A Round-up of Argyle News
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Derek Adams blamed a perfect storm of circumstances for Argyle's loss to Wycombe on Saturday including refereeing decisions, timewasting and the weather. Adams said: "They did that most of the afternoon - they wasted time. We had nine minutes of injury time at the end of the first half, and had a good number in the second half. They did frustrate us, they did foul a lot, they did go down injured, but that's the nature of the way they play. That's something they see as being successful. We thought we had the momentum going and then the game stopped for one reason or another."People can see what I can see from the touchline and it's not the first time this season it's happened to us at home. I think we're the second team in the league not to have a penalty; it was a stone-wall penalty on Reuben Reid in the first half. From where I was it looked like he was holding him up, and he had bear-hugged him. He's going to have a goal-scoring opportunity. We've had to overcome a lot this season; not having a penalty, and the amount of time-wasting that has been going on at Home Park has been ridiculous. That's something that has to be looked at. I think it started very early in the game, with the injury time. One of the players went down with a head knock, and then it was his leg he was getting treatment. I can see that, everyone in the stands can see that. That's not what people come to pay their money for.
"It's not something that is good for the game, and we're probably disappointed the game happened in that fashion. It's something that English football doesn't want to see – players going down, going on about a head injury, when they don't have a head injury.
"It's definitely not helping the style of football that we play and there's nothing we can do about that. It won't be rectified until the summer, but that's just the way the pitch is. Everybody's tried their best to get it going, but the weather is the way it is."
Adams also explained the incident at full-time in which he appeared to be involved in a fracas with his opposite number Gareth Ainsworth. He said: "He refused to shake my hand for some reason. I then left and walked up the tunnel. I didn't see what happened after that, but I obviously heard about it. You should always shake hands with your opponents after a game but he chose not to. I'm disappointed with him really. It was just passion – in everybody. The two mangers, the staff and all the players getting involved at the end there. It was a passionate game. It was very bitty and I think very frustrating for Plymouth. The Wycombe lads had given their all. There were no major incidents. Sometimes it's nice to see passion in a game. I can't comment on what The FA are going to do. It's passion. I didn't see any major incidents at the end there. There were heated words but you get that all through football. It's a passionate game. As long as there are no punches being thrown, or kicks, or anything like that, and I didn't see any of that. It's just passion blowing over and I'm sure we will both get on to next week with our respective games. Both managers must show respect for each other. It's a big thing for me. You have to be respectful to each other but, like I say, I'm not going to comment on that. It's the football I want to comment on and I thought my boys were outstanding today."
Argyle lost to Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 with a goal from former Pilgrim Gozie Ugwu in the third minute of the game. Remarkably, it was from a set piece- Wycombe's 8th consecutive goal against Argyle from that medium. The game was marred by a brawl in the tunnel at the end of the match after words were exchanged between the two sets of managers. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld(Nardiello), Jervis(Carey), Tanner(Brunt), Wylde, Reid. Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Rooney, Forster.
Lee Cox has converted his current loan at fellow League Two side Stevenage into a permanent transfer. The 25-year-old re-joined the Hertfordshire side on loan earlier this month, having previously had a temporary spell at the Lamex Stadium this season in which he played six matches. Cox made 52 appearances for Argyle in two spells. He played 10 games in a loan spell from Swindon in the second half of the 2012-13 season before re-signing for the club after being released from the County Ground in the summer of 2014.
New signing Danny Nardiello has stated that joining Argyle was a 'no-brainer' and that we beat off other clubs interested in securing his signature. He also was keen to play down talk of tension between two sets of fans considering his history with Devon rivals Exeter City. He said: "I wasn't playing at Bury. The team were doing well, and I needed to get back playing some football. I've had two back injuries which is a bit unfortunate. Although they weren't serious injuries, because it's your back it takes a while to go. I was out for a while but I could do stuff that kept me fit, so I'm raring to go now. I feel great. I've trained a lot so I need to get some game time; once I get involved in a few games I'll be flying. I had a phone call off of Chris Brass last week, saying that Plymouth had expressed an interest. Obviously when the gaffer, Derek Adams, enquired about me it was a no-brainer to play some football at a team that's pushing for promotion in League 2. He told me that he'd played with the gaffer before, and what a top bloke he was and how successful he's been in his career as a manager to date. There was a couple of other clubs that showed an interest, but I decided to come down to Plymouth, play some games and be part of another promotion. It's a huge club – it wasn't too long ago that I think I played in the Championship against Argyle. It's a big club with lots of potential and a good fan-base. Everything seems to be going in the right direction. I know it's not going to be easy to nail down a place in the team straight away. We've got a good set of strikers here, and it's good to have competition, especially at this stage of the season. I want to play games, and I'll be doing my utmost to get in the starting 11, but I'll have to work hard to get my place.
"I have had a lot of texts and seen a lot of stuff on social media over the last 12 hours. It has been interesting reading, let's put it that way. It's just life. I'm a professional footballer. I have played for Exeter and now I'm playing for Plymouth. I know they are big rivals but I have got to be professional and just do my job as a footballer. I can understand people's feelings towards it, but I have got to look after myself and my family. My football career comes first at the end of the day and I'm delighted to be here at Plymouth."
Derek Adams wants more of the same from his Argyle side when they successfully beat the Buckinghamshire side earlier in the season. He said: "We know about Wycombe. We played them earlier in the season and they've done well in the league and the FA Cup. They're a team that like to get the ball forward very quickly to their strikers and that's what we're going to have to deal with. The game we played there we were excellent and I think in the first half we probably could have been out of sight. In the second half they knocked balls into the penalty box but I thought it was a very good performance." said Derek of Argyle's 2-1 win at Adams Park in September. Towards the end of the season you need a team of players capable of scoring goals and competition for places as well and we've got that now. So now they have to be in top form and that's the onus we have to put on the players and it's something they'll all be thriving on. They'll be really wanting to score goals and create chances to stay in the team because if they don't they know there's somebody coming down the back of them that want to take their place".
Finally, Argyle are set for a cash windfall after a club source confirmed to local media outlets that they are receiving a sell-on clause for former Pilgrim Joe Mason who has transferred from Cardiff to Wolves for a fee in the region of £3.5 million.
Argyle have signed former Exeter striker Daniel Nardiello on loan from Bury until the end of the season. The 33-year-old has struggled for games this season following an injury in spite of a good scoring record in the lower leagues and will wear the number 7 shirt at Argyle.
Derek Adams said that the centre-forward added the experience that he has been looking for: "It gives us a wee bit more experience," said Derek, after Daniel completed the paperwork on his move from Gigg Lane. "He's got a proven goalscoring record throughout the leagues. I think, at this stage of the season, we need some experience and game know-how, and he will bring that to us. He brings competition for places in the front line and that is something everybody needs. He knows the way to goal – he's been able to prove that over a good number of years; with that experience, with that knowledge, he can help us in the run-in until the end of the season. I'm hoping he scores goals for us. To start with, he'll find his feet as all new signings have done when they have come here. We allow them to settle in and then we try to get them into the team. He will be no different."
Adams also stated the importance of chopping and changing styles and formations dependent on the opposition, adding that Graham Carey would be particularly useful to this end: "It's a big boost and the same with anyone that comes back from injury. Graham has been out for a number of weeks now and it's great to have him back in the squad and part of things again. This season we have changed formation quite a few times, either before a game or during the game. We've got players that are adaptable. That's important when you're playing against teams that are difficult to break down and you have to play in a different manner. We work on formations game to game. We don't play the same way all the time. It depends on who we're up against, and the players work well together which is important."
With transfer deadline day approaching, Derek Adams continues to keep his cards close to his chest about transfers coming in and out of Home Park. He said that other managers would be 'stupid' to approach him with a bid for one of Argyle's best players: "We've got a very good squad as it is and if we can add to that it will make us even stronger. We're looking to add but they've got to be the right type of player that's going to benefit us going into the last 18 games. After the transfer window we've still got the loan service that we can use so we can be a bit more relaxed. We just need to take in people with a wee bit more experience because we've got a young enough squad as it is. If we can do that it will help them towards the end of the season. I've told them the players are not for sale. We're at the top of the table and nobody is going to be stupid enough to ask me to let one of my players go. I wouldn't do that to anyone who is sitting at the top of the table. I think managers are bright enough not to phone me."
Derek Adams was delighted with the performance in the 1-1 draw against Bristol Rovers and felt we could have got even more out of the game. He said: "I thought we were in total control in the first half. We had a number of opportunities and really should have been two or three-nil up at half-time. Bristol Rovers changed it because we were dominating the game and it's credit to their manager that he did it. We put a bad free-kick into the box and they got a lucky break where Easter looks like he has handled it with two hands. Then they got another lucky break in the box where it comes off the backheel of Easter and falls to one of their players. I didn't think they were going to score today, Bristol Rovers. It didn't look like it. It's disappointing not to come away with three points, but sometimes you have got to take a point."
Adams also had praise for two particular players from the game- they being Josh Simpson and Gregg Wylde. He eulogised them both before explaining why he selected Ryan Brunt over Craig Tanner to play in behind Reuben Reid: It was a very good finish. He is an experienced campaigner, he plays the role well. He is very calm, and he finished it into the bottom corner.
"Gregg Wylde was unplayable today. He was probably as close to being man of the match as Josh. He was outstanding. The amount of times he got into a wide area, the crosses he made into the box, the pace he had – they just couldn't live with him. He's a big player for us; Jake Jervis had to do it on the opposite side, but we didn't get the ball down that side as many times as we did on the left.
"We had to deal with the physical approach from Bristol Rovers from corner kicks and I knew the goalkeeper didn't kick the ball far so it gave us an extra one in midfield where we could head the ball on the halfway line and start our attacks from there. Carey is still a wee bit away but it was good to have him back on the bench and good to get him on the pitch today."
Simpson himself praised the performance of his teammates and reiterated that promotion is Argyle's primary goal, saying: "We knew it was going to be a tough game, coming to Bristol Rovers with the momentum they had, with the result at Oxford last week. We knew it was going to be tough, and looking back at the game, I think it's a massive point. They had some good chances, but looking back, I think a draw was a fair result, especially with them scoring late on and the equaliser even later on. I think at the end of the season, we'll look at this as a great point. If we can just extend that gap between us and fourth, that's our main aim at the minute. We'll just carry on doing what we're doing. Obviously it's a shame Northampton have gone above us, but we're aiming for promotion. That's what we're looking for, that's what our aim was at the start of the season, and that's our aim now. We've averaging two points a game. If we can carry on that then I'm sure we'll get that spot in the top three. We've got everyone fully fit now. Competition for a place is high. Craig Tanner got dropped today, and it's a shame because he's been doing really well. Everyone's in it for each other. There's no hard feelings. It's going to take the whole squad for promotion this year, and hopefully that continues."
Finally, Simpson spoke about his own part in the game, his equalising goal which was his first for the club: "We were very strong, very resilient and I think we got caught on the break. It was a bit of a sucker punch but, like in every game this season, we don't stop until the end. After they scored, they had a bit of momentum and they were very confident. But we dug in, we carried on until the end, and we got the goal that we wanted.
"We manage to get a goal near the end, which I'm pleased about, getting my first goal of the season. It was a nice finish. The ball got played in to Carl McHugh on the edge of the box, he's laid it down to me, it was a nice set and it sat up nicely for me, so I struck it in the bottom right-hand corner. I was pleased just to get that goal, and get that point for the club. It means a lot. I miss scoring goals, and doing it in front of the fans as well: it's fantastic. It means a lot to them, and it means a lot to the players."
Argyle have drawn 1-1 with Bristol Rovers in a crucial promotion six-pointer at the top of League Two. The game was end to end with both sides having chances but it was the Pirates who opened the scoring on 78 minutes following a quick counter. Argyle levelled though with just two minutes to go via Josh Simpson's first goal for the club. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Simpson, Jervis(Threlkeld), Brunt, Wylde(Carey), Reid(Tanner). Subs: Bittner, Forster, Purrington, Harvey.
Derek Adams is anticipating an intimidating atmosphere and a fantastic game between two on-form sides when Argyle travel to Bristol Rovers on Saturday. He said: "Bristol Rovers are a team that got promoted out of the Conference last year and performed really well this year. They've picked up a good number of points and are going to be good opposition. I was at the game last week against Oxford, and they had a very good performance, and they've been able to come away with a very good three points against a team who is near the top of the table. They've worked really hard and they've got themselves into an excellent position. Bristol Rovers came here and played well in the 1-1 draw that we had here. They've performed exceptionally well this season, after getting promoted through the play-offs.
"It'll be a interesting match. It's always going to be that when the two teams are so local. It's going to be a very good local derby. It's a difficult venue to go to. The crowd are very intense behind the goal and in the stands, so it's going to be a good derby game, so to speak. I think any game at Bristol Rovers probably feels like a derby match, because the fans are right on top of you. They make it very intimidating for both sets of players, so we'll go there and try and win the match. They're always very vocal, our away supporters, and they've supported the team exceptionally well away from home this season. They'll do that on Saturday."
Gary Sawyer echoed the words of his manager and also went on to speak about his own days at Bristol Rovers who he had a short spell at after leaving Argyle: "It will be a good atmosphere definitely. They support like we do really. They are well-supported and it will be a good game. It is a massive game in terms of league positions for both of us and it would be a massive marker if we could put it down by beating them. If you put a massive marker down by beating them then people will really sit up and look at that - including them, and they are the ones trying to catch us. We need to let them know we are top for a reason. In the same breath, they are fourth for a reason and they have been on a really good run. They have a really good side, and we had a really tough game against them here as well, so we know it is going to be a tough game - but we are going there to win.
"Oxford were fantastic when we played them away. They are a really good footballing team and you do not beat them unless you have got a bit about you. I think it is good for the league. There is some really good football. There are not many smash-and-grab teams at this level, which arguably years ago it used to be full of. Football in this country is going in the right direction if you are getting a league like this that we have seen this year. Everyone is having their fair chance and you can not write anyone off. English football has always been a bit like that anyway, I know too well myself with my days in the game. It is fantastic for football though if you are getting teams from this level competing with the bigger sides.
"I met a lot of good people there. I liked it; it just did not work out footballing-wise really. We got relegated when I was there which was a massive blow, but I have a lot of fond memories everywhere I have been. They are doing really well and they are a good side so it is a tough game, but it is a massive game considering where they are in the league and where we are. They are full of good attacking players; they are a bit like ourselves. I think they are strong enough at the back and have got some very lively players up front which is exactly what we have in our ranks as well. Everyone needs to keep a close eye on them. They went through hell as well, as this club did, but they look really good now, there is quite a few players still there that I played with and a good group of lads, good backroom staff, good people there. It is great for them that they are doing well."
Finally, Derek Adams whilst not giving any details away, hinted that Graham Carey was nearing a return from injury and could be considered for the Bristol Rovers game tomorrow. He said: "We'll just assess that. I'm not going to give too much away. He'll be into the squad for Saturday's game. He's trained well; he's been out for seven weeks and it's a long space of time, and we'll see how he reacts to training in the next couple of days and weeks. We've got a fully fit squad now, which we're delighted about. I think it's very good that we have a fully fit squad going into the last 19 games of the season. We have players that can change games, and can play in different positions. We have competition for places, and I think that's vital. We've obviously done well over the festive period, and we're ready for Bristol Rovers on Saturday. We're just looking to the last 19 games, and trying to accumulate as many points as possible."
Deane Smalley has joined Newport County on loan. The forward, who has recently returned following a long injury lay-off, is moving to Rodney Parade until the end of the season having been unable to force his way back into a successful Argyle side. Newport are managed by ex-Argyle player Warren Feeney who coincidentally played with Smalley at Oldham.
Derek Adams gave reasons for Lee Cox's departure from Home Park citing his lack of current match opportunities and also gave us an update on the status of Hiram Boateng who may be going back out on loan to Argyle following his return from injury. Adams said, first of Cox: "I think that Lee thought that was the best move for him and it's important that the player needs game time. He felt that it was a good move, that he was going to get regular match time, and I've allowed him to go there for the rest of the season and get that.
"Crystal Palace have been very good to us. Hiram has come to us, and Alan Pardew and Mark Bright have been cooperative with us. We were delighted with the way that Luke Croll came in, and Hiram. They're a football club that we've got a good connection with, and when the time is right, they'll make that decision, and they'll do what is right for their football club. They're a club that is doing really well in the Premier League, and they're looking after their own interests, and that is right."
Gary Sawyer has confirmed that he has played enough games for Argyle this season to trigger an extension in his contract and revealed that he wishes to end his career at Home Park. Sawyer said: "I've actually got something in my contract about playing a certain amount of games and I've gone over that now. This is a club I definitely want to stay at. I moved back down here for a reason as I wanted to be at this football club and I want to stay here."
Following Argyle's youth team becoming the Football League Youth Alliance South West Champions, Derek Adams has spoken approvingly of the young Pilgrims of the future. Adams said: "They have had a fantastic run, they are a good group of players. I have watched them a number of times this season, and over the last week as well as there have been a couple of games at home. They have been able to perform to a high standard; it can only be good for them and it breeds confidence. Hopefully they will do well over the next 11 games in the next league.
"Kevin Hodges and his coaching staff do a very good job. I allow them to do what they see fit. I do have a wee input in a technical board meeting where I give my ideas, but it is solely down to them to organise the academy structure and they do that very well. I think it is difficult because under-18 football to first team level is a very big jump. We have seen that this season and in seasons past. If you look in the Premier League in England, the average age is about 20 to 21 before they make their first team debuts. Are we expecting a 17- or 18 year-old to walk in to the first team? It is rarely going to happen. If it does happen then you have got an exceptional product. But what you do want to do is have them in the system and bleed them in over the coming years - that is what we hope to do in the future."
Jordon Forster has said his career is coming to a crossroads after joining Argyle and that he is hoping for a move to England the coming summer: "Something I have learned over the last couple of years is not to worry about things like that. They will care take of themselves. I'm going to do what I do and see where it takes me in a few months' time. Hibernian actually offered me, on the back of coming down here, a two-year extension. But playing in England is something the majority of boys in Scotland want to do. Hopefully, I will come down here and do well, and then see what happens."
Derek Adams has said that Graham Carey is progressing well following 7 weeks out with a knee injury and is in contention for the squad for Saturday's game with Bristol Rovers yet was also keen to give praise to those who have deputised in his absence. He said: Adams told Herald Sport: "He's back training this week and looking good. Hopefully he can progress and build up his stamina over the next couple of days and we will see what he's like for Bristol on Saturday. We have got a good group of players here. Graham Carey is an important part of the team, and he was one of the ones that was able to propel us on. Some of them have come in and performed really because they have been given that opportunity. Some players are now looking like they are first choices, and that's a good problem to have. We had Reuben Reid out and he didn't start a game for us for 15-16 matches. So to have two goalscorers Carey and Reid back in contention is very good. We have got Ryan Brunt, Jake Jervis, Gregg Wylde and Craig Tanner all scoring goals. I think it's good we have that competition. Everybody who has been put in has staked a claim to stay in the team."
Gregg Wylde, after scoring his 5th goal of the season against Stevenage at the weekend is now determined to press on to make it double figures for the season. He also said how positive it was that goals were being shared around the team rather than being just the responsibility of one player: "It's not bad. I have said before that I wanted to score more goals and now I am doing it. Hopefully I can do the same next week away at Bristol Rovers. Brew just said to try and get in on the back post. Since then, I have scored two headers and the boys have been slaughtering me for it. It's good to get on the scoresheet and hopefully I can get to double-figures by the end of the season. The goals have been shared around the team. It would be good to get the centre-halves in that with set-pieces, as well. We are all chipping in with goals - it is not one man, like Reuben with his goals last season."
Whilst Derek Adams was pleased with Argyle's general standard of performance in the win over Stevenage, he spotted areas that needed improvement such as the defending for both of the goals. He revealed that he is a perfectionist and that Argyle need to tighten up at the back, saying: "They were poor goals from our point of view. One was a flick-on and somebody lost their marker, then the second one was the player coming in on the blindside as well. Two poor goals from our point of view, but we've got to take a lot of positives out of the performance, because we've played on Tuesday night and Stevenage haven't. I think that they didn't really have many opportunities, but they did win second balls and they did harry us more in the second half than the first half. We just spoke about it after the game: our back four needed to do better, and that was the issue we were having. I think if they have communicated a wee bit better, then we would've seen the game easier in the first 15 minutes of the second half. They've seen five goals today and they've seen their home team win again, so that can only be good for the city, and for the kids as well and their enjoyment of football. They want to see good football, exciting football, and they've seen that today."
Lee Cox looks to have played his last game for Argyle having rejoined Stevenage on loan until the end of the season. COX first joined Teddy Sheringham's side in November last year following five substitute appearances for the Pilgrims, and returned to Home Park before Saturday's match after six games for Boro.
Derek Adams was throughly delighted with Argyle's performance in the exciting 3-2 victory over Stevenage especially the first half which he dubbed a "thoroughly professional performance." Adams said of the match: "I thought we were excellent in the first half. We could've gone in five or six goals ahead at half time. The stats tell us that we had double the opportunities that Stevenage had today. I think that Carl McHugh's was a great header. So was Gregg Wylde's – he nearly did that the other night against Northampton, where we had it from a corner kick as well. It was the same scenario as the first game of the season, where Jervis has cross for Gregg Wylde and he's scored. They're providing assists and providing goals as well, so that's important. He's a good finisher, and it's important that on the pitch, you have goal-scorers, and we've certainly got that."We were in the ascendancy, playing really good football. Great goals: a well-worked one for the Carl McHugh header; then Jake Jervis' cross for Wylde, then Craig Tanner. In the second half, give credit to Stevenage: they changed their system, changed a couple of personnel. They got a goal back and just had to deal with them running forwards really, in the second half. Then we got a grip of the game again, and we could've scored a few more late on in the game.
"A thoroughly professional performance. Another very good win for us, because you see that it's very difficult to get wins in this league, and we've been able to do that. We couldn't be any happier. You've seen today with the results: it's a difficult league we're in. But to have 17 wins out of 27 games and hit 55 points, we've got to be happy with that progress."
Adams also revealed that he is adopting a horses for courses policy when it comes to selecting players to start for Argyle this season, saying: "I think that it comes with the games you're going to play in this league. In some games, you're going to have to change personnel. It's a different type of game from the other night, where we probably could've won with the team that we played with, because we were better than Northampton. Whoever wants to say that we weren't: maybe look at the DVD. Gregg Wylde has got a number of assists, as well, and I think it's important you have that in the team. He brings excitement, he's got quick pace; he's direct as well, and that can help us in this league.
"Oscar Threlkeld and Ryan Brunt have done terrific for us this season, but the nature of football is it's a different game, a different situation. We can't look at every game the same. We've got to look at each game in isolation, and we have to pick teams that we feel can win a particular game. We haven't got a big squad, but what we have got in the 18 bodies, we can change about a wee bit."
Gregg Wylde scored Argyle's second goal of the game in the victory over Stevenage but feels Argyle should have scored more over the course of the match. He said: "It was good to play in. But in the second half we made it hard for ourselves, we were 3-1 up at half-time, I think we could have scored more but we didn't take the chances, overall it was three points and we bounced back from Tuesday night. We knew they would make changes at half-time. They made two changes and caused a few problems, but I think our back four dealt with it quite well, so overall we are just delighted to get that win. I think we had a chance with Oscar and Brunty, but I do not know where the ball has gone. We should have scored more in the first-half to kill the game off. I think at this stage of the season we need to start scoring more goals because it could come down to goal difference at the end of it. We started quite well. We were quite aggressive going forward, Reuben had a few chances and I had a shot from the edge of the box, it was good.
"We all know Tuesday night was a disappointment. Not just the result, but the performance as well. We put it out of our systems on Wednesday and came back and it was good to get the three points. At this time of the season we need to keep it going. Oxford play tomorrow, so we shall see how that goes.
"I think when games are cancelled it is not really beneficial, you want them on. It's catch-up when your games are off. Its good that we can relax tonight and be back in on Monday morning. I think you plan ahead for games, now we can relax and look forward to the game next week. I think we are on more points than we were last season so we just have to keep our heads down, focus and see where it takes us at the end of the season."
Argyle have returned to winning ways with a 3-2 victory over Stevenage with Carl McHugh, Gregg Wylde and Craig Tanner all adding to their Argyle's accounts for this season. Charlie Lee first equalised and then reduced the deficit for the visitors but they still left Home Park empty-handed. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Simpson, Jervis, Tanner(Threlkeld), Wylde, Reid(Brunt).Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Forster, Harvey, Smalley.
Ahead of Argyle's game with Stevenage, Jordon Forster believes it is the perfect game to return to form and get three points following the blip in the Northampton match. He also went on to say that he is a little while away from full match fitness just yet but will do his bit if called upon. He said: "Ask anyone in football; fans, players, managers, after a defeat it's always good to get a game in the next few days, and that's what we have got. So we have got to put another marker on Saturday, and get the points and a good win and then Tuesday night seems a lot further away then it actually was. It will be a really tough game, after the defeat on Tuesday night it is a great opportunity for us to go and lay down a good performance and get three points. If we do that, Tuesday night does not seem as bad of a defeat, and I think that is very important for any team playing a game after a defeat.
"The boys are playing well so I am not going to come in and walk into the team, I will need to work hard. But when I play, I'm a centre-half by trade, I can play right-back and I can do a job there but I like playing centre-half most. I think the fans will soon see, if I manage to play, what they will get from me. I am hard working, I am determined. I do not like losing goals or losing games, I am very focused on winning every week. I am sure all the boys here are too but I am sure I can bring a wee bit more to the table.
"It was a typical top of the league battle, I don't think it was too pretty, and a couple of mistakes cost us. I think you could tell what type of game it was; it was cagey, it was edgy, people did not want to make mistakes, and didn't want to lose a goal. I think if you maybe offered both teams a point at the start of the game they might have took it, and I think it played out that way. I think we did more than enough to get a point if not three and we had our chances. I don't think they caused us much trouble apart from a couple of mistakes.
"When the manager first came into Hibs I think I was the only player in the squad to play the first 15 games and then I broke my foot, then came back for a few games and had appendicitis. I had an operation then came back for a few games and then pulled my hamstring. It was about eight to nine months that it was quite tough but that was seven or eight months ago now so it is in the past, and it can stay there. I feel fine, obviously it will take a couple of games to get up to match fitness, but my fitness is not a problem, I have played reserve games up in Scotland now and again. After not having played for a while it will take a couple of games to get up to speed, but apart from that I feel brilliant. If I was called upon I could play 90 minutes 100%, after the game I am sure I would be quite stiff and sore. I do not think a defender needs to do too much running, so if I was called upon, 90 minutes would not be a problem. Playing for Celtic as a boy, Hibs and then here... Maybe next is Sporting Lisbon!"
Derek Adams too pointed out the particular importance of winning a game just after losing the previous one and pinpointed how Argyle will need to play if they are to see off Stevenage. He explained: "I think it is always important that when you lose a game that you do bounce back," said Derek, whose side had won four in a row before Tuesday's defeat. "We have done that many times this season, where we have been on very good runs, then maybe lost - then gone on another very good run. That is just the nature of this league. We have to put pressure on Stevenage, there is no doubt about that. It is important that we play with the fluidity that we can do. We have played in games this season where it has been tough, like on Tuesday night; it was not a football match, it was a hard division 2 old style football match, and sometimes that is what is going to happen. That game was a hard game because we were away to Wimbledon on the Tuesday night in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. It was a heavy night; the pitch had a lot of water on it and the players had to work hard, and then we had to go back to London on the Saturday so that probably took it's toll. This game is a wee bit different from that. Their team is probably different from the team that we played at the start of the season. They have got a number of loan players that have gone back to their parent clubs. Will they be part of the Stevenage team on Saturday? We will have to wait and see.
"We have kept Reuben Reid back a wee bit which has been good from our point of view. It has allowed him to get a few extra weeks training in. He has not played for a long time now and it is important that we manage him in that way. He played for 60 odd minutes the other night, it was good that he was back in. He looked fresh, he moved well, and hopefully we can see the benefits of that in the coming weeks. We have just got Graham Carey out. He is the only one that is out injured; everyone else is fit. It has been seven weeks on Saturday since he last played, we are hopeful of having him back into full training next week so as soon as the physio passes him on we can try and speed up his time to get him back in the team."
Argyle defender Aaron Bentley has been released early from his current contract with Argyle after 18 months as a professional with the club. Bentley made three appearances for Argyle in that time all of them coming in December 2014. The club have stated that the 20-year old is being let go to be allowed to concentrate on his future.
Jordon Forster has spoken about his decision to join Argyle's promotion push in spite of the long distance from his home club Hibernian. He also mentioned knowing several of Argyle's current playing and management staff including Derek Adams from when he was assistant at Hibernian. Forster said: "I had a couple of offers from Scotland and England but this was so attractive because of the chance to win a medal - as a player that is what you want to do. It's a long way from home but I spoke to my manager up there, Alan Stubbs, and he said that it's a really nice part of the country, there is a lot of history and on the footballing side the club are top of the league and looking to get promoted. The chance to win a medal is something that a footballer wants, so this club was the only club that were pushing for promotion and giving me the chance to win a medal; that was the main thing that persuaded me. Jake Jervis has come down, Gregg Wylde, Graham Carey is here, so there is a few Scottish boys. The boys are doing well so I am hopefully going to improve that very slightly and help us get promoted.
"A lot of people in Scotland talk very highly of him and since I have came down here the people I have spoke to have spoke highly of him as well, so it speaks for itself what type of manager he is, and that he is good at his job. I'm just happy that he wanted me to come down here. As a player, when a manager wants you somewhere, it makes all the difference, so I am just happy to be here. I think in Scotland he has got a really good reputation, so when a manager phones you from so far away and says he wants you in the club then, it is hard to turn down. He was telling me on Tuesday night there was nearly 10,000 fans here so it is obviously a really big club and we could win a medal at the end of the season.
"I was about maybe 17 or 18. It was about five years ago. I never really worked that close with him as I was in the youth and he was with the first team. I have played against his teams a couple of times and scored a couple of goals, so maybe that has helped me. It is my third day of training so I do not know them all too well, but the boys seem brilliant. I was saying to the manager that up at Hibs, it is an amazing squad and down here is very much the same. There are no cliques, which in some dressing rooms you find. I think it is important when you are trying to get promoted and the team are doing well, the dressing room needs to be very close and stick by each other."
Whilst Derek Adams was disappointed with the result in Argyle's 2-1 loss to Northampton, he was pleased with the performance and felt we more than matched them on the whole. He said: "It's disappointing, there's no doubt about it, but if you look at it, we've created far more opportunities than Northampton have tonight. Nobody can deny that; the stats will tell you the opportunities on goal from Plymouth Argyle far outweighed the opportunities from Northampton. I think both teams would hope to be up there. There's a good group of teams that will be in there. You just have to look around the table – there's a lot of good sides. The way you look at it is that we won the first game 2-0, and they've won the second game. I think we were by far the better team in the first game, and I don't think there was much between the teams tonight./"We thought we could cause Northampton problems in their back four. We've seen this season that teams can do that, and that's why we went with Reuben up front. We didn't get the ball into the box, or we didn't play between the back four enough. We didn't create enough opportunities in the first half from open play. We did have a few, but our set-play delivery was very good, and we probably should've had a couple of goals from them."
Adams was not wholly pleased with Argyle's defending for either goal however, saying of the first goal first: "It was a bad pass-back and Luke should've done better, so it was an error from both.
"We've been a bit rash in how we've cleared the ball. We could've cleared it far better and been further up the park. We probably did that a number of times tonight, and gave them opportunities out of rash clearances. We didn't clear the ball well enough.
"We make two errors to give them their two goals, but I don't think they did anything else in the game. They've got a head start because of an error, and then in the second half we don't clear our lines, and they get an opportunity. I know they had a couple of break-aways early in the second half, out of our bad play, but they didn't really open us up in the 90 minutes.
"It was good play down the sides. In the first half we probably had a number of opportunities where we could've done the same. We didn't, but it's a good ball from Ryan Brunt and a good finish from Gregg. It becomes a wee bit difficult when you're 2-0 down: sometimes you get a wee bit nervous and you want to get the ball forward quicker, and you don't take that touch and the time that they do have. It was a scrappy encounter. We've probably had the majority of the chances in the game, but we didn't take them. We're obviously disappointed to lose the match, but I don't think any team deserved to win the match."
Finally, Adams spoke about Jordon Forster who has joined on loan from Hibs for the remainder of the season. He gave his reasons for bringing in the utility man: "He gives us competition for places. We're very light in that area, and we'll need that towards the end of the season. He can play at centre half as well as right back. I think it's important: you're going to get suspensions at some time in the season, and you need to be pushed as a football player. By doing that, we're taking in somebody to give them all a jolt to go forward. He's played a lot of games in Scotland at the top level. He came through the Celtic youth academy, and he's been schooled in the proper way. He's been in and around the Hibernian team. At this moment in time they're flying high in the Championship, and he's been unfortunate not to get himself in the side at this time. His fitness is fine. There's no issues there so he's ready to go."
Argyle's 4 match winning run has come to an end with a 2-1 defeat to our closest title rivals Northampton Town. Northampton scored shortly before and after half-time and whilst Gregg Wylde got a goal back in the 83rd minute, it was not enough to secure a point for the greens. Argyle do however stay top on goal difference. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld(Wylde), Simpson, Jervis, Reid(Tanner), Brunt. Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Rooney, Harvey, Smalley.
Though he was not registered in time to play in the game, Argyle have also confirmed the signing of Hibernian defender Jordon Forster on a loan deal until the end of the season. 22-year-old Forster will wear the number 28 during his time at Argyle.
Derek Adams has revealed that there are players interested in Argyle this transfer window but said that signings need more time to come to fruition: "We're still looking at signings, we're still looking at people, but there's nothing happening at this moment in time. I think everybody's interested in coming to Plymouth Argyle. The players we're speaking to want to come, so we'll wait and see. I think it shows how good the teams are in this division. They've all performed well over the FA Cup this weekend, and I know some teams have had weakened teams and that's obviously helped, but it doesn't take away from the fact that they've managed to either progress or get draws against higher opposition. I think that all teams have been able to put a game on Saturday together, and they've all shown how good a league this is. I think we've got a good squad, and I think we've shown good continuity throughout the squad, but I've always said that I'd like to strengthen the squad in January and we're trying to do that."
He also revealed that Argyle have received and turned down a bid for a current player but would not divulge who, saying: "We have probably had one bid. That's about it."
Adams is expecting a special atmosphere when Argyle face second place Northampton at Home Park tomorrow night in a game that could be crucial to Argyle's championship hopes. He said: "They've taken in Collins from Shrewsbury, so they've added to their strike force. I think that throughout their team, they've got good spirit and continuity like we have. They've done really well this season. They've been able to pick up a lot of wins. We played well earlier on in the season there, winning 2-0, so we know that it's going to be a difficult match because they've been in good form.
"We've been on a fabulous run this season and we're looking forward to another big game coming to Home Park. I think it's a good game to have. We've already had very big games this season and we've been able to perform well. We take every game in isolation, and it's important to win every game we play in. But there's 21 games left in the season, and every one of them are big games, so there is that excitement for the fans and the players. I think it's going to be a good one. There'll be a terrific atmosphere here."
He also said however that he would not build the game up too much and treat it like any other game, albeit one against especially challenging opposition: "It's a good game to have. We have already had very big games this season and we have been able to perform well. But there are 21 games to go in the season and every single one of them are big games. It's a game you can get three points from and the players have shown throughout the season they have got the mental strength to do that. We take every game in isolation. It's important to win every one we play in. We would like to try to win the match. You want to try to win your home matches."
After Argyle's game against Northampton was moved back three days to accommodate for the Cobblers' participation in the FA Cup third round, Argyle's home matches could be further disturbed by Wycombe Wanderers draw with Aston Villa. The two sides will have to play out a replay at Villa Park for the right to play in the fourth round on the day Argyle are scheduled to face Wycombe, January 30th.
Following rumours linking Argyle with Notts County midfielder Alan Smith and Hibs utility man Jordon Forster, Derek Adams did not respond directly to speculation but said that Argyle fans would be first to know the outcome of any transfer: "We have no news on anything at this moment in time so whatever is said is pure speculation. The supporters will be the first to know of any activity in the transfer market and we'll no doubt give them that news as soon as we have any news. Everybody knows we've got a tight squad. At this moment in time we've only got 18 players that we can choose from and that makes it tight so there's no doubt that I'm looking to add to that number for the 21 games remaining. We're looking all over because we need strength and depth for the run in to the season. I think it's important we have that, we've seen that when you pick up a couple of injuries then you can be short and we don't want to be that way come the end of the season. There's always interest in our players from other clubs because when you're doing well then you're always going to get that interest, but I want to keep my squad intact to the end of the season. We're not keen to sell anybody, we want to keep the squad intact. The ones that have performed well for us deserve to be here and will want to stay and be part of the season ahead."
Craig Tanner's decision to extend his loan spell with Plymouth Argyle until the end of the season can be put down to a commitment to improve himself and help the club who are allowing him to do so. The loanee attacking midfielder said: "I'm happy. It's something I wanted because I started something here. I think the team's doing really well and I want to continue helping and really continue with the promotion push, because it's looking well at the moment. I think it's been a really successful loan. I think I've got four goals and six assists. My target was to contribute to ten goals, no matter which way it was, until the end of my loan. Luckily I got the assist for Brunty's goal, so my next target is to do that again, replicate it and hopefully have more, so I can show I've had a better second half to the season. Things can change, but overall I'm very happy being here, because I think I'm benefiting the team, and they're benefiting me. I'm over the moon to be able to extend it and hopefully continue what we started. I think it's more of the subtle things: how to see out a game, probably my defensive positioning. There's scenarios in a game where normally in under-21 football, no matter what, you try and play out from the back, but now you might see me kicking one long every now and again and following my own pass. Sometimes you've got to hit the corner flags. I think I've learnt that, and I've learnt how to get us up the pitch at times to relieve pressure on the defence. It's just the mentality of winning every game when there's things on the line, and how to influence the game in my own way, which I think I'm doing in each game."
Derek Adams elaborated on his happiness at having both players back at his disposal and went on to explain that although Hiram Boateng is currently back at Crystal Palace, he has hopes of re-signing the player later on in the season. Finally he added that Lee Cox will return to Home Park after Saturday's round of games. Adams said: "The two of them are very good players; they come from good clubs. Both have them have done particularly well this season. Both clubs are happy for them to extend their stays here. It gives them valuable game time for their experience. Craig Tanner has scored a few good goals with us, he's had assists and he's really matured as a player since coming here. He's been part of the success we've had. Oscar has been able to get into the team now and put in a lot of good performances. We would have liked him to stay until the end of the season but if you look at it he doesn't miss many games at the end of the season. It gives him an opportunity to go back to Bolton and show what he can do there.
"Crystal Palace wanted Hiram Boateng back. Alan Pardew wanted to make him part of the first team squad. I'm still speaking to Mark Bright and Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace just to see the possibility of having him coming back to us. We've got a good relationship; we've taken Luke Croll and Hiram to Plymouth and we've looked after both players so I think Crystal Palace respect that. He's done really well with us and we're just looking at trying to extend that deal for the rest of the season.
"Lee Cox will return to us on Monday and come back to training. I think he is touch and go to be fit for Saturday's game. His loan ends and then he'll return to us. He'll come back in and be part of the squad. He has enjoyed being at Stevenage and Teddy Sheringham has obviously enjoyed him being there as well."
Oscar Threlkeld has said that he thinks he is in the best form of his Plymouth Argyle career so far and wants to focus on his future at the club, saying: "I feel very pleased and honoured to come back here. I feel like things are going well down here, for myself and for the team, and it's always good to come back to a team that's in winning form. I'm playing games now; it was a sticky start for me when I first came, but as soon as I got my foot in the door, I've kept my place, and it shows on the pitch that I can do the job for the team. I had to obviously try my hardest in training and show what I can do. I did get a couple of injuries along the way so that always took me back two or three spaces, but as soon as I got my foot in the door I've kept my position. That's why I wanted to stay: because I'm getting the experience I need, as well. To be honest, I don't really want to speak about Bolton. They've got their own problems, and they have to solve it for themselves. I do have my heart for the club, and I hope everything goes well, but at the moment I just want to concentrate on my own football and my own team, which is Plymouth Argyle at the moment.
"I feel more now that I know the understanding of the game, and understanding what the gaffer wants me to do, and obviously the players around me. I do agree that the past four games have been my best, because I'm settled in now, and that's why I signed the extension: because I feel like I've settled in, and I feel I can do something for the team and push for promotion. I'm a winner, and everyone else is a winner in this team, so obviously we want to fight for promotion."
Argyle have extended two loan signings out of the three players whose deals expired after the Carlisle game. Craig Tanner has extended his loan deal until the end of the season whilst Oscar Threlkeld has signed a three-month loan deal keeping him at Argyle until April 12th. Tanner expressed his delight at being here until for the duration of the campaign: "I could do with a couple more tap-ins. I think I've contributed quite well as far as assists go - now I'd like to add a few more goals."
Derek Adams meanwhile said how pleased he was to acquire Threlkeld's continued services: "I'm obviously delighted that Bolton Wanderers and ourselves have been able to extend Oscar's loan deal. It is great that Oscar wants to to stay. He has been an integral part of our recent success. He can play in a variety of positions and has produced some stand-out performances of late."
Derek Adams has been nominated for the Sky Bet League Two manager-of-the-month award for the third time this season. Adams is on the shortlist for the December prize after leading Argyle to a record of three wins from four games. Argyle's manager was also nominated for the August and October awards, and won the latter one. He is up against Gareth Ainsworth, Darrell Clarke and Sean Derry for the December award.
Derek Adams gave his usual tactical analysis of the game which came with a surprising revelation- that he did not let his players know about the decision to play three at the back until just before kick-off. He explained: "It was an unbelievable performance. It ranks up there as one of the best performances we have had this season. It was excellent from start to finish. We have had to deal with a lot of long balls and throw-ins; we knew that before the game. We set up to deal with it and, tactically, it was done to perfection; we came away with a clean sheet and two goals. It was never going to be a pass into midfield that was going to break us; it was a long ball into the box. We had to deal with the high balls coming in from throw-ins, corner-kicks or in direct play and we have done that very well – Carlisle are one of the highest scorers in the division and we have come away with a clean sheet. In the second half, we had a number of good opportunities' to add to the scoreline. Overall, I think it is a thoroughly deserved victory. We had more opportunities on goal than Carlisle; our goalkeeper has not had a save to make in the game; and we have had other opportunities.
"We didn't really work on it because I didn't tell the players we were going to play that way until not long before kick-off. We wanted to keep it all quiet and keep it in-house, and we were able to do that."
Ryan Brunt knows he scored both goals in Argyle's 2-0 win at Carlisle (in spite of a claim for one of them by Gregg Wylde) because the linesman told him that Wylde would have been offside had the ball not already been over the line when Wylde's foot made contact. Brunt: "It was over the line before Gregg's put it in. I know because the lino's said 'It's your goal, else I would have given it offside.' To be honest, I wasn't sure when it first went in, but the lino said 'It's your goal'. Graham Carey's not in the team so we had no free-kick taker as such – Craig Tanner takes them, but he wasn't on the pitch. It was in the middle of the goal, so I thought 'why not have a hit, give it a whack?' and obviously it's gone in. A goal's a goal – it doesn't matter where it comes from – but I enjoy taking free-kicks; it's a little bit different.
"When your luck's in, your luck's in, I guess. As a striker, it's nice to have it. I have got to keep going and really push on. The performance from myself personally wasn't great – they were a tough two centre-halves to play against on my own up front, but I have got to be better, I think."
Brunt also followed in the footsteps of teammates before him this season and paid tribute to the general team around him rather than blow his own trumpet when on a good run of form. Brunt spoke warmly of his 'heroic' teammates: "You see them run out ten yards, block a shot, take it in the you know whats, and you have got to do the same because they lift you and carry you through the game. That's the way you have to look at it. I close down a centre-half and it pushes us up five yards and you work off each other. That's what's getting us the points. It was a scrappy game for us up front and we did our job the best we could, but the defence was fantastic, the way they were relentless in defending. They put their bodies on the line every time, It was a really, really good performance. Last season would have helped that, obviously. They felt comfortable. It wasn't something that we'd worked on an awful lot but it was just right. I haven't seen a team play like Carlisle did in a while and I think that formation really got us in the right position. The way we dealt with that was fantastic. We performed well – not a nice-on-the-eye performance, but we performed well to get three points. Every team I've been at, we've had little cliques – it's not great but at Argyle everyone sits in different tables every meal; we all get on; we all have a personal relationship with each other; it just works, I guess. I think you see, on the pitch, what we're all about. You can't get carried away, that's the be all and end all. We have got to keep working hard. We have got a break now to get our legs back and regroup and go again, but we have got to keep putting in those performances every week."
Unlike Argyle managers before him, Derek Adams was not shy to mention the 'P Word' of promotion in the light of Argyle's win at Blackburn. He said: "Of course we can gain promotion. There is no doubt about it – our form tells you that. You look at the amount of games we have won away from home – that is nine, now – and the way we perform is to a very high standard. We have got a work-ethic; we have got a togetherness around about the squad; we have got exceptionally talented players; and we have been able to gather, 25 games in, 52 points. We have got a good group of players here – I've said that – and we have been able to put a bit of momentum together; it's a big thing in this league."
Adams also revealed that Argyle are working hard behind the scenes to keep the long-term loanees Craig Tanner, Oscar Threlkeld and Hiram Boateng at Home Park for the rest of the season. Christian Walton however will be returning to parent club Brighton: "They are all keen on staying – there is no doubt about that. We have just have to try to get things in place. We are still working on things. We have got until January 12th, which is our next game, so we have got a bit of time to firm things up.
"Christian Walton will return to Brighton; the three other ones, we would like to keep. It's great that a Plymouth boy has been able to come back. Christian has done well for us in the games he has played and I am delighted that Chris Hughton gave us permission to have him. We are trying to strengthen the team, but there's nothing imminent at this moment in time."
Argyle have made it four wins in a row and have kept another clean sheet with a 2-0 win over Carlisle United at Ewood Park. Ryan Brunt opened the scoring with a fantastic free-kick in the first half and after a second half rearguard effort, scored again at the death to secure a 2-0 win. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Threlkeld, Simpson, Jervis(Tanner), Wylde, Brunt. Subs: Walton, Reid, Harvey, Purrington, Smalley, Rooney.
Derek Adams is looking forward to travelling to Ewood Park for Argyle's first game of 2016 against Carlisle United. The game's location was moved in light of recent flooding in the Cumbria area. Adams said: "They are probably very thankful that they have got a game going on. There have been a lot of troubles in Carlisle, with the flooding. Blackburn Rovers is a very good venue; they'll be delighted that they are able to go there. We're happy that it's there, as well, because we've got a game going on. It's unfortunate, what's happened in the Carlisle area, and the football club can't do anything about having to move their games. I think it's very good of the other clubs who have allowed them to play at their venues. It allows the football calendar to continue; that's what it's about. They haven't played there before in a home fixture and it's a 30,000 stadium with maybe 4,000 people in it, but it's very good surroundings; it will be a good pitch; and both teams will enjoy playing there. To go to this type of venue will be encouragement to both sets of players but grass is grass and dimensions of football pitches rarely change too much. There's a goal at one side and a goal at the other side; you have got to keep the ball out of one end and score at the other end.
"They have picked up some decent wins and have been able to put a wee bit of momentum together. They are a good side; they're experienced; they have got a number of loan players in there, as well; and they have done well this season. They have got a team that are sturdy opposition; they are hard to play against – that has shown in the two games we have played against them.
"Both teams have to travel great distances every second week and both teams probably respect each other for that, knowing how difficult it is. Everybody would like to play the longer runs in the better months but going up there on January 1, when the roads are quiet, rather than going at the start of the season, when the roads are really busy...we've had trips to London that have taken seven hours and it will be shorter going to Blackburn this weekend. We've got no complaints – it's a game we are looking forward to."
Derek Adams praised Ryan Brunt in the light of recent hype about his goalscoring exploits but at the same time sought to play down the overexcitement and focus on all 11 players equally. He said: "I'm not one who talks about a goalscorer winning points all the time. You have got to remember that there are 11 players on a football team and it's not about individuals. Ryan's done really well for us. As I've said before, he's a hard worker; he'll score goals; win headers; take the ball. That's important. If you look in all the games he's played, he's contributed. As have all the team. This season, I think it is going to be quite a high points total for promotion. If you look at the amount of teams that are in or about the top ten, everybody is capable of getting to the promotion places or play-off places."
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