A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Tony Capaldi won his first full international cap today as he played for Northern Ireland in their 1-0 win in Estonia. He is the first Pilgrim to be selected for one of the Home Countries since 1984, when Dave Phillips played for Wales
Paul Wotton has insisted Argyle can cope with the pressure of leading the promotion race. He said: "It will be a tough game at Barnsley and we have just got to be together again and go there and stay unbeaten. We have done well away from home all season. It's a nice ground to play at and they play attractive football. It's a game to look forward to, and we are going to give everything we have got and, hopefully, come out with a result. People talk about it being pressure, but it's a great pressure. I have played in teams that have been at the bottom and have got to win for survival. That's real pressure. These are games to be enjoyed. QPR at home has sold out already and there was another big crowd on Saturday. It's fantastic to play in front of these crowds, if we can't rise to that situation and enjoy it there is something wrong with us. It's pressure, but it's pressure you want as a professional footballer."
Kevin Summerfield looks set to stay as Argyle's caretaker manager until the end of the season. Paul Stapleton said: "With time ticking by, somebody might be picked before the end of the season, ready to start in the summer." Stapleton has refused to reveal any of the names on the Argyle short-list but it does not include Alain Perrin who had emerged as a candidate. Argyle have made inquiries about Perrin but it is believed he has other offers on the table
Kevin Summerfield insisted yesterday that it was still too early to make any assumptions about a place in the First Division already being secure. "I don't reckon the players think that way at all," he said. "They were, to a man, disappointed after the game on Saturday. They still know there is quite a bit of work to be done. I don't think they'll get caught up in that nonsense. There are still a million and one scenarios about who could end up where in the last seven games. Anybody who relaxes is asking for trouble."
French coach Alain Perrin is believed to be one of the six names on the Argyle shortlist. 47-year-old Perrin started his coaching career at French club Nancy working under Arsene Wenger. He then made his name as a coach with Troyes, whom he took from part-time football to a place in the Uefa Cup and the following year he moved on to Marseille and led them to a place in the Champions' League.
The Argyle board are believed to have reduced the shortlist for the managers job to six names and hope to start holding interviews for the vacancy within the next week. Among the favourites are Ronnie Moore and Bobby Williamson but it seems unlikely that either Peter Reid or John Gregory will be the next manager due to their wage demands, as things stand neither is understood to be on the shortlist. Trevor Francis is also not being considered for the job. Paul Stapleton admitted some of those being considered are currently employed: "Some of the candidates will possibly be in employment so we may have to make official approaches first and then take it from there," he said. "We have got to check with the contacts we have got that the people we think have expressed an interest have bona-fide expressed an interest. I suppose it's like Paul when he went. Somebody must have told Southampton he was interested or might be a candidate. You get a lot of that, although we have had a lot of letters direct from people, which is interesting. Hopefully, by the end of this week we should be in a position to start arranging interviews. There are some names that have not been mentioned that we are looking at. But I would say there are quite a few names that we haven't even contacted or had any interest from, but that happens." Stapleton again paid tribute to the work done by Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley. "Kevin and Sloop have handled it very well," he said. "It's now five games unbeaten, which is brilliant." When asked directly whether Summerfield would be interviewed, Stapleton replied: "He knows he's on the list." Stapleton insisted the board did not have a particular favourite at the moment. He said: "We have got to look people in the eye, like we did with Paul Sturrock. Paul was on the short-list, but when he came to talk to us that's when he sold himself. That's what we think may happen again."
Paul Wotton admitted Wrexham deserved a point on Saturday. "I think that's the best team we have played down here," he said, "they worked incredibly hard. Once they got the man sent-off they kept two up front, fair play to them. I don't think they created a chance but they worked really hard and made it difficult for us. Had we scored one goal, they would have had to come out and play but it wasn't to be. The positive to take from the game is that the other results went our way again. I really don't think it's worth dissecting performances too much at this time of the season. It's all about results."
After Saturday's draw David Friio said: "We are very disappointed not to win at home but, on the other hand, a point is a point. We feel we know exactly how many points we need and, if we consider the other results, today we can say that it was a good point even though we are very disappointed not to get the three. It was difficult because it was really tight at the back. They had two or three big lads at the back and we couldn't get the ball to Mickey as usual. We didn't get many clear-cut chances and we were a bit static in their box. The movement wasn't there - but Bristol City lost and we are ten points clear of third place with seven games to go. It's in our hands."
Kevin Summerfield was pleased with a point yesterday. “I think it’s a point gained, on the run of the game,” he said. “I think Wrexham thoroughly deserved the draw. I think it may have been a different outcome, had the lad not been sent off – we were under pressure at that time. It helped us, because they started the second half really well. We were lucky in that respect. They’ve got some good players, they really worked hard for each other, and they were a credit to Wrexham, to be fair. So, all in all, even though we had a lot of possession, I think it was a fair result. It was very similar to last week’s game at Luton, where we had the lion’s share of the play. We had most of the play first half, and never ever got in the right areas to pass the ball. Our movement in the box was ponderous, at best. We didn’t react to balls dropping, movement off each other - there’s going to be lots we can try and put right for next week. We didn’t create enough. We didn’t have that little bit of guile, that little bit of creativity, in the last third of the field. We had lots of possession, the full-backs had the ball virtually all day. When we did get it on the width, we were crossing from too deep. The only time we got in behind them was when Chuck got clear with a really good piece of play in the first half, and overhit it. That was symptomatic of our quality crossing of the day. It wasn’t good enough – the boys know it – we need to be better at it. We will, like I say, work at it next week, do lots of crossing, lots of movement, and hopefully, come next Saturday, we will put a different sort of quality crosses in the box and come away with a win at Barnsley.”
Argyle drew 0-0 with Wrexham at Home Park. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Adams, Stonebridge, Evans, Lowndes. Subs - Phillips, Hodges, Keith (not used - Capaldi, Sturrock). Attendance - 12,275.
Kevin Summerfield is not worried about the travelling Tony Capaldi will have to do with Northern Ireland next week, he will fly out to Estonia for the friendly in Tallinn on Wednesday, and believes the experience will be a massive benefit to him. "I think it's only good for the boy, and it's great for Argyle," he said. "Hopefully, he starts the game and comes through it without any injuries so he comes into contention for our trip next Saturday. It's going to be a lot of travelling but, to be fair, he's used to it playing down here. He will probably get to Estonia quicker than we get to Barnsley!"
David Friio has spoken of his excitement at the prospect of the sell-out clash at home to QPR next month. He said: "For the stadium to be fully packed is going to be a good experience. It means Argyle are doing well. We are top of the league and QPR are just behind us. But it's still some time away and we have to focus properly on all our games. We have been playing in front of 16,000-17,000 people at home and we get 1,500-2,000 away - that's unbelievable. We have definitely got the best support in the league, and probably even in England. People from Plymouth are everywhere in England so everytime we go up north or to London we have got support there. When we play midweek games we get back at three or four o'clock in the morning and we see the supporters' coach just in front of us or just behind us and you think 'these people are going to work in a couple of hours.' It's amazing."
Kevin Summerfield has called on the Argyle squad to stay focused on their games and not worry about what their rivals are up to. He said: "With what has happened this week, we are a little bit better off, but we are still trying to stay focused. We want to get our points total on the board. If it comes earlier, all well and good. If it goes to the last game, then it will be panic stations and sleepless nights. We will just keep plugging away, doing our bit, and I'm sure it will be good enough. We will try our utmost to go out and beat Wrexham. We will walk off the pitch after the game and we will have a look at the results. They will either go with us or they will go against us. But if our result is OK, then we haven't got any problems. The gap is still the same."
Paul Wotton needed five stitches in his ankle wound after the game at Luton but resumed training yesterday, as did Jason Bent after illness. Martin Phillips has also recovered from the dead leg he suffered at Kenilworth Road, leaving Summerfield with a full-strength squad. He admitted: "The choices are hard. We have got people who can play in every position. Lee Hodges was excellent for the reserves on Monday, so was Tony next to him, and Stoney was really lively and showed the qualities he has got."
Kevin Summerfield decided against making any additions to the Argyle squad on transfer-deadline day. "I'm absolutely delighted with the squad I've got," he said. "I've got a problem when they're all fit, so adding more men would create even bigger headaches. Bringing someone in at this stage could cause more problems than it would solve."
Romain Larrieu could return to action against Wrexham as Luke McCormick is an injury doubt. "Luke has a little bit of an infection in his foot," Kevin Summerfield explained. "He didn't train today, and he's struggling with his kicking. We will just see how it settles down. He has been on anti-biotics to calm the infection down. It would be a worry if we were sitting here six months ago and we didn't have a goalie who could go in for him. We would have had to go chasing around for someone."
Tony Capaldi has insisted Argyle's push for promotion was his immediate priority after his step-up from under-21to full international with the Northern Ireland squad. "Someone half-mentioned on Friday that I had been selected for the squad," he said, "but I didn't find out for certain until Tuesday night that I was in. Naturally, I'm really pleased and all the players have been as good as gold about it. I'm not too sure where I will be playing, but I think the gaffer is thinking of me as a midfielder, which is where I've been playing. But I can play in either position, so when I get over there I'll have a chat with him, and see where he wants to use me. The idea is to go over there and try and make an impression, and if I get a game, play well. Then, hopefully, stay in the squad for the World Cup qualifying group games with England and Wales, which would be fantastic. But I'm just taking it one step at a time at the moment, though. Obviously, the most important thing at the moment is Argyle getting promoted."
Argyle have sold out of tickets for the QPR match at Home Park on April 24th. Total ticket sales of 19,888 will make the crowd at Home Park the highest since the reconstruction of the stadium. Carole Rowntree said: “It has been remarkable, people have been buying tickets for this game from early on in the season but since Christmas it has really taken off. It is the first time I can remember Argyle selling out so far in advance and I have been supporting the team since I was a young girl. There will be some fans without tickets who will be disappointed, but there will be a reserve list and IF any tickets are returned these will be offered to those on that list.” Dave Boobyer gave a word of advice for those with tickets: "Supporters need to arrive early and sit in the allocated seat shown on their ticket. We want it to be a fantastic day for everyone, the team and the supporters. We can increase the attendance compared to the Cheltenham game two years ago, due to the team work and co-operation between the club and the police so that we been able to greatly reduce the segregation area.”
Kevin Summerfield believes striker Marino Keith had a timely boost by scoring four goals for the reserves this week. "His finishing was excellent and it was probably just what he needed at this minute in time," said Summerfield. "I'm delighted in terms of that, and he might get a bit of confidence back because of it, but everybody played really well."
Tony Capaldi has been named in Northern Ireland's squad to face Estonia in a friendly on 31st March and is very happy with his call-up. "I'm delighted," he said. "I was a bit surprised when I heard the news, but I'm glad they have taken notice of me. This is what it's all about. I don't think I would have been in this position if I'd still been in Birmingham City's reserves." Paul Wotton offered his congratulations to Capaldi, he said: "I'm sure everyone at the club - players, officials and supporters - will be over the moon for Tony. It's a wonderful honour for him and I wish him all the best. He has got really good ability, a great left foot and I can see no reason why he can't compete for a regular place in their squad. I'm thrilled for him. He's a really nice guy and it's brilliant news for him. I think this just shows the progression of the club over the last couple of years, I'm sure if we were playing in the third division he would not have got his chance."
Argyle have stepped up their search for a new manager, Paul Stapleton admitting the board of directors were sounding out football insiders about the names on their short -list. It is believed they have 12 people under consideration, with John Gregory and Peter Reid thought to be two of the leading candidates. Also in the frame are Trevor Francis, Neale Cooper, Gary Johnson, Colin Lee, Ian McCall, Sean O'Driscoll, Bobby Williamson and Bryan Robson. There has been no confirmation whether Kevin Summerfield is under consideration. Stapleton has again stressed the board are in no rush to make an appointment. "We have had some calls from people where we haven't collected the CVs and they are on their way in," he said. "We had a quick chat on Saturday and there has been no more movement really because Kevin and Sloop are very happy with what's going on. We are making inquries about people on the list. We are doing our due diligence as they say in accountancy terms. Kevin is happy and we have got to make sure that carries on, and nothing changes what we are doing at the minute. There might be speculation but we have not had any approaches about Kevin and Sloop so we have just got to keep on going. It's a new era. Paul has moved on, and that's fine. We have got to make sure we do the right thing for the football club. We are working hard to make sure we have a good end to the season and, touch wood, so far it's going absolutely great."
Kevin Summerfield has not ruled out Argyle making a signing before the transfer deadline on Thursday. "If it happens if happens, if it doesn't it doesn't," he said. "Nobody's none the wiser and nobody's upset. If we have got all 20 still there and working then great."
Paul Wotton is expected to shake off an ankle injury before Saturday. "Wottsie had a nasty knock on the ankle but Maxie has assured us he will be OK," said Kevin Summerfield. "We know what Wottsie's like anyway. He will play through anything." Martin Phillips suffered a dead leg at Luton and was not considered for the reserves' game against Bristol City last night whilst Jason Bent was ruled out by flu
Argyle reserves beat Bristol City reserves 6-0 at Home Park. The goals scored by: Stewart Yetton (15 mins), Lee Hodges (25) and Marino Keith (35, 40, 42 and 44). Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Villis, Aljofree, Sawyer, Yetton, Hodges, Capaldi, Stonebridge, Sturrock, Keith. Subs – Martin (not used - Schofield, Nute, Watkins, Evans)
Graham Coughlan thought the team's 'never-say-die-spirit' had carried them through on Saturday. "It has to be one of the worst football matches I have ever taken part in," he said. "There was absolutely no cohesion, no quality, no pattern of play. It was impossible to read a ball, whether it be on the ground or in the air. It was very tough, but the two teams just dug in and did their best under the circumstances." Paul Wotton agreed about the windy conditions: "It was really difficult out there," he said. "In ten years of professional football, that was the windiest I've ever played in I think. It was really gusty. We didn't play particularly well but it was a massive point, especially with the way other results went. We'll take anything we get given at the minute. Hand on my heart, I would have taken a point before the game. Things are getting tight now and people are starting to get edgy. It's not for the faint-hearted now - it's time to stand up and be counted and be men." Wotton was happy with his part in Argyle's equaliser, having taken the corner which was headed home by Adams. "I said to Stevie after the game that it was the first header he'd won all game," he joked. "He told me that he'd saved his best header for last. I'll take that next week as well." Coughlan believes Paul Sturrocks move has brought everybody at the club even closer together. "It's a family that we have here, it's a close-knit community, including the supporters. Anybody to do with Argyle is together in this battle. If someone leaves, whether it be player, manager or director, we wish him all the best and we close ranks. We have all got the one aim for the football club. Obviously, it was a disappointment when the gaffer left, let's be honest about it. But we will roll our sleeves up and do it for ourselves and for everybody involved with Plymouth Argyle."
Bryan Robson is the latest name mentioned as a possible successor to Paul Sturrock. Robson is thought to have applied to become the next Argyle manager and may be on the boards 12-man shortlist
Graham Coughlan paid tribute to Argyle's’ fans after the game at Luton. “You have got to take your hat off to this crowd,” he said. “Along with Glasgow Celtic, I think they are the best supporters up and down the country. They are unbelievable, the backing they give the team. They are the 12th man, as you see in the programme. It’s in there for a good reason. We heard them again today. Both home and away, they are top drawer. They deserve to be in a higher league and we’re doing our utmost to maybe achieve that and make their dreams come true.”
Kevin Summerfield admitted after the draw against Luton that the weather and nerves had affected his players. “I’m relieved that we got a point,” said Summerfield. “There again, that could be a big point. We’re away from home, we’ve come a long way again, not got beat, got a goal back, which makes next Saturday’s game easier for us. The boys kept going and they had possibly the one little drop of the ball that they had in the whole game. We think we’re a fit team. We pride ourselves on our work-rate, we pride ourselves on keeping it going. Even though it wasn’t happening for us, it would have been easy for the boys to give up, but they still felt the opportunity was there. Stevie Adams just came up trumps for us. I think the conditions completely spoiled the game. It was difficult. There were areas of the pitch where it was virtually impossible to play in. It wasn’t a good spectacle – but, then again, it’s not going to be at this time of the year; both teams have got a lot to play for. We were a little disappointing. The wind wasn’t really one way. It was swirling, and that was the problem. It was really, really difficult conditions, but it’s a game of football, they’ve got to get on with it, they’ve got play, and make do with it. I think nerves is absolutely bound to come into it. It’s a pressure situation. Everybody realizes what’s at the end of the rainbow, and it’s just pressure, pressure, pressure all of the time for the players.” Summerfield paid tribute to the 1,700 strong Green Army. He said: “Our support was absolutely awesome –it’s the sort of ground where, if it gets exciting, it’s a nice place to play.”
Argyle draw 1-1 at Luton Town thanks to Steve Adams goal deep in injury time. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Adams, Capaldi, Evans, Lowndes. Subs - Phillips, Keith, Sturrock (not used - Hodges, Aljofree). Attendance - 8,499.
Argyle's under-19's beat Cambridge United under-19's 2-1 at Harpers Park. Youth tables, results and fixtures can be found here
Graham Coughlan has reiterated the desire of the squad to win the Second Division this season. He said: "Our first priority this season was to improve on last year's finishing position, and it looks like we've done that and assured ourselves of a play-off place. Our next goal will be automatic promotion, and after that the championship. But my objective at the start of every campaign, no matter who I'm playing for, is a championship medal. That's how I've been brought up." Paul Sturrock's contribution to Argyle's success will never be under-estimated by Coughlan. "I won't tell lies, the manager going has affected me," he said, "but I'll be big enough and strong enough to roll my sleeves up and battle on, and we'll take stock of the situation at the end of the season. There is a togetherness at this club that Paul built, and Kevin and Sloop have been carrying on where he left off. But let's not forget the job he did for the club. Everybody wishes him well. You can almost look and hear him. As soon as you make a mistake, you look at the bench and you almost hear him on your case. He's gone away with our best wishes and he's still probably Argyle's number one fan at the moment. He's done more for this club than anyone could have imagined. Each and every player and supporter is thankful for what he's done, but there is life after Paul Sturrock and hopefully we've proved that over the last couple of games." Kevin Summerfield however has told the players to forget all about talk of winning the championship for the time being, saying: "Some of the players have tasted it before, and they know what it takes. They will do everything in their powers to be there. But, first and foremost, it's only when they are certain of getting promotion that they can start to think about what the next step is - not now. You can't do it the other way round. You have got to do the hard bit first and you have got to get over the line. Anything else becomes the icing on the cake."
Nathan Lowndes has promised Argyle will be going all out for a win against Luton tomorrow. He said: "When you are on a roll you want to keep it going for as long as you can. We will be going to Luton with full force. We haven't got the best of records there, and we will be looking to put that right. I'm feeling confident and I think all the boys are, but we know it's a big job being asked of us and we are doing our best to fulfil it. These are exciting times. It's what everybody wants and shows the potential of Argyle. We want to get where everybody wants us to be and, fingers crossed, we will do that."
Kevin Summerfield has put faith in his players’ desire and attitude, and the backing of the fans, as he seeks to extend his unbeaten start as Argyle’s caretaker-manager. “I think anybody who’s been involved with the club over the last three years will know that it’s totally professional,” he said. “Questions were raised in a lot of quarters when Paul left that they might take a dip, but they haven’t. They have been really good. They are a really hard-working bunch of players. We’ve said before that we do more work on the training-ground than any other team in this league, in most leagues. Whether they play in front of a thousand on a rainy night in Rochdale or 18,000 here at Home Park, they know how important it is for the fans, but we could play in front of 100 supporters and the players’ attitude would be exactly the same.” Summerfield knows that the visit to Luton will not be easy: “With the history of Plymouth and Luton games over the last two or three years, and both teams being in strong positions in the league, we are expecting another tough game,” he said. “Everybody’s trained again, so there’s going to be one or two disappointed who will not be travelling. The ones who are left behind and the ones who don’t get stripped have just got to keep plugging away and biding their time because, between now and the end of the season, I’m sure everybody will get an opportunity. Nathan had put his case up in training for the previous two or three weeks. He was Johnny on the Spot when Dan struggled to a little bit of an extent on Tuesday. He put himself in that position by his performances on the training-ground. When he’s had the opportunity to come off the bench, he’s played a telling part in games, as the likes of other people have. When Buster’s come on to the field, for instance, he’s played his part.”
Kevin Summerfield has insisted reports about him moving to Southampton in the summer will not be a distraction to the team. “As long as it doesn't affect the players, it doesn't matter," he said. "They are the ones who have got to go out and do the business. They are very professional people.” When asked about the speculation Paul Stapleton said: "I haven't heard from them, or from Paul, in that respect."
Argyle have decided to change next seasons away kit to the fans’ preference of white. The decision was taken after the club took few pre-orders of the new strip following its launch last month. The club’s commercial department blamed the lack of interest on the club keeping the same colour shirt as it had used in the previous two seasons. John Britton said: “In every previous case when we have changed away strips, we have changed colours completely, and we should have done the same this time. After taking soundings from fans, we know there is an overwhelming historical preference for white. We have listened to this and acted accordingly. Our away strip for next season will now be exactly the same design as the one voted for by supporters in our recent poll, but the dominant colour will now be white, rather than tangerine.” Britton denied that the decision had anything to do with Paul Sturrock’s recent move: “This was purely an unemotional, commercial decision, nothing more. I don’t want anyone to interpret this as a slight on Paul.”
Ian McCall of Dundee United is the latest name to be linked with the vacancy at Argyle. Two other Scottish Premier League managers, Bobby Williamson of Hibernian and Jim Duffy of Dundee, have also been connected with the job. Paul Stapleton, when asked whether McCall, Duffy or Williamson were in his board's thoughts, said: "We cannot comment on media speculation. I'm more concerned about our match at Luton on Saturday - that's more on my mind, to be truthful."
Paul Stapleton has re-iterated that the board are in no hurry to appoint a new manager and it seems increasingly likely Kevin Summerfield will remain as caretaker boss for the rest of the season. Following yesterdays board meeting Stapleton said: "I updated all the directors on the people who have applied so far. They saw the list of 40 names and asked for CVs of 12 or 13 of them, which they have taken away. That's all that really happened and we will take it from there. We have no need to panic in any way. We have got another win under our belts and we are very happy for Kevin and Sloop to keep churning out the results. We couldn't have asked for any more had Paul Sturrock still been here."
Paul Sturrock could be lining up a bid for one of Argyles young players. Southampton first-team coach Dennis Rofe was at Home Park last night and is thought to be watching Paul Connolly and Steve Adams
Tickets for Argyle’s home game against Queens Park Rangers next month have been selling so fast that there are less than 1,000 seats available, and just 2,000 standing places on the Mayflower Terrace to be sold. Argyle travel to Bristol City on April 13th and of the allocation of 2,000 tickets for that match all but 280 had been snapped up by lunchtime today. Paul Stapleton said: “We have always said we have the best fans in the country, and this just supports that belief. It goes without saying that the players really appreciate the backing they get at every ground they play, and if we achieve anything this season, the Green Army, our number 12, will have played its part to the full.”
After scoring his penalty last night Paul Wotton admitted: "If I said I wasn't nervous I would be lying. I got the ball straight away and put it down and the referee said he needed to book someone, but I wanted to get it over with. It's funny because with all my other penalties David Friio has always given me the ball. It's just a little superstition but tonight I told him to go away. I could hear all their players saying to their keeper 'stand in the middle, stand in the middle.' To be honest, all I wanted to do was smash it in the middle, but I changed my mind and pinged it in the corner. I think you could see I was really pleased with that. Hopefully, it has laid a ghost to rest. It went in, so it was a perfect penalty!"
Kevin Summerfield praised his players for their patience during last nights game. He said: “In Peterborough’s position, it’s vital they pick up points at places like ours and they saw that as the way to go – and they were close to doing it, to be fair. We said all along that it was going to be hard. We know first hand – that’s the sort of system we played to win the Third Division: make it really hard for other teams. You have got to be really patient, you have got to have people who will take responsibility on the ball and not worry about the crowd’s reaction if the ball goes backwards – keeping it is the most important things at times in games like that. First half, we didn’t really do it. We didn’t exploit the one place on the pitch where they allowed us to have room, the left-hand side. That was a lot of the team-talk at half-time, and, lo and behold, they went and changed their system. The lads showed a lot of character today. I was well pleased with them digging in when it wasn’t going their way.” Summerfield added: “The crowd only lost as much patience as I did - it’s difficult. They expect to see fantastic football, goals galore, and everything, and the sooner everybody realises the last two months of the season ain’t about that, the better. It’s about walking up that tunnel with three points in the bag. Teams are going to come out and do that to us, frustrate us, and we’ve just got to be patient, the crowd have got to be patient with us, and we’ll get our just rewards at the end of it. If you’d have asked anybody before Saturday – it doesn’t matter about the performance – to walk off with six points, they would have snapped your hand off.” Summerfield was delighted with the opening goal: “I thought the game needed legs, needed something a little bit different and Nathan was ‘Johnny on the Spot’. It was the one real bit of quality in the whole game, I feel. Great work from the two lads on the width, great ball back, great movement from Nathan, great finish. That was probably worth the entrance fee in what was possibly a dull 90 minutes. I thought you saw two tired teams. We said after Saturday, we’d probably freshen things up, but that wouldn’t have been fair on the boys who battled so well against Swindon on Saturday.”
Argyle beat Peterborough United 2-0 at Home Park, the goals coming from Nathan Lowndes after 55 minutes and a Paul Wotton penalty (80). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Adams, Capaldi, Evans, Keith. Subs - Hodges, Lowndes (not used - Phillips, Aljofree, Sturrock). Attendance - 13,110. and Ian De Lar's match report is here
Chris Zebrowski is set to join Argyle on a two-year scholarship in July. Zebrowski played as a trialist in Argyle’s recent friendly with Saltash United
David Norris believes the club's fans have an important part to play in the battle for promotion. "The fans were magnificent on Saturday, but they have been magnificent all season. You can tell since the gaffer has gone that everyone at the club has got together. The fans are getting behind the lads and the management. We can feel that when we are out on the pitch. The lads often say we have got to try to turn Home Park into a fortress, where teams are scared to come to. With the record we have had this season, I think that has worked a little bit and we have been good at home." Mickey Evans has insisted points are more important than performances at this stage of the season. Tonight is a big game - it's bigger than Saturday," he said. "That's the way we have got to look at it. Every game is bigger and bigger. Even if we don't play well, if the effort and the attitude is there, there's no reason why we should not go on and win a few more games between now and the end of the season."
Kevin Summerfield has warned his players not to underestimate Peterborough United. He said: “For the second game on the trot, we are playing the form team in the division at the time, they are on a win streak of more than anybody else, as were Swindon on Saturday. It’s fallen for us that we’ve played in-form teams in the last three games, but we will do our stuff and hope that it’s good enough.” Summerfield was asked if the decision between Paul Wotton and Hasney Aljofree would be particularly hard: “When you have to make decisions on players, they're all hard because they have all put the stints in throughout the year,” he said. “Somebody has to be disappointed, somebody is elated over playing, it’s as simple as that. To a man this season, they have accepted that. They have thought ‘Right, when I get my chance, I’m going to take it.’ We’ve said it time and time again, that’s the strength of the team. I’m sure we could bring three or four players in and it would not make a lot of difference to the way we play or the effort.”
David Friio has reiterated the players desire to clinch promotion from the Second Division sooner rather than later. "It was a great result on Saturday," he said, "but if we don't win again tonight it will mean nothing. It was really important to win at home and we did it well. We know that it is important to win all our home games. Two points on average every game, that will do us. At the moment we are on a good run and it's another massive game tomorrow, with a big support again, I hope. The reaction of the fans was really important in the last two games. We showed what we were capable of at the weekend. It was a really big win, and we can't wait to play tomorrow."
Following Saturdays game Kevin Summerfield gave a special mention to midfielders David Friio, Steve Adams, David Norris and Tony Capaldi. "Our two central midfield players did a really strong job," he said. "We asked David to be a little bit more reserved and not bomb into the box so much, because that would have really stretched us. The two width players put a really good shift in too. David Norris was probably far and away the best player on the pitch in the first half. But I'm delighted with them all. You can't fault them." Norris had been a pre-match doubt due to an unspecified injury or illness, hence the inclusion of Jason Bent on the bench as cover rather than Ian Stonebridge, who was not injured as has been reported
Walsall manager Colin Lee is the latest name to be linked with Argyle's managerial vacancy
Argyle's under-19's lost 1-0 against Colchester United on Saturday. Up to date youth tables, results and fixtures can be found here
Kevin Summerfield paid tribute to Mickey Evans after his contribution to Rhys Evans own goal yesterday. “I think the game was everything we’d expected: two very strong teams, very similar the way they play, very similar in respect of the players,” he said. “It was always going to be very tight and that’s the way it proved, and a quick bit of thinking by Mickey basically finished the game. It was fantastic, inspirational. Nobody else would have thought about it. He just grabbed hold of the ball, put it down, and basically won us three valuable points. There’s not a goalkeeper on the planet that would not have done exactly what Rhys Evans has done. It’s human nature that you think ‘Stop the free-kick’, or whatever. There’s no fault on the lad at all. It’s the lad who passed to him who put him in trouble.” Evans admitted that his intention had been to play a wall pass off the goalkeeper. He said: “When he passed it back, I don’t think the ’keeper realised what had happened. As soon as the referee blew his whistle, he looked the opposite way, for some reason. He had the ball in his hands. I grabbed it out of his hands. I actually meant to hit some part of his body, trying to get it back. Because it happened so quickly, I don’t think he realised what was going on. Lucky for us, unlucky for them. We deserved to win today, as well, that’s the main thing. They are the best side we have faced this season. It was a tough game for both sides.” Summerfield admitted that the game, like last week, had been scrappy in parts and warned that there might be similar battles ahead. “Both games were scrappy,” he said, “but, like we’ve been saying all week, you aren’t going to really get a lot of football, especially when two teams of this calibre play. It’s basically a war of attrition and who makes the least mistakes, but it’s going to take a really good team to out-battle us. You can’t fault the players in terms of attitude, and that’s something that will see us through, hopefully until the end of the season, but you could say that’s as ineffective in certain aspects of the game that we’ve been at home for some time. At the end of the day, that doesn’t make any difference at this time of the season. It’s that we’re sitting there and we look at the table and see we’ve got another three points towards what we aiming at. I make no excuses – if we play like that every week, we will go up. We need to now start thinking about what we are going to do on Tuesday night. Simple as that.”
Argyle beat Swindon Town 2-1 at Home Park, the goals coming from Marino Keith in the 11th minute and a Rhys Evans own goal (84). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Adams, Friio, Capaldi, Evans, Keith. Subs - Lowndes, Bent, Sturrock (not used - Phillips, Hodges). Attendance - 16,080. and Ian De Lar's match report is here
Tickets for Argyle's away game at Bristol City go on sale on Monday. The match is all-ticket and Argyle have been allocated 2,000 seats. Adult tickets cost £16, senior citizens £13, Under-19s and students £11 and Under-16s £5. Tickets will be available to Green members from Monday, to Tangerine members on March 22nd, to White members on March 25th and if any remain unsold will go on general sale on March 29th. Sales are restricted to one per member
Tickets for Argyle's game at Luton Town next Saturday are now on general sale. About two thirds of the allocation of 1,800 seats have been sold
Paul Stapleton will be guest of honour at Wadebridge Town on Monday. He will open a new stand at Bodieve Park prior to a friendly match against an Argyle XI (kick off 7.30pm)
Kevin Summerfield was in positive mood as he prepared for Saturdays game. He said: "We fancy ourselves against anybody. It's as simple as that. If we do the things we are good at, and don't try to be any different from what we have been for the last 18 months to two years, then we will be a tough act to play against. People will not want to come and play against us. It promises to be a great game and everybody should be looking forward to it. I'm sure every one of our players would want to play tomorrow. These are the situations that tell you a lot about team spirit, and I'm confident we will be okay."
Paul Wotton is excited about returning to the Argyle team tomorrow. He said: "I'm excited about the game because I have heard from various people it's going to be a near sell-out. Swindon are flying at the minute, and so are we. It should be a good game of football. Playing at Home Park in front of a full-house in a top of the table game, what could be better?" Wotton is confident he can slot back into central defence without too much difficulty. "I have played there all my career so, hopefully, it will be fine," he said. "It's a game I'm looking forward to. Hasney has played very well and I haven't had a sniff in defence since he went in there. Hopefully, I can take my chance but it's one thing saying it and another thing doing it. We will see how it goes."
Argyle have invited 100 Green legends to Home Park to mark the clubs centenary. The all-star line-up, which includes Tommy Tynan, Jim Furnell, Garry Nelson and Norman Piper, will be special guests of the club at the home game against Wrexham on Saturday, March 27th. They will be featured in a pre-match Centenary Parade of Pilgrims, when all 100 players will be introduced to the crowd and take part in a lap of honour around Home Park. Rick Cowdery said: “This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience: 100 former Pilgrims, a century of players with thousands of appearances between them, back at Home Park, together. It will be a fantastic thrill for every Green-blooded supporter and a memorable part of our centenary celebrations.” The parade will begin at 2pm and gates will be open half an hour earlier than usual, at 1pm, to allow fans plenty of time to take their seats
Paul Stapleton has described the response to the advertisements placed by the club for a new manager as 'steady'. "A number of agents have been ringing in, suggesting names," he said, "and we've had maybe about ten CVs in the post. There are some good names there." There will be a board meeting at Home Park next Tuesday and apart from the managerial vacancy, one item on the agenda may be the seven first-team players out of contract at the end of this season. Paul Wotton, Graham Coughlan, Lee Hodges, Jason Bent, Marino Keith, Martin Phillips and Luke McCormick all have deals which expire this summer and apart from McCormick, could leave on free transfers if they are not offered new deals
Argyle's board are urging their fans to turn Saturday's match with Swindon Town into a Green Barmy Day in order to turn Home Park into 'a fortress'. Phill Gill says that they want to turn Home Park into a 'cauldron of noise and colour' with the theme definitely on green. "We want a sea of green at Home Park and would urge all Argyle fans to wear something - anything - in that colour," he said. "Last weekend at Notts County everyone from the chairman downwards was thrilled at the support given to the team by the fans - they were brilliant and really gave the lads a lift. But, as most will know, at away games, travelling support is limited to a certain area of the grounds. So, for Swindon and then hopefully, Peterborough, we want the whole stadium to be swamped in the colour green and turn it into a fortress. We don't mind whether its scarves, shirts, wigs or painted faces, so long as it provides the desired effect - to get behind the lads and to turn the huge negative of losing Paul Sturrock into a huge positive."
Argyle reserves drew 1-1 at Swansea City, the goal scored by Dean Evans. Argyle: Larrieu, Parrish, Sawyer, Entwhistle, Villis, Nute, O'Sullivan, Evans, Bulley, Watkins, Coxon. Subs not used - Schofield, Routledge, Martin
Argyle are rewarding fans for their support by laying on free coach travel for the trip to Barnsley next month. Paul Stapleton said: "We have always said, and truly believe, that our away support is the best in the country. For our last two matches, Argyle fans have comprised more than a quarter of the gate, and the turn-out at Notts County last weekend, when more than 2,000 turned out at the end of a turbulent week for the club was remarkable. This is our way of showing how much the players, and everyone else at the club, appreciates their backing." The offer is available to all Argyle Supporters Clubs' members and tickets will be available from the club reception area on Saturday, March 13th from 1pm, and the following Tuesday, March 16th, from 6.30pm
Paul Stapleton has insisted he has an open mind about who will be the new Argyle manager. He said: "We don't have a favourite. We don't have a short list. In fact, this application process is designed so that we can draw up a long list and whittle it down to a short list." Trevor Francis has been linked as one possible candidate along with various names such as Sean O'Driscoll, Gary Johnson, Steve Cotterill, Bobby Williamson, Ian Atkins and Neale Cooper
Luke McCormick has a slight groin injury but should be fit for Saturday. Kevin Summerfield said: "Luke trained yesterday but we are being careful with him and Maxie will do what's right by him. He felt it before the game on Saturday but, to be fair to him, it didn't hinder his kicking one little bit. He probably concentrated and struck the ball as well as he has for a long time, without trying to overdo it, because he's a really good timer."
Kevin Summerfield has paid tribute to Paul Wotton, saying: “Unfortunately for Hasney, who’s done really well, the booking against Blackpool has cost him his place on Saturday. Paul’s the number one pick to go straight back in. He’s been biting the bullet, as it were, the last three or four weeks, but I pulled him this morning and commented that his attitude has been absolutely first-class. Before, during and after the game on Saturday, he did as much as anybody to get the boys together and showed all the right credentials why he is club captain. Wottsy’s got his opportunity. There can’t be a better test. If we can keep a clean sheet against Swindon and Wottsy plays his part, it’s going to be difficult for Hasney to get back in. That’s the sort of competition that has got us where we are. He’s been waiting for his chance and I’m sure he’ll prepare himself so he’s in the best possible shape to have a tough game on Saturday, which is a credit to him and a credit to players who have been playing who have kept him out.”
Argyle announced today that they were officially inviting applications for the managers job. “We have decided to start the process because we have received so many unsolicited applications by telephone and e-mail,” said Paul Stapleton. “We want to see who is interested in becoming manager of Plymouth Argyle. Sometimes this can be a long process, so we felt it was important to get the ball rolling. We have every confidence in Kevin, Sloop and Crudgie, which was underlined by Saturday’s great result, but we took the decision to advertise the post after talking to Kevin, and he is very comfortable with that.”
Paul Wotton, speaking after Saturdays game, said: "That was all about togetherness. You could see from the first whistle that the whole squad was together, and that's what has got us to the top of the league and hopefully that's what will keep us there. The fans were magnificent, we've got the best away support in the land. It's like having an extra player out there - they were brilliant. And the attitude of the players was absolutely fantastic. It was a massive point, a point away from home is a good result at this stage of the season. And the penalty save by Luke was a massive moment. How the referee gave a penalty I'll never know, I couldn't understand it, but the form Luke is in at the moment his save didn't surprise me. He's been absolutely phenomenal."
Paul Stapleton and Peter Jones also paid tribute to the fans: "It was absolutely fantastic to see that end of the ground so full of Argyle fans," Stapleton said . "The reception they gave everybody was wonderful and the feel-good factor really helped the players. On the way home Kevin Summerfield said that the supporters had been immense. He was overwhelmed, while David Friio thought there were 5,000 Argyle fans there. I told him that actually there were 2,022 but that they had made the noise of 5,000." Jones added: "I found the great turn-out absolutely extraordinary. It was quite touching, quite moving and it really augurs very, very well for the rest of the season. I just want to echo Paul Wotton's words, we must have the best set of supporters in the country - not just in Division Two, but the entire country. The fans realised that there was something they could do to help the team at this time, just by being there and also by making a tremendous amount of noise. It was fantastic. I was with the players before the game, and there was no doubt in their minds that they would get a tremendous reception when they ran out. But they were still surprised by the sheer volume and the warmth of the support, they were hugely appreciative."
Kevin Summerfield paid tribute to the Argyle fans after yesterdays game. “After the goings-on of the last week, they gave everything for the fans,” he said. “The fans turned up and got behind us and gave us an absolutely massive lift before the game. They’ve not stopped throughout the game and they’ve kept the lads ticking over. It’s been a big week for the fans. That shows the mettle of the people, especially the away supporters. I would imagine there were a lot of people who travelled today who don’t normally travel – that’s their backing of the players, and the players responded to it.” Summerfield revealed that a smart piece of homework by Luke McCormick was responsible for his penalty save: He said: “Luke’s got a habit that he always comes to us - we have all the reports we have done on the opposition team - and he asks ‘Have they got a penalty-taker and what do they do?’ So we dug the sheets out, showed him the sheets – ‘low to your left’. So he knew where he was going. He’ll always ask it. It’s credit to the guys that come and do all the scouting for us, because these are the little things that they will pick up on. At the end of the day, that conceivably saved us a point.” Summerfield’s first team selection mirrored Sturrock’s last. “They are the same set of lads,” he said. “We don’t look on them any different. They will all get their chance and it’s up to them to play and keep in the team, come what may. That’s been the secret of the whole of our success over the eight or nine months we’ve played already this season – competition. They have got to keep on their toes and, when they get in, they have got to take their chance and stick. There were several players who weren’t even with us, weren’t even stripped, who could have contributed equally as well as the ones that were picked.” Summerfield also praised the fans reaction to Blair Sturrock. “It was excellent,” he said, and, to be fair, he did well when he came on. He gave us a different option and we actually started to play better when he was on the field.”
Kevin Summerfield praised his side after the draw at Notts County. "All credit to Gary Mills and his team," said Summerfield. "Not many sides have given us as hard a game as they did and in the end we're relieved to come away with a point. It's obviously been an extremely difficult week at the club with Paul leaving and all the outside things that have gone on. The players were lifted by a fantastic turnout and the travelling fans were rewarded with a hard working performance. We thought the penalty was an extremely harsh decision. The referee was the only person on the ground who saw it as handball but Luke McCormick made up for it with a tremendous save and I think we deserved our point."
Argyle drew 0-0 at Notts County. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Adams, Stonebridge, Evans, Keith. Subs - Hodges, Sturrock, Lowndes (not used - Phillips, Wotton). Attendance - 8,057.
Paul Stapleton expects there to be several high-profile candidates for the managerial vacancy at Home Park. "I would like to think that we would be very attractive to a number of higher league managers, but whether that's what we go for is another matter." he said. "I was with Kevin Summerfield on Wednesday afternoon and he had a phone call from a manager who wanted to apply for the job." Agents representing other possible contenders have also been in touch with the club. "We are just taking calls at the moment," said Stapleton. "The first priority is getting over the weekend. From my experience of last time, the difficulty is whittling down all the names to a short list and then picking the right man. It's a major decision to make. Whether it's Kevin or someone from outside the club we will have to see." Stapleton had a very close working relationship with Sturrock but the pair spent a lot of time together away from football. "I haven't fallen out with Paul," he said. "Upset is not the word I would use, but when I saw him on the TV on Thursday holding up a Southampton scarf that really hurt me, I must admit. That's when it hit home that I have got a good friend but Paul Sturrock and Argyle are finished. We all loved him to bits but now we have got to concentrate on doing what is best for Argyle." Stapleton carried out all the compensation negotiations with Lowe. He said: "Within the spirit of the regulations, I think Rupert Lowe tried to do things in the proper manner. In the overall context of things, Paul was desperate to go to Southampton and if we had not agreed a compensation figure and not let him leave he might have downed tools. I hate to say that, but I think he thought it was too good an opportunity for him to turn down." Stapleton also reached an agreement with Lowe that none of the Argyle backroom staff would follow Sturrock before the end of the season. "We talked about it and Rupert Lowe said there was no way he would do that," revealed Stapleton. "But who knows what will happen later on."
Paul Sturrock has recommended Bobby Williamson to the Argyle board as a potential new manager. Williamson is currently in charge of Hibernian and previously spent six years in charge of Kilmarnock. Kevin Summerfield has been put in charge as caretaker manager, but the board has stopped short of confirming that he has been given the job for the rest of the season. Sturrock has signed an agreement with Argyle not to try to take any of his former staff to Southampton, should he wish to do so, until the summer. He may then make an approach to Summerfield, John Blackley, or both. Summerfield and Blackley have been charged with steering the team to promotion but, if Argyle struggle over the next few games, the directors may have to think again and bring in a fresh face. "The board will meet at the weekend and decide what's best for this football club," Paul Stapleton said yesterday. "My hope is that Kevin will take us through to promotion. But we'll have to wait and see. Paul Sturrock has been a breath of fresh air at this club. He's taken us from the depths of the Third Division to the top of the Second. We've got to make sure that the next appointment is equally as good. It's not easy. Plymouth hasn't got a good history of keeping managers, but we're certainly in a better position than we ever were."
Paul Stapleton would not confirm reports that the compensation fee Argyle received for Paul Sturrock was in the region of £350,000. "We can't say how much we're receiving," he said. "We've signed an agreement with Southampton to keep it confidential. We've done the best we can for Argyle. I'd like to add, though, that whatever compensation we receive, it won't be enough to make up for losing Paul."
Peter Jones has defended the board's handling of the loss of Paul Sturrock. "Paul, as everyone by now must know, had a clause in his contract allowing him to speak to a Premiership club," said Jones. "After the Brighton game, Rupert Lowe asked if he could have an informal chat with Paul, which of course we agreed to. Then the trail went cold as Southampton put out a couple of media statements. The first said that Glenn Hoddle was the person they wanted, then, they said that they were not going to appoint a manager until the end of the season and that Steve Wigley would carry on as caretaker manager. But then, and I suspect because he was worried about Southampton's league position after his side failed to win again last Saturday, he decided to go for Paul. So, therefore we did not draw up a shortlist of possible replacements as we weren't aware that Southampton were about to renew their interest in Paul - there was no indication that they would," he added. Jones also revealed no decision had been made regarding Argyle's tangerine away shirts, a new version is set to go on sale in April. "I haven't really given that any thought”, he said, “it's entirely up to Kevin and the players what they want to wear."
Kevin Summerfield is confident Argyle's players will be totally focused on the job in hand tomorrow when they travel to Notts County. He said: "Saturday could be a big, big game, because it's going to be how supporters react and how everyone else reacts around the situation. But me personally, knowing the boys and how they conduct themselves, I think they'll probably be the least effected of everyone who is there on Saturday. To be fair, I was feeling a little low with what had gone on over the last couple of days, but their attitude has been really bubbly. They worked very hard in training, as always. There was no sign at all that their heads were elsewhere. We had a good chat to them before we went out training. Sloop had a word or two of wisdom, which will no doubt be important to them. As a group, I don't think anyone could ask any more of the players than they've provided so far. I, for one, would never question their application."
Argyle are believed to have agreed a compensation payment with Southampton worth in the region of £250,000, substantially less than they had hoped for. "Basically they've come in for our manager causing us an awful lot of inconvenience - and that's putting it mildly," said Peter Jones. "So we wanted to be compensated for that. It's only fair. He had a four-year contract, which he was happy to sign, and they are a Premiership club who have 10 times as much income as us."
Paul Wotton and David Friio do not think that Paul Sturrock’s move to Southampton will affect Argyles promotion bid. Wotton said: “When the gaffer told us, my first feelings were ones of disappointment I will never work with him again, but it never entered my head that this club will collapse without him. He is a great manager and I was proud to play for him and proud to be his captain, but I can’t the future being a problem for the club, not with the coaches we have and the set of players we have.” Friio said: “We are on a good track at the moment and we have to keep going. Summers is the right man to do the job – that’s my opinion and I think the rest of the lads will follow me in that opinion. We are in a good position – I’m sure we can do it. The thing we have to do now is to keep on the same rails. We are doing well. We are top of the league, we have got 12 games to go – it is not that far, we need six or seven wins and I am 100 per cent confident that we can do that. Of course there was an influence from Paul Sturrock on his players. He chose everybody. I think maybe Wottsy, Steve, Stoney and Buster were at the club when he came, but I am confident and 100 per cent behind Summers and Sloop. They have known us for three years and Summers is like our manager. I’m totally sure he will do a great job. It’s not like another manager coming in and we have to get to know each.” Friio revealed that Sturrock’s farewells to his players on Wednesday had been an emotional affair. He said: “He didn’t play-act. He was himself. We could feel that it was very difficult for him to tale to us. It was very emotional. Everyone likes him at the club – he brought the players here. He decided to have a small squad this season and everybody was able to play in his team, so there was a link between us and him. We’ll miss him. That’s for sure but that’s football but the first focus this year is for promotion and I’m totally convinced that, without him, we will do it.”
Paul Stapleton has confirmed that the club have released Paul Sturrock from his contract. Stapleton said: “After have reaching an agreement with Southampton, we have reluctantly accepted that Paul will be leaving us. We are, of course, disappointed, but fully understand Paul’s reasons for wanting to move on. He is - as all Argyle fans know, but were hoping to keep secret - a talented manager who has done fantastically well for the club.” Sturrock said: “It is a sad day. I don’t want anyone to think that this is not a gut-wrenching decision for me. The challenges of football that have been put in place, the lure of the Premiership, are what all managers dream of. It has been very difficult. The timing was very disappointing, to say the least. I would have liked to have finished what we have started this season, but football is like that at times, it kicks you in the teeth.” Stapleton vowed that Argyle would build on Sturrock’s legacy. Kevin Summerfield, has been appointed caretaker boss, with John Blackley as his assistant. He said: “Paul leaves us in great position – it is important that we look forward, not back. Kevin will take charge until further notice and it is vital we get right behind Kevin and John, and remain focused on our ambition of winning promotion. We have a great squad of players, fantastic staff, and wonderful fans and this board is committed to taking Argyle forward.” Peter Jones said: “We have a choice – we can squeal like a stuck pig or we can roll up our sleeves and get on with it. Everyone at the club is firmly committed to the latter course.”
Paul Sturrock is in negotiations with Southampton about becoming their new manager and is expected to leave Argyle in the next 24 hours. Argyle are said to be fuming over the approach. Peter Jones said: "If Paul wants to go then we can't stop him. But we are extremely disappointed, and, in fact, devastated with Southampton, who have done what Spurs did to them three years ago with Hoddle. The manager wants to go, and Southampton are being parsimonious about the whole thing. We can't keep a man who doesn't want to be here. Paul is probably the best manager that Argyle have ever had, but we shouldn’t lose sight that what has been achieved has been the result of a real team effort. We have 20 excellent footballers, a fantastic coaching team, great staff and wonderful fans. We have to all to pull together and maintain our focus. We have 12 games left and it is up to us to pursue single-mindedly our ambition to win promotion to the First Division.” Kevin Summerfield is set to take charge of first-team affairs.
Argyle's reserves drew 2-2 at Bournemouth, the goals scored by Andrew Watkins and Tony Capaldi. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Sawyer, Hodges, Wotton, Villis, Phillips, Bent, Watkins, Sturrock, Capaldi. Subs – Bulley (Not used - Nute, O'Sullivan, Coxon, Schofield)
Paul Sturrock could not confirm who scored Argyle’s first goal last night. “They are all claiming it,” he said, “so we’ll have to wait and see. Cocko’s claiming that Mickey’s missed it and Dan’s saying it wasn’t over the line. We’ll let video evidence sort it out over the next couple of days.” Marino Keith said: "It bounced about a foot out, and I thought I bundled it over the line, but apparently on TV it shows it was over. I have told Mickey I'm claiming it anyway, so we will see what happens! For my part it was definitely my goal. I didn't think it was going in, that's why I bundled it over. We will see how it gets cleared up over the next couple of days." Keith was thrilled to start last night’s game: "I lost my place through injury for a start and then found it hard to get back in again because the team was doing well, then, all of a sudden, I got another injury so I'm glad to be back now and, hopefully, I can put a case forward to stay in the side."
Paul Sturrock paid tribute to his team after the victory over Sheffield Wednesday. “The first-half performance was excellent,” he said. “In the second half, we looked very leg-weary. The front two, who had obviously not trained or played at that tempo for a while – Mickey missing a couple of days’ training, Dan not being involved – definitely looked leg-weary. We needed the injection of Blair and Hodgy when they came on and I think I was maybe five minutes too late in doing it, but they were involved in the second goal. That’s the pleasing thing, that we got the victory. Wednesday made it very hard. They set their game plan out to disrupt the flow of our game and it worked the longer the game went on. With Mickey’s presence in the air dwindling as the game went on, we couldn’t get up the park to get around their box, and, to be fair, they’ve had a couple of half-chances they maybe could have done better with. Dan put himself about, did all the right things, looked much better at linkage, had a bit of zest about him. I thought he and Mickey, in the first half, worked really good together, but as it wore on, they dropped those standards and it meant we couldn’t go up the park and stay up there. Until you get the second goal, it was always a bit nervy. I thought the fans were brilliant. They stuck behind the team for the whole 90 minutes and I think they went home happy. It’s another three points towards our goal. I’m just hopeful they can get themselves down here for the last six games and we can get that kind of backing. If we can win as many points as possible here and then go away and pick two or three up away from home, that would take us over the final hump. It was a huge benefit.”
Argyle beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Mickey Evans after 7 minutes and Graham Coughlan (77). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Adams, Friio, Stonebridge, Evans, Keith. Subs - Hodges, Sturrock (not used - Phillips, Wotton, Capaldi). Attendance - 17,218. and Ian De Lar's match report is here
Paul Sturrock wants his players and Argyle’s fans to remain patient tonight. "Wednesday are coming down on a high," he said, "so we've got to be well guarded in our approach and make sure that, at the end of the game, our home form has been sustained. This is a big team we're playing, it's a really big game. I'm hoping the fans come out in force. But, if it's like the last two games, they're going to need to be patient again. Sheffield will be very organised, very tight. They played three big centre-halves on Saturday, so it's going to be a real test for our front men. We're just going to have to grind out another result. The problem is that there could be 5,000 or so fans who don't normally come and they'll be expecting to see a home win with a rousing performance, but Wednesday are only five points off the play-offs. Our fans have helped us in the past, they were very, very good against Port Vale. They were right behind the team the whole way, and that was a great benefit. We didn't get too excited. We need that again tomorrow night."
Both Nathan Lowndes and Mickey Evans are struggling to be fit to face Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow. “We’ll make a decision on Nathan tomorrow morning,” said Paul Sturrock. “He hasn’t headed the ball yet. He had blurred vision, obviously, it’s a worry. If you start him in a game, he gets a wee knock and he’s off the pitch again. The next problem is that if you put him on the bench, he comes on and then he has to come off, you’ve wasted a sub. I will listen to what my medical staff say tomorrow. Mickey hasn’t trained for the last couple of days. He’s got a wee knock on the hip. He’ll have a fitness test in the morning.”
Argyle fans are being urged to turn up early for tomorrow's game against Sheffield Wednesday. A large crowd is predicted for the match, which kicks off at 7.45pm and gates will therefore open at 6.15pm, with food and drink outlets serving from then. Argyle's operations manager Dave Boobyer said: "We want to make sure no supporter misses the kick-off of what promises to be an exciting match, so we would urge them not to leave it until the last minute to come to Home Park."
Ian Stonebridge paid tribute to the travelling Green Army after he scored the only goal of the game at Blackpool on Saturday: "It's amazing support when you can go away as far as Blackpool from Plymouth and have a whole side of the ground full of your supporters. It's a tremendous lift and they really drove us on in the second half when we were being put under pressure, it was great." Stonebridge came off the bench to score the winning goal: "You have just got to do what you can when you come on as a sub and, fortunately, I got a goal today. It was bobbling around a bit and I just thought I would take a chance hitting it first time. Sometimes they fly over the bar and sometimes they go in. Fortunately, that one has gone in." Stonebridge enjoyed leading the line with Mickey Evans on Saturday and said: "I played up front for the reserves in the week so I kind of had my eye in because of that. Although it wasn't the greatest of pitches to play football on, I think we got the ball in the right areas and we have got the right result at the end of it. You know when you play up front with Mickey you are going to get plenty of the ball. You have got to try to put yourself in the right areas off his flicks and you will get plenty of those coming towards you. That's what you have got to feed off. We probably relaxed a bit and kept the ball better after we scored the goal, which is only natural I think. We were able to hang on towards the end and Luke has made one tremendous save." Luke McCormick was the man most responsible for winning the three points and Steve Adams said: "Luke played really well and kept us in the game. He did everything well - his kicking, his handling, and the way he came for crosses. It was hard work out there. We dug in and we got the result we wanted."
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