have got so many good players here. I have never played in a squad this good since I made the step up into men's football."
Donaldson added that whilst he has fond memories of facing up against Saturday's opponents, Cambridge, he would not be letting that impact upon his game. He said: "Wembley is where everybody wants to play and I have got great memories of doing that for Cambridge. It's a great club full of good people and hopefully I will get a good reception there.
"We had so many chances in the first half at Yeovil and if we had put one of them away I would trust us to get a positive result, but you get punished when you lose concentration. It's two set pieces again. That has really annoyed us as a squad so we will be trying to put that right. Every time we concede a goal we go through the video and it's a bit of a recurring theme at the minute. Obviously, the gaffer will go through his views, but it's down to us on the pitch at the time to see out the danger. We haven't done that as much as possible and it has cost us this season. Hopefully we can get that right for the final third."
In a window where four players left Home Park and five came in, Derek Adams believes that on the whole, his Argyle squad is stronger by the end of it. Adams explained:" Everybody knows what kind of squad they have got now for the run-in. We have become stronger in the transfer window. I think it's important when you go into the January period that you get a bit of experience into your team ones who have got out of the division before and we have certainly been able to do that. We have got a lot of games in February so I'm sure all the players will be involved. It's about building relationships with their team-mates now.
"There is a wheeling and dealing going on in January. You are always on your phone, waiting for calls and accepting calls. You just don't know when the next phone call is going to come in, if it's a bid for a player or you going to get good news about signing a player. It can be a distraction but we had identified the players that we wanted to take in long before the window opened. We are happy with the ones we took in."
Matt Kennedy, who joined Argyle on loan from Cardiff in the last hour of January's transfer window will add a lot to the squad according to Derek Adams, who said: "He's quick, he's direct and he can play either side left or right wing," said the Argyle manager. He's creative and he has got good experience of playing in the Championship a number of times for Cardiff. I have known for him for many years. I have seen him play. He's one that Cardiff have got high hopes for in the future. He's a young lad but he's very sure of his ability, and being Scottish he has got a bit about him. He will fit in well with the squad.
"He gives us an outlet with pace. We have got pace in the side but he's just a wee bit different to the ones that we have got already. He's one that you can play the ball to feet and he will take people on, or you can play it behind and he will get on the end of it. He's a good crosser of the ball and he will find space for himself and create chances. Fans like players that run forward and get into areas of the park where you are going to get excitement and goals."
Finally, Adams revealed why he let Louis Rooney go out on loan to Hartlepool shortly before the end of deadline day: "We had tried to get Louis out on loan during the transfer window. It was only after the game against Yeovil that I was told there was a possibility of him going to Hartlepool. "It was important I made a quick decision, obviously, and it's giving Louis the opportunity to go and get 10-15 starts between now and the end of the season to give him experience of playing League Two football. I wasn't going to be able to give him that opportunity here. He will go to Hartlepool and get that starting time he feels he deserves.
"He needs to start games for them and by doing that it will give him experience of playing in this league. He's only a young boy. He was aware of interest from Hartlepool for the last week, but it wasn't concrete until after the game against Yeovil. He had been able to speak with his Mum and Dad and he knew what was happening."
Derek Adams bemoaned the fact that his Argyle side were 'not themselves' as they fell to defeat at Yeovil in the rain. Adams said: "We have come away with a defeat away from home. It is not like us. We did not deal well with the conditions, and we didn't keep the ball well enough at times in the game. We did not deal well with the conditions tonight. In and out of possession I think we could have been better. We could have passed the ball better. We know what Yeovil are like, they are very direct. They play the ball into the big guy and play off of him.
"In the first half we had a good number of chances to go ahead in the game but we have not taken them. We lost two soft goals in the second half. Overall we had the majority of the play but we have come away with a defeat. The chances we had in the first half with the set plays that we put in were very good. A couple cleared off the line, a couple blocked by them. We should have been ahead in the game, we should have probably been two or three nil up, but we were not. They have not had a shot on goal in the first half. In the second half we have lost two poor goals from crosses into the box.
"It is concerning because we have not dealt with them and there is two goals from them. We have got 11 players in the box and we have not dealt well with the ball. When you do not do that you are going to have an uphill task in the game. Saying that, we had three, four or five opportunities against Yeovil and they probably could have lost five or six from set plays tonight. We have not dealt well with the ball in the box and the players have to do better at that. You just have to deal with the ball coming into the box, it's not rocket science. The ball is there to be won and we have not done that.
"I am not going to speak individually about players. On a difficult night, I do not think there were any stand-outs in any of the teams tonight because the conditions were not conducive to that."
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