A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Paul Sturrock thought his team selection was partly to blame for Argyle's 3-1 defeat on Saturday. The Pilgrims' boss thought about shaking up his side, but in the end he decided against it. "Sometimes managers get things wrong, and I got it wrong," he said. "Over the last three days, I have mulled it over in my mind to make more changes than I did today. But I went with the team because of their performances in the last two games, and all the things that I was worried about came home to roost. Saying that, for the first 20-25 minutes of the game we were going forward and getting ourselves in the right places and then, obviously, their two goals came along." Argyle's preparations were disrupted because they had four players on international duty last week. That meant Sturrock was short on numbers in training, but he was not prepared to use that as an excuse after Argyle's third defeat in their last four away games. Sturrock said: "Hindsight is a fantastic thing. Football fans have hindsight and so does the media. So deciding on who is to blame is quite easy. I'm putting my hand up because I do feel I should have made more changes to the team, but I would like to think some of my players might put their hands up as well. In a very important time of the season for us, several didn't play to the standard I expect of them." Sturrock continued: "Having a rant and a rave at half-time, and coming in at the end of the game and taking the paint off the walls, was one of my old traits. But I feel we are all in this together. I have made mistakes and the players have made mistakes. We will have a chat about the game. I will do it individually and team-wise, and then after that discussion we will completely forget about it."
Jim Paterson has admitted Argyle must win their last three home games this season to keep alive their play-off hopes. He said: "The three games at home are massive. If we are being honest, we have got to be looking for nine points. I'm not saying that if we draw one of them, we still can't make it. But, realistically, if we want to be there then we need nine points, it's as simple as that. We have got to get that mentality instilled into us. Basically, we have got to go for it. You would rather go for it and if you don't make it at the end of the season you don't make it, instead of saying 'well, we didn't really go for it.' That has got to be the attitude." Argyle were nowhere near their best yesterday, and Paterson added: "We were on top at the start and we had the better chances. Steven should maybe have scored - he said that himself - and that would have changed the game. Their first goal gave them a lift, and the second came quite quickly afterwards and it deflated us. Towards the end, we went for it a bit and got a goal back. But I think the boys realise we need to do better. We haven't written ourselves off and it has got to be all positive. We have got to put this behind us and get on with it." MacLean's early chance came after a wildly sliced shot from Gary Sawyer, which Paterson realised would stay in play due to the spin on the ball. His cross picked out MacLean, but he could not capitalise on the slack defending. "I saw Steven in the middle and fired it across," said Paterson. "He said he was sliding in and it came off the end of his foot. Sometimes they end up in the back of the net. Unfortunately for us, it went past the post today. Even late on, Tealey hit one which took a deflection and went by. It was as if the ball didn't break for us today at the important moments. I think we have still got to defend better, to be honest. But, credit to them they took their goals well and won the game. There was a spell when we were a wee bit all over the shop, but there are still positives to take out of it. We didn't give up at 3-0. We kept fighting. We didn't let our heads go down, and we have got to have that attitude between now and the end of the season." Paterson played the closing stages of the game with his head heavily bandaged because of a cut to one of his ears. He said: "I didn't actually know I had done it until the referee said I was bleeding and sent me off. I think it was just an elbow or a clash of heads. I can't actually remember doing it. But they made me change my shirt and get it strapped up."
An updated medical report on Peter Halmosi's knee injury is expected by tomorrow
Paul Sturrock has opted to keep all his professionals in training tomorrow in preparation for Saturday's home clash with Charlton, and is sending the youth team to Bournemouth for the Combination fixture at Dean Court
Paul Sturrock believes Argyle can still reach the play-offs, as long as they are willing to learn from the defeat at Coventry. "We're still there or thereabouts, and, in the end, it's up to us to start putting wins on the board," he said. "I think three home wins and a win away will take you very close to the play-offs. It is still just reachable. I would love to think we can take it to the last day. We've got three home games left, and two away. It's vitally important now that we get healthy, get back into the sleepy hollow, and see if we can dig up some results. Last season, this team won its last five games; if we hit that kind of form, it might just take us there. We are five winning games away from being in the play-offs - that's what we have got to achieve. I do feel we have got to have a go. I want to think we'll be biting and scratching at home with the fans behind us, and we'll see what we're like at the end of the April. What a position to be sitting in. We're still in the hunt. Think about it another way: had we got a result that meant we were sixth by one point. There's not much difference. We're all in this together - I've made mistakes; they've made mistakes - we'll get together on Monday and Tuesday, we'll have a chat, discuss it individually and team-wise. After we have that discussion, we will totally forget about it - there are better teams than us that lose football games - and get ready for the challenge of next Saturday. We need the backing of the fans next week - Charlton will be a hard, hard game. The great thing about football is there is always a game the following Saturday which we can get back on the rails with. A lot of these players have been fantastic in the last two games but were poor today. Some will get an opportunity to make amends. Some won't. It will be up to the ones that come in their place to make sure they don't get back in."
Argyle lost 3-1 at Coventry City, the goal scored by Steve MacLean after 81 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Anderson, Sawyer, Teale, Clark, Wotton, Paterson, MacLean, Easter. Subs – Mackie, Timar, Abdou (not used – Nalis, Jutkiewicz). Attendance - 18,775
Lilian Nalis insists he and his team-mates are relishing the battle that lies ahead as Argyle look to secure their place in the play-offs. "We have six games to go and we need points," he said. "Last week was a tough game in tough conditions. We perhaps may have got the three points in the end, but you could also say we may have lost as well. In the end, I think a draw was probably a fair result." Nalis expects the challenge of Coventry to be just as tough, and added: "They are looking for survival, so they need to get the points as well. It will be a tough game, for sure. It is a beautiful stadium, and a beautiful place to go and play some decent football. We just need to make sure we play like we did against Bristol City and put everything into the game and try to make sure we get something at the end of it. You need to be up for every game between now and the end of the season. That's the kind of attitude you need to have. We have shown that for the last two games, so let's keep it going. After 42 games this season, you need to keep giving your best. I cannot see anyone here not thinking about getting into the play-offs and working hard until the end of the season to do it. As I said, we have six games to go - that's six times 90 minutes to play and to give your best." Nalis believe that there will be a number of testing games between now and the end of the season. "Some teams are playing each other, so there are going to be points lost," he said. "All we can do is concentrate on ourselves and focus on a specific game. The league is so tight right now, everybody can win it, everybody can get in the play-offs, so let's just make sure it's going to be us." As well as his team-mates, Nalis also believes that the 'Green Army' have their part to play as well. "The supporters have been outstanding every game we have played away from home," he said. "They have been supporting us and sharing some great moments along the way. I remember the Southampton and Leicester games especially, so it's going to be the same, I'm sure, if we were to get a result against Coventry this weekend."
Argyle take on Coventry this afternoon hoping to build on the 2-1 win at Bristol City in their last away game, but Paul Sturrock is wary of the threat posed by the opposition. He said: "They are a dangerous beast we are going to be playing, with a big crowd behind them. Every point is a prisoner to them at this minute in time. We went to Scunthorpe with an air that it was just going to happen for us, and that's why we lost. If we go there with the same commitment as we showed at Scunthorpe then we are going to lose the game." Despite their league position, Coventry have gone six home games without conceding a goal, and Sturrock added: "They are very solid at the back and Mifsud is a handful. We have got to go there and be very thoughtful tactically when they have got the ball. But, at the same time, we have got to get ourselves into the right areas to score goals. If we do that, I'm confident we will get a result."
The distraction of a play-off chase has left Paul Sturrock without enough time to consider other duties, like contract discussions with a number of his squad. "I haven't had the time to even contemplate any decisions," said. "There are more important things to be discussed and need to be thinking about. Once I know clearly what league I'm going to be venturing in next season, it will be an opportunity then to have a clearer picture of what I may do with the out of contract players. To be fair to the players, they have been very respectful of the situation that we are in. None of them have come chattering at my door yet and I'm very pleased about that, as it shows their commitment and concentration levels are on the job in hand."
Paul Sturrock has shrugged off the disappointment of failing to add any loan signings to his squad. He said: "I'm a bit disappointed some of the players we were in for decided to go to other football clubs, where the locality was better for them. We got close to a couple, but what I didn't want to do was panic and bring in people who weren't good enough. We have got a squad of players and it's all hands to the pumps now. We know what we have got and we know what we have got to do. We inquired about Scott Sinclair but I think Chelsea are trying to keep him close to home so that rubs us out of the equation. I'm led to believe we were one of several clubs who were chasing him." Meanwhile, Mathias Doumbe is set to return to training on Monday after a hamstring injury, and Lee Hodges has been sidelined over the past couple of days by an Achilles problem. Sturrock said: "We don't want it flaring up so we took him out of training yesterday. I think he will probably need the weekend to get over it."
Peter Halmosi had his knee scanned on Tuesday and it is believed the scan revealed there was cartilage and ligament damage. Paul Sturrock said: "The medical team, Peter and myself are in discussions about what the best course of action is. Any comment on that will be made next Monday or Tuesday. The scan has shown bits and pieces in his knee, but we are not sure of the severity of it. I played with cartilage trouble all my life. The stuff that showed up on the scan might not just be from last Saturday. We have all got this big meeting to come along and it will give us a bit of time to assess everything."
Luke McCormick will not show any sentiment to his hometown club when Argyle take on Coventry City tomorrow. He said: "Come tomorrow, it's just any other game for me. In an ideal situation for me, we will win and Coventry will then win every other game for the rest of the season and stay up. But there will be no divided loyalties tomorrow. I want to help us get the three points." McCormick has played at the Ricoh Arena once before, when Argyle beat Coventry 1-0 in September 2006, and he said: "I love playing there and, to be fair, it's one of the better stadiums in the league. The facilities are fantastic and they get good crowds. It's just a nice place to go and play football, with the added incentive from me that I have got all my family and friends in the crowd. That doesn't really put me under any extra pressure. Come the game, you are 100 per cent focused on what's going on on the pitch. That's something you think about before and after maybe. Argyle are sixth in the table, and McCormick added: "I don't think it would be the end of the world if we only came away with a point tomorrow. But, at the same time, we would help our cause massively if we were to come out with the three points. And, to be honest, I think we are good enough to go there and do that. We should be looking at going to places like Coventry and thinking we can come out with three points." Training has been unusual at Argyle this week with four players, Russell Anderson, Gary Teale, Jermaine Easter and Krisztian Timar away on international duty, along with five, Nick Chadwick, Mathias Doumbe, Lee Hodges, Rory Fallon and Peter Halmosi sidelined by injuries. McCormick said: "Training was different yesterday because the international lads aren't back until today, but the squad is good enough to cope with things like that. It hasn't been too bad. Hopefully, the lads will come back and won't be too leggy, and they will be all right to slot in again tomorrow." McCormick admitted there was a lot of excitement at Home Park with the prospect of promotion to the Premier League a real possibility. "Every game is going to be a cup final, to be honest," he said. "They are just going to keep getting bigger and bigger as long as we stay there or thereabouts. It's a good time to be a footballer at this club."
Paul Sturrock has congratulated Krisztian Timar on making his debut for Hungary. He said: "It was his first international cap so I'm very pleased for him, even though it was in a defeat. He probably came to this football club as the hod carrier for Peter Halmosi, but with hard work from himself, and with a wee bit of help from the coaching staff, he has developed into a very solid central defender." Gary Teale and Russell Anderson will be meeting up with the rest of the squad at the team hotel in Coventry tomorrow, in an effort to reduce their travelling time. "I saw no point in them coming back" Sturrock said. "Training has been disjointed this week because of injuries and international call-ups, but I was very pleased with the work-out we had yesterday."
Paul Sturrock is hopeful of adding two players to his squad before the loan signing deadline today. "Certain clubs have been talking to their players to see if they want to come to Plymouth Argyle FC." he said. "If it doesn't happen it doesn't happen. I'm reasonably comfortable if we didn't get anybody but it would be nice to get a fresh face or two before the next game." Sturrock would not be drawn on any specific players but explained the difficulties he faces in trying to bring in players at this time of the season. "Well I'm trying for two and I've got a few irons in the fire but it's very difficult because everybody is after the same players," he added. He also explained that he was looking for 'somebody who can play in several positions', and that he had enquired about Scott Sinclair prior to him signing for Crystal Palace this morning
Jake Moult has joined Kidderminster Harriers on loan until the end of the season
Krisztian Timar was a proud man after making his Hungarian debut last night against Slovenia. His side lost 1-0 but Timar produced an impressive display, and after the game said: "I am very proud. It is a big thing, playing for my national team, but the result was disappointing. We wanted to win, especially at home, but we are a young team and we will improve if we can work together. "The coach believes in me, and I think he is satisfied with me. I'm an experienced player, and he wants me to help the younger players. We missed Peter and he wanted to be here, but he is still struggling with his injury. We have a good defence, but we lost the ball in midfield a few times. If we hadn't made those mistakes, we would have had a clean-sheet. They only made chances when we lost the ball." However, the result did not spoil the post-match reception Timar was given by about 30 family members and friends outside the stadium, before he boarded the team bus. "They were very happy that they could watch my first appearance for the national team," he said. "They are very proud of me."
Gary Teale and Russell Anderson both appeared as second half substitutes for Scotland as they drew 1-1 against Croatia last night, whilst Jermaine Easter won his seventh cap for Wales in their 2-0 win in Luxembourg
Rory Fallon faces at least two weeks out because of an ankle ligament injury. X-rays revealed Fallon's ankle was not broken but there is 'grade two' ligament damage in addition to extensive bruising. He has already started his rehabilitation programme and Paul Maxwell said: "He could be out for anything from two to four weeks." Meanwhile, Peter Halmosi saw surgeon Patrick Loxdale last night to assess his knee injury he picked up against Watford
Rory Fallon could yet play for Argyle when they visit Coventry City on Saturday. Paul Sturrock said: "Rory has got severe bruising and we will give him every opportunity for Saturday. We are pleased he hasn't broken anything. Now we have got to work to get the swelling down as quickly as possible. I think Rory has taken in the information and the stick he has received from me. He has taken it properly. It hasn't been real stick. It has been constructive criticism, and I do feel he's appreciative there are certain things he has to do to keep himself in the team. The last two games he has achieved that. Hopefully, the penny has dropped. It's a bit unfortunate him picking up what he has picked up, but it could give an opportunity to somebody else to grab the jersey. What we don't want to do is push him into playing on Saturday and then he's out for the rest of the season. We have got to know exactly how severe the damage is to the ankle. The first report is that nothing is broken, now we have got to find out what ligament damage there is." Meanwhile, Argyle are awaiting the results of a scan on the injured left knee of Peter Halmosi. Sturrock said: "He's feeling much better, but these kind of things have got to be scanned and studied." Sturrock admitted that having Russell Anderson, Gary Teale, Krisztian Timar and Jermaine Easter away on international duty made it difficult to prepare for the trip to Coventry. He said: "The boys on international duty are not back until Thursday night, and are flying into the country all over the place. I have got to deliberate what's best for the team. Do I bring them all the way down here on the Thursday night or the Friday morning to go back up again to Coventry on the Friday afternoon? The thing about it is that it disjoints the training. We are going to go into a game without doing our normal work, but we will do it as best as we can with the personnel we have got."
Argyle issued the following statement today: “Two people in the vicinity of the Watford dug-out on Saturday will be banned indefinitely from all Argyle home games and any other events at Home Park for making racist remarks towards Watford players and officials during the draw. This follows an internal inquiry that considered all the facts already in our possession, which included evidence provided by our own supporters. The club has also decided to implement, without delay, a supporters' exclusion zone behind the visiting dug-out. We will also be writing to the Football Association, offering our observations about various events that occurred during the game, on the field as well as off it. Michael Dunford said: "As we have consistently said, there is no place at Home Park for racism, or, indeed, any form of antisocial behaviour. We have excluded people for racism before and had no hesitation in taking this action once we satisfied ourselves of Saturday's events. I would like to thank the Argyle supporters who came forward to identify the culprits."
Jim Paterson continued his comeback from a torn hamstring by playing all of Argyle reserves' win over Bournemouth yesterday. Paul Sturrock said: "I thought Jim did okay. He needed a game and knew it was important. He showed a fantastic attitude and played in two positions, so I'm quite happy with him." Sturrock was also encouraged by the performance of Yoann Folly, and added: "I think we are starting to see a wee edge to Folly. He has still got to dominate the game more, but he's back to the fitness levels that we would expect from him. Now he has got to build on that. He could be invaluable from now until the end of the season, what with injuries and suspensions, so it's important he's up and running."
Argyle reserves beat Bournemouth 4-0 at Home Park today, the goals scored by Jamie Mackie, Yoann Folly, Dan Smith and Lukas Jutkiewicz. Argyle: Saxton, White, Gerring, Hodgkinson, Paterson, Folly, Sandor, Summerfield, Smith, Mackie, Jutkiewicz. Subs - Duggan, Stevens (not used - Davis, McCrory)
Paul Giles and Paul Maxwell are planning on seeing both Peter Halmosi and Rory Fallon today, and are hoping 48 hours of inactivity over the weekend will have improved their condition. Giles said: "I'll see them both today and re-assess their condition after a weekend of rest. While the plan is still that Peter will have a scan on his left knee and Rory an X-ray on his left ankle, it's always possible that one or both may not be needed after all. The first reaction when a player leaves the pitch as Peter did on Saturday, is that there may be cruciate or ligament damage. But depending on how Peter feels and how swollen his knee is still, after two days on painkillers and an ice pack, is something both Maxie and I decide on today. The same goes for Rory - it could be that he will be showing definite signs of improvement and that his ankle is less painful and uncomfortable. We'll just have to wait and see."
Paul Sturrock will be looking for exciting performances in today's reserve game with Bournemouth. He said: "I will be taking the reserve game today and studying the performances, which will determine my thoughts on loans. I want to see several people again and give them the opportunity to excite me. I will be at dug-out level and putting pressure on people. Some of them need to perform today."
Paul Sturrock was proud of the way his players coped after Peter Halmosi was sent off in the second half of the draw with Watford. He said: "To go down to 10 men against one of the top three teams in the league, for the time that we did, I have got to commend the players. They were absolutely outstanding in their whole attitude to the game. We have come out of it with a point. I think it was a merited point. I don't think we deserved to win, and I don't think they did either." Argyle had taken the lead with a goal from Jermaine Easter, who had failed to convert similar chances in recent matches, and Sturrock revealed he had spoken to the striker about that. "I had a wee word with him about the height and the angle he was trying to shoot at," he said. "I did feel he was trying to hit the front post in that area. He has been through about six times in that area but, to be fair to him, he has splayed it across the goalie today - and he has hit it a bit lower. Maybe he benefited from me having a wee chat with him. But his general play was excellent, and I thought Rory was different class in the first half. He did everything we have asked him to do. Maybe the penny has dropped with Rory. Hopefully it has. The important thing is that we didn't lose this game. It would have been a huge blow to us, sitting where we are, but the boys have dug deep." After the dismissal of Halmosi, Sturrock persevered with Easter and Fallon in attack, and he added: "We stayed with two forwards because at this juncture of the season we have still got to try to win football games. I was expecting a wee flourish from us in the last 20 minutes, but I think the sending-off kind of knocked us sideways. We had to change our system and take a winger off. Strangely enough we still got up the football pitch, which was quite pleasing. In the end, I think a draw was a fair result on the whole game.If somebody had told me I would take four points from Bristol City away and Watford at home I would have bitten their hands off. That's how we have got to look at it. I'm very pleased with the players because this is a difficult style you have got to play against. You get sucked into their game and they are very good at it. The wind and the bouncy pitch was definitely a feature today, but our players have coped with the second ball."
Jermaine Easter has gone on international duty with Wales boosted by scoring for Argyle in the 1-1 draw against Watford, and he was thrilled to finish so emphatically. He said: "I played a one-two with Rory and he put me through. I have been in that position a few times over the last few years and I have decided to go for placement instead of power. I just thought 'I'm going to go with power this time' and, luckily enough, it went in." Paul Sturrock had spoken to Easter last week about scoring from one-on-one situations, and Easter said: "The gaffer told me what he thinks I need to do to improve. I took his advice and, obviously, the goal has gone in. It was a tough game. I don't think a lot of football was played, to be fair. It was a battle. But I think it's pretty decent result and it gives us confidence going into the next game." Argyle remained in sixth position despite the draw and are still in play-off contention. "I think everybody has written us off from day one, but that's fine by us," Easter added. "We can quietly go about our business and, hopefully, we can sneak in there."
Paul Connolly was proud of the way in which Argyle coped with the challenge presented by Watford during Saturday's draw. He said: "It was hard work. There was hardly any quality out there, but the fans can't fault us for effort. Watford came here and they tried to bully us, and that's one thing they didn't do. We stood up to the fight." As well as the opposition, Argyle had to cope with a bumpy and patchy pitch and a wind which at times was gale-force. Connolly said: "As soon I woke up this morning, with the wind swirling around, I knew it was going to suit no one. The pitch is as bobbly as anything, and I knew it was going to be an absolute battle. Whoever won the battle was going to win the game, and in the end we cancelled each other out." Connolly was pleased that Watford did not profit from their aerial assault, and added: "I remember, when Stoke came down here, they scored from a long throw and we were absolutely devastated. To concede a goal from a long throw 50 yards from your goal is absolutely embarrassing. This time we all stuck with our men and we've been strong, goalkeeper included. They didn't have a chance from a long throw, which was very pleasing." Argyle's goal came from Jermaine Easter, and Connolly said: "That came from just about the only bit of football played all game. There were about three or four passes played, and it was a great finish by Jermaine from a through ball by Rory. It's been a long time coming for Jermaine when he's been one on one with the 'keeper. Hopefully he can kick on with some more goals." Connolly felt that Rory Fallon was unlucky to give away the free-kick which led to the leveller, and said: "The referee was whistle-happy all game. I spoke to Rory and he said it was nothing. It was an absolutely embarrassing free-kick." The first of Peter Halmosi's two yellow cards was also a harsh decision, according to Connolly. "Peter should not have been sent off," he said. "It was handbags in the box and the referee booked both of them. It wasn't yellow cards. It was a man's game against a physical side, and we're quite a physical side ourselves. If you're going to book people for that, then you're going to have six people on the pitch. Peter's second booking was a yellow card, no doubt, but his first one wasn't, so it was an unfair red card."
Argyle are waiting to find out more about the severity of injuries to Rory Fallon and Peter Halmosi. Halmosi was carried off with an injury to his left knee, whilst Fallon limped out of the action with an ankle ligament injury. Club doctor Paul Giles said the intention was to send Fallon for precautionary X-rays today as there was too much swelling around the ankle for an accurate assessment of the damage. Halmosi's injury is not thought to be as serious as first feared, but he is unlikely to link up with the Hungary squad on Wednesday. "We would have no problem with the treatment Peter would get over there," said Giles. "But the national team doctor thought there was no point in Peter travelling over there if he's not fit to play on Wednesday, although he told me he would have to talk to the manager about it." Paul Sturrock had no complaints about the second yellow card Halmosi received, but thought the first one was harsh. He said: "I'm a wee bit disappointed with the referee today. I do feel that for the first one, he could have slapped them about. There were a lot of niggling fouls going on through the game, and that was handbags at dawn as far as I was concerned. All the referee had to do was say, 'Don't do it again, you are bad boys'. But the next minute he has made a stupid tackle and got a red card." Sturrock insisted he would have no fears about taking on Coventry without Fallon and Halmosi because of the confidence he has in the rest of his squad. He said: "After we lost to Scunthorpe the other week, I called upon six fresh faces to play at Bristol City. They responded in the proper way and we got the result. If these two boys are injured long-term, I do expect the players that fill the jerseys to adapt, because we are a squad rather than a team. We will roll our sleeves up even more. That's what we are all about. We keep fighting and battling, and biting and scratching, and it has won us a lot of football games. Yes, Halmosi has influenced a lot of the games and it would be a blow to lose but he's a strong character and I'm hopeful it's not as bad as it looked."
Paul Sturrock was pleased with a point after Argyle's draw with Watford. He said: "We came out with a point, which was fair. We did not deserve to win the game and neither did they. A draw was a fair result from the whole game. If you had offered me four points before games against Bristol City and Watford, I would have bitten your hand off. I was pleased with the players because this is a difficult style to play against and you get sucked into their game, and they are very, very good at it. The wind and the bouncy pitch was definitely a feature out there today and our boys have handled the second ball very well." Argyle dealt superbly with Watford's aerial threat and, in particular, Leigh Bromby's extraordinary long throws. Sturrock said: "Bromby needs to be careful those arms of his don't fall off one day, but we have handled the second ball. It is something where the finger has been pointed at us in the past but, today, everybody did their job." An injury to Peter Halmosi, and another to Rory Fallon, prompted ten minutes of injury-time. Sturrock normally retires to the dressing room for stoppage time but, today stayed to watch his side hold on to sixth place. "I saw it all," he said. "I would have been demented in the shower for those last ten minutes. We have stayed in the top six tonight. Everybody else is getting beat or drawing. We will give it a right go - we have got three more home games. If we can get to April still in this position, we have a right chance. Our three home games are in April, so it is important we stay in the mix after the Coventry game."
Peter Halmosi suffered a double blow in the draw with Watford, being sent-off for a second bookable offence and, in the process, damaging his knee. Paul Sturrock admitted he may now be forced into the loan market before Thursday's deadline. "We don't know what it is yet," he said. "Peter has hurt the lax joints in his knee but we don't know how bad it is yet. He is not the type to go down normally. He is very influential for us, which may mean I have to go scampering about again and looking for cover in that position." Rory Fallon also limped off but Sturrock refused to be downbeat. He said: "I called on six fresh faces after the Scunthorpe game to play against Bristol City and they responded in the proper way, and we got the result. If these two boys are injured long-term, I expect the boys who fill the jersey to roll their sleeves up even more because we are a squad and not a team. That is what we are all about. We keep fighting and battling, biting and scratching, and it has won us a lot of football games."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Watford at Home Park, the goal scored by Jermaine Easter after 34 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Anderson, Sawyer, Teale, Clark, Wotton, Halmosi, Fallon, Easter. Subs – Paterson, Nalis, Timar (not used – Mackie, MacLean). Attendance - 17,511
Jim Paterson is desperate to be involved in Argyle's play-off push, but knows he may have to wait for a first-team recall. Paterson was injured only three games after his move from Motherwell in January, and all three of those matches ended in wins for Argyle. He said: "It was a good start and everything seemed to be going really well and then I pulled my hamstring a wee bit. That was disappointing, but I'm back into full training now and I'm fit and available." Paterson could be added to the squad for the game against Watford today, but is not expecting to make an immediate return to the starting line-up. He said: "The boys have been going well and got another fantastic result last week. Like I say, I'm fit and available and I'm looking to play. But it was a great result at Bristol City and the gaffer might not change things. It might be one of those where you need to work hard and try to get your place back." After the visit of Watford, Argyle have six Championship matches to play this season, and Paterson added: "We need everybody fit and available because those games are going to be difficult. But we are still in there with a chance." Paterson did not try to hide the importance of today’s game. He said: "It's massive, but if you have got any aspirations of being in there these are the games you have got to win. There were a couple of disappointing results against Sheffield United and Scunthorpe, but the boys bounced back with a great win against Bristol City. It has got the fans behind us again and we are looking to kick on." Paterson admitted he did not know too much about Watford, but he knows a man who does. He said: "I will probably nip Steve MacLean's ear because he has been down here for a while and he knows what we are up against. But, obviously, Watford are up there as well so it proves they are a good team." If Paterson is not involved today he will still be cheering his team-mates on, but admitted: "I'm a very bad spectator. I kick every ball and I give the referee a bit of abuse as well!"
Liam Head has played in the first two group games for England under-16s at the Montaigu Tournament in France. The schedule started with a 3-1 win against Japan on Wednesday, followed by a 1-0 victory over Germany on Thursday
Paul Sturrock will pick the team for Argyle's game against Watford using his head, not his heart. "I honestly believe the team that played last Saturday was the one best suited to that game," he said. "The question is, are they suited to this game? I have got a sleepless night ahead to decide what team I do play, after reading the reports and watching a couple of DVDs of the opposition. There is a lot to debate over whether you leave well alone. You can pick a team with your heart, but sometimes you have to pick it with your head. That decision making has got to be done." Sturrock gave away no clues about who would play out of Anderson, Seip and Timar.He said: "I have got one with hernia trouble, another one who has got a couple of niggling knocks and then, obviously, I have got Timar. Decision making on that scenario will have to be made, but the opposition will determine my thoughts on selection." Watford have easily the best away record in the Championship, a fact has not gone un-noticed by Sturrock. "They are very good away from home," he said. "They have proved that with 10 wins on their travels. They have got players who can hurt you all over the pitch and they play to their strengths. They are big, strong and physical and we have got to match all that if we are going to take anything out of the game. I have got to determine whether I have the right type of player from last Saturday in the team to handle that. If I don't, then I will put my head on the chopping block as far as selection is concerned. If I go with the same team and we lose, everybody will say I should have changed it. If I change the team and we lose, then everybody will say, why didn't I go with the same one? Who would be a manager?"Argyle beat Watford 1-0 at Vicarage Road on December 15 th, but both clubs have seen several players come and go since then. Sturrock said: "They are a completely different team - there was no Henderson then, and they have signed John, Bromby and Sadler. There are four, maybe five, players who weren't involved that day." Sturrock's options have been increased with the return to full training of Jim Paterson. "I would say the players are looking forward to the game," said Sturrock. "All of them were up for it in training yesterday. There were loads of tackles going in and loads of grumpiness, which I always like to see. The referee - who was me - was absolutely hopeless and people got upset about it. It was a normal Thursday morning, where we did some high-tempo training. Today we will think more about the game. Jim Paterson trained yesterday and looked very good, so we will see what reaction he has to that. He hasn't played in three weeks and he has missed six games." With the end of the season only five weeks away, Sturrock is hoping Argyle can seize control of their own destiny in the race for the play-offs. He added: "We have got to do our own business. The only way you get promoted is by winning your own games."
Argyle are hoping for their highest attendance of the season tomorrow. Michael Dunford said: "We are keen that no-one misses out on even a second of the action. We are heading towards our highest gate of the season, and because of the Easter weekend we are expecting a higher than normal number of fans collecting pre-booked tickets tomorrow. We would urge the Green Army to get here in plenty of time to make sure they get in and get right behind Paul Sturrock and the team from the kick-off." Sturrock believes the supporters can play an important part as Argyle try to stay on target for the play-offs. "I would like to think the fans will come out and give us their backing," he said. "My message to them would be to make it as noisy as they can."
Argyle have offered two-year apprenticeships to six of their centre of excellence players. They are Liam Head, Oliver Chenoweth, Jordan Trott, Sean Kinsella, Ryan Leonard and Ciaran Levett
Russell Anderson has revealed he had no hesitation about deciding to extend his loan spell with Argyle until the end of the season. He said: "I'm happy to be staying here and, hopefully, it means I can get some more games between now and the end of the season. The team is doing well and we will all be trying to keep that going." Anderson trained with Sunderland on Monday and Tuesday before returning to Plymouth on Wednesday. That allowed him chance to catch up with his wife and two children, who he had not seen since his move to Argyle last month. He said: "I have missed my wife and children, so it was nice to see them. It seemed to go very quickly, but that's just the way it's going to be from now until the end of the season. Hopefully, I will be playing football down here and that's the main reason I decided to continue the loan. Initially, when I first came down here, Roy Keane said it would give me a chance to get some games and to sharpen up, rather than just playing in the reserves. But the back four up there is settled and it doesn't look like he's going to be changing it. So, from that point of view, I would rather be out playing games than sitting on my hands doing nothing." Argyle take on Watford tomorrow, and Anderson added: "It's another big game for us. They keep coming up thick and fast but it's getting to that stage of the season where every game is important. It doesn't matter who we are playing against. We need to try to pick up as many points as we can to give ourselves a chance of getting one of the play-off places. It's going to be really tight because it's still very hard to choose between a lot of the teams and everyone up there will be fancying their chances of getting one of those spots. We are no different to anybody else." Watford have a reputation for being a hard, uncompromising side, but that does not overly concern Anderson. He said: "To be honest, most of the teams are physical down here. I think if we play with a good tempo to our game and get the crowd behind us then, hopefully, we can give it a good shot. The players realise what the goal is at the end of the season. There is a great incentive to keep doing well. There are seven games to go and we can only do our best and see where we end up." Anderson and Gary Teale will be part of the Scotland squad which meets up on Sunday. "It's great to be picked at any time, but with the new manager coming in you are never sure what his thoughts are going to be," said Anderson. "I heard about it on Monday and, obviously, I'm delighted to be in the squad for his first game. I had hoped I would, but I wasn't sure."
Krisztian Timar enjoyed Argyle's win at Bristol City last weekend, but is hoping to regain his place in the team tomorrow. He said: "It was difficult for me, being out of the team, but I'm happy because we won the last game. I went to Bristol. It was a big game, we needed the three points, and we got them. Hopefully I will play against Watford. I have trained hard, and I'm waiting for the gaffer's decision." Timar knows what to expect from Watford, having helped Argyle win at Vicarage Road in December, and he is desperate to play his part once more. "They have very strong, big strikers," he added. "Their kind of play is good for me, and that's why I especially want to play."
Luke McCormick cannot wait to return to Argyle’s starting line-up against Watford on Saturday. He said: "I know I can't wait and neither can the team for Saturday to come. It's going to be a massive match - we know that and are up for it. But to be fair, all the matches left in the league this season are going to be massive. We're under no illusions how tough a challenge Watford are going to present on Saturday - we know what to expect from them. From experience, they are direct in attack so they'll be firing long balls into the box and also present a danger from long throws. But we're confident of our attacking threat and what problems we give the opposition. It's finely balanced. We've beaten them once already this season and after last week's win at Bristol City, we're confident. Given our league positions, there'll be a great atmosphere with the fans behind us. It's a big, big occasion and I'm really looking forward to playing my part in keeping ourselves in the mix. Which is only right, really. If you've got ambitions of progressing as a professional footballer, you want to play in the big matches. And Saturday's will be just that, make no mistake." McCormick said the two recent defeats, to Sheffield United and Scunthorpe United, had not affected Argyle's ambitions. "We went up to Bristol, who were then top, on the back of two bad results," he said. "Because of those defeats, some people thought we might have blown our play-off chances. But we went up there and got the result we needed to answer those doubters. You can do that in this league, particularly this season - a couple of wins and you're in the picture again. Saturday will be a massive match, like I said, given that we're near them in the league and also out to gain revenge for losing in the cup last season." McCormick admitted it had been a frustrating experience watching Rab Douglas take over in goal - even if it was just for one match. But McCormick, praised his replacement. "It was strange for me watching the lads from the sidelines up at Bristol," he said. "But I have to say Rab did fantastically because it was a big, big match for him to come and play in. He dealt with everything and gave us all the benefit of his experience when we needed it. The gaffer must take a lot of credit for his decision to bring in a steady hand. He did really well to get him and Rab did very well for us in return."
Steve MacLean is facing up to the biggest challenge of his Argyle career after sitting out the win at Bristol City. Paul Sturrock, who preferred a more direct approach against City, may change styles again when Watford visit Home Park, and said: "It was a style of play we used knowing the personnel Bristol have in their squad. It is horses for courses and we may not use that style against Watford. It suited us against Bristol but it might not suit us when you have big centre-backs like Dan Shittu at the other end. You have got to decide what beasts you bring to the show, depending on who you are playing against." MacLean has been deployed in a deep role for much of his first two months at Argyle, and his goal ratio has arguably suffered as a result, Sturrock, however, retains full confidence in his striker, and even hinted that MacLean could partner Rory Fallon against Watford. He said: "Steve MacLean played with Kenwyne Jones at Sheffield Wednesday for about eight games and they were absolutely excellent together. Steve can adapt. He is what you would call a natural goalscorer and the goal threat has probably been taken away in his mind due to the distance he is from goal. Steve has done very well in the role off the front man. He was in the top three performers against Leicester and Southampton. The problem is he thrives off scoring goals and I think, for the benefit of the team, he has tried to impress everybody with all the linkage stuff, rather than being in the box and scoring goals. I can assure you that he won't have lost confidence because he is a very confident person and I am sure he will be chomping at the bit to get back in again. There are other roles he can play in the team, including the main striker. He has also played an awful lot with big strikers." Argyle's attacking options also include Jamie Mackie, but Sturrock is refusing to pile all the pressure of chasing a play-off place on his inexperienced shoulders. "I still see Mackie as a development player," he said. "You just don't all of a sudden come charging through the ranks from the Conference to the Championship. You need to learn your trade and I will nurture him, but he has shown glimpses and he is handling it very well. He seems to be receptive to what I am trying to do. We are trying to give him wee tastes and I am sure he will be a much better player for us next season doing it this way. The pressure should not be going on a novice striker with the position we are in at this moment in time."
Argyle reserves beat Forest Green Rovers 2-1 at Home Park this afternoon, the goals scored by Gyorgy Sandor and Dan Smith. Argyle: Bader, Moult, Hodgkinson, White, Duggan, Smith, Sandor, Folly, McCrory, Stevens, Jutkiewicz. Subs - Mason, Davis (not used - Saxton, McCaul, Brett)
Russell Anderson will be staying at Home Park until the end of the season, having extended his initial one-month loan
Paul Wotton did something on Saturday that he had been unable to do since December 2006 - leading Argyle in a first-team fixture while wearing the captain's armband. Wotton’s return to the starting XI came against Bristol City, in a game which had massive significance, and it was an occasion which he was proud to be involved in. "We were under no illusions before the game about how big a game it was," he said. "All the boys had been stirring it up all week, saying it was the biggest game of our lives. We didn't start particularly great. We were on the back foot and we couldn't clear our lines, but we were on top for the last 20 minutes of the first half and we got our goal at a great time just before the break. The second goal came at a great time as well, and then they just banged it forward and it was a case of hanging on. We took the pressure right off us with our two goals." After the final whistle Wotton led the celebrations in front of the 2,000 travelling fans, making it clear how much the result and the occasion had meant to him. "It was an emotional day for me," he admitted. "There was a time when I didn't think I'd ever play football again, but I'm here now and there was a lot of emotion coming out at the end. A lot of relief as well - and a lot of happiness. It was a great day." Asked how he had coped with the physical demands of the match, Wotton added: "The calves cramped up a bit but, even if I'd played for the last year and a half, it would have been a hard game. It was a derby on a heavy pitch in wet weather." Wotton did not have long to prepare himself for the game. "I found out I was playing at ten to two on Saturday," he said. "The gaffer kept his cards close to his chest this week. I was desperate to play, like everyone else, and fortunately he picked me. I was thrilled to play, and I'm glad I did. I was never 100 per-cent confident that I was going to." This week's target is retaining his place for Saturday's game against Watford, another vital encounter. "Brilliant. Bring it on," Wotton said. "That's our next game, so that makes it the biggest game of our lives. What we achieved on Saturday was great, but we've got to go and back it up against Watford. We'll do our best, and we'll look no further ahead than that."
Paul Stapleton believes Argyle's play-off push could see the average home attendance this season show a slight increase. At the clubs AGM on Friday he said: "We might very well get back up to last season's figure. We have got some good games to come and if we keep in the mix then we could in fact end up slightly higher than the previous year. But I think I know the figures to budget for in the future." Argyle’s accounts for the year ending May 31st 2006 were released at the meeting, and showed the club had a turnover of £8.09 million, compared to £7.15m the previous season. But staff costs, primarily players' wages, went up from £4.47m to £5.32m. Stapleton said: "We are in the business of being a football club and we are conscious that we need to stride forward and get results on the pitch. You can see that as money comes in we are looking very much to provide the manager with a good team on the pitch. We are also looking at other areas of expenditure which we need to make to push on the football club." Stapleton also revealed the total cost of buying the freehold of Home Park was £2.8m. He said: "We funded the purchase of the freehold with a mortgage from Lombard, who are part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. They were on board when we first took over in 2001/2002 from the previous regime and they have supported this football club right through. It's very unusual for banks to want to support football clubs, as we found out by talking to various people because they have had their hands burnt many, many times. They were down this week for their normal visit and they are very pleased. We are supplying them with information and repaying them when we need to repay them."
Mathias Doumbe will not be fit for the visit of Watford on Saturday. Doumbe has been out for more than a month by a hamstring injury and is still struggling. However Jim Paterson could be available at the weekend after suffering a torn hamstring last month. Paul Sturrock said: "I'm hopeful he will have a full week's training and then we will see."
Paul Sturrock is hoping to extend Russell Anderson's loan spell at Argyle. "I would like to keep him and he has been up there today talking to Roy Keane," he said. "It is a difficult one for him because his wife and two kids are up there. He has trained with Sunderland today and, all being well, he will come back down on Wednesday, so at least he has had a couple of days with his family. He has been dedicated to the cause. For a loan player to commit himself, stay on his own down here and give us the performances he has, shows you the model professional the boy is. I know what it is like when your wife and kids are up there, so he has that to mull over in his mind."
Rab Douglas thoroughly enjoyed playing for Argyle in their victory at Bristol City. He said: "It's great to be wanted. I don't see myself playing at Leicester again. It was one game, I knew that. I had reservations because I have not played in a wee while but I thoroughly enjoyed it. They are a great bunch of lads and what a performance. It was one of those where it could go great for you, or it could go belly up. I thoroughly enjoyed my football and it was great to be out there on a pitch and playing, rather than training Monday to Friday knowing you are not going to be involved at the weekend. But it's not about me. There were blocks on the line and it was a great team performance. If they go up, good luck to them." City reduced Argyle's lead to 2-1 with a penalty from Lee Trundle. Douglas, who dived to the left while Trundle sent his spot kick to the right, said: "I changed my mind at the last minute, but with the amount of pressure they had I think they were going to get something, to be honest. But we have taken our chances and we have defended brilliantly." Douglas met up with his temporary team-mates when they had their pre-match meal. "I knew Russell Anderson, Tealey and Chris Clark," he said. "And I knew Jermaine Easter had been at Wycombe. So I knew a few of them, and I had watched them play Leicester recently as well. From front to back it was a great performance, and if you are going to come and beat a team who are top of the league you need that. I didn't think I would have another game this season, so it's a bonus for me."
Argyle are set to play two trialists in the reserve game against Forest Green Rovers tomorrow. Paul Sturrock has not named either of the players, who are both out-of-contract, but one is a goalkeeper and the other is a striker
Argyle's youth team won 6-2 at Hereford United on Saturday, the goals scored by Damien McCrory, Joe Mason (2), Toby Davis, Shane White and Josh Grant
Five members of the Argyle squad have been called up for international duty next week. Krisztian Timar and Peter Halmosi were named in the Hungary squad for their game against Slovenia last week, and Jermaine Easter has retained his place in the Wales squad to face Luxembourg. Gary Teale has kept his place and Russell Anderson has been recalled for Scotland’s match with Croatia
Martin Watts has joined Truro City after his contract with Argyle was cancelled
Paul Sturrock admitted that yesterday's win at Bristol City has kept Argyle's season alive. "We're very pleased - our season was hinging on today," he said. "We'd put ourselves in a predicament with the last two games." Rory Fallon was one of six changes Sturrock had made in the wake of the loss to Scunthorpe. "Some weeks you hate him, some weeks you love him," said Sturrock. "Today, we love him today; next week, we might hate him. He's that type of player. Against Portsmouth in the FA Cup, he achieved a standard; today's he achieved it. It's in him - the problem is getting it out of him every week. If he would just grasp the nettle, he would never be out of your side because his aerial threat is immense and he seems to have a knack of pinching goals. It's a team game, rather than individuals, as far as we're concerned. Rory came to the show and worked his tail off - the last time, it looked as though he was running in cement, but, as I said, he gave us everything he had. Sturrock also recalled Paul Wotton for a first start since December 2006. "I'm pleased for him," said Sturrock. "There's always been a debate about when to bring him back. I didn't want to bring him back in this one, but I felt it was necessary to freshen the team up. I went with a different central midfield today, and I thought that the two width players worked very hard, as well, but I am not going to individualise about this team. I want people to think of us as a team, rather than individuals. I have players and a coaching staff that pride themselves on being honest and hard-working and, when we take those attributes into a game, we normally do something. The last couple of games have been very disappointing in how we've generally tried to play teams. We've tried to pass the ball and look pretty, and I don't think we are that type of side. When we play to our game-plan, we are very effective, and I thought, today, we defended very well. It looked like blood and snotters to me today. I like that type of game. They were the offensive side and we were the defensive, and they have got some armoury, but the boys battled through and came out the right end." The win keeps Argyle in contention for a play-off spot, and Sturrock wants to stay there for the rest of the campaign. He said: "We have got seven games to go, seven cup finals. If we can get to April, when we've got three home games and one away, we could do a lot of damage to the top end of the division. But the important thing is the next two. We've got Watford at home - they've got the best away record in the league - and Coventry, who have got a new manager. We still want to be in the play-off spots when we walk into April. I'll take that opportunity. We'd like to try to put a gap between us and some of the others, but it's nigh on impossible, the way everybody loses one and then wins one."
Rory Fallon thanked God for his double strike yesterday, but admitted that Bristol City manager Gary Johnson had also helped. Fallon revealed that Johnson, who he played for at Yeovil, had tried to wind him up at half-time, a tactic that spectacularly backfired. "We had words at half-time," said Fallon. "It spurred me on for the second half. I don't hold any grudges." Fallon is a devout Christian and has had an up and down season, with a transfer away from Home Park being mooted at one point. He said: "First and foremost, I'd like to thank God for giving me the opportunity. I thank our boys in the dressing-room for keeping me strong. I didn't let them down today. We are a good team, a strong bunch, and good friends off the field, and I want to thank them. I want to thank the fans for sticking behind me, as well, and I'm thankful for the win. I want to stay at Plymouth. I'm settled outside of football." Fallon, who was one of five changes made by Sturrock, added: "When you don't win, you expect to get a chance, and I'm thankful to the gaffer for giving me a chance. I took it, but I've got to keep doing it. We worked on the new shape. We knew what we were doing. Everything was planned. It's a lot more work, but I don't mind doing it for the team. It was definitely the right result. We wanted it more. We worked harder and got stuck in more. Sometimes it wasn't pretty, but that's the cost of winning." Fallon believes that Argyle can maintain their push for a play-off place. "We're still up there with seven games left," he said. ""We beat Bristol City away - one of the hardest games you can play - so we have got to get confidence from this and keep on going. We believe we can beat anyone. It's a crazy league, an enjoyable league. We have just got keep on doing it, and keep working hard in training." Fallon also had praise for emergency goalkeeper Rab Douglas."He did well," he said, "but it's easy to come into our team, because we're a good bunch of lads. You couldn't meet a friendlier bunch - but we worked like warriors today."
Argyle won 2-1 at Bristol City, the goals scored by Rory Fallon after 45 and 59 minutes. Argyle: Douglas, Connolly, Seip, Anderson, Sawyer, Teale, Wotton, Clark, Halmosi, Fallon, Easter. Subs – Nalis, Mackie, Abdou (not used – Hodges, MacLean). Attendance - 19,011
Rab Douglas is eager to make the most of his brief spell at Argyle. He said: "I am looking forward to it. It's a good game to play in. I am looking to put in a good performance and not let anyone down." Rab first learned of Argyle's interest in him on Thursday afternoon, but it was not until after training the following day that the deal was completed. He was then given a lift down to the Westcountry by Argyle scout Andy King, and will meet up with his new team-mates at their pre-match meal in Taunton. He said: "I had a phone call from Ollie and goalkeeping coach Mike Stowell on Thursday, so I was aware of things. By the time I got home from training on Friday, Andy King was waiting for me. If I'd been at Leicester on Saturday, I'd be doing the warm-up and sitting out the rest of the day; now, I will be playing in a big game. Like the old cliché goes, football's a funny old game."
Argyle's proposed redevelopment of Home Park took a step forward yesterday when Paul Stapleton announced the club wants to appoint a stadium development partner this summer. At Friday's AGM he said: "Put simply - we need new facilities to safeguard the long-term future of this club. With this in mind we are looking to develop the South Stand to create a facility that will deliver income streams, long-term. This income will help to create new opportunities for the community and the fans. It will help to develop talent and improve morale, building on the excellent work already underway in our youth department and education programmes. A key factor to our success is the outcome of Plymouth City Council's local Area Action Plan review, which is currently open to consultation, with a public review on April 23rd. The plan will determine the extent to which we can unlock parts of Home Park to fund our development. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that the Area Action Plan supports the development aspirations of the club. We believe that the best way to unlock the site's potential is to engage an experienced partner to develop the site. On the basis that the Area Action Plan has a positive outcome, we will advertise for a developer in April and look to appoint a preferred partner in early May. With the outcome of the Area Action Plan complete and a developer on board, we will be then be in a position to provide a detailed overview of the scheme. We have worked hard in the past year to ensure that we contribute to the consultation process to safeguard our position. It is essential that our local community and council understand the good that this club does and the benefits it delivers to strengthen their support." Stapleton appealed to fans to throw their weight behind the club's ambitions. "Our proposals are fuelled by our determination to create a solid base on which the club will prosper and grow for generations to come," he said. "To achieve sustainability, we need to build facilities that create income streams every day of the week - not just on match days. The challenge we face is to make sure that everyone is on board and understands that this project is about sustainability and we ask for your help to deliver this important message. Getting the project over the finishing line will command a team effort and I ask everyone to help us to create a positive voice for Plymouth Argyle and support the project that this club so desperately needs and deserves."
Luke McCormick will be rooting for his team-mates from the sidelines as Argyle take on Bristol City this afternoon. McCormick, who admitted he was 'absolutely devastated' to be sidelined for the game today, said: "We have been off the pace for the last two games - we know that ourselves. We haven't been good enough. But what a game to go and put that right. We are going to take a lot of fans up there and they would love to see us possibly cause an upset, because Bristol City are flying high. I will be going there. I wouldn't miss it for the world. I want to be a part of it as much as I can, really. It's going to be tough sat up in the stand having to watch, but, hopefully, I will be in the changing room before the match, wishing the lads all the best." City have lost only twice at Ashton Gate this season, and are a point clear of second-placed Stoke City. McCormick said: "You just have to take your hat off to them really. They have been absolutely fantastic - the surprise package of the season. But I think the game is made for us, with the way they play, for us to go there and, hopefully, give a good account of ourselves. If we play like we did at Leicester and Southampton, then who knows?" McCormick admitted his red card against Scunthorpe had been the lowest point of his career at Argyle. "It all happened so quick, to be honest," he said. "I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of good times since I have been at the club, and that was certainly the lowest point. It's a long and lonely walk and then you are back in the changing room on your own. You get a lot of time to think. I was just devastated that I saw red. If I could go back and do it all again, I would have run up and kicked it as hard as I could, halfway down the other end of the pitch. But it’s easy looking back now and thinking like that. You have to make split-second decisions and I got it wrong I suppose so I will have to live with that. I didn't want to be sat around in the dressing room so I got myself showered and managed to watch the last 10 or 12 minutes from up in the stand. I was sat with the Scunthorpe supporters, but I was desperate for the lads to nick a late goal." Lee Hodges took over as 'keeper after McCormick was dismissed and immediately made an excellent diving save from Jim Goodwin's powerful free-kick. McCormick said: "Hodgie has filled me in, in depth, about every little bit he played when he had the gloves on. But I don't think it's something he would like to do again." McCormick added: "Bristol City is our biggest game of the season so I'm absolutely devastated that I can't be a part of that. But you certainly enjoy the highs when you get them so you have to deal with the lows when they come. That's football, I'm afraid."
Rab Douglas has joined Argyle on an emergency one match loan from Leicester City in order to play against Bristol City tomorrow. Paul Sturrock said: "We are grateful to Leicester for their co-operation. I needed an experienced 'keeper and Rab fits the bill. He is a Scottish international and is happy to help us out for this one game."
Paul Wotton has not started a match since December 2006, but he is ready if given a chance to face Bristol City tomorrow. "I'm fit, and any footballer worth his salt wants to play," he said. "I'm no different. It's up to the gaffer at the end of the day. When called upon, I'm ready. I'll do the best I can in whatever situation I'm in. It's a derby, and anyone who isn't up for it doesn't deserve to play in it," Wotton declared. "It will be a full-house, which is a ground I've always enjoyed going to. The fans will be up for it, and we need to get something from the game to keep our play-off push going. It's an exciting game, and it will be a great game to play in. We know we're going to have to go there and fight and bite and scrap, because they have had an unbelievable season up to now. They've done fantastically well." Argyle have lost their last two games, but still have plenty to play for. "It's important we realise that," Wotton added. "I know it's a cliché, but the eight games to go will be like eight cup finals. Saturday is the biggest game of our lives. The worst thing that could happen now is the season just fizzling out, but there's no way we'll let that happen. We're well up for the run-in, and we're looking forward to it."
Paul Sturrock has called on his players to 'stand up and be counted' as Argyle prepare for Bristol City tomorrow. He said: "My players have got to make me believe that they believe we could be a play-off team. In the last two games they have not shown me that. Before that, they were. We haven't had enough of them really believing that, in the situation we are in, the play-offs are achievable. Now when I say that, that's a sub-conscious thing. But certain people, with their performances, are going to have to make me believe again. I want to put the pressure on the players tomorrow. It's time for them to stand up and be counted." Bristol City are trying to become the first club since Watford in 1998 and 1999 to achieve successive promotions into the Premier League and Sturrock is among the admirers of their manager Gary Johnson. "They have had about 18 months to two years to settle their squad down," he said. "The manager has done very well. He has brought in a lot of shrewd signings. They have all gelled together and they have a great team spirit. That's what you can achieve when you have honest players who are organised and want to win. I thought we were going down that road but, all of a sudden, we have hit this blip, which we have got to try to rectify quickly or our season will dwindle away." Gary Teale is set to be included in Argyle's starting line-up tomorrow after impressing as a second half substitute for Chris Clark against Scunthorpe. Clark for Teale was one of four changes made by Sturrock for that game, and he admitted that had backfired. Sturrock said: "There were certain players given their opportunity on Tuesday who, I think, would be the first to admit they let themselves down. I thought fresh legs was important for that game, but at the end of the day I have been proved wrong. I have got to put my hand up to that, and I would like to think some of the players who performed the other night will put their hands up as well. I picked the team and I got it wrong, but I'm looking for a reaction from some of the players. I had a discussion with the players at the training ground yesterday to point out my thoughts. And my thoughts are that whoever plays tomorrow has got to make me believe that they believe." Argyle have made slow starts in several matches recently, and Sturrock knows they cannot let that happen against Bristol City. "That's our biggest problem," he added. "Our goalie had to make an incredible save inside the first 40 seconds the other night. It beggars belief that we can start games like that. I have watched the tapes of games when I wasn't here and exactly the same things were happening. We seem to be a second half team. Getting to the bottom of that is easier said than done, but we have got to do it."
Paul Sturrock has been working around the clock to try to sign a goalkeeper on an 'emergency loan' to play against Bristol City tomorrow. He said: "It hasn't been as easy as it seemed it would be early on. It's amazing how many goalkeepers are injured in this country at this minute in time. The search goes on. We have a short-list of five that we are working on, but there is nothing concrete at the moment." Whoever Sturrock does sign will probably only meet up with his temporary team-mates for the first time in Bristol tomorrow. "If that's the scenario, then so be it," Sturrock said. "We were on the case all day yesterday. It's a lot to ask a player to come all the way down here to train on a Friday and then go back up to Bristol. We will be signing them for seven days but they are only going to be with us for one day. For the other six days they will go back to their club again. Do we tire somebody out bringing them all the way down here, or do we meet them there? It's a catch 22. If I took a goalie on a one-month loan, I would probably have to be committed to playing him every week. I don't think Luke has merited that." There is still a slight possibility, that should Sturrock not be able to sign another keeper then Lloyd Saxton could be called upon to play. Meanwhile, Sturrock has revealed that one of the players who was on duty for Argyle at Scunthorpe was struggling with an injury which could prevent him from playing tomorrow. "He will be given every opportunity," Sturrock added. "Fingers crossed, I'm very hopeful this player makes it."
Two defeats in four days has damaged Argyle’s play-off push, but despite this the club has dropped only one place in the table from last week. Paul Sturrock: "Results have been fantastic. It is very scary, but you know it will turn on us sooner or later, unless we turn our form again." With three home games out of four in April, Sturrock feels it is imperative his team remains in the race. He said: "I keep saying this but, if we can pick up pointage from now to April and we are still in the rat-race then, we could go a long way. The next four games involve three against teams above us - two at home and one away."
Argyle have approached Sunderland with a view to extending Russell Anderson's loan spell. Paul Sturrock said: "We have chatted to Sunderland and we are just waiting on word back. He has done ok for us and he would be a benefit, but it is purely in Sunderland's hands at this minute. We have been in discussions and we will wait and see what transpires. His performances have been consistent. He has been a Steady Eddie for us and never let us down."
Lukas Jutkiewicz has joined Yoann Folly in struggling from a mysterious ailment. Paul Sturrock said: "Lukas is still here but he has had a real problem with certain aspects of his stamina. It has caused us some problems and forced us to take him out of the squad, which has been a real blow to me - a real disappointment. Something periodically hits him and we can't get to the bottom of it."
Paul Sturrock has admitted that finding a suitable emergency goalkeeper in time for Saturday's derby at Bristol City is proving to be a real headache. He said: "We're still awaiting developments on bringing in a goalkeeper, but obviously we'll have to get one in on time for Bristol City. Crudgie and myself have drawn up a list of what he believes are suitable candidates, and we're busy contacting clubs to sound them out about borrowing a keeper on an emergency loan basis. The problem is though that we want a keeper to come in for Luke just for Saturday's game, which means just a week's loan. However, most clubs don't like doing that, so we may have to take a keeper for a longer period. Either way, I'm confident we'll have a good player in place come Saturday."
Paul Sturrock is considering recalling Jim Paterson to the squad for Saturday's game at Bristol City. "It's something to think about and I'll be chatting to Jim today to see how he feels," he said. "Jim, after all, was one of the catalysts when we went on our winning run. Again, though, I don't want to risk him just for the sake of bringing him back one match too soon."
Paul Sturrock is trying to sign a goalkeeper on an emergency loan after Luke McCormick was sent off in Argyle's defeat at Scunthorpe last night. Sturrock said: "I thought the sending off was a bit harsh. The referee could have given him a yellow card. Luke thought he was on the line, but that's football." Lloyd Saxton travelled with the squad to Scunthorpe, but Sturrock admitted he would not consider him for the game against Bristol City. He said: "I would hate to put the kid in, with the situation we are in now. We will have to get somebody in for that and I will phone around tomorrow to see if there is anything there." Sturrock would prefer to sign a keeper for only one match, and added: "I would like to do it that way, but I don't know if that will be possible. If I brought somebody in for a month I would be having to play him and McCormick doesn't deserve to be out of the team the way he has been playing for us." Sturrock admitted he was 'bitterly disappointed' with the defeat. He said: "On Saturday we waited and waited for something to happen, and we have done it again tonight. When we went down to 10 men, all of a sudden, we are the offensive team again. We have forgotten all the things that made us successful for five or six games. Now we are back to tippy-tappy, sideways and backwards. It's something we are going to have to sort out. Whatever is going to happen as far as Plymouth Argyle is concerned this season, will be determined by our games against Bristol City and Watford. I just don't feel the players have been appreciative of the situation we have been in. I think they thought they would go there and it was going to happen all the time, but this is a very strange league and people are fighting for their lives here. You have got to match that endeavour and workrate first, and be honest with it. I don't think we have been honest." Sturrock made four changes from the defeat by Sheffield United, including Jamie Mackie, who made his full debut. Sturrock said: "I thought Jamie Mackie had a good game. He's learning his trade and I did feel fresh legs would benefit us tonight. It hasn't worked out and it's back to the drawing board as far as that's concerned. A team that has won five out of six, and then lost three out of four, is just crazy. It's the same players here so it's definitely a mental approach that's the problem." Argyle flew from Plymouth to Humberside yesterday morning with several players minus their boots. They disappeared, along with some goalkeeping gloves, from an equipment skip at Home Park before the squad set off on their journey. On arriving in Scunthorpe, Sturrock went to a sports shop to get replacements
Argyle’s defeat at Scunthorpe will live long in the memory for Lee Hodges, who took over in goal after Luke McCormick's sending-off. "I've played every position for Argyle now," he said, "which is an achievement, but I don't want to do it again - I know that for a fact." Hodges knew he would be required to play as an emergency 'keeper as soon as McCormick was pulled up for handling the ball outside his penalty area. "I thought Luke was in the box, but the linesman gave it," he said. "Once the red card came out, I thought 'Right - that's it.' I knew from that moment. It's something I have never done before and I have always said I would - tonight was the night." Hodges made an excellent save from the resultant free-kick, but subsequently had little to do as Argyle picked up their game in search of an equaliser. "I thought they would test me straight away, so I just made sure I could see the ball," Hodges said. "I got good hands on it and pushed it away, which was pleasing. The defence did well. When we went down to ten men, we picked up and we created a lot more chances. I didn't have too much to do. I think one cross came in, but other than that, the defence held up and did really well." Like his team-mates, Hodges was unhappy that, after the defeat to Sheffield United, Argyle could not bounce back last night. "I'm really disappointed," he said. "After Saturday, we wanted to come here and get back on the rails, and we just haven't performed until we were 1-0 down and down to ten men. That's when we started creating chances. Until then, it was evens stevens and nothing was really happening. It was disappointing we couldn't get an equaliser towards the end with the one or two chances we had. It was a bit like Saturday in that respect." Hodges is now focussing on the visit to Bristol City. He said: "It's one to forget now. We've got Saturday to look forward to and get back to getting points again." With Argyle looking for an emergency goalkeeper Hodges aims to be back in the outfield after starting a game for the first time since illness interrupted his season. "I've had my go in goal," he added. "It's someone else's turn now. I've been out a few weeks. I had a chest infection and then the boys went on a run, and it's been hard. I want to play, like everyone else, but when they are winning, there's nothing you can do."
Argyle lost 1-0 at Scunthorpe. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Anderson, Hodges, Clark, Nalis, Abdou, Halmosi, Mackie, MacLean. Subs – Wotton, Teale, Fallon (not used – Easter, Sawyer). Attendance - 4,920
Krisztian Timar is in line for his first international cap, having been named in the Hungarian squad to play Slovenia in a friendly on March 26th
Kevin Summerfield believes he knows the secret to success for Argyle when they take on Scunthorpe United tonight, and that is wearing white shorts. Argyle lost four successive away games in their yellow and green strip in December and January, before switching to yellow and white for the wins at Leicester City and Southampton. Argyle could not then wear white at West Brom, and lost 3-0. Summerfield said: "We are delighted we are wearing white shorts again so we should have no problems! We were desperate to change the yellow and green kit and, luckily, we had the opportunity at Leicester, and won. We have been pretty superstitious over the years with what kits we wear and it has become an issue. To be fair, we were playing poorly away from home with the green shorts, so we had to change something. We couldn't change everything so the shorts were the thing we thought we would have a go at." Argyle were scheduled to fly from Plymouth to Humberside this morning, and then travel to Scunthorpe by coach. Summerfield said: "We will give them a good warm-up when we get to the ground and then they will be up and ready for it at the start of the game." Scunthorpe are 23rd in the Championship, but Summerfield insisted Argyle cannot afford to take them lightly. He said: "They have had some good results and I think Nigel Adkins has done a terrific job. We know how hard it is going up into the Championship and settling into it. They are a so-called unfashionable club and, to be fair, Nigel has done a fantastic job there. We have had people at their last couple of games so we know what they are about. We will just mention a couple of things prior to the game so it's fresh in our guys' memories. If the white shorts don't work again tonight, I don't know what we will wear in our next away game!"
Luke McCormick has insisted a slight groin injury will not stop him from playing during the end-of-season run-in. He said: "It has eased off a bit to be honest. I have had a scan so we know what the problem actually is. It's not too bad and I'm just having to rest it as much as I can between matches. Maxie, the gaffer and Crudge have been brilliant with me, really. It's just a case of being sensible with it and not having to do too much during the week so I'm able to play come matchday. I just have to work on sharpness and things like that to keep myself ticking over." Argyle will take on Scunthorpe tonight without Krisztian Timar, and Marcel Seip will take over at centre-back. McCormick said: "Krisztian has been absolutely brilliant and it really makes my job a lot easier having someone him in front of me. A lot of times he's like a magnet. The ball just seems drawn to him and he gets anything in the way of everything. He has been a massive player for us but, obviously, it's a great chance now for Marcel, who has been out for a little while, to show everyone what he can do. Marcel has proved what a good player he is so it will be up to him to try to keep hold of his place. I think we are in a fortunate position where we have got such good defenders. When Matty Doumbe is back fit it's going to be tough, but if we are going to get where we want to be then that's the competition you need." McCormick continued: "We know what we're going to be up against tonight. The conditions might not be great, and Scunthorpe are fighting for their lives. It's going to be tough. It probably won't be very pleasing on the eye, but we've got to go up there and we've got a job to do. We'll want to bounce back from last Saturday with a good performance and a good result at Scunthorpe. We know we didn't play anywhere as well as we can do last Saturday, but we still felt we were very unfortunate not to come out of the game with anything. On another day we'd have scored, and we might even have come out with three points. But games are coming thick and fast now, and we've got an early opportunity to put things right. We'll be going to Scunthorpe looking for the win and, if we play the way we can play, there's no reason why we can't get one." Argyle slipped to seventh in the table after losing to Sheffield United but McCormick is still eyeing a place in the play-offs. He said: "We are down to single figures in games so we are edging ever closer to the end of the season and our aims haven't changed. We are certainly aware of what's going on all around us, but we just have to try to concentrate on each game as it comes and wait and see what happens at the end of the season." None of the Argyle players will be planning any holidays for after the end of the campaign on May 4th. "It probably wouldn't be wise to do so," McCormick added. "We all want to be in the play-offs, that's the biggest thing. Until it's not possible, I think holidays will be put on hold."
Argyle's reserve game at Forest Green Rovers last night was postponed because of bad weather
Marcel Seip will make his first start in 11 matches for Argyle when they play Scunthorpe United tonight, as Krisztian Timar is suspended. Paul Sturrock admitted Timar had been a very important player recently, but was confident Seip would be an excellent replacement. He said: "Marcel has got the jersey and his job now is to make sure we get a result and Timar doesn't get his place back and he has to sit and wait until a bad result or a bad performance from somebody. That's what having a squad is all about. Timar has been vastly improved over the time we have been here. He's definitely benefiting from the work we are doing, but I'm very comfortable that Marcel and Russell will be good pairing." Kevin Summerfield shared the same view as Sturrock on Seip's return to first team duty. He said: "Marcel had been playing well before his injury and we are just hoping he slots in and hasn't lost too much fitness in the meantime really. I don't think there will be a problem with him."
Mathias Doumbe could be available for the trip to Bristol City this weekend after recovering from a hamstring problem. Jim Paterson is still sidelined by a hamstring injury, but he is making good progress. Kevin Summerfield said: "He's coming along nicely. The sooner we can get him back the better because it will give us more options."
Argyle avoided today's horrible weather conditions by spending the morning relaxing in the swimming pool. Kevin Summerfield said: "We trained yesterday and had a decent morning out on the pitch. The weather has not impacted us. We talked about it yesterday and decided then they would relax today and have a swim, but we would not be doing any football training. We will be asking the boys to play the same way they have played for the last month. I don't think half-an-hour on the training ground in these conditions will make a big difference." Argyle's coaching team are delighted with the progress made in recent games, and Summers is expecting more of the same at Scunthorpe. He said: "We have started playing the way we want them to play and they have got reasonably comfortable with it, although they could still better. They know what we are expecting from them and it is up to them to go there and play as a team. If we play the shape and the system we want to play, it really should not matter who we are playing against. The opposition should not really come into it. It is about what we do and the way we go about playing the game."
Russell Anderson thought Argyle paid the price for making a slow start as they lost to Sheffield United on Saturday. He said: "I think if you look over the course of the game we definitely had the chances to score. But, to be honest, we only really upped the tempo and the urgency when they went ahead. We should have done that from the off. You often find you don't get what you deserve in these games. We had enough chances to score and didn't do it, and it has come back to haunt us." Argyle almost equalised in the 76th minute when a shot from Anderson deflected off Jamie Mackie, but Paddy Kenny made a superb stop. Anderson said: "I thought it had a chance of going in anyway because I knew it was on target. It wasn't the only really good save he made. There were a couple of others as well. There was one late on where I don't know if he knew too much about it but he was in the right place at the right time. When you look back on it now, it was definitely an opportunity lost to put three points on the board." The conditions for the game were poor, with a bobbly pitch and a strong, swirling wind. Anderson said: "It wasn't great but it was the same for both teams. I don't think we can really use that as an excuse. We tried to play when we could but, unfortunately, we just didn't have enough today. On paper, Sheffield United have got a good team but for whatever reason they are further down the league than they would like. It's a good win for them, we can't take anything away from that." Anderson believes Argyle can maintain their play-off challenge, and added: He said: "From what I have seen so far, I think we are up there on merit. But it's what you actually do on the field that counts. So, from that point of view, our game at Scunthorpe on Tuesday night is a big one for us. We reacted in the right manner after losing to West Brom by beating Colchester and we will have to try to do that again." Argyle will be without Krisztian Timar as he starts a two-match suspension, and Anderson said: "Since I have been here, I think he has been very consistent in his play. He's forceful, he's dominant and he has been doing really well. We will miss him, but it gives somebody else the opportunity to come in and stake their claim." Anderson's one-month loan will end after the game at Bristol City this Saturday, and he revealed that Paul Sturrock had talked to him about extending his stay at Home Park for longer. "He has mentioned it, to be honest, but I have just been concentrating on playing," said Anderson. "At the end of the day, it's not only going to be down to me whether I stay or not. Sunderland will have something to say about it. I honestly don't know what their thoughts are, but I have enjoyed my time here so far. So who knows?"
Paul Sturrock's 200th match as Argyle manager ended in a defeat by Sheffield United on Saturday. After the game he said: "I was annoyed with our first half performance. We didn't get a rhythm to our game. I'm maybe being a bit harsh with the team because the conditions were very difficult. Anything we played straight down the middle flew right through to their goalkeeper. They used that to their advantage by playing a high line and it was very difficult to penetrate them. But, still, I thought we were a bit sluggish in the first half. It was only in the last 10-15 minutes that we created anything, and we had one cleared off the line. In the second half, the players have shown the urgency I was expecting from them. They have got themselves in the right areas, but a bit of sloppy defending cost us dear. I do feel aggrieved that we didn't come out of the game with at least something because of the chances we have created. I would be more worried if we hadn't created those chances. Football has a habit of kicking you in the teeth when you are on a high. Hopefully, this one is a reminder for us. I have already looked and studied everything and we have to be in the rat race on April 5th. That's an important date for us because we have three home games and one away that month and that would determine a lot." Argyle had won five of their previous six matches and Sturrock added: "You have got to give credit to Sheffield United for their defending. I thought their two centre-backs did a sterling job and their whole team was well organised. But, you could turn the coin around on that one, and say we could have been more clinical. There were too many attempts that didn't hit the target. We will all be disappointed - I am and I'm sure everybody else is - and it's how we react to this disappointment which will determine how we do at Scunthorpe and Bristol City in our next two games. The one pleasing thing, if you can take something out of defeat, is that they United had the goal and one other shot in the second half, so my back four was reasonably solid. But, as I said, where we let ourselves down was that our finishing wasn't clinical enough. On other days we might have walked in with a 4-1 victory, but that didn't happen. So we have got to regroup and be ready for the challenge on Tuesday." Argyle take on Scunthorpe tomorrow before visiting Bristol City next Saturday. Sturrock said: "We have got four games left in March - three away and one at home - and this is the key now. If we are still in the rat race on April 5, we will have given ourselves a hell of an opportunity. This might just be the forewarning that the players have to respond to. Everybody will think we will come back from Scunthorpe with three points, but the important thing for people to appreciate is that they are fighting for their lives. They are a better side than they are given credit for and they have had some reasonable results at home lately. It will be a very difficult game for us coming off this defeat, and I think maybe it's time for a wee freshness as far as legs are concerned. It's something I will be looking into." Jamie Mackie is unlikely to start against Scunthorpe, even though he was lively after coming on as a substitute on Saturday. Sturrock said: "Jamie has come here to be a development player. He hasn't come here as a front-liner, that's the first thing I have got to emphasise to people. He's very novicey, but when people are getting a wee bit tired he's something different. He can give you an edge and he nearly did it again today. He always seems to be there or thereabouts." Sheffield United became only the fourth visiting team to win at Home Park this season, and Sturrock said: "We pride ourselves on winning football games at home. Today we shot ourselves in the foot, big time. There are a lot of disappointed people in that changing room but, as I emphasised to them, we can all feel sorry for ourselves and get it worse instead of better, or we can decide we are going to roll our sleeves up. I would like to think we will go to Scunthorpe with a very professional approach and work as hard as we did today. If we do that, and are very solid, I'm sure will get a result."
Paul Sturrock has called on his players to respond to the disappointment of yesterdays defeat in the right way, starting with Tuesday's trip to Scunthorpe United. He said: "We need an away performance like we produced at Watford, Leicester, Southampton and Charlton. We did not get the three points today, which makes it very important that we bring points back from the next two away games. We will all be disappointed but it is about how we react, and that will determine how we come back against Scunthorpe and Bristol City. We have got to regroup and be ready for Tuesday. Scunthorpe is one where we will be expected to come back with three points, but they are fighting for their lives and they are better than people give them credit for. It will be a very difficult game for us and after a defeat it may be time for freshness as far as legs are concerned. We pride ourselves on winning games at home and we have shot ourselves in the foot today. There are a lot of disappointed people in that dressing room and quite rightly so, but, we can all feel sorry for ourselves and it will get worse, or we can decide to roll our sleeves up."
Argyle lost 1-0 to Sheffield United at Home Park. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Anderson, Sawyer, Teale, Nalis, Abdou, Halmosi, Easter, MacLean. Subs – Mackie, Clark, Fallon (not used –Wotton, Seip). Attendance - 13,669
Krisztian Timar has spoken of his disappointment at his two-match suspension. He said: "I'm disappointed to have to miss those two games, especially the one against Bristol City. They are going to be very important, but I trust the team and I'm sure they will do well. I will definitely go to the game against Bristol City with my wife." Timar was booked against Colchester for a challenge on Kemal Izzet in the 12th minute, and he said: "I don't think it was a yellow card. It was my first tackle and it wasn't really serious. The one good thing is that the two games I will miss are very close to each other." Timar is optimistic the team can complete the double over Sheffield United today, but knows they must be at their best to do so. "They are a big team who have come down from the Premier League so I'm looking forward to this game," he said. "We want to stay in the top six so we have to win most of our games until the end of the season, especially at home." Timar is aware of the threat posed by James Beattie, and added: "Sloop has mentioned a few things about Beattie, but it's not just about me. Maybe I will be up against him most of the time, but as a defence we have to try to stop them."
Argyle have ten games to go in the race for a spot in the play-offs and Paul Sturrock is desperate for his team to stay in touch with the leaders. He said: "We have got just under a quarter of the season to go and every game is going to be vitally important. We want to stay in the top six and the only way we will do that is by winning football games. If you look at April, we have only got one away game and three home games, so it will be a key time. What we want to do is be able to sit in our position and be there when April comes along and, hopefully, fingers crossed, reap the benefits of three home games. That is easier said than done. Talk is cheap."
Paul Sturrock feels Sheffield United's midweek draw at Ipswich is sufficient evidence that tomorrow will be a very difficult game. "They are better than 17th place and their result at Ipswich proves that," he said. "They have got some players who can hurt you big time and they seem to have a fighting spirit back, which was maybe missing earlier in the season. If we don't reach our standards, they will give us real problems. We are going to need to perform much better than we did in the first-half on Tuesday night. We will have to be much more thoughtful when the opposition has the ball to cut down the opportunities for a counter-attack, which Colchester did very well. We will have to make sure our players are well versed on their positional sense when the other team has got the ball. If we get that sorted, I am very confident that what we do on the ball will benefit the result."
Ashley Barnes is joining Salisbury City on a month's loan
Paul Sturrock is resisting the temptation to dip back into the loan market ahead of the March 20th deadline. He said: "At this juncture it would be very difficult for me to bring somebody in. I am in a catch 22 situation. If I don't bring anybody in and things go wrong, then I should have. If I bring somebody in and things go wrong, why did I upset the applecart? Who would be a manager? I would rather progress to nearer the deadline before making that decision. I brought in four players on deadline day at Swindon and never played any of them, and we got promoted. The presence of those players was the catalyst for some very good performances. I am not saying I will bring four players in, but I will be looking closely at injuries and how close we are to suspensions."
Argyle’s preparations for the game with Sheffield United have been hampered by a bug in the camp. Paul Sturrock was not overly concerned though, and said: "A bit of sickness and diarrhoea has been floating through the club. We have got a wee bit of a bug in the camp at the moment. I am very hopeful everything will clear up by tomorrow. Several people missed the game yesterday and several have come in with it today, and we are hoping it is just a one day thing."
Gary Sawyer believes the race for the play-off places will not be decided until the last day of the season. He said: "The league position is really good and I think everyone has just got to keep their feet on the ground and take it one game at a time. Every single game from now until the end of the season is a cup final if we want to get there. It's going to be tough, but we have got some really good players at this club and the spirit is really good at the moment. I think we have got a good chance. It would be nice to finish in the play-offs because you have got a chance of hitting the big time then, and every footballer wants to play in the Prem. I think it will go all the way. After this next week it settles down to just one game a week and it becomes easier to focus on each game. It's tough to do that when it's Saturday, Tuesday." Sheffield United are 17th in the table and without a win in eight games but Sawyer is not underestimating them. He said: "I know they are struggling a bit this season, but Sheffield United are a big club. You can't take too much notice of their league position. We have just got to play it the same way we have been playing. Hopefully, that will get us the right result." Sawyer thought it was important Argyle bounced back from their defeat at West Brom by beating Colchester, and in such emphatic style. He said: "Those games are always potential banana skins because they are bottom the league. But I thought the boys did really well, especially in the second half, and it was nice to get the win." Sawyer's first goal for Argyle made the score 4-1 as the two full-backs linked up. Sawyer added: "It wasn't a pretty one, but it was a goal nevertheless. It was just nice to get the first one and it's a weight off my shoulders. Everyone has asked me why I was so far forward because it was the right-back who crossed it in and the left-back has finished it. I had gone up for a free-kick and just didn't bother jogging back - that was all! And to make it 4-1 killed their hopes really, so it was good."
Paul Sturrock has admitted that even he has been surprised by Argyle's rapid rise up the table. He said: "I did know the work we were doing on the training ground would kick in sooner or later, but I didn't expect it to gel together as quickly as it has." Argyle's status as play-off contenders has caused one problem for Sturrock, though. It is difficult for him to make decisions on the players who will be out of contract at the end of the season, and he said: "The board want me to clarify the situation with the players going out of contract when I see them next Thursday. But I'm going to be swinging in the wind because a scenario could arise that the type of player I would need would be a completely different beast. There is a lot of discussion to be had, but the important thing is we win football games. If you look at April, we only have one away game, and three at home, which will be a key time. All we want to do is be able to sit in our position at this minute in time and be there when April comes along. Hopefully, we will reap the benefits of three home games, but that's easier said than done. The talk is cheap. We have got just under a quarter of the season to go and every game is going to be vitally important. We want to stay in the top six, and the only way we can do that is by winning football games." Russell Anderson, who did not take part in training yesterday due to a foot injury, is expected to be fit to face Sheffield United. Sturrock said: "I'm very hopeful he will be okay for tomorrow. He has had it for a couple of games now. After the game it's very sore and then it slowly gets better." Krisztian Timar will be suspended for Argyle's games at Scunthorpe United and Bristol City, with Marcel Seip the obvious candidate to take over for those matches. Sturrock said: "We are having to watch what we do with Seip training wise, but he seems to be okay. He's ready for the challenge when given it." Mathias Doumbe was set to return to training today after a hamstring injury, but will not be rushed into a first team return. Sturrock said: "We won't push him in any form for tomorrow because it's important that he's healthy as quickly as possible. If we start to charge him back into things it could go again." The manager admitted he was considering making one change to the starting line-up tomorrow, and added: "Whether I do it or not will be after I have studied the reports of Sheffield United's last two or three games and watched a couple of DVDs of them. We will see from there what I decide."
Liam Head has been called up by the England Under-16’s for this month's Montaigu Tournament in France. England will play games against Japan, Germany and USA, plus a play-off game on March 24th
Argyle’s game at Sheffield Wednesday, scheduled for April 12th, will now be played on Monday April 14th, and will be shown live on Sky, with an 8pm kick-off
Argyle reserves won 5-2 at Swansea City last night, the goals scored by Jake Moult (2), Luke Summerfield (2) and Lee Hodges. Geoff Crudgington said: "We did well with a relatively young side, although Swansea had an inexperienced team out as well. We were fortunate to have the likes of Lee Hodges, Chris Clark and Nick Chadwick in our side. In the end, their experience helped prove the difference between the two teams. It was a good performance from all of the players. Youngsters Jake Moult, Shane White and Ashley Hodgkinson all did well in defence for us. While Jake scored two important goals - the second was a screamer. But it was also good to see Gyorgy Sandor and Nick Chadwick get a full 90 minutes under their belts. Both are trying to recover from injuries and although Gyorgy in particular needs games, both players did well." Argyle: Misiewicz, Moult, White, Hodgkinson, Hodges, Smith, Summerfield, Sandor, Clark, Barnes, Chadwick. Subs – Brett, Stevens, McCrory (not used – Duggan)
Paul Sturrock is urging the Green Army to give Argyle's promotion push their noisiest backing at home to Sheffield United on Saturday. "The supporters, home and away, have been great to this football club and I've got the greatest respect for them," he said. "The team are doing very well and are nicely placed, but we will need the supporters' help more than ever over the next few weeks. The supporters are already our 12th man and will be an even more vital component given our season is now condensed into 10 games. With five games left to play at home that's a potential of 15 points, which would take us to 70 points and in with a shout. That's just five points off the points total Southampton ended with to make the final play-off place last season. It may be that the fifth or sixth team will only need maybe 73 points to make the play-offs this season, I don't know. I think our home form will be vital, as it has been over the last few games. And with pointage gained from our five games away from home that we have remaining, there's a lot to play for. But, of course, we will have to win those home games and it won't be easy. That's why we - the players, coaches and everyone at the club - want the fans to make a real big noise at home matches. Playing in front of a big crowd roaring you on really rallies the troops. It means a lot to our team to have that sort of backing and it also unsettles the opposition."
Steve MacLean was one of Paul Sturrock’s transfer window signings, a group which have settled in very swiftly. He said: "I came here because I thought we had a chance of doing well. I didn't come here just to sit middle table. I spoke to the gaffer and he told me what he was looking for, and what sort of players he was looking to bring in. Coming here, I knew his training methods and I know what he likes to drum into his teams. He likes his two banks of four, and his one and one up front sometimes. When we go in front, we are a hard team to break down. That's Luggy. And they work so hard on the training ground. It's not just the gaffer, but Kevin and Sloop as well. You know what you are getting with them, and if you don't do it they are soon to let you know." Next up for Argyle is the visit of Sheffield United, and MacLean added: "It's another good game to be involved in and we are looking forward to it. If we go out there and perform to our ability, I'm sure we can take the three points." MacLean feels that the high number of new recruits has helped the squad in terms of the speed of the bonding process. "We're all in the same boat," he said. "We've all been socialising together because we're down here with no wives and no kids. I've had a couple of the lads staying with me - I'm designated cooker! It helps that we're getting to know one another on and off the pitch."
Argyle edged closer to the pointage target set by Paul Sturrock to reach the play-offs when defeating Colchester last night. "I have given the team a certain pointage I want them to accumulate and tonight was a start," he said. "Seventy-two points was enough last year, but there is going to be a big rat-race and I don't think it will take as much as that this year. I would hope to think we will be going into the last game of the season with something to play for. All I want to do is be in that rat-race until the end of the season. We have got ten more games to go, but some difficult games at home. Charlton, Watford and Sheffield United are three corkers, and the loan deadline is fast approaching, so we will have to think about that because we don't want to be caught out." Argyle lead at half-time through a Phil Ifil own goal, but Sturrock was generally very disappointed with the first-half display. He said: "We were very, very poor to the standards I want to achieve in the first-half. We were very sloppy and could have quite easily gone in 1-1 at half-time. Colchester made it very difficult for us. Once we had a wee chat, we lifted our tempo, got our wingers on the ball and created an awful lot of chances. I am glad a couple of set-pieces have worked as well. Halmosi is claiming the first goal. I thought it was an own goal but he says he got studs to it, and Steve MacLean also said Peter definitely touched it." Sturrock was delighted with the performance of Gary Teale, and equally pleased that Easter and MacLean both got on the score-sheet. He said: "It would be nice if Steve could score from general play and I will give him a bit of stick about that, but you could see the weight coming off Easter's shoulders when he scored that goal. He lives off it. Scoring is definitely a lot more important to him than it is to Steve, and, hopefully, he can kick on from there. Gary Teale had an excellent game and showed what his potential can be by getting some great crosses in the box." Argyle now face a massive game against Sheffield United at Home Park on Saturday and Sturrock is hoping for another good turn-out from the fans. He said: "The crowd was very good for a night with big TV games on. I am delighted with that. I would now hope, with this result, that we get a big crowd on Saturday because we need all the backing we can get." One disappointment for Sturrock last night was the booking of Krisztian Timar, who will now be suspended for the games against Scunthorpe United and Bristol City. Sturrock added: "There were a couple of slaps on Easter from the same player and he got away with it. But Timar was booked for his first rash tackle. It looks as though Doumbe will come back into training on Thursday, which will give us back-up."
Steve MacLean has the Premier League in his sights. "We're sixth and we know that, if we keep winning games, we are going to be there or thereabouts," he said. "Yes, we're excited, but we are keeping our feet on the ground. We're going to keep working hard on the training-pitch and hopefully we can do it. We've set ourselves a points-target. We'll keep that behind closed doors and we'll strive to get it. We'll not get ahead of ourselves. We'll go into every game looking to win. If we keep plugging away, I can't see why we can't stay there. If you can get in the play-offs, who knows? It's a big week for us. We've got Sheffield United on Saturday - win that and win at Scunthorpe next Tuesday, and we're in with a right shout. I came here because I thought we had a chance. I didn't come here to sit middle table. I know Colchester are bottom of the league, but the gaffer was getting across to us that it could have been a banana-skin. First and foremost, we got three points. It wasn't the best performance of the season, but we'll take ten more of them." MacLean scored from a 25-yard free-kick after a feint involving Peter Halmosi, and he added: "We've worked on it in training - me and Peter and Kevin Summerfield - and fortunately it went in. We were delighted with that. We tried it a few weeks ago and it got deflected. I think it was going in. An old friend of mine, Peter Beagrie, gave me that when I was at Scunthorpe. Me and him used to work on that." MacLean was equally delighted that Jermaine Easter also found the net. "I don't know if a lot has been said about it, but we've not been scoring of late," he said, "although we've been doing lots of other things. I was so happy for him to get a goal, and also I was pleased to get a goal myself. He deserves it. His all-round play has been different class since he's got in the team. If I score, I score; if I don't, I don't - I'll not beat myself up. I want to score goals but, at the end of the day, if I can contribute and develop the team in other ways, and we can win games...at the end of the day, it's all about the team."
Yoann Folly's disappointing start to his career with Argyle has continued after he was laid low by food poisoning. Paul Sturrock said: "The boy Folly has had food poisoning now. The two things he hasn't had yet are the Black Death and swamp fever. And you can print that! Yoann has been very unfortunate. He has never been the same player since he got here. His fitness levels have been deteriorating and he just can't run. It's really worrying because his reserve team performances are a shell of the player I have been involved with in the past. So we will let him get over the food poisoning and then we will try to build him up slowly. He has been a big miss because he would put a lot of presence on the two centre midfield players." Sturrock has also admitted that Gyorgy Sandor is still some way off first-team contention. He said: "His fitness levels are very good running-wise. It's his match fitness and sharpness which is the problem with him and we are starting to work on that now. The pace of the game at reserve team level is catching him out. So I will have to see him handling that before I let him loose in the first team." Sandor is on loan until the end of the season, when a decision about his future will be taken, and Sturrock added: "We cannot adapt to him. This is the British game and he has to adapt to us. That will be the key in whether Sandor is here next season or not."
Argyle beat Colchester United 4-1 at Home Park, the goals coming from an Ifil own goal after 11 minutes, Jermaine Easter (57), Steve MacLean (60) and Gary Sawyer (68). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Anderson, Sawyer, Teale, Nalis, Abdou, Halmosi, Easter, MacLean. Subs – Fallon, Seip, Clark (not used - Wotton, Mackie). Attendance - 11,562
Chris Clark wants to concentrate on his football with Argyle now he has overcome a thigh injury. During his enforced absence, Clark returned to Scotland for the birth of his first child, Freya, and he admitted he was grateful for the support shown by Argyle. He said: "I was pleased to be back on Saturday. I did a lot of work with the physio during the week and it was good to be involved and get a run-out. It was disappointing to lose to West Brom, but personally it was just good to be back and I'm looking forward to the games ahead now. The injury was a strange one. It was a slight thigh strain, which I have never, ever had before. It happened in the middle of training one day. You have to be careful with that sort of thing, not to make it any worse. I worked hard, was well-looked after by the physio and made sure it was right before I came back. I didn't want to rush it with the amount of games we have got coming up. I knew it was going to be hard to get back in the team because they have put in some great performances over the last month. But there are a lot of good games to look forward to." Clark is a proud father, and he added: "The timing of the injury meant I was there for the birth. The club were excellent and really supportive of me being there. I would like to thank them because it was good of them, and Julie appreciated it as well. They are both doing well. The hardest part was actually having to come away, but I was looking forward to coming back, trying to get fit and getting involved again. They have been down this week and it has been good to catch up." Argyle attempt to return to winning ways against Colchester United at Home Park tonight, and Clark said: "We can't let our heads go down too much after Saturday. The four wins in a row before that were just tremendous. We got ourselves in a strong position and we are still there. Now we have got the opportunity to make a really good push coming towards the end of the season. We have got two home games coming up." Argyle are seventh in the Championship, level on points with sixth-placed Ipswich Town, and Clark said: "As long as you are there or thereabouts, you have always got a chance. And with the way the team have been performing, the confidence is high and you have got to believe in what you can do. I'm getting to know the different teams, the different players and the different grounds, which I'm enjoying. From what the players have told me, there are no easy games in the Championship. And I noticed that when I was in Scotland and I looked at the results. But I do think it's about what we do. We have got to make sure we are well up for tonight and we are positive going into the next two games."
Paul Sturrock has demanded that Argyle put in a professional performance when they take on Colchester United tonight. He said: "We go into tonight's game at our peril, if we don't play to the standards we achieved in the four games before Saturday. If we don't do the things we were successful at in the wee run we had, then we are going to get punished. It's vitally important that our players are professional in their approach and our fans are patient. The next two games are the key to the rest of our season." Sturrock singled out Clive Platt as one of the players Argyle must watch out for tonight. He said: "I have watched them a couple of times and they are a very good passing side. The manager has stuck to his ideas of football and Platt has been a thorn in Plymouth's side for the teams he has played for in the past. He will be a handful." Sturrock has options open to him to make changes to the side that lost to West Brom, but he hinted he would make not many, if any, changes. "I think the way to go is to close the door on Saturday and forget all about it," he said. "There were parts of it I quite liked. For the first 44 minutes we were very settled in our approach and very thoughtful when we had the ball. If you look at the corner count in the first half, it was quite amazing. It shows that we were down their end a lot of times. The worrying aspect for me, though, was that it was probably the first game this season where we haven't created a clear-cut chance. That was very strange to me, because with the amount of corners we had I would have thought we would have been peppering their goal." Peter Halmosi was one of the main reasons behind Argyle's excellent results in February, but was not as effective as an attacking threat against West Brom, and was eventually substituted in the 69th minute. Sturrock was not concerned about that though, and said: "Wingers are wingers. One day they will be your match-winner and the next day they will be the villain. I don't think we carried Peter on Saturday. He was very competent in the first half. He got himself in the right areas and he worked tirelessly back the park for the team. I just feel we haven't really emphasised our service to the wingers for a couple of weeks, and it's something we are going to have to do now. On Saturday, I didn't think we got the ball out to Peter enough, or Teale. The strikers have done well as a pairing, but they attempted to their make their own chances on Saturday. I would like to think we will get back to what we were doing earlier in the season, by allowing the wingers to make their chances. Steve's linkage on Saturday was normally with the full-backs, rather than with the wingers." Sturrock has praised the contributions of MacLean and Easter over recent matches, but was asked at what point their three goals in thirty appearances would become a concern to him. "That's the next debate," he said. "We have got different styles of strikers here as well. Do we need height in the team to combat a tight defensive unit? There are lots of things I have got to think about before the team runs out tonight. I could put Rory Fallon or Jutkiewicz up through the middle, to give us that kind of stronger and bigger type. Or I could let the boy Mackie loose because he has been champing at the bit." Asked if Paul Wotton was ready for his first start since 2006, Sturrock said: "The only way he's going to catch up, fitness-wise, is by playing in the first team, but we've been winning games lately. Is it right to leave out one of the other two midfielders after we've lost one game?"
Paul Sturrock has admitted Argyle face a make or break period of three games in eight days as they chase a play-off place. He said: "I have told the players we have to regroup. We have got two games at home and then Scunthorpe away, which will determine whether we are in the rat race at the end or not. I would love to think the players will respond properly, get us the results we need off the two home games and then we will be waiting to see how everybody else does. Hopefully, we will get back into the play-off positions." Sturrock retained his sense of humour, despite Argyle’s heaviest defeat of the season. "We live to fight another day," he said, before adding: "One swallow doesn't make a summer. Are there any other cliché’s you fancy!? We have worked very hard with this squad. I have got a whole load of new players and they are developing, and they are learning what we are looking for. Sometimes you learn more in defeat than you do when you win football games. There were certain individuals out there today that I was very pleased with, but I was disappointed with the team structure after we lost the second goal. We dropped off the pace and backed off, and when you do that to players of the quality that West Brom have, they hurt you." Argyle did not have one shot on target against West Brom, despite the endeavours of Jermaine Easter. He said: "The first half was decent, but the second half wasn't good enough. We have got a game on Tuesday now so we can go and put it right. That's what we have got to do and that's what we have got to concentrate on. West Brom are the best team in the division and, in my opinion, they will go up. We won't come up against teams like that every week, which is a good thing. We just want to put it behind us now and focus on Tuesday. It was always going to be tough coming here, but if we hadn't conceded that goal just before half-time it's a different game." Colchester are bottom of the Championship, but Easter said: "We can't take them lightly. They are down there and they are fighting for their lives. It's going to be another tough game, but it's at Home Park so it's one we have got to be looking to win."
Argyle’s youth team beat Swansea City 2-1 on Saturday, the goals scored by Jarred Stevens and Damien McCrory
Poor defending cost Argyle the points at West Bromwich Albion yesterday. Paul Sturrock said: "It was a goal where Scottish managers would say 'let's get on the bus and get up the road'. I am a wee bit disappointed for the players. The second goal was zany to say the least, but the first goal was a comedy of errors. Three or four boys had the opportunity to clear it and you can't give away goals like that against a team of this quality - they can hurt you from all sorts of positions. I am also disappointed that my players put their heads down when we went 2-0 down and we lost a third." At 3-0 down Sturrock decided the meeting with Colchester on Tuesday was more important and removed Krisztian Timar and Peter Halmosi. He said: "We did manage to compose ourselves and come back into the game but, to be fair, I decided that Tuesday was more important. I made some substitutions to give one or two boys 30 minutes today in case they are needed on Tuesday. Timar is on a suspension and people get frustrated, fling their legs out and miss three games. There was no point in giving him the opportunity to do that." Sturrock was more than happy with 44 out of 45 first-half minutes. He said: "For 44 minutes I was really pleased. We showed the steeliness we have had in the last month and we won a lot of corners. The disappointing thing is that we have not made their goalie make one clear-cut save. For 44 minutes, technically, the way we played was as good as we have managed before. We passed the ball, we got ourselves in the right areas and crosses went in the box. The two strikers linked us up in the channels. Jermaine Easter and Steve MacLean's linkage was very good but, as I said, the confidence oozed into their team when they got the first goal. Had we held on until half-time and maybe the first 15 minutes of the second-half, then who knows what might have happened? The crowd might have got very fickle and turned on them. The second goal came and you could then see confident, quality footballers all of a sudden emerge. It was lady luck that the second goal ended up in the net but, to be fair, they merited the three points. I have said to my players that we have to regroup. We have got two games at home and then Scunthorpe away, which will determine whether we are in the rat-race at the end or not. We have worked very hard with this group of players and they are developing and learning, and sometimes you learn more in defeat than when you win football games. I would love to think our players will respond properly, get us the results we need from the two home games and then we will wait to see how everybody else does. We live to fight another day. One swallow does not make a summer."
Argyle lost 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Anderson, Sawyer, Teale, Nalis, Abdou, Halmosi, Easter, MacLean. Subs – Mackie, Clark, Seip (not used – Larrieu, Wotton). Attendance - 22,503
Mike Pejic has spoken of his pride at the club's under-18s side making it through to the last eight of the FA Youth Cup this season. He said: "Deep down, I knew what we had on our plate coming into the Manchester City game, so it was a massive challenge for us. They are an excellent side and favourites to win the competition. I think they turnover something like £3 million a year on their academy and they have done that for quite a number of years. They are way in advance of us in terms of the work that has gone in. The staff we have got together have only been here 12 months and I'm really pleased with the development and the progress we have made in that time. We have done remarkably well to get to this stage." Pejic thought Argyle did not do themselves justice against City, and added: "We looked nervous and anxious, and that took it out of our legs. The preparation has been the same so I would have to say the occasion affected a number of our players. We did not work the ball as well as we could throughout the match, probably because we looked nervous and we lacked our normal confidence on the ball."
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