A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Ryan Lowe expressed his happiness at Argyle's resilience to score late on at Blackpool but admitted that it was tinged with regret, that Argyle's first half lead could have been greater early on. Lowe said: "I thought the first half performance was very good. We had plenty of efforts, plenty of shots, plenty of chances. It's having that little killer instinct to put that extra one in - if you score that extra one and you go in at 2-0, it's a bit different. It's pleasing that the lads kept going to the end, doing the right things, keep playing the right way and finding a way, and we found a point today. We knew Blackpool were going to come out, get on the front foot and get at us because they're a good team and they're in good form, but the lads showed real guts and determination. We're now two unbeaten, we got a win at home and a point away from home, that's four points, which is fantastic."
"When you've got your goal-scoring Jephcott who's got 18 goals and Niall Ennis performing the way he's been performing, Ryan Hardie has had to wait for his chance. I said to him today: 'it's an opportunity for you, go and take it' and he certainly did that, he's scored a fantastic goal. Joe Edwards has been fantastic. He's led the group since Gary Sawyer has been injured, he's been a pleasure to work with. He's professional, he does everything right and I think that's eight goals now. We've got great lads, terrific players; top professionals who do the things we ask them to do."
"The players get a bit of rest and recovery, but then we are back to work. We've got freshness coming back - Lewis Macleod was on the bench today and Jephcott's come back from internationals, Sawyer travelled with us today, which is nice, Kelland Watts will be back next week and Jerome Opoku will be back so we're getting fresh bodies back. We will make sure they're rest and recovered and then back to the training ground to do what we need to do. Four points out of the last two games, just keep moving on and keep building and keep collecting the points and see where it takes us."
Ryan Hardie said of his opening goal against his former side: "The way the game went, I think to get a goal in the last minute always gives you a bit of excitement when you get back into the game. But, coming in at half-time, we're feeling like if we do the same thing second half, we win the game – so in that sense we're disappointed. If we keep a clean sheet we win, but the circumstances of the game, from 2-1 down to get the draw was a bit more pleasing than getting beat. We go confident into every game. We knew what Blackpool are capable of, they're in a good position in the league, they're on a good run of form, but we knew if we come and play our stuff, we'll get chances. I think, in the first half, we had 11 shots. Obviously, we've got to do a bit better with the chances that we get, but to come and get that at a place like this is obviously pleasing for us."
"It's obviously a big game to come into, former club, it gives you an extra bit of oomph to go and get the goal. Every player wants to play, it's frustrating when you're on the side-lines, but we've got a good relationship, the three strikers, me 'Jeps' and Niall, we're always keeping each other going, and if the chance comes, we know each other will take it."
Argyle have, once again, ended a trip to Blackpool with a dramatic 2-2 draw, an equaliser coming in the last minute of the game. Unlike the last two visits however, the goal was in Argyle's favour. The greens had thrown away a 2-1 lead which had been earned by Ryan Hardie scoring against his former club early on. Despite going behind though, Argyle did not give up and a last minute strike by Joe Edwards shared the spoils. Argyle: M Cooper, Edwards, Woods, Aimson, Lewis(Jephcott), Fornah, Grant, Camara(Moore), Mayor, Hardie(Lolos), Ennis. Subs: McCormick, Tomlinson, Reeves, McLeod.
Mike Cooper made his 50th appearance for Argyle against Bristol Rovers and the goalkeeper spoke about his growth from a boy to a man since his debut at Blackburn in 2017. The keeper said: "I've started off as a boy and I've started to progress into a man a lot more - but I've still got a long way to go. If I think back to that night in Blackburn, I do feel like I've come a long way. I've got a lot of love for the club. I've been here since I was nine. I've got strong ties with Argyle and it's been my home since a young age, and I'm really grateful to be given the opportunities to keep playing and keep representing the team. I've learnt so much since the first game of the league through to the current day - it's crazy. With the amount of changes made to my game and improvements I've made, I want to carry what I've learnt throughout the rest of the season. To make 50 matches as early as I have done is a real positive for me. I hope that as the years go by, I keep racking up the games as get as much experience as I can by the time I'm 24/25. It would have been amazing to share my 50th appearance with the supporters, filling up the stands and rooting us on. On a Bristol Rovers home game, the fan support would have been great."
Ryan Lowe commended his players for a positive rebound following the good win and performance against Bristol Rovers. He said the effort levels had never wavered: "I thought the lads were fantastic, they've covered some distance over the last few weeks, but the attitude of the players hasn't changed, they haven't given in at any point. I think, especially in the last couple of games, we've been in the games, and they've played some good stuff and we've been unfortunate, especially in the Ipswich game and the MK Dons game - so we knew we had faith in them. We knew Bristol Rovers were going to be fighting for their lives a little bit and we knew what to expect, but every single one of the players' attitudes have been spot on. They had to work hard, and I thought they were excellent. When they start like that, they're a good team. We've always been in the games, we're putting game plans together as the manager and the coaching staff to make sure that the lads take it fruition and that's certainly what they've done. The two goals we scored were fantastic and the solid display from the defenders right the way to midfielders and the strikers working from the front, was very good."
"We've got to look after these lads, they're still youngsters, we've got to watch how many training sessions they do, then the minutes they're playing and the coverage they're doing. We will make sure we look after them as much as we possibly can. They'll be in first thing in the morning on Sunday and then they'll have a couple of days recovery and then we will have a build-up of three days for Blackpool. It's important that we've got a week where the lads can get their head down, they can recover a little bit, which is important. They'll get set a few little programmes for Tuesday while they're off, they can do it at their own leisure, but it's just important that we can get them fresh for the weekend."
Argyle's poor run has ended with a decisive win against Westcountry rivals Bristol Rovers. Niall Ennis scored both goals in the first half, with Adam Lewis providing both assists. Argyle's switch to a back four formation paid dividends with a victory that never really looked in doubt. Argyle: M Cooper, Edwards, Aimson, Opoku, Lewis, Fornah, Grant, Camara, Mayor, Ennis (Hardie), Jephcott(Moore). Subs: McCormick, Woods, Tomlinson, Reeves, Lolos.
Jerome Opoku's improvement at Argyle has not gone unnoticed by his national side, Ghana. The side made contact with Opoku about joining their first team squad for their upcoming African Cup of Nations qualifiers against South Africa and Sao Tomé and Príncipe next week. However, due to Covid-19 quarantine rules, Opoku will be staying at home with Argyle. The young defender said: : "I am very proud. For me and my family it was a big thing, to be recognised by my country. It's a difficult thing, not being able to go, but I think it is for the best. I have spoken to a lot of people, family, and friends in football, and the whole COVID situation is challenging – for everyone's safety it's the right option not to travel at this time. I think the call-up reflects my performances, and the progress I've made at Argyle. I am grateful to the club, the manager, and everyone around the team for helping me improve my game and gain national recognition. I would like to thank Ghana for presenting me with the opportunity, and hopefully there will be more to come."
Despite Argyle's fifth consecutive loss, Ryan Lowe declared himself pleased with the performance and energy levels in Argyle's 2-1 loss to Milton Keynes. Lowe said: "Everyone says: you score the first goal you go on and win, and nine times out of 10 that happens. That wasn't to be, but we kept going, kept fighting for each other, kept working our patterns when we had the ball. We didn't have much possession, but we still had good chances. We had 10 shots, five on target, so that's pleasing. In terms of the overall commitment, the boys were excellent, and we've been done by a decision that only the referee can answer. We were very good in possession and out of possession. If they continue to play like that, we will be fine. The players have showed me what it means to them. They're working hard in training; we're trying to rest and recover them quite a bit but they're taking on everything we've asked them to do. The energy levels were very good considering the lads blew up towards the end, but I couldn't have asked for more. We freshened up, Tyrese came off with cramp and Niall had ran his socks off; he was excellent. Once they were out on their feet, we've got to get them off the pitch. If we didn't take them off at that time, we could have potentially lost them for a long time. We will have to have a look at them, see how they are and how they recover."
"It is tough at the moment; the lads are down, but that's my job to pick them up. Our aim is to try and finish as high as we can and collect as many points as we possibly can. We've got ten games to go now, 30 points to play for. We've just got to keep working hard, whether that's on the training pitch or in the classroom. We've got to get a little run together and start picking up some points."
Argyle's difficult run of form has continued with a 2-1 loss at Milton Keynes. Argyle went behind about halfway through the first half with a defensive mix-up allowing veteran Cameron Jerome to head home. Argyle did equalise via a fantastic goal from Conor Grant but it was not enough, as Joe Edwards was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area on the verge of stoppage time. MK converted and Argyle were hit with their fifth loss on the bounce. Argyle: Cooper, Aimson, Opoku, Watts(Woods), Fornah(Lewis), Edwards, Camara, Mayor, Grant, Ennis(Moore), Jephcott(Hardie). Subs: McCormick, Reeves, Lolos.
In brighter news, Brandon Pursall has signed a professional contract for the greens on his 17th birthday, the earliest date that he is able to do so. Ryan Lowe sung the praises of the highly rated youngster: "I'm pleased for him and his family, he's deserved this contract. Ultimately, though, he's earned this contract as he's a fantastic talent - to have already made his debut at 16 speaks volumes. He regularly trains with the first team and holds his own. He's another excellent addition, and another Academy product who will go on and represent Argyle."
Luke Jephcott has been called up to the Wales under-21 squad for their upcoming international friendly against Republic of Ireland in Wrexham. The academy graduate will join up with his Welsh teammates next week ahead of the clash on Friday 26th March. Jephcott will miss Argyle's game at Blackpool the next day.
Wing-back Ryan Law has joined National League promotion hopefuls Torquay United on a one-month loan deal. The 21-year-old links up with fellow Argyle prospect Adam Randell on the English Riviera.
Ryan Lowe was once again left frustrated with Argyle's display in their loss at Ipswich, bemoaning individual errors after a poor pass back to the goalkeeper by Adam Lewis let Ipswich in for their opening goal. Lowe said: "We've gifted them a goal. That can't happen at any level, let alone in League One against a tough opposition in Ipswich. I thought after [the goal] we were a little bit sloppy in possession, we couldn't keep the ball, passes were going astray, but once we grew into the game, I felt that we were worthy of getting a point. I thought when we got in the final third, we produced some moments of crosses and getting the ball in some good areas, which we wanted to do, but we probably didn't do it enough early doors. We had some good chances, but the start of the game is important. It was only one little tweak, we just felt that we wanted to get Niall down the middle and Danny and Panutche running the other way, as two number tens - so where they normally play in eight positions, they were just a little bit higher. Out of possession it made us a little bit more solid and resolute, but unfortunately, we gifted them a goal and that's what cost us. It wasn't for the lack of trying, just the decision making all over the park today wasn't good enough. They've got to pick themselves up. I've told them they need to go home tonight and analyse the game and look at it. The games are coming thick and fast, so we've got to make sure that we put the game plan together for MK Dons on Tuesday. We will train on Monday and whatever team I pick, it's over to them then. We can only give them so much. I give them responsibilities on the pitch about simplicity and work ethic is a given.
"They did work hard on Saturday but they can work harder. We will give them the game plan to go out and try to execute against MK Dons because we need to collect a few points quickly. We don't want to get ourselves in a fight down the bottom, we want to still keep looking up at teams above us and see if we can get up there. We've got to turn it around quickly."
A goal inside the first four minutes proved enough for Ipswich to condemn Argyle to their fourth successive defeat at Portman Road. An uneventful game kept Argyle's poor run going. Argyle: M Cooper, Aimson, Opoku, Watts, MacLeod, Edwards, MacLeod(Reeves), Grant(Moore), Mayor, Camara, Lewis(Hardie), Ennis(Jephcott). Subs: McCormick, Tomlinson, Fornah.
Ryan Lowe bemoaned Argyle's lack of intensity without the ball in their disappointing 2-0 loss to Wigan Athletic. Lowe explained how Argyle's players should have done more to regain possession: "I think out of possession we were nowhere near good enough. There is a ball that has come in the box, twice, and we haven't dealt with it. In possession, we're a fantastic outfit going forward, creating chances and we should be scoring more goals. We've just addressed it with them, we've showed them the goals and we've talked it through. They are a young group, and we can't batter them, but we have to speak openly and honestly - constructive criticism has to be there. I'm disappointed, the two goals we conceded have allowed Wigan to come here and take three points off us. That's no disrespect to Wigan, they're fighting for their lives on and off the pitch, but for us, we're fighting as well."
"We have to pick the good bits out, and certainly pick the bad bits out, so they know, and go again. The good thing is we've got twelve games to play for, which is 36 points, that's a bit of a saving grace. We need to make sure we pick points up quickly because you don't want to keep going on these runs - not scoring and conceding plenty of goals - but we can do it because we've done it before. We just have to keep going, we've been in this type of run before and we feel we know what it takes to get out of it. What we've got to do now is look to the next one, it's the only way forward, we can't dwell on it."
"The lads will take acceptance of it and say they should've done better, but actions speak louder than words now. I always say to the lads I'll accept lack of quality at times, but I won't accept lack of effort. We've got another tough game to go to Ipswich but what a place to go and perform, fantastic traditional football club, we've got to pick them up. We will be in on Thursday and we'll do a double session. It'll be putting them into the mindsets of what they need to go to Ipswich Town and get a positive result."
Argyle have dipped to their third defeat in a row, going down 2-0 at home to relegation battling Wigan Athletic. As with the last game against Doncaster, Argyle battled well and created a lot of chances but simply were not wearing their finishing boots. Both goals coming before half-time, Argyle were left fighting a losing battle in the second half. Argyle: Cooper, Aimson(Moore), Opoku, Watts, MacLeod(Reeves), Edwards, Camara, Mayor, Grant(Lewis), Jephcott(Hardie), Ennis. Subs: McCormick, Fornah, Lolos.
Ryan Lowe was once again rueing missed opportunities as Argyle did not make their chances to score goals count in the loss at Doncaster. He said that the greens needed to be more clinical going forward: "I think the statistics say we probably should've won the game, but I want to actually win the game, I don't just want stats and everything else that goes with it. We created plenty of chances - that's what we wanted as we haven't created as many of late - today we did, but it just didn't go in. Consistency is one of our biggest hinderances at the moment. What we've got to do is start keeping the back door shut, because going forward we look okay. We'll address it, we'll sit down as a group and we will move forward with it because that's where we've got to be. They're a good group and they listen and learn; they listen to the feedback we're giving them. They're disappointed in there now. I've told them we will get back to work tomorrow and Monday, and now we've got to put a game plan together for Wigan on Tuesday night. We've got to make sure they listen, take on instructions and we have to make sure we put it right now that we've lost two on the bounce, we don't want to make it three."
Argyle have gone down to a 2-1 defeat at play-off challenging Doncaster Rovers in a thrilling end to end game that could have seen either side win the match. Doncaster went one up early in the match and got their second shortly after half-time. Niall Ennis pulled a goal back shortly after that and Argyle knocked on the door for much of the second half yet Argyle could not quite find a way to get the equalising goal. Argyle: Cooper, Aimson, Opoku, Watts, Fornah(Camara), Edwards(Moore), Reeves(MacLeod), Mayor, Grant (Lewis), Ennis, Jephcott(Hardie). Subs: McCormick, Lolos.
Ryan Lowe expressed disappointment at the lack of consistency that saw Argyle slump to defeat at Northampton Town after a big win against Lincoln at the weekend. Lowe said: : "I'm disappointed, obviously. We can't go from beating probably the best team in the league, to not beating a team that are at the bottom, with all due respect to Northampton. Credit where credit's due to them, they put everyone behind the ball, and we gifted them two sloppy goals. The levels were nowhere near, and I don't expect my team to perform like that. I just want my team to perform week in week out, the way we should. The decision-making today was poor, the passing from back to front was poor, we didn't pass the ball quick enough forward. I'm not happy, it's three points dropped."
"I've got to pick the players up for Saturday, we've got another tough travel away to Doncaster, they're flying high. I know they've just lost their manager, but they won on Tuesday night. We will set the game plan up on Thursday or Friday, and it's over to the boys then to go and execute it."
Argyle suffered a miserable night away to Northampton Town, going down 2-0 to the bottom placed side after beating the league leaders the game before. The game was topped off by a late red card for Sam Woods on his first start, for serious foul play. A pair of goals from Ryan Watson secured a vital win for the hosts. Argyle: M Cooper, Aimson, Woods, Watts, Fornah (Lolos), Edwards)(Moore), Camara(Reeves), Mayor, Lewis(Grant), Hardie(Ennis), Jephcott. Subs: McCormick, MacLeod.
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