A Round-up of Argyle News
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Ross Jenkins could not play against Southend United yesterday due to injury, and after the game Carl Fletcher said: "He's got a little niggle on his groin. He picked it up in the last minute of training on Thursday." Fletcher is hopeful that Jenkins might be available for selection on Tuesday, when Argyle visit Wycombe Wanderers. "He's got a chance," he said. "He was like Baz last week. Do we throw him in and risk him, and he could be out a long time, or let him miss one and get him back for Tuesday? From what he tells me, Watford's training isn't as long and as intense as ours. It was his first game for a little while last week. We'll see how he goes." Jenkins was replaced by Luke Young, and Fletcher declared himself pleased with Young's performance alongside Conor Hourihane. "Youngy's got loads of quality," he said. "It was lucky for us that we could let him have a little breather last week and throw him back in today. I thought both him and Conor showed great energy and worked hard and really dug in for the team when they needed to."
Carl Fletcher had mixed emotions after the draw with Southend. He said: "For us, the feeling is that we are disappointed we didn't get three points. We played well in the first half and little bits of the second half. I felt it was a little bit of an opportunity missed. We played some good stuff. We played the ball around well, we were getting second balls, we were on top. So we're disappointed, but not too disappointed because the performance was good. All week we've been working on getting wide men in pockets. I thought Baz did it really well, and the first time Macca did in the first half, we had a good passing move and Madjo had a chance to score. We've been working on the movement of our strikers down the channels, and we worked that well. Feeno and Madj both worked tirelessly to do that. We scored soon after half time which was pleasing. We dropped off a little bit after we scored, which was disappointing, and we couldn't kick on from there. We'll learn from that. Southend will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. They've won four of the last five games. We knew it was going to be a real tough test, but I thought we played well." Regardless of results in recent weeks, it has been noticeable that the Argyle players are adopting the manager's philosophy of combining hard graft with attractive, positive football. "I'm not sure these days people like to say they work hard," said Fletcher. "For us, we'd be proud to say we work hard, be proud to say you might be the hardest working team in the league. That's first and foremost, and if you've got a bit of quality to go with it, which we have, then we won't be far wrong. Football's a game of decision-making, really, whether making the right ones or the wrong ones. We're getting there in terms making the right ones, than wrong ones. That should bode well for the future. I've got a lot of good players here in my squad. I'll defend them to anyone until I'm blue in the face."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Southend United at Home Park, the goal scored by Alex MacDonald after 50 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Bhasera, MacDonald, Feeney, Madjo. Subs – Cowan-Hall, Griffiths, Chadwick (not used – Chenoweth, Lecointe, Gurrieri, Nelson). Attendance – 6,269.
Argyle have received 12 yellow cards in the last 10 matches, but Carl Fletcher will not be losing any sleep over it and will not be dictating to his players about how they their make tackles. "So long as they're not getting booked for dissent, it is what it is," he said. "You can't say to your players 'you can't go in for a tackle' because they make the decisions out on the pitch whether to make a challenge or not. In one game, they might get it, save us a goal, get us a goal, or put us on a counter-attack; another week he might just miss it and it'll be a booking. I had the same problem when I played. Some players play better when they know that they can't make that rash challenge or they've already had a booking earlier in the game. It seems to maybe put a bit more focus into them. But suspensions are part of the game these days."
Argyle take on Paul Sturrock's Southend United at Home Park today and hope to build on their win at Morecambe last Saturday. Argyle have had only two clean sheets in eight league games this season, and have conceded 12 goals. Carl Fletcher believes his side's more attacking style of play is the reason for that. He said: "We've had a few individual mistakes throughout the season, a few errors here and there, but it's just one of the things you get when defensively you've not too bad, the mistakes cost you. Last year, we never had the ball. When you have more possession of the ball and then lose it, you might be a little bit more out of position. Last season, we never made more than two of three passes in sequence so that probably made it easier to defend because we were stuck in a hole, so to speak. If you're going to have possession, you want to have people in the right positions to receive the ball so that everyone has options. You can't just stay rigid and where you need to be defensively, so it's a case of trying to find that balance so that, when you've got the ball, you've got all your options to be able to keep it with relative ease and, when you lose it, you can get back in to where you need to be defensively."
Carl Fletcher has praised on-loan striker Guy Madjo for the way he has fitted in at Argyle. He said: "He had not played a lot before he came here so it was good to get a few training sessions in him. He comes in, he works hard and he's experienced. He has played in this division before so he has fitted right in. The lads have taken to him and he has integrated really well."
Paul Sturrock signed Carl Fletcher for Argyle, but knowing the intricate details of a Sturrock team-talk will not benefit the Argyle boss this weekend. Fletcher said: "We're really looking forward to the game and there are a lot of connections with Paul and Graham Coughlan. Things change, team-talks change pretty much every week, as do styles of play. It's been a little while since Paul was the manager down here so I don't think it gives us any real advantage. In any game you play, if a team are going to do well against you, you want them to earn that, rather than making it easier for them. If they're that good, if they work hard, do the right things and are better than you, then you have to hold your hands up, but you don't want to give them any encouragement."
Darren Purse is convinced Argyle can mount a challenge at the top of League Two this season. He said: "The only game we have lost in the last five is Port Vale, and for the first 65-70 minutes of that one we played really well. If you are an Argyle fan and you are watching us play at the minute you must be really happy because we are passing the ball about. We probably haven't got the results we have deserved from the way we have played, and that's mainly down to individual errors and not being as solid as we have been. But, when you are playing as good a football as we are, you have got to believe if we can carry on doing that we will go close this season. It's going to be a tough game tomorrow, the same as last Saturday at Morecambe. We have got to stand up to the battle and win it and then, hopefully, we can continue playing the way we have been when we have got the ball." Argyle have won only one of their four home league games this season and there was impatience from some fans in the early stages of the draw against Bristol Rovers. Purse called on supporters to get behind the team from the kick-off tomorrow, and said: "There are only two groups of people we need to keep happy. That's the management and ourselves. We can't affect what a fan says or what he wants to do. If he wants to boo because we are keeping the ball then we have to deal with that. If you are going to make a career out of playing football, you need to rise above whatever the fans are saying. They pay their money and they have got the right to vent their opinions, but when we have got the ball we have been playing some great stuff. It's probably the best football the fans have seen over the last few years. It's about keeping patient and keeping believing, the same as the lads are doing, and pulling together in the right direction. If we do that, I still believe we will be up there or thereabouts at the end of the season. I don't think there will be a side that we have played so far this season who have had more possession than us. It's new to a lot of the lads here and I think that's what we have come against us. When we are passing the ball we have left ourselves a little bit open. I think we are slowly getting around to rectifying that and the more we keep possession the more chances we will create. Hopefully, we have got people back fit this week as well, so there is going to be great competition for places."
Ross Jenkins is determined his debut goal for Argyle will not be the last of his loan spell. He believes that his partnership with Conor Hourihane could see him get more chances to add to his goal tally, and said: "I have played more of a defensive midfield role for most of my career. But against Morecambe I had Conor who doesn't mind holding, so it allowed me to get forward more and have a strike at goal. We are both young and have the same understanding of how we want to play, which is to pass the ball and to move and get it again. We don't really like to smash it long. Obviously, we will do the hard side to the game, but we do like to get the ball down and try to get things moving. We had a good understanding on the day and, hopefully, we can carry that on until the end of my loan." Jenkins will make his first Home Park appearance for Argyle against Southend United tomorrow, but has played there twice before for Watford. He said: "I have played here a couple of times and it was a good atmosphere when we came down, very intimidating. It seemed like Argyle had great support, and I saw that against Morecambe as well. It was a long distance to travel, but they made the trip and you could really hear the fans." Lining up opposite Jenkins for Argyle was Carl Fletcher. "From what I have seen, he seems very keen and wants to do things right," said Jenkins. "He wants the boys to play good football and enjoy it." Jenkins was born in Watford but now lives in High Wycombe, so is set to have the support of family and friends when Argyle take on Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park next Tuesday. He added: "It's just around the corner from my house so, hopefully, I will see my family then and a few local faces."
Carl Fletcher has admitted there is now 'a lot of competition' for places after the return from injury of four Argyle players. Nick Chadwick, Rhys Griffiths, Rene Gilmartin and Onismor Bhasera have all resumed training this week and are available for selection tomorrow. Only Jamie Lowry and Paul Wotton remain on the injury list. Fletcher said: "Chads and Griff have trained all week, as have Rene and Baz, so that's good. It's a lot of competition all over the pitch really and that's pleasing from our point of view. I have got some decisions to make. Fingers crossed, we are over the worst of it. All the ones who got injured were my older, more experienced players. We have looked into it, and I think the fact we have been away from playing on the pitch might have helped. We are trying to get that a little bit softer if we can but the drainage is so good on it, it's kind of hard. When you get players coming back into training it gives all the others a lift as well." The reduction in the injury list takes the pressure off Fletcher to strengthen his squad by way of loan signings, but he has not ruled out further additions at a later stage, though. He said: "We will wait and see. With all the injuries coming back, in terms of numbers we are not too bad. We have got some good options, but you only need a couple of injuries and then you are down to bare bones again. We have got three loans at the minute, and you can only have five in your matchday squad. I think we have to do things wisely and not rush into anything just for the sake of it, in case suddenly something happens and we have to get a loan for a specific area of the pitch." Fletcher admitted there was the possibility of players leaving Home Park on loan. He said: "With the injuries we have had at the start of the season, we have had to have everyone here. But if there are players who are not going to be involved on a regular basis then we will try to get them out on loan. It's great experience for the young ones and if they are older ones then they are not going to want to hang about." Ross Jenkins is set to make his home debut against Southend, and Fletcher added: "When you get a new player in and put them straight in the team it's nice that he slots in, and Ross did that. All the lads have taken to him and made him feel welcome. We will try to make his stay as easy and hassle-free as possible so he can concentrate on playing football."
Carl Fletcher is determined that his side will persevere with their passing style of play and believes they will get their rewards from doing so. He said: "If you are going to have more possession of the ball the other team are generally going to be more tired. You might break them down in the 10th minute, the 40th minute or the 80th minute, but you have got to keep believing in it and trying to do the right things. We are trying to get in good areas, and once we get in those good areas we have got to make sure our end product is up to scratch. If you have got people in the box you have got to give them something to go on, and maybe we didn't do that well enough against Bristol Rovers. We are always trying to improve and I was really proud of the way the lads came back on Saturday. Hopefully, we can build on that win." Argyle are 16th in League Two, with nine points from eight games, after beating Morecambe. Fletcher said: "I don't think our performances this season have always got the reward they warranted, but it is what it is. It's a long season and we will keep plugging away. We will have good games and bad games, and wins and defeats. If we keep believing in each other and what we are doing, and we stay together as a group like we did on Saturday, then we will have no problems." Another aspect which pleased Fletcher from the victory over Morecambe were the energy levels of the players in the closing stages of the game. He said: "It took us nearly eight-and-a-half hours to get up there on the coach on Friday and that's long by anyone's standards. You can moan and get the hump about it, but they get on with it and do what they need to do. You could see the energy levels on Saturday were exceptional and they were bright even though he had such a long journey up there."
Ross Jenkins believes his move to Argyle is a win-win situation for both parties. He said: "I want to play as many games as possible, score as many goals as possible, and get the team as high up the table as possible. I will try to play well and do all the right things. I have only known the lads for a couple of days but they are a good bunch and there is a fair bit of banter. I had been looking to go out on loan for a while. There are a lot of players now at Watford and it's going to be hard to get a game there. I found out Plymouth were interested and did a bit of research. I had a word with my agent and I spoke to Kevin Nancekivell, who seemed a nice guy and was very keen to get me to come here. Within a day, I got my bags packed and I was on the train, so it was a quick turnaround really. I know Rene Gilmartin and I spoke to him quite a bit. He told me it was a good set-up, and that they were very professional in how they trained and what it was like on matchdays." Jenkins has been with Watford since he was nine-years-old so training and playing for another club is a completely new experience for him, but one he is relishing. "It is different, but sometimes you need to challenge yourself," he said. "You can't just sit there all your life, unless you are playing. If you are playing you could stay there for your whole career. Hopefully, I will come here and play well and get a shout when I go back." Jenkins arrived in Plymouth last Thursday night and trained with his new team-mates the following morning before they set off to Morecambe. He said: "Apparently, it was one of the worst trips the lads have had. At least, we have got it out of the way. It wasn't too bad but no-one wants to sit on a coach for eight hours." Argyle were losing 2-0 when Jenkins hit a 20-yard shot high into the net, the third goal of his senior career. He said: "Going 2-0 down wasn't the best of starts. We had chances and we thought it was going to be one of those days where you don't get that lucky break, but the ball fell to me and I put it in the goal. We pushed as a team all game and deserved to win it. We had more shots and more possession than them. Everyone was buzzing afterwards. It's a great feeling to come back from 2-0 down away from home."
Conor Hourihane has admitted he has struck up an immediate rapport with loan signing Ross Jenkins. Hourihane thought the pair 'just clicked' when they played in the centre of midfield in the win at Morecambe on Saturday, during which Jenkins scored the first Argyle goal. Hourihane said: "We battered them in the second half and I knew as soon as we got the first goal we would win it. It was just getting that first goal, and then it was away from there. It was a great finish by Jenks. I enjoyed playing with him in the middle of the park. We both like getting on the ball so it suited me. He trained with us when we did shape on Friday and he looked well. Me and him were passing it around so I was fairly confident going into the game. We just clicked really. We kept passing to each other and it worked well. I'm looking forward to next Saturday now. When I saw he had made 80 appearances in the Championship for Watford I thought he must have a bit about him, and he showed he's a good player." Either side of Hourihane and Jenkins in midfield against Morecambe were Andres Gurrieri and Alex MacDonald, and Hourihane said: "I like Andres. He gets in pockets of space and he's good for a midfielder to find him. Macca is always a threat because he gets in good positions, and Paris came on and I thought he did very well. All round, it was a good performance." Hourihane is convinced that after a shaky start to the season Argyle can keep pushing up the table. He said: "Whether we are winning or losing, we always believe in ourselves. I know a lot of people probably don't believe in us, but we don't care. We know what we are trying to do and the gaffer knows what we are trying to do. We will just keep going with it and it will work for us."
Warren Feeney dedicated his winning goals at Morecambe on Saturday to the Green Army. He said: "That was for the fans. They are phenomenal. They travel such long distances and, hopefully, games like this make it worthwhile. Even at 2-0 down they were still singing. I see Morecambe had a banner about the 12th man, but I think our supporters are the 12th, 13th and 14th men. That was for them today. It was a good performance from the boys and we can all go home happy." Feeney's second spot kick came after Paris Cowan-Hall had been tripped by defender Andy Parrish. "It was a blatant penalty," said Feeney. "That's what Paris is all about. If you feed him the ball he will cause problems in the box because he's that quick." Feeney revealed the Morecambe goalie had tried playing mind games before his second spot kick. He said: "Their 'keeper, big Rochey, was saying to me, 'Have you got the bottle to do it again?' but I don't buy into that. I just worry about myself. You get some players who will mouth back, or some will go up after scoring. But, at the end of the day, I did my talking by putting the ball in the net. After scoring the first one, it was all about composure. I took my time and it was nice to see it go in." Argyle dominated possession for long periods but found themselves two goals down. However, they stuck to their passing approach and it paid off in the end. Feeney said: "We could have scored a couple of times at the start of the second half before they went 2-0 up. They caught us with a sucker punch and got a penalty, but I still thought we were in the game and we got our just rewards. If we had come away with a point even we would have been disappointed, because I think we dominated from start to finish. At the end of the day, we got the three points and that's the most important thing. I think it shows you the character and the desire we have in the squad. Hopefully, this will give us a wee bit of confidence and we can carry it on for the rest of the season now." Ross Jenkins made his debut as the central midfielder partner for Conor Hourihane, and Feeney said: "Jenks only had his first day of training with us on Friday but I thought he played very well. He's only 21 but has played 80 games in the Championship, so that says a lot about the boy. I thought he and Conor were very composed. They wanted to get on the ball and do the right things and it was a great finish from him for his goal."
Ross Jenkins had a debut to remember for Argyle in the win at Morecambe on Saturday. Carl Fletcher was thrilled, but not surprised, with the goal-scoring contribution of Jenkins. Fletcher said: "Ross has played 80 games for Watford in the Championship and you don't do that if you are no good. You could see he likes to tackle and likes to get on the ball. He's a proper midfielder. He has got a bit of everything and we are very lucky to have him." Jenkins celebrated his debut with a goal after the ball was touched back to him by Paris Cowan-Hall following a cross from Warren Feeney. Fletcher said: "We were in the ascendancy and just couldn't get that little break. We had a couple of people over in the box and, thankfully for us, Ross stuck it in the top corner." Jenkins and Conor Hourihane formed an immediate understanding in the centre of midfield. Fletcher said: "Youngy has been playing recently and he's still only 19 so we were fortunate to be able to take him out and give him a little breather. It was great for Ross and Conor to play well, but there were a lot of good performances." Fletcher also picked out Andres Gurrieri for praise, after he was recalled to the starting line-up because of an injury to Onismor Bhasera. Fletcher said: "Andres found some great pockets of space to get the ball. He always gives you an option, and that's vital when maybe things aren't going well. If you play in straight lines, sticking to your positions as you look at it on a piece of paper, then you are going to get marked easily. So it's important not to play in a straight line and you find little pockets of space. I thought our widemen did that well." Cowan-Hall not only set up Jenkins' goal, but was fouled for the second penalty. Fletcher said: "Paris always creates something. He works hard for the team and has got blistering pace. You could see when he got one-on-one with the defender he knew what he needed to do. We want him to try to take people on. It was great he was positive with his play and, thankfully for us, we got the penalty." When asked whether he see's Cowan-Hall as a striker or a winger, Fletcher said: "I think he can play either. Before we got the first goal, we were looking maybe at pushing him more into a central role, but when we scored we settled with where we were. You know what you are going to get from Paris. He's going to work his socks off. He's going to try to head everything, he's going to try to tackle everything and he's going to try to do his best for the team. That's what we want." Fletcher blamed 'individual mistakes' for Argyle finding themselves 2-0 down, and added: "We felt we dominated the game in the first half. In terms of general play, we were fully in control. We had a bit of a dodgy spell after they got their second goal, but the lads stuck to their beliefs and stuck to their guns and we got the win."
Argyle have confirmed that Johnny Gorman has returned to Wolves after his youth loan to Argyle was cut short. Carl Fletcher said: "He wasn't getting enough football with us. He will maybe get the chance to go somewhere else where he might start. We thank him for his efforts and wish him well for the future."
Carl Fletcher was impressed with the composure of Warren Feeney when taking two penalties on Saturday. He said: "It's not easy when you get two in quick succession. He was very calm. I'm delighted for Feeno. He's great around the club and great around the changing room. He deserved those two goals for all his hard work throughout the season." Robbie Williams had scored from the penalty spot when Argyle drew at Burnley in the League Cup last month, but Feeney was determined to take the responsibility against Morecambe. Fletcher said: "Willo has taken one before, but Feeno wanted it. Straight away, as soon as we got the first penalty, he went up and got the ball. It was the same with the second one as well. It's great for a striker to score goals." Onismor Bhasera missed the match due to injury and Fletcher said: "Baz picked up a little niggle in training on Thursday. He travelled up to see how he was, but it was no good. We maybe could have played him, but it could have got worse and then it would have been two or three weeks rather than a few more days."
Warren Feeney had no doubts what was behind Argyle's comeback win at Morecambe, nor about what it could mean. "That was all about desire, all about hunger," he said. "This is a big win for us, on the road. Hopefully now the boys can realise how good they can be. We believe we're doing the right things. We want to do things the right way. Last year, there was a different kind of pressure. It was all about staying up, and maybe the football wasn't the best. Who wants to do that? We want to play football, and I think we showed how good we can." Feeney scored twice from the penalty spot against Morecambe, despite Robbie Williams looking like he fancied taking the first spot-kick. Feeney said: "I'm a striker. I'll fight anyone who wants to take that ball off me. I was glad to see the first one go in."
Argyle came from two goals down to win at Morecambe yesterday, and when asked if the victory could be a season-changer, Carl Fletcher said: "I don't see why not. We spoke about the results this season maybe not reflecting the performances this season, but it is what it is. It's a long season and we will keep plugging away. We'll have good games and bad games, and wins, defeats and draws, but if we keep believing in each other and stay together as a group as we did today, we'll have no problems. The players believe in what they are doing. You could see that by the way they kept the ball. I don't know what the possession stats were but they must have been fairly high, and we were playing penetrating football. We came in at half-time and said we felt we dominated the game. Individual mistakes meant we went 2-0 down but, in general performance and overall play, I thought we were in control. Maybe we had a bit of a dodgy spell after we went 2-0 down, but the lads stuck to their beliefs and we got the win." Argyle conceded a fourth-minute goal following some indecisive defending, and were in further trouble early in the second half when they gave away a penalty. "Both goals were mistakes," said Fletcher. "Goals usually come from three or four mistakes but today it was a couple of individual mistakes. Yes, we have got to eradicate individual errors, but everyone makes mistakes, so you just get on with it. No-one wants to make a mistake, but sometimes it happens. It made the win a lot harder work than maybe it should have been from our performance."
No-one was more delighted for Warren Feeney, Argyle's match-winner at Morecambe, than Carl Fletcher. Feeney scored penalties in the 80th and 87th minutes at the Globe Arena to give Argyle a 3-2 win, and Fletcher said: "I'm delighted for Feeno to get his two goals. He's worked his socks off since he came back from pre-season, for a few games he's been up front on his own and done well. They were well-taken goals, especially the second one. You know what it's like when you get two in quick succession. But he very calmly slotted them in. He's worked hard, he's great round the club; he's great round the changing-room. I'm really pleased, because he's deserved that for all his hard work throughout the season."
Carl Fletcher had no second thoughts about throwing Ross Jenkins straight into the Argyle side, and was rewarded with a goal and a game-changing performance. "He only trained yesterday but it was a no-brainer, he's a good player," Fletcher said. "I thought the energy in midfield today, with Conor and Ross, Macca and Andres, and Paris when he came on, was really good. We found little pockets and were penetrating in certain areas that we were working on." Paris Cowan-Hall set up the new signing for a perfect introduction to the club. "We were in the ascendancy and just couldn't get that little break," said Fletcher. "Thankfully for us, Ross stuck it in the top corner, which was nice. He played 80 games in the Championship. You don't do that if you're no good. You could see, today, he likes to tackle; he likes to get on the ball, he's a proper midfielder; he's got a bit of everything. We are very lucky to have him. Obviously, Youngy has been playing recently. He's only 19 and we are fortunate we can take him out and give him a little breather."
Argyle won 3-2 at Morecambe, the goals scored by Ross Jenkins after 72 minutes and Warren Feeney (80 and 87). Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Gurrieri, Jenkins, MacDonald, Feeney, Madjo. Subs – Cowan-Hall (not used – Chenoweth, Lennox, Young, Lecointe, Richards, Nelson). Attendance – 1,865.
Argyle signed Ross Jenkins on a one-month loan from Watford yesterday. Carl Fletcher said: "I'm delighted to have him in. He's only 21 but he has got 80 Championship games under his belt. With Wotts and Jamie Lowry out, it's good for us to bolster the midfield area of the squad. We have earmarked him through our scouting network, and we have spoken to people we know. I know someone who used to work at Watford with him and Nance knew someone different who worked there, as well. And obviously we spoke to Rene Gilmartin, who was there with him last year. They were all glowing references. A lot of changes have gone on at Watford and the chances might be a bit limited for Ross so he just wants to come and play, and that's ideal for us. He's still only young but has got a lot of games under his belt. You don't play 80 times in the Championship without being half decent."
With his recent first team opportunities limited with Argyle, Johnny Gorman has returned to Wolves with a view to picking up match experience with Wanderers development squad. Under the terms of a youth loan, the parent club can have the player back to train and play in any matches below first team level.
Carl Fletcher believes Argyle's performances this season have been better than their position in the table would indicate. He said: "Even at the start of the season, we pretty much controlled the game against Aldershot and lost 2-0. We have been disappointed with the last couple of games, where we have been leading at half-time and haven't seen them through. But, overall, I think the performances probably haven't been reflected in where we are in terms of wins." Argyle are away to 17th-placed Morecambe tomorrow, who are still waiting for their first home win. Fletcher said: "They are probably the only team in the league who play three at the back, but they can change. They are very adaptable in their formation. They have got some good solid pros so it will be a tough game for us." The trip to Morecambe is Argyle's second longest, behind only York City, and will involve several hours spent on the team coach today. Fletcher said: "We get on and everyone does their own little bits and bobs for a couple of hours or so. Some people have a sleep, others play cards and some watch films. We have a stop after two or three hours, which we have to do because of the driver, so we get some food and stretch our legs. Then we set off again and have a quiz. The staff have a team, as do the older lads and the younger ones. Everyone joins in, which is good. That whittles away a couple of hours and hopefully, fingers crossed, we are usually there by then. When we break it up into smaller bits like that it seems to go quicker." Fletcher has been used to long trips to games from the start of his career, so it does not bother him too much. He added: "I was brought up on it being from Bournemouth. We had many a time going around the M25 and through the Dartford Tunnel. To be honest, I think it's a good grounding for the young lads. You can't expect to be flown everywhere. I was speaking to someone the other day and I think Walsall only have two overnight trips a season, which puts into comparison where we are."
Watford midfielder Ross Jenkins is reportedly a loan target for Argyle.
Luke Young has promised Argyle will 'start afresh' when they take on Morecambe tomorrow. Argyle have led 1-0 at half-time in two home games but failed to win either of them, and Young, who scored Argyle's first goal in their draw with Morecambe in April, said: "Getting a goal is always nice, and I think we put in a good steady performance that day. Tomorrow we want to build on the positives from Tuesday and try to draw a line under the negatives, and start afresh again. Hopefully, we can go out there and put in a good performance and get the three points." Young is enjoying being encouraged to pass the ball as much as possible by Carl Fletcher. He said: "The gaffer wants us to pass it and keep it on the floor as much as we can. We are doing the right things on the ball, it's just off the ball we have got to do a little bit better, me included. It's just trying to get that consistency between doing the right things on and off the ball and, hopefully, the goals will come from there. I think it's the way the lads want to play. When it comes off, it's good to watch." Young was Argyle's young player-of-the-year last season and has gone on to play in every first team match this season, making seven starts and two substitute appearances. He said: "At my age, it's nice to try to play first team football. You are learning new things every day. To play games at a big club like this, and in my hometown as well, makes it even more special for me."
Argyle go into tomorrows game with Morecambe on the back of a 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers. After that game, Carl Fletcher was critical of the performance and insists that his team must match up to the standards he expects. He said: "I think the draw with Rovers shows where we've come that we're disappointed. Last year, we were delighted with a draw with Bristol Rovers. But now we're looking at the performance which wasn't where we want it to be but it's a work in progress and we'll keep going. Some games this season we've not played great in the first half and then been better in the second so I think that's just the way football goes. I think we always want better. Every game, better and better. I'm a bit hard to please and I think that this season, we set ourselves standards and when we don't meet them, we get disappointed. It's good that we're setting our stands so high because that's what we want."
Carl Fletcher has wide options but insists that it will be horses for course as far as playing them is concerned. Andres Gurrieri, Johnny Gorman, Joe Lennox and Paris Cowan-Hall can play out wide but Fletcher insists that he will only play a system that incorporates them when the time is right. He said: "We just try and pick the team that's going to give us the best chance to win the game. Sometimes we look at who they'll come up against; or the style of play that we want play; or a certain job that that wide man will have to do. So there's lot of different reasons why we pick players." In the last few matches, Onismor Bhasera has been selected on the left side of midfield and, as Fletcher explained, has certainly impressed: "I don't think even Baz knows what he's going to bring you. But you know with him that he's quick, he's strong, he's powerful and at times, a little bit off-the-cuff but that's something we can use to our advantage."
Carl Fletcher has appealed for encouragement from fans as the Argyle team try to get on the winning track. His comments came following the draw with Bristol Rovers on Tuesday and after he heard criticism from some sections of the stadium, but Fletcher insisted a 'large majority' had stuck by Argyle. He said: "We have got a lot of young players in the team and encouragement is the way forward. People getting on their backs isn't going to make them play any better. It's going to have a detrimental effect. We have got young players who are trying to do things the right way. Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn't. Some patience is needed. I thought the fans in the Devonport End on Tuesday were great." Fletcher thought that the defeat by Port Vale had been on the minds of the players as they struggled to perform in the second half against Rovers. He said: "We couldn't get that spark, and that bit of control, that we wanted in the second half. It just wasn't there for us, apart from little glimpses now and again. In terms of performance, it wasn't what we wanted." Guy Madjo made his first start for Argyle against Rovers and almost opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a shot which hit the top of the crossbar. Fletcher said: "He's always going to put defenders under pressure. With his size and his physicality he's always going to cause problems. I was pleased for him to get a run-out. He has been itching to get on and get involved." Fletcher admitted Argyle had not kept possession well enough in the second half to take some of the sting out of Rovers. He said: "When they were in the ascendancy, we were disappointed we didn't do the right things in terms of passing the ball. We got a little bit panicky, and things got fragmented. That's something we can look to improve on, but the lads put in a real hard shift. We were disappointed we didn't get three points, but we will take what we got."
Argyle were ahead at half-time against Bristol Rovers last night, thanks to a stunning Conor Hourihane goal, but failed to convert the lead into three points. "If you go a goal up and don't win, you're disappointed," said Carl Fletcher. "It's disappointing, to do so well Saturday and take a lead at half-time, same again tonight, obviously looking to push from there, but we haven't. You learn from it and move on. Our general performance just didn't have that spark tonight. We were trying to get it, working hard to try and get that something to get us going, but it wasn't there. The lads worked their socks off to try and get it. It just wasn't there; little glimpses, but, as a performance, it wasn't what we wanted. When they were in the ascendancy in the second half, I was disappointed that we didn't do the right things in terms of passing the ball. We got a little bit panicky and things got a big fragmented. It's something we will look to improve on. The lads put in a real hard shift tonight. We're disappointed not to get there, but we'll take what we got." An injury to Paul Wotton caused him to miss the game, while Warren Feeney was rested. Matt Lecointe and Guy Madjo came into the side, the latter making his first start for Argyle. They played together up front and Madjo had an eye-catching game. "He worked hard," said Fletcher, "He's always going to get defenders under pressure with his size and physicality. He's always going to cause problems. I was pleased for him to get a run out and he's been itching to get on and get involved. It was good to see him out there. We tried to get Matty in little pockets, and, in the first half the two teams were, formation-wise, kind of matched up. They nullified each other. It was a case of 'you have a bit possession, see what you can do with it' and then we'll have a bit and see what we can do. We had to recognise what kind of game it was. It's not always going to be great football and it's about getting through those periods. At the start of the game, we had a bit of an iffy spell, but we got through it. We saw it through and kept trying to do the right things, and then second half it changed a little bit, as will do, because Bristol Rovers were a goal down and wanted to come out. In that time, we probably didn't play as well as we could have done."
Conor Hourihane scored his first goal of the season with a spectacular strike, but revealed that the goal had not always been in his sights. "It was a nice strike," he said. "It was a good ball. We're told to get in those positions and he picked me out well. It all went good from there. To be honest with you, I thought I might lay it off, but there was no-one on to give it to, so I said 'Why not?' and, as they say, if you don't buy a ticket, you don't win the lottery. I've been getting in good positions and haven't been putting them away so it's nice to get the monkey off my back. Hopefully, a few more will come." The goal won praise from Carl Fletcher. "It was a good goal," he said. "I think he could've scored in every game we've played in this season. It was nice for him to get his goal. He's been desperate to try and get more goals from midfield, so I'm pleased for him." Despite coming up short previously, Hourihane has maintained his appetite for goals. "You just have to keep going, keep pursuing it, and surely one will go in for you," he said. "This time it did and I was delighted." Hourihane would have been more delighted had Argyle held on to their lead. He added: "At the moment, we're a one-half team. A game is not 45 minutes, unfortunately, it's a 90-minute game. So we need to put our finger on what's happening there. It is disappointing, but we got a point out of it and on to Morecambe on Saturday. Hopefully, we can get another result."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Bristol Rovers at Home Park, the goal scored by Conor Hourihane after 35 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Bhasera, Madjo, Lecointe, MacDonald. Subs – Feeney, Cowan-Hall (not used – Chenoweth, Lennox, Gurrieri, Nelson, Gorman). Attendance – 6,303.
Carl Fletcher hopes to celebrate his first anniversary as manager of Argyle with a win against Bristol Rovers at Home Park tonight. Fletcher, the second youngest manager in the Football League, has enjoyed the experience. He said: "Early on, you learn you can't keep everyone happy. Everyone else seems to know best. I think you have to be very focused on what you want to achieve and how you want to do it, and stick to your beliefs. You see managers all over the country talk about it, and I never really took much notice of it until I was in the job. I remember someone saying to me 'no-one will understand the job I'm doing unless they have been a manager themselves' and I totally agree. Like anyone, you are going to make right decisions and you are going to make wrong ones. At the end of the day, if you make them yourself then it's down to you, so I think that's a key thing, and it's something I have learned as the year has gone on." Fletcher has a record of 11 wins, 17 draws and 15 defeats in 43 league games, and continued: "The year has gone really quickly. You work all week and then the game comes and it's such a quick turnaround. After the final whistle, you literally have five or 10 minutes and then you are already thinking about the next game. It all moulds into one really, and if you ask me to put dates on certain things I wouldn't be able to. I would have to go game by game. It has been hard work, and I have not had many good nights' sleep, but when you get good results and good performances it makes it all worthwhile." Fletcher admitted it had taken him time to get used to spending so much of his working day in his office at Home Park. He said: "In terms of the games and the training, being the manager is how I expected it. Everything else away from that is very different. You have to deal with a lot of other stuff. I have never had an office life before, and that has been quite an eye-opener for me, but I love all the training and the football side of it. That's where I get my kick out of it, but all the other side is just not what I have been used to so it's a bit more of a learning curve."
Robbie Williams believes Bristol Rovers will be difficult opponents tonight, despite their struggles at the start of this season. He said: "It's a massive game, which we need to win. I know they were beaten 4-0 on Saturday, but they are going to come here and I can see their gaffer shutting up shop. So it's going to be hard and it's going to be frustrating. It could go to 60 or 70 minutes until we get a goal. But I'm glad we have got a game tonight to put things right from Saturday, instead of everybody being down in the dumps for a week. If we win it, the game against Port Vale will be forgotten about."
Carl Fletcher has faith in the strength in depth of his squad to contend with a lengthening injury list at Home Park. He said: "I wouldn't say it's worrying. It's annoying more than anything. You want your full squad to pick from for every game you play, but that's not the way it is. Wottsy has played with a bad back for the last couple of weeks, and it was just one of those things on Saturday. He tweaked his groin a little bit after the ball hit him on his leg. You would like to have all your options open to you, and with injuries that gets less and less. But there are opportunities for other people to come in and do well, and make it hard for the people who are out injured to get in the team when they are fit again. Apart from Jamie Lowry, the injuries aren't really long-term. They are little niggles here and there." Fletcher believes the pitch at Home Park, which was re-laid in the summer, has been a factor behind the fitness problems. He said: "I remember the first year it got laid, in 2010, it was really hard, and I think it's a little bit similar to that. It might just take a little bit of time for that to soften up. Hopefully, once winter comes and we get more rain that might help out. Playing on a hard pitch isn't ideal. It puts joints and things through lots of impact, and out of position where they wouldn't usually be. We are trying to do everything we can to get the injured players back as soon as possible."
Carl Fletcher will be hoping for a good display tonight against Bristol Rovers, who are 23rd in the table with only two points from five games. He said: "I thought they would be up there this season. They've lost Mustapha Carayol and when we played them down here they were a real good side and we did well to get a point that night. Teams have good periods of form and bad periods of form. You just have to deal with it as best you can. Obviously with the situation with their injuries, they're likely to chop and change anyway. You just try and plan as much as you can without nailing anything down and concentrate on what we want to do and how we want to approach the game. We've just got to make sure we're right and fully prepared, and start the game as well as we did on Saturday." When asked whether he thought that now would be a good time to play Rovers, Fletcher said: "It's hard to say, I don't think you ever really know. Last year, I think we played Northampton after they'd just conceded seven at home and we were never sure if whether it was a good time to play them, whether they'd have a reaction or whether it would continue. Luckily for us, that day, it did, but you never know."
Argyle apprentice striker Tyler Harvey is being lined up as a possible first-team squad member. He took part in the pre-match warm-up with the rest of the team before the defeat by Port Vale on Saturday, and Carl Fletcher said: "Tyler's been up training with us a few times when we've been short of numbers. It's just a bit of experience, so that, in the future, if he keeps doing well, he can join in and be a part of it and won't be a rabbit in the head lights. He'll get comfortable with it and that helps. We've got some good young players in there that he knows so it's just good experience for him."
Carl Fletcher described himself as 'shell-shocked' after his side lost to Port Vale yesterday. "I am a little bit shell-shocked," he said. "You come out of the game thinking 'How did we lose that one?' In the first half, we controlled the game, played some real nice stuff, and got a deserved lead. Maybe we eased off at the end of the first half, but we were still fully in control. We tried to push on from that in the second half, but it wasn't to be. We got sucker-punched. From a game that we were controlling and winning, we've come out with a defeat. We speak to the players about trying to keep the ball and passing. We had that; we've got some good players and they took on board and really did well first half. We had some good movement from Macca and from Baz and we played some nice stuff, which was pleasing. After the first one, it went downhill from there. Once we went a couple of goals behind, it was difficult. If anything, we got a little bit nervous and went in our shells a little bit. We've spoken about that. Vale were a goal down and had nothing to lose. From our point of view, we still had relative control of the game. We weren't too troubled in the second half until the penalty went in. Then we lose the shape and our discipline a little bit, and stopped doing the things we should be doing." An Argyle move at the start of the second half contained over thirty passes and ended with Onismor Bhasera having a chance to double the lead. It was an example of the quality football the team had played to that point, and Fletcher said: "I enjoyed watching the first half. We got the ball down and kept it. There were some real plus points. We were in the ascendancy. We were not only playing some nice football but actually getting somewhere with playing the football. We were getting chances, not just keeping the ball for the sake of it. It's just disappointing that when you lose a goal in the second you change your way from doing that. We've spoken to the players about still doing the right thing, whether you are winning or losing, having a good day or bad day. You still do the right thing. If it is the right thing to do in the first half when you are winning and getting joy from it, it's still the right thing to do later on in the game. In certain periods of the game, it was disappointing that we weren't we needed to be to see the game out. It's important when you have those little periods in a game, you're not going to control a game for 90 minutes, to see them through and come out the other side. We didn't do that today." Speaking of the loss of Paul Wotton to injury, Fletcher said: "You miss experience. He did his groin in the first five minutes, he said. It just got worse and worse. Stopping at half-time didn't help. We said 'try the second half' and he tried to get through it. Obviously that's disappointing for us. We'll have to see how it is." Of the penalty given away by Luke Young, Fletcher added: "It's a learning experience for Luke. It's one he needs to learn from. If he's giving penalties away every week, then there's an issue, but he just has to learn from this. Youngy is going to be a great, great player whether it's here or at another club, he'll use it in the future. He's still young. He's only 19. He's learning all the time."
Robbie Williams would happily swap his place at the top of the Argyle scoring charts for a team place at the top of League 2. "They took it to us in the second half and deserved the three points to be fair," he said. "We let Port Vale come down here and nick it off us, basically, when we were in so much control in the first half. It's going well for me, but goals are to help the team get three points. That's what it's all about, at the end of the day. I'd rather have no goals and us being up the top of the league. It was a tale of two halves. We were perfectly in control in the first half, knocking the ball around well. The gaffer wants us to play, and we have got ball-players. Especially in midfield. When they get on the ball, they're good. In the second half, I don't know what happened, really. We took our foot off the gas, they must have had a good telling-to at half-time, I would have assumed. Luke will tell you himself that it was a stupid challenge. Vincent was going nowhere. I think it was a penalty. Luke will learn from that. It was coming together in the first half. It went a bit too nice, I think. Because we have got a young team, I think they thought it was going to happen again." Williams pinpointed the loss of Paul Wotton as a crucial factor in the defeat. Argyle were 1-0 up early in the second half, when Wotton gave way to a groin problem that had troubled him since the opening moments of the game. Williams said: "They came out for the second half, put their foot in, changed it, made it a physical battle, and we really haven't got the players, apart from Wotts, who does it well. When he came off, it killed us a bit. He's massive to us. He's perfect for us as a back four. He sits in front of us and guides the rest of the midfielders. When he went off, it seemed we were a bit weak, a bit vulnerable."
Argyle lost 3-1 to Port Vale at Home Park, the goal scored by Robbie Williams after 18 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Wotton, Bhasera, Feeney, MacDonald. Subs – Madjo, Lecointe (not used – Chenoweth, Lennox, Gurrieri, Nelson, Gorman). Attendance – 6,080.
Jamie Lowry is making good progress in his recovery from an ankle ligament injury. Lowry was expected to be out of action for three months, but could end up making his comeback sooner than that. Carl Fletcher said: "He has been seeing the consultant and he had another scan last week, so we are keeping on top of things. He has started running this week, which is a good sign for us. He's a good lad and a good pro, and he has done his hard work while he has been injured. Hopefully, once he gets back fully into training it shouldn't be too long before he's available for selection." Rene Gilmartin continues to be sidelined by a knee injury which he suffered in the first week of the season, and Fletcher said: "He's not training at the moment. We are just going to see how it goes, and make sure he gets it fully checked out." Fletcher also is resigned to losing Onismor Bhasera for two matches next month because of another international call-up. He added: "This is what you get with people who play international football. Obviously, you would like it that they were in Europe, but Bas is from Zimbabwe and that's the way it is. It's an opportunity for someone else."
Argyle will play Ivybridge Town in the second round of the Devon St Luke's Cup. The tie will take place at Erme Valley on October 29th.
Prior to last weekend's 0-0 draw at Plainmoor, Argyle have had to comeback in the second half of three successive matches in order to secure points. Conversely, in the last six games Argyle have failed to take the lead. Carl Fletcher has no fears about his side starting slowly. "It's not a major issue," he said. "We've got people that can score goals but you've got 11 other players out there trying to stop you from doing that. In an ideal world, you go out and score first but, if you don't, then there's no reason to panic. You've still got a long time in the game to do whatever you need to do. Football matches don't always go the way you want them to: sometimes they go perfectly and everything goes right; other times they don't go right at all; and other times it changes throughout the game. That's where you have to be adaptable and change and do things a different way. You just have to keep working what you're trying to do and do things the right way and eventually it will work out for you."
Guy Madjo will not celebrate should he score for Argyle against Port Vale tomorrow. Madjo had a successful loan spell at Vale last season, and has a lot of time for their manager Micky Adams, as well as the players and supporters. Madjo said: "I really did enjoy my time at Port Vale. Micky Adams, the manager, gave me a chance to show what I'm about. He took me on loan after I had been at Stevenage and not played two games in a row and put me in the team. I have to thank him for that, and I'm really looking forward to playing against him, but there will be no celebration if I score. I have so much respect for Micky Adams and everyone at Port Vale." Madjo admitted he had found it difficult playing against Torquay so soon after signing for Argyle. He said: "I didn't get to Plymouth until past midnight, and had a few hours before sleep before travelling to Torquay. I felt as though I had still got that travelling in my legs and the fans will see more from me. I know what I can deliver and I will definitely prove myself and show what I'm about." Despite his success at Aldershot in the final three months of last season, Madjo has fallen out of favour with Dean Holdsworth and has made only three substitute appearances this term, and is at a loss to understand why. He said: "Only the manager can answer that question because, myself, I don't know why he's not playing me. But I will always respect any manager's choice because they have to make decisions. That's their job. Whoever is selected in the team, or is in the squad at a club, are there because they have got something to offer. Whatever the manager decides to do, I just deal with it and respect it." It has led to Madjo making the move to Argyle, and he added: "It's a massive club in this division, definitely. The set-up and everything here is fantastic."
Guy Madjo has been impressed by Carl Fletcher in his first week at Argyle. "I can't believe how fantastic the manager is, I'm learning a lot from him," he said. "No disrespect to the other managers I've played under, but I've never had someone like this. He's been in the game and he knows what he's talking about. It's a good set-up here compared to so many places I've been to. I know there's more from me to come. I know myself and what I can deliver, I think people will definitely see more of me.
Carl Fletcher has not been surprised by the excellent start Port Vale have made to their campaign. He said: "I'm not surprised at all where Port Vale are in the table. I thought they were a very good side last season and that hasn't changed this year. They have got some good players and the way Micky Adams has got them set up is working really well for them. We will have to be well prepared for the game and give the players the best opportunity to go out there and do well, in terms of working on their strengths and weaknesses and working on ours as well. They have got some good players at this level and we have got to be wary of all their threats and dangers. But we have also got to work on what we want to do and how we want to approach the game." Argyle's squad against Port Vale will be boosted by the return of Onismor Bhasera from international duty but Rene Gilmartin and Jamie Lowry are still on the long-term injury list. However, Fletcher is keeping under the wraps the fitness, or otherwise, of Nick Chadwick, Rhys Griffiths and Paris Cowan-Hall. Guy Madjo joined on loan from Aldershot Town last week to act as cover for the injured trio, and Fletcher added: "Guy has played games and scored goals at this level. He knows what to expect so he's a great asset for us to have at this time when we have got a few injuries. He's a good option to have come selecting the side."
Conor Hourihane is set to make his 50th appearance for Argyle when they play Port Vale tomorrow. Hourihane has been pleased with the amount of first team football he has had since arriving at Home Park, but did not realise he was so close to reaching his half-century. "I'm actually quite surprised at that," he said. "It's nice to know, but it has come up quick. I have only been here for a year. Hopefully we get a win, first and foremost. If I put in a good performance that's a plus, and if I get on the scoresheet that's an even bigger plus." Hourihane signed for Argyle last summer after spending time at Ipswich and Sunderland but without getting any first team football for either. He said: "I was 20-years-old and I thought I needed to be playing. I got an opportunity to come here and to play as many games as I did last season was terrific. If I could play the same amount this season it would be a big bonus. I would have 80-90 games in two years." When asked what he has learned from playing under Peter Reid and Carl Fletcher, Hourihane said: "You just get more experienced. You read the game a bit better, and I think I have definitely toughened up a bit this season. I'm getting in positions to score goals. I just feel more confident when I'm playing. I think that comes with games. It's going well and, hopefully, it will stay like that." Hourihane likes the lifestyle away from Home Park, and said: "Especially when the weather is nice, it's lovely in Plymouth. When you are out and about in town people come up to you and talk about Argyle, which is great. You can see how much Argyle means to the community. It's a massive club for League Two and the fans we get at home and away are terrific." Hourihane had some good scoring chances at Torquay United last weekend, as well as in the win over Northampton Town the previous Saturday, but is still waiting for his first goal of the campaign. He said: "I got two last year, and I'm aiming for five this season. Anything after that is a bonus. I have had more chances this season than I had all last year. It's just trying to get that first one, and then I think I will get another couple. If I wasn't getting into the positions I would be worrying. I just need to strike it a bit better and relax. I get a bit anxious because I think 'here it is, here it is'. Hopefully, the first one will come in the next couple of games and then I can move on from there." Hourihane wants to see Argyle build on 'a good solid performance' against Torquay when they play in-form Port Vale, and added: "They have had a good start. They scored six last weekend but, hopefully, the goals will dry up tomorrow. We are playing well now so we definitely fancy our chances."
Romain Larrieu insists the Argyle squad are determined to continue their improvement against Port Vale at Home Park on Saturday. He said: "The boys are not worried about facing Port Vale but, in fact, are looking forward to the challenge. They have earned the right to go into the game with confidence and, hopefully, can keep the momentum going against a side doing well in the table. We have shown in the league this year, not just in the matches with Northampton and Torquay, but also against Aldershot and Oxford, that we are a team who play for each other. We could and probably should have beaten Northampton by more than the odd goal. And perhaps with a bit more luck in front of goal, we could have come away with all the points from Torquay. We want to show how far we've come since last season and the lads are looking forward to testing themselves against sides near the top of the table. It's that positive attitude that they will want to take into the games with Port Vale and Bristol Rovers." Larrieu believes Vale's position in the League Two table was due in no small measure to manager Micky Adams being able to put out an unchanged line-up. He added: "There is no doubt in my mind that being able to put out the same side for a run of matches is a huge advantage. Port Vale have been unchanged in four games and that is shown in their results. That's what we're hoping for at Argyle: the more we are together, the better we will do. I'm certain of that, just as I am that the backing of the fans contributes to us doing well."
Durrell Berry has put the frustration of a pre-season injury behind him and has been pleased with the way he has played since making his comeback. Berry said: "It was a frustrating pre-season for me. I only did a week-and-a-half and then I got injured. I missed the first three games of the season, which was disappointing, but I worked hard with the physio and got back. It was tough for me against Burnley, but I always knew fitness-wise I wouldn't be too bad." Berry is one of the survivors from Argyle's poor start to last season, when they picked up only one point from their first nine matches. He believes a lot has changed, and for the better, over the past 12 months. He said: "We have probably shaded every game we have played, but maybe the results don't show that. I think it's clear to see that we will be up there this season. At the minute, we are full of confidence. With two home games on the spin it's a great chance for us to pick up six points."
The Argyle youth team drew 1-1 at Bristol Rovers last Saturday, the goal scored by Tyler Harvey. Argyle: Walton, Watson, Purrington, Elcock, Bradley, Summers, Berry, Allen, Harvey, Hutcheson, Wheatley. Subs - Asumdama-Sakyi, Hall, Moxham.
Argyle have reduced admission prices for their Johnstone's Paint Trophy game against Aldershot Town on October 9th. The kick-off has also been brought forward by 45 minutes to 7pm to try and encourage younger fans to attend the tie. Admission for under-18s will be only £2, with a price of £10 for adults and £5 for over-65s and students.
Alex MacDonald has found it easy to slot back into the Argyle side. He said: "I came in last season and played my part in keeping the club in the Football League. Now I want to play a part in helping the club kick on to bigger and better things, and back up the divisions to where it should be." Carl Fletcher tried to sign MacDonald over the summer, but an agreement could not be reached. However, he had no hesitation in returning to Argyle on loan after playing for Burnley against them in a League Cup tie at the end of August. He said: "I get on well with the manager and always have a good laugh with him, and the rest of the lads are brilliant. From the first time I came down, they made me feel really welcome, and it's the same again this time. Hopefully, we can push on next Saturday and get a result." Argyle have five points from as many matches this season, but MacDonald is convinced they will climb the table. He said: "Towards the end of last season we had a few decent results and we played some good stuff considering the position we were in. I thought we were a much better team than the league table suggested. Now, coming back, we know we are better than what we were last season and we are looking to improve a lot on that. It's not a case of thinking it, I know we are a better team than we were, and hopefully, come the end of the season, the league position will prove that."
Argyle signed Guy Madjo on a one-month loan because their attacking options have been hit by injuries. Carl Fletcher said: "He has been in our thoughts for a little while, but we had to make sure where we were with our players injury-wise. Sometimes you try to get players and it takes two or three months, but with Guy we got it done in 15 minutes almost. He wasn't starting for Aldershot and he wants to play games. It was ideal for us he wanted to come down. As soon as we made the phone call, he was in his car and on his way. That shows me he wants to come here, play games and do well. It's great we have got him, and he's proven at this level, which is pleasing for us." Madjo's loan spell covers seven league games, concluding with the visit of Wimbledon on October 6th. Fletcher said: "With all the injuries, it was nice to have him in the squad because if we hadn't had him here it would have been a very young bench. You can see he's a big size and he's a presence. He's a bit of a battering ram, so to speak, but he has got an eye for goal, which is pleasing." Fletcher would not put a timescale on when Nick Chadwick, Paris Cowan-Hall and Rhys Griffiths would be fit for selection. He said: "Guy is only here for a month. We want him to come here and enjoy playing football and try to do well for us, and then we will take it from there. Last year we didn't have any injuries, we were very lucky. This year they've all come in one little spell, but you get that in football. It's just one of those things. We've tried to look into everything. We've got a new pitch, it's just been re-laid and it's a bit firmer than it was last year. We look into every detail we can to try to get everyone fit and available for selection. Pursey has had injuries the last few weeks, and Wotts played through the pain barrier today. Once everyone is fit and healthy, we'll have a great selection."
Guy Madjo made his Argyle debut as a second-half substitute in the draw against Torquay, less than 24 hours after he learnt that he was to make the temporary move from Aldershot. "I was having dinner with my missus at 6pm on Friday when I found out," he said. "I had to go back home, collect some stuff I needed for today, then go to the club and sign some paperwork, then be on my way. I finally got here past midnight and met the lads earlier today. I am delighted to be here. I am delighted because we got a decent point, away in a derby. When you play away from home and get a point, it is like a win. My strength is my getting the ball in to my body, I pass it wide and move into the box, which is where you score goals. I'm just a striker. I didn't hold the ball up today because I felt still a bit heavy from the travelling yesterday and I didn't sleep that much, so I was tired. I think I will get to my game soon and then you will see more of me." Madjo is scheduled to stay at Home Park until October 6th, meaning he will have plenty of time to deliver the goals for which he has been brought in. "I just go out and try to enjoy myself," he said. "If a chance comes, I'll take it. If I miss it, I know another chance will come." Madjo has played in China and Albania, as well as his native Cameroon, and a series of English clubs. "I've been around a bit," he said. "I have got a bit of experience. "I know what I want in my life. It's when you don't know what you want that you feel bored. So, wherever I go, I have to adapt and do what I have to do for the team. That's me. As long as I have running in my legs, I will keep going. I just need to start scoring some goals like I did last season. I need to get that, minute after minute. I have not been playing since the start of the season, so I feel like, as soon as get some minutes, I will get some confidence from there. You don't get any confidence sitting on the bench or in the stand."
Durrell Berry admitted he had to be careful during the draw at Torquay United on Saturday, after being booked in only the fifth minute for a late tackle. He said: "Getting the yellow card early doors didn't help me. I was up against a tricky winger and after that I knew I had to be on top of my game to not get a second yellow. If the ball is there to be won you have got to try to win it, which I did on the first one. To be fair, I was a bit late and I knew for the rest of the game I had to be on my toes and make no silly tackles." Berry was described as the best 'one-versus-one defender' in League Two by Carl Fletcher after the draw against Torquay. Berry said: "It's always nice to get a compliment from the manager. He gives me a lot of confidence going into games, so I have just got to try to take that on board and do the best I can for him. I have been happy with my performance since I have been back from injury. Hopefully, I can keep it going and progress from there." Berry thought Argyle could easily have come away from Plainmoor with three points. He said: "Maybe Torquay had a bit more possession than us in the first half, but I still thought it was an even game. We came out for the second half and I thought we had a lot more of the ball and better chances. It was a good game overall. We played a lot more in their half and put a few decent balls into the box. Feeno had a good chance with a header and it was a great save from the goalie. I think their goalie was the busier of the two throughout the game." Berry came to Argyle's rescue in the 89th minute, blocking a Billy Bodin shot, and he added: "They put the ball in over my head and I just managed to get there. I had to put my body on the line and hope I got the block."
Carl Fletcher wants Argyle to pass the ball as much as possible and believes his players are starting to get the message. Following the draw against Torquay United he said: "I'm really pleased with the way the lads stuck to the task. But I'm even more pleased with the bravery they showed in the second half to actually get on the ball. You look at players like Pursey and Wotts. It's probably not what they have been asked to do in previous years but they are taking it on board. When you get the ball down and you are having good possession you enjoy it a lot more, rather than just trying to chase second balls all the time." Fletcher admitted Argyle had shown signs of nerves in the first half at Plainmoor. He said: "Defensively, we were fine and did what we needed to do, but we were not where we wanted to be on the ball. That comes with playing in a derby game. You get nervous and don't want to make a mistake. But the bravery the lads showed in the second half, to get the ball down and do the right things, I was really pleased with." Durrell Berry and Conor Hourihane were both booked for crunching tackles in the early stages of the Devon derby, but Fletcher did not believe that put either of them under any extra pressure, coming so early in the match. "No, not really," he said. "Bookings are bookings. You get a booking for nothing these days. I think you will do well to find a better one-versus-one defender than Durrell. Both my full-backs were terrific, as were the two centre-halves and the goalie. We got a clean sheet away from home and Torquay don't lose many games here. They have got some real good players. Both their wingers are very tricky and my full-backs knew they would come under a little bit of pressure. But I thought they handled it with great maturity and professionalism. Durrell made a great block near the end, and Willo did the same in the first half as well. It's a team effort. When you come to places like Torquay you know you are going to come under pressure during the game, and it's how you see it through. I thought we saw it through well. In the first half, we definitely quietened the crowd down, which was pleasing from our point of view. We will take this good clean sheet away from home at a tough place and move on to next week." It has been a common theme this season for Argyle to put in an improved performance after half-time, and it was the same against Torquay. Fletcher said: "I spoke to the lads at half-time and tried to instil that belief in them. You could see in the second half they are all good players and can handle a football. You are going to have good days and bad days as a player, and sometimes you feel like you can control everything, and other days you feel like you have got your boots on the wrong feet. But if they are all trying to do the right thing it makes life a lot easier for everyone out on that pitch, and I was pleased with that. It was a fairly even game. It was certainly a tough game. On another day, I think we could have nicked it, but Torquay will probably feel they could have nicked it. It was a good derby with some tough tackles but it was all clean, and there was a great atmosphere."
Onismor Bhasera played as Zimbabwe won 3-1 at home to Angola in the first leg of their Africa Cup of Nations final qualifying round tie yesterday. The second leg of the tie will take place on October 12th, meaning Bhasera will miss Argyle's Johnstone's Paint Trophy game with Aldershot Town and the trip to Barnet on October 13th.
Following the draw with Torquay United yesterday, Carl Fletcher praised his defence, in particular full backs Robbie Williams and Durrell Berry. "I thought both my full backs were terrific," he said. "We knew Stevens was dangerous, I think it's his first game for a while. Both their wingers, him and Boden, are very tricky. My full backs knew they would come under a bit of pressure today. I thought they handled it with great maturity and professionalism. You come away to places like Torquay and you know you'll come under a bit of pressure during the game, you just hope you'll see it through. I thought we saw it through well and quietened the crowd down. Torquay don't lose many games here. They've got some really good players who cause a lot of problems. I'm pleased with the way we stuck to the task and the bravery we showed second half to get on the ball. I think it was a good game. In the first half defensively we were fine, we did what we need to do. We weren't where we wanted to be on the ball, but that comes with a derby game. But in the second half the bravery of the lads showed through, to get the ball down and do the right things. I was really pleased. It was a case of talking to the lads at half time and instilling that of belief into them for the second half. They are all good players and can handle a football. You're going to get players who have good days and bad days. I think it was a fairly even game. I thought it was a tough game. On another day we could have nicked it, and maybe Torquay feel they could have nicked it. It was a good derby, some tough tackles but it was all clean. It was a great atmosphere and hopefully we've sent the Plymouth fans back happy that we got a clean sheet. We're getting there. There are still some things to work on, but we're getting there."
Matt Lecointe made an appearance for Argyle in central midfield yesterday, replacing Luke Young, and impressed while doing so. "I'm really lucky with all my young players," said Carl Fletcher, "They are all technically good, they know they've had a good upbringing through the youth team, under Hodgy, and they've spent a lot of time with the first team now. Matty can play anywhere. The likes of him, Youngy, Simsy, they are all good footballers. You can put them anywhere. People forget that is still only seventeen. He came on and got hold of the game. Got a grip on it and showed what he can do, which is pleasing. He's a good technical player. If you put him in midfield, with a three, he's played up front for so many years he's got that desire to get forward, it's a natural instinct."
Argyle drew 0-0 at Torquay United. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Wotton, Lennox, Feeney, MacDonald. Subs – Lecointe, Gurrieri, Madjo (not used – Chenoweth, Richards, Nelson, Gorman). Attendance – 4,932.
Argyle have signed striker Guy Madjo on a one-month loan from Aldershot Town.
Jake Cole hopes the homework Argyle have done on Torquay United will reap its rewards at Plainmoor today. He said: "We have had a good week's preparation. We know what they do. We have researched them and we know how we want to play. We have got a game plan and, hopefully, we can get the result we want." Argyle lost 3-1 at Plainmoor last season as an injured Cole sat on the bench as cover for Romain Larrieu. He said: "I remember the game. I was injured at the time but I was sitting on the bench, and it didn't go our way. We didn't play as we wanted to." Argyle, Torquay and Exeter City are all in the same division for the first time since the 2001/02 season but Cole insisted Argyle are only focused on their own aims and objectives. He said: "As long as we do what we have to do, and we are where we want to be, it shouldn't really bother us too much where the other local teams are." The trip to Plainmoor will be followed by back-to-back home games against Port Vale and Bristol Rovers, and Cole added: "Hopefully, we can get a little run going after our good result last Saturday." Argyle have sold all their allocation of 1,500 tickets for the first Devon derby of the season. Cole said: "To be fair, the fans do a lot of travelling, especially with the Tuesday night games, and they always turn out in really good numbers, so credit to them. They are brilliant. Our fans are the best in the league, without a shadow of doubt."
Argyle have been drawn to play Aldershot Town at Home Park in the second round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. The tie will be played in the week commencing October 8th.
Carl Fletcher has described Torquay United as the favourites to win the Devon derby tomorrow. He said: "We are all excited about tomorrow. It's great for the area and we are looking forward to the game. We are going into it as underdogs really. Torquay got to the play-offs last season and they have got some good players." Fletcher insisted the fact Torquay did the double over his team last season did not mean there was any extra incentive tomorrow. "Last season is last season," he said. "It's in the past. We are just looking forward to this game and trying to keep progressing on things. We have got to make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity to put in a good performance and get a good result." Argyle have sold all of their allocation of 1,500 tickets for the visit to Plainmoor and Fletcher added: "It should be a full house and we will have great support behind us. I think it's important we play the game and not the occasion. Sometimes with derbies you can get sucked into the way the game is going and it gets a bit frantic. But we have got some strong characters in the changing room and some good experience, and we are all looking forward to the game." Argyle, Torquay and Exeter City are all in the same division for the first time since the 2001/02 season, but Fletcher has played down the importance of trying to finish as the top Devon club. He said: "I have never even thought about it. The main thing for us is to just concentrate on what we do. There are 21 other teams in there who are trying to be above us as well." For now, Fletcher wants to see Argyle take confidence from their victory over Northampton. He said: "I was delighted with the result last week, and the three goals we scored were great goals as well. It would be good to take that on and progress forward." Meanwhile, Fletcher also confirmed he wants to add to his squad when clubs are allowed to make 'emergency loan' signings from tomorrow.
Carl Fletcher has admitted it is a blow for Argyle that they will be without Onismor Bhasera against Torquay tomorrow. "Bas did really well last week," he said. "He was finding a bit of form. He started that in the second half against Oxford so, obviously, it's disappointing to have him out of the team, but it gives an opportunity to someone else to come in and do well." Fletcher, meanwhile, has given no clues about whether Paris Cowan-Hall and Rhys Griffiths will be fit to face Torquay. Both had to be substituted against Northampton because of injuries and when asked about the availability of Griffiths tomorrow, Fletcher replied: "We are just monitoring him. We will see. Hopefully, he will be all right. It's the same with Paris." Cowan-Hall had to be taken off in the first half against Northampton because of a hamstring injury. Griffiths was a half-time substitute in a tactical switch, and scored on his debut. But, after putting Argyle 2-1 up, he suffered a recurrence of the calf injury which had forced him to sit out the start of the season. It will be an unusual, but welcome, experience for Argyle not to have to travel overnight to an away game. Fletcher said: "We are looking forward to not having to travel over four hours. It should be a great atmosphere with a full house there."
Carl Fletcher viewed last weekend's victory over Northampton as the archetypal game of two halves, although maybe not in the way fans may have thought. "Last week, we got the three goals in the second half, but we weren't as in control of the game in the second half as we were in the first half," he said. "In the first half, Northampton pretty much had one shot and scored one goal. We were not where we wanted to be in terms of pace, tempo, and moving the ball around, but, in terms of controlling the game, we were. In the second half, it was the other way round, but we got the three goals. You try to do the right things in every game you play, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You have just got to keep believing in what you are trying to do and trying to achieve, and keep pushing forward. If you can get that and get consistency, that's great, but I think everyone would take bad performances and three points."
Conor Hourihane cannot wait for the Devon derby with Torquay United. "All the lads are really looking forward to playing Torquay and quietly confident of doing well against them," he said. "If selected, of course, I want to play a part in continuing the upward trend and giving our fans something to cheer about. I've played in all four league games this season and I think the Northampton win was deserved, if a little overdue. Our displays hadn't gotten the results our performances had warranted. We're playing with more freedom and more flair, which the gaffer has encouraged, which hopefully will provide entertainment as well bring in the results we all want for Argyle. Last year was all about staying up, whereas this season it's about moving upwards by playing good football. On a personal note, I want to improve my strike record and get among the goals more often. Scoring at Torquay would be perfect, just so long as the result is in our favour of course."
James Brent says that he will be looking to replicate the on and off pitch success of Exeter Chiefs as the club continues to fight back after a disastrous season last year. Argyle spent seven months in administration with Brent finally agreeing a deal to buy the club almost a year ago after a protracted negotiation period. The board is now working to transform the club's performance on and off the pitch so that it punches its weight. "Exeter Chiefs provide wonderful rugby and wonderful facilities to give a real match day experience," Brent said. "We are in a drive to work area of 500,000. We are the league football club for Cornwall and West Devon, Argyle should be a bigger club." Membership package sales are one third up on last year, but have so far been below target, although Brent conceded: "It was an ambitious target." Although Brent was a popular choice fans to take on the running of the club, he is keen to stress that Argyle must be financially self-supporting, rather than looking for hand outs. "It's not a good thing to have a benefactor. It should run on a sustainable basis with income it has gained," he said. In order to boost revenues, Brent is keen to improve the club's hospitality offering and is also working to strengthen links with the city's business community and to increase the amount of corporate events hosted at Home Park to boost non-match day revenue. But key to this, he recognises, will be results. He added: "We need to provide high quality football and winning football to maintain and increase the gates, we're very conscious of that."
Despite picking up only four points from the first four games of the campaign, Argyle have still achieved their best start to a season after four league games since 2007/08. They moved from 23rd to 15th in the table after their win over Northampton Town on Saturday, and are aiming to build on that result when they take on Torquay United at Plainmoor this weekend. Carl Fletcher said: "You always want to get your first win of the season. It's like a monkey off your back really. You want to get it out of the way and done, and you move onto the next one. We are looking forward to a good game this weekend. I was pleased for the lads on Saturday because we have had some real long away games, and lots of games in a short space of time. Northampton are a big, organised side and they are going to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, so it was a good win for us and we could take a lot of positives from it."
Warren Feeney has admitted his focus is on playing for Argyle rather than extending his international career with Northern Ireland. Feeney, whose last international appearance came in October 2011, said: "My main focus at the minute is Plymouth Argyle. Don't get me wrong, it's good going away, but Plymouth pay my wages and I want to prolong my club career for as long as I can. First and foremost, Plymouth Argyle is where my heart is. Imagine going to Russia? It would be a tough one. It makes the trip we had to Burnley last week look easy!" Feeney has had some communication with Northern Ireland manager Michel O'Neill, but not recently. He said: "I spoke to him a few months ago, but, at the end of the day, I'm not worried. That's his decision. I have got my caps and nothing is going to change that. I will just carry on playing for Plymouth Argyle and enjoying my football."
Carl Fletcher admits that Curtis Nelson could be a 'good option' as a stand-in striker in future matches, following his debut goal on Saturday in a cameo appearance up front. Meanwhile Fletcher also confirmed that he would like to extent Alex MacDonald's loan spell beyond its intial one month duration; asked whether the loan could be extended, Fletcher replied: "I would like to think so. If he keeps doing well, then definitely, yes." The versatility of the former Scotland Under-21 international clearly appeals to Fletcher, who said: "You almost get four players in one with Macca. He can play in midfield, out wide, up front or off the front. It's a good option for us to have." MacDonald was almost given a starting berth on Saturday but Fletcher admitted: "I probably didn't think I would bring him on in the first half, but I wanted to have that freshness when I brought him on. There were lots of players we were looking at and you ask people about them and you get different comments and opinions. You have your own opinions, but you like to find out as much as you can. With Macca, the main thing was we knew what we would get with him. You kind of minimise the risk a little bit. You know he's going to give 100%, has got good technical ability and he's either going to create goals or score goals."
Preparations for the Devon Derby on Saturday continue with the announcement that there are just 100 tickets left for away fans and just 250 left for Gulls fans, for a match which is expected to see a bumper, potentially sell-out gate.
Ticket details are also announced for the Morecambe away match on Saturday September 22nd. The visit to the Globe Arena will only be Argyle's 2nd visit to the venue coming quckly on the back of their first a 2-2 draw in the penultimate game of the 2011-12 season. The game will also mark the first ever 'away' running of a Green Taverners' Fans' Fest, which will take place in conjunction with a local caravan park opposite the new stadium.
Argyle defender Curtis Nelson confirmed he did not know how to celebrate on Saturday, after scoring his first senior goal for the club following his surprising cameo, coming on as a makeshift striker for injured half-time substitute Rhys Griffiths: "I ran over to the fans to celebrate but I didn't know what to do. It felt very good and I was happy but it doesn't really matter that I scored. We got the three points we wanted and that's the main thing. It doesn't matter who scores or how it goes over the line as long as it's a goal and we win the game." Nelson soared above Northampton's experienced centre-back David Artell to send his header over Town's Lee Nicholls from 12 yards.
Carl Fletcher confirms his frustation that the outstanding performer from the game against Northampton Town, Onismor Bhasera, will miss Saturday's Devon Derby with Torquay United at Plainmoor following his call up by Zimbabwe for their 2013 AFCON Qualifier against Angola in Harare on September 9th: "It's unfortunate. He had games for Zimbabwe in the summer as well, but that's the way it is. It's disappointing it's such a long way away as well. We lose him for a couple of extra days because of the length of the flights. There are not too many direct flights from Zimbabwe to Plymouth! He does a lot of travelling. It's part and parcel of what he needs to do."
Cornish-born Argyle forward Issac Vassell scored on his debut for Bideford on Saturday as the promoted Robins claimed their first Evo-Stik League Premier Division points of the season. The 18-year-old, currently on loan at the North Devon side until December 1st, headed home Matt Andrew's 65th-minute cross to cancel out Simon Thomas's 55th-minute penalty opener, setting Bideford on their way to a 2-1 home win over Chesham United. Vassell has made eight appearances for Argyle, all from the bench, but has failed for feature this season and has been loaned out to gain further experience of first-team football.
Alex MacDonald played an important part in yesterday's victory over Northampton. coming on as a substiutute after a half an hour. "Macca came down late Thursday night," said Carl Fletcher, "He had the game on Tuesday and I was half thinking about whether to play him or not. I left him on the bench because I didn't want him to have lethargy in the game. He can have a real impact. I didn't think I'd be bringing him on in the first half, but I wanted him to have a freshness when I brought him on." Fletcher moved for MacDonald before last Friday's transfer deadline. "There are lots of players we were looking at," he said, "and you ask people and get different comments and opinions, as well as your own. The main thing was we knew what we'd get with Macca. You minimise the risk because you know you're going to get 100%. He's got good technical ability, and he's either going to create goals or score goals. We're pleased that he wanted to come down. That's a big bonus for us. With Macca, you get almost four players in one. He can play in midfield, out wide, up front. He's a great option to have."
Argyle beat Northampton Town 3-2 at Home Park, the goals scored by Warren Feeney (47 minutes), Rhys Griffiths (59) and Curtis Nelson (74). Argyle: Cole, Berry, Purse, Blanchard, Williams, Cowan-Hall, Hourihane, Wotton, Young, Bhasera, Feeney. Subs - MacDonald, Griffiths, Nelson (not used – Chenoweth, Lennox, Gurrieri, Gorman). Attendance – 6,037.
After he was told earlier this week that he was surplus to requirements, Ladjie Soukouna was formally released yesterday and is now free to find another club. The French utility main, signed by Peter Reid, made his debut on the opening day of last season in the 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury Town and scored his first and only Pilgrims' goal two months later in a 2–2 Home Park draw with Accrington Stanley. He made 22 appearances for Argyle in total, five as substitute, but only seven of those starts were after Fletcher became manager.
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