A Round-up of Argyle News
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Loan signing Zak Ansar described his debut goal at Cheltenham as a 'dream come true' as well as praising the performances of his teammates. Ansar opined: “It was really exciting, and it’s a dream come true when you make your debut and win the game. I even scored a goal to top it off, which is just the icing on the cake. I saw the ball come in and just looked to get a good connection on it. Luckily it went into the bottom corner. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had so far in my life, especially to do it in front of all the fans. You can’t get better than that. The fans were brilliant today. In the second half it was a top-drawer performance. On a difficult pitch we passed the ball well. We scored two goals in the second half and could have got a few more. They were terrific today. Both in the first and second half, they caused their defence problems for the whole 90 minutes. I am happy with my performance today, but the result for the team was the most important thing.”
Reuben Reid stressed the importance of the win being a team effort as well as looking ahead to the games to come- preferring nit to to dwell on his own personal glory that came from scoring two of the three goals. He said: “What you find in football is that obviously the goal-scorer gets their name on the score-sheet, but as a team and me as a person, we know that there is more involved than that. Carl McHugh’s done well and we were all laughing out there because he is a centre half! But he is a good, ball-playing centre half, and it came off today. Obviously Tareiq’s played a good ball for the second, then I’ve got to do my bit. I’ve had a bit of good fortune, which I felt as if I deserved after the bad luck that came in the Oxford opportunity when it came off the bar and post. Thankfully that went in for me, and it set the tone for a massive win for us. It’s now effectively a mini-league of around five teams, really. There’s Exeter, then Northampton who won today, Newport and Stevenage. Anyone with any sense would see that those are the teams we are competing against, so we’re probably looking out for their results. I think we have just got to win as many games as possible and try to put ourselves in there. Now we go into next weekend with two massive games in the space of four days, including probably my favourite game of the season that you can be involved in with the Pompey game, going up to their place. The following we will have – and with it being on a bank holiday – will make it a massive event, for sure. I’ve always been confident from the off-set, even at times that we were not playing so well. The disappointing thing is that it could have been a lot better. I don’t think there’s too much between the teams at the top, really. There’s still 21 points to play for, so who knows what could happen from here?”
Finally, John Sheridan gave an injury update revealing that Lee Cox and Gethin Jones should be in contention for the match against Burton on Good Friday: “We know the importance of three points and now next Friday is a really good game. We have got two tough games but I know we are as good as any team on our day; we’ve got good enough players to perform and compete. I think we’ve shown that today – back to winning ways and more goals and hopefully we can continue that. It’s going to be really tight. Everyone plays each other; there are teams who are four, five, six teams off the play-offs who think they can still get in it – but I only worry about us. Coxy will be training next week; Gethin Jones will be with us next week. Hopefully, we’re all fit and stay strong and the two new lads will give us a lift, and a boost, and add to what we’ve got because we’ve got some big games coming up and there’s something there to aim for. We have just got to try to win. Don’t worry about anyone else, just concentrate on ourselves.”
John Sheridan took great pleasure from Argyle's comprehensive 3-0 victory over Cheltenham yesterday- giving particular praise to the improved performances of some of his players who he believed were off their game previously. The gaffer said: “Obviously Reuben’s got the goals, but Lewi, Bobby, Dom, Tareiq…I thought it was a really, really good performance. Jason did well in the time he was on; I felt he got a little bit tired. We got the first goal; a great goal. Carl’s done brilliantly and it’s a great little finish from Reuben. He scores goals, doesn’t he? For the second goal, Reuben’s in position where he’s giving the defenders problems. It was a great ball and he’s had a strike; it’s on target; it takes a deflection; and it’s in the back of the net. So he’s got another two. I thought Lewi played really well in the second half. They are a handful when they want to be. I felt Anthony’s been off his game, but it was a doddle for him; Bobby Reid played better today. They are four big players and I felt they are four of my players who have been off their game. People just performed well today. When you get the first goal, it gives you something to hang on to, but we saw the game out really, really well. We were excellent in the second half. It was a really, really good performance; a good bounceback. We got massive support and it was great for the supporters, as well. We all want the same thing. At the end of the season, let’s just hope we achieve something. It is a great record – it doesn’t matter where we end up in the season – to keep so many clean sheets. We could have scored more goals, as well. I’m not a defensive-minded manager. I’d love to play and attack and score goals all the time – I’ve done it at most clubs I’ve been at. It’s not just the ’keeper and the back five – it’s the team. I keep telling my strikers ‘work hard from the front’.”
He also gave specific credit to Argyle's goalscoring debutant: Zak Ansar who was playing his first ever professional game. Sheridan added: “We were on top of the game and he just enjoyed it. He fitted in and saw opportunities: two great strikes; two good saves from the’ keeper; and then he’s timed his run perfectly for a little glancing header. It was a great little header, as well; a great ball from Anthony. He’s a very good footballer, very intelligent. He’s come from Arsenal, so he’s going to have something about him. It’s his first-team debut and I thought you could see a little bit in him. He was unlucky at the end; he sold the lad a dummy but the other defenders got back in time. I don’t think I’ve had many bad loan signings. My loan signings have come in and done really well. I love Tareiq's enthusiasm, his desire. I love the way he plays – non-stop; he’s a nightmare to play against. He’s got a good career ahead of him if he keeps those attributes.”
Argyle have returned to form in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 away victory over Cheltenham Town. Reuben Reid too returned to goalscoring form, netting either side of half-time. Argyle also had a debutant Zak Ansah get on the scoresheet with a headed goal just eleven minutes into his first ever professional game. Argyle are now back in the play-off places. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh, Hartley, O'Connor, Blizzard, Bobby Reid, Banton(Ansah), Holmes-Dennis, Reuben Reid(Brunt), Alessandra(Lee). Subs: Bittner, Bentley, Harvey, Norburn.
John Sheridan has spoken very highly of the two new loan additions to his Argyle squad, stating that they came highly recommended from trusted sources and can do well for Argyle in spite of their limited first team experience: “They are two young lads who are really, really good prospects and very highly recommended. They will come in and add to what we’ve got and push to get a starting place in the side. Zak is young, very talented. I watched him on Monday. He lacks a bit of first-team experience, but so did Andy Kellett when he came, and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis had only played a couple of games at Oxford. He’ll come in and push the people who are there. Obviously we need people up there, fighting and competing with each other in the forward areas. He’s a very good athlete, a good, intelligent, footballer; he started his career in midfield. I spoke to Joe Royle about him – he speaks very highly of him – and I had him watched. He’ll be a really good addition.”
Olly Lee has acknowledged that Argyle's midfield need to start chipping in more with the goals to increase the chances of promotion from League Two this season. He vowed that things will start to 'click' for Argyle soon, saying: “I feel we have got to chip in more from the midfield. The luck's not really been on our side so far. I’ve hit the bar, the post, and the balls just hasn’t gone in the back of the net. I’m hoping, sooner or later, one will go in off my backside, and then I’ll go on a little run. Anthony does a great job in front of the back three. It just clears everything up to me and Bobby to create things. At the minute, we’re finding it more difficult to do, but without a doubt, one game everything is going to click and it will come together - and we’ll beat someone four or five nil.”
Zak Ansah has become Argyle's second loanee in two days. The 20-year old Charlton striker will join his Addicks teammate Tareiq Holmes-Dennis at Argyle. Ansah has appeared in a squad for a Champions League match for Arsenal as well as playing at youth level for both England and Ghana. He will wear the number 27 shirt during his time at Home Park.
John Sheridan has apologised to Argyle supporters following his angry reaction towards fans who booed the 0-0 draw against Newport on Saturday. He said that whilst he still did not advocate or agree with the booing that took place, he offered his apologies to anybody offended by his reaction. Sheridan said: “I have got total respect for the supporters. Where I’m coming from is I thought that the second-half performance was a good performance, a bit of desire to get something and win the game; I didn’t feel it needed the response we got. I know, deep down, that it’s frustration and, when things haven’t happened for two or three or four years – when we have struggled – it’s even harder for them. So, at this moment in time, when we have got something, when we can achieve something and we’re not playing well, I just feel we need the support of everyone involved. If I sounded any way disrespectful, that is nowhere near what I am trying to say. People have got their opinion and if they feel as though I was being disrespectful, I am sorry – there is no way I meant to make them feel that way. The fans are the be all and end all of the club. The fans travel distances and support the team through thick and thin, pay good money. I appreciate that more than anyone. Whether they like me or not is nothing I can decide on –if they’ve got something against me, so be it. I don’t like people shouting unpleasant things to me, and I reacted. I shouldn’t have reacted. I’m old enough and grown up enough. I want everyone to be happy at the end of the season by us achieving something, whether the football’s poor or whether it’s good. I know there’s a lack of goals. We’ve got a brilliant defensive record but the lack of goals is a big concern and it’s something, as a manager, I’ve got to improve on.”
Argyle have signed Everton utility player Gethin Jones on a loan deal until the end of the season. Jones can play in defence and central midfield and he will join Argyle in time for the game against Burton on Good Friday due to his commitments at youth level for the Welsh national team. The 19 year-old will wear the number 20 shirt during his time at Home Park.
The South West Peninsula League have given the go-ahead for Argyle to enter a side in the competition next season. The Greens will have to wait until the end of the current campaign to find out whether they will be competing in Division One East or West. That will largely depend on which clubs are promoted and relegated to and from the Premier Division. Argyle are looking into arranging a ground where they can play their home games.
Peter Hartley has called for patience for the last leg of Argyle's promotion push. Hartley said that whilst he appreciates the support that the Green Army have offered this season, he believed, like his manager, that the full-time boos were more than a little premature. Hartley opined: “I think we’re in a great position, to be honest. Obviously the fans would rather be in the play-off places, but teams that are looking over their shoulder are always looking behind them and, when you are chasing for something, the ball is always on your side of the court. I think we’ll be okay. I have always said I’d rather be chasing, than looking over my shoulder. We’re in a steady position; we’ve got a few good home games against top teams in the next couple of weeks; we’ve got to go to Portsmouth; we’ve got Cheltenham away next week, who are fighting for their lives. There are no easy games, but that’s football and it’s always like this at the end of the season. I didn’t think it was fair. I didn’t think we started well, but we knew what Newport were going to come and do in the first half and the first thing on our mind was to nullify what they are going to do and then move forward with our game. I think the fans are a bit agitated with the lack of goals in the last three or four games and getting beaten 2-0 off Dagenham, which wasn’t a great result. They have been great all season, but what the gaffer says, I have got to really agree with, because the boys have given everything out there and it showed in the second half.
“It’s not like we took our foot off the gas; we really dropped a gear and went to win that game, and it just wasn’t our day. We created maybe five or six chances to win the game in the second half. We are the home team; we have got to go and win the game; and that leaves us a bit vulnerable at the back. Games are going to be open like that and that suited us more than it suited Newport – they would quite happily have kept 11 men behind the ball – but we have got to try and win the game, get back in the play-offs. On another day, we could have maybe nicked it 2-0, like we did against Northampton and Cambridge, but we have got to move on; get our three points at Cheltenham next week; and get our fans behind us again. The fans pay their money and I want nothing more than to reward them at the end of the season, as does every single player in the dressing – and the gaffer. They have just got to be patient – we have got eight games left and it’s not like we are in a relegation battle; we are really pushing to get out of this league and I think we are in a fantastic position, so we really need them behind us.
John Sheridan praised an improved second half performance from his Plymouth Argyle team in which he feels they did enough to win the game. He was especially happy with the quicker tempo and the attacking intent that was shown. He surmised: “In the first half I thought we were okay but we just gave the ball away. Simple possession, simple passes and we’re giving the ball away cheaply. If you do that you will put yourselves under pressure. They were getting throw-ins in deep areas and we were conceding corners, so we were just putting ourselves under pressure. We were a bit edgy. I thought we could have kept possession better and it was just about our final pass. I said that to the lads. Bobby’s made an opportunity himself. It’s a good opportunity. Then there’s a ball he’s played across the box near the end that Dom Blizzard nearly reaches. We were sloppy on one or two occasions but I’m not going to fault their effort: they had a go. I like players who are brave, and we were brave in the second half. You have got to be brave, create more opportunities and try and get them on the back foot. I thought we did that a lot better in the second half and a lot better than what we did the other night. We left ourselves a bit vulnerable and they’ve had one or two opportunities, but we’re trying to win the game. I think our second half performance was really good. I am chuffed that the lads had a go. We are playing against a team who are in and around us, and they haven’t gained anything on us. It’s a massive game next week now and we have got to go and win it, but I can’t keep saying it. Luckily the other results were not too bad, but I told the players I thought it was a good performance even before I saw the other results. The second half performance was very good for me, and I don’t care what anyone tells me or what anyone thinks. That’s how I feel and I have told the players that. Hopefully they will take it into the game next week. I am going to stick up for them; I thought they were brilliant in the second half and that’s what I’m going to stick with, but we need to do it for 80 or 90 minutes against Cheltenham now.”
He also still thinks that Argyle will end the season in the play-offs despite the patchy run of form which has only seen the greens score once in the past six games: “We’ve got a great opportunity of getting in the play-offs, and once we’re in the play-offs if we get there, anything can happen. We could still be in League 1, and hopefully when we get to the Shrewsbury game we might be in the play-offs and we’ll be talking about it. I believe we will get in the play-offs. I really, really do. I know that it’s all about results and achieving something. I don’t want to finish tenth, ninth, or eighth. I targeted the play-offs from day one so I put myself under a bit of pressure, and I still believe we will.”
He went on to reveal that eleventh hour deals had fallen through for two loan targets who could have played for Argyle against Newport- but also that two more will be signed in time for the Cheltenham game this coming Saturday. He said: “I had them two all sorted and it was a last-minute decision from both players not to come. I am trying to bring in two players next week and have spoken to two clubs. I will definitely have two in before the deadline.”
Finally, he urged the green army to get behind the team for the remainder of the season and if they needed to direct any criticism to do so at him. This followed boos at both half-time and full-time in the Newport match. Sheridan fumed: “I need to say it: why do people boo the players at half time?” said John, after the match. “We’re one point outside the play-offs and the club hasn’t been anywhere for two or three years. Why don’t they get behind the team and support them? We didn’t play well in the first half but I’m sure applauding them instead of booing them, which all the players hear would be better. We’re in a good position. I want to win every game, me – I’m worse than probably any supporter. The players are the ones who need our support more than anyone. If we would’ve won at Dagenham, everybody would be saying we are on a great, great run. I can hear people slagging me off from the stands but I’m the manager: if we are not getting the results and they don’t think I am doing my job properly, they’re entitled to their opinion.
“People are shouting ‘I’m paying your wages’ but I’m not stupid: I do know that, and I really appreciate what the fans do. I don’t think booing the players will do them any good. They can boo me or have a go at me, but I would leave the players because they are the ones who are going to get us anywhere, if we want to get anywhere. I can take it but I am not playing. It affects the players more than anyone, not me, so I don’t know why they do it. We’ve got a great chance of getting in the play-offs so what’s the reason for it? Why don’t they applaud the performance in the second half as well? We’ve had a right go, and if we didn’t I’d accept it – I wouldn’t even bring this up. But they’ve had a right go, and I’ve just told them in there: ‘stick together and stay together.’ I am going to stick with the players and get behind them.
“We’re a point outside the play-offs so let’s just reflect on it,” said John. We haven’t played great again; we have been the best team in the division on some days, then the worst team in the division on others, and that’s part and parcel of being in League 2. I wish some people would understand where we are. The club hasn’t been anywhere for two or three years and really struggled. I do really find the negativity hard to take sometimes. I just don’t think it’s on because I think we’ve improved a hell of a lot, but we all know what we want: we want to get out of the bloody division, don’t we? That’s what we’re trying to do, but while you’re a point outside the play-offs, there’s no point booing the team.”
Peter Hartley revealed that he is currently playing through a pain barrier in order to line up for the greens. He said that in spite of having not one but two recurring injuries, getting the club into League One is the most important thing. Hartley: “I’ve got a few niggles – my knee and my hip – but I’ve got a full week to recover now, which is a good thing. Hopefully I’ll feel better next week, because I’m finding it quite difficult with three games in a week at this stage of the season. I don’t want to miss any games. I’m loving playing football at the minute; I think we’ve got a real chance to get out of this league and I want to be part of it. So, if I have to play through the pain barrier, that’s what I’m going to do. For being the home team, I thought we started quite slowly in the first half. We knew what Newport were going to offer – they are a big, physical, side. So, the first thing for the back three, or five, was to nullify their threat then move forward and try to get the early goal, which didn’t really happen. But, I’ve got to say, the way we came out in the second half and tried to win the game, I think we deserve a lot of credit. As a team, we have kept 19 clean sheets in 38 games; we have been solid as a team; we’ve been consistent. It’s not just the back three and Luke – it’s the whole team. It’s a great achievement. We have got to look at the positives and forget about the negatives. Dagenham’s gone; today’s gone; we have got to have a hard week’s training and push on to the Cheltenham game on Saturday.”
Argyle once again failed to score in a goalless contest against Newport County at Home Park. Both sides had chances to win the game and both sides had penalty appeals but ultimately neither of them found the back of the net. Both sides rise a position following Stevenage's defeat to Dagenham. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh, Hartley, Mellor, O'Connor(Blizzard), Bobby Reid, Lee(Banton), Holmes-Dennis, Reuben Reid, Alessandra. Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Norburn, Harvey, Brunt.
With the possibility of a re-vamp of the emergency loan system next season, John Sheridan has voiced some concerns about the effect that a change of the rules may have. Footballing governing bodies are discussing bringing in regulations that would limit the practise of signing players on short-term loan deals outside of transfer windows. Sheridan spoke about the unfortunate necessity that emergency loans are, saying: “I think it would affect us really badly. Any team that’s in the lower division – and I think any manager will tell you – you need that loan system. FIFA probably don’t think about the second division or the lower leagues, they’re just worried about the big boys unfortunately. That’s the way the game is going. Especially where we are based. People do not understand how difficult it is. We can talk about getting all these players five years ago when we were in the Championship. Believe me, there was a lot more money knocking about as well. If I was giving them double the money, they’d probably come here but it doesn’t work like that anymore. We try our best; I think our loan players have been really good for us and I think I’ve done really well in the loan market this season, but that’s just something we have to do. I don’t want loans, I want permanent players. I wish people would understand that. I don’t want to sign any loan players; I would love to have all my players as permanent. I see people are saying that I sign too many players but there’s not a lot I can do about it; if I’m after a player and he doesn’t want to come permanently, I probably won’t get him. But if there’s an advantage of me getting him on loan, obviously I’m going to do it if I feel the player is a good player.”
Five wins out of Argyle's final nine games would see them finish on 71 points. This is a figure that it almost always enough for a team to reach the League Two play-offs. John Sheridan believes that such a total would be enough. He said: "I know what we’ve got to win - we've probably got to win five games to make [the play-offs]," said John. "We’ve got a great opportunity to get in the playoffs and I’ve told them that. We want to, if we can, get to Wembley; want to, if we can, get out of this division. Because you might not get a better opportunity and that’s all I’ve got to keep telling them, starting this Saturday. I think we are better than last season and I really do think we’ll make the playoffs. There’s still an opportunity there and there’s still something to play for - and we’re going to give it our best shot. But, we’ve got to start winning games quickly because we’re running out."
Sheridan also revealed his awareness of the frightening statistic that Argyle have not won a game from a losing position in over two years. The last time Argyle did so, Irish duo Ronan Murray and Conor Hourihane netted to overturn a 1-0 deficit at home to Barnet in the 2012/13 relegation struggle. Sheridan: “That’s frightening. Listen, sometimes it’s a mentality of the player, sometimes it’s the manager’s fault for not changing the game quick enough and it’s a stat that I would never have thought of as being that long. I understood it was a long time but, you know, even during the game the other night, you go one-nil down and Reuben will take his chance and it changes the game. I’m sure we’ve had plenty of chances to win a game. I can remember a few games where we should have won even though we’ve gone behind. But to have not won a game in so long is a mentality of the players and obviously the manager – and I’ll put some of the blame on me – making substitutions at the right time. It’s not a stat that I think about too much, but it’s there and it’s something we’ve got to address and something we’ve got to do better with.”
John Sheridan is looking to make two more loan signing given the news that Drew Talbot has been recalled by Chesterfield and that Olly Lee is not available for Argyle's play-off campaign should they make it there. Sheridan described the types of player who he was looking to bring to Home Park: “I’m trying to bring a couple of players in at this moment in time. I was talking to a few people yesterday and I feel as though we need to bring one or two people in to just make us stronger and make players aware that there are people after your position for the final two months. I’ve offered for two players and just waiting to hear if they come back, it’s just down to the players. The clubs have agreed, I’ve agreed and the decision is down to the two players. Saturday’s probably a bit soon, but if we get a phone call in the next half an hour and they both say 'yes', then I would like to get them involved for Saturday. Drew played right-side midfield and I think we need someone with a bit of pace who’s going to disturb the opposition. I think we’ve been lacking that a little bit. Saying that, I think Jason came on and did okay the other night. I think we just need to disturb the opposition and do something a little bit different because I think the biggest downer for me is we can’t keep on defending and not conceding if we aren’t giving ourselves something to hold onto. I think it’s important I get a couple of players in just to cover us for the next two months until the end of May, possibly the play-offs.”
John Sheridan has said he has had to ask a lot of questions of his Argyle side following the disappointing 2-0 loss to Dagenham which was the second disappointing performance in a row on the road for Argyle. He said that if the greens wanted to go up, they could simply not afford such a low level of performance. Sheridan: “It was very disappointing again - the performance. I’ve just said to the players: for what we’re trying to achieve for the season, where we are and what’s at stake, I just think it was a very lethargic performance. We were lethargic on Saturday, as well. I’m picking the same players who have won games on the spin and beat Exeter and we know we are a good team – it’s more or less the same players. Considering where we are and we want to stay in the play-offs, it was a very lethargic performance. We’re in a great position as well – a great opportunity to try and get in the play-offs, first and foremost, and get out of this division. I said to them half-time: ‘how do we concede a goal like we did?’ Someone’s miss-kicked a ball when it should be 60 yards up the pitch. It goes out for a cheap throw-in and then someone tries to read the situation and beats himself – it’s not the player beating him – and it ends up in the back of the net. It’s a poor goal. I thought in the first half there was nothing between the two teams. I wasn’t worried but the goal affected the game and we have to come out and chase a little bit. We had bits of possession in the second half but not many attempts at goal. We just made silly, basic errors. I was disappointed with the way we played, because I definitely felt just watching the game that there was something there for us, if we wanted to kick on. I will always stick up for my players,” started John, “but you just can’t sometimes put in performances like that, especially with where we are. We know a win keeps us in the play-offs, but the performance didn’t really merit anything from the game. We have just got to get on to the next game and keep pushing away. There’s still games and there’s still time. It’s very hard to take and it’s a poor performance. I didn’t expect us to get no points from the game, but while there’s still a chance and a possibility I will try and stay focused, keep the players focused as much as I can and move on to the next game, which is Newport. They’re all important games. We’ve got something to play for but even if we were in the middle of the table, safe from relegation, I still want my players to out and want to win the game.”
He also said that there were no excuses or apologetics to be made for what was essentially a poor performance regardless of the circumstances, adding: “Drew was on the bus yesterday travelling. It was late and it is disappointing, obviously, because he has done really well while he’s been here. But we’ve got players who have been on the pitch this season and got good results, so they’re all good enough. They tell me they’re good enough. For what’s at stake, that’s not a performance from a team who are trying to get into the play-offs. I’ve played 70 games a season myself; I’d rather be playing all the time than be sitting and resting. I’d never want to be resting if I was a footballer. I’m not making that as an excuse – I’m not making any excuses. We should have come here and to Oxford and got something from both games. Before a ball was kicked I thought we would get something from both games, but we haven’t here, and the performances were not good enough. I’m the manager and I pick the players so I’ll take the blame. I’ll take the responsibility for us losing the game. People don’t want to hear me making excuses and apologising, and people are getting sick of me answering the same questions. We’ve got good supporters - a lot of supporters have come here today and it’s a poor performance. They must get so frustrated and they have to direct their anger at someone. They know what’s at stake and the importance of the game. I totally accept their disappointment.”
He did have an element of praise for one bright spark however. That being Tareiq Holmes-Dennis for his forward thinking attitude during the game for for never ducking out. Sheridan had the following compliments to give: “One thing I will say is about young Tareiq: I like young players who have got a good attitude. He never gave in, had a bit of desire about him, wanted to force himself in and win 50-50 challenges. He was going in and competing, and I hope some of the other players look at him and learn from a 19-year old. I just told him in there: ‘don’t change your attitude, because you’ll go far in the game with that attitude.’”
Argyle have lost 2-0 to Dagenham and dropped down to 9th in the table. Goals halfway through the first half and towards the end of the game secured three points for the home side in an insipid affair. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh, Hartley, Mellor, O'Connor(Blizzard), Bobby Reid, Lee(Brunt), Holmes-Dennis, Alessandra(Banton), Reuben Reid. Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Harvey.
Drew Talbot has been recalled by Chesterfield with immediate effect. The midfielder's loan spell at Home Park ended suddenly when he was on his way to tomorrow night's fixture at Dagenham & Redbridge.He was instead led to the Proact Stadium, where League 1 Chesterfield will host Gillingham on Tuesday.
Ironically, the news comes shortly after John Sheridan lauded him for his excellent performance on Saturday against Oxford. Sheridan had said that Talbot should be an example to the other players in the squad: “Drew’s had a good chance with a great strike. I think the biggest plus from the game for me was his performance. That’s what I want people to look at - just the way he trains – and they can learn off of him. That’s why he has played for so long in this division. He’s an excellent player for this division and the league above. He sets standards for himself and I wish one or two people would look at him, watch him and the things he does and how he prepares, because they will learn from him. Everyone thinks it is easy but it’s not, and he has worked hard to get where he is.”
River Allen has signed for Truro on a youth loan. The midfielder recently had a spell with Gosport Borough, and will now join up with the Cornish outfit until the end of the season.
John Sheridan praised a resolute performance from a defensive point of view in Argyle's 0-0 draw against Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium. He said that Argyle were unlucky not to score from Reuben Reid's first half opportunity and that the pitch impacted the performance. Sheridan said: “We have had one or two openings. It’s a great chance from Reuben – he’s done brilliantly to create the chance for himself and, if that goes in, it’s a different game. I don’t know how it stayed out. It’s a good ball from Kelvin Mellor and Reuben’s got across and done everything right, but it’s hit the bar and hit the post, bounces along the line and, unfortunately, it didn’t go in the net for us. I don’t think either keeper has had much to do. It was a really scrappy game. We defended well. There were one or two little moments and you expect mistakes when the pitch is bobbly and people are miskicking things. I don’t think they really created anything but, at the same time, I don’t think we did either. I was comfortable during the game – I didn’t think we were going to lose the game – but obviously we know the importance of three points. We battled hard and it’s another clean sheet. We battled to get something out of the game and it was important we didn’t lose. I felt we had a go and it was a solid performance. There were one or two players that were off their game but it is a point. Credit to the defence: the back five and Luke. They’ve kept another clean sheet. It’s a hard-earned point. It’s something from the game and it keeps us in the mix. It could be a good point in the end, and now we have to go to Dagenham. We’ll know the importance of trying to get three points, because getting four points from these two away games would be a good outcome."
Drew Talbot gave a similar assessment to that of his manager and added his awe at the support of the travelling supports, saying: “It’s always a tough place to come at this time of the season. We’ve not lost any ground today, which is great. It might be something you look back on at the end of the season and think it’s a good point. If you look at the Stevenage game, it was kind of similar – we were pushing and we got beat, so we made sure we weren’t going to concede and hopefully we could nick something. Pete and Carl gave me a bit of a reminder, saying: ‘If we are not going to score, let’s not concede’. Then, when Oxford cleared a chance at the end, you thought: ‘Not again’. But I thought, overall today, we looked quite comfortable. They had a couple of good chances but so did we. So maybe, all in all, point’s a fair result. In a match of few opportunities for either side, Argyle came closest to taking all three points just before half-time, when Reuben Reid’s header following a cross by Kelvin Mellor hit both post and crossbar before being cleared. I looked over at the linesman, hoping the flag was up. It was unlucky. He was in the right place and, as long as a he keeps doing that, a couple will drop for us.”
Of the fans he added: “It’s awesome. Obviously I’ve never been involved with Plymouth, so seeing the fans travel as they do…It’s a long way; it took us four-and-a-half hours to get here. They’ve spent their money and travel in groups and it gives us a boost to see them at the end of the game. It’s nice, and we’re thankful for that. It’s going to be tough – a Tuesday night down there. We know what it’s like down at Dagenham; it’s always a tough game, no matter when you play them. But we’re going to go there full of confidence, knowing we’ve not lost in two now. Fingers crossed we can go and give a good account of ourselves and come away with the points. They travel brilliantly on a Tuesday, so fair play – some of them have probably got work the morning after that! As long as they stick with us, we will try our best, so fingers crossed we can reward them at the end of the season.”
John Sheridan has confirmed that Reuben Reid's training schedule has been altered due a recurrent foot injury that has been bothering him all season. The manager revealed: “He hasn’t trained at all for two weeks, so he’s just been a bit sore. He didn’t train all last week and played, then didn’t train this week and played again. He trained a little bit yesterday but just in a practice game. You can see that there is a bit of sharpness taken away from him. Hopefully the adrenaline of the game just gets him through, but he has been feeling it. Reuben’s got to have his sharpness, for me, but he’s played two games now and there’s another game on Tuesday. We’ll see how everyone is and hopefully we’ll get a strong team out to win us the game.”
Argyle gained a point at Oxford this afternoon in a goalless stalemate, with the very poor pitch the winner. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh, Hartley, Mellor, Talbot, Bobby Reid (Lee), O'Connor, Holmes-Dennis, Alessandra (Banton), Reuben Reid (Brunt). Non-playing subs: Bittner, Purrington, Blizzard, Harvey. |date|13 Mar 2015
James Brent has admitted being the owner and chairman of Plymouth Argyle is not a popularity contest. Brent stated he and his boardroom colleagues at Home Park would always take decisions in the best interest of the League Two club, and if that meant criticism came their way from fans, Brent insisted they would 'take that on the chin'. I don't think there is one club in English football where the fans wouldn't say they would like a greater involvement in the decision-making. "I have said from day one the fans, as a group, will always be there and we are temporary custodians of the club. There is always going to be some conflict between what the fans want and what we, as custodians, think is right for the club. The onus sits on us as directors to do the right thing, even if it's not popular to do it. As long as I'm involved, we will absolutely in good faith, in the best interest of the club, take the action we think is right.If we are criticised for it, we will take that on the chin. That is the job of being a director. Being a director is not being a politician, where you want to be popular with everyone. It's focusing on your responsibilities to the club in this instance, and making sure you do it right." Brent's background as an Old Etonian and ex-banker in the City of London has been attacked by some critics, especially online and in social media circles. He said: "There will always be part of the social media world that will have a bias, and I get that and I understand it. You have to live with it – it's part of our society."
Meanwhile, Brent has explained why he is against the reintroduction of artificial pitches in the Football League. There was a possibility that plastic playing surfaces could have been allowed in the Leagues One and Two from the start of next season, but a majority of clubs – including Argyle – voted against it last month. Brent said: "I have spoken to different managers, and indeed different chief executives, about artificial pitches and a minority seem to say they have improved to an extent where they are acceptable. But the majority I have certainly spoken to like the variability of grass." Argyle's recent defeat on a terrible pitch at Stevenage had not swayed opinion at Home Park
Argyle boss John Sheridan feels it will be a miracle if defender Peter Hartley manages to avoid a ban for reaching 10 yellow cards. The centre-back must go the next seven games without receiving another booking or he will serve a two-game suspension. "I don't want him to miss any games but it'll be a miracle if he can stay away from being booked. You go so far into the season and I think it should take 15 bookings for a central defender (to be banned)."
Loanee wing-back Tareiq Holmes-Dennis is optimistic about the chances of qualifying for the League Two play-offs. Holmes-Dennis had a three-month loan spell with Oxford from Charlton Athletic earlier this season so is relishing the prospect of returning there. However John Sheridan will not be seeking any inside information on tomorrow's opponents. “Obviously, Tareiq was there on loan and did well for them. I think he’s looking forward to trying to win the game for Plymouth. But I won’t be asking him for any information about Oxford. I know enough about them myself.”
Argyle striker Deane Smalley has received a boost in his recovery from a serious knee injury. Smalley has been told he is making good progress after an operation to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament three days before Christmas. He suffered the injury in the final training session before Argyle's 3-0 defeat away to Sheffield United in the FA Cup second round on December 6 and had been set to start the game at Bramall Lane until he hurt his knee. It is possible the former Oxford United striker could be sidelined at the start of the 2015/16 season as a result of his injury. But, at least for now, there are encouraging signs Smalley will make a full recovery. Argyle manager John Sheridan told Herald Sport: "He went to see the specialist last week for an update and everything is going fine. It's still early days but the specialist was well pleased. Smalley is working really hard in the gym all the time. It's difficult when you are injured because you are isolated and you have to do things on your own while all the lads are laughing and joking and going out to play and train."
While Smalley is still some way from a return to action, another Argyle striker – Matt Lecointe – has finally made his comeback from a long-term knee injury. It came as a second half substitute in the Pilgrims' 3-1 win away to Bristol City in the Final Third Development League Cup on Tuesday. The 20-year-old had suffered his knee injury in pre-season, which came after he sat out the whole of 2013/14 because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Sheridan said: "He's biting at the bit. He came on (against Bristol City) and was buzzing, and could have scored a couple of goals."|date|12 Mar 2015
Argyle will likely welcome the return of Olly Lee for the away game against Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday. The on-loan Birmingham City midfielder completed his three-match suspension after a red card in the 3-1 win at Exeter City last month, and returned to Home Park earlier in the week on an extended loan. His chance of a starting berth on Saturday increased following Lee Cox ruling himself out of a game against his old loan club, at the Kassam Stadium because of a stomach muscle strain, picked up the injury in the first half of Argyle's 3-1 win away to Bristol City in the Final Third Development League Cup on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile Liverpool's former Argyle youth-team prospect Lloyd Jones, has completed a move to Accrington Stanley on a one-month loan. Jones had a six-game stint with another League Two club, Cheltenham Town, earlier this year. The centre-back will go straight into Stanley's squad for their away game against promotion-chasing Burton Albion on Saturday.
James Brent and the city council have both given an update on the state of play regarding the potential re-development at Higher Home Park. Both parties re-iterated their determination to work together and find a solution. Brent said: “It’s very disappointing that work hasn’t started on it, and it’s disappointing the commercial scheme that would have funded it isn’t viable if Bretonside takes place. But we are meeting with the council on a regular basis and I think those meetings are in good faith. There are three options. One, Bretonside doesn’t happen and the commercial scheme at Home Park happens. Two, Bretonside happens and we work out an alternative way with the council of funding the grandstand. And, three, the grandstand doesn’t happen. The council is keen to see the new grandstand built. I think there is genuine enthusiasm there. Unfortunately, enthusiasm doesn’t build grandstands, so there is work to be done. The grandstand is critical to sustainable football in the Championship, but I do think the Higher Home Park development goes much further than the football club alone. The city is crying out for high quality hotel accommodation and conference facilities. We have events that are happening in Exeter which should be happening in Plymouth because we don’t have conference facilities and so on. The council has put £50m into the Life Centre, which was a massive investment, and I have heard very few people challenge the wisdom of that after the event. It has been a huge success and it is missing the development next door. We have made half the investment and the other half should follow in my view.
“The commercial development at Higher Home Park will only happen if Bretonside does not. If Bretonside happens, the commercial development as currently envisaged can’t go ahead. But, as I say, there are good faith conversations progressing with the council. They want to see the grandstand built. I think the council can understand the benefit to the city of both a successful football team and the conference facilities that would be brought to the business community. We haven’t, between us, got a solution as we speak but we are trying.”
A council representative added: “The City Council recognises the economic, community and reputational benefits to the city of having a thriving club in the Football League. This is why it has provided extensive support for Plymouth Argyle over the years, aimed at helping it put itself on a sound financial footing and being in control of its own destiny. We support the concept of developing a new grandstand that includes additional facilities to provide an income stream that will help the club get in a stronger financial position in the future. However, any potential support the Council might consider must be good use of public finances, not least due to the serious challenges the Council faces as a result of government cuts, as well as not exposing the club to financial risk that might threaten its future viability. It is not for the council to dictate to developers what schemes are put forward or not. Our well established planning policy framework sets out where developments would be acceptable and where they would not be.”
Olly Lee's return to Home Park for the remainder of the standard league season has been confirmed. He has now completed the three match ban for his sending off against Exeter last month and has once again linked up with the Greens. He will meet up with his teammates for the Final Third Development League game at Bristol City on Tuesday alongside recovering Matt Lecointe. He will not however be available for the play-offs.
Reuben Reid may not have scored on Saturday but John Sheridan has said that he always values his contribution to the team. The manager gave praise by saying: "Reuben has been out for two weeks and I think you could see he hasn't trained. The game won't have done Reuben any harm. He wasn't at his best but the good thing about Reuben is the opposition are always wary of him. That's what he gives us."
John Sheridan is a perfectionist and still found room for improvement following Argyle's 2-0 win over Northampton yesterday. In particular, he felt that Argyle could have kept the ball better in the second half and not invited the visitors onto them so much. He surmised the second half by saying: “Because of the importance of the game, and you’re playing a team in really good form. I just felt as though we could’ve seen the game out a little bit easier – not that they’ve had many chances. I just thought they were controlling the game without really hurting us. I would’ve liked to effect the game a little bit more. We had the one-goal lead, and I felt as though if we were a little bit braver on the ball, we could’ve caused them more problems in the second half. I think it’s just a case of switching the play and taking care of the ball. When we did that, I thought we caused them lots of problems.”
It was far from all bad however, with Sheridan having a lot of positive things to say- not least of all about Argyle's first goal: “He’s got a good strike on him - I think he should be shooting or having attempts on goal more. I think Bobby should’ve scored just before he set Anthony up. We’ve switched play and been patient and it’s a great ball in from Kelvin Mellor. I think Bobby should score with the volley at the back post, but he’s kept control of it, he’s patient and picked Anthony out. It’s a good strike from Anthony. You get the first goal and it gives you something to hang on to and I think, with our tempo in the first half, we played well.“I’ve said before: the most important thing is three points. It was a good, solid performance, and we need a few of them. We don’t have to play great – as long as we get three points, that’s the most important thing. That’s all it is about now: picking up three points from each game. I’ve seen the results today and you just don’t know who’s going to beat who. I’m only bothered about us, and it’s a big win today against a form team who have only lost one of their last eleven games. They were a strong and organised team and we had to work hard. The fans were good and carried us through.”
Anthony O'Connor has revealed his delight at scoring his first goal for Plymouth Argyle and gave the reason for displaying a superman jersey in the celebration following his goal. He also went on to talk about the greens' general performance during the game, which he was happy with. The Irishman said: “I’ve been saying to the lads: ‘I can play anywhere – I’m Superman’, but the main thing is that I’ve got a little boy at home and I’d like to think I’m like Superman to him. That was the main reason. I’ve been telling the lads for a few weeks that the goal is coming. Thankfully, I’ve got it today and it’s got me off the mark, but the most important thing is the three points. We’ve all worked hard as a team. The goal is a nice feeling – it’s my first career goal. The first ten minutes of the game was the worst ten minutes I’ve had. I gave the ball away a few times and I was thinking: ‘What’s going on?’ It’s a strange game – five minutes later, I pop up with the goal. It settled me down. I remember getting the ball off Tareiq Holmes-Dennis and hitting a good diag to Kelvin Mellor, and Kelvin went on a little run. Next thing I knew, the ball came into the box; Bobby’s tried a shot and didn’t connect with it. He’s had the composure to put his foot on the ball and obviously seen me on the edge. As he sent it back, I just put my foot through it and caught it sweetly. The second I hit it, I knew the ’keeper wasn’t getting anywhere near it.
“It’s in my game to be tackling, so yellow cards are going to come. This was a stupid booking but it was my first career goal. It was a good ball from Drew into Lewi, who gave a dummy to the defender and the ’keeper and just slotted it away. That’s what Lewi is all about – those clever little touches – and it settled us down. We knew then we were going to go on to win the game. We are happy with the win. Northampton were a side on the up – they’ve had quite a lot of good results in the past few weeks – so we knew it was going to be a tough game. They are one of our rivals, challenging for that play-off spot. So it was nice to get the win and three points.”
Argyle have returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Northampton. The game was notable for the first ever goal in professional football for Anthony O'Connor who opened the scoring with a fine strike just before the half-hour mark. Both sides had their spells in the second half but it was Argyle who put the ball in the net, killing the game off with Lewis Alessandra's composed finish. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh(Blizzard), Hartley, Mellor, O'Connor, Bobby Reid, Talbot, Holmes-Dennis, Reuben Reid(Brunt), Alessandra(Banton). Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Cox, Harvey.
John Sheridan spoke about the attention to detail that has taken place following Argyle's loss against Stevenage on Tuesday and gave special attention to corners- warning Argyle to be more wary of the counter attack. He said: “It’s about doing the little things right on the pitch,” John explained. “It’s like us taking throw-ins; we are a professional club and we’ve got some good, good players but I’m watching the throw-ins on Tuesday night against Stevenage and I’ve counted six, seven throw-ins in the final third where we lost possession on every throw. I’ve probably mentioned throw-ins ten times this season, but you shouldn’t be doing things like that. You should be keeping possession from a throw. We ended up giving possession away and defending from a throw-in in the final third which is, sometimes, very naïve and people should realise it’s an important part in creating a goal. We’re taking a corner - and no-one has to tell me - but nine times out of ten you don’t score from a corner. Some people are thinking, ‘well, what’s he talking about?’, but I’m thinking some player should be switched on and thinking ‘the ball is going to come out’. You should be organised and set-up for the ball coming out. If we score, it’s a massive bonus for us. But when I was a midfielder, I expected the ball to come out so I was always ready to get back into position and carry on playing. We didn’t do that and that’s why we had the goal against us.”
Drew Talbot said that whilst the past two matches have been disappointing in more ways than one, there is still plenty enough time for Argyle to turn their fortunes around starting with the home match against Northampton tomorrow. Talbot gave the following assessment of Argyle's past week: “It’s frustrating, but these things happen and it is up to us to rectify that and stop the rot. We had not conceded in three or four games and it is unusual how we have conceded in the last three games, so it is maybe getting back to basics and concentrating on that a bit more. I don’t think we’ve played that badly: Bury, we weren’t happy with, but, at Stevenage, we thought we did alright; it was just a sloppy goal, for whatever reason. We probably should have taken a point. We did a short corner and, before you know it, there’s three or four Stevenage players breaking on one Argyle player. Sometimes, you have to accept we might not win a game and take the point; if we’d come away from Stevenage with a point, we would have stopped the rot of losses. It’s instinct sometimes. Things just happen in a game. It’s easy afterwards, looking back at DVDs and saying we should have done this or that – you make your decision at the time and, obviously over the last two or three games, it’s not worked out for us.
“There is a gap appeared but – we were talking about this the other day – they will probably not win all their games so, if we can get on a good run like we did before, we will rope a few of those back in and give us more of chance to get in a couple of play-off places. There’s 12 games left; we’ll stick together and try to grind results out. At this time of the season, it doesn’t matter how you play – our thoughts are just on the results, which is more important.”
Talbot was also wary of the threat of Kelvin Mellor to the first team, knowing that he had to play to his best every game to remain in the side: “I am having to play consistently as best as I can because I know that, if I’m not, nobody is indispensable and the gaffer will pull me put and put Kelvin back in. I think he’ll be looking at that. I’m lucky to have got in the team – Kelvin is a great player and it’s up to me to be on the ball to keep him out of the team. Before I came, I watched him a couple of times on TV and was quite impressed with him. Some of the lads have mentioned he had an injury and it probably slowed him down a little bit, so maybe the gaffer thought it was right to change it.”
Finally, John Sheridan now admits that the three automatic promotion spots are now probably beyond Argyle. However, he still believes that we are in a very good position to make the play-offs. He stated: "It's very tight, and I can see it going right to the wire, I really can. We are still in a decent position to get in the play-offs. A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking probably top three but now, in my eyes, I would like to see the top three running away with it if I'm being honest and the others fighting for the play-offs. I want the top three winning games and beating other teams, but we have just got to look after ourselves. We have got to try to get back to winning ways. Even against Bury, if we had scored the first goal we could have possibly won the game, but we didn't. It was an ugly game the other night at Stevenage but I thought we coped with it well. We should definitely have got a point and we possibly could even have gone on and won it, but we didn't. We conceded a sloppy goal and got nothing from the game. Northampton are a strong outfit and I said they would be one of the teams who would come out of the pack. They are on a good run and I like Chris Wilder, he's a good manager. We are both fighting for the same thing. I have said to the players it's important that we bounce back from two poor results and get back to winning ways. I know we can beat any team on our day, and that's what I'm going to keep telling the players. I'm not bothered who we play now. Every game is going to be hard – they are all fighting for something. Whoever you play, it's always difficult. It's a very evenly-matched division. I expect a tough game against Northampton. They are strong and organised but, if we are on our game, I expect us to win."
After a positive Argyle performance full of opportunities to win the match, John Sheridan has admitted their 1-0 loss to Stevenage is difficult to accept. He was very pleased with Argyle's all round performance and urged his charges to dust themselves off before Saturday's crunch match against Northampton: “I felt we dealt with the game. They’re a difficult team to play against, with the way they play. We’ve had some good opportunities; Bobby should score when he hits the bar. It was a horrible game on a horrible pitch. It was really slow, and Stevenage slow it down. I thought we dug in and we had a good go. The pitch is shocking, and there were one or two little mistakes where it was difficult to control the ball, but I think we nullified them. They are decent and they are strong at home. I think there was one long ball that went over us but, other than that, I was really comfortable with how the game was going.
“Obviously with them scoring so late in the game, I don’t think we deserved to lose the game. No way. It’s hard to take, because I thought it was a decent performance. There’s no way, I felt, that we should’ve lost the game. It’s just really disappointing that we didn’t end up getting anything from the game. It was an ugly game and we dealt with it, but we have been beaten. There are no excuses; we have just got to stick together and try and get a result quickly, get on a little run and just stay in there. It’s really tight and there’s still a possibility than we can be where we want to be, but we’re making life difficult after a really good run. Two defeats on the spin is not something we thought would happen, but it has, and now we have got to pick ourselves up and get a result on Saturday.”
Sheridan was not so pleased with the manner of Stevenage's goal and he slated Argyle's 'criminal' defending, saying: “The criminal thing about it is that it’s from our corner. It’s pathetic. You can’t just switch off – it’s from our corner, so it is criminal how they end up scoring a goal from it, and that’s just about people talking and being switched on. Usually when you have a corner it will come out, and you’re lucky if you score. Most of the time it comes out so you have to be ready for it. It’s spoiled what I thought was a decent performance. You can’t do that, and it’s criminal, the way we’ve conceded the goal.”
Finally, Sheridan had positive words to give about the cameo appearance of Jason Banton. He made a point of complimenting his pace, saying: “I thought Jason came on and gave us a bit of a lift and some sharpness and we were unfortunate not to score a goal ourselves. I’m pleased for him. I thought that with his pace he was just getting in behind a bit more than Brunty was. He came on and showed me that he was trying to get involved and trying to affect the game. That’s what I wanted him to do. He gave us a bit of a spark when he came on and I’m pleased he did okay, but it’s about the result at the end of the day, and we haven’t got the result we wanted.”
Argyle suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat at Stevenage with a counter attack goal in the 89th minute following an Argyle corner. The game had been on a knife-edge until then with both teams having opportunities to score. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh, Hartley, Talbot, O'Connor, Bobby Reid(Cox), Blizzard, Holmes-Dennis, Brunt(Banton), Alessandra. Subs: Bittner, Mellor, Purrington, Norburn, Harvey.
After a successful February, Argyle have had a nominee for the Player and Manager of the month awards. John Sheridan was nominated after Argyle picked up the most points per game out of any side in the league and Alessandra's 3 goals in consecutive winning games contributed towards his nomination.
Jamie Richards has extended his loan spell with Dartford until the end of the season, as the side fight relegation from the conference. The 20-year-old defender has played three games for the Darts so far since joining them a month ago, and is yet to be on the losing side.
Carl McHugh is gutted that February ended on a sour note with a loess to Bury but is insistent that Argyle will go again, starting with the visit to the Lamex Stadium to face Stevenage tomorrow. McHugh said: “We got four wins to get ourselves back in it; it’s a shame that Saturday didn’t go for us and we didn’t get the result we wanted. These are important games, and that is why Saturday was bitterly disappointing. They jumped above us in the table. That is why we have to go again on Tuesday; it will be a really tough game again, but we have to get back to winning ways, like we have done recently. We have got ourselves in a decent position, though and we are in the final straight. We need to kick on for the rest of the season and get the points in.
"It’s really exciting. You would far rather be in this position than struggling, or being in mid-table with nothing to play for. Everyone just has to stick together. It probably isn’t going to be plain sailing, but we will try and enjoy it. The players will be doing their best to get the results to get us to where we want to be.”
John Sheridan was disappointed to see his Argyle side lose 2-0 to a Bury side similar to ourselves in terms of quality and ambition. He did say however that he was pleased with the way Argyle performed, especially leading up to Bury's goal against the run of play: “In the first half, even though we probably created one or two better chances, I thought Bury were probably the better team possession-wise. But I was pleased with the way we came out in the second half. I thought we were well on top of the game, and the goal has just knocked us back, really. We were creating good chances,” said John. “Whether Lewi’s goal is offside, I don’t know. I have been told it wasn’t. If we would have scored when we were on top in the second half, the game would have been a totally different story. We were on top and created good chances, but you just need one of them to go in. I don’t think we played all that well today, but if we scored first I do believe we would’ve won the game. Obviously it is a disappointing result. I don’t think there was a lot between the two teams. We tried, and there was no lack of effort, but we didn’t really create any openings. I just felt as though we were doing the wrong things at the wrong time and not switching play, trying to disturb them. Bury were set up, they were solid and they have got one or two decent players. There was nothing between the two sides apart from the result. It’s hard to take as well when you are on top, then they have their first attack, really, and you’re 1-0 down, but that’s life. We have to take the result on the chin, but the disappointing thing is that it is against a team similar to ourselves, who are in the same position. Results haven’t gone our way today, so we just have to pick ourselves up.”
Sheridan also said that he hoped that Saturday was the only game that leading goalscorer Reuben Reid would have to miss, revealing the circumstances of the injury that caused his to miss the game: “He tried it again this morning - he had an injection and felt really good on Thursday. We didn’t feel as though there was going to be a problem with him, but he was a bit tender. Paul Atkinson the physio felt that it would be better if he didn’t play today. We’ll assess him, and he’ll have the rest of the weekend to recover before hopefully travelling on Monday. We’ll see how he is. Obviously Reuben is our leading goal-scorer,” said John, “and I think it gives the opposition a little lift when they don’t see him on the team sheet. I am not thinking that we have lost the game because Reuben hasn’t played. The lads gave me a lot of effort. We have been playing well but we just didn’t really get going today. I thought we were a bit slow and lethargic for some reason. It’s the first time I have changed my team in four or five weeks but I don’t want to look at that.”
Lewis Alessandra shared the viewpoint of his manager that a player of Reuben's quality up front will always be missed, adding that the Pilgrims need to bounce back on Tuesday night at Stevenage. The forward said: It’s just a blip. If you said that, in the next five games, we’ll win four and lose one, you’d probably take that. We look to go on another little run now – we’re fully capable of doing it and, the good things is we’ve got another game in three and a half days to try and put today’s loss right. It was frustrating, but it’s football for you. In the first half, I thought Bury were the better team; they had more of the ball. We found ourselves, at times, just sort of lumping it. We went in at the break 0-0 and came out with a better tempo and put our stamp on the game. I thought we were the better team. We playing some good stuff and getting the ball high up the pitch in the final third, and I thought: ‘We’re going to go on to win this game because we’re in the ascendency.’
“Then they went down the other end, a good counter from them, a good cross and the lad’s found himself a bit of space in the box, and it’s a good header. It really took the stuffing out of us. I felt a bit sorry for Brunty. Because you see him as a big frame, big stature, you sort of, maybe subconsciously, use that as a get-out, but obviously the lad he was up against was a monster, as well. We all wanted Reuben fit, but you can’t magic him fit. It’s one of those things. It was too painful to play. I know Rubes – he gets through quite a lot and looks after his body when he does suffer. If he could have played, he would have played. It’s a shame, and we hope he gets fit as soon as possible. We did miss him – you are going to miss a player of Reuben’s quality but, when someone’s injured, it gives someone else a chance. Ryan’s done well, of late, when he comes on; obviously he scored in the Cambridge game and out us on our way there. He has been really good in training, as well. I thought: ‘I’ll put it in the net, just in case.’ Nelse was screaming at me to leave it to go out for a corner, but I’m a striker, I’m not going to do that. We know what we’re in for,” said Lewi. “They are big solid, organised team, the way their manager has them set up, so we’re under no illusions how tough Tuesday night is going to be. We’ll have to go there; stand up and be counted as men; match them in the battle first and foremost; and hope that a bit of our quality shines through and we get the breaks on the night.”
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