A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
John Sheridan dedicated yesterday's 1-0 victory over Exeter City to the Green Army. "That result is for the supporters," he said. "I can't believe the support they have for their team; a club that has been fighting relegation for two or three years. It's unbelievable. To get one over your nearest rivals ... it's always good to win a derby. It was a great atmosphere and a great effort from the players. I was jealous of them today. I'd love to be playing today. These are the games you want to play in. I'm stood watching it and it kills me. Thirteen thousand on a sunny day? Brilliant. I've played in derbies and been to watch derby games. They're always good – it doesn't matter if you've got 5,000 people or 40. They are always tight affairs, and usually a good atmosphere, both sets of fans trying to out sing each other. But today was unbelievable. I know what the potential is here, because they've been up there, not so long ago. It's important we try to get back to it. We know the support and what we can achieve. Everything is in place, but it's about results on the pitch. If you were to get things right, what's round the corner could be massive here." Speaking of yesterday's performance, the manager said: "I was happy with the way we were playing. I thought we were right on top of them. We knew we had to get in their faces a little bit. I would have liked us to try to pass it more. Derby games are always tight affairs and you could see the effort from both sides. The atmosphere was excellent. It's usually a little bit of magic which wins it. Jason wasn't really in the game but his goal was top drawer." A key to Argyle's success was the way they stopped Exeter from getting into their stride, with Conor Hourihane leading by example. Sheridan added: "I thought Conor was outstanding. He did all the ugly things and kept us in the game. He did the things which centre midfield players and captains do. He kept us driving all day, but it was a very good performance from the team."
Conor Hourihane was upbeat after yesterday's game. "That's something I've never seen before in my career," he said. "The fans were terrific, the atmosphere was brilliant, and to get three points was massive for us. It's nice to savour the moment, but we have to look forward to York on Monday now. It's another massive game, a six-pointer – go up there and get a result and we can see light at the end of the tunnel. We're still not there yet. We've got 46 points. It's still not enough. Another couple of wins and we'll be out of it. I'm sure we'll be fine. There's a good spirit among the lads. Three wins in a row is huge at this time of the season. It's a big plus for us. You couldn't dream of it." Of his own improving form, the captain said: "I play every game and see how it goes. I probably played well today but I felt, when John Sheridan came in, the first five or six games he was here, I probably didn't do myself great justice. But, in the last four of five games, I've started picking up my performances again and it's time I did that because we need 11 men out there who are on top of their game."
Mickey Evans, Ronnie Mauge and Nicky Marker were guests of the club yesterday and received a warm reception when introduced to the crowd at half-time.
Argyle beat Devon rivals Exeter City 1-0 at a packed Home Park, the goal scored by Jason Banton - his 6th in 11 games - in first-half injury time. Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Wotton, Branston, Bhasera, Gurrieri, Hourihane, Banton, Cox, Bryan, Reid. Subs - Young, Murray, Cowan-Hall (not used - Chadwick, Nelson, Gilmartin, Harvey). Attendance - 13,251.
Mark Molesley says he has plenty to thank Plymouth Argyle for, but he will be handing out no derby favours to his former team-mates when he returns to Home Park with Exeter City today. "I have a lot to be grateful to Plymouth for. There are some lovely people down there and it's a big club and I have gratitude to them for taking me at a time when I had been out of the game for a long time. Not many clubs wanted to take a chance on me, but they did, so I will forever be grateful that they gave me some game-time. I appreciate that and I enjoyed my time there. But I am an Exeter City player now and we are fighting for promotion. I will be fighting tooth and nail and 100 per cent for Exeter."
Midfielder Lee Cox believes the noisy support of the Green Army can be the trump card for Plymouth Argyle in the Devon derby against Exeter City today. "The fans will help us with that anyway. The atmosphere will be good for us. It's always good when you have got the fans behind you. They can be like a 12th man on the day. It's going to be a positive for us and we have just got to use it to our advantage." Cox is one of several Argyle players who will be taking part in their first Devon derby against Exeter, but they have been put in the picture about what to expect. The lads who have been here for a few years have told us what the game is all about," said the 22-year-old loanee. As soon as that whistle goes we have got to switch on straight away. We have got to battle all the way through it. When I was at Oxford we beat Exeter but you could see they had a lot of quality. We have also got a lot of quality so I reckon it's going to be an end-to-end game and be good for the fans." Home Park is set to be packed for the eagerly-awaited encounter, with Argyle fighting against relegation from League Two and Exeter chasing automatic promotion. A display of pre-match coloured card waving has been organised by Forza Verde.
The club have announced they are hoping for a successful repeat of 'Big For Barnet' for the match against Cheltenham Town in the penultimate home match of the season next Saturday. The match promises to be a crunch clash, with the Pilgrims fighting against relegation from League Two and Cheltenham chasing promotion. Argyle will again offer fans a trio of ticket deals to help pack out Home Park and create a noisy, passionate atmosphere.
Argyle meet Exeter City for the 60th time in the Football League tomorrow, with a great deal at stake for both sides. The lunchtime kick-off will easily draw a record crowd for Home Park this season, and probably a season's best for League Two as a whole. John Sheridan said: "I know the importance of the game. It's massive. It can give us a real lift if we can win it, going into the last six games. It would be great to give something back to the fans, as well, because it's against their local rivals. But, at the end of the day, it's the three points that I'm after." He continued: "These are the games you want to be playing in, so I would really be looking forward to it. I wouldn't be worrying about it because there is going to be a big crowd. I would be thinking 'what a great game to play in'. That's what I want my players to do. It doesn't matter if there is 6,000 there or 50,000. A derby is a derby. With it being my first Devon derby, I would love to get off to a winning start." With the game all ticket, the Home Park box office will be open from 8 am tomorrow morning, and the atmosphere is certain to be electric. "Exeter are a good footballing side," Sheridan said, "and I don't think they will change because it has been successful for them so far in the season. We have just got to play like we have been playing. We have been a threat and we have defended well. I have been really pleased with the last five or six games. We have got a better shape to us. I want us to be positive and take the game to Exeter. We are at home. I know the fans are going to get behind us anyway, but from the first whistle we have got to get on the front foot and give them something to cheer about. If we do that, we will be in the game."
Curtis Nelson will return to the Argyle squad tomorrow, after persistent groin problems have sidelined him for the last two months. The return of Nelson increases the options open to John Sheridan because he can play in the centre of defence or at right-back. Sheridan said: "Curtis will be back in the squad. He has trained the last eight days and has had no setbacks with the injury he had. He's a naturally fit lad." But Warren Feeney is not quite ready after recovering from a serious ankle injury. "He's running around like a lunatic, as I expected!", the manager said. "He has been out a long time and has just got to be careful. He's glad to be back training. He's a lively character and good to have around. It's about getting his fitness now. He will be a lot better after another week or two weeks training." However, Jamie Lowry is set to miss the rest of the season because of an ankle injury sustained in training. Sheridan explained: "Jamie has had a scan and, by all accounts, he will be out for the rest of the season. Unfortunately for Jamie, he's just too much on the sidelines. I had Jamie at Chesterfield and, again, he had a problem with injuries. There's nothing worse. It's not the lad's fault."
Reuben Reid's loan from Yeovil Town was extended for a third month today, making him available until the end of the season. Meanwhile, 18-year-old defender Jamie Richards has signed a loan deal with Weymouth, also for the rest of the season.
Warren Feeney is ready to return to action for Argyle, if called upon by John Sheridan. Feeney broke a bone in his ankle and also tore cartilage in the early stages of Sheridan's first match as manager, against Morecambe on January 12th. He has resumed training with the squad earlier than expected after an operation to repair the damage, and said: "I'm a wee bit ahead of schedule, to be honest. I have joined in with the boys over the last couple of days. I feel my fitness is okay. I have worked hard in the gym, as much as I could, but once you get out on that pitch it's different. Yes, I probably do need match practice, but there are seven games to go and in the position we are in I'm a big believer that's when you have got to dig in, if called upon. I'm never going to rule myself out. I will be the first one to put my hand up. You have just got to get through these things and with a month left I think it needs character from us all. I would definitely be up for the fight. Obviously, my injury was frustrating for me but that has gone. I'm a big believer in looking forward. As long as I can run around, I will always make myself available." Feeney had been selected to lead the attack against Morecambe with Ronan Murray. However, he was replaced by Tyler Harvey in only the eighth minute of the match because of his injury. Feeney said: "Building up to the new manager coming in, it was probably my best week's training in a long while. The confidence was there. I was feeling brilliant and looking forward to the game, and then lightning struck really. It was very frustrating. No player likes getting injured but the extent of what I did was hard to take from such an innocuous challenge. I have played with aches and pains all my life, but I knew straight away there was definitely a problem. When I got into the treatment room, the swelling around the ankle was not what the medical staff and I was expecting. I knew it was severe. I broke my talus bone and tore my ankle cartilage. The surgeon told me it wasn't something he had ever seen a sportsperson have. It was like something from a motorcycle accident, or problems like that. I had the op and a good rehab off the physio. I spoke to the right people and everyone at the club has been behind me, so it has made it that wee bit easier." Sheridan took over as manager after the defeat at Port Vale on January 5th, and Argyle’s record since then has been five wins, four draws and three defeats. Despite that run of results, the club are still only in 21st place, two points clear of the relegation zone. Feeney added: "You can't knock the record of the new gaffer. He has brought that wee bit of belief."
Argyle will not be restricted to a 17,500 capacity at Home Park in the future should plans for a new grandstand get the go-ahead. There would be two ways for the club to add extra seating should success on the pitch lead to larger attendances. One would be to modify the roof structure around the 'horseshoe' at Home Park to allow for more rows of seats, and the other would be to totally rebuild the Devonport End. An Argyle spokesman said: "We are working towards providing a grandstand capacity of around 4,800. However, this is still being designed so it is not possible to give an exact figure. We can increase capacity through modifications to the roof structure around the 'horseshoe' to allow an increased number of seating rows. Also, if it became necessary, it is possible to totally rebuild the Devonport End."
The postponed game with Chesterfield has been rearranged for Tuesday, April 16th, at 7.45pm.
John Sheridan was disappointed but not surprised by the postponement of Argyle's game at Chesterfield on Saturday. He said: "We were looking forward to playing on Saturday. The postponement was very disappointing after our long journey up there, but that's football. We had a bit of hope because they did say the game would be on before we left on Friday. When we did get to Chesterfield it was snowing non-stop and it was cold and windy. Even then, we knew it would probably be off. The further north we got the worse it got." The referee carried out a pitch inspection at around 9.15am on Saturday but it did not last long. There was so much snow that Chesterfield club staff struggled to get to the ground before then, and no buses were running on the roads. Sheridan said: "We knew it wouldn't be on because the snow was that deep. I'm one of those who would always rather play if there is a chance of doing so, but considering our long journey I think a decision should have been made on Friday. We have hit a bit of form and were positive about going there and trying to get a result. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. We will have to go there again for a night game. It's another long journey but there isn't a lot you can do about that."
Talks over new contracts at Argyle have been put on hold while the club fight for survival, as John Sheridan wants all the focus to be on escaping relegation. Sheridan signed a deal until the end of the season when he was appointed as manager and several members of his first-team squad are also out of contract this summer. Sheridan said: "I don't know what my circumstances are going to be. Obviously, players would like to know what's happening with them, or what my thoughts are of contracts. That's only right. They have got families and they have got to live. But I have spoken to the chairman and the people involved and I think its right we deal with it once we know where the club lies." Argyle have picked up 11 points from their last six games but Sheridan is taking nothing for granted. He said: "I haven't done anything yet and we haven't done anything. I think everyone would agree with me, it's just about staying in the League. That's all I'm focused on."
Today's match at Chesterfield has been postponed due to heavy snowfall.
John Sheridan has insisted that Durrell Berry has 'a lot to offer' to Argyle. Berry is currently out of the first-team and did not travel with the squad to Southend Unite, but Sheridan believes he has good potential as a right-back but needs to work on certain areas of his game. The manager said: "The thing with Durrell is that he has had these niggly injuries. He didn't do a pre-season by all accounts because of his knees. I think it's important we look after him. I have spoken to Durrell. I like him as a kid and I think he has got a lot to offer as a player but he has got bad habits in his game. I think a lot of players at this club have got bad habits in their game and while I'm here I'm going to try to get them out. They have picked up habits which I don't think will make them better players." When asked for examples of that, Sheridan replied: "Not knowing your decision when you get the ball, seeing things earlier, taking too many touches when you receive the ball. Do you want me to carry on? Going ahead of the ball when you shouldn't be. Bad habits might be the wrong phrase. It's faults in their game and I think I have got to try to get it out of them to make them better players. I have spoken to Durrell and I have spoken to a few of them."
Argyle have won their last two games but no-one at Home Park is relaxing just yet. “We’re not getting carried away,” said John Sheridan. “There’s miles to go. There’s seven really tough games and it can be up and down after just one result, as we saw the other night. We’ll focus on the next game, on ourselves, and if we pick points up from each game we’ll have a very good chance of staying in the league.” Argyle have lost only three times in 12 games under Sheridan, who continued: “There’s been pressure in every game since I’ve been here. I can talk and pick a team but, at the end of the day, it’s down to players who go out on the pitch, and I can’t fault them. Their attitude has been spot on. They’re starting to adjust and get used to the way I want to work. I want to get consistency as individuals and with us as a team. Some people might not like it but, if it gets us results and makes us a better team, then so be it. If we’re not doing the things that I feel are right, then I’m not doing my job properly.” Reuben Reid has usually been part of a striking pair, but has had to adjust to often playing up front on his own. After a goal-less spell, he came up with a vital goal to seal the win at Southend, and Sheridan said: “It’s important for Reuben. He must get frustrated. One or two have had an opinion about him but I’m the manager and I pick him and if I’ve got a bit of belief in him, he can go out and play. People probably thought I should have left him out of the team but I didn’t. I stuck with him and I’m pleased I did because he scored a goal and looked really good.”
John Sheridan is looking no further ahead than April. “I don’t want to talk about the long term because the most important time is now, the next seven games and staying in this division,” he said. “That’s the only thing on my mind. I’m not even thinking about anything else. I really appreciate Plymouth giving me the opportunity to manage, they’d had faith in me that I can keep them in this division and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve spoken to the chairman and the people involved, and I think it’s only fair to deal with it when we know where the club lies. I think everyone will agree with me that it’s all about staying in the league. It is unusual because I’d usually speak to players before the end of the season and get deals done...but, with the position we’re in, it’s fair on everyone’s part to focus on the job in hand. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing, it looks as though we’re going the right way. It could go to the wire because all the teams are fighting to stay in the league because they know how important it is. It’s all about the next seven days, starting with the game on Saturday and trying to get something.”
The friendly with Yeovil Town, planned for March 25th, has been postponed. The game will be re-arranged.
John Sheridan has insisted he does not have a point to prove when he takes Argyle to former club Chesterfield tomorrow. When asked about returning to his former team, Sheridan replied: "It doesn't really make any difference to me. We are going to try to win the game if we can. It's important we take that approach into it with the position we are in and what's at stake. I don't have to prove anything there. I think I did an alright job there. Everyone can have their own opinion, whatever they feel. I'm focused on Plymouth Argyle and trying to get three points. The only thing on my mind is the next seven games and staying in this division. I'm not even thinking about anything else. I really appreciate being given the opportunity to manage Plymouth Argyle. They have had faith in me to keep them in this division. I feel as though we are going the right way and, hopefully, we will keep doing what we are doing. I think it will go down to the wire because all the teams at the bottom are playing well. They are fighting to stay in the League because they know how important it is." Chesterfield are in 12th position, eight points from of a play-off spot. Sheridan said: "They have got a good team and good players for this division. I expected them to do a lot better. They are strong and organised. They haven't been scoring many goals but, at the same time, they don't concede many. It will be a tough game but we are playing okay at the moment. We are on our best run since I have been here. Hopefully, we can take the performances of late into the game tomorrow and if we do that we will have a chance of getting something out of it." Chesterfield appointed coaches Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley as caretaker managers after the departure of Sheridan. They continued in that role until the end of October, when Paul Cook was lured from Accrington Stanley to become the new boss. Wright and Crossley, who were also on Sheridan's backroom staff at Oldham Athletic from 2006 to 2009, have remained at Chesterfield under Cook. Sheridan added: "I'm looking forward to going back. There are a lot of nice people there. Mark and Tommy have worked with me since I have been a manager. Obviously, I know a lot about them. I know Paul Cook. I get on well with him. I played against him and have met him once or twice, socially. He's a good lad."
John Sheridan is weighing up whether to make one more addition to his playing squad for the end-of-season run-in. Next Thursday is the deadline for clubs to make 'emergency loan' signings and Sheridan has been looking into adding one more striker to the squad. He said: "There is money for me to bring in another player, but I have got injuries coming back now. We have got a strong squad." Warren Feeney and Curtis Nelson both returned to training yesterday afternoon but Anthony Charles has been ruled out of the trip to Chesterfield tomorrow. Sheridan said: "Charlesy has got a little knock again. Hopefully, it's not going to be too serious. We have just got to be careful. If we need another player, obviously it has got to be done by next week. I will look at what I feel as though we need. If I feel I don't have to bring one in, I won't do it. But if I can bring one in and it will help us get one or two results, I will do that."
Maxime Blanchard has pointed to the presence of Paul Wotton as crucial to Argyle's chances of staying up this season. He said: "I think Wottsy plays a big part in it as well. In difficult times you need players who care more for the club than they do for themselves. If there is one person here in the squad who that applies to, it's Wottsy. He gives passion to the team." Blanchard insisted the team would take the fight for survival one match a time, and not look any further than that. He said: "The main target is to keep the club up. There is no place for ego at the moment. You play wherever you have to. The most important thing is winning games and saving the club from relegation." Blanchard had a spell out of the side earlier this season, before returning to the team at right-back because of an injury to Durrell Berry. "I'm trying to do a job for the team, and trying to be as good as I can," he said. "Of course, I'm not a natural right-back. Hopefully, people are happy about me playing there." The back-to-back wins against Fleetwood and Southend have raised hopes Argyle can escape relegation, and Blanchard added: "It has given us a massive lift. It's good for the morale of everyone. I thought we put in a very solid performance against Southend, especially in the second half. They play long balls and have big players. I think we coped well with it." The team coach did not arrive back at Home Park from Southend until 4.30am on Wednesday and Blanchard admitted it had been very tiring. The players must now prepare for another long trip, this time to Chesterfield. Blanchard said: "It's a good thing we won on Tuesday. But this is what being a Plymouth Argyle player is about."
Reuben Reid is grateful to John Sheridan for the faith he has shown in him. Reid did not score in any of his first ten games back with Argyle before finally opening his account at Southend United on Tuesday. He said: "Obviously, it's always nice to get on the scoresheet, but I'm just happy my goal helped the lads to a win we desperately needed." Reid admitted his goal drought had been hard to come to terms with. "It's nothing I've ever experienced in my career before," he said. "You go home after every game and at night, in bed, you ask yourself questions like: 'What's going on?' I've got to hand it to John Sheridan. Apart from Mark Robins at Rotherham, I have never had a manager give me an opportunity to play the way he has here. I don't think I have played badly. I have contributed to team performances, but as a striker you are judged by your goals. I have got to give a massive shout-out to the manager who has kept throwing me in there, and eventually you are going to come good." Reid scored against Southend when he cut inside the centre-back and placed a low shot past the ‘keeper. He added: "To be fair, what I have been doing all the time is probably be a bit unselfish. I have been squaring a lot of balls and looking to play people in, but at that time in the game I thought there was a chance the defender was going to go to ground. I took it inside and actually had a shot. Was that my first one in about eight games? I think they do say, if you shoot, you will score. Thankfully it went in." Paul Wotton had put Argyle in the lead from the penalty spot after Joe Bryan was fouled. Reid said: "It was a great run from Joe. The lad was a bit silly diving in on him. It was a clear penalty. Even when I used to play with Wottsy as a kid, he was always the man to take the penalties. I'm always confident when he steps up to take them, and he's a confident person. It was never in doubt. It was a great penalty." Argyle have won three and drawn two of their last six matches, to move out of the relegation zone. Reid said: "The good thing for the lads is the performance levels at the moment. We have played to a decent standard. We are getting more shots on goal and we are creating a few more things. Things are still not right, obviously, but we are in a relegation battle and it's not always going to go your way. Hopefully, we can keep the level of performance up and build on it."
John Sheridan takes Argyle to his former club Chesterfield on Saturday. Sheridan was manager of the Spireites until earlier in the season, and won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for them last season. “All I’m bothered about is Plymouth and trying to stay in this division,” he said. “Our level of performance is improving so, if we keep doing that, we will win more games than we lose. They are all big games. We know what’s at stake. No matter who we are playing, we need to win games. We have just got to carry on this little run and hopefully we can do it on Saturday. We just got to keep on doing what we’re doing. If we keep picking points up, we’ll be alright.”
Argyle losing their league status is ‘not an option’, according to Reuben Reid. “We have got to go into games and take the games to the other teams,” he said. “Every game is going to be massive, we can’t have a club like ours going down into the Conference. I don’t think that’s an option. All the players are pushing together to make sure that’s not the case.” Reid believes the home victories over Barnet and Fleetwood that preceded the win at Southend prove that the teams form is getting better. “The good thing for the lads is the performances at the moment,” he said. “In the Barnet game, against Fleetwood, and obviously Tuesday, we have performed to a decent standard. It’s scrappy, we are in a relegation fight, and things aren’t always going to go our way, but hopefully we can keep the level of performance up and build on it.”
An Argyle XI will play Yeovil Town in a friendly at Home Park on March 25th at 2pm.
The consultation process for the new Home Park grandstand takes its next step later today, when the club and development team will meet fans at the Theatre Royal. The club has received plenty of feedback on the plans since their release earlier this week, some of which has already resulted in the development team working on revising the design accordingly. Some of the key areas of concern which fans identified and have swiftly been taken on board include: adding an extra tier to the grandstand, increasing the capacity and confirming the ability to expand that capacity commensurate with future success. James Brent said: “We are delighted that we have received a lot of feedback, which has generally been very positive but has also raised some concerns. The very purpose of consultation is to listen to these potential areas of improvement and to address those which are reasonable and where it is feasible. As a result, we have revised plans as best we are able. The modified plans will be presented at the Theatre Royal but, given the rapid response to feedback, will only be in outline. They will be further developed and refined during the consultation process. It is important that we have a new grandstand of which our fans will be proud, but we must take care not damage the commercial revenues that it will bring Argyle.”
John Sheridan would not have been surprised if his team had won by more than two goals at Southend United last night. “To come here and keep a clean sheet and win 2-0 was a great effort from the players,” he said. “Our second-half performance was excellent. We defended when we had to as a team but, on the counter-attack, we looked really lively. You can see we are working very hard as a team. There was a spell when I thought we were going to get three or four. We looked nice and bright and we saw the game out really well.” Reuben Reid’s goal was his first for the club since signing on loan from Yeovil ten games previously, and Sheridan said: “I am pleased for him. He did really well again tonight. He worked his socks off. Hopefully, that will give him a bit of a boost now, and a bit of confidence. He has worked hard. I brought him in to score goals and that’s what strikers are judged on. Hopefully, this goal he has scored now will set him off on a little run. He did well.” Argyle could have taken the lead in the first half after Jason Banton shot past Southend goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. However, Paris Cowan-Hall unnecessarily touched the ball before it crossed the line. Sheridan defended Cowan-Hall, who redeemed himself by setting up the second goal. Sheridan said: “I heard Paris in the shower and he made the point that he thought Jason was going to hit it first time with his left foot and his momentum was still going. It was a great bit of football by Jason. It would have been a great goal for us. I don't really understand what Paris was trying to do. It was a great 'goal' from Jason and, unfortunately, Paris made the wrong decision.”
John Sheridan did not see the goal that set Argyle on their way to the win at Southend last night. Paul Wotton opened the scoring for the second consecutive match with a penalty, but Sheridan has developed a managerial habit of avoiding watching spot-kicks. He said: “I don’t watch the pens. I was happy to hear the players and the coaching staff when we scored the goal. I usually pretend to tie my laces. Touch wood, it works more than it doesn’t.” The penalty was won by Joe Bryan’s run into the penalty area, where he was tripped. “It was a brilliant run,” Sheridan added. “He’s got that. When he’s direct, he’s a big threat. I think he broke from nearly the halfway line.”
John Sheridan is not getting carried away by Argyle's recent improved results. He said: "I don't get carried away. I like my players to be consistently good. If they do silly little things I will still be on their case whether we are winning 2-0, 3-0, or whatever. I want them to improve as players. I have been a manager for quite a while now and I don't get carried away, but I'm pleased for the players and the supporters. We had brilliant support for a Tuesday night in Southend. We have just got to carry on doing what we are doing. If we keep picking points up we will be alright."
Paul Wotton started the game against Southend on the bench after Anthony Charles returned to the team, but Charles suffered a recurrence of his problem in the first half and Wotton replaced him in the 38th minute. John Sheridan said: "Charlesy had a fitness test and did everything. He's an experienced player and told me he was fit, so I threw him back in. Unfortunately, he slipped and got a reaction from it. It's just one of those things." Charles for Wotton was one of two team changes made by Sheridan, with Paris Cowan-Hall taking over from Andres Gurrieri. Sheridan said: "I think the players understand how we are going to play no matter who I pick. They all know how I want them to play their roles. I left Andres out, who has been one of my best players over the last two or three games. I was thinking of making three or four changes but, luckily for me, I made the right decision." Sheridan also allayed any injury fears over Jason Banton, who was replaced by Ronan Murray in the 79th minute. Sheridan said: "He had a bit of cramp. They had all had a long journey up here. That was what going through my mind before the game. Fortunately, the decisions I made worked out."
Argyle won 2-0 at Southend United, the goals scored by Paul Wotton after 57 minutes and Reuben Reid (75). Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Branston, Charles, Bhasera, Bryan, Banton, Cox, Hourihane, Cowan-Hall, Reid. Subs – Wotton, Gurrieri, Murray (not used – Gilmartin, Chadwick, Harvey, Young). Attendance – 4,674.
Winning games for Argyle is more important than individual accolades to Jason Banton. He scored his fifth goal in nine games in the 2-1 win over Fleetwood Town and is now joint top scorer this season. Banton said: "I was happy to get another goal to add to my tally but, more importantly, to get the win. I'm pleased my goals are counting for things and getting us points on the board." Argyle led 2-0 at half-time against Fleetwood but were put under a lot of pressure by the visitors after the break. Banton said: "I thought we did really well in the first half and had we nicked an early one in the second half to make it 3-0 that would have killed them off. At 2-0, there was always a chance they would get back in it. They did get nick the goal but we saw the game out." Banton thought the fans played a crucial part in the victory as they got behind the team. He said: "It's always good when the fans are on your side and supporting the team. They stood by us even though Fleetwood pegged one back and we got the result." Argyle now have back-to-back away games, against Southend United and Chesterfield, and Banton said: "I don't really look at where teams we are playing are in the league. For example, we played against Gillingham and they were top, and they only just beat us. We beat Fleetwood and they were eighth so it's not really about where you are in the league. It's on the day. Since I have been here, I think we have played better away from home, so I'm actually looking forward to these two games. That's where I have got most of my goals." Banton's strike-rate has been impressive but John Sheridan wants to see him work on his all-round game, such as retaining possession of the ball better. Banton added: "I need to sharpen up on not giving the ball away so sloppily, but I'm sure that will come. Like the gaffer says, it's only going to make me a better player and help me push on to play at a high level."
John Sheridan has been pleased with the way Lee Cox has settled into the side at Argyle. He said: "He's good in training. He gets the lads going and can be quite funny as well when he wants to be. He's getting more match fitness now and I think he has done well. He's a seven out of 10 every game, which you need. I know what he's going to give me on a match-day. You won't be going home excited about him but you know he has done a good job for the team. That's what he has done since he has come in."
Anthony Charles is set to be added to Argyle's squad at Southend United tonight, having sat out the last two matches because of a groin injury. However, Curtis Nelson is still sidelined by a persistent groin problem. John Sheridan said: "It's just one of those injuries. He was running and thought he was going to be fit, and then had a niggle again. It has dragged on longer than I would have liked but he has had a jab in it. Hopefully, he will be back training by the end of this week or the start of the next one."
John Sheridan believes consistency is the key to the prospects of Argyle staying up this season. He said: "We are down where we are for a reason. It's important I try to get a winning mentality into the players' heads and they believe we are a good team. We are not a bad side on our day. We can beat any team in this division but it's that magic word 'consistency'. You have got to be consistent as an individual and as a team. If we can get that, we will be okay." Sheridan has a record of four wins, four draws and three defeats in 11 matches as manager, after taking over from Carl Fletcher in January. He said: "Since I have been here I don't think any team has battered us in any way. We have been in most games. We haven't lost a game by more than one goal and usually when we take the lead we go on and win. I'm pleased with the players' attitude. The work ethic is there and they are starting to understand how I want us to try to play, and what I expect of them, because they know I will be on their case if they don't." After this evening, all of the relegation-threatened teams will have just seven games remaining this season, and Sheridan added: "It's very tight. We are all fighting and want to stay in this division so it's going to be really tough. We have just got to concentrate on ourselves, no-one else. When you look at the table, you would think it will be two out of the bottom six. Someone would have to go on a really bad run and probably lose six out of their next seven if they are going to get involved in it." Southend will play at Wembley in the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on April 7th, but their recent league form, especially at home, has seen them fall off the pace for a play-off place. Despite this, Sheridan expects Sturrock to have Southend fired up for tonight. He said: "I know Paul. I have got a lot of respect for him. He's a very experienced manager. I get on well with him when I see him. He knows the game inside out. I know he will be up for it and he will want to get his team back to winning ways against his old club. He did a brilliant job here. I will have a chat and a drink with him after the game. It will be a tough game. They have got some good players for this division. They are strong and if you let them dictate the game and let them play how they want to they can cause you problems, but we are playing okay ourselves."
John Sheridan has seen a move to bring a striker from a Championship club to Argyle on loan fall through. However, he remains determined to add to his attacking options but does not expect to be able to do that before the game at Southend United. Sheridan said: "I got a little knock-back. I was hoping to get a striker from a Championship club but he's not quite fit enough. There are one or two others I'm looking at. Hopefully, I can bring in another player for this final push."
John Sheridan believes that Reuben Reid’s season will be transformed when he gets off the mark for Argyle. “I don’t like anyone getting on anyone’s back,” said Sheridan. “I shout at Reuben and want him to give us more. I expect more from him, but it’s for his own good. He’s played at a higher level than this, he’s scored goals in this league before and that’s why I brought him. I’d love him to score a goal. He’s working hard. I think, if he gets a goal, things will change. I’ve had a chat with him and he knows where I am coming from. Hopefully, he’ll score sooner, rather than later.”
Jake Cole produced another impressive performance for Argyle in the win over Fleetwood Town on Saturday. Cole returned to the side at the end of January following a spell out of the team. He had been dropped by Carl Fletcher after the home defeat by Burton Albion in early November, and said: "I have been pleased with the way I have played all season. I made an error for a goal in the Burton game, but that happens to all keepers here and there. If you have a look at the amount of games I have played I wouldn't say there have been too many mistakes." Argyle were leading 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when Cole made a stunning save from Fleetwood's Junior Brown. He said: "It was a great delivery in, to be fair, from the guy. I have just reacted and threw my leg at it. It has come off my toe and gone over the bar. It was a good reaction save. It went my way." Fleetwood did eventually cut the deficit in the 75th minute, but could not come up with an equaliser. Cole said: "I had a couple of good saves throughout the game, one up high in the second half. I was pleased with my day's work for the team. That is a massive win for us and, hopefully, we can build on it." Argyle took the lead with a penalty from Paul Wotton in the 25th minute after a foul on Conor Hourihane. Jason Banton and Reuben Reid were both keen to take the spot kick, but the responsibility was assumed by Wotton and he blasted the ball into the net. Cole said: "That's experience. He struck the ball nice. I would have put him down to take it straight away." Wotton has played at centre-back in the last couple of matches because of a groin injury to Anthony Charles and performed creditably. Cole added: "Wottsy was excellent again. He's experienced, and good at organising and helping others around him. It has been good playing with him the last two games." Argyle doubled their lead in the 39th minute when Jason Banton scored his fifth goal in nine games since moving to Home Park on loan. Cole said: "He's a positive player. He doesn't mind shooting and taking a chance, and he's really good running at players. That's a good tally as well, to get five in nine. Hopefully, there will be more of the same for him." There was some frustration for Cole that he did not keep a second successive clean sheet, and he added: "I take pride in keeping clean sheets and we nearly had it. The guy has got a good finish on it and it made for a few tense moments at the end, but we held strong and got what we needed." Paul Wotton thought Cole’s point-blank save was equally as important as a goal. He said: “Coley’s save in the first half won us the game. I don’t know how he saved it, to be honest.”
Jason Banton has scored five goals in nine games for Argyle, but John Sheridan still wants more from him. He said: "When Jason is in that final third he's a big threat, but I think I can get more out of him. He might think he's doing his job because he has scored five goals. I'm going to keep on his case because if he wants to be a good player he has got to be non-stop all game, and not give cheap balls away. If he gets that into his game, he can play at a high level." Banton has now moved level with Paris Cowan-Hall and Conor Hourihane as Argyle's top scorer this season. Sheridan continued: "He has got quick feet and I wouldn't like to play against him. He runs at you, but he has got to get things in his game which are going to make him a better player. It's not all about receiving the ball and then running at someone. It's about working hard to find space and playing one-touch and two-touch when you have to. It will make him a better player." Banton's goal came in the 39th minute and sent Argyle into the interval with a 2-0 lead. Sheridan said: "The most important thing was getting the three points. I thought we worked our socks off. The only disappointing thing, I would say, is when you are winning a game 2-0 we shouldn't have made it as hard as we did. We should be controlling the game when we are 2-0 up. This is something I have got to try to get into them. We shouldn't be hanging on at the end. I thought we were comfortable, leading 2-0 at half-time. It was a really solid performance in the first half and to get 2-0 up, just see the game out and do the basics. Decisions we make end up causing problems and you are conceding free-kicks and corners. Big Jon Parkin is a handful for them." Argyle continue their fight for survival with two away games this week, the first against Southend United tomorrow. Sheridan will then take his side to one of his former clubs, Chesterfield, on Saturday. He said: "It's going to be tight. We have got two tough away games now, but they are ones which I think we can go and get something from."
Paul Wotton used to have a monopoly on spot-kick duties at Argyle, but most of his team-mates do not remember those days and there was some debate before he gave his side the lead against Fleetwood in typical no-nonsense style. “I think Reuben wanted it, Jason took it off him,” he said. “It takes me a fortnight now to get up from the back to get the ball and it was a difficult one because Jason had the ball and was very confident and I don’t like messing with someone before they take a penalty. I obviously wanted it, and I think word eventually came from the bench. Then I was thinking ‘I’d better not miss here’. It was my first penalty for Argyle for quite a while. It went in, so happy days.” Banton added a second before Argyle were forced to soak up nearly constant Fleetwood pressure. “It was a tough game,” Wotton said. “I thought we did really well in the first half. Fleetwood are a good team and will be definitely be up there at the end of the season. It’s a massive three points for us. We could have seen it out more comfortably in the second half, maybe, but it was all about the result today. We were hanging on, but comfortable, if that makes any sense, although the goal changed everything.” With eight games to go the bottom six in League 2 are covered by a single point. “It’s tight now,” said Wotton. “It’s good for us. The more teams that are in it, the better. It’s going to be edgy for the next eight games.” The first of those eight games is at Southend on Tuesday, when Argyle will face Paul Sturrock, and his assistant Graham Coughlan. Wotton added: “It’s a big game for us. We need to recover and go again. They are a strong team and the manager will definitely have them fit and organised. It’ll be a hard game. I’m looking forward to it.”
John Sheridan took great pleasure in Saturday’s win but was soon looking ahead to another vital week for Argyle. “I enjoyed the result, but I know what’s round the corner,” he said. “They’re two tough games but they are games that I think we can go and get something from if we work hard and prepare properly. At the end of the day I just want to be in this division. We know what’s at stake, we’ve got to try to win games. I’m setting a target of three points in every game we play now. The quicker we win games, the safer we’ll be before the end of the season. Three points is what we wanted, it gets us out of the bottom two. We’ve just got to carry on picking up points from games.” Sheridan has only been at Home Park for a short time, but has been tremendously impressed by the support shown for his team. “Those supporters were unbelievable,” he said, “and that’s not me trying to get on their side. How they got behind the team today, they could see we were under pressure, and they never shut up all game. I appreciate it and the players appreciate it.”
John Sheridan described the win over Fleetwood Town as ‘massive’. “The important thing is getting the three points,” he said. “We worked our socks off, they’re a good team, Fleetwood. They’re a team going for the play-offs, so to come away with three points against a good time is great. We made a good start. The only disappointing thing is when you are winning a game 2-0, you shouldn’t make it as hard as we did. We should be controlling a game when we’re 2-0 and it’s something I’ve got to get into them. We shouldn’t be hanging on at the end. We were comfortable, first half. Jake made a great save just before half time, but I thought we played well. A really solid performance. Get 2-0 up and just see the game out, do the basics. We make decisions that end up causing problems, conceding free-kicks and corners. We shouldn’t be defending, and we have to defend quite a lot. The goal’s come out of nothing really, but it gives them a bit of belief and we’re on the back foot a lot more than we should have been.” There was a sense of nervousness when Fleetwood pulled a goal back, and Sheridan said: “They need to start getting used to winning. That’s what I want. Everyone will be a better person in and around the club. That’s something I’ve got to breed into them. It’s a long time, three years, fighting relegation. And you see bad habits. Players who have been here two years have been playing in a relegation-threatened team. So something’s not been right. We’re all different. I’ll do what I think’s right and if works, it works. If it doesn’t, I won’t have a job. I’ve just got to put what I believe is right into the players. Hopefully it’s successful. I’m on their case all the time. A player is no good to be if they play well one week and I don’t see them for the next five. I want consistency in their game. It’s the most important thing, to get consistency into their game. If I can get that into seven, eight, nine players, every Saturday, we’ll win a lot of football matches.”
Paul Wotton’s first goal of the season for Argyle came from a trademark penalty, after a short discussion with Jason Banton over who should take the spot-kick. “I’m not bothered who takes it,” John Sheridan said after the game, “Whoever’s confident can take it. Whoever takes it is obviously confident they are going to score. It doesn’t bother me if there are three of four who want to take it. I think Wottsy’s used to taking them here, and as long as it goes in the back of the net it doesn’t worry me.” Banton went on to score five minutes before half-time, his fifth goal in nine appearances. “It’s not a bad record is it?” said Sheridan, “When he’s in the final third, he’s a big threat. He’s got quick feet and is two footed, I wouldn’t like to play against him. I think I can get more out of him. I think he’s one of them that once he scores, he might think he’s done his job, but I’m going to keep on his case. If he wants to be a good player he’s got to be non-stop all game, not giving little things and silly balls away. If he gets that into his game he can play at a higher level.”
Argyle beat Fleetwood Town 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Paul Wotton after 25 minutes and Jason Banton (39). Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Branston, Wotton, Bhasera, Bryan, Banton, Cox, Hourihane, Gurrieri, Reid. Subs – Chadwick, Cowan-Hall (not used – Gilmartin, Berry, Harvey, Murray, Young). Attendance – 6,776
James Brent has revealed plans for a £50million transformation of Home Park. Work could start this year if planners give the green light to a new grandstand, ice arena, hotel and cinema. Brent said he wanted to create a sporting, leisure and cultural destination that would attract visitors from across the peninsula and pledged that the development would go ahead regardless of Argyle’s success on the pitch. Brent starts a consultation today with local people about his proposals and expects to submit a planning application to Plymouth City Council by the end of April, incorporating feedback from the consultation. Work could start in September and the project would be finished about 20 months later. The first phase will see a 400-space car park built on the existing car park and Argyle offices, and under the present Mayflower stand. The new stand and a 1,500-seat ice arena will be built above the car park. Brent said he hoped they would be completed by the end of 2014. The new grandstand will incorporate conference and hospitality facilities and upgraded facilities for fans. Brent stated he would provide the best ice facility of its kind within 150 miles. He said: “The ambition is to create an ice ‘centre of excellence’, in a similar way that the Life Centre next door is nationally recognised as a centre of excellence for diving. The arena will have a 60 by 30 metre ice pad for social and competition skating, with facilities for 1,500 spectators and the potential to host major events including figure skating and ice hockey matches.” The next phase of work will see a hotel and ten-screen cinema with an IMAX screen. A food court will have several restaurants and there will be sports and leisure shops. The ‘high quality branded hotel’ with 120 rooms will have views over Central Park. As part of the development Brent will also provide improvements to Central Park, including new tree-lined footpaths changing rooms for youth sports field users, sporting improvements to Cottage Field and better park entrances. Brent said: “We want to create a high quality environment and experience by investing in sporting and leisure facilities that Plymouth people can be proud of.” He said the aim was to capture many of the holidaymakers who now bypass Plymouth: “On a rainy day they should be coming into Plymouth, but they don’t.” Brent added that there were good restaurants in the city but the hospitality offering was poor. He said: “We are addressing that. We have developed these proposals to maximise the benefits for the city in terms of improving facilities for local people and visitors and making a significant contribution to local economic growth. We want to work with local interest groups to shape and take forward these improvements.” At the heart of the vision is a new grandstand for Home Park. Brent said: “Our club is fighting to keep our Football League status and that naturally prompts the question: Why are we upgrading the stadium facilities at this time? Throughout the 126-year history of Plymouth Argyle our club has enjoyed the highs when promoted and the challenges when facing relegation. We have to plan and have ambition for our future. The new grandstand and hospitality facilities will greatly enhance the match day experience of our fans and visitors.” He said the Akkeron Group would build the new stand without cost to the club. It would be funded by other aspects of the regeneration plan. The improved facilities will generate match and non-match day income to pay off club debts and invest in the team. Brent said: “This will hopefully create the ideal cycle we all want, winning football driving greater attendance and revenues which in turn will fund more winning football.”
Paul Wotton has enjoyed 'rolling back the clock' by playing at centre-back for Argyle. He was called up against Bradford by John Sheridan because of a groin injury to Anthony Charles and played his part in only the seventh clean sheet of the season. Wotton said: "It was the first time I have played at centre-back in a league game for quite a while. I had a few games there for Southampton, and recently I have mostly been playing at centre-back for the reserves. I must have played 200-250 games there, and I actually really enjoyed it on Tuesday. It was rolling back the clock. It felt a bit strange for about five minutes but after that it was fine." Argyle did not concede a goal against Bradford despite the impressive array of firepower they possess. Wotton said: "They brought on Hanson and Connell as subs. They would start for 99 per cent of League Two clubs, and maybe in League One as well. It shows the depth of Bradford's squad. It was a pretty tight game. We could have nicked it at the end, but Bradford would probably say the same with a couple of their chances in the second half. It could be a real valuable point come the end of the season. I spoke to the back four and Coley before the game and said, 'We are a team within a team. If we keep a clean sheet, without being selfish, it's kind of our job done'. If you have got that mentality, the importance of a clean sheet is huge." John Sheridan has described the game against Fleetwood today as a 'must-win' for Argyle. Wotton said: "This is the business end of the season. It finishes next month. There is no point thinking, 'Who have we got in two or three weeks time?' We have got Fleetwood today and we have got to win. Simple as that."
John Sheridan has called Argyle's game against Fleetwood Town tomorrow a 'must win’ for his side, and also believes it is the most important match of his managerial career. He said: "I think this is the biggest game I have had since I have been a manager. I know we have to win it. Life is going to be very difficult if we don't. At home, we have to win our games, especially now. Performance-wise, we are improving but we have got to start winning. I hope we play rubbish and win the game. It's just about getting points now. It's a massive game. It's a must-win for me this one. We need to start winning games and try to get a little bit of leeway above the bottom two. I don't know what it's going to take, points-wise, to keep us in the division. Torquay and York have come right into it now, who probably felt nowhere near relegation two months ago. We have got some tough away games but when you are at home I think you have got to win." Fleetwood were promoted from the Conference as champions last season and are in play-off contention this term. Their squad includes striker Jon Parkin, who has been nicknamed 'The Beast' throughout his career. Sheridan said: "They are a good footballing side. Big Jon Parkin is experienced and he is the type of striker you need. He just knows what the game is all about and will be difficult to play against. They came up last season and have hit the ground running. They are a strong team and are used to winning games. They will feel they have still got a chance of automatic promotion, so it will be a very difficult game for us." Sheridan was encouraged by Argyle's performance in the draw with Bradford City on Tuesday. He said: "I think we are improving. The players understand more what we want from them, but in our position we have got to win games. I don't think there is a lot of difference between the sides in the division. It's very evenly balanced. But your Gillingham's and Northampton's play poorly and win games. I don't think we are a team who can play poorly and win. We have to be on song and on top of our game to try to get a result."
John Sheridan is ready to add a sixth loan signing to his squad in an attempt to find the solution to their lack of goals. Argyle currently have five loan signings and that is the maximum amount allowed to feature in a matchday squad. So, should a striker be added to the ranks, one of the loanees will not be involved at all. Sheridan does not have any qualms about that, given the circumstances the club are facing, and he said: "I'm comfortable with that if it enables me to get a striker in who I think is going to score goals. It will be tough leaving someone out of the squad who is on loan but I have got to think of the next nine games. All I'm thinking of is getting someone scoring goals and, hopefully, keeping us up. I have been trying for an experienced striker since I have come here, but I have found it difficult. I will just get someone in who I think is going to help us and score goals, whether he's aged 19, 25 or 30. I think Saturday's game will be too soon but I'm looking, trying and asking at this moment in time."
Anthony Charles is rated as 50-50 by John Sheridan for the game against Fleetwood Town tomorrow. He said: "We will just have to see with Charlesy. He's 50-50 at the moment. It's one of those injuries that if he did play and aggravate it, it would probably keep him out for longer. We have just got to be careful with him." Sheridan admitted it would be a similar squad to the one which was on duty against Bradford. Rene Gilmartin has returned to full training after a hamstring injury, and Sheridan added: "Rene needs to get fit because he hasn't trained too much but he's closer to getting back in the squad."
Joe Bryan has no doubt that Argyle will be playing in the Football League next season. “We won’t be out of the league come the end of the season,” he said. “From today, I am 100% confident we can do it, we have got the players in the dressing-room to do it. We have definitely got the fight and I think we’ve also got the quality. I saw it in patches against Bradford, it was a bit of a scrappy game, but you saw quality there. We held our own, did well. It was a decent 0-0 draw. Let’s move on from there.” Bryan travelled down from Bristol and arrived in Plymouth just hours before kick-off, meeting his new team-mates for the first time in the dressing-room prior to the match. He added: “I got a call, asking I was interested. Obviously, I was because I haven’t been playing games. It’s a bit strange, but all the lads have been brilliant with me, took me under their wing, helped me along.” After 13 games with Bristol City in the Championship this season, Bryan coped well with the demands of League Two. “It’s a completely different style of football, the physicality,” he said. “I think it might take me a couple of games to get used to it, but I thought I did as well as I could do. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make more of an impact going forward, the more confident I get, the more games I get, I’m still not 100% match-fit because I haven’t been playing. There’s nine games left. I look forward to getting fit and helping us stay up.”
John Sheridan was relatively happy after his side won a point against Bradford City last night. “I thought it was a good battling point,” he said. “I can’t fault the effort from the players. I thought they worked their socks off. Bradford have got some good players for this division, they’ve just come from a cup final, so we knew it would be a tough game. We just didn’t get that little break. They’ve had one or two chances, we’ve had one or two chances. I can’t fault our effort. If we keep doing that, we’ll win more than we lose. I don’t think we played great but it was a good workmanlike effort against a decent side.” The Argyle defence included Paul Wotton and Guy Branston, partnering each other in the middle for the first time in more than 14 years, and kept a clean sheet. Sheridan though, feels that although his side defend well, it is the individual errors that they must cut out to ensure goals are not given away cheaply. He said: “We played well in the first half. We started well, moved the ball well and kept it and got in good areas. Then, all of a sudden, we got sloppy and stopped doing the things that were causing the opposition problems. I think that’s out biggest downfall at the moment. I look at their chances and think ‘Why are we playing offside when Jake makes a good save in the first half?’ I haven’t a clue. Then there’s a miskicked clearance, one of my pet hates, and we just put ourselves under pressure by doing silly things. I don’t ever think it’s from the opposition cutting us open or anything, I think we defend okay as a team.” Fleetwood visit Home Park on Saturday in a game which has taken on even greater importance. “It’s a big game,” said Sheridan, “We’ve got to win. Results haven’t gone too bad for us, so we haven’t lost any ground. But we were at home and we haven’t scored again. It would have been nice to get that poxy goal at the end, wouldn’t it? It would give everyone a massive lift. How it’s stayed out, I will never know. But that’s life and it’s what happens to you when you are near the bottom of the league. We’ve just got to keep battling. We don’t know what points are going to keep us up in this league, at the end of the day if we stay in this league, that’s all we’re worried about. All the teams are getting results still at the bottom. Everyone’s fighting for the same.”
Joe Bryan arrived on loan from Bristol City yesterday, and John Sheridan put him straight into the starting line-up. Sheridan explained that Bryan’s pedigree and experience of playing at a higher level this season was a deciding factor in giving him his debut, as well as the knock on effect of freeing up Jason Banton. “Joe’s just turned up,” said Sheridan, “He’s been playing regularly for the under-21’s at Bristol City and he’s played in the Championship 13 times this year. You could see he’s a good footballer with some little touches. I thought I’d just throw him in. He just gives us some balance, being left-footed, and enables me to push Jason up a little bit and gives us one or two other options. I thought he looked balanced and, by Saturday, when he’s trained with the lads and got to know them, hopefully he’ll be a good addition. It was a last-minute thing. Myself and Gary Owers went to watch Joe at Bristol a couple of weeks ago and we knew of his availability. He was willing to come and Sean O’Driscoll has allowed him to come. I think he’ll add to what we’ve got.” Bryan played on the left-hand side of midfield, with Banton moving to a position just off front man Reuben Reid. Sheridan is pleased with the fact that he has a potential match-winner in Banton, but warned that he wants him to show a little more consistency. “He does well at times, and then he frustrates me at times, because he gives it away cheaply,” he said, “He did that tonight, but then he does a bit of magic and he’s the one who nearly scores. It was a great strike and hit the post. I played him a little higher and further forward tonight. I thought he’s the one that’s been scoring our goals so I thought I might throw him up there a bit more.”
Argyle drew 0-0 with Bradford City at Home Park. Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Branston, Bhasera, Bryan, Banton, Cox, Hourihane, Wotton, Gurrieri, Reid. Subs – Chadwick, Cowan-Hall, Harvey (not used – Chenoweth, Murray, Young, Berry). Attendance – 5,609
Argyle have signed left-sided defender or midfielder Joe Bryan on loan from Bristol City until the end of the season, and his move to Home Park was finalised in time for him to be eligible to play against Bradford City tonight.
Reading yesterday recalled Gozie Ugwu from the second month of his loan spell at Argyle. John Sheridan said: “Reading are his club. He’s not featuring as much as they would have liked, and I would have liked him to be more involved, obviously his injury was a big setback for him. Instead of him being sat on the bench for us, he can get games in their Under-21s.”
Anthony Charles is being given as long as possible to prove his fitness for Argyle's game against Bradford tonight. John Sheridan said: "He is doubtful for tonight. It's not as bad as we first thought and we will give him as long as we can." Curtis Nelson is still sidelined by a groin injury but Durrell Berry has been added to the squad after recovering from tendonitis in a knee. 11th-placed Bradford are chasing a play-off spot, and recently played in the League Cup final. Sheridan said: "We are playing against one of the best teams in the division in my eyes. They will feel they can still get in the play-offs, or even automatic promotion. We are bottom of the table and they will fancy their chances. We have got to make sure we are up for it, whoever I play. One or two players are going to come in and, hopefully, they rise to the occasion. Bradford have got a very strong squad. The cup run has helped them and they have brought one or two players in. I have always liked the lad Connell, who came off the bench and scored their equaliser against Aldershot Town on Saturday. Whoever plays for them tonight, they are going to have a strong team. They will come here really trying to win the game." Sheridan hopes Argyle can reproduce the performance they put in when beating Barnet at Home Park last week. He said: "We know what's at stake for us. We have just got to concentrate on ourselves. If we go out there with the same attitude as we did for the game against Barnet we will have a chance of winning."
John Sheridan will add an 'attack-minded player' to his squad at Argyle as soon as he can. Sheridan inquired about two targets yesterday, after Gozie Ugwu was recalled by Reading from his loan spell. He said: "I will definitely be bringing an attack-minded player in. I don't think it will be for tonight but it will be as soon as I can. I'm looking at one or two things. Who is scoring our goals at the moment? Jason Banton. So what do I do? Do I play him up front, or give him a free role? Whoever I bring in, hopefully they will score or provide goals for us. We all know what we need, we need to score goals." Tyler Harvey has been added to Argyle's squad for the visit of Bradford. Sheridan decided to take the teenager out of the heat of the relegation battle, but he has been in goalscoring form for the club's under-18s over recent weeks and, with Ugwu leaving, Sheridan has called him up again. The manager said: "He has been playing regularly and scoring goals in the youth team. I think he's ready to be involved again."
John Sheridan has a points target in mind for Argyle’s home games against Bradford and Fleetwood. “If we can take four points from the two games, I’ll be very happy,” he said. “I’ve said all along it’s going to be very tight. You can see the ups and downs, you win one, you climb a couple of places. You lose one, and you fall. You don’t look at who’s playing who because there are so many funny results. We thought we had a poor result here against Oxford when we lost 1-0, they have won every game since and they have beaten some good sides. We should have got something at Northampton, who are flying at home, Wimbledon are getting good results. Anyone can beat anyone, we have just got to concentrate on ourselves.”
Jake Cole was frustrated by Argyle's defeat against Gillingham on Saturday. He said: "I'm very disappointed. The goals we gave away weren't the best. I thought we had a go at them in the second half and got a goal back, and we tried to do what we could to get a point out of it but it wasn't our day. They play for long throw-ins and corners. They are quite organised but I didn't really see them as being a top team in this division. They don't play you off the park. I don't think there is much in it between any of the teams. Maybe the difference is they grind results out better than others." Gillingham opened the scoring in the 31st minute when Argyle could not clear a free-kick into their penalty area. "It was a scrappy goal," said Cole. "The ball came in the box and we had a chance to clear it but that didn't happen and the guy smashes it in from five yards." Gillingham's second goal had an element of good fortune about it. "I made a save with my left hand onto the post," said Cole. "Luckily for them it falls to one of their guys and he tucks it in." Jason Banton replied for Argyle in the 76th minute with his fourth goal in seven games. Cole said: "He's a positive player. He runs at people and gets shots off. Hopefully, he carries on doing that and we can get a few goals elsewhere." Argyle dropped to the bottom of the table after the defeat and now face crucial games at Home Park, against Bradford City on Tuesday and then Fleetwood Town on Saturday. Cole said: "We have got to be really positive and get some good points on board. I'm looking forward to playing Bradford. Hopefully, we get the three points we need and we can take that into the next game. One or two teams always drop into the mix in the last part of the season. There are a few in there and if you can get a couple of wins on the bounce then you can move up a good few places. That's how tight it is." This is the fourth successive season that Cole has been involved in a fight against relegation from the Football League. The first two were with Barnet, while he played his part in Argyle's eventual survival during the last campaign. "It's hard, to be fair," he added. "I just get on with it, be professional and do what I have to do."
John Sheridan has confirmed that Anthony Charles had been substituted in the second half at Gillingham because of a slight groin injury. He said: "He felt a twinge in his groin. We will just have to assess him and see how he is for Tuesday." Meanwhile, Conor Hourihane was booked for the ninth time this season and will be suspended for two matches should he receive one more yellow card.
Argyle were far from outclassed by the table-topping Gillingham yesterday. John Sheridan said: “There was definitely an opportunity there. As a team, we didn’t really believe in ourselves. It was a tough game. Obviously they are where they are, they’re strong and well organised. They make life difficult and they get in your face. I think, if we’d wanted it a little bit more, we might have got something out of the game. We fought hard, but the goals were poor goals on our part. Gillingham picked second balls up, and we didn’t keep the ball when we had to keep the ball. In the first half, there were times when we could have caused them problems. They are a big strong team, very workmanlike. They get in your face and get in positions. And obviously they have the long throw as well. I think they just worked a little bit harder than we did. I don’t think we gave up. We had to defend as they put you under pressure. The biggest downer was that we didn’t believe. If we could have worked harder by keeping the ball for longer periods we could have caused them more problems. They were keeping us on the back foot for longer than we were doing. If we could have done that to them, we would have caused them more problems. We had little patches. I really do believe that, if we’d believed in ourselves, we could have got something out of the game. I don’t think we showed enough spirit to try and get something out of the game. I’m not too down; I thought we battled away. It was just about belief and players taking command on the pitch. The goals could have been avoided. I don’t look at the goals when they go in the back of the net, I look at it 20 seconds before it’s happened. It’s just people not being switched on, organised and in position in case something happens. We don’t do it, I’m trying to get it into their heads. It’s something we have to do a lot better.” Three of the other teams in the bottom seven, Barnet, Wimbledon and Aldershot picked up wins yesterday, whilst York, Accrington and Torquay were all beaten. “It’s very tight at the bottom,” said Sheridan, “We’ve got two home games now to try and get points. Difficult games, but games that we can win. They are going to be hard games. We’ve got to get points from them. If we get points then the table looks a little bit different. We’re bottom of the league and it doesn’t make nice reading. If we can get two positive results, we’ll be right back in the mix.”
Jason Banton scored his fourth goal for Argyle at Gillingham, but John Sheridan’s concern is that not enough goals are coming from the centre forward positions. Reuben Reid is yet to score since returning to Home Park on loan, and Sheridan said: “I don’t know if he’s had an attempt at goal. He’s been around a long time, he’s 24, and he’s had a lot of clubs. I brought him in and I was confident he would score goals, but he hasn’t scored. It’s something we’ve got to look at. We need to be creating, as forwards. We’re not creating opportunities to score goals. We can’t keep relying on a loan player who is a wideman. I’d like one or two of my strikers to pitch in and I don’t they’ve had many attempts at goal have they? It’s something I’ve got to think of. I was watching the lad Kedwell for Gillingham. No disrespect, he’s not a great player, but he plays to his strengths. He works his absolute socks off and leads the line very well. I thought he was a real handful today. That’s just will and determination. He worked very hard and played for the team. He was keeping possession and putting us on the back foot all day. That’s something we need to do; we need to learn from that.”
Jason Banton’s fourth goal in seven games was not enough to secure a point for Argyle at Gillingham, but his form is encouraging for the club. Banton however, is not content with scoring goals, he wants to help the side win games. He said: “A lot of people might think ‘Oh, he’s only on loan, he’ll only care about himself’ but, when I pull on the shirt I play for Plymouth Argyle, Crystal Palace aren’t on my mind right now. Obviously they’re my club and I’m going back to them whatever happens, but at the moment I’m a Plymouth Argyle player. It hurts me as much as anyone else in the team.” Argyle were two goals down yesterday before Banton’s strike, and he said: “It was sloppiness from us again. We didn’t get going in the first half. They kept it quite compact, but I felt if we’d have got a goal earlier than we did then we could have got at least a draw. We were always in it. Considering we are a team that’s almost bottom of the league and they are top of the league, you would not have thought they were top of the league. You’ve got to approach it as ‘the world against us’, but we thought we could get something out of the game. It’s 11 v 11 out there at the end of the day. But we conceded sloppy goals. I’ve only been here a month. But I think that’s been the story of the season so far. We’re not conceding goals where you say ‘that’s a great goal’, we’ve conceded goals that could have been solved. But I’m sure, if we carry on performing like we did in the second half, we’ve got to start picking up points.”
Argyle lost 2-1 at Gillingham, the goal scored by Jason Banton after 77 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Branston, Charles, Bhasera, Banton, Cox, Hourihane, Gurrieri, Murray, Reid. Subs – Cowan-Hall, Ugwu, Young (not used – Chenoweth, Richards, Chadwick, Wotton). Attendance – 8,210
James Brent has stated he has no interest in selling Argyle. He was responding to newspaper stories that Ken Bates was considering a takeover bid at the end of the season, when he steps down from his current role as chairman of Leeds United. Brent said: "The general policy of the club is not to comment on speculation. What I would say on this occasion, though, is I'm not looking to sell Argyle. If Mr Bates is interested in buying the club he has got good taste."
Ken Bates is considering buying Argyle, according to national newspaper reports. Several newspapers are today reporting that the chairman of Leeds is weighing up buying Argyle having sold his stake in the Championship team in December. Argyle president Chris Webb dismissed the reports on twitter as ‘typical lazy tabloid page filler’.
John Sheridan believes the pressure will be on table-topping Gillingham, and not his Argyle side, when they meet at tomorrow. He said: "Gillingham are top on merit. They are a good team. Martin Allen has got them really strong and organised. They are winning football matches, especially away from home, but they have lost one or two games at home. I think the pressure is more on Gillingham than us. Not many people will expect us to go and get anything there but I certainly do. I'm sure if Gillingham watched us last week they will know we are a decent side. If we can take that performance against Barnet into the game tomorrow we will have a chance of getting something. It's important we do that. We have got to go there and believe we can win." Gillingham are strong favourites to beat Argyle, but Sheridan said: "That doesn't bother me, people look at the table and we are near the bottom and they are at the top. I know the lads are fighting really hard to get out of the position we are in, and that is all they can give me. Gillingham have got good experience in their side and Martin knows this league. They are playing consistently well and that's why they are top of the league. We are not. We know, on our day, we can beat anyone and that's what we have got to get in our game, consistency. If we do that we will match most teams." Only six points cover the bottom ten clubs in League Two, with Argyle 23rd after their win against Barnet. Sheridan said: "We have just got to concentrate on ourselves. There are one or two teams who have got dragged into it who probably didn't expect to be where they are now. The teams at the bottom are all performing and getting results, and we have got to be one of them. We have got to try to get out if it as quickly as we can. We have got some tough games coming up, but they are games which I know, if we perform, we can win. That's what I have got to try to instil in my players, the belief they are going to win football matches."
Argyle can expect to come under a barrage of long throw-ins when they play Gillingham tomorrow, something they have become used to in recent away matches. In each of their last three away games, at Aldershot Town, Northampton Town and Wimbledon, they have faced a long throw specialist. Gillingham, however, have two players who can launch the ball into the penalty area, Charlie Lee and Chris Whelpdale. John Sheridan said: "They are well organised and play to their strengths. They are good at them and we have got to be wary of that. Whatever team I pick, hopefully, will give them a problem and help us to get a good result. I always pick a team which is going to try to win us a game. I don't really worry who we are playing." When asked whether he would be comfortable playing the 4-3-3 employed against Barnet, at Gillingham, Sheridan replied: "I will play any system as long as I think it can cause the opposition a problem. It won't worry me who I play or what formation I play, as long as the players understand what we are trying to do. Hopefully, they can carry it out in the game." Gozie Ugwu made an early exit from the reserves defeat by Exeter City on Monday because of an abdominal muscle strain but will be fit to face Gillingham.
Jason Banton is enjoying playing regular first team football for Argyle. He recently signed a new contract at Crystal Palace until the end of next season, just before an agreement was made for him to stay at Home Park for the rest of the current campaign. He said: "I'm delighted to be at Plymouth until the end of the season. I sorted out my deal at Palace and then Plymouth made it clear they wanted to keep me. I'm more than happy to stay. It's rare a loan player comes in and starts games from the off. To play six out of six in my first month was great and, hopefully, that will carry on until the end of the season. It's the first time in my career I have had a stretch of firs- team games and to sign my deal at Palace just topped it off. It has been good to come in and get on the scoresheet. Every little helps. Hopefully, I will carry that on. I have settled in really well. They are a good bunch of lads and it feels like I have been here all season and I have only been here a month. The coaching staff are great so I couldn't ask for any more." Argyle moved off the bottom of the table after beating Barnet at Home Park last Saturday. Banton said: "It was a massive win. We have pegged them back and put them under a bit more pressure as well." Banton had been injured in the previous game at Wimbledon, and was a doubt before the match with Barnet. He said: "It was a dead leg and I didn't do much training leading up to the Barnet game. I wouldn't say I played bad but out of all my performances it wasn't so good. But as professional footballers you have those games where you have just got to work hard for the team and, luckily, Conor and Ronan came up with the goals to win it for us." Argyle face a difficult trip to Gillingham tomorrow but it holds no fears for Banton. He added: "Since I have been here I think our best performances have been away from home because there is a bit less pressure. At home you are expected to win. Everyone will be expecting Gillingham to beat us but we will all have the belief we can win the game. Let's just see what happens."
Curtis Nelson’s injury absence has been longer than expected, John Sheridan has admitted. Nelson has missed the last six matches because of a groin problem, and Sheridan said: "I don't really know what's going on with Nelse. He has been out a bit longer than I thought it would be. I was expecting him back by now but it's just one of those niggling injuries. Nelse knows his own body and he just keeps feeling twinges here and there. I'm sure he will tell us when he's okay." Sheridan also revealed that Durrell Berry could be available for the trip to Gillingham on Saturday. He said: "Durrell has been having a bit of treatment and a bit of rest. He's improving." Rene Gilmartin has also started light training after a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Jamie Lowry has injured an ankle in training and Sheridan said: "Jamie went over on his ankle in training last week. I'm hoping that's not too serious. I think it's the same ankle he did during the summer, but not as bad. He has caught it and it's swollen."
An Argyle XI lost 2-0 to Exeter City in the friendly at Home Park yesterday. Gozie Ugwu played less than half an hour before being forced off with an abdominal muscle injury. Argyle: Chenoweth, Watson, Wotton, Richards, Purrington, Young, Lecointe, Sims, Cowan-Hall, Chadwick, Ugwu. Subs – Bradley, Harvey, Vassell (not used - White, Summers).
Conor Hourihane and Ronan Murray both praised the Argyle fans for their support after the win against Barnet on Saturday. "It's a massive win," said Hourihane. "I'm delighted for the fans. It's nice that we got a couple of thousand extra and we showed them a bit more spirit. Hopefully, they will all come back for the next home game. It's up to us to get the fans on our side. Sometimes they turn against us, but that's part and parcel of football. You just have to step up and get on with it. Last time out against Oxford they probably deserved to turn against us, and Saturday they were with us. It's nice to get a win, especially with the club and people around the club doing a lot of work to bring people in. I have heard about people who were coming here for the first time. There was some nice football and they have seen some goals. Hopefully, they will come back." Murray's winner was his first goal since signing on loan from Ipswich Town in January. He said: "I thought the atmosphere was brilliant. We gave the fans something more to shout about. I can't fault them since I have been here. They have been brilliant."
Ronan Murray has no doubts that Argyle will maintain their Football League status. “I’ve always been confident we can get out of the mess we’re in,” he said. “We’ve got the right bunch of lads who will dig in for the team and the fans. This club can’t go down. We are down there fighting for our lives and this was a big game. We have got a tough run coming up in the next four or five weeks and we needed to get Barnet back near us. We knew the importance of the game and, luckily enough, we came out with the win.” Barnet had arrived at Home Park unbeaten in four matches, and Murray continued: “We played well in the first half. Probably the best I have seen us play since I have been here. They caught us on the break but, luckily enough, Con got us back on track before half-time and we nicked it in the end.” Conor Hourihane’s goal was a 20-yard shot which beat former Argyle ‘keeper Graham Stack. Murray added: “He doesn’t come up with them very often, not even in training!”. Murray scored his first goal for Argyle on Saturday, after being set-up by Hourihane and Andres Gurrieri. He said: “Brano played a good ball down the line to Con and he made a bursting run. The ball came across, Andy got a shot, and it kind of shanked off his ankle and just fell to me. I have just taken a touch and whacked it. Luckily enough, it has gone in. Hopefully, there are more to come. I’m delighted to get my first goal.” Murray played as part of an attacking trio in a new 4-3-3 formation implemented by John Sheridan. He said: “The gaffer has to make changes where he sees fit. I played on the wing against Wimbledon and I thought I did alright. He played me out there and again on Saturday and I think we liked the 4-3-3 formation. It’s a bit more fluid and suits our players. It was good to get the win.”
Conor Hourihane’s fifth goal of the season got Argyle back on track after conceding an early goal at home to Barnet on Saturday, and he also played a part in Ronan Murray’s winner. “I’ve come up with a couple of goals this year, compared to last year and it’s going well,” Hourihane said, “but the main thing is the three points. It’s a crucial win. Barnet are down there with us and we’ve got some tough games coming, so it gives us a boost heading into that period.” Argyle went behind to Barnet’s first attack of the game and Hourihane said: “It was a shocking goal. We started the game well and were really on top, and I think it was the first time they had gone into our penalty area in the game. But we stuck at it and got the goal, came back into it, and got a nice early goal in the second half, which we don’t get often. We deserved to win it. We had the better chances and we put in a good performance.” Hourihane’s goal, nine minutes from half-time, came from one of several occasions that he and Andres Gurrieri got forward from a midfield three in which Lee Cox played the anchor role. “It suits me a lot better,” said Hourihane. “I’m not being picky, if the gaffer plays 4-4-2 and I’m playing, that’s no problem, but I do like 4-3-3. It lets me get in the box a bit more, and make runs to push us up the pitch. I like to get forward. We all like getting on the ball and, with Coxy there, it gives us a bit more licence to get forward.” Hourihane was careful not to get carried away with Argyle’s first victory in four matches. He added: “We’ve got some tough games coming up but if the fans come back and keep getting behind us, and we keep showing the spirit and the fight we showed today, I’m sure we won’t be far off.”
Ronan Murray scored his first goal for Argyle yesterday, and it proved to be the winner against Barnet. John Sheridan said: “I’m pleased for Ronan. He’s a very intelligent footballer. I like him as a footballer. We’ve got to get to know each other’s strengths, and I think the formation suited him today. We passed it and played to his strengths because he’s a good footballer. He’s been in and out of the team but he’s trained 100%, his attitude has been spot on. I’ve thrown him back in and I’m really pleased he ended up scoring the winning goal.” Jason Banton had been Argyle’s only goalscorer in the previous six games, but was not at his best yesterday. “I don’t think Jason was his normal self,” said Sheridan. “Maybe he was affected by the injury he’s had. But it’s good to have different goalscorers. Jason didn’t have his best game, but he can’t be our match-winner all the time. He’s a big player for us and I’m very pleased to get him until the end of the season. I wouldn’t like to play against him. Whoever does play against him knows they are in for a game.”
Argyle beat Barnet yesterday after employing a system designed to combat their style of passing football. John Sheridan said: “We played a different formation. I thought Andres came in and did the things he can do. He’s comfortable on the ball. We played a 4-3-3 and we worked on how they were going to play. We pressured the ball a lot better than we have done, put them under pressure and were winning things in the opposition’s half which gives us a better chance of causing them problems. We worked on the system, on how they play, and I felt we did it well, pressuring them from the front. We invited the keeper to give it to the back four and then move quickly as a team, not just individuals. That’s the way I want us to play, a bit of endeavour, a bit of will to win, I thought we passed it when we had to pass it and we were a threat. We had good opportunities to score more goals. I thought we worked really hard and you could see that one or two lads were tired at the end. We got our just rewards.”
John Sheridan was relieved as his team won yesterday, and also looked good in doing so. “I was nervous before the game, but I don’t think the players showed it,” he said. “We know what’s at stake and the importance of three points. It is always a good feeling when you go a goal down and you’ve got the character to come back and win the game. Even if we’d have lost today, I’d have been pleased with the performance. From the word ‘go’, we got at them and we were spot on. We caused them problems, got in their face and stopped them from playing. We were well-deserved winners. In the last two away games, you can see the lads are working their socks off. I don’t think we got our rewards from the last two away games. Today, we worked really hard, because the performances have been very lacklustre at home. We looked like a totally different team.” After an initial win against Morecambe, Sheridan’s record at Home Park has been disappointing. He said: “We couldn’t play any worse, could we? If we’d played any worse than we have been playing at home, I’d have probably packed it in myself! Barnet are a good team, and they’ve had some good results in the last six games. They do move the ball and their movement is good. But I thought we played them off the park at times. The first goal was a great goal, nice passage of play, simple football and a great finish from Conor. He’s a good finisher in training, he usually hits the target. If you hit the target, you’ve got a chance of scoring, haven’t you? The fans are brilliant aren’t they? I’ve been here six or seven weeks, and the support we get is unbelievable for a club who are bottom of the league. I’ve played at some big clubs like Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, where they have massive support, but these are phenomenal for me. It’s scary. Results have gone our way but one game at a time, and try to pick up three points from each game. If we do that, we’ll see where it takes us.”
Argyle beat Barnet 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Conor Hourihane after 36 minutes, and Ronan Murray (49). Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Branston, Charles, Bhasera, Banton, Cox, Hourihane, Gurrieri, Murray, Reid. Subs – Cowan-Hall, Ugwu, Young (not used – Chenoweth, Richards, Chadwick, Wotton). Attendance – 8,210
Luke Young takes pride in playing for his hometown club and is desperate for Argyle to win their fight for survival. He said: "I think everyone knows, even those who don't follow football, that Argyle are a big club. To see what has happened to the club, from being in the Championship a few years ago to now, is not great. It's just a case of everyone getting together now and getting behind us as much as they can. I was nine when I first joined Argyle. I have seen the club at high points and low points. When we do stay up this season it will be a massive achievement considering where we are now. Hopefully, we can then push on next season and try to get out of this division as quickly as possible." The immediate concern is picking up enough points to escape relegation, and Young continued: "We are taking each game as it comes and trying to put on a good performance. All we can concentrate on is what we do. If we keep winning games and keep picking up points here and there them I'm sure we will be fine. I think we will stay up. There is enough fight and enough togetherness within the whole club for us to do that." Argyle's highest attendance at Home Park this season has been 10,003 for the visit of Torquay United on Boxing Day. Young said: "When we played Torquay the atmosphere spurred on the players. To get another 10,000 crowd, in what is a big game against Barnet, would bring out the best in everyone."
Argyle have extended the loan of Jason Banton until the end of the season. Crystal Palace will still have a 24-hour recall clause.
John Sheridan wants to see his team exploit the match-winning capabilities of Jason Banton. The winger suffered a thigh injury at Wimbledon on Tuesday but Sheridan hopes he will be fit for the visit of Barnet. The loanee has impressed, grabbing three goals in five games, and his loan spell is set to be extended for a second month. Sheridan said: "Jason is very happy here and Palace have agreed to let him stay. I have spoken to Jason and, hopefully, everything will go to plan and we will get him for longer. He thinks he's a good player and, for me, that's a good thing. I like players believing in themselves. He's positive in the way he plays. He has got little things which are wrong in his game and I try to help him to be a better player. When Jason gets the ball he wants to excite people. He has scored three goals since he has been here and has been a big plus for us. He's a match-winner in my eyes so I would like him to get involved in games a little bit more. I think people around him could do that for us." Had Banton's injury been serious, Sheridan would have had to consider whether it was worth extending his loan. However, fears he had torn his thigh muscle were unfounded. Sheridan added: "We will see how he is and, hopefully, he will have a good chance of making it." Banton had not started a competitive first-team match before his loan spell at Argyle, having made only one substitute appearance for Crystal Palace. Sheridan said: "I think Jason enjoys being a footballer. He has been at good clubs in his younger years and it's about making that step up. He has come here and scoring one or two goals doesn't do you any harm. I like the way he wants to get at people. Hopefully, he will continue to do that." Sheridan has also moved to keep Reuben Reid at Home Park. Reid has had his loan from Yeovil Town extended for a second month, and Sheridan thought a recent discussion with Reid had led to improved performances. "I’m going to keep Reuben. He's slowly getting better and better," said Sheridan. "I had a chat with him last week and he understands where I'm coming from. I expect a lot more from him because, in my eyes, he should be ripping this league up. All managers are different. I’m one of them who would rather tell a player than talk to my staff. I’d rather make it open so I spoke to him and I told him that I need a lot more from him. I’ve seen him play lots of times and I think he’s an excellent player. If he gets the work ethic in then everything else will take care of itself. I thought his performance the other night was a bit better, his workrate especially, and he could be an important player. If he can get a goal or two it will build his confidence a little bit more."
John Sheridan has called on his team to produce a 'courageous' performance in the crucial game against Barnet tomorrow. He said: "We need to be courageous. We need to take chances, be positive, get on the ball and pass it around. We have been very lethargic at home. Other than my first game, when we got ourselves into a winning position early on, I can't really pinpoint where we have played well. We need more drive and endeavour, and the tempo of the game has got to be higher for us." Argyle have dubbed tomorrow 'Big For Barnet' as they have pushed for a 10,000-plus attendance with a series of special ticket offers. Sheridan said: "The more the better for us. If you are a footballer, you want to be going out and playing in front of big crowds. That's what they should be looking at. We are all here for the same thing at Plymouth. We want to stay in this division." Sheridan has been hugely impressed with the support Argyle have received in recent matches, both home and away, despite their struggles on the pitch. He said: "The fans have got right behind the team from day one, since I have been here. I honestly can't believe the support they give the team. It's easy me saying this, but for a team who are bottom of the League and getting the support they are getting is frightening. The fans have been different class and we need to give them a little bit of hope. Results do that and they give them a bit of belief. We need to do it, and we need to do it quickly." Sheridan knows Argyle require wins, not draws, from their remaining six home games, to stand any chance of escaping relegation. He continued: "Barnet are a team who are in and around us so it's a good opportunity to get a little bit closer to them. They are a good footballing side. They are unbeaten in four. I think Davids is an excellent player. I played against him a few times and he has got that drive. He's still playing, so full credit to him. He has got them playing with a bit of confidence and they have had some good results. They will come here and look at us, we are bottom of the League, and see it as a good chance of getting three points. We have got to make sure it doesn't work out that way." Durrell Berry is still sidelined by tendonitis in a knee so Maxime Blanchard will continue to deputise for him.
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