A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle beat Bradford City 1-0 at Home Park, the goal scored by Juvhel Tsoumou after 4 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Williams, Wotton, Walton, Hemmings, Tsoumou, Chadwick, MacDonald. Subs Fletcher.S, Bhasera (not used Larrieu, Hourihane, Feeney). Attendance - 6,933.
The Argyle squad have had to contend with the unseasonably hot weather this week as they prepare for the visit of Bradford City tomorrow. Temperatures have topped 20 degrees and Carl Fletcher revealed steps had been taken to make sure the players had been able to prepare properly without the risk of injury. He said: "The lads get tested for dehydration every day. We have done that for the last couple of months. We monitor that because the more dehydrated you are, the more chance you have got of picking up injuries and not performing to the best of your ability. So we keep a close eye on that. Also, our training pitch is pretty much rock hard, but we are sorting stuff out to get enough water on it to make sure we try to keep the injuries down to a minimum." Fletcher has been laid low for much of this week by illness and in his absence Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell have kept things ticking over, but Fletcher was back at the helm for training yesterday. He admitted it had been 'a little bit annoying' to have to take time off and said: "To be honest, I couldn't get my head out from under my duvet for two days. It just knocked me for six really, I was just out for the count. I have had it for about a week now really, and I think I'm hitting the back end of it. Luckily, Ro and Nance took care of everything for a couple of days and they kept me abreast of things." Steve Fletcher took part in training with the squad for the first time yesterday and it is expected he will be among the Argyle substitutes against Bradford. The manager said: "You ask any club in the country and they will all say they are looking for a big target man, and they are very few and far between. Fletch has done it for years and years, and he's one of the best at it, so it's a real bonus for us to have him at the football club, and it's another face to liven up the dressing room again. He will be a great asset to our squad. He has been in this situation before at Bournemouth. It took me about four weeks to get him here, but it was well worth it in the end."
Carl Fletcher is wary of a Bradford City backlash when the teams meet at Home Park tomorrow. Bradford had three players sent-off following their defeat at home to Crawley Town on Tuesday, after a mass punch-up at the final whistle, meaning goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin and centre-backs Andrew Davies and Luke Oliver all start suspensions tomorrow. Fletcher said: "The circumstances that went on will affect the team they pick for tomorrow, but we are just concentrating on ourselves. We have got to make sure we are right, and everything that has gone on before we don't need to worry about too much." Fletcher did not believe Argyle had been handed an advantage by the bans, and added: "Bradford have got a very good squad, so there will be people that will just be able to slip in. It could be even tougher for us because in adversity, with them missing players through suspension, it brings people together. It's going to be a real tough test for us, and we have got to make sure we are right on it. We want to go out and win the game, and we will be doing everything in our power to do that. If we win, we go level on points with Bradford so it's a great incentive for us. It's something we shouldn't fear or be worried about." With Bradford having three players suspended, it makes it more difficult for Fletcher to work out what team they will be playing against. He said: "It puts an air of doubt into it, and they have had a few injuries as well. We will be doing our research to find out what we can, but you can only prepare so much any way, whether you know the team or not. At the end of the day, we have got to concentrate on ourselves, and that's what we will be doing."
Simon Walton has an extra incentive for wanting Argyle to beat Bradford tomorrow. He said: "I was Leeds born and bred, so it would be nice to get one over Bradford tomorrow. I scored in the last game and received a fair bit of stick. They don't like ex-Leeds players at Bradford. Hopefully, this time we can get the three points. It's a big game for us and one we are all looking forward to." Argyle can draw level on points with Bradford by beating them at Home Park, and Walton added: "It's an opportunity for us to drag another team into it and get level on points with them. We have worked hard and done our bit, and we are fortunate now that it's in our own hands now. It's up to us basically." Bradford have three players suspended tomorrow and Walton said: "It would affect any team, to lose your main centre-halves and your goalkeeper. Some people say they are the most important players in any team. It will be a massive blow for them, but we had suspensions to key players earlier this season and the lads who came in had a point to prove and did as well, if not better, than the ones they replaced. We know what it's like to be in their position, and we know it won't be easy. The lads who come in will want to keep their shirt. Bradford are a big club and they have got good resources, I know a few people there. They won't be weakened by it, but obviously it's a bit of an upheaval for them in personnel." Argyle had to fight hard for a point at Northampton Town last Saturday, and Walton expects more of the same for the rest of the season. He said: "I would love to go into every game, getting the ball on the floor and passing it, which is what I like to do, but we are in League Two and it's just not what happens. Every game is a fight, and teams are going to be edgy. Obviously, there is a lot at stake. But it's the teams who relax the most and enjoy the challenge, as such, who are going to come out on top. There is no time really for nerves to creep in. You need to stand up and be counted in these last few games, and try to relax and enjoy it, as we have done the last few weeks. Northampton last Saturday was a tough one, but before that the games were more enjoyable to play in and the performances have been better, so we have got to keep that going."
Argyle have seven games to retain their league status and Carl Fletcher wants to win them all. "We're looking to take maximum points from the next seven games really," he said. "First things first, it's Bradford Saturday. We know it's going to be tough but we want to go out and win the game so we will be doing everything in our power to make sure we do that. We should just go out there without fear, embrace everything the situation brings, take it on our shoulders because in the long and short run it will make us better people. It is exciting. When you come into football you want to play big games, games that mean things. There are always those games in your career that you talk about and they're the kind of stories you remember. I want our last seven games to be just like that. Games that people and players will talk about. So we'll keep working hard to make sure we do that, starting on Saturday."
Steve Fletcher has revealed the persistence of Carl Fletcher persuaded him to sign for Argyle. He said: "A lot of my best memories at Bournemouth were when Carl was there. We both scored in the play-off final in 2003. When he gave me a call a couple of weeks ago, I did say I didn't think I could go out on loan. I had already said 'no' to a couple of clubs, but Carl was very persistent and I felt obliged to help him out and give it a go. Deadline day came along and I had to make a decision, and I think I have made the right one." Fletcher has made 23 appearances for Bournemouth this season, but only four of them have come in the starting line-up. He added: "I have been at the club for 19 years and really I didn't want to go out on loan after being there so long. I love Bournemouth, as I'm sure everyone can appreciate. Plymouth, through Carl, were the only club I would have contemplated leaving for. I have still got a hunger to play first team football. If I didn't have that appetite I wouldn't still be playing at 39." Fletcher attended the game against Northampton, having met the squad for the first time the previous day. He said: "Carl has got a good group of lads and they are all behind him. There are some characters in the changing room, which you need, and a mixture of experience and youth. Carl had a very professional head on young shoulders as a player and he has taken that into management. There is no better man for the job than him for the situation Plymouth are in." Fletcher sat among the Argyle fans for the second half of the draw at Sixfields, and said: "They were very unfortunate not to get the win, but I thought the boys applied themselves fantastically well and the supporters were great. There were 1,200 up there and you can't ask for much more than that. I sat with them in the second half and they made me feel welcome. They were almost willing the ball into the back of the net, but it wasn't to be. They are going to be like a 12th man for the team." Fletcher was at Bournemouth yesterday as he continued to receive treatment for his injury from their medical staff. He has been staying in regular contact with Carl Fletcher though, as well as Argyle physio Paul Atkinson, and will travel to Plymouth today with the aim of taking part in training on Thursday. He said: "It has been two weeks since I tore a muscle in my thigh. I was kicking the ball, striking through it at about 70 or 80 per cent, with the physio at Bournemouth yesterday. I have got to make sure if Carl wants to put me in the team that I'm right. I know I'm renowned for my aerial presence but I have still got to kick the ball. Touch wood, I will join in with Plymouth on Thursday." When the two Fletcher's were team-mates at Bournemouth they were known as 'Big Fletch' and 'Little Fletch'. "It was a way of telling the difference between the two of us," added Steve, "but I don't think he would appreciate me calling him 'Little Fletch' now! He's my gaffer."
A young Argyle side lost 1-0 to Tiverton Town in the semi-final of the St Luke's Cup at Ladysmead last night.
Steve Fletcher might be known as Mr. Bournemouth, but he has already fallen a little bit in love with Argyle. Injury prevented Fletcher from making his debut at Northampton on Saturday, but he met up with his new team-mates for the trip. "Carl gave me the option of joining up with the lads or going to Plymouth this week," he said, "but I wanted to join up with the team and it was good to get to know them at the hotel on Friday. I know Warren Feeney from my time at Bournemouth and have played against Wottsy and Darren Purse for many years, so it was fairly easy. Everyone made me feel very welcome, just like we always have at Bournemouth when players have come in. It's funny, but it's the first time I've been out on loan in more than 20 years in the game." Fletcher was impressed with the Argyle performance and felt they were more likely winners. He said: "If you asked a neutral, I think they would have said 'Plymouth'. We were more direct; the defence dealt with everything thrown at them; and we looked more like scoring. The dressing-room after the game was definitely not a losers' dressing-room. There are some big characters in there, and a lot of belief. That will stand us in good stead. I have been in this position before with Bournemouth, battling to stay in the league, and we survived in the second-last game of the season. Fletcher is under no illusions what is expected of him, and what he can best bring to the Argyle cause. "I am not going to get the ball on the edge of my own penalty area and run past the opposition and score," he joked. "Carl has decided that I have got something I can offer the team. He knows I haven't started too many games this season, but I have come off the bench regularly. I have had a little niggle which meant I couldn't play on Saturday, but I've been with the physio at Bournemouth today and it's nearly there. I will give everything I can. That's all I can do. I already have a lot of affection for the club. That's just from meeting the boys and the fans at the weekend. You can sense just what the club means to them, and I want to help."
Conor Hourihane has thanked Argyle's away fans for their amazing support. Nearly 1,200 made the trip to Sixfields Stadium for the draw against Northampton Town on Saturday, the sixth time this season more than 1,000 supporters have been at an away game. Hourihane said: "The fans are terrific. Wherever we travel, they come in their numbers. Plymouth Argyle shouldn't be in League Two. They are a huge club. I think if we stay up this season we will definitely get them back to somewhere where they should be. Before the game we get into a little huddle and we clap them. We appreciate their support. They are the 12th man. They get right behind us and it gives us that little boost when we need it. You can hear them all game and we all think highly of them."
The Argyle board will review Carl Fletcher's work before deciding whether to give him the managers job for next season. James Brent said: "Clearly the board will review the position as we come towards the end of the season. But Carl, if he's interested, had got a strong candidature. Carl's done a stunning job. When you look at the statistics, the reality is we got one point from the first nine games, which is the equivalent of having one-and-a-half administrations."
Argyle dropped to 22nd in League Two after their draw against Northampton Town on Saturday but Carl Fletcher was pleased with the point, and the clean sheet. He said: "We knew it was going to be really tough. They have got seven or eight players over 6ft, and have got a threat from set pieces and long throws. It was a tough battle but the lads dug in really well and they should be proud of their efforts. It's a great clean sheet from my point of view. When they played Bristol Rovers here they were 3-0 up in the first half and kind of steamrollered them. We knew it was going to be really tough and we had to dig in and do the ugly stuff well. We got better as the game went on and it was just unfortunate we couldn't nick it at the other end, which would have topped it off." Argyle rarely looked like scoring before half-time as Northampton dominated possession. But there was more of a threat in the second half, especially after the introduction of Ashley Hemmings in the 63rd minute. Nick Chadwick and Luke Young were also sent on by Fletcher in the closing stages of the game. He said: "We just looked at what we could do to maybe give us a little bit extra." The closest Argyle came to scoring was in the 75th minute when a free-kick from Paul Wotton hit the underside of the crossbar. Fletcher said: "An inch lower and that is in the goal, but that's football. I was really pleased with the clean sheet." Northampton's main threat came from long throw-ins, rather than from open play. Fletcher said: "When the ball goes out, they fling it in the box and bring everyone up. They had three in the centre of midfield so we matched them in there. It was never going to be a pretty spectacle, especially with the situation both teams are in. When you know it's going to be like that, you have to make sure you do the other stuff right, and the lads did that, which is really pleasing." Argyle's determination and workrate was highlighted by Conor Hourihane. In the second half he bravely put his head to a loose ball, before being clattered into by an opponent. Then, soon afterwards, he chased down a counter attack from Northampton and made a superb sliding tackle to win the ball. Fletcher said: "We expect that sort of commitment. If they didn't do that, they wouldn't play. With Conor, it's not his kind of game, but you could see he wanted to do it, which is really pleasing. Everybody wants to make sure we get clean sheets and, hopefully, more wins." The attendance of 6,718 was the highest at Sixfields this season and included 1,172 Argyle fans. Fletcher was grateful for the support of the Green Army and added "It would have been nice to get a goal towards the end to really top it off for them. Every away game, they are all anybody talks about. We are very lucky to have them."
Conor Hourihane expects it to be a tense end to the season for Argyle, but remains confident the club will escape relegation. He said: "I think we all want to wrap it up as soon as we can, but it will probably go to the wire. A couple of victories in a row would be great, but we are picking points up and that's the main thing." Argyle play 19th-placed Bradford City, who are three points above them, at Home Park this Saturday before travelling to Hereford. Hourihane said: "They are games we can definitely get points from." Argyle settled for a hard-earned point at Northampton, and Hourihane said: "We put in a good shift, and could have nicked it in the end. I thought we had the better chances, in the second half especially. We always knew it was going to be a tough game. But, at the right times, we got it down and played a little bit. The keeper pulled off a great save from Wottsie's free-kick, I had a shot and Ash had a few good runs. We could have nicked it. It was not to be, but I think it's a good point in the end." Argyle have picked up five points from their last three matches and Hourihane added: "Five points out of nine from the last three games isn't too bad, is it? Maybe, we could have got a better result against Bristol, or nicked a goal here at Northampton. But a lot of people didn't fancy us against Shrewsbury and we pulled that one out of the bag. We are picking up points and are hard to beat now, which is a good thing. There is a great team spirit and I think we will definitely be alright." Argyle have conceded only five goals in their last 10 games, compared to 51 in their first 29. Hourihane pointed to the experience of players such as Darren Purse, Paul Wotton, Maxime Blanchard and Nick Chadwick as the reason behind that improvement. He said: "There are a lot more voices in the team and a lot more organisation on the pitch. That comes from the gaffer and the staff as well. They really want to do well for the club. I think that all shows in the never-say-die attitude we have on the pitch."
Argyle will play Torquay United in a friendly at Home Park on April 3rd at 2pm. Both sides will field a mixture of young professionals and apprentices and entry to the game will be free to season-ticket holders, £4 for adults and £2 for concessions.
The Argyle squad's togetherness will help them avoid relegation, according to Conor Hourihane. "There's great team spirit, a never-say-die attitude," he said, "and I think we'll be alright. It's the experienced heads, the likes of Wottsy, Pursey, Chaddy up front, Ashley has come in and been terrific. There's a lot more voices, a lot more organisation on the pitch. That comes from the gaffer and the staff. I think they are a lot more professional, more clued into us. They really, really want us to stay up, to do well for the club, and it shows on the pitch." Hourihane admitted that the physical nature of lower league football was not totally in his nature, but was prepared to deal with it. "I like to get the ball down and play when I can," he said, "but sometimes, in these type of games, six-pointers when you are down at the bottom, you just have to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in, and put a shift in for the team. I think everyone did that today, and we'll be happy with that point. I thought we had the better chances, in the second half, especially. The 'keeper pulled off a great save from Wottsy's free-kick; I had a little shot; Ash had a few good runs. Five points out of nine from the last three games is not too bad. We're picking up points. We're hard to beat now, which is a good thing."
Argyle fans will have to wait for at least another week to see Steve Fletcher in action. The forward travelled to Northampton yesterday, but watched from the stand. "We knew he was injured when we spoke to him," said Carl Fletcher. "But, obviously, with the deadline, you have to get it done. Fingers crossed, it will all be alright next week."
The Argyle youth team won 1-0 at Torquay United yesterday, the goal scored by Matt Lecointe. Argyle: Walton.C, Watson, Pearce, Hart, Bradley, Richards, Harper-Penman, Berry, Lecointe, Sims, Copp. Subs - Harvey (not used - Elcock, Bentley).
Argyle drew 0-0 at Northampton Town. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Williams, Hourihane, Wotton, Walton, Bhasera, MacDonald, Tsoumou. Subs Hemmings, Chadwick, Young (not used Larrieu, Feeney). Attendance - 6,718.
Carl Fletcher is targeting a 100% record in Argyle's remaining fixtures. He said: "To be honest, I would like eight wins." However, he was quick to add that a victory in the first of those eight matches, against Northampton Town today, will be far from easy. "It's going to be a tough game for us," he said, "but one we're all looking forward to. We're getting a level of consistency and I think a lot of the draws we've had could have been won on another day. We go into every game trying to do well. Every match, we do the right things, things that we are capable of doing, and play to the best of our ability. Then the result will take care of itself. All that hard work the players put in, they hopefully get a reward out of it. We're trying to be consistent and trying to do the right things."
Ashley Hemmings has made a big impression in the time he has spent on loan with Argyle. "Ashley is a really good player." said Carl Fletcher. "It's his first season. He's been playing lots of games and it's a tough situation to come into. For any footballer in any team, and all over the world, there are highs and lows. He's one of my good players at this football club, where I've got lots. He always brings something when he plays."
Carl Fletcher is pleased with defender Robbie Williams, who has stepped up to the plate since Onismor Bhasera was away on international duty with Zimbabwe. Fletcher said: "We're obviously pleased for Willo because he had a long stint outside and obviously Baz was playing. Circumstances change. Baz had to go on international duty and Willo came in and took his opportunity. We want players to come in and play well and keep their position in the team. It's great to have the competition for places. Players know that, if they're not doing what we ask and not doing their job, then someone will slip into their spot that will try and do the right things.
Hopes of a new grandstand at Home Park moved a step closer yesterday after a land deal by club owner James Brent, which injects £700,000 into the club. Brent has set up a new company to buy part of Argyle's land for £425,000. His two partners in the venture have invested another £275,000. They are promising either to build a new grandstand for nothing or give the football club half of any windfall profits from developing the land. Brent said: "We want to crack on sooner rather than later." Asked whether he intended to put a hotel at Home Park, he said: "The city is under-provided with quality hotel space and we would be very keen, not just at Home Park but also elsewhere in the city." He said the Argyle board was setting up a separate group to look at the development of the ground and new grandstand. "We will look at building additional capacity now and structuring it so we can add further capacity at a later date," he added. Brent said Argyle's financial performance was in line with the budget, despite taking on a number of new players. He said: "This transaction further strengthens the financial position of the club. In addition, it represents the next step in delivering to the football club a new grandstand of which the club, city and region can be proud." Argyle director David Felwick said: "The independent directors have reviewed these transactions in accordance with PAFC's corporate governance regime. The football club has not only received full value for the land but has also secured the right to have a new grandstand built or, failing that, receive profits from any development. In this way, Plymouth Argyle will receive benefit from any development but will bear none of the costs or risks associated with it."
Argyle released the following statement today: Plymouth Argyle Football Club today announces that it has raised more than £700,000 in additional cash for the club. This exceeds the amount that it had budgeted to raise at the time of acquisition by Akkeron Leisure in October last year. The financial performance of the club is in line with the budget, despite a number of new players joining Plymouth Argyle. The cash has been raised in two ways: 1 - The sale of the car-park and surplus land at Higher Home Park for £425,000 (the District Valuer's valuation) to a new company, the beneficial ownership of which is 82.5% owned by James Brent's pension fund and the balance by Richard Holliday and Anthony Vaughan. Richard is a Director of the club, and Anthony is a leading London-based lawyer who was heavily involved in the acquisition of PAFC by Akkeron Leisure in October of last year; and 2 - The issue of 5% per annum convertible securities to Mr Holliday (or his investment vehicle) and Mr Vaughan in an aggregate amount of c. £275,000. These securities are convertible into up to 14% of PAFC's share capital. The sale of the land achieves full value for PAFC. In addition, however, the new landowners have agreed either to: a) build a new grandstand for PAFC without charge; or b) give PAFC 50% of the windfall profit that might arise were the Grandstand not built. James Brent said: "This transaction further strengthens the financial position of the club. In addition, it represents the next step in delivering to the football club a new grandstand of which the club, city and region can be proud." David Felwick, an Independent Director of Argyle, said: "The Independent Directors have reviewed these transactions in accordance with PAFC's corporate governance regime. The football club has not only received full value for the land today but has also secured the right to have a new grandstand built or, failing that, receive profits from any development. In this way, Plymouth Argyle will receive benefit from any development but will bear none of the costs or risks associated with it."
Carl Fletcher picked out Northampton top scorer Adebayo Akinfenwa as a 'pivotal' player in tomorrows game. He said: "In terms of getting goals, he's prolific. I think a lot of people look at him and see how big he is and kind of discard him. But you only have to look at his goal record and what he brings to their team to see what a pivotal player he is for them, and at most clubs he has been to. He's definitely one of the threats they have got at that football club." New manager Aidy Boothroyd has transformed Northampton's fortunes, and they are currently four points clear of the relegation zone. They have also played one match less than the teams in the bottom four positions. Fletcher said: "They have had some good results lately. From what we have seen, and the reports we have had, they are a good, strong side. It's going to be a tough game for us, but one we are all looking forward to. If you go on recent form, then you kind of think they are going to pull away from the bottom of the table. But we are not too worried about other teams. We are just trying to focus on us, and getting the results we need. If we do what we know we are capable of, then everything else will take care of itself." Paul Wotton and Nick Chadwick remain injury doubts for the game after missing the draw against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday.
Alex MacDonald is enjoying the challenge of Argyle's fight for survival and is confident they will stay up. He said: "It's a challenge for everyone in the changing room, including the older players like Darren Purse and Paul Wotton. Everyone is relishing it. There's not much more pressure than keeping a team in the Football League, but I'm really enjoying it. There are a good group of lads here and the manager has been great with me, as have the coaching staff. Everyone at the club, including the people who work in the offices, have been brilliant. We all want the one thing, to keep Argyle up." MacDonald's commitment, a quality not always evident in loan signings, has seen him become a popular player with the fans. He said: "It's just in my make up to try as hard as I can and give it everything every single game, and not leave anything on the pitch. That's something I was taught as a kid, coming through at Burnley. Every manager I have played for so far has always required every player to put absolutely everything they have got into their game. I think that's something that should be the least anyone can ask of you, to go out and give 100 per cent. I go into every game thinking I'm going to give it everything and not come off the pitch with any regrets." After picking up four points from back-to-back home games, Argyle travel to Northampton determined to maintain that momentum. MacDonald said: "The confidence in the camp is high. It has been ever since I have been here, even if we haven't won games. We have worked extremely hard. We have just been lacking that little bit of quality in the final third. We are creating chances. We just need to take a few more, myself included. We need to start taking chances to score goals to get us the points. It's unfortunate I have hit the post and the bar a few times, but if we weren't creating chances and getting into those positions then we would be thinking 'we are doing something wrong here'. But we are doing things right and, hopefully, come Saturday those chances will be in the back of the net rather than hitting the woodwork."
Argyle have signed Steve Fletcher on loan from Bournemouth until the end of the season. Fletcher was a team-mate of manager Carl Fletcher for seven seasons and the boss said: "I know Steve, I've played with him and I know what he can bring. He's been in this situation before with Bournemouth. I always remember speaking to Eddie Howe who always said that Steve was one of his best signings when he first took over at Dean Court. Big target men are hard to find in football, let alone in this division, and he's one of the best at it. I know he's Bournemouth through and through and that he'd love to be playing there week in, week out but the situation is that we're lucky enough to get him. It's something that we've been working on for a few weeks now so I'm delighted that I've managed to persuade him to come down and be involved and help us out. He's a real nice fella and he's got the experience and he knows what to do on the pitch."
Argyle could be owed a 'significant' sum of money by administrators the P&A Partnership, James Brent has said. The club are in dispute over a five-figure sum, as P&A have now formally ended their involvement with Argyle by filing a court notice to end the administration process. As part of those formalities, a final report to creditors has been compiled stating that the firm is 'pursuing a debt from the purchaser' to the tune of £18,449. Reports suggest that both sides have now engaged lawyers, and that the dispute potentially centres around a much higher sum. Brent said: "Based on our calculations the administrators owe the club a significant amount, and we are in discussions with them to better understand the net amount owed to us." But Brendan Guilfoyle said: "We believe Mr Brent's counter claims to be without merit." The report also reveals how P&A racked up costs of £883,635 during the process. However, the takeover deal has seen them paid just £238,010, with a further £100,000 due in October and a final £50,000 dependent on future player sales.
Carl Fletcher praised Argyle's patience in Tuesday's draw with Bristol Rovers. "You're never going to do everything right as a player for 90 minutes. No one in the world is," he said. "But you have your principles and we're just pleased we got that point in the end. It could be a big one come the end of the season. I think it was a fair result. In the first half we were disappointing, but in the second half I was pleased we stuck to what we were trying to do. We kept hold of the ball and obviously at 1-0 down you tend to punt it forward all the time. But I thought we did great. We kept it, tried to move it and we got the goal at the end. If we'd maybe got the goal earlier, we could've gone on and won it. Bristol Rovers have got some good players, so we knew it was going to be a tough game. But we did the right things in the second half and being a goal down, we had to ride our luck a couple of times. But I think we got the goal we deserved in the end. We had our chances in the first half and we had chances in the second half. You have to try to keep the belief during games, and I was pleased we were able to do that on Tuesday."
Maxime Blanchard scored a late equaliser to earn a vital point for Argyle against Bristol Rovers last night. "I think we deserved it," he said. "We worked really hard. There was no way we were losing that. We never think we are going to lose a game, even at 2-0 down. That's what so good in that dressing-room. Even when I scored, we were just thinking about scoring a second goal and getting three points. Keep positive, that's a point that we really deserved. We dug in to get that point, and it's a relief really, to get a point out of the game." Regarding his goal, Blanchard said: "I'd rather keep a clean sheet and win 1-0. If I score, that's good. I'm happy to score, you're always happy, especially at that end. The fans are straight behind that goal. It's a great feeling to score in that goal. That's way better than scoring in the other one." Blanchard believes that Argyle's fate is in their own hands, and does not want to consider the table until May. "I don't care really about other results," he said. "I just concentrate on our team. I don't want to look at the table, I don't want to hear about other teams. On the last game of the season, we will see. I think that, if we just take care of ourselves, we can beat anyone. But we can lose against anyone as well if we don't do the right things at the right time." Argyle's next fixture is at Northampton, who are only four points in front of the Pilgrims. "We're looking forward to it," said Blanchard. "Every game is huge, regardless of the team we play against. It's not because Northampton are in our zone as well, it's just that every single game is important. Eight games to go; that's a lot of points to go and get. Let's go for it, then!"
Argyle drew 1-1 with Bristol Rovers at Home Park, the goal scored by Maxime Blanchard after 84 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Williams, Lennox, Hourihane, Walton, Bhasera, MacDonald, Tsoumou. Subs Young, Hemmings (not used Larrieu, Bignot, Feeney). Attendance - 7,531.
Paul Wotton has warned of nervous times ahead for fans as Argyle try to retain their Football League status. He said: "It shouldn't have been as nervous at the end against Shrewsbury as it was, because of the chances we had. But it's going to be nervous times because of the situation we're in. There's been some twists and turns, but we're okay. The result was an important one and the truth was we were disappointed with the week before. We had to bounce back and we have done that. We are an honest bunch and we knew we weren't at the levels and the standards we had set ourselves." Wotton revealed that Carl Fletcher and his staff had blocked out any negativity as the players geared up for the Shrewsbury game. He said: "We had a fantastic week in training where the manager and staff shielded us from any negativity. We had a bit of banter and we didn't look at the league table or think about relegation. We were just focused on what we had to do. Football's so up and down. The changing room's buoyant at the moment, but last week, you could have heard a pin drop." Wotton injured his back in the first half of the game against Shrewsbury, and added: "I just twisted it funny in the first 10 minutes. I'll wait and see about tonight, but hopefully we can get a second win on the bounce."
Carl Fletcher has not ruled out any activity at Home Park before the Football League's deadline for loan signings on Thursday. When asked whether there could be any players arriving or leaving Home Park before then, he replied: "Maybe."
Joe Lennox is especially keen to play his part in a second successive victory for Argyle tonight and Carl Fletcher admitted he had been impressed with the performance of Lennox against Shrewsbury. He said: "We got him from Bristol City, he had been there a long time. All his family are from Bristol. If selected, I'm sure he will be pleased to play against Bristol Rovers. Joe is a good player. We know what he can do. We brought him here and there were a few things we had to work on with him, but he's a natural talent. He's quick and has got a good touch. He's one of those players that gets crowds on their feet because he can beat one or two players before you even know about it. It's great for him. He's only young and it's an opportunity for him to go out there and really show everyone what he can do."
One of the keys to Argyle's recent improved form has been the performances of Maxime Blanchard. Carl Fletcher said: "You have to drag him off the training pitch at times. He would be in every minute of every day if he could. He's one of those players that kind of goes unnoticed, and just does his job consistently week in week out. They are hard to come by. He wants to improve every day and he's a great person and character to have around the football club."
Carl Fletcher admitted there were some 'bumps and bruises' among his squad, but declared everyone was available for selection for the visit of Bristol Rovers. Paul Wotton was substituted in the second half against Shrewsbury because of a back injury, but Fletcher said: "He's not too bad. It's a quick turnaround, but you just look after them, patch them up and get them back out there." Alex MacDonald has now recovered from the illness which laid him low last week. Luke Young was not included in the Argyle squad at the weekend, but was not suffering from illness or injury. Fletcher explained: "Youngy has been fantastic for us this season. He's such a good player. He's a model pro, and technically he's good. He's still only 19 and has played a lot of games this season. We just decided to change the team a little bit."
Argyle will attempt to win back-to-back home games for the first time since April last year when they face Bristol Rovers tonight. "If you get a few wins in a row, it's going to make a big difference at this stage of the season," said Carl Fletcher. "It's something we're trying to do. Just like every game...we just try to go out and win every game. Sometimes it happens, sometimes is doesn't." Fletcher's interest in the table will not be fully focused until the final day of the season. He added: "The league table changes game after game, the main thing is where we are on May 5th. So we just get on with it. It will be a tough against Bristol Rovers, a local derby, and it will be a good game. Tuesday night games are always fairly good atmosphere and ones with away teams in the vicinity should bring a few fans down. It should be great, a good atmosphere. Hopefully, we can get good performance."
Carl Fletcher believes his team are trying to take the fear out of their football after they recorded a vital win over Shrewsbury Town on Saturday. Fletcher also added that he had spoken to the team about keeping possession, because they had not been doing it that well. He said: "The lads have taken it on board, it's trying to get away from nobody wants to make a mistake because it's going to cost you and try to relax a bit more and play football. You're not going to make every pass and not everything's going to come off for you, but it's trying to take away that fear of making a mistake. It's easier said than done, and it's hard in the situation we're in, but, as I said, the lads have taken it on board." Fletcher said Paul Wotton's free-kick was not intended and added: "There was a bit of luck we haven't had recently. Wotts has come back here and he wants to do so well, he wants to score three or four every game and clear five off the line. He wants to do everything." Wotton came off with a back injury late in the game and may be a doubt for tomorrow night's game with Bristol Rovers. Fletcher, however, said they would be taking stock of the injury today. He added: "I was delighted with the clean sheet against Shrewsbury and the three points. We could have got more goals and we could have been out of sight before the end. But we're getting those chances and on another day we could have had three or four. We got that bit of luck here and there, but you need that in these sort of matches." Fletcher handed a full league debut to Joe Lennox, who received the sponsors' man of the match award and said: "He's a good footballer."
Jake Cole was delighted with the win which lifted Argyle back out of the relegation zone, but stressed the importance of tomorrow night's game with Bristol Rovers at Home Park. He said: "It will be a hard game, Bristol are up there, but hopefully we will get our second win on the bounce. We were pleased with the win on Saturday, but we've got a tough week coming up. We've got the Tuesday game and the Saturday match at Northampton. They're all massively important and we have got to prepare right for them." Cole admitted he didn't quite know how he pulled off the two saves which kept Argyle in front in the last minutes of the match. The 'keeper stopped one shot from point blank range and pushed a superb long-range effort wide in the dying minutes. He said: "I don't know how I kept the ball out, one of them was just reflexes. The important thing is we kept a clean sheet, which really showed the character of the lads. We were all up for it against Shrewsbury. It was disappointing last week, especially to concede a penalty. I know it wasn't a great game, but we could have come away with a point. We worked our socks off, we had worked on a couple of things in training during the week and made a couple of changes and we attacked Shrewsbury and created a lot of chances."
Saturday was a day to remember for Joe Lennox. He made his first Football League start and his performance was recognised with the man-of-the-match award. "It was a good start for me," he said. "It was a big match to come in to, with how badly we needed the win, but all the players dug in and we got the result we wanted. It was a good result. Shrewsbury are third in the league, but we need the points as much as them. I think we fought more than them, and got the result." In the second half, Argyle were grateful to Jake Cole for two wonderful saves but also had chances to put the game beyond Shrewsbury, the best coming when Alex MacDonald sent a curling shot on to the post. "He was really unlucky," said Lennox, "but then they hit the bar in the last minute, so we had our bit of luck, too. The last ten minutes dragged. It seemed to take forever. We were just defending. But we stuck in there." Tomorrow night Bristol Rovers visit Home Park and former Bristol City player Lennox will be hoping for his second start, and another positive result. "I think we'll get another three points!" he added.
Paul Wotton marked his 450th appearance for Argyle yesterday with the goal that won three precious points. His 21st-minute strike was, he admitted, a fluke, a free-kick cross from the left which drifted into the far corner of the net. "The goal was fortunate," he said, "but who cares? It was just a ball into the box. I thought it was decent ball at first, but it got away a bit. Listen, a 35-yard screamer or that, the all count exactly the same, and it meant we won the game. Maybe we were due some luck. Things haven't gone our way in recent weeks. It's a bit of clichι, but we were as disappointed as anyone with Rotherham. We've had a great week in training, the manager and the coaches have been brilliant, and we were bang up for it. We didn't dwell on Rotherham. We were totally focused on this game and the game on Tuesday. Rotherham has been and gone and that's now two wins out of three for us now. I am just glad that I could chip in with a goal."
Argyle beat Shrewsbury Town 1-0 at Home Park, the goal scored by Paul Wotton after 21 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Williams, Lennox, Wotton, Walton, Bhasera, Feeney, Chadwick. Subs MacDonald, Tsoumou, Hourihane (not used Larrieu, Hemmings,). Attendance - 5,931.
Maxime Blanchard wants to put the record straight against Shrewsbury Town today, following the disappointing defeat at Rotherham United last weekend. He said: "All the players felt really horrible after the Rotherham game, for the fans, as well as ourselves. There's no difference whether you win or lose, you want to be better. Obviously, we want to set the record straight. After the game we felt horrible, but on Monday we got back to work. If you lose at Rotherham, you still have to move on. Personally, I just try to stay positive, because any negatives won't help the team." Blanchard insisted the capability of taking apart a side who were aiming for the play-offs was still there. He said: "Just because of one game, it doesn't put everything in jeopardy, although we can't afford to play like that again. It's still the same players, the same manager and the same staff as at Accrington. We have to put Rotherham behind us and, in terms of performance, the team which won at Accrington is still there."
Carl Fletcher believes the defeat at Rotherham last week was just a blip. He said: "Sometimes in games, it can be just one of those days where things don't gel. You even see it in the Premier League when Man United lost 6-1 at home to Man City, and Arsenal got stuffed there 8-2, so it's just little blips. We could have come away with a point and maybe even nicked it. It wasn't an ideal performance and we were disappointed, but you get these days in football and you get them over the season. So, you just learn from it and push it to one side so we can look forward to Saturday. Shrewsbury will be a tough test and we have got to be right on it. We've got to make sure we win our own individual battles. They're a good side; they've got good players and a tough front two."
Maxime Blanchard says Argyle face 10 'massive' games before the end of the season. They face third-placed Shrewsbury Town tomorrow, followed by a second home game on Tuesday night, against Bristol Rovers. Blanchard said: "Of course it matters a bit who you are playing, if it is a team around you in the league like Hereford or Macclesfield. But we have to try to play our game. Whether it is Shrewsbury or a team which is fighting relegation, we have to win anyway. We have to think positively and try to win matches." Blanchard has formed a partnership with Darren Purse which makes the Argyle defence difficult to break down and when asked how he felt his season has gone, Blanchard said: "It is, just for the moment, all right. I try to do my job well, and Darren and I are quite comfortable at the back. It's really easy to get on well with Darren. He's got the experience and he's a good player and he can help me to be a bit better."
Carl Fletcher has insisted he's feeling confident ahead of tomorrow's match with Shrewsbury Town. When asked if he felt Argyle were going to stay up, he said: "If I didn't, I would have gone on holiday, there wouldn't be any point in coming in. You've got to be confident and I am, I don't say it for the sake of it. I am confident with the players I've got in the changing room who want to do well. Everybody wants to do well and they're working in the right direction. It is a great challenge, when we come out of this on the other side, it's a fantastic bit of experience to have." Argyle have scored just 17 times at home in the league this season, the joint lowest total in the division, but Fletcher appeared unconcerned about the lack of goals. He said: "We are making the chances, in the last few games we've made the chances and they weren't going in for us. You keep making the chances and you will score." Argyle have doubts over the fitness of Nick Chadwick and Alex MacDonald. Fletcher said Chadwick had been 'struggling' during the week, while MacDonald had been ill.
Isaac Vassell has joined Truro City on work experience. He can be recalled from Treyew Road at any time.
Alex MacDonald has admitted that Argyle dropping back into the relegation zone was hard to take, and that Saturday's defeat against Rotherham United had hurt the players. He said: "The lads all felt the penalty was harsh, we didn't even think the referee was going to give it. There's no doubt about it, the boys are hurting massively. We had a great result last Tuesday and we had another chance to get a point which could have been a great help to us. Again, we put everything into the game, but we were lacking that final little bit of quality. It was a disappointment, but we've got to keep going."
Argyle supporter Sue Pollard has been named the npower Fan of the Year. She was handed the honour at the Football League Awards 2012 ceremony in London last night. Sue raised money, awareness and morale during the battle to survive whilst fighting off administration. She spearheaded volunteers who helped her with bucket collections, leafleting Plymouth city centre to advertise games, selling merchandise, packing shopping bags at a local supermarket, selling raffle tickets and attending fundraising meetings. After being nominated for the award, Sue said: "It's an unbelievable feeling to be recognised for my efforts in such a way. The survival of Plymouth Argyle was at the heart of everyone connected to our club and I'm just pleased I was able to make some sort of contribution towards aiding this along to a successful outcome. In my eyes, it's thanks to the efforts of everyone that I still have a club to go to, to be able to support my team. Plymouth without a football club was simply just not right. I will always hold dear to me what we, along with the massive sacrifices of our staff and players, achieved. We all had one thing in common...and we pulled it off!"
Carl Fletcher pulled no punches after the defeat at Rotherham United. "We didn't do well enough," he said. "We're disappointed, but we didn't deserve anything out of the game. We knew exactly what it was going to be like. We spoke about it all week. It was going be a battle, a fight. You had to win your second balls and do the dirty stuff. We didn't do it well enough. That's the disappointing thing from our point of view, we let ourselves down. We didn't do ourselves justice. You come away and try and play well in every game. We understand it's not going to happen in every game. If you give it your all and still get beat, that's fair enough, but today we didn't do that. You want all your players doing their jobs. We're not under any illusions that we're going to come out, make 50 passes, and score a goal. But everyone in the team knows their role and knows their jobs. All you can ask them to do is do those jobs. Today, they didn't do them. We've still got 30 points to play for, so we'll go again. You have these little setbacks but we'll dust ourselves down and, like I say, get ready to go again on Monday for a big game next week."
Argyle were denied a fourth successive away game without defeat when they went down 1-0 to Rotherham United due to a controversial penalty decision. Darren Purse was adjudged to have brought down Gareth Evans but Purse, along with many of his team-mates, was incensed by the decision. Carl Fletcher was rather non-committal, saying: "I'm not sure. I've not seen it. It didn't look like it." Purse, when asked his opinion, offered a little more. "I haven't gone to ground," he said. "I don't think it's a penalty. Sometimes you get the decisions, sometimes you don't. I know I've toed the ball away. I haven't made contact with him. There's a coming together, but when you're running as quick as that, there's going to be people falling over. I know I've toed it off for a corner. I didn't need to go to ground, I knew that. I stayed on my feet and toed the ball away." Results at other games meant Argyle slipped back into the bottom two, and Purse added: "It was probably one of the worst performances we've put in since I've been at the club. Mind you, you take the penalty out of the game and we could walk away with a draw. We've come on a lot, but it's getting tight at the bottom there and it's about who holds their nerve the most. We did alright on Tuesday night, but you can't rest on your laurels. We need to produce it in every single game we play in, and we didn't do that today. We've got two home games coming up now and they are big games for us. We need to roll our sleeves up and go again."
The Argyle youth team beat Swansea City 2-0 at Haye Road yesterday, the goals scored by Jamie Richards and Isaac Vassell. Argyle: Walton.C, Watson, Hart, Berry, Bradley, Richards, Harper-Penman, Copp, Harvey, Sakyi,Vassell. Subs Allen, Elcock, Hutchinson (not used Bentley).
Argyle lost 1-0 at Rotherham United. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Williams, Young, Wotton, Walton, Bhasera, MacDonald, Chadwick. Subs Feeney, Lennox, Hemmings (not used Larrieu, Hourihane). Attendance - 3,475.
Simon Walton says Argyle are trying to work hard on improving their home form after a series of disappointing draws and defeats at Home Park. He said: "It's something we've got to look at. It's a tough one, if you're not winning your home games, then you put pressure on yourself in away matches. If we had the answers, it would be easy to put right. We've perhaps not had that bit of luck at home that we've needed. In the game the other week we've hit the post a couple of times, but before that we've got two good points against good teams and we've beaten Northampton Town 4-1. But we're trying to put the home form right because we've got some important games coming up." Walton made it clear the players were aware the number of games left to ensure Argyle's survival were running out, but added: "If they stopped now, we'd be all right, so in a way I wish they did stop now. You get a little bit of nerves creeping in, but you can't let that affect you. We relish the challenge, nobody here has shirked the challenge and nobody will until we can finally sit down at the end of the season and say we're here next season." Carl Fletcher made it clear his decision to recall Walton for the Wimbledon win was no slight on any of his other players. He said: "Walts has been out for a little while and he came back against Gillingham when we were trying to get a goal and did well. I just felt we had played a lot of games recently and our job is to pick a team who we think can win a game, but that was nothing personal to any of the other players."
Carl Fletcher thinks that the game against Rotherham United will be a tough test for his side. "They've only lost one in their last five, so have got pretty good form," said Fletcher. "We know they're going to be a tough side; a good test for us. It's another long journey, but we are really looking forward to it. It's another challenge for us for us to go up there, put in a good performance and get a result." Fletcher reported a clean bill of health for the visit to the Don Valley Stadium. "We must be the only squad anywhere that has got everyone fit," he said. "It's a credit to us and the physios that look after the lads."
Carl Fletcher insists he has no regrets over taking charge of Argyle. He said: "It was never going to be plain sailing, but the most important thing is where we finish on May 5th. I've no regrets about taking on the job, definitely not. When things don't happen the way you want them to, then it's tough, it's really hard. Not just for me, but for everyone involved, because they work so hard and I'm pretty sure everyone's family bears the brunt of it. On the other hand, when things do go right, it's such a great buzz. It's difficult trying to find a level balance with the situation we're in. I think it would be a bit easier if we were kind of mid-table and looking forward, but that's the nature of the job, so you just get on with it and try to go the best you can." Fletcher said he and Romain Larrieu had grasped the opportunity to manage Argyle when it came along after the sacking of Peter Reid. He added: "If we were top of the table, we wouldn't be here, but it's an opportunity for us and it's an opportunity for everyone in the club to do well. When we stay up, it will be a fantastic achievement for everyone involved." Argyle's attempt to stay out of the bottom two continues at Rotherham tomorrow, and Fletcher admitted: "We know it's going to be a tough test for us, but we're looking forward to the challenge."
Simon Walton says he doesn't mind whether or not he adds to his goal tally, as long as Argyle stay in the League. He said: "I'd like to score more, but if I don't score another goal between now and the end of the season and we stay up, then I'll be more than happy." Walton said being in and out of the team was 'part and parcel of the game' but that he made sure he kept himself ready for when he was needed again. He added: "I think that the lads who have been in there have done really well. We are lucky to have a few options now, previously there have not been many options in any position. But we are quite lucky now that we've assembled a squad where we can afford to change things around. Winning games isn't down to just the 11 players on the pitch, it's down to the 20-odd we've got here. There are people who travel who don't even get on the bench, but they are as much a part of it as the people who play week in and week out. That's the good thing about the squad, there's a great spirit coming from everybody in that dressing room." Walton said the squad had been through a lot together and many had suffered the problems of Argyle going into administration. He said: "We're lucky to have a few characters to keep it going, and keep our feet on the floor when we need it, and pick us up when it's needed. We're all doing our bit to make sure we're keeping in the best shape possible come game day." Walton pointed out that Argyle were a different proposition from the team which lost 4-1 to Rotherham at Home Park earlier this season. He said: "I remember the game and I was running through the team who played in it and it's completely different now. We played well back then, but we couldn't defend. I thought Rotherham would be up there and they would kick on and get in the play-offs. Here we are, fighting for our lives, there's a lot more riding on it now and there's been a lot more challenges since that day. Everyone's fighting for something, one way or another, a lot of teams could go one way or the other."
Nick Chadwick is convinced Argyle have the best fans in League Two and believes they are going to help keep the club in the Football League. "Everywhere we go they are a credit to the club," he said. "When you consider what this club has been through, yet they turn out in their numbers week-in, week-out, home or away. We know we have probably got the best fans in the division and one of the best in the country with the amount of miles they have to travel. They completely filled that stand on Tuesday and it was fantastic to send them all away happy." Chadwick was thrilled with the win at Wimbledon and also with scoring the winner. "In the last few games our performances have been great, but I don't think we have had the points we've deserved," he said. "So to get an away win is fantastic. We know we need to win football matches. We know what we need to do, it is just a case of doing it. You can't deny we are playing really good football, especially away from home." Chadwick, though, insists the team do not feel under any more pressure at home. "I think we are playing well at home as well," he added. "We have either kept clean sheets and not scored, or scored and not kept clean sheets. It's just putting the two together. But home or away, the boys are comfortable with both. The fans have been great with us at home. We don't feel under any more pressure. We have got 12 games now and there is a lot to be decided. If we keep playing like we are I feel that will be more than good enough." Chadwick scored his fifth goal in 14 games since returning to Argyle and was delighted to be back on the score-sheet. "It was great. I loved it," he said. "I have missed a couple of chances of late, so I'm delighted I've scored, just delighted. People are always quick to remind you that you haven't scored and I don't know why. But I don't worry. If I stay fit, I score goals. I have not trained as much as I would have liked lately because of a hamstring injury and then a toe problem. I've had an injection in my toe the last four or five games. But when you are out there you are out to be shot at and judged. I just want to play as many football matches as I can and be on the end of as many chances as I can. I will miss some and score some. I don't know why people like to jump on the fact that you have missed a few. It doesn't really help, but I will always score them. If everyone sticks with me and the team, I'm sure we will be more than good enough. Hopefully, we can build on this and climb the table and the sooner we secure our place in this league the better."
Carl Fletcher was delighted his team got what he felt they deserved on Tuesday at Wimbledon. "I was really pleased for the lads," he said. "They worked their socks off and I was delighted we got the win. I have said it before, we have got a great team spirit in the changing rooms. It is one of the best changing rooms I have seen in my career and we want to keep that going. In games recently we have not got what we deserved. We could have had a lot more points. So it is just nice when you do get what you deserve from a game." Fletcher admitted it was not easy watching and waiting for the referee to blow his whistle on Tuesday. "It is tough," he said. "It is easier playing. Obviously after last Tuesday having been in lead only for them to score a late goal, it added to the nerves, but that's football. Everyone wants to win two or three nil and be comfortable going into the last 10 minutes. But where we are, and under the pressure we are under to get results, only being one goal up in the last few minutes, means there are massive nerves for everyone involved. But you could see how much it meant to the lads with the work-rate and desire to keep the three points and bring them back to Plymouth." Argyle scored after just 11 seconds at Wimbledon but Fletcher was not too happy with his side's first half display. "We were disappointed," he said. "Obviously we had a great start, but then we did not keep the ball well enough. We were under no illusions, we weren't playing well and it was a sloppy goal to give away. But we spoke about things at half-time and turned it around. We improved in the second half. It was just having that belief and confidence to maybe take that extra touch and trust your team-mates and we did that second half. The pleasing thing for us was that we controlled the tempo and the pace of the game second half. You can only do that if you keep possession of the football." Argyle went back in front with a goal from Nick Chadwick and Fletcher was delighted that he ended a run of five games without a goal. "I'm really pleased for him because he works his socks off," said Fletcher. "He gets banged about every game he plays. Recently it has not been going for him. He's been getting the chances, but it's not been going in the net, so I'm delighted that he got his goal. He hit it hard and low and it was great to see it hit the back of the net. He had one chance in the first half that he would say himself he probably should have scored, but I was just delighted he did eventually score because he works so hard and get battered about for the benefit of the team." Argyle moved back out of the relegation zone with Tuesday's win. "It's up and down like a yo-yo," said Fletcher. "Saturday we were all doom and gloom, kicking the dog and all that kind of thing, but suddenly things look a little bit brighter." Fletcher insists his team are desperate to keep the club in the League and reward the fans who travel to watch them. "The players and the fans know what it means to one another," he said. "You have got lads out there who are from Plymouth and you have lads that aren't from Plymouth, but there was a desire and hunger to do well for those fans who travel up to London on a freezing Tuesday night. And that is what we want to do every game. We should have given them three points last Tuesday, but it wasn't to be." Fletcher made three changes to his team on Tuesday with Durrell Berry, Onismor Bhasera and Simon Walton coming back into the team, and all three played a part in securing the win. Fletcher admitted team selection had been hard. He added: "I've got good players at this club and me, Nance and Ro had a stressful couple of days picking the team. I've got that many good players that I could put four or five different formations and personnel. As I've said many times before, it is a squad game and we will need everyone at different times."
Matt Lecointe made his England under-18's debut against Poland last night, and scored within two minutes of coming on as substitute as England won 3-0 at the Alexandra Stadium, Crewe.
Alex MacDonald has extended his Argyle loan stay until the end of the season.
Onismor Bhasera scored after just 11 seconds last night and Nick Chadwick got the winner after good work by Bhasera and Simon Walton. "The ball got played inside by Baz," said Chadwick. "My first thought was touch and hit, although I thought my touch was a tiny bit heavy. It worked out well, because it took it that little bit closer in towards the goal. It was one of those that as soon as I hit it, I thought it was a goal. It was a terrific feeling." After the early goal Argyle gradually got deeper and came under more pressure until they conceded just before half time. "We scored probably a bit too early," said Chadwick. "We went on the back foot, and were reminded at half-time that we were never going to be able to defend for 90 minutes, and we paid the price just on half-time. We came out and scored really early at the start of the second half. The way we started both halves, I think, is something to be applauded. They were always going to come at us strong; they are a good footballing side. I thought we troubled their goal just as much as they did ours. It's what we've deserved. Anybody who has seen the last four or five games knows we've played some fantastic stuff, we've just haven't had the points. Tonight we've got the points, and that's the most important thing. It's richly deserved; it's what our performances have deserved. We just need to continue doing what we're doing." Having not been rewarded for his efforts lately, Chadwick was delighted to get back on the scoresheet and silence his critics. He said: "It was nice to get a goal. People soon jump on that you haven't scored for however many games and they remind you of your missed chances. As a goalscorer, you are going to miss chances and you're going to score goals. It's about keeping on putting yourself there. There's no need for people to remind you haven't scored or you've missed a chance. I'm delighted to get a goal because it takes that pressure away. I can get a little run going now, hopefully, where I score in the next two or three games, and keep doing well for myself and for the team. That's what it's all about."
Onismor Bhasera made a big contribution to the 2-1 win at Wimbledon last night, but it was Nick Chadwick that Carl Fletcher felt deserved the most praise. Fletcher said: "I'm really pleased for Chaddy because he works his socks off and he gets battered around in every game he plays. Recently, it's not been going for him - he's been getting the chances but it's not been going in the net and I'm delighted he got his goal. Wimbledon have got a lovely pitch and he hit it hard and low and it was lovely to see it nestle in the back of the net. He had one in the first half where he probably should have scored but I'm just delighted that he scored."
Carl Fletcher paid tribute to the Green Army after the win over Wimbledon last night. "The players and the fans both know what it means to one another," he said. "You've got lads out there that are from Plymouth and even the lads out there who aren't have the desire and hunger to go out there and do well for the fans that have travelled here on a Tuesday night in the cold. We should have given them three points last Tuesday but it wasn't to be and we're delighted to do it tonight. It's going to make our journey and their journey easier on the way back."
The Argyle youth team won 1-0 against Bournemouth at Haye Road yesterday, the goal scored by Jared Sims. Argyle: Walton.C, Watson, Pearce, Berry, Bradley, Richards, Harper-Penman, Copp, Harvey, Sims, Vassell. Subs Hart, Hutchinson, Sakyi (not used - Elcock, Bentley).
Argyle won 2-1 at AFC Wimbledon, the goals scored by Onismor Bhasera after 1 minute and Nick Chadwick (49). Argyle: Cole, Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Williams, Young, Wotton, Walton, Bhasera, MacDonald, Chadwick. Subs Hourihane, Feeney (not used Larrieu, Lennox, Hemmings). Attendance - 4,578.
Carl Fletcher will be able to call on Warren Feeney and Onismor Bhasera at Wimbledon tonight, after a calf injury and African Nations Cup duty respectively. Alex MacDonald and Darren Purse will be monitored after overcoming minor knocks to play against Gillingham, but Ladjie Soukouna is a definite absentee. "Warren's come back from his injury," said Fletcher. "He's fully fit now. We had late fitness test with Macca and Pursey at the weekend, because they got knocks, so they are still a bit sore. Fingers crossed, they should be alright. Baz is back from Zimbabwe, but Ladjie's struggling a bit with his knee. Wimbledon try to get the ball down and pass it around, and have got some good players, so we have got to make sure we are right and have prepared properly. Like I have said before, we concentrate on ourselves. It is a big game for us and a chance to get three points. That's what we'll be looking at." Fletcher is not considering a playing comeback any time soon. "I'm too old for that," he added, before conceding: "Like I said before, if I felt it was needed, I would."
Carl Fletcher says he's trying not to get too despondent about his team's position in the league table. He said: "Obviously, it's disappointing when you're losing, everyone here wants to win games. But sometimes we have to look past the results and look at the performance and how we have been playing recently and try not to get too down about it. We are performing well enough to win games, but it's just not going for us. Sometimes it's luck. You can play every game and create 50 chances, then the other team will go down the field and create one chance and score from it. I'm not worried, but I would be worried if we weren't creating chances, but we're getting good chances. You get that sometimes in football, sometimes you are doing all the right things, but it's just not going right for you." Fletcher, when asked if he was feeling the pressure, added: "I don't think there's a manager in the country who isn't under pressure. We're down there in a dogfight and we're fighting for our lives. But there's pressure in all walks of life. I'd rather have this pressure of doing something we love and enjoying the challenge than the type of sad stuff you have out there in the world today."
Warren Feeney has put himself in the frame for tonight's game at Wimbledon after being out of action for three weeks because of a calf injury. He said: "I'm fit now, I've only trained for a week, but I'm feeling good. I'm one of those people who wants to get back into it as soon as possible. But I'm biding my time for the manager and the team and I'll be ready to be involved if called upon. I've played a few games this season. I like to keep myself naturally fit and I eat right anyway. You need your match fitness, but at the end of the day there's only 12 games left, so if called upon, I'll be ready." Feeney admitted it has been disappointing for him to be injured at such a critical time for the club. He said: "We are going into the final hurdle of the season and obviously it's disappointing, from my point of view, because I've been injured and I want to get out there and get playing. There's still plenty of football to be played. Saturday was disappointing, but I think that was only the fourth game we've lost since November. That says it all. I know people will be saying that we've slipped back in, but we're so, so close to doing something here. Everyone's got to believe. There are going to be loads of ups and downs. We have got to just worry about ourselves because there are going to be plenty of slip-ups from other teams. Looking at it, there's probably a little bit of belief lacking, although I'm sure that will come quite soon." Feeney said he thought anxiety was creeping in a little among the players, although he was certain the club would get out of their perilous position. He said: "I think we're probably a little bit better playing away from home, some of the players sometimes get anxious. We have just got to keep plugging away. I have no problems whatsoever that we will do it. It does get a little bit nervy, but I am a big believer that it's the best job in the world. You could be sitting in an office, you could be with the soldiers in Afghanistan, but playing football is what you want to do and I think the field is the best place to clear the mind and go out and express yourself." Playing or not, Feeney always has plenty to contribute to the cause. "One thing about me is I'll always try to get the boys going," he added. "You have got to be positive. No-one wants to see glum faces around the changing-room. Everyone wants to smile. That's the way it's got to be. I am sure we'll do it and stay up."
Paul Wotton has been nominated for the League Two player of the month award for February.
Carl Fletcher was frustrated at the defeat to Gillingham, which put Argyle back into the relegation zone, but tried to remain upbeat after the match. He joked: "I'll go home and shout at the missus and kick the dog and try to beat the kids at something. We all want to do well, there's a lot of honest players in our dressing room. We'll work hard and we'll be all right. We just couldn't get the breakthrough, it was just one of those things. The boys kept plugging away and trying to do the right things and on another day, it would have been different. If Gillingham are down to 10 men, they are going to slow the game down. We had enough possession and a shot off the bar, but it wasn't to be. It's disappointing, but now we've got another tough game coming up at Wimbledon." Fletcher, referring to a Nick Chadwick shot which the Gillingham keeper somehow clawed out, said: "We all thought it was in. We said at half-time it was sometimes hard to play against 10 men we had a few half chances in front of goal, but it's just not falling for us. The lads worked their socks off and I'd be more troubled if we weren't making chances."
The Argyle youth team beat Swindon Town 2-1 yesterday, the goals scored by Matt Lecointe and Jared Sims. Argyle: Walton.C, Watson, Pearce, Berry, Bradley, Richards, Harper-Penman, Copp, Lecointe, Sims, Vassell. Subs Hart, Harvey (not used - Elcock, Bentley, Allen).
Argyle lost 1-0 to Gillingham at Home Park. Argyle: Cole, Bignot, Purse, Blanchard, Williams, Young, Wotton, Hourihane, Hemmings, MacDonald, Chadwick. Subs Berry, Tsoumou, Walton (not used Larrieu, Daley). Attendance - 6,382.
Paul Wotton believes returning to Home Park has given him a new lease of life. He said: "I'm loving it, I feel like I've been given a new lease of life to be honest. Everyone knows what I feel about this club. I stood on the terraces with all the other fans and I am one of the fortunate ones who's got the chance of doing something about it on the pitch, so I am absolutely thrilled. It's a club I love, the family support them and the wife's family support them. You can imagine if you play for the team you support as a kid what I am feeling. I'm 34 now, I feel great and I'm loving every minute of it." Wotton made it clear he felt his playing career can continue for some time with Argyle. He said: "I've always been a naturally fit boy anyway. Listen, I ain't quick and I never have been, but I can plod with anyone. I feel good and I am really enjoying it." Wotton, along with Darren Purse and Nick Chadwick, arrived midway through the season and their impact was immediate, with Argyle going through February unbeaten. Wotton said: "There are a lot of league games and a lot of experience there and it would be wrong for us not to try and help people through it. It's a difficult enough experience for those of us who have played the games, let alone those players who haven't played many games and are young lads. I know I benefited greatly when I was a youngster through people like Micky Heathcote speaking to me. You just try and pass on a few little tips and I have to say that the younger players have been brilliant. I don't actually know how many tips they need, because they're doing great. It's just part of my game and it always has been." Wotton is looking forward to today's match with Gillingham and added he did not feel the city and club had an air of relegation hanging around it. He said: "The changing rooms are great, the staff are great and the buzz around the lads is great. I see no negativity about the place. I don't see in training a team in a relegation battle. I have been at a club before, when I was relegated with Southampton out of the Championship and you could smell it. It was everywhere and it was inevitable we were going to do down. I don't see it here and I don't feel it, so I have got everything to be positive about and so should everyone involved at Plymouth Argyle football club. I feel good times are just around the corner." Wotton stressed the team's first priority was to stay in the Football League this season. He added: "To sum it up in capital letters with an exclamation mark, let's get this season out of the way first. But I think next year, when it's all over, could be an exciting one."
Carl Fletcher knows Andy Hessenthaler will prepare a tough Gillingham team to visit Home Park tomorrow. He said: "They have picked up their results and they are going to be a tough side. I played Andy a few times, and he always was a tough opponent to play against, so his team will be a measure of that." Simon King, who was at Argyle on loan earlier in the season, may not be part of the team as he is recovering from injury. Fletcher did not think King would be able to pass on a lot of information which would be useful to Hessenthaler. He said: "I'm not worried about it, he's an old player, but players have friends all over the place. There's always connections, everybody knows everybody in football, so it doesn't matter." Fletcher said he would be trying to second-guess his opponent, but only to an extent, and added: "You can only go out and try to perform to the best of you ability, prepare and try to give the lads the best opportunity to get a result. You do a bit of trying to figure out what the opposition manager will be doing, but if you think too much about that, you lose your focus on your own team. I think it's finding the right balance and making sure you're well prepared in terms of what you do. I know if we put in 100 per cent and play to the best of our ability, we stand a good chance of getting a result." Fletcher said he did not know whether Gillingham would play a more open game, rather than the tight contests Argyle had experienced against fellow relegation strugglers Macclesfield and Dagenham & Redbridge. He said: "You're not going to get two teams who are exactly the same, so you're going to have to approach every game differently. You can never predict what's going to happen, some games you think are going to be scraps end up with the ball seeming to be on the floor a little bit more. Things do change during the game and you can never call what it's going to be and all you can do is prepare for any game the best you can."
Carl Fletcher is again calling for fans to turn out in numbers for the game with Gillingham tomorrow. He believes their support could be the difference between winning or losing the game. Fletcher said: "It's so easy for fans to get frustrated and start booing, it happens in grounds around the country week after week and it's disappointing, but the fans down here are great. Even when things aren't going right and we're under a bit of pressure, they still stick behind the players. The support the players get from them can be the difference and it's great for us to have such loyal fans, the ones who go away to Macclesfield on a Tuesday night. It's a unique situation and it's one we can be proud of. They were just fantastic last week and if we can get anything like that again this week, then that would be great. There is a bond between the players and the fans at the minute and we want to keep that going. We want to give the fans so much back, the lads are working 100 per cent each and every day to try to do that. Obviously, you're going to get good days, but the only way to get through this is by everyone being together and that includes the fans, they're a massive part of this club."
The Charity Commission has released a damning report criticising all trustees of the Plymouth Argyle Supporters Training and Development Trust, which loaned nearly all of its money to Argyle when the club was on the brink of bankruptcy, based on misleading information provided by former chairman Paul Stapleton, according to the Government report. This follows a year-long probe into why the charity lent the club £330,000, secured against Home Park. Stapleton, then the club's deputy chairman and one of its largest shareholders, was also a PAST&DT trustee until resigning in January this year. According to the Charity Commission's Regulatory Case Report into the deal, he was approached by an unnamed Argyle official over the possibility of loaning the club some of the charity's reserves, cash from the sale of its former apprentices' hostel and donated by fans and supporters' groups. Stapleton then proposed the deal but did not vote on it. However, he addressed trustees beforehand, telling them the stadium was valued at £7million and an offer had recently been made to buy it for £6million. The trustees, who had previously been 'hesitant', voted unanimously in favour of the loan 'on the basis of that information', the report states. However, the valuation had been carried out nearly a year earlier and was based on factors including Argyle's league standing and England's bid to host World Cup football, which had since been rejected. And the £6million offer was based merely on a 'two sentence email' from 'an unknown third party' to Stapleton, it continued. The report says that Argyle's administrators later carried out a fresh valuation of Home Park which confirmed the ground was worth just over £2million. The report also criticises the other nine trustees, five of whom were shareholders in the club, saying they 'did not appear to have managed the conflict of interest' of using the charity's cash to protect Argyle's finances. "The trustees placed the interests of the charity secondary to those of the football club," the report concludes. "They had not met their legal duties and responsibilities as trustees. The Commission is critical of the trustees for allowing this situation to develop in the first place but found that the trustees did everything that could be reasonably expected of them to rectify the situation." PAST&DT chairman Jeff Ellis said trustees would be meeting on Saturday to discuss the report in further detail, and would comment in full afterwards. But he added that they had 'cooperated fully' throughout the investigation and had 'adopted new rules and processes'. The loan itself will be repaid by Argyle over a five-year period, with interest, as part of a deal struck by new owner James Brent.
Argyle will bid to end a run of four drawn home games against Gillingham at Home Park tomorrow. Carl Fletcher insisted his team try to win every game they play, and said: "We try and go out and win every game, that's how we approach every game, I think. "There's obviously different ways of doing that and the more clean sheets you get, the more chances you get to win a game." Fletcher said there had been lots of positives from the season during his time as manager. He said: "Someone told me it was the first time we have been unbeaten in a month in about five years. We've had three consecutive clean sheets, and it should have probably been four, and if we had got four, it would have been seven years since that had been achieved. So, we're going in the right direction. Things could always be better, like anything in life, but we don't rest on our oars and we always want to improve. We are finding a bit of consistency, which is good, and we'll keep plugging away to keep doing what needs to be done to get the results." It is not clear which team Fletcher would be putting out against Gillingham tomorrow. Warren Feeney may be in contention for at least a squad place after his return to training, he may not be match-fit enough to make the bench. Luke Daley was given a start at Macclesfield Town on Tuesday night in place of Ashley Hemmings, but Hemmings may be in line for a return after the rest. Fletcher said: "From Ash's point of view, it's probably the most games he's played competitively in his career and you've got to remember he's a young lad and it's hard, with football week after week and day after day. You need to pull him back a bit, because of the pressure, both physical and mental." Onismor Bhasera is expected to be back in contention after being on international duty with Zimbabwe. However, Robbie Williams has played well in the matches against Dagenham & Redbridge and Macclesfield Town so Fletcher may decide to keep him in the starting line-up. He said: "That's football, one minute you aren't into the team and the next minute you are. "If players come in and do well, then they stay in the team."
Darren Purse says Argyle must learn from the harsh lesson at Macclesfield Town on Tuesday night. "It felt like a defeat," he said. "We've done it the other way, scoring in the last minute to equalise and that feels like a win. We are gutted. We fully expected to go there and win the game. I think the performance we put in deserved that. For them to score with the last kick of the game is a kick in the teeth, but it is how we react from that. We have got Gillingham at home at the weekend and we need to win that game. There is a lot of lessons to be learned. And we definitely need to learn from it. We need to kill games off. Winning 1-0 away from home is been unbeaten for a month and have only conceded one goal in five matches, but Purse insisted they cannot just look at the positives. "You have to look at the negative side as well because we need to be doing things better," he said. "Like I said, we have to learn to kill games off when there is only a couple of minutes left. We have to make the right decisions, like when to put it into the corner and when to support people. There are a lot of lessons to be learned. But hopefully, we will learn them between now and the end of the season." George Donnelly's goal for Macclesfield was the first Argyle had conceded in 416 minutes and Purse hopes they can go on another impressive defensive run. "We have to try to go on another one now," he added. "We can't rest on our laurels saying we have done all right so far. We need to go on another run and also take our chances at the other end. That is the big thing for us, seeing games out by taking our chances. If we had done that we would have walked away with three points. We are very disappointed, but we are still unbeaten in our last five."
Conor Hourihane's goal at Macclesfield was only his second since his arrival at Home Park in the summer, and capped an impressive display. "Conor works hard each and every day," Carl Fletcher said. "He wants to improve all aspects of his game and I'm sure goalscoring is one of them. I'm pleased for him because he deserved his goal. I'm just disappointed we did not get the three points, which I felt we deserved." Fletcher revealed he had left Ashley Hemmings out of the team to give him a rest. He said: "Ash is still only a young lad and this is the first season he has played this many games. Sometimes it is mentally and physically a bit tough. It was just about giving Ash a little breather, so we left him out to begin with. Luke Daley has been doing well in training and so deserved his start. But I was pleased with both of them."
Carl Fletcher believes the spirit within the Home Park dressing room will help the team get over Tuesday's frustrating draw at Macclesfield Town. George Donnelly's equaliser came five minutes into injury-time when the officials had signalled there would only be four minutes added. "I think if there was a cat about I would have kicked it," said Fletcher. "We took the kick-off to restart and the referee blew up. How can he differentiate between that amount of time? He put four minutes up but played five. On another night, the referee would have blown on time. Macclesfield wouldn't have even got into our half had he blown when he probably should have done, but that's the way it goes. It's football. We got punished for not taking our chances, but the overall performance was pleasing. We are disappointed as we felt we should have won the game. We'll look back at it and when we've cleared our heads we will be proud of the performance. At the end of the day, if you put the performances in, you will get results. It's just disappointing how it turned out when it looked like we were going to comfortably see the game out. But games come thick and fast. There's always another one around the corner."
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