A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Geoff Crudgington has been appointed Argyle’s full-time goalkeeping coach and is leaving his post as Football in the Community officer at Home Park. Bobby Williamson said: "It's great to have him on board. He's a valued member of staff. It's important to have a full-time goalkeeping coach. He's been very helpful and, as the club's progressing, we do need more staff." Michael Dunford paid tribute to Crudgington's work in the community department. He said: "We thank Geoff for his hard work and commitment. He's a familiar face in this part of the world. He's a very enthusiastic gentleman and I'm sure he will continue to give excellent service to Plymouth Argyle. Now Geoff's decided his role is with the goalkeeping operation, which is what Bobby wanted, the Football in the Community department will advertise, both locally and nationally, to fill the role which has been performed so admirably by Geoff in recent years. It's not technically a club appointment but, obviously, the club has an active interest in this." Nobody could accuse Dexter Blackstock of a lack of confidence, that is for sure.
Dexter Blackstock believes Argyle can aim higher than just survival this season. He said: “A top-half finish. I think that’s what we can aim for. With the players here and the fans’ backing, we can get into the top half. It was a good win during the week, but it would have meant nothing if we’d gone out and got beaten on Saturday. But now we’ve got back-to-back wins and it was good for us to get the points. We’ve got competition for places, and that’s good. No one is resting on their laurels. It’s nice for me to come off the bench and score, but it’s a team effort. Winning breeds confidence, and goals breed confidence. After two 3-0 victories, the confidence is high. After we got beaten at West Ham, everyone was devastated. Home Park was a down place to be, but now everyone is upbeat and we’re looking forward to the next game.” Argyle’s next fixture is at Derby County on Saturday, a game which could be Blackstock’s last in a green shirt, unless his one-month loan move from Southampton is extended. He said: “My initial loan period finishes next week, after the Derby game. I’ll have to sit down with Bobby Williamson and see what’s happening from there.” Bobby Williamson admitted Blackstock had been unfortunate not to make the starting line-up for the visit of Crewe. "Dexter scored a good goal on Tuesday and usually when someone comes off the bench and does that I look to use them," he said. "But Chadwick and Mickey Evans had been working very hard for the cause and I felt they could trouble Crewe, and they did." Williamson is hoping Southampton manager Harry Redknapp will let Blackstock stay at Home Park until the end of the season. "I will have a chat with Harry and we will wait and see what develops," he said.
Bobby Williamson has not set any points targets for his team to ensure their Championship status this season. He said: "The only targets I set are to win the game every Saturday and we take what we get out of it. I haven't set any points target for the season because I don't know what's going to happen on a weekly basis."
Bobby Williamson has admitted that Marino Keith could be about to leave the club. Williamson said: "He's still part of the squad this morning, definitely. Could that change? Yes. Possibly tomorrow, but it's bit premature. I don't like talking about things until they are concluded, but there seems to be an interesting offer for Marino and, if it's suitable for him, then fine. It's got to be suitable for Marino, first and foremost. It's not a case of me trying to get rid of him, or trying to move him. It's what is in his best interests, because he has been a very good player for this club."
Bobby Williamson set his players a target after yesterdays win. "These guys have got to show a level of consistency," said Williamson. "If they want to play in this division, they have got to play consistently well. We have not done that for long periods at a time and we have got to keep pushing each other, and encouraging each other to keep going. It has been a difficult week after the result of last Saturday, but the boys have showed a lot of character and have let everybody know our intentions, and that's to try and move up this division. I'm delighted to get the goals and the points. We've worked hard for it. It was only a matter of time that we started putting the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis and I'm glad it came sooner, rather than later. It's been a tremendous effort. There were a lot of people feeling the effects of Tuesday, mentally, as well as physically. I'm a great believer that, if you believe in what you are doing and stay strong, it will come right again, and we are not a terribly bad team. We can compete in this division, as we have proved. That was always our aim - to compete - and we are not too far away from doing that. Football can change so quickly. That's why you don't lose it. I'm experienced enough. I've seen it change the other way, when you have been doing well, you have a defeat and you are on that slippery slope. There's no such thing as a comfort zone. That pressure is always there." Williamson denied that he had felt under pressure following the defeat at West Ham. I don't read the newspapers, because that's where the pressure comes from," he said. "The fans will give me stick on a Saturday and maybe during the week, if they bump into me. But, as I say to our fans, they don't have to write to newspapers - they can write to me with their 'phone number and I will speak to them. 'Press' is short for 'pressure', I think."
Argyle beat Crewe Alexandra 3-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Paul Wotton after 25 minutes, Dexter Blackstock (68) and Scott Taylor (90). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Buzsaky, Wotton, Adams, Chadwick, Evans. Subs - Blackstock, Taylor, Gudjonsson (not used - Lasley, Kouo-Doumbe). Attendance - 14,918. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
David Norris was delighted to find himself at the heart of a winning Argyle side again on Tuesday, and wants to be part of a repeat performance today. "We started the game so well on Tuesday," he said yesterday. "Everyone was up for it. We needed to get something from the game, even though we probably weren't fancied, and we've just got to take that into tomorrow's game now." Norris was one of nine players picked to start on Tuesday who were part of last season's squad. "A lot of last season's team are used to playing with each other, and we know what is expected of us," Norris said. "We knew each other's games, and that might have helped a little bit. We've had quite a few new players coming in as well, and that could have helped us too the other night. Those of us that did play all know that there are players here waiting to take our places. All the boys who have come in have all bought something a bit special and a bit extra to the squad, otherwise they wouldn't have been signed. Nick did really well up front against Sheffield United - he works really hard as well as the other attributes he has. Akos worked hard too and is a really good player, and Dexter came on and did well. With all the other new boys as well, we've got a really strong squad now." The threat of relegation is not something that Norris is losing too much sleep over. "We take it from game to game," he said. "If we're still right down there nearer the end of the season, it will start becoming a bit more of a problem. But there are quite a few games to go, and it's such a tight league that it would only take a few wins to see us in the middle of the table again." Norris admitted that he was not in peak form when he was left out of the side. "I wasn't playing as well as I could do," he said. "I had no real complaints. Maybe I was surprised I was left out for so long, since things weren't changing too much while I was out. I thought I might have got back in a little bit earlier, but you just have to bide your time and wait for your chance again, and I did." Norris is hoping the Argyle fans will be as supportive against Crewe today as they were against Sheffield United. "I think the good atmosphere was a bit of a surprise to us," he said. "After the performance at West Ham there could have been a bit of a backlash, but the fans were magnificent. The non-stop singing definitely helped us."
Bobby Williamson will make sure his team do not take three points for granted today. "We cannot be complacent," he said. "We cannot be overconfident. We are confident before we go into any game, without being overconfident, and the players will be reminded of that. They know too well how difficult it was for us at Crewe, and it will be difficult today. If we get the breaks, like we did on Tuesday - for the first time in a long time - then I am hopeful we will get the result we need. Crewe gave us one of our biggest defeats when we played up there and we want to get a bit of revenge for that one." Williamson is delighted, but not surprised, that his evolving squad turned around their week so dramatically on Tuesday. "I've been in football long enough to know that things can change very quickly," he said. "Everybody is still smarting after the West Ham defeat, where individual mistakes cost us dearly; we never made any on Tuesday and got the result. You have just got to keep believing that what you are doing is right, keep backing each other, be supportive, and we'll get our just rewards. People question team-spirit all the time, and that is quite frustrating because we have got it in abundance. I'm not saying we have got any more than any other team, but we have got a good dressing-room, players who respect each other and work hard for each other. That's the way it's got to be. I've got to try to keep adding the quality to give us competition for every position and, if a couple of lads find themselves out of the team one week, they know that, if they work hard, they can find themselves back in it. That should keep everyone on edge and playing to their capabilities. That's why I think we're seeing the best out of one or two of them at the moment." Whatever the result today Williamson will remain a subscriber to the 'you're not as good as you think you are when you win and you're not as bad as you think you are when you lose' school of philosophy. "There's a lot of points still to be played for this season," he said. "Nothing is critical at this time. There are a lot of teams in our sights that we can catch, and that's the aim. We cannot worry about what's behind us and hope those teams lose games, we've got to try to catch the teams above us. If we get a couple of results, we could find ourselves sitting comfortably, for a few weeks at least. That's the nature of this game - anybody can beat anybody. We managed to get a good result against a very good Sheffield United side on Tuesday. It was a magnificent result from everyone - players, fans, directors - pulling together. If we continue to do that, we'll not be far away."
Bobby Williamson does not have the option of sending out an unchanged team against Crewe today as Tony Capaldi serves a one match suspension. Capaldi, along with David Norris on the opposite flank, was given his first start this month in midweek. Their consistency, or lack of it, has been a worry for Williamson. "They have to prove to the rest of the players that they deserve to be picked," he said. "If they, or any of the other guys, are not playing consistently well, then I have to be fair to the other guys and give somebody else an opportunity. Unfortunately, when Capaldi and Norris are not in the team, we have to change the shape, because we don't really have other players who give us that natural width. That frustrates me as well as the fans, because I prefer playing 4-4-2. I would like to try and stick to that as much as possible. Tony being unavailable for selection does give us a bit of a headache, but we can change to suit. Crewe like to play with three tight in midfield, and David Vaughan pushed on a bit to give them three up front. We might have to do likewise to nullify that threat, and then go and ask questions of them. If Tony had been available, he might have had to tuck in a bit."
Paul Sturrock confirmed yesterday that reports of a £50,000 bid by his club for Mickey Evans were wide of the mark. "We have not made a bid," Sturrock said. "Surmising always sells papers. Anyone who's going out of contract at Plymouth will be fair game. It is easy for a journalist to make up." Bobby Williamson declared: "There are probably quite a few players here that Paul Sturrock fancies, but if he likes them then it's a safe bet that I like them too. I'm not in any mind to sell anybody to anybody just now. I need our players here to compete for places and work as hard as they can do to get us into a healthier position."
Bobby Williamson has insisted he is not losing sleep about the results of Argyle's relegation rivals and is concentrating solely on his team. He said: "You take notice of what's happening in the division, of course you do, but I can't dwell on it and worry about what's happening elsewhere. This is the only place where I can affect results and that's why I totally focus on that. Nothing ever changes there."
Graham Coughlan scored the 3,000th goal in the Football League this season on Tuesday. If the 72 Football League clubs score 4,500 goals this season they will share a £1 million prize from Coca-Cola to spend on an apprentice or a young up-and-coming player. Coughlan coaches 9 to 11-year-olds at Argyle's centre of excellence twice a week and believes the 4,500 goal chase is a great idea. He said: "It's a fantastic gesture. The money is needed by lower league clubs. Anything is gratefully received. I love coaching the young kids. It's great their enthusiasm could be rewarded by this kind of initiative. If possible, we would like to do more coaching sessions. At the moment, it's two hours a week. We would love it if more coaches could be brought in. It would help us improve our youth system from top to bottom. Our expenses are pretty high compared to most other clubs because of where we are. We have games against young sides at Torquay, Exeter and Swindon. They are meant to be local games but are still long journeys for us." Coughlan added: "I learned the game back home in Ireland and would have loved the chance of getting these opportunities. I want to give something back to the game. It would be nice to look back and say that I helped."
Steven Milne will continue his comeback from a knee injury when Argyle reserves play Cheltenham Town on Tuesday. Bobby Williamson said: "The quality of reserve games we are playing isn't to the highest standards. A lot of clubs are deciding to play kids and that's troublesome, especially if you have got experienced players needing to get games. We will see how Milne does next week. It will get him 90 minutes under his belt."
Bobby Williamson has admitted he is hoping to extend the loan of Dexter Blackstock until the end of the season. He said: "If he's happy here and we are happy with him, and Southampton give us permission to keep him for longer, then I would like to do that. We have got two games to go so we will wait and see what develops. I think he has enjoyed his time here and he has been unfortunate not to score more goals. I have enjoyed working with the kid and I see a huge potential there. I'm hoping we can keep him here as long as we can."
Bobby Williamson has warned that Crewe will not make it easy for Argyle tomorrow and they will need to show the same sort of commitment as they did against Sheffield United. He said: "Three points gets us close to quite a lot of teams, and that's the aim to try to catch the teams above us. We are more than capable but I hope our fans don't come along and think it's just going to lead on from Tuesday. We have got to work hard and set the tone for the match by starting well, as we did against Sheffield United. If the fans give us the encouragement and the backing as they have been doing, hopefully, we will not let them down, but Crewe are no soft touches. They have been in this division for a while now and Dario Gradi has been there for many a year and knows what it takes. They will be well guarded about what we can offer and we know what they can do. We have just got to nullify it and get them on the back foot.”
Sheffield Wednesday have reportedly denied making an approach for Mickey Evans. Yesterday Bobby Williamson said: " Because a player sits on my bench everybody seems to think he's off to Sheffield Wednesday. Mickey is a big part of things here. I don't know where these stories come from, but I'm not going to add to any speculation. I'll wait and see if anything happens or develops, but I'm not welcoming anything. Players leave this club because they want to, not because the manager decides that he has had enough of them or anything like that."
Bobby Williamson has predicted that once Nick Chadwick gets his first goal for Argyle many more will follow. "He played a good game the other night and I have been impressed with him since he has come to the club," said Williamson. "Until you work with a player you don't really know their strengths and weaknesses. He will score goals, I have no doubt about that. Once he gets one, he will get the hunger and desire to get another. He has got the hunger and desire just now. He has been very unfortunate not to get himself a goal up until now. I'm positive all our strikers can score goals, given the right chances."
Bobby Williamson would not be drawn on whether Mathias Doumbe had a chance of getting an immediate recall to the side following his suspension. He said: "I will decide what I feel is going to be the best team to get a result tomorrow. I look at the players in training and I watch them on a daily basis. So I know who's right for the job and I'm just hoping they go out and do themselves justice. If they don't then I have got to change it."
Sheffield Wednesday are reported to have made a bid for Mickey Evans, believed to be around £50,000
Bobby Williamson has admitted he breathed a sigh of relief when Argyle ended their long winless streak on Tuesday. He said: "It is always a feeling of relief as a manager when you get the result. It is relief rather than delight, and that is the same for every manager. I don't think that is right, but that's the way it is. The three days after the West Ham game hurt badly, and I feel solely responsible for bad defeats. But I took it on the chin, and it was great to see the reaction of the players on Tuesday night." Williamson hopes the win will kickstart a run of victories - starting against Crewe on Saturday. "The confidence has always been there from the players, but results do instil it," he said. "I believe in these guys. We showed on Tuesday night what we can do, as United are not a bad team, and are always up there in the league, as well as performing in the cup. Hopefully the result will bring confidence - but not over confidence, that's the last thing we want. What we need to do now is kick on and go on a run." Williamson made six changes to the side that lost to West Ham recalling David Norris, Tony Capaldi, Mickey Evans, Paul Connolly and Paul Wotton, who returned from suspension. Williamson said Wotton had another influential match: "Paul has done well at centre-back, but I think he gives us more in midfield. He would never have been in position to score that great goal against Sheffield United if he wasn't playing in midfield. He is a big player for us - although we have a few big players. When he is out of the team, Paul always comes back to prove people wrong. Why he has doubters out there at all I don't know." Williamson also praised Graham Coughlan. "Graham had a decent game last night," he said. "I think him and a few others were below par at West Ham, but he showed against Sheffield he is a good player for this team. It was not just about his goal - it was about his all-round contribution on Tuesday night.” Williamson added: "We need that competitiveness in us, and it was great to hear Sheffield United say we bullied them. But I would rather say we competed very well. One good performance does not make a season, and we have got to follow this up on Saturday."
David Worrell is a doubt for Saturday's game against Crewe. He suffered a knee ligament injury in the closing seconds at West Ham
Children will be able to watch Argyle for just £1 this weekend as the game against Crewe has been designated as a "Kid-a-Quid" game for Under-16s. In addition to this offer, for the games against Brighton and Watford fans will be able buy an additional ticket at half-price. The offer will apply to season-ticket holders in the Devonport end and Lyndhurst stand for the Brighton game and for members in the Mayflower Grandstand and on the Mayflower terrace for the Watford game. For the Cardiff City game, any adult that buys a full-price ticket will be given two free junior tickets to bring along two under-16 year-olds. Michael Dunford said: "All these initiatives have been introduced not simply to make a profit, although we have to be commercially aware about it, but, the more supporters we have in this stadium, the better atmosphere it is - everyone benefits. We hope they work and, from previous experience at other clubs, I'm certain it will be well received."
Bobby Williamson gave the praise to his players after Argyle’s win over Sheffield United. He said: "Football can be a cruel game, and the last few days have been as bad as it gets. At the end of the day, I get the blame for everything when we get beat; the players get the credit tonight because they went out and got the ball in the back of the net and won the game for us. I just hope the fans stick by them because they work very hard. Saturday was just one of those days when everything went against us, and I think everybody got bit carried away with the defeat. This is a very difficult division we are playing in. I've said all along I feel we are competing very well in it. Hopefully we can start getting a few results and getting in a respectable position. Everybody at the bottom of every division has got their hard luck stories to tell and we've not had our breaks at all. That's football. I can live with that. The players have got to show a level of consistency in this division, they have got to perform as well as they did tonight in every game, not one in three or one in four. There's still plenty of football to be played, plenty of points to be won, yet we seem to be nervous. I'm certainly not going to panic. It's up to each and every one of us to work as hard as we can. We've seen tonight the response we got from the players, how much it means to them. They want to do well for the fans and themselves. People keep questioning the belief, the team spirit, the confidence, but I work with these guys on a daily basis and I will not let their heads go down because they have got to be able to enjoy their work. I have got to take the pressure off them, instil confidence in them to go out and express themselves and I'm glad they got a result tonight. Nobody puts any more pressure on than I put on myself. This is my life, I'm proud to be part of this club and I am going to work as hard as I can for the people who work here and the fans. I've never questioned the fans' support of the club. They are very, very passionate. I'm sure they are disappointed with the results recently but my aim this season was to get a team that can challenge in this division, and I believe we have. I'm sure we'll have a game like West Ham, when nothing goes right for us and individual mistakes are costly, but we have got to stay together and keep believing in what we are doing is right. I don't want to let anybody down here, especially the supporters. I certainly think this club is still going forward and, if we get the backing, I don't think we'll be too far away. Sheffield United are challenging again and have got a replay to look forward to against Arsenal, and we managed to score three goals against them, which is no mean feat. They don't concede too many and usually get the ball in the opposition's net, as well, and we've kept a clean sheet. So we've got lots to be pleased about." Williamson will not however, allow himself even the merest of basks in the success. He said: "It can be the worst feeling in the world when you lose a game but I never let myself get too high when we do get results because I know the next kick in the backside is just around the corner."
Argyle beat Sheffield United 3-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Graham Coughlan after 3 minutes, Paul Wotton (47) and Dexter Blackstock (88). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Buzsaky, Wotton, Capaldi, Chadwick, Evans. Subs - Blackstock (not used - Lasley, Gudjonsson, Adams, Taylor). Attendance - 13,953. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Paul Wotton is set to return to the team after a one-match suspension for tonight's game against Sheffield United. The decision for Bobby Williamson is whether to play Wotton in defence or midfield as Mathias Kouo-Doumbe is serving a one-match ban. Williamson admitted the captain had been sorely missed at Upton Park. He said: "Paul's contract was renewed because of what he offers us. We did have an inquiry from another club but we didn't want to lose him because of what he gives us in the dressing room. We have not got enough of his type in the dressing room, I'm afraid. That's not being disrespectful to the other players. It's either in your make-up or it's not and Paul Wotton has got it. What he lacks for in ability - and he doesn't lack too much, I must admit - he makes up for with guts and endeavour. It will be hurting him even though he was not involved on Saturday." Williamson did not have any complaints about the dismissal of Doumbe at Upton Park after the match, but having watched video footage he said: "It wasn't very conclusive to be honest, and the referee's positioning wasn't great either because he was behind the play. All I can presume is that he felt Matt Doumbe has tackled the lad from behind. I think Matt was beside him when he stuck his leg out. Whether he got the ball or not is not conclusive in the TV evidence, but it's harsh to have been dealt a blow like that. In those circumstances it's a double jeopardy - you concede a goal and you get a man sent-off. But that's the rules and we abide by them and move on." Williamson added: "Wottsie can come in at centre-back and so can Hasney Aljofree, so we have got options." Tony Capaldi and David Norris are set to be recalled to the starting line-up after they impressed on Saturday. Williamson said: "They helped us and inspired us, although, I may add, it's easier to play at 3-0 down because the opposition can get into a comfort zone. Hindsight is a brilliant thing in football. If I'd known Tony and David would play so well in the second half, they'd have been playing in the first half, but I wasn't to know that. I never got any indication from the reserve game the previous Wednesday that they were capable of that sort of performance. They have given me food for thought for tonight. There were some positives we could take from Saturday's game. Nick Chadwick could have found himself on the scoresheet, but for a good save from the West Ham goalkeeper. I'm sure he'll score goals for us, given the right supply."
Bobby Williamson has appealed for more time as Argyle battle against relegation. He said: "The teams that go for knee-jerk reactions and change things around too quickly usually find themselves worse off. I have seen it happen on numerous occasions, and I have seen it happen the other way when a proven manager gets the time and gets it sorted. I'm a proven manager, and as I said, all you need is time in this game because it doesn't happen overnight, as some people might think. I want to do well for this club - for the fans, for the board of directors who employed me, for all the employees at the club. I know how hard we all work and we want to stay in this division. It was disappointing to lose the game in the manner which we did on Saturday but we have got to learn from it, move on and get a result that will lift us up the table." Of Neil Warnocks Sheffield United, Williamson said: "They have been playing well. They put West Ham out of the FA Cup last week and then went to Highbury on Saturday and got a very good result. They will be coming here buoyant and I hope they are a bit complacent, although I'm sure Neil Warnock will have them well warned. We are all smarting here. We let everybody down on Saturday, including ourselves, and we want to bounce back tonight."
Bobby Williamson has admitted to being under pressure, but that it was not a new experience for him. "I'm the manager - the pressure is on me, not the players," he said. "They've have got to go out and do their best. If they do that, I'll live with that. You can't legislate for individual mistakes during matches, but, if they are honest enough, I'll live with that. I put myself under pressure, whether we are top of the league, middle of the league, or bottom of the league. I don't need outside influences to try and pressurise me any more than what I put myself under. I want to do well for this club, for the fans, for the board of directors who employ me, and for all the employees at the club. I know how hard we all work, and we want to stay in this division. The pressure is always on me and, whether we are top, middle or bottom, I treat it all the same. We have got to keep playing, keep lifting our game and working as hard as we can do, and I'm sure we won't be far away in the end. We were all told at the start of the season that it was going to be hard, and it still is hard, but we are still in there fighting, and as long as we have got a chance, then we will keep on fighting. I look at Derby's situation this season to the position they are in last year. That shows you how things can change. It takes time. George Burley has been at Derby for a long time and he has transformed it. He has turned it around. They are looking well. George has done tremendously well, but he was given time. That's what you need in this game."
The proposed transfer of Marino Keith to Blackpool has collapsed. It is thought Keith could not agree personal terms. He returned to training with Argyle last Thursday but was not included in the squad for the defeat at West Ham
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe will miss the match against Sheffield United tomorrow following his red card at West Ham on Saturday
Tony Capaldi will be suspended for the clash with Crewe. Capaldi collected his fifth yellow card of the season at West Ham on Saturday
Saturday’s loss at West Ham prevented a happy return to the team for Hasney Aljofree. " We could have avoided all the goals from set pieces. We let ourselves down badly," Aljofree said. "Our defending wasn't good enough, especially from set-pieces. We work hard in training to avoid this kind of scenario, so that was shambolic from our point of view. It should never have happened. To concede one goal from a corner and then another is just a crime itself. It's not right at all." Aljofree has had his fair share of injuries this term, and was in the wars again on Saturday. A cut above his left eye kept him off the field for several minutes in the first half, during which West Ham scored their second goal. Aljofree was kept on the touchline until all traces of blood had been removed, and he had to finish the first half wearing a shirt which bore neither name nor number. "The fourth official was being overly busy," Aljofree said. "We got all the blood cleaned up and I got my shirt changed and he still wouldn't let me come on the pitch, because he said I had a speck of blood in my eye." Aljofree was happy to play 90 minutes of League football for the first time since his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday in the autumn. "I've missed it," he said. "It's been a long time. I tried my best, and it was just so disappointing we never got the right result.. I have worked really hard in training, as much as I can, and played in the reserves and you are always hoping you are going to get a chance. I tried my best today and I thought I did okay. Obviously when you lose 5-0 you aren't happy with that as a defender but I was just happy to play a game."
Bobby Williamson admitted to being hurt as defensive errors saw Argyle slump to their heaviest defeat for more than four years. Williamson said: "I wish we were playing tomorrow, because it hurts me, it hurts the fans, and it hurts the players. Maybe Sheffield United will feel we are a soft touch and they are coming down to Plymouth to go away with three points but I am looking for a reaction from our guys, and will get it. We didn't do ourselves justice at all today. I'm disappointed for the fans who turned up in good voice and in good number - we didn't give them enough to cheer us on. We were organised, but, if players go to sleep and don't pick up their man, or they put a hand up and give away a penalty, it's very difficult to accept as a manager, but you put it down as a honest mistake and move on. It's our worst performance as a team, I would say. I know the players are as gutted as I am, and I know the fans will be. You are always disappointed when you concede the goals we conceded. If you analyse them, there's at least four we could have defended better. Even the good goal they got - I felt Sheringham's first goal was a decent goal - we gave away possession in the middle of the park and got caught out of position. We conceded bad goals and gave them every encouragement to go on and win the game. West Ham knocked the ball around very well at times and caused us all sorts of problems, with Sheringham dropping off, and Rebrov earlier in the match, but I felt we could deal with that. If we hadn't given the goals away cheaply, it might have made it harder for them." Williamson changed the Argyle line-up at half-time, bringing on Tony Capaldi and David Norris after supporters had chanted the players' names. "I'll analyse the game and I'll look at myself, and the fans can judge me," said Williamson. "They are disappointed. They shouted for Capaldi and Norris, and they came on in the second half. Not because the fans were shouting for them, I may add, because I thought it was the right thing to do. I felt David Norris played as well he has played for long enough. He seemed to have his appetite back again and he'll come into my thoughts for Tuesday. If we could have got a goal back, we could have asked questions of West Ham, but we never took our chances. The goalkeeper made a couple of decent saves, to be honest, and that made things difficult for us." West Ham's crucial second goal was conceded when Hasney Aljofree was off the pitch getting treatment for a cut to his head. "He was standing beside me and the fourth official wouldn't let him on," said Williamson. "I don't understand this rule. We see boxers knocking lumps out of each other and they still fight on, yet we have got to keep players off the park until the blood's dried. It wasn't running. He had Vaseline on it and that stopped it running down his face and on to his shirt. It would have been easy for me to say he would have been on the post and cleared the ball, but I'm not looking for any easy answers."
Argyle lose 5-0 at West Ham United. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Kouo-Doumbe, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gudjonsson, Adams, Buzsaky, Lasley, Blackstock, Chadwick. Subs - Norris, Capaldi (not used - Evans, Gilbert, Taylor). Attendance - 25,490.
Keith Lasley has not been part of a victorious Argyle team for a long time, but is relishing life right now. He said: “At first it was quite hard for me to find my feet after being out for a good few weeks, but I’ve felt stronger every game I’ve played since I’ve come back. Going to places like West Ham is what being in this league is all about. We’re all looking forward to it. We went to Wigan and won there, so we need not fear anyone. We’ve got to defend well first of all and then see what happens after that.” Lasley now finds himself playing with Akos Buzsaky, who came to the club from Porto, the sort of player that he feels is is a sign that the club are on the right road. “It shows we’re ambitious and want to go forward,” he said. “Bringing in guys like Akos also keeps the rest of us on our toes. The new guys have made an impact already, and hopefully we can start winning again and start moving up the league. They’re good players and they’re looking to improve themselves. Hopefully they can spur us on to better results.”
Paul Sturrock is reported to be interested in signing Hasney Aljofree and David Norris for Sheffield Wednesday. Sturrock said: “We are looking every week to strengthen our football club. Every week we go back to see if our targets are available. That’s the way we work. There may be a couple of loan players in the next few weeks and sometimes your long-term targets become available, but they are ongoing.” Bobby Williamson said: “You guys will speculate about that. To put all these things out in newspapers just now, I think, is a bit premature. It does unsettle players and unsettle fans alike.”
Bobby Williamson was pleased with the return to action of Steven Milne. He said: “We weren’t expecting him to get any reaction and he didn’t. It has been a while since he has been involved. We will take things gradually with him and, hopefully, he will get the benefit and we will get the benefit.” Williamson was frustrated however, that Argyle’s strong reserve team line-up came up against such an inexperienced Bournemouth side. e said: “It’s disappointing when you travel as far afield as that and discover there are not many first team players in the opposition. But that’s understandable, hey had a game the previous evening. We are not getting the competition we need in this league, but we can only put out our players and get them match practice. Scotty Taylor took part in the game and scored a good goal, so that will give him a boost.”
Dundee manager Jim Duffy has described as ‘rubbish’ reports that he is planning to sign Steven Milne from Argyle
Steve Adams is set to be recalled against West Ham United at tomorrow. Bobby Williamson, though, was not giving away any clues about how he would replace Paul Wotton. "We know what Stevie's qualities are but there are a few players who can play in the middle of the park," he said. "I might change the formation. That's my prerogative. We will be working on a few things between now and tomorrow and, hopefully, we will get it right." Paul Connolly is available again following suspension but Williamson has strongly hinted that David Worrell will continue at right-back. He said: "Connolly played for the reserves the other night but he has had the three-match ban and his fitness levels have probably dropped a bit. I will take that into consideration before I pick a team for tomorrow." Nick Chadwick and Dexter Blackstock are expected to continue as the strikeforce and Williamson said: "It's always difficult when you move to a new club. I thought they did okay last week and, with a bit of luck, both of them could have been on the scoresheet. Unfortunately for us, that never happened but they have got a chance for tomorrow again." Argyle are in need of a win, as they are only five points clear of the relegation zone. Williamson said: "Going to Upton Park is always an occasion and I'm sure our fans will turn up in good numbers and good voice. Hopefully, they will encourage us to get the result we need." Jocky Scott saw West Ham last Sunday when they lost to Sheffield United and Williamson also watched the cup tie on television. "We had that game covered and we have got reports on West Ham," said Williamson. "We know what to expect but we have got to make sure we know what we are doing." Argyle are taking 2,500 supporters to Upton Park for the match and Williamson added: "This is why we want to be in this division. We want to be playing the likes of West Ham and, hopefully, shock them. If their supporters think we are just going there to make up the numbers and roll over then, hopefully, we can surprise them and get a result that will suit our needs."
Bjarni Gudjonsson thinks tomorrow may be a good time to play West Ham. He said: "It's a big game and maybe it's a good time to play them - if there is ever a good time to play them. But it's all about us. It's what we do, how hard we work and how well we perform. Teams like West Ham might have bigger fanbases or bigger grounds than us, but I think we can go anywhere in this league and get three points." Gudjonsson was frustrated with the 1-1 draw against Rotherham last Saturday. He said: "We should be better and we are better than that game. We were all very disappointed, but we need to look forward and tomorrow is the most important game for us now. The shape defensively has been much better over the last two games and we need to build on that when we go to West Ham." Gudjonsson has enjoyed his move to Home Park but wishes the results had been better since his arrival. "It's a nice life down here and I have settled into the area," he said. "Everything about the club is good, but I would have been delighted with more points. It's a great bunch of lads and it's a close group as well, maybe because of where we are positioned in the country. They helped me settle in very well. When asked about his own performances, Gudjonsson replied: "You can always do better. I think everybody can do better and I need to do better." Gudjonsson is confident Argyle have the ability to stay in the Championship this season, despite recent results. He said: "We have got some good players and we just need to work very hard because this is a very close league. We have to create our own luck. We need to begin moving away from the foot of the table, starting off with a point - hopefully three - tomorrow."
Argyle's reserve’s won 3-0 at Bournemouth last night. Scott Taylor, Steve Adams and Scott Laird scored the goals. Steven Milne played the first 45 minutes in his first game back after recovering from a knee injury. Milne said: "It went okay. The main thing was to get 45 minutes under my belt without having any reaction to my knee and that's what I did. Obviously you want to get match-fit and that's all I was doing. I didn't expect any miracles and I didn't expect to go out there and feel really sharp and score goals. I just wanted to get some fitness under my belt and that's what I did. Hopefully I will play a bit longer in the next reserve game and then build it up from there. I'll see how it goes and whenever the manager thinks I'm ready, I'm sure I'll be available to play."Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Routledge, Laird, Aljofree, Adams, Norris, Capaldi, Dickson, Taylor, Milne. Subs – Zebroski, Hoyles (not used - Bond, Reski, D Evans)
Bobby Williamson has said that he is not bothered by the booing heard after Argyle’s last two home games. "I didn't think there were a lot of boos last Saturday," he said. "Our guys go out there and work their socks off for the cause, and the fans give us as much encouragement as they can do. Yes, some fans were disappointed at the outcome of last Saturday's game, but I can assure them that we were disappointed as well. I've got no complaints about the fans' reactions at all. If we don't win home matches, then I'd expect to hear a few boos. I wasn't happy with the result last weekend, either. It hurt me. I feel responsible for letting everyone down, because I pick the team."
Marino Keith looks set to complete a move to Blackpool before the weekend. The club are believed to have agreed a fee with Argyle for the striker and Keith is believed to be discussing personal terms.
Two clubs, one in the Premiership and one in the championship, are interested in Argyle physio and fitness coach Paul Maxwell. A Home Park source said: "One of the teams keen on Maxie is in the Premiership and the other is a Championship side. He is very happy at Argyle but he only has a contract until next summer and it is flattering for him to be considered by these two clubs."
David Friio has denied leaving Home Park because of a fall-out with Bobby Williamson, admitting that Williamson had told him before Christmas that he wanted him to stay. Friio said: "It was soon after Michael Dunford came to the club as chief executive at the start of January that they spoke to my agent. I didn't fall out with the manager. That was not the case at all. I was disappointed, of course, that I wasn't in the team but I don't know any player who enjoys sitting on the bench, especially when the results aren't going the right way." Friio was at Home Park last Friday morning to say an emotional good-bye to his team-mates and other club officials and staff. "The most important thing for me was to leave Plymouth on a good note - with the manager, the chairman, the directors, the chief executive and the office staff," he said. "I went to see everybody and I shook their hands, which was great because I will be back in Plymouth. It will not be as a player, that's for sure, but I want to keep my relationship with Plymouth in a good way. I have got such good memories of the last three seasons and we have arguably been the most successful side in the club's history, with two titles in three years. It has been a very special time and I'm proud to have been involved in it." Friio admitted he had waved to the Argyle supporters after the whistle at Reading because he thought that might be the last time he played for the team. He said: "It clicked in my mind that I might not be able to wave to the Green Army again, so that's why I did it then. A week after, I wasn't there any more." Friio believes both Argyle and Forest will be in the Championship next season. He said: "That's my dream - I want to stay up as a Forest player and, as a member of the Green Army, I want Argyle to stay up. I will be very sad if one of us goes down, but I think both of us can stay up." Argyle will play Forest on April 9th in what could be a crucial game but Friio is not looking that far forward. He said: "People talk about April 9 and it is going to be emotional but there are so many points to be played for before then. We are going to be fighting for three points in every game."
Argyle's two new strikers are hoping that their Premiership pedigree can help to steer the team to safety in the Championship. Nick Chadwick said: "There is potential, even after one game together. Last Saturday the high winds spoiled any real chance of decent play for the two of us and the whole team. All we could do was battle for every ball. There is definitely potential, though, and hopefully we can get on the scoresheet sooner rather than later." Dexter Blackstock said: "There were flashes last weekend of what we can do. It might take a little while to learn the runs we each make, but I'm sure it won't take too long." Chadwick added: "There is quality in the squad here. We need to keep things tight at the back, and both of us are confident of nicking a goal. The other forwards that are here, Scott and Mickey, are both capable of scoring goals as well. It's up to all of us to make sure we're hard to beat and we stay tight at one end, and hopefully we can nick a goal at the other end." Blackstock added: "We do get it down and play, and I think it's only a certain amount of time before someone is on the end of a drubbing from us. But we know we're down there, and we're going to have to keep battling for every point, and nothing is going to be easy. There are teams fighting for their lives and there are teams looking for promotion, so no game is going to be easy, but I don't think we should have any problem staying up." Chadwick is looking forward to Argyle's trip to West Ham on Saturday and said: "Going to grounds like Upton Park can only bring out the best in players. Hopefully we can go there and get a good result." The arrival of the pair has given Argyle plenty of options up front. "That's what the club needs," Blackstock said. "If you get too comfortable in a team, you start under-performing. It keeps us on our toes."
Bobby Williamson has ruled out playing Tony Capaldi as a regular left-back. Williamson said: "On Saturday we took Peter Gilbert off and put an extra striker on. There were quite a few people who said why didn't we put Aljofree or Capaldi there, but I wanted to change it around so we could get another striker on and be positive. You make decisions as you see fit. Hasney Aljofree is not terribly comfortable at left-back and Tony Capaldi is not a left-back in my mind. He's more of an offensive player. These are the reasons why those guys weren't thrown into the fray, plus the fact I wanted to change it and be more positive, which I think we were." Aljofree, meanwhile, is one of six Argyle players whose current contracts end in June and it is thought Sheffield Wednesday manager Paul Sturrock will make a move for him. Also out of contract this summer are Romain Larrieu, Worrell, David Norris, Mickey Evans and Marino Keith. When asked about the six out-of-contract players, Williamson said: "These things take time and I will not be talking about them every other day in newspapers. Once we conclude one way or another then we will inform everybody but I will not be going on about it in newspapers until they actually sign. Once we have got something to talk about, I will talk about it It's not a concern. Every club is going through this period and have got players coming out of contract."
Paul Wotton has admitted he is sorry to see David Friio leave Argyle. He said: "Is it a big blow David leaving? I don't know. David was a great servant to the club but things happen. Players move on and players come in. There is no point losing sleep over it. He has gone now. I wished David all the best and I will still speak to him because he's a good friend of mine."
Bobby Williamson knows just how big a part luck plays in football and last Saturday saw another example of Argyle’s current bad luck. Nick Chadwick hit the crossbar and Dexter Blackstock headed home only for an offside flag to go up, that television evidence has shown was incorrect, that meant the goal was disallowed. "We've been saying that all season," Williamson said. "If the breaks go for you, they can help your cause. If they go against you, they certainly don't help your cause. The penalty we got looked reasonably soft, but that doesn't really matter. It shouldn't come into consideration. I don't know how the linesman got it wrong for Dexter's 'goal'. It was in his line of vision, he didn't have to move himself, and he should have seen ball, man, the whole picture. He got it wrong, and it was so costly for us. That's been the case throughout the season. I was disappointed for Dexter and for the team. It was a legitimate goal. But we have to live with it, and move on." Next, Argyle take on West Ham United after the Hammers' penalty shoot-out exit from the FA Cup at Sheffield United. "I'm glad," Williamson added. "We always wanted to be playing. We'll look forward to the West Ham game. These are the venues that our fans want to go to and our players want to play at. I'm hoping that we can go there and get good backing from the fans and a break or two on the day, and come away with the points."
Lee Hodges is still troubled by his back injury but Steven Milne is starting his second week back in full training, following his knee problem. Milne may be able to play in the reserve game at Bournemouth tomorrow. Steve Adams and David Norris may also play
Bobby Williamson is disappointed that Paul Wotton will be suspended for the trip to West Ham United on Saturday. He said: "It's a blow because he has certainly been a big player for us this season. He's our top goalscorer and is involved in everything good we do on the park. But now somebody else gets an opportunity to come in and stake a claim and that's the competition you are looking for."
Paul Wotton has revealed that his contract talks had been taking place for more than a month. He said: "Talks have been ongoing for a month or so. This contract will take me past the age of 30, and it's an important stage of my career. I've got a young family to support and we've just moved into a new house, so the timing couldn't have been better. There were one or two other clubs interested in me, but leaving Plymouth was never in my thoughts. Everyone knows how proud I am to play for and captain the team. All my family and all my wife's family are from Plymouth, and it's a great place to live and work. I love the city and I love the football club, and I'm thrilled to be here for a good few years yet. The law of averages should suggest that sooner or later one manager might think that you can't quite cut it or you don't make the grade, but, touch wood, all the managers that I've played for seem to think that I'm half-decent. I'm grateful to the club for the new contract and to Bobby Williamson for picking me. Some people said I couldn't make the step-up from the Third Division to the Second, and I cruised it. People said I couldn't make the step-up from the Second to the Championship, but I've scored nine goals now this season and I've played centre-half, centre-midfield and right-back. I've answered a few of my critics, as I have done over the years." Wotton admitted he had thought of leaving Argyle when they were in the lower divisions. "But I'm now playing at a higher level with the team I love, so it's perfect really. When somewhere is your home it's very difficult to leave and, at the end of the day, I am a home boy. Even if we go on holiday I'm itching to get back after three days. That's just the way I am. I'm a family man, and my family live in Plymouth, so that's where I am.” Wotton's latest goal was only enough to earn Argyle a point against Rotherham United. "We were disappointed not to win," he said. "Rotherham had one shot and one goal, but we're just not getting the breaks in the box. It seems to be the story of our season, but it's certainly not due to any lack of hard work or endeavour. The conditions were absolutely horrendous. It was very windy and the pitch was hard, but I'm looking for excuses there and we haven't really got any. We made some decent chances and we got into good crossing positions, but the crossing was poor. We thought at half-time that, if we got an early goal in the second half, we'd go on to win the game comfortably. We got that goal, but Rotherham are fighting for their lives and they are well organised. They just shut up shop. We've got some massive games coming up now against teams like Brighton, Cardiff, Nottingham Forest and Coventry. We're looking forward to them, and if we produce the same endeavour that we've showed in the last two games we shouldn't have any problems. We just need a win under our belts, and I'm sure it will come sooner rather than later."
Bobby Williamson insists his team are not short of confidence. He said: "We didn't show we were low on confidence because we are not, but people keep writing about it and talking about it. Its my job not to let the players get negative or let their heads go down, because you have got to be positive. That's the way I have always been throughout my career. If we were 2-0 down at half-time, I would still believe we were going to win the game. We are not low on confidence and we have got a good squad of players here. I am sure we will trouble a lot of teams if they underestimate us. We have proved against all the top teams in the division we can give them a game, and that's the way it is throughout this division. We had some quality efforts at goal today. We have got to keep encouraging them to have shots at goal. I was never afraid to have a pop at goal myself as a striker and I will certainly encourage that from our players to keep being positive, because that's the only way to start winning games again."
Bobby Williamson welcomed Paul Wotton's timely goal, which gave Argyle a point, after the captain signed his new three-and-a-half year contract before the game. "I'm delighted Paul's decided to stay," said Williamson. "There were other clubs in this division interested in him and he could have moved on at the end of the season - a club made an enquiry this week about buying him. I didn't want to sell him. He's a player I want to keep at this club as long as I'm here - and he might be here longer than I am - because he is a Plymothian; he's Plymouth through and through. I'm glad we discouraged other clubs. David's different. David wanted to go to Forest and we couldn't stand in his way. We could have kept him here, kicking his heels until the end of the season but we would have had a very disgruntled player on our hands. He made it abundantly clear that this was a move he wanted to make. He wanted to make it now, for family reasons because his wife is due in the summer and he wanted to be settled in the area. The timing wasn't great from our point of view. It was very good from David's. Having been a good servant of the club and a fans' favourite I just couldn't see how we could have held on to him. We refused the first offer that Forest made and David was up in arms; we accepted the second, which was much closer than we were looking for, and he goes with our best wishes." Williamson was disappointed with the result: "I though we did enough to win the game," he said. "A couple of decent saves from their goalkeeper and the ball coming off the underside of the crossbar, coming out and not going in was the story of the day. We have dropped two points today, no disrespect to Rotherham. It doesn't matter who we are playing at home - if we don't take three points, I think it is two points lost. I thought we were the team in the game, to be honest. We had chances. We had more efforts at goal, more on-target, than we have had in recent weeks, and just a bit of luck would have changed it for us. We were never out of the game but scoring the goal just after half-time gave us the impetus to push on. Unfortunately for us, we couldn't capitalise on it and we finished up with a draw. We certainly worked hard enough. If we keep working as hard as that, I'm sure we will pick up points. We have got to keep believing. I have always believed that, if you work hard, the results will come. I'm sure they will come. We've got a decent team here."
Argyle draw 1-1 with Rotherham United at Home Park, Paul Wotton scoring with a 51st minute penalty. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Kouo-Doumbe, Coughlan, Gilbert, Gudjonsson, Buzsaky, Wotton, Lasley, Chadwick, Blackstock. Subs - Evans, Capaldi (not used - Norris, Aljofree, Taylor). Attendance - 14,798. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Paul Wotton has agreed a new three-and-a-half-year contract with Argyle. "I am truly, truly thrilled," he said. "It shows my commitment to the club and the club's commitment to me. I am so glad it's been sorted out, absolutely thrilled." Bobby Williamson said: "We're delighted we've come to an agreement. As I've said before, he epitomises what an Argyle footballer should be. He leads by example, wears his heart on his sleeve, and I think all the Argyle fans recognise that. I'm delighted we've secured his services. The qualities he brings to this club are many, and the envy of other clubs. Only this week, another manager in the Championship approached me about Wottsy. We're glad we've put all that to rest and that he has committed his future to his home-town club. He's shown loyalty to this club over a long period of time. We have given him the security he needs for him and his family, and we wish all of them all the best."
David Friio will be at Home Park as a spectator today to make what is likely to be an emotional farewell to the Argyle crowd. He said: "It will be a sad day and a good day, with mixed emotions." Friio spent part of yesterday reading tributes to him on P@SOTI. "I was really surprised to see such support," he added. "It was fantastic. To be honest, my wife Severine cried when she saw what the fans have been writing, and I nearly did the same. I will always remember the good times we have had at Argyle over the last three or four years. We have achieved great things, and I want to thank everybody for their support. It has been magic. I am really happy to join Forest, but sad to leave Argyle. It has been a tough couple of days, but everything is sorted now. I think everyone is happy, and as long as everyone is happy I am happy. There are a few details to negotiate with Forest, but the package is agreed. I think I am joining a massive club. When I was young in France, the big names in English football were Arsenal and Nottingham Forest, more so than even Manchester United. When I refused to sign a new contract at Argyle, Forest came in and put a lot of money on the table for someone who will be out of contract at the end of the season. That means they really wanted me. I had several other offers, but there was only one club I was going to join." Bobby Williamson reluctantly decided not to stand in the way of the Friio, rather than take the risk of having an unhappy player in the dressing room. He said: "David Friio has played a great part in getting this club to where it is today and I'm disappointed he's leaving us. We have made him an offer but so did Nottingham Forest and he has decided that was best for him and his family. I would have been entitled to hang onto him until the summer but when David told me what the situation was with his wife there wasn't an argument. I must assure our fans we did what we could to keep him here but David had made his mind up. I can't stand in anybody's way of earning more money. The timing couldn't have been any worse though. We have got an important game today and I would have preferred to concentrate on that. But David made it clear that he had reached a decision and would have been very disappointed and angry if we had refused him that."
Peter Jones might be leaving the Argyle boardroom but will still be a Home Park regular. Jones said yesterday: "In the three and a half years that I've been part of such a wonderful group of people at Home Park, and I mean the entire staff, not just the boardroom, we seem to have changed Argyle from something that seemed almost irrelevant to Plymouth, and a slight embarrassment to the city, into something that is absolutely essential to the future of Plymouth and a major generator of pride in the city and the region. It has been great. The difference in the perception and the expectations of the club has been dramatic. It has been extraordinary, and it has been so special to have been part of it. The difference in status and support is huge, but there's still a long way to go. Off the field, there is still a lot to be done, and everybody at the club appreciates that. Not least the completion of the rebuilding of the stadium. I very much hope that can be sorted quickly, for the benefit of everyone. But we have done well. We're getting an average crowd of some 15,000 supporters, which is very good for a city the size of Plymouth, and there is a huge amount of interest beyond the people who come to games. That is really important." Jones expanded on the reasons why he and Michael Foot are stepping down, saying: "Michael and I were there at the beginning of this board's reign, because we thought we had a role to play. I played quite a significant role in the composition of the group of directors, and in the discussions with the outgoing chairman. We were very happy to be there, at what was a crucial time for the club. We'd finished in the middle of the Third Division in the season before we took over, and nobody could gaze into a crystal ball and see just how successful we were going to be over the next three years, but it was very important to take the opportunity of doing something to put the football club back in the hands of the people of Plymouth. We wanted to get that done, but we never saw ourselves as long-term football club directors. Michael's background as an academic, a journalist and a politician speaks for itself. My background is entirely in the world of marketing, communication and branding. In both cases, it's a long way away from professional football. We felt we could give the club our time and our investment, but we never wanted it to be a long-term arrangement. We wanted to grasp what was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something for the football club. I really think we've done that. But Michael is now 91, and with the best will in the world to ask someone of that great age to take on more responsibility within a growing organisation was unrealistic. And I have a huge amount of other things on my plate." Jones is playing a key role in Plymouth's strategic business development, as brand project manager. He said: "I'm really excited by the opportunities Plymouth has as a city, and as the person currently anchoring the brand revitalisation of the city I got to the point when I realised I'd done just about all I could for Argyle, and I'm very pleased with that. I'm not sure I can give the club much more. I can certainly give the city of Plymouth much more, and it's good that there are two other new directors who can come in and take our places. Everything I know about the new men suggests to me that they are the right people. I'll be spending about half my professional time in Plymouth from now on, and I will be going to see as many matches as I did while I was on the board - and as many as I did before I became a director. I've been a fan of this club since I was seven years' old, and I always will be." Paul Stapleton said last night: "With the addition of two local businessmen to the board, we're looking towards releasing a new five-year plan. We're looking at pushing on with the stadium redevelopment, and helping our manager and the team consolidate Argyle's position in the Championship. It's on ongoing commitment, being involved in a football club, and our two new directors will bring their own skills to the board. We'd like to thank Peter, particularly, and Michael for their contributions during what has been a great period for the club. We now look forward to a period of what we hope will be further prosperity, on and off the field. The new directors are very keen to get started."
Michael Foot has declined the offer to become Argyle president after his resignation from the board of directors. Argyle have been without a club president since the death of Sam Rendall a few years ago. Foot said: "There was that suggestion but I'm happy with what has happened and I'm looking forward to the future. I don't know what being president would have meant and I'm not too sure about titles anyway but I'm sure it was well meant." Foot, who lives in London and is currently writing a book, declined to comment further on his resignation. "I'm still very interested in what Argyle are doing," he said. "I have been a supporter since I was seven or eight years old and, on and off the board, that's not going to change now."
Damon Lenszner says he is relishing the opportunity of taking his place within the Argyle boardroom. "It's very exciting,"he said. "I suppose it is every football fan's dream to one day have an influence and try to change the club that they support. It's extremely exciting, not only for myself, but for my partner, Helen, and our children. We all go as a family to Argyle every week, plus most of the away games too. We're all heavily into the club, and this is a marvellous opportunity for us. I'm relatively new to the area, I came down here five years ago with my business. But, like any football fan would do coming to a new town, I went to the local club on a freezing cold Tuesday night and watched the team in action. At the time Argyle were near the bottom of the Third Division, playing football in a stadium that was falling down. I remember thinking to myself: 'What am I doing here?'. It was like anything, though, you get behind your team and that's what I've done ever since. For most of my time down here it's been success, and we hope that will continue into the future. The old board have done a fantastic job, so there are some big shoes to fill. But we are ready for a lot of hard work and we've got a new five-year plan in the discussion stage at the moment. Hopefully, if we can adhere to the new five-year plan as well as we did with the old, then we'll be laughing. Paul Stapleton approached me some time ago and asked if the opportunity arose would I be interested? I was obviously flattered and when the chance did come along it was a dream. The ultimate goal is to step up to the Premiership. There is no reason why we can't long-term - Ipswich and Norwich have, and they are smaller clubs than Argyle. As a board we will be putting together a new five-year-plan, and hopefully it will be as successful as the previous one." Lenszner hopes his experience in human resources will bring something different to the Argyle board. "Everyone on the board has their own individual skills, and I will bring to the table experience on the human resources side," he said. "There is work to be done with the off-field staffing side of things - the commercial side, catering, things like that. The club has grown so quickly over the past few years with the success it has had and that has meant it is a bit lacking behind the scenes. Hopefully that is something I can look at and bring my experience to bear."
Bristol City midfielder Tommy Doherty, who has been the subject of a loan-transfer approach from Argyle, is staying at Ashton Gate, according to the League One club
It is very likely that, for the first time, the Argyle team tomorrow will comprise more players that Bobby Williamson has brought to the club than were at Home Park before he arrived. He said: "I don't take any great delight in seeing more of my signings on the pitch than players who were already here when I arrived. Players will be judged purely on merit and not because I signed them. I'm sure the players appreciate that. I try to be as honest as I can be with them. There are sometimes difficult decisions to make, and I'll make them as honestly as I can. I'll explain those decisions to the individuals, but not to the fans - that would be seen as publicly criticising an individual, which I don't like to do. When I first came to this club, the idea was to give everybody at the club a chance - some haven't had that opportunity, I'm afraid, and I'm sorry for them. The fans will be able to see areas of the team which they think need strengthening. If they can see it, you can bet your bottom dollar that I see it as well. Sometimes, though, it takes time for things to fall into place and get a player to the club." Blackstock and Chadwick were both long-time targets and became available within days of each other. It's great to welcome these guys and hopefully they will both make their home debuts today - and score a goal apiece!" he said. "I'm sure they can add to us. Dexter's here on a loan basis and he'll hopefully go back to Southampton a better player; Nick's joined us from Everton and I'm hoping his progression is fruitful, as well, and he becomes a prolific goalscorer for the club. We wish both of them all the best. It's exciting times for everyone, especially the two guys. Dexter certainly put a freshness and exuberance into our performance at Reading last week. Seeing a kid running about sometimes rejuvenates the senior players, and they spark off each other."
Argyle have announced a significant change to the compositon of the board of directors. Michael Foot and Peter Jones have resigned and will be replaced by Damon Lenszner and Tony Wrathall. Peter Jones, vice-chairman since August 2001, explained their decision. He said: "We have both enjoyed the experience of being part of the Argyle board, but we have always seen ourselves as short-term custodians. We both did our bit in helping enable the changes that came about in 2001 and we are immensely proud of the progress the club have made since then. Indeed, Argyle have won precisely 301 points during our time on the board. However, neither of us are now in a position to devote the amount of time to the club that it both needs and deserves. Michael is occupied writing a book and I have many commitments, so we're happy to pass the reins on. We are delighted that both newcomers continue our precedent as committed Argyle fans." Damon Lenszner is the managing director of Plymouth's largest independent employment agency, Pacific Staff, who have been a major sponsor of Argyle for five years. During that time Mr Lenszner has become a fervent supporter both home and away, holding four season tickets in the grandstand for himself, his partner Helen and their children. He said: "The previous board have made remarkable progress during my time dealing with the club. I look forward to playing a full and active part in continuing the success story at Home Park. Consolidation was always the aim this year and with the hard work of the team, both on and off the field, and the Green Army's loyal support, I look forward to the new five-year plan being as successful as the last." Mr Wrathall, who was born in Teignmouth, has been a lifelong fan of Argyle since watching his first game in 1968 and is the owner of South Devon Holiday Parks Limited. He was a ball boy and also played for Argyle Youth under Ellis Stuttard. He has been a regular in the Devonport End ever since. Paul Stapleton praised Jones and Foot for their contribution to the board. He said: "Peter and Michael were keen members of the consortium which took over from Dan McCauley in August 2001 and have played their part in the success of Plymouth Argyle throughout the last three-and-a-half years. We are still committed to achieving Michael's aim of the Premiership and we wish Peter every success with his work on the rebranding of the city. We welcome to the board Damon and Tony, who will bring business expertise to the boardroom at a vital time in our development. We are committed to making Plymouth Argyle a force in the football world and to continue with our plans to develop the stadium."
Argyle's under-18’s match against Walsall has been postponed and a re-arranged date will be announced soon
QPR could scupper Argyle's hopes of signing Tommy Doherty on loan. Rangers are keen on a more permanent deal. Bobby Williamson remained tight-lipped over the proposed move stating: "I'm not prepared to talk about transfers until they're concluded. I'm disappointed that the chairman of Bristol City has chosen to speak publicly."
Mickey Evans has been linked with a move to Torquay United
David Friio has left Argyle to join Nottingham Forest for £100,000. Friio has agreed a two-and-half-year contract with Forest after rejecting a new deal with Argyle. He said: “Sometimes you have to make big decisions and this was an offer that I could not turn down. It is a good move for everyone, I think. Plymouth will always be a very special place for me, but time doesn't stand still." Bobby Williamson said: "David has been an Argyle hero in the last few years, and rightly so. He was a special player and what he has achieved for this club will always be remembered by the fans with great affection. We did not want him to leave, but he felt the offer from Nottingham Forest was too good to turn down. The timing was not great, but David's wife is due in June and he wanted to be settled before the birth. We wish him all the very best for the rest of his career." Michael Dunford added: "David's contract was up at the end of the season. We made him an offer to stay which he has declined. He feels his future lies elsewhere. In those circumstances, Argyle had no alternative than to negotiate the most favourable terms possible, rather than let his contract expire. We have reached an agreement with Nottingham Forest of £100,000. David is travelling up to Nottingham for a medical and to agree personal terms. Of course, we wish him well.”
Bobby Williamson will try to heap more misery on his former club when Argyle play Rotherham tomorrow but he does not expect an easy encounter. "I wouldn't call it a six-pointer," he said. "You only get three points, the same as every other week, but there is no denying the fact it's a big game. Rotherham are at the bottom end of the division and we are down beside them, although a few points ahead. We want to keep that distance and, obviously, try to extend it. We will do our best to do that but I'm not expecting it to be easy. Rotherham have proved to be difficult opponents for most teams when they have been away from home. They have held teams to draws but not won as many as they would have liked, but I'm a great believer if you work hard enough then the breaks go in your favour eventually. That might be the case for Rotherham, I don't know." Williamson is expected to start with Dexter Blackstock and Nick Chadwick as his strikeforce. Blackstock has been away with the England under-19 squad this week and had not returned in time for training with Argyle yesterday, but provided he is fully fit, he will make his home debut. Williamson said: "Dexter has done a bit of travelling and we will see how all that has taken its toll on him before deciding whether he will be considered." Williamson hinted he could make a change at left-back, where Peter Gilbert has been a near-ever present. Gilbert had a bad evening when Wales under-21’s lost 4-0 to Germany on Tuesday. Williamson said: "I don't know how much that defeat will affect him. I will have a look at him in training. I have spoken briefly to him about the German game but I will go into more depth today and see what frame of mind he is in." Bjarni Gudjonsson has returned to training after a toe injury but Lee Hodges is still sidelined by a back problem. Paul Connolly completes his three-match suspension tomorrow
Nick Chadwick is set to make his Argyle debut tomorrow. He said: "I'm very hopeful of being involved. Even though I have only been at the club for a short while it doesn't mean I don't know the importance of this game. I will be fighting like the next man, and I believe at home we can get three points. Looking at results throughout the season, no-one has really turned us over. From what I understand from talking to one or two people, there have been a few results which could have gone either way and have perhaps gone against us. Let's hope we can turn the results around, starting tomorrow." Chadwick has only made five first team appearances this season, and they were all as a substitute for Everton. He added: "It has been nine or 10 weeks since I last played a competitive game, which for a professional footballer is not good. I need to get some games under my belt and if I can get some goals along the way - however many it may be - then great. I have got to try to get on the scoresheet, I have got to try to play as many 90 minutes as possible and then let's really go for things next season."
Stewart Yetton has signed for Tiverton Town. Yetton was released from his Argyle contract to allow him to join the Devon Southern League Premier Division side. "I'm looking forward to helping Tiverton in reaching their play-off aims, and teaming up with James Mudge," said Yetton, who has signed a year-and-a-half deal. Bobby Williamson admitted he was sad to see Yetton leave Home Park. He said: "The reason why I gave him a two-year deal last summer was that I thought it would take him two years to establish himself in the first team. But Stewart felt he needed something more solid and had an apprenticeship offer so we have done our best to assist the lad."
Tony Capaldi won his ninth cap for Northern Ireland in the 1-0 defeat to Canada last night
Nick Chadwick is looking forward to savouring the Home Park atmosphere, again. When asked to sum up what had impressed him about his new club, he said: "Everything about the place. The atmosphere here when I came down with Everton was great. The passion the fans have definitely got through to the players, and that was when I was on the opposition side. When they're right behind you, it must be a massive boost. When I came down for talks I was open-minded. I listened to what the manager had to say, and I was very impressed. It felt right for me, and I hope I can achieve my aim of playing first-team football here."
Bobby Williamson has admitted there could soon be some players leaving Home Park. He said: "Sometimes to bring in new faces old faces have got to move out, but I'm not shoving anybody out the door. If there is interest in our players from other clubs then they have got to come through the proper channels. If the player wants to go then we will not stand in anybody's way. It's their prerogative - they want to play football. But it's not a case of me showing people the door. It's whether they want to go. Then we take everything into consideration and do what's right for the player really." Williamson insisted he treated all his of players equally, whether they had been signed by him or someone else. "It doesn't really concern me to be honest, and I don't think the players who were previously at the club should be worried about that either," he said. "I have not got any favourites. Whether I signed them or not doesn't come into it. It's who I think deserves to be selected and I think the players can live with that. Matt Doumbe came here last summer and he didn't come into the team immediately because I felt the two centre-backs at the time deserved a crack at it. It was only after a period of time that Matt came in and established himself and he has done well. But who's to say if he has a bad run of form then somebody else gets an opportunity. That's why we have got a squad of players. It's difficult to keep a squad happy because everybody wants to be playing. As long as I can look at the guys in the eye and tell them the reasons why they are not playing then I can live with that."
Bristol City chairman Steve Lansdown today admitted they would be prepared to let midfielder Tommy Doherty join Argyle on loan., but the Northern Ireland international has yet to make a decision on the move
Paul Stapleton hopes the capture of striker Nick Chadwick has proved to the supporters how ambitious the club are for further success. He said: "It's plain to see that the football club doesn't hoard cash. I know there has been talk about that but we have always said if the fans come and support us we will spend it on quality players. We spent £100,000 on Scott Taylor and now £250,000 on Nick Chadwick. It proves we are looking to invest in the future of this football club. Nick has signed a deal which will take him through to June 2008, and even longer we hope. We realise the club needs to sign players of the calibre of Nick to not only maintain its Championship position but to progress. He's only 22 years of age and he has experience of the Premiership. Unfortunately, he has experience of scoring against Argyle in the cup match. Somebody said it was handball but I wasn't too sure! I talked to his chairman, Bill Kenwright, about him and he said he has got a lot of strength and pace and will be a great asset. We have signed quite a number of players in the last few months, starting with Bjarni Gudjonsson and Scott Taylor, and then Akos Buzsaky and Dexter Blackstock, who had an impressive debut on Saturday. So we are actually bringing extra quality to the squad, looking to improve it all the time, and we are really pleased Nick has agreed to join this football club. Other than playing here the other week, he has never been this far south. He will get a warm welcome. It's a lovely place to live and it's an ambitious football club with an ambitious manager. We are hoping this will be the start of a successful relationship."
Argyle reserve’s lost 3-2 at home to Bristol Rovers last night in the Pontin's Holidays Combination Cup, the goals scored by John Hoyles and Ryan Dickson. Argyle: Sandercombe, Drew, Routledge, Kendall, S Laird, Reski, Summerfield, Bond, Dickson, Hoyles, Zebroski. Subs – J Laird, D Evans, Mason
Tony Capaldi is hoping to make an eye-catching comeback for Northern Ireland tonight to boost his chances of featuring in the World Cup qualifier against England. "It's been a good five months since I played for Northern Ireland, and I've been looking forward to joining up with the lads again," he said. "It's been a while now, and it will be nice if we can get a result against Canada. It's always a nice break to get away from your club for two or three days. Hopefully I'll get another cap as well. I expect everyone's thoughts will be turning towards the England game, and I'm sure we'll be doing a bit of work in training on what we're going to be doing in that match. Hopefully I'll be involved against England, but it's up to me to play as well as I can for Argyle and, if selected, against Canada."
Peter Gilbert and his Wales Under-21 team lost 4-0 in last night's European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Germany
Argyle are rumoured to be ready to make a move for Bristol City midfielder Tommy Doherty. Bobby Williamson was asked about possible further signings at the Press conference last night when Nick Chadwick was unveiled and said: "The jigsaw never gets completed - you are always looking to bring quality players to the club, to complement what you have already got, and I think we are doing that. You always keep looking. We want to retain our Championship status this season, and we are also looking to next season. We are looking ahead, but we cannot lose sight of what's in front of us, and that's our next game. It's my duty as the manager to try to get the best players available. Sometimes they are not available immediately, and in Nick's case it has been a long wait but he's here now. I hope he gets the breaks in front of goal that strikers need and I'm sure he will score goals."
Argyle yesterday signed striker Nick Chadwick from Everton for £250,000. Chadwick's signing was concluded last night, when he signed a contract until the summer of 2008. "We had to fight off a lot of competition to sign him," Bobby Williamson said last night. "He's a player who quite a few clubs in this division would have liked to take. They were content to wait until the end of the season and take him on a 'Bosman' free transfer, but we were prepared to pay the asking price. I'm delighted to get him. He's a player I've admired for a while. When Everton gave us an indication that they were prepared to let him go, we moved quickly. I was interested in Nick long before the cup tie. I spoke to David Moyes about five or six months ago and he said he wasn't in a position to let the boy move on just yet. I watched with interest how Everton were going and had another go during the transfer window and got more encouragement, not that I thought it would come to anything. But, as they say, if you don't try you never get. I persevered and finally we got Nick to come here so I'm pleased about that. David Moyes was very reluctant to let the boy move on because you never know in this game what can happen - a couple of injuries and you can find yourself struggling. But David has been very fair to the kid now and he has given him the opportunity to move on and progress his career, which he was finding difficult at Everton. It's always difficult for a young lad to establish himself at a top club, and Everton are certainly a top club, because they have got the money to go and spend on a striker. If they do that, the one that suffers is the kid that has come through the ranks, unfortunately. You just can't play him and leave an £8 million player sat in the stand. It just doesn't add up." Williamson does not believe the £250,000 transfer fee will put any extra pressure on Chadwick. He said: "I hope it doesn't, and it shouldn't. It never concerned me as a player how much somebody else paid for me. I always gave it my best and if that wasn't good enough it wasn't through a lack of trying. I have done my work on Nick and I have spoken to a few people who know him well and have worked with him. I know he's a hard worker and all you can ask is that people go out and give it their level best and, hopefully, get the breaks because it is a difficult game at times. You need the breaks to go along with it and the confidence has got to be high. I'm sure he will be buzzing and looking forward to the game against Rotherham on Saturday." Williamson was grateful for the support of the Argyle board of directors in financing the move. He said: "I'm very grateful to the board for their backing, which I have never doubted at any time. A few months ago people were questioning whether there was money there to be spent and why we weren't spending it. I have said all along, it takes time to acquire good players and get them to the club. It just doesn't happen overnight. You have got to work away diligently and hope to strike when the iron is hot. Thankfully, with the co-operation of David Moyes and everybody else concerned we have managed to conclude the business." Chadwick himself said: "I want first-team football, and that's why I've come here. I've been held back by Everton, and now I want to get out there and play on a regular basis. You don't want to train all week without anything on a Saturday. I wanted to join a side that is progressing, and that's what I believe I've done. This is Plymouth's first season in this division, and the only way is up. There was interest from other clubs, but it was Argyle who came up with the money Everton wanted. I'm very grateful for that. The manager and the board here have put their belief in me, and it's up to me to show them that they were right to do that. Leaving Everton is a massive wrench for me personally. It was a sad morning yesterday, walking out of the Bellefield training ground for the last time. I have got a lot of friends there but I have got to look at that as the past now. Obviously, I will still speak to a lot of the lads there - nearly all of them really. But that sadness was soon surpassed by the excitement of coming down here and playing for Argyle. I'm really looking forward to meeting the lads, getting a training session under my belt and then, obviously, the first game. I have been ready to kick on for a while, and that's what I think I will do." Chadwick admitted he had not always seen eye-to-eye with David Moyes over his absence from the first team at Goodison Park. He said: "There has been a bit of tension between me and David Moyes for a while. I have realised that if I played a lot more reserve team football then my career would start to go backwards. I broke into the first team at 18 and wasn't really any closer to a regular place at 22 so something has gone wrong somewhere. Under that regime, I didn't think they had the belief in me to go out there and do well. It's something I found a little bit annoying - the fact that I did do well every time I played - but that was his decision and that was fine. Obviously, you have got to respect your manager's decision. So, therefore, I was pleased I finally had the chance to come away from the club. I have realised for a while that if I wasn't going to get a chance there it needed to be somewhere else. Just when I had given up the thought of it being this season, he has called me in, at what probably is a difficult time numbers-wise for him, and given me the opportunity to leave." Chadwick was first told about Argyle's interest in signing him last week. He said: "Everton have had a couple of games since then that he wanted me to be around for, because of injuries and whatever. I think it was a tough decision for him to let me come down here. One, because, yes, I have done well when I have been included and, two, because the numbers are so low. I'm glad to have the opportunity to come down here. Now I'm away from reserve team football and being in the background. I want to be in the spotlight and at the forefront of things, and that's where I want to stay as well. That's what I will be working towards but, obviously, no-one is going to walk into the side. Everyone has got to earn their place and keep it once they are in there."
Argyle's under-18's Youth Alliance Merit League fixtures have been released and can be found here
Dexter Blackstock has confidently predicted that Argyle will escape relegation this season. "It's a good team," he said. "They like to get the ball down and pass it. That's one of the reasons why I chose to come here, and I thought we showed that on Saturday. The boys are confident in their own ability and trust each other on the ball. I have only trained with the team for a couple of days but I can see we try to get the ball down and outplay teams, which is good. I don't think there will be any problem at all. We should start climbing up the table with ease. I have got a lot of confidence in this team. As we showed on Saturday, we can get it down and play. At times we outpassed Reading in their backyard. They are flying in the league so why can't we do it anywhere else? The Championship is a league where anyone can beat anyone on their day. It's a bit different to the Premiership, where the teams are not as close." Blackstock enjoyed leading the attack with Scott Taylor on Saturday. He said: "I thought it was good, taking into consideration we haven't really done anything together. It worked well." Luke McCormick had praise for Blackstock after his encouraging performance. "Dex looked very lively," he said. "I know from when I went to Boston how hard it is to meet a new set of lads and play your first game. He did brilliantly and was a little bit unlucky with his chance. On another day that will go in. He worked his socks off and he looks like a good addition for us." Blackstock is already looking forward to the 'six-pointer' against Rotherham this weekend. He said: "It's a massive game and there is no reason why we can't get all three points."
Bjarni Gudjonsson sat out training yesterday with a toe injury and Lee Hodges is still being troubled by a back problem. However, David Norris has returned to fitness after a knee injury. Bobby Williamson said: "Bjarni is feeling a bit of bruising in his toe but he has been complaining about that over a few weeks now. He's resting up and getting treatment on it. Chuck was considered for Saturday but I felt two days' training was not enough preparation for the game. He will get a full week's training under his belt and will be considered again for this weekend."
Bobby Williamson has hit back at the claims of a national newspaper reporter who said that Argyle ‘play the most clueless lump-and-jump game seen in this division since the dark ages’. He said: "On Saturday Reading played a lot of back-to-front stuff, especially in the second half. That's their prerogative. There's more than one way to skin a cat, when you're looking for a result. Sometimes the direct approach works. Everybody likes to see the game played in a free-flowing way, when it's nice to watch, but sometimes players elect to get the ball forwards quickly. It's not something I'm an advocate of, but it depends how matches develop. In training last week, we worked on getting the ball into the midfield quickly and getting them to play the ball forward. At times that happened, but at other times it didn't. Defenders elected to make clearances when they had time to take possession of the ball and pass it. That was frustrating at times, but I can't kick every ball for every player. They've got to play the game the way they see fit. We can encourage them to play the game in a productive way. At times on Saturday we played through the midfield and made a lot of good passes, but at other times the linkage between the midfield and the front two wasn't good enough. It's something we'll keep working on, and we'll keep encouraging them. I still enjoyed the game at Reading, even though there were no goals scored. People who aren't very knowledgeable about football might not have enjoyed it."
Argyle will field a young team, including some 15 year-olds, in tonight’s Pontin's Holidays Combination League game with Bristol Rovers. Argyle: Sandercombe, Drew, Routledge, Kendall, Laird, Reski, Summerfield, Bond, Dickson, Hoyles, Zebroski. Subs - Laird, Evans, Mason
Dexter Blackstock enjoyed his first game in the Championship, and firmly believes that Argyle will survive in the division. He said: "We went out and played there like we know we can. The boys are confident in their own ability and they trust each other on the ball. I thought we played well and deserved at least a point. We can build on this result and take it from there. Argyle are a good team. We like to get the ball down and play, which was one of the reasons why I chose to come here. I don't think there's any problem at all. We should start climbing up the table with ease. There is confidence in this team. At times we out-passed Reading in their own backyard." Blackstock could have celebrated his debut by scoring, but was off target with a headed chance late in the first half. "I had a couple of chances in the first half, and on another day I could have had one or two goals by half-time," he said. "I was disappointed not to score. I should have been a bit more composed with that headed chance. It was a great ball in by Scott. I thought we worked well together."
Luke McCormick has set his sights on remaining as Argyle's first choice goalkeeper for the rest of the season. He said: "I feel like I have been patient and I'm going to make this spot mine now until the end of the season, I'm determined to do that. The gaffer pulled me just before he had his meeting and let me know. It didn't really matter because I always prepare as though I'm going to play every game, whether I do or not." McCormick's recall to the first team did not come as a complete surprise to him. He said: "I thought maybe I had a half chance because of what we had done in training. I had been involved quite a lot. But you never really want to get your hopes up just in case you are let down. That makes it much harder." McCormick was linked with a loan move to Torquay United at the start of last week, but Williamson ruled that out. "I had not spoken to the gaffer about why I wasn't allowed to go but I'm delighted now. It has worked out well for me,"he said. Argyle's draw against Reading ended a sequence of three successive defeats and McCormick thought they were good value for their point. He said: "I thought we did really, really well. It's something we have been working on all week in training so it's good that it has paid off. I think that's what we need to do all the time now. We defended from the front all the way through the team. Hopefully, we can take that into next week as well. We did a lot of back four work in training. It's what we have done all week and I think we probably looked as solid as we have done all season." Argyle had not played for a fortnight before their game against Reading and McCormick believes the break gave the players the chance to regroup after a poor run of results. He said: "We have got 15 games left and we are going to need everyone. We have got to pull together now so we can come out at the end of the season and still be in this league." McCormick made a couple of important saves on Saturday, most notably in the 36th minute when he kept out a close range header from Les Ferdinand. He said: "I'm not sure if I could have caught it but I didn't want to take any chances so I pushed it around the post. I had a few crosses which I was delighted to come out and take. It's all about my decision-making, which could have been better, but I think that will come. Overall, I was quite happy with the way I played. I think we can take a lot of confidence out of this game. I'm sure all the boys will be raring to go come Saturday at three o'clock."
Bobby Williamson used a familiar phrase as he paid tribute to the 4,000 Argyle fans at Reading. "Every point's a prisoner just now," he said. "Everybody's working hard to get these points. I'm glad we got something out of the game and kept a clean sheet. We needed something and, thankfully, we got it. I felt we deserved something. We worked very hard for it and I'm very pleased for the supporters who turned up in great numbers. They got right behind the team, and that's very encouraging. They have been like that forever, probably, but since I've been here, that's all I've known - the fans being very, very supportive. That's fantastic to see. That keeps the players going. The players know how much it means to them, and it means as much to us." Williamson gave a debut to on-loan Dexter Blackstock, who missed a good opportunity to score when he glanced Scott Taylor's cross wide. "He certainly had one chance I felt he could have done better with," said Williamson. "Unfortunately for us, it went by the post. If he'd have met it on the full, I think he would have scored. He looks useful. He's a big lad and he works hard, and he will do okay, I'm sure. We'll enjoy him while we have him." Williamson recalled captain Paul Wotton, who turned in a dominant performance, anchoring the midfield. "Paul Wotton works hard for the team," said Williamson. "He was left out of the team in the last game because I felt he could play better than he did in the previous game. I told him that. He has come back and done very, very well. That's what you get from Paul Wotton. He wears his heart on his sleeve and works hard for the cause. But it was very much a team-effort. It was hard work for the other guys in midfield, but they worked their socks off and that's what we've got to do between now and the end of the season. If we do that and we get results, we will win more games than we lose." Luke McCormick was a surprise inclusion at the expense of Romain Larrrieu and Williamson said: "I spoke to Ro and told him the reasons why I changed it. That's between me and Ro. For me to speak about it publicly would look like I'm criticising the goalkeeper, and I have got a lot of respect for the big guy. I still think he's a very capable goalkeeper; on this occasion, I felt Luke deserved an opportunity." Argyle had a let-off when Nicky Forster hit the crossbar from an acute angle but Williamson said: "I thought it was offside. I was disappointed not to see the flag go up. These are the breaks you need - you need the ball to hit the bar and go out, not hit the bar and go in. If they go for you, it makes everything look a bit brighter; if they go against you, the picture gets painted a bit bleaker. Asked if the point made him more confident Argyle could avoid relegation, Williamson said: "I've always been confident. Everybody told us it was going to be hard this season and now that it's looking as though it's getting a hard, everyone seems to be surprised, apart from me. We've got a lot of players who have stepped up a level and who are working hard to prove they can play at this level; we've added a few acquisitions and it takes time for them to settle down. We can pass the ball. We've got to keep encouraging players to do that. What we don't want to be doing is to kick the ball back needlessly to the opposition. On a couple of occasions that happened, and I feel we're better than that. We can pass the ball and make openings for ourselves if we pass the ball and have people moving off the ball; if we do that, we're not too bad."
Argyle draw 0-0 at Reading. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert, Gudjonsson, Buzsaky, Wotton, Lasley, Blackstock, Taylor. Subs - Friio, Evans, Capaldi (not used - Keith, Aljofree). Attendance - 19,783.
Bobby Williamson is urging fans not to expect too much too soon from Dexter Blackstock. "I can't dampen anyone's expectations," he said. "We're all living the same dream, but I hope people don't judge Dexter too quickly. Sometimes it takes players a wee while to settle into a new team. He is only a kid, too. He has come in here at a time when we need a bit of liveliness up front, someone to freshen things up and show a bit of useful exuberance. I'm hoping Dexter can offer us that - but I'm also hoping that the fans don't get too carried away and put too big a burden on his young shoulders." Pace is one asset that Blackstock will bring but Williamson feels that he already has at least one quick striker on his staff: Scott Taylor. He said: "Scott has pace. He's showed it to good effect at times, and he's just been unfortunate not to get himself on the scoresheet already. I'm sure the goals will come once he gets himself off the mark. I'm hoping they come for Dexter, too, sooner rather than later." Despite not having had much time to train with his new team-mates, Blackstock may well be on the pitch from the start at Reading, probably alongside Taylor up front. Williamson said: "He's very much being considered for a start. I can't take a player out of the Premiership and not use him. He's got an opportunity to make a start tomorrow, and it will be up to Dexter to play well and keep the shirt. If he doesn't play well, I'll have to look at the situation again." There are likely to be four men in the Argyle side today who were not at Home Park two months ago as more and more, Argyle fans are watching Williamson's, rather than Sturrock's, Pilgrims. Williamson added: "The team is being reshaped. It was only right for us to give the guys who got us into this division an opportunity to show what they could do. We've done that, and I don't think they've done badly. We've added to the squad, but it's been done gradually. We hope the new guys settle in quickly. We always knew it was going to be a difficult season, and it has been. We have dropped down a few places in the table, but we can pick it up very quickly with a few results." Argyle have sold their entire allocation of 4,000 tickets for today's game. "We've got a terrific fanbase, and I feel as if I've let everybody down when we don't get results away from home," Williamson admitted. "But we always give it our best. I'd be even more upset if I felt the effort wasn't there, but I've never seen that from an Argyle team yet."
Tony Capaldi has insisted that Argyle have the spirit and the ability to drag themselves out of relegation trouble. He said: "If we'd won the Gillingham game, I think everything would have been OK, but it was a poor performance that day. I think all the lads knew it was probably the worst of the season. The defeat cost us, and it's dragged us right into a scrap. Against Preston, I thought we lost confidence. We started well but as soon as we let in a goal our heads went down a bit. It's a really difficult scenario we're facing now, but it's up to us to work hard and dig ourselves out of it. I think we have enough ability in the squad to get the right results in the end. We're more than capable of holding our own in the Championship, but confidence is what we're lacking right now. When you're on a losing streak, it's really difficult to get out of it. It was the same when we were on a winning streak at this time last season. We just turned up every week and we seemed to end up winning. Hopefully our fortunes will change. The gaffer has brought in some fantastic players. The ability of Bjarni, Akos and Dexter has really added to the squad. It will take a little bit of time to find the right formation so that everybody can fit in, but once we do that I'm sure the results will come - and hopefully that will happen at Reading." The latest recruit is Blackstock, who arrived on loan from Southampton on Wednesday evening. "We've only seen him in training yesterday and today," Capaldi said, "but you can see he's come from a Premiership club. He's only young but he's got ability, and he looks like a really good finisher. He may be the sort of player we need, but there are plenty of other good players in the squad as well."
Rumours in the Scottish media have linked Argyle coach Jocky Scott with a possible managerial vacancy in Scotland. According to newspapers, Dundee United boss Ian McCall is under pressure and Scott has been suggested as a possible contender for the Tannadice Park post. Predictably, another potential candidate put forward by the Scottish press is Paul Sturrock
Dexter Blackstock has revealed he has two ambitions - to help Argyle secure Championship safety and then to become a Premiership star. He said: "Everybody's dream is to play in the Premiership, but my ambition for now is to help keep Plymouth in the Championship, which shouldn't be a problem, and move up this league." Blackstock may be familiar with the Premiership but the Championship is still something of a mystery to him. He admitted: "It will be different. People say it's a lot more physical. I'm not sure, but I know it won't be easy. It will be good for me to get some games and get back in the first-team limelight. I've had a taste and I want more."
Bobby Williamson admits he can't wait to unleash Dexter Blackstock on the Championship - starting against Reading tomorrow. He said: "I'm looking forward to seeing what the kid can do - I really am. He's got huge potential. I remember watching him last year score a hat-trick in the Carling Cup, which was very impressive. He's played nine Premiership games this season, played on his own up front against Liverpool, so he can't be that bad a player if managers put him in those situations, so we will see what he can do here." Williamson issued a strong hint that Blackstock will start against Reading, but refused to reveal who he will partner. "We played three up front against Gillingham, and it never really worked accordingly, and maybe we should have gone there battle-hardened and sat back on their attacks and gone on the counter," he said. "But I would rather not do that. Fans pay a lot of money and I'm not sure if they are prepared to sit there and watch us hanging on for a 0-0 and try and scrape a 1-0 victory. I think the onus is on us to show we can do something offensively, and that is always in the back of my mind." Williamson believes Blackstock will add much-needed competition for places up front. "I'm sure there will be a couple of people disappointed to see him because it puts their place in jeopardy, but that's football," he said. "But Dexter's here, he'll give it his best, and he has an opportunity to show what he can do. I'm grateful for Harry Redknapp for allowing him to come and hopefully he can do the business. Who knows? You bring a player to a club wishing them all the best, hoping they will be successful, but many good players have moved to another club and not been as successful as at their previous place. "This kid has great potential, we wish him all the best, and if he gives everyone a lift at the club, and on the park, brilliant. Natural enthusiasm from a kid sometimes does that, even for the older players." Williamson is looking for a repeat of the performance Argyle put on against Reading at Home Park in November when the score was 2-2. "Reading came down here earlier in the season and for 45 minutes we gave them a going over - we were two goals up, and it should have been three or four," he said. "Mickey Evans, second half, hit the post, and these are the differences, you need these breaks to go for you. Reading are a force at home, we are prepared for that, and I just hope we get the breaks on the day." David Friio is likely to be fit for tomorrow, after missing training last week with a bout of food poisoning, but Lee Hodges and David Norris are both doubts with back and knee problems respectively.
Scott Taylor is confident he can score the goals to help Argyle up the table.He said: "I am definitely confident about scoring goals. I am still settling in at the club, but the longer it goes on the better it is becoming. I have played at this level before for Tranmere and Stockport so I know what this division is all about. It is just about getting to the pace of it again." Taylor admits the team's current bad run has meant free-flowing, attacking football has been at a premium. "At the moment it is hard as when a couple of results don't go your way you have got to grind it out and drag a win out from somewhere," he said. "The football is not going to flow as much and it is a bit more of a battle. We have gone three or four games without a win, and we just need to grind a win out. Once we have picked up a win and done that it should become easier." Taylor is certain Argyle have the capabilities in their squad to lift themselves clear of the relegation zone. "We have the players here to get ourselves out of trouble," he said. "We have got to believe in ourselves, but we can lift ourselves clear. As long as we keep believing there shouldn't be a problem." Taylor concedes that there is a notable difference between the Championship and League One, where he was a prolific scorer for Blackpool. "It is a bit more professional at this level and you get a bit more time on the ball," he said. "In League One the big central defenders tend to go straight through you and batter you about a bit more. At this level you get a bit more time to play and you have to do more with it." Taylor is beginning to settle in the South West - but his family are still in the process of buying a house. He said: "We are still in the middle of getting a house, but two or three more weeks and it should be sorted. It is a lot of hassle and you could do without it, but it shouldn't be too long before it is sorted. In the dressing room they are a good bunch of lads and have made me feel very welcome."
Bobby Williamson has slammed internet chatroom sites for spreading 'downright lies' about him. He said: "There is some stuff put on websites recently which is downright lies, and that annoys me because these people are not accountable. I will be looking to do something about that, because I'm not accepting people having a go at me and having a go at my personality. If they want to speak to me publicly, brilliant. I will discuss anything with anybody." Williamson again admitted he was constantly on the look-out for new faces. "It is the same old adage - for us to bring new players in, old faces have got to move on," he said. "Otherwise you get more disgruntled players sitting in the stands, and more disgruntled fans saying they should be playing, that is just the nature of it. You can't just go and pick a player off the shelf as I keep saying, you have got to work hard at it. Blackstock has been in my mind for months - probably half a season - and it is just waiting for the right time to make it happen. It just came together because Southampton have got a striker now."
Phill Gill has paid tribute to Harry Redknapp and Rupert Lowe for allowing Dexter Blackstock to join Argyle on loan. He said: "We're pleased Dexter has chosen to come to us. We've beaten off competition from a lot of clubs to land him, and we're pleased he sees Argyle as a club that can help him progress in his career. We're grateful to Rupert Lowe and Harry Redknapp for their support in this deal." Argyle have sold over 3,580 tickets for the game at Reading and Gill added: "We're thrilled that the 'Green Army' is massing in huge numbers to go to Reading, and will be there to support Dexter. It is because of their support this season that we have been able to pursue an ongoing process of strengthening the squad, so that the fans and the city can have a squad to be proud of. Bringing Dexter to Argyle is part of that process, which is unremittingly ongoing. We know there was a lot of speculation during the January transfer window about who we might or might not be signing, but it has always been the club's policy not to discuss potential signings before business is concluded, one way or another."
Argyle have signed Southampton striker Dexter Blackstock on loan. 18-year-old Blackstock joins initially for a month and could make his debut at Reading on Saturday. Bobby Williamson said: "I'm delighted he's joining us - he's a player I've had my eye on for quite a while. I spoke to Harry Redknapp, asking him to keep me informed about him, and when Harry signed Camara from Celtic on Monday, the wheels were put in motion. He will complement what we already have here at Home Park and goes into the squad for Saturday. We've got him until the end of the season, although I believe there is a recall clause after 28 days. He's in the squad for Saturday - Harry wouldn't have let him come here if he felt he did not have a chance of playing. There were a few other clubs interested in taking him, bigger clubs who are challenging for honours, but I spoke to him and I convinced him to come here." Phill Gill said: "We're pleased Dexter has chosen to come to us. We've beaten off competition from a lot of clubs to land him and we're pleased he sees Argyle as a club that can help him progress in his career. We're thrilled that the Green Army is massing in huge numbers to go to Reading and will be there to support Dexter. It is because of their support this season that we have been able to pursue an ongoing process of strengthening the squad so that the fans and the city can have a squad to be proud of. Bringing Dexter to Argyle is part of that process, which is unremittingly ongoing. We know there was a lot of speculation during the January transfer window about who we might or might not be signing, but it has always been the club's policy not to discuss potential signings before business is concluded, one way or another."
Tonight's friendly between Argyle and Weymouth at Home Park has been cancelled and the club will now stage a private training session for players due to have been involved in the game. The session will not be open to the public
Akos Buzsaky has admitted he wants to make his loan move from Porto into a permanent transfer. He said: "It was one of my dreams to come to England to play, because of the people and because of the football. It's a lot different than in my country. In Hungary, not too many people like football and the football is very down. Every player wants to go to England, Italy or Spain to play in their championships. I'm here, I'm very happy and I want to stay. I will work to stay here." Argyle have agreed a first option with Porto should they want to make Buzsaky's loan move into a permanent transfer at the end of the season. "It would be very good, but there are still a lot of games this season and we must play well and win games," he said. "We must stay in this division. It will be difficult but I think the team has the quality to do that. We work very hard every day to play well at the weekend. I'm optimistic, and I hope I can stay here." Buzsaky has been pleased with the warm welcome he has received from everybody at Home Park. He said: "It's a very good club. I don't know a lot of things about it but the stadium is very nice and there are a lot of people at the games. The players are very nice and they have helped me. Everybody who is working at Plymouth has been very good to me, and that's important to me." Before moving to Argyle, the midfielder had been playing regularly for Porto's B team in the Portuguese third division. "I have only been here a very short time but I think it's another type of football," he said. "Here it's stronger and more powerful. In Portugal it's more technical, but I think the players here work much more than in Portugal. You must give 100 per cent every day. It's very good." Buzsaky thought Argyle were unfortunate to be beaten by Preston when he made his debut: "At zero-zero we had a few opportunities to score, and I had two opportunities. We were not lucky, but football is like this. If you don't score the other team scores. In the first half the team played well. They scored two lucky goals and after that it was always going to be difficult to win. At two-zero, everybody goes back behind the ball and it's very difficult to play against, but we have a good team and we will start to get points. This division is a good one. There are a lot of big, famous clubs with a lot of history and with good players. But, when you are on the field, it's not about playing a big club or a team with a good history. It's a game against 11 players and who's the best on the day will win. I'm very excited to play against West Ham - maybe I will play, I don't know." Buzsaky also has his sights set on playing for Hungary at senior international level. Akos was captain of Hungary's under-21 team and hopes he can make the step up to the senior side at some stage in the future. He said: "We will see. I'm young and I have time. Everybody wants to play in the national team. I enjoyed being captain of the under-21s. It was a good part of my life, but it's over." Buzsaky learned to speak English at school and that has stood him in good stead for his later life, not only now but when he moved to Porto. He said: "I didn't speak Portuguese when I arrived in Porto so I spoke in English. After half-a-year I started to speak Portuguese and now I need time to get used to speaking English again. I feel it's getting better every day." Buzsaky admitted his knowledge of English had made it easier for him to settle at Home Park. He said: "I understand everything. I can speak with the players and it's more easy to get to know each other." Buzsaky has been impressed with the team spirit among his new colleagues. "The players like each other and that's important," he said. "A lot of teams have groups in the dressing room, but here there isn't. That's why I'm optimistic about the future. Maybe we lost our last game but the team is strong."
Argyle failed in a late bid to sign Fulham striker Elvis Hammond on loan last night. Hammond was instead signed by Dutch side RBC Roosendaal for the rest of the season. No players left or joined Argyle as the transfer window closed at midnight, Bobby Williamson frustrated in his attempts to sign a top-class striker during the window. Williamson said: "I speak to managers all the time and they might be asking me a question, and I might be asking them a question. If something beneficial happens for everyone then that will materialise but there are so many obstacles in place when you are trying to make signings, or people leaving the club, then it has to be right. If one ingredient is not right then it usually doesn't happen. Lots of work has to be done for these things to come together." Argyle have only three fit strikers at their disposal but Williamson insisted he is happy with the capabilities of the current squad. "I have always said I am confident in the players I have got, but as a manager you always keep looking," he said. "If I can complement and add to what we have got then it is in our interests to do that." Meanwhile, Williamson confirmed that Luke McCormick is staying put at Argyle after being linked with a loan move to Torquay. Williamson also confirmed that David Friio has recovered from a bout of food poisoning that caused him to miss training last week but that Lee Hodges is still struggling with a back problem. Williamson said: "Hodges is still struggling and is feeling the effects of his back. The physio will do what he has got to do and we will have to wait and see. David Norris' knee is still a bit tender, he didn't train today so we will watch his developments over the course of the week. If he wants to stake a claim for Saturday he has got to be fit and training - but not if he's struggling."
Argyle's under-18s defeated Newport County 2-1 in their final Football League Youth Alliance South West Conference fixture to ensure a fourth-placed finish in the division. Stuart Gibson said: "The main purpose of the Under-18's is to give the youngsters a chance to develop the skills so that it can benefit them and the club. Some sides in these leagues play their strongest possible team just so that they win their respective divisions, but I would rather give the youngsters the chance to play than just field my strongest side. If someone has played for the reserves in midweek for example, then I won't pick them for the weekend game as it unfair on those who otherwise wouldn't get the chance to play at this level." Youth results and the table can be found here
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