A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Derek Adams expressed his disappointment with Argyle's performance on the biggest stage at Wembley, claiming that the Pilgrims simply were not good enough. Adams stated frankly: “We didn’t perform well enough today; we didn’t pass the ball; we weren’t composed enough at times when we had possession. It’s a huge disappointment to come here and not show people what we can do. It’s a disappointment from the two Portsmouth games, where we played with a tempo and style that we have done all season; today, we didn’t. We didn’t perform well enough today; we didn’t play as well as we could do. But take nothing away from Wimbledon – they had more opportunities than us; they’ve been able to be in our final third, have more corner-kicks. We had more possession in the game, but that doesn’t really matter; the only thing that matters is goals. I’m disappointed not to have won. It wasn’t an exciting game and we probably played into Wimbledon’s hands. We probably hit too many longer-hit passes; we didn’t do well enough in the final third; and we didn’t trouble their goalkeeper enough. We didn’t do well enough when we had possession of the ball. I didn’t think we played with a tempo that was really going to hurt Wimbledon today.
We could go on and on; we didn’t perform well enough, one to eleven; we didn’t do well enough collectively, a whole team performance. We didn’t pass the ball well enough; we didn’t open up Wimbledon in the wider areas or through the middle.
“We have come a long way. As I’ve said many times, we’ve been working with a threadbare squad of 14 players throughout the season and it’s testimony to the players that we have been able to get here. We have had a lot of loan signings over the season to accompany what we have had and we’re delighted to be here today, but we’re obviously hugely disappointed that we haven’t won.”
The Argyle squad applauded AFC Wimbledon onto the pitch as they lifted their play-off winning trophy after the game yesterday. Adams explained the decision to do so and philosophically reflected on the good things his side had done this season, saying: “Of course it’s going to hurt but it’s out of respect. You have got to respect your opponents and they have been able to come here and win the match and get to League 1. I would have expected anyone else to do that for us.
“We have taken the supporters on a fantastic journey this season. They are going to go home very disappointed tonight. We thank them for their support, not just today, but throughout the season; it shows you what a great city Plymouth is, being able to take so many people to London. It’s testimony to both clubs that there were 57,000 people at the game today and it’s fantastic for League 2. We are dealing with one of the finest football clubs in England – you don’t take 35,000 people to Wembley if you don’t have that. We have put a lot of pride into Plymouth Argyle this season and hopefully that can continue.”
Jamille Matt's loan spell at Argyle may well have expired but the popular strike has said that Argyle are his 'first choice' for his destination next season following his release from Fleetwood Town. He spoke highly of his time at the club: "My agent's looking after things at the minute. I said if Argyle came in and were happy to keep me, it's something I would seriously consider. They're top of my list, but if I'm honest I told my agent to keep everything away from me because I wanted to focus on these games. At the minute, if Argyle came in, that's the team.
"I'm bitterly disappointed for the fans and all the support they've shown, I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here, it's been some of the best times I've had in football," he said after yesterday's play-off final loss. I was at a low point when I came down and the fans made me feel unbelievable. It's the most welcome I've ever felt at a club. I'm just desperately gutted I couldn't return the favour and get promotion for them, because that's what they deserve.
"That's my lowest point in football. My highest was probably a couple of weeks ago against Portsmouth. We've got a couple of weeks now to pick ourselves before pre-season. It's good to bottle this hurt up and learn from it, so whenever you're going through a tough patch next season, you use that hurt to get you through."
Graham Carey said that he was gutted with Argyle's performance and result at Wembley and took both personal and collective responsibility for the failure. Carey said: "It's gutting. At the end of the day the best team won on the day, so congratulations to Wimbledon. On the day they earned it. They deserved it. They played better than us in the second half. The first half was even, but when it mattered, they scored a goal. It was only right as a team and as a club to applaud them and congratulate them. I wasn't good enough today. I didn't get on the ball enough in threatening areas, so I'm pretty disappointed in my own performance as well as a team, we're disappointed as well. "We want to win the league next season. That's our aim. As a club we wanted to get promoted this season, but next season we want to win the league."
Gregg Wylde held similar sentiments and added that he would like to remain an Argyle player for next season and possibly beyond: "I have enjoyed every single minute of it. I think on and off the park I have made some good friends as well. I have said to my family I would like to get something sorted, maybe longer, to stay down here. I have met a lot of good people and the supporters have been great to me. It's a difficult one to take but I think we need to dust ourselves down and go on again next season. I thought we let the support down a wee bit, but thanks to them for coming in their numbers. It was fantastic. It was very quiet in the dressing room afterwards but like the gaffer said 'we go again next season' and maybe go one step better."
Reuben Reid expressed the view that injuries cost Argyle promotion this season and indeed his chances of impressing on a personal level. A disappointed Reid mused: "My season has been a write-off from the start. I had surgery in the summer on my foot and, all season, I've been playing catch-up. I'm experienced now enough that I won't let that happen again," he continued. I had the sutures in my foot for pre-season, they came out a week later and I was expecting my body to cope with it. I've ended up picking up strains because I've not been prepared for the regime we've got at Plymouth. It's flat out work all the time, everyone knows how important a pre-season is. For me to come back straight after surgery, without preparing for the pre-season, I've played catch-up the whole season. It's hard to take. I'm going to feel it in the morning. I'm alright at the moment but I think when I wake up tomorrow I'm going to feel it.
"Obviously it's a huge disappointment. It's a long season and then a one-off game, win and you get promoted, and to be honest we didn't turn up. It is what it is. Extremely disappointed, but you can't change anything now. Congrats to Wimbledon obviously. They got into the play-offs and got the job done. At the end of the day injuries have cost us automatic promotion - simple as that. From the start, our squad, we were flying. Key players got injured throughout, and after the Christmas period we weren't quite the same team. We managed to get in the play-offs and take it to a one-off game situation with a massive following, and we expected to win the game. So it's hugely disappointing, but throughout the season, if everyone stays fit and you ride your luck with injuries, I think we would get in the top three quite comfortably.
"I'm just hugely disappointed for the lads as the fans, really,. As I said to Curtis Nelson the skipper, we've been here in the days: I've been playing the last game of the season here nearly dropping out of the Football League, getting a result away to Rochdale. You don't often get a squad like this where everyone bounces off each other. Everyone's cool in there together. This is football: the squad will break up. That's football, especially at this level. So that's the most disappointing thing."
Argyle's retained/released list has not yet been announced but two departures from the club have been made certain already. Josh Simpson and Callum Hall have announced on social media that they have no future at Argyle. Simpson, after 28 appearances since signing last summer, said on Twiiter: "Yesterday was a very disappointing end to the season and am gutted we couldn't get over the line. "It's the worse feeling in the world to lose at Wembley but shouldn't take away from what's been a great season for the club. Unfortunately my time is up at Plymouth Argyle and I just wanna thank everyone associated with the club. The love and support shown towards myself, Laura and the kids since we arrived last summer has been fantastic. I hope the club go one further next year and am sure will get the success you deserve. Due to a minor setback in my rehab I was gutted I couldn't contribute in the remaining games of the season but I am looking forward to my next venture and the next chapter of my career next season. So thanks again to all my team-mates, coaches, medical team, directors, backroom staff and fans for what has been a fantastic adventure at Home Park. Once a Janner . . ."
Teenage midfielder Hall who never played for the club meanwhile took to Instagram to say goodbye: "Just like to thank everyone at Plymouth Argyle for everything they have done for me during my time at the club. It's been a huge honour. Unfortunately my time here has come to an end but I have loved every minute. Memories I will never forget. I have been privileged to be part of such an amazing squad. All the lads have always been so supportive and a pleasure to play with. Wish everyone the best for next season! #pafc".
Argyle will remain in League Two next season after a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to AFC Wimbledon at Wembley. The match was goalless until the 78th minute when a Lyle Taylor finish took the lead for the Dons. Argyle could not find an equaliser and late into stoppage time, Jordon Forster gave away a penalty. Adebayo Akinfenwa duly converted with his last touch for the Dons and Argyle's dreams were sunk. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley(Forster), Sawyer, McHugh, Boateng, Jervis(Tanner), Carey, Wylde(Reid), Matt. Subs: Dorel, Purrington, Harvey, Houghton.
Argyle's players today left Home Park for Wembley stadium for tomorrow's play-off final, seen off by dozens of the Green Army. The team will stay in London tonight before tomorrow's make or break game.
Graham Carey reiterated his belief that Argyle's fitness over a long period of time won them the game against Portsmouth in the play-off semi-finals and wants the same to happen again against Wimbledon in the final on Sunday. Carey said: "We knew it was going to be a tough turnaround with there being so little rest time in between the first and second legs of the semi-final. We knew we would be the stronger team coming into the second leg because of the amount of running we did on the track at the start of the season. The longer the game went on that kind of showed. I think everyone could see we were getting more and more dominant. As a group of lads we stuck together and got the job done.
"I was just doing my job really. We knew they were vulnerable at the back post. I put the ball into a great area and Pete made a run. He got a bit of luck but I think it was nothing we didn't deserve because we had hit the post and the 'keeper made a great save a few minutes before. The goal was coming. It was just a matter of when," added the former St Mirren and Ross County midfielder. Even if it went to extra-time I think we were the stronger, fitter team. I'm not taking anything away from Portsmouth. They were a great team and technically really good. They caused us a lot of problems and made a lot of chances themselves, but I think it was a fitting way to end a great tie.
"It's going to be a great day but if we don't get the job done it's going to be a waste. I think the amount of fans we have all over the country, not just in the south west, is unbelievable. That shows in the amount of fans we get at the away games. It's going to be a great day out for them but, as players, we just need not to get caught up in the occasion. We have grown so much as a team during the season and the more time we spend together as a unit the tighter we get. It will be a great day out but we know there is a job to be done and we are fully focused on that.
"Personally, it would be great to score at Wembley but the most important thing is to win," he said. I think getting this club out of League Two is far bigger than any individual player. As a team, we just need to stick together and fight for what we set out to achieve at the start of the season, which is promotion."
There is a fantastic symmetry to Argyle’s 2015-16 season in that it will have both started and finished by playing AFC Wimbledon. Argyle won the first encounter 2-0, which kick-started the Pilgrims to their highest league finish since falling back into Sky Bet League 2. Argyle have since won there in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with AFC Wimbledon winning the league match at Home Park. Gregg Wylde reflected on the games in question and how Argyle have grown over the course of a season: “It didn’t feel that long ago that we played Wimbledon in the first game of the season,” said Gregg, “and I scored my first goal. I said to Luke McCormick “we started with Wimbledon and now we’re finishing with them.” Hopefully we can go two for two and win. We’ve won twice there and they’ve come here and won, so we expect a very different game from them. Their manager has them playing a good style of football and we expect a hard game but we can only concentrate on ourselves and see where it takes us on Monday.
“Home Park has been a good stadium to play and you don’t expect to come down here and have so many electric crowds against Exeter, Millwall, Oxford, Gillingham and the rest. The fans are good people to play for as well; I’ve met a lot of nice people since I’ve been here so hopefully we can pay them back. There’s going to be 50,000 plus and it’s going to be absolutely electric. All the boys will be nervous before but I think you play better when you’re like that.
“I’ve played at the national stadium at Scotland,” said Gregg, “but everybody would love to play at Wembley. It’s my first time - and Brew and the manager’s first as well - and I’ve always said to my mum and dad I want to play there. I used to watch Champions League finals at Wembley and I know a lot of the Scottish lads have played there. I’ve not played there yet so I’m looking forward to it and hoping we can tip it off with the win.
“I would love to stay, there’s no question about it,” he said. “I didn’t think I would like it as much as I have. We’ve got a good morale as a team off the pitch and I’ve met a lot of good friends on and off the pitch which makes it a lot better. I used to play against Graham Carey and Jake Jervis up the road in Glasgow and it’s been good since we’ve come down here together. I think we’ve worked well as a front three or four. Graham especially has been fantastic this season, with the goals he’s scored this season and he won the PFA Fans player of the Season as well. He’s not good at golf that’s the only thing!”
The only member of Argyle's current team with memories of the last Wembley final in 1996 is Paul Wotton. Wotton reflected on that day, the season gone and his hopes for Wembley on Monday. He said: "I just remember the fans, really. I remember it being a fantastic occasion - not a particularly great game, but a great occasion and a great result. I remember getting the suit fitted and all that, which was good. I just remember being a young pro, but the older pros saying how important it was and how great an occasion it will be. It is similar this time around. It was the first time I'd ever been to Wembley. The old Wembley as well, so it was pretty iconic - the Home of Football, so to speak. Fortunately we won, so afterwards was just a blur really. It was a wonderful experience really, and I just remember a sea of green and white all up the motorways. I remember the buzz around the city before the game. It feels very similar this time. The Argyle fans will be there in force, as I'm sure Wimbledon's fans will be, and it'll be a great occasion.
"I've been fortunate enough to play for Southampton in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final and I've been a couple of times to watch friends there. It's a beautiful stadium, it really is. It's stunning. You want to play in atmospheric games. You don't want to play in quiet games; you want to play when there's something on the game, there's an edge, an excitement, and a prize at the end. I think it's getting to the stage now where the boys want to go and play the game, but it is what it is - the manager's managed it really well. We've had a break; the balancing act between a break and keeping fit and ticking over has been good. We've had a couple of intense training sessions and a couple of relaxed training sessions, and had a few days off here and there. The boys are physically fit and in a good frame of mind. It's a big group effort and Derek Adams is at the head of that. He treats me well - he's been great for me. We'll be as prepared as we can be, and put the lads in a relaxed state of mind and make them believe in themselves.
"I've loved it, every second of it. I've enjoyed the coaching side of it so much that I haven't really missed playing as yet, which says it all really. I'm actually a lot calmer on the bench than I was playing. It's a nice place to be, because the manager and Craig Brewster make sure that we don't leave any stone unturned before a game, so you literally can't do any more. Someone's going to be a hero, aren't they? Whether it's Plymouth Argyle or AFC Wimbledon. The name Ronnie Mauge will always be held dear in Plymouth Argyle fans' hearts because of that iconic goal. It's a chance for someone to make themselves a hero, definitely. Listen: we've done really well. We're in the play-off final at Wembley, 90 minutes away from League 1. So are AFC Wimbledon, and it's all to play for."
Carl McHugh believes that in spite of his previous victory at Wembley, a win for Argyle on Sunday would rank as the best moment of his career thus far. McHugh said: "I think it's been brilliant. We had a few days off after the Portsmouth game to recharge the batteries, go home and see our families, which I think was very important. It has been a very long season and we haven't had many opportunities to do that, but since we've been back the training's been brilliant. Especially this week, it's been top notch - really intense, and that's the level we want to bring to the game on Monday. It was only a few days but it was nice to get home and see the family, see my grandparents, that sort of thing. But I was looking forward to coming back again, seeing the boys after what we had done the previous weekend, so it was coming back and getting back at it.
"I think it'll be the biggest achievement of my career so far, for me personally. Having played a big part over the two years I've been here, playing a lot of games and after the disappointment we had last season in the play-offs, and this season, not getting automatically promoted, and with the group of lads in there, I'd love to be successful with them. To be successful with this group would mean a massive amount to me. I think I've improved, definitely. With playing the games and training I think I've improved as a player, and obviously this season I've played a different position, which has added more to my game. I think I've developed as a player and a person since I've been here.
"We've got a massive respect for them - they beat us here on our home patch just a month or two ago It's a massive achievement, what they've done this year. They've kind of come on a really strong run towards the end of the season and fully deserve to be in the position that they are. They've got some really good players and threats, so we know it's going to be a really tough game. But if we're right and play to our potential on the day, I think we're fairly confident. It's been laid into us all week: you win the game and you enjoy it after you win the game. It's about winning a game of football. The whole season comes down to this.
"If you were here for the Portsmouth game you could see it was clearly evident. From probably the 65th or 70th minute onwards, the lift that the fans gave the team. It gave us that belief, and even though we missed a few chances we kept going, and there was that belief in the stadium that we were going to get the winner. The supporters have been brilliant all season, and when you hear those figures going to Wembley; it's unbelievable for a League 2 final."
Curtis Nelson meanwhile spoke with pride of his fans and his teammates heading into such a momentous occasion as the Wembley final. He reflected that winning was on every player's mind: "We do think about winning. We don't think about anything else other than winning so it is important that we keep it that way. We have just got to play the game and then deal with whatever comes after. If the home leg is anything to go by it is probably going to be twice as loud so it is not going to be too bad at all. Once you have heard the first noise I think you are going to go back into game mode. That's it once the whistle goes, you do not really hear anything else you are just fully in on the game. It is going to be unbelievable, we have got 34,000 so it is going to be ridiculous and it is massive to have that support for us. The second-leg was brilliant, with the support that we had. The first-leg was as well, with the away support. I think that is something that we have had all season - the support from the fans has been really good. There is a good positive vibe. We had a good training session this morning, and have done a lot of media this afternoon, but that will be the last of it and then we will crack on to the weekend. We have gone four games unbeaten now. Cambridge, Hartlepool and the two Portsmouth games, so we have got to make sure we make it a fifth. It would mean everything to the team. That is the main aim from the beginning of the season so it is the ultimate goal. It is now just making sure that we achieve it.
"We have learned a few bits and pieces about AFC Wimbledon. We are going to start going through that in the game prep in the next couple of days. Every team has got different strengths and weaknesses and you have got to exploit them and play to the best of our ability and that is all we can do."
Argyle coach Craig Brewster meanwhile focused on togetherness and the importance of pulling together as a team unit to see our way over the finishing line: “We have to go there to play and try and win a game of football, that’s our only focus,” he said. “I’ve had a good and long career – I’m just trying to pass on to these players to enjoy it while they can because it goes very quickly. I’ve been doing the same job as I’ve always done, making sure everybody is ready and on their toes, because we can get carried away in certain situations. It’s a game of football so everybody else, the fans, can get carried away but we - the players and the staff - have got a job to do. There is no better feeling than winning a cup final - the guys will be heroes and that’s what they’ve got to try and achieve together. The players here have got an opportunity to go to Wembley and perform. Come three o’clock on Monday, it’s who performs better that will go to League 1.
“We’re certainly together. We’ve had some real tough games and the semi-final with two good teams going at it hammer and tongs. We lose a goal in the first two minutes but we don’t panic; everybody sticks together and grinds it out. To finish the way we did, I just felt we had more legs in the second half. We got the goal at a magnificent time when it’s difficult for them to come back. It’s been very much low key since, the next couple of days will be real preparation and getting their minds on it but of late it’s just been a case of trying to tick them over and keep them fit and strong. The players have done things off the pitch together and we’ve had good training sessions. They’ve been professional all season and I think the response we’ve had from day one this season has been really positive. The fans have seen that, followed us and backed the players - it’s great for them to have this final game.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season. I worked with Derek in Scotland for two years and when he asked me to come down here I was absolutely delighted. It’s just slotted in again as if we were never away, so that’s been a real positive. From day one the response we’ve had from the players was really good and that’s continued and especially being up there all season, it’s never easy to win games, and we’ve won our fair share. I know my role and so does Paul Wotton, who has fitted in brilliantly. The three of us on get on really well. The physio Paul Atkinson and the kit man Neil Lunnon have all played their part as well. People are here to see the 11 on the pitch but to make these players perform well they’ve got to be happy and fit and strong. Everyone has been very welcoming, the first day I arrived I said to Derek this just feels like a great place to be, so let’s just hope we can finish in style.”
Argyle will be playing in front of a huge crowd at Wembley but that will not be of any concern to Gregg Wylde- who says the greens play better when they are playing with nerves. Wylde anticipated a strong performance from himself and his teammates, saying: "It's getting nervous, but we play better when we're nervous. Some of the lads will have a chilled night on Saturday with the Champions League final and Championship final. We'll get our legs up, train Sunday, travel Sunday, just be prepared as normal for a game we expect to win.
"We're relaxed in the changing room. We have the TV on, we watch the football and when the music's playing we play better. We've played well throughout the season with that approach and we were just unlucky to miss out on automatics. The boys who play, they're not from here, so off the pitch we all hang about with each other, there's a good morale. We know what we expect from the city and the club – we need to win every game. When I moved down here I didn't expect the amount of people in the crowd at every game, it's massive, it's huge.
"I went home for the first time in a couple of months to see the family and there's Jordon Forster from Edinburgh, so we went home together. I was home for three days to see my mum, dad and friends. To tell them I was playing at Wembley made it even better. It gives me confidence to do well and make my family proud. To get them promoted to League One, for such a big club like this would be fantastic."
Argyle's visit to Wembley and improvement in financial health has been welcomed by the Football League who took a 'leap of faith' in allowing Argyle the golden share to compete in the league when James Brent took over the club in 2011. The League however, now feel this faith was justified. Football League Chairman Greg Clarke said: "When the League Board considered whether to permit Plymouth Argyle to continue as a member of the League back in 2011, it's probably safe to say that we were as close to preventing a club from carrying on as we've ever been in the modern era. The two reasons why we didn't are, firstly, because we believe that clubs should be given every reasonable opportunity to continue, as it is in the wider interests of their local community and, secondly, because we believed in James Brent. As we stated at the time, we took a leap of faith in James because we felt he was somebody of integrity who could turn the club around and restore both its reputation and its fortunes. The fact the club is now in a position to complete its CVA payments, and is in Monday's Play-Off Final at Wembley show that our trust wasn't misplaced and that we made the right decision. James, his fellow directors, the club's staff and its supporters deserve enormous credit for what has been achieved at Plymouth Argyle in the last five years."
Derek Adams explained to fans the importance of good preparation ahead of the big final against Wimbledon on Bank Holiday Monday. He admitted that the fixture was more than 'just another game' and he also gave an update on Argyle's injury situation. Adams detailed: "A lot of them have played on the big stage before," said Derek. "Gregg Wylde has played in front of 50,000 people in Old Firm games; Graham Carey has played in big matches; Jake Jervis has played in big matches; and Luke McCormick. If you look at it there is a lot of them have played in very big games. Kelvin Mellor has played at Wembley before. We have got a squad that are capable and have played on the bigger stage. I think that is important If you look at the dimensions of the pitch. They are exactly the same dimensions at Wembley as they are here. We don't think it is just another game, it is a game that the winners go into League 1. It is not just another game - it is more than that. But we try to prepare as if it is another game because that is what we have done for the majority of the season. It is slightly different just because the media coverage is bigger. Otherwise though, from a coaching point of view, we have gone about things in a similar fashion. We are fully focused on the game on Monday. We have done all our commitments media-wise, suit-wise and now we just need to focus on the game.
"We are trying to get promotion in to League 1 and from our point of view it is about a team, it is about a football club and pushing it to its limit. That is what we have been doing all season. My job is to try and focus on the game and get us out of this league because we have got one game left that can possibly do that. We have taken ourselves a long way in a short space of time. It has not been too bad for us," said Derek. "We played against Portsmouth on the Sunday night and it has just been over a week that we have not had a game. To some people it may feel longer. The players were just happy to get a nice break." It is important that we had a few days off because of the magnitude of the victory against Portsmouth. We are trying to get the players ticking over before the game on Monday.
" I would have more then taken that. I think any Plymouth Argyle supporter would have. At the start of the season we knew it was going to be tight squad-wise and we have dealt with it exceptionally well. We are just looking forward to the day. It is an important day for the staff and the football players. It is our livelihoods as well and we are going there to work and get in the league above. 34,000 tickets have been sold so that tells you that the whole area is with us and people are coming back from all over the world because they want to see their team - Plymouth Argyle - doing well. Ryan Brunt and Josh Simpson are the only two that are out. Everybody else is fit. Reuben has been fit for a few weeks now. Jamille Matt has been outstanding for us. It has been a terrific loan signing for us, as the majority have. We are delighted with the way we have recruited during the summer and during the season."
Adams also passed comment on Argyle's final opponents and the players who have played enough games to extend their contracts respectively, saying: "They have had a very good season. I think that Neil Ardley has done a terrific job there. He is one of the longest-serving managers in English football and that is something in this day and age because it is very difficult as a manager. The tenure has proved so difficult. I think 56 managers have lost their job in English football this year which is terrible and that is the nature of football which is not good.
"It has been vital. They have all performed exceptionally well this season and we had their contracts in a situation where they were going to play enough games for it to be triggered and they deserve another year at the football club."
The club have confirmed that Graham Carey, Jake Jervis and Gary Sawyer have ALL triggered a clause in their playing contracts allowing them to remain Pilgrims for the 2016-17 season. All three players were signed by Derek Adams in the summer of 2015; their contracts were for one season, with a subsequent year dependent on playing a certain number of matches this season. All three have passed that threshold, activating the second-season option.
Argyle have added another match to their pre-season itinerary against the Dutch second tier side MVV Maastricht. Argyle have already confirmed that they will be going on a Dutch tour in July and now another detail has been revealed. The match will be played at 7pm local time on Tuesday, July 26 at the hosts' 10,000 capacity Geusselt stadium.
There are shortfalls to going to Wembley. Martyn Starnes has admitted that it will be much harder to plan Argyle's pre-season due to the shorter time between the end of the season and the start of the new one. He said: "It is an issue and it is one which shouldn't be underestimated. The players have a significantly shortened break so with the ones you are retaining and are coming back you are a little bit concerned they haven't had long enough off. It is a long season and these lads have played a lot of games. The manager needs a break like everybody else but he then doesn't have much time to be doing his recruiting for next season.
"And he can't do his recruiting until he knows who is staying. Offers are going out to players that are out of contract and they have generally got a month to decide whether they are going to accept that offer or not. In the meantime, the manager has got to have numerous plates spinning and be ready to pounce when he finds a player that he likes and is going to replace someone that has decided not to renew his contract. So it is pretty complex and there is not much time to sort it out. I haven't been through this with Derek yet, but I remember when I was working with Paul Sturrock at Swindon Town he went on holiday and every couple of days he would ring me to find out how things were going with recruitment."
Derek Adams confirmed the status of two of Argyle's loanees with question marks over their shoulders ahead of next Monday's trip to Wembley for the play-off final. He spoke first of Jordon Houghton and then of Danny Nardiello: "Jordan Houghton went away back to Chelsea and we will wait and see if he can be fit for the final. "He will be able to come back and train with us this week, which we are hopeful of. He had been carrying a thigh strain for a few weeks before the Cambridge game but just because we were very short of players in that he played through with it.
"Daniel went back to Bury a long time ago, just to keep himself fit. He wasn't getting an opportunity here and it was probably better for him to go back there and train."
Adams also refused to be drawn as to whether he would be looking into signing Oscar Threlkeld on a permanent contract. He said that whilst he admired Threlkeld's contribution to the green cause this season, he would deal with his own contracted players first. Adams said: "I don't know what the situation is at Bolton. Oscar has gone back there from his loan spell here. He did very well for us but Bolton have other ideas. I don't know who was making the decisions.
"I'm not going to say anything. I have got players that are out of contract here that I still need to speak to. Until I do that then I won't be speaking to anybody else."
Kelvin Mellor has spoke about the previous encounters with the Wembley opponents AFC Wimbledon but stated that it was most important that Argyle played their own game first and foremost. Mellor: "It's just a clean slate. It's a totally different game and it can go either way, but as long as we play our football and play to the best of our ability, I'm sure we'll be fine. We've got to focus on ourselves really. I did think they would win the semi-final, but I don't really have a preferred opponent. We know what Wimbledon are about: they're a big, physical side, and if we play our football I'm sure the game will take care of itself and the result will be in our favour.
"It was a very tense game and could've gone either way. I thought we had the better chances and obviously it was a great way to win, right at the end of the game. As soon as it went in it was too late: we knew we did it. We can't get too high. Obviously beating Portsmouth was a great achievement, and reaching Wembley is the biggest stage - it's top of the tree. We've just got to look forward to that game, relax into it and we'll be fine. As a team we were great in the play-offs and throughout the season. It's more than what we deserve to win it, so we just need to go and do it.
"We've had support all season and we knew there'd be a lot more fans coming to Wembley obviously. It's been a long time since the club's been able to play there. They've been in administration and had their bad times, but now they want to see the good times, and hopefully we can bring that for them. I think it's going to be electric, to be fair. You're only going to be able to hear the Plymouth fans. They've been amazing all season and hopefully we can give them one more thing to cheer about."
Graham Carey meanwhile stated that Argyle could use the famous Wembley turf to their advantage in the match, saying: "We watched them, they are a good team. All through the season we remember back to the first 20 minutes at AFC Wimbledon where we did not get out of our box. They had corner after corner. Weirdly enough that was a stepping stone for us to push on because we knew we were under so much pressure in that game and we came through to win it. They are a good team, I watched both legs. When they play direct they are a real handful especially with the four strikers they have. They can play two, they can play three. When the big man comes on he makes a difference. It is up to us to use the pitch at Wembley to our advantage. It is a big pitch and if we can get the ball down to play then that will probably be to our advantage. Nothing taken away from them: they are a good footballing side and they are on a great run. Momentum is a hard thing to stop in football, and luckily enough we have momentum as well so it is going to be a good game and hopefully we can come out on top. They have been on a great run and they really deserve to be in the play-off final. They have got momentum at the right time and finished the season really strong. It is going to be a tough game, but we have shown on Sunday that we can handle pressure and I think we have grown as a team and I think we are all raring to go."
Graham Carey stated his belief that it is Argyle's hard work that has led them to their Wembley play-off final on May 30th and reflected on the delivery of the ball that saw Peter Hartley nod home to take Argyle to Wembley. Carey said: "It was a great day. For the fans mainly, but for us as players as well after what has been a very long season. The hard work that we put in at the start of it is finally paying off. But, we know as professionals that it is only half a job done. There is no point going to Wembley and enjoying the occasion and not getting a result, which is the most important thing. We knew as a squad the longer we were in the tie the fitter we would be and the stronger we would be at the end of it. I think everyone has seen the last half an hour of the game; we were getting on top gradually and getting more and more chances and I think if it went to extra time none of that would have changed. We knew we would have won the game, and we probably could have won it by maybe two.
"I think the 92nd minute winner for us is probably the best way to win it. If it is going against you it is horrible because there is no time to react and you cannot get yourself back in the game, but for us it was perfect and typified the way we have played this season. We have never gave up and even after missing out on automatic promotion we have dug in and worked hard and we got our rewards. It's hard for me to see to the back post from where I put it in," Graham said. "I'm just hoping someone is there because we have worked hard on set-pieces all season and we have scored a lot from them. We knew they were vulnerable around the back post. Luckily Pete made that run and got a bit of luck and the ball went in. It was definitely well planned out and I put a few balls in earlier in the game that weren't quite on the money, luckily that was on it right at the most important time." It was quite a long run for me to join them. So I just slid in front of the Devonport End about 20 metres from where the corner was taken! I have made my way over there eventually and the celebrations were crazy - I think it was nothing more than we deserved."
Carey also joined his manager and many of his colleagues in the Argyle team in paying tribute to Argyle's fantastic supporters. He also said that, whilst he was looking forward to the occasion of Wembley, it would mean nothing if Argyle did not complete the job: "You can see the passion the fans have. Especially the away support this season. I have been to clubs where we have had to travel a lot for games and I have never seen anything like what we have this year. I think we have averaged well over a thousand in every away game which is incredible in League 2. Some of them have been two, two and a half. When we walk out I think it will be a boost. When the whistle goes it is just another game with the pressure that we put on ourselves. At the start of the season, our goal as a team and as a club was to get promoted and we have 90 minutes to do that. I think the pressure everyone else puts on us is small comparison to what we put on ourselves as a team. We know we are good enough to go up - we probably should have done it automatic - but now we have got another chance, playing at Wembley. It is going to be the best way to do it, and hopefully we can do that.
"It has been such a long road the last few years. The predicament the club was in and where it has come from. I think finally we have turned a corner as a club. Hopefully we can finish the job and I think it will be something the fans really deserve. The last time I played here they were in League 1 and doing well and the atmosphere was amazing. It has been quite a fall from then. Finally we are on an upwards trajectory and hopefully we can finish the job off and playing League One football next season would be the icing on the cake to what has been a great season.
"When I was at St Mirren we won the Scottish League Cup, but I think the cup is a different mindset because it is a cup competition and what that entails. Promotion is so much bigger and so much more important, not only for the club but for the City, and the people all around it. A lot more comes with the pressure of promotion and for a club to build the foundations we have laid and that is what we want to do. For us to get our first step towards that, it is massive. I think that we showed we could handle pressure here on Sunday. Everyone built it up to be such a big tie between two big clubs but we held our nerve especially in the last half hour with the way we played and created chances. There was only going to be one winner and that showed how much we have grown as a team this year.
"We have got some young lads and I think it was important for the experienced lads to guide the young lads through. As a club and as a team I think we did that. If you had given that at the start of the season, to have 90 minutes to win the game and get promoted we would have taken it. I think every club would have taken it. It is nothing new to us. We put pressure on ourselves and we set out at the start of the season to get promoted. There is no reason why we can't just go there and play our own game like we did with these two games, we didn't really play the occasion we played each leg as a one off game and I think that worked. The mentality that we have is just play another 90 minutes and see where it takes us.
"My grandparents and my mum and dad are coming for the game. My girlfriend's family are coming down. It should be a great occasion but it means nothing if we don't go and do the job. We want to enjoy it because we have worked hard to get there but we know there is a job on to go and get the result."
Kelvin Mellor is familiar with playing at Wembley from his days with Crewe where he was successful in both a League Two play-off final and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final. He spoke of the experience of stepping out onto that famous turf: "That was the first time I'd played at Wembley and it was an experience I'll never forget. It's an unbelievable stage and the atmosphere is electric there, but winning it is another thing. I can't explain it - it's an unbelievable day. It was brilliant. The fans were great and it's what dreams are made of. It's where you want to be playing football - it's what you watch on TV with England and stuff, so it's where you want to be. It's hard to explain until you actually get there and feel the emotions and the vibes that you get when you're in the dressing room. Obviously when you step out you hear the fans; it's a great experience and it's what dreams are made of. It's a world you wouldn't have stepped into before - it's different. I feel a lot more relaxed going into it this time than the first time. It is mentally draining. You can't stop thinking about it and everything is to do with that. I try to treat it just the same as every other game, really. Every game's a cup final but obviously this one means a bit more to us. We're just trying to make it as normal as possible and train properly, professionally and take it through to the game. Now we're training and we're just trying to keep it as normal as possible at the high standard that we can do. As long as you're mentally prepared and you approach it properly you'll be fine. We'll be fine and we'll pull everyone together. To play at Wembley and become a player that's part of a successful club: hopefully we can do that and as a team we're more than capable of that."
Argyle today received another piece of news that many fans were hoping for with the news that Graham Carey will be contracted to the club next season. Carey confirmed that he had an extension clause in his contract all along, saying: "I'm here next season. There are a few of us that have played enough games to trigger an extension and I'm one of them. It's good that that's not at the forefront of my mind and I can just focus on football. My intentions were to stay here next season no matter what, so hopefully it can be in League One. I think the foundations that the football club have and positive steps that we've made this season is building for a brighter future."
Paul Wotton and Portsmouth manager Paul Cook have each been fined £500 after they admitted an FA misconduct charge following their fixture on May 12. It was alleged that in or around the 11th minute of the fixture, both used improper language and/or behaviour. The fine, which they accepted, was the standard penalty for the offence.
Argyle have already sold more than 31,200 tickets for the play-off final at Wembley next Monday and Derek Adams has heralded the fantastic support of the Green Army. He said: "It's magnificent the fans that want to come and support Plymouth Argyle. To get so many people buying tickets, in a short space of time, just shows you what this football club means to the city – and the surrounding areas. I think that when you get to a cup final people come back from all over the world. I have seen that before when I took Ross County as a First Division side to Hampden Park and we had 20,000 (fans) there. I'm not surprised so many people will be at Wembley. I think we have shown throughout the season the support we have had, both home and away. I'm never surprised by the amount of people that want to come and watch their team do well."
Argyle will wear their home kit of green and white striped shirts, black shorts and white socks against AFC Wimbledon in the League Two play-off final at Wembley. Wimbledon will wear their usual home strip of all-blue with yellow trimming for the match on Bank Holiday Monday, May 30, which has a 3pm kick-off. Derek Adams approved of the decision not to wear Lilac, saying: "I think it's important on a special day that your team wear your home colours."
Argyle will send the first team squad to play away at Truro City on Tuesday 19th July in a pre-season friendly match, kicking off at 7.30pm. This compliments existing friendlies away to Torquay on Saturday July 16th and home to West Brom on Saturday July 30th.
It has been confirmed that Argyle will face AFC Wimbledon in the play-off final on May 30th after a dramatic 2-2 draw with Accrington after extra time, which, with their 1-0 win in the first leg, saw them knock out Stanley to progress to the final.
After the dust settled upon Argyle's dramatic late win over Portsmouth on Sunday, Derek Adams already has one eye on preparations ahead of the Wembley final. He revealed that the players are taking a much needed few days off: "The players are going have a few days off. They've not had many days off so they're going to have time off until Thursday, and then we'll report back and go again. We need to recharge the batteries. I haven't given them any time off in the season so they need a wee break to get them going and get refreshed. They're a quality bunch. We've seen it time and time again this season that they can play. We've had a number of additions over the season with loan signings etc, and everyone's contributed to a fantastic season. Now we have to go on.
"I've been to Hampden Park a number of times as a manager and to come in my first season in English football and be able to take this famous football club back to Wembley 20 years on; I'm very proud. I'm proud of everybody associated with the club. It's a hard league - I've said that many times this season - and we've seen that many times this season. It's something that I'll enjoy. I'll enjoy people being happy and bringing a feel-good factor to the city. The city's already in a good place; I've been down at the Barbican and the Hoe this morning, and it's a fantastic city. There's a lot going on, and all the people want is their supporting teams doing well."
Peter Hartley reminisced on the moment that saw him written into Argyle folklore forevermore. He ended however, by saying that the job is far from done yet and that there is still a lot of work to be done: “I can’t put it into words, to be honest,” said Peter, when asked how it felt to secure the victory in the most dramatic style when his initial header from Graham Carey’s corner rebounded to him off the back of defender Enda Stevens’ head. “It’s surreal. I remember connecting with the ball; I saw it hit the back of the boy’s head, then it hit my head again and has gone in. Then I woke up and there was some big bald guy kissing me in the face in the Devonport end. Do you know what? If any team in this league deserves what we got in the 91st minute, it’s us because Exeter did us, Accrington have done us, late on and we deserved that bit of luck. I thought we were phenomenal today. We set up perfectly to nullify Portsmouth’s threat and I think we looked like a real good outfit. I don’t think Accrington or AFC Wimbledon will fancy playing us at Wembley.
"I remember seeing the board go up for two minutes added time and I thought ‘That’s short’ because we had four minutes in the first half. I remember running up for the corner and I was cramping up, and I thought ‘I hope Portsmouth don’t break because I won’t be able to get back!’ It’s credit to the boys, because we work really hard every day; we don’t get many days off, and we don’t moan – we just get in and get on with it – and you could see how our fitness shone through at the end. I think we had Pompey on the ropes from 20 minutes to go. The job’s not done yet. We’ll enjoy this moment because moments are memories, but we have got to go to Wembley now and do the business to get this club back where it belongs.”
Argyle have offered professional contracts to five of this season’s apprentices as part of a new initiative to aid young players’ development. Jack Calver, Owen Jones, Billy Palfrey and Ben Steer have been given a one-year pro deal which will see the young Pilgrims progress their careers in a unique scheme that intends to bridge the gap between Academy football and the Argyle first-team squad. Jake Miller, whose development has been hampered by injury, has been offered month-to-month terms. The five will not be included in Derek Adams’ first-team squad but be part of a new development structure at Home Park aimed at preparing players properly for the demands of the Football League following years of youth football. Part of that process will see them play for the Pilgrims’ Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Premier Division development team, and possibly be loaned out to senior teams outside the Football League. They will continue to train and play under the guidance of the Argyle Academy. In addition, they will take a Plymouth City College-linked 1st4sport Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Supporting the Delivery of Physical Education and School Sport (QCF). As well as their studies, the young pros will deliver coaching sessions for the Argyle Community Trust and the Long-Term Development Scheme.
Derek Adams spoke about the 'fantastic achievement' of Argyle getting to Wembley for the League Two play-off final and refused to take personal credit, instead thanking his players and the club in general. He said: "It was a fantastic achievement for the football club, just to get to Wembley. It's 20 years since Plymouth Argyle have been there, and we're going back. We're the first team to get through to the final via the play-offs this season, and we've done it in dramatic style. The players have worked non-stop and they've got their rewards. I'm delighted that the players, their families, the supporters, have got an opportunity to go and have a good day out at Wembley. But you only have a good day when you win. I haven't - the players have, and the staff and everybody at this football club around about them. I've had that from the players this season, the staff at this football club, the supporters as well. We're all going back to Wembley. I think that's what you call a unity, and the football club has got unity. We probably had a squad that was a wee bit short for automatic promotion, but we've kept ourselves going. We've lifted their spirits and been able to get an opportunity of getting into the next division. The fans were fantastic from start to finish. We went to Fratton Park and their fans fantastic as well. You cold see the emotions from the players after the game, and I think that the fans have shown it in response. It's going to be a fantastic occasion for Plymouth Argyle. The Argyle fans have wanted to go back there and they've got that opportunity. We've got to go there and try and win the match to get into the next division."
Adams also gave his analysis on the game itself, heralding a good performance from Argyle in the second half and a very well taken goal, saying: "I thought we started the game very well with Graham Carey having that first shot early in the game, and then it became a nervy affair tonight. I thought that 1-0 was going to win the match - I didn't think it would be a high-scoring game. Obviously we hit the post, then we had a couple of chances over the bar and near-misses. Then it got nearer to the end of the game and you get a bit worried that Portsmouth might nick one at the other end, or it could've gone to extra time. I think it got to that stage in the game where it looked like it was going to go to extra time. But the players are always believing, and that's something we've drilled into them. They've got very good energy levels. They started off the season on the running track and it's prepared them well for the end of the season. To score in the way we did, it's been very good for us because we've had hard times away to Exeter, away to Accrington, and if we hadn't lost these two games we would've had automatic promotion. It was a great ball in from Graham Carey and a great header at the back post. We're always difficult to deal with from set plays because of our height and delivery, and tonight was no different. I've got to say to Paul Cook as well: he was man enough to come in and speak to our players after the game and wish them all the best and so was their chairman and backroom staff. Not an easy thing to do after you've been defeated, but I'm very grateful for them to do that. Listen: managers, players, we all have our battles but it's over the 90 minutes in a game. We try to do the best for our football club, and after it finishes, it finishes. We have to get on with it, shake hands and walk away. That's what we do."
Peter Hartley revealed that the losses to Wycombe in the play-off semi-finals last season were amongst the toughest games of his career and that he used the experience for motivation ahead of the Pompey ties. Hartley explained: “Words can’t describe it. It’s just a feeling you don’t want again. It’s worse than relegation because you are so close to achieving so much for the club, for your family, and for yourself as a footballer, and then it all gets taken away from you. I think the fact that we’ve got the core of the team that went through the painfulness of the play-offs last year...the last thing I wanted when I woke up this morning was that feeling I had away at Wycombe last season; that was in my head. I felt the complete opposite today. I have never experienced anything like that – it’s the biggest moment of my career so far. I’ll definitely cherish it.
“We’ve had injuries; we’ve had knocks; as the season has gone on, people have come in on loan, we’ve had players come and go. But we’ve kept the core of the team and we have got a really good team morale. It showed on the pitch. We run through brick walls for each other and I think that epitomises the way this club is – it’s been down and out at one point and we’re fighting to get back where we belong. I’d played against Jake Jervis a few times when he was a young boy on loan at Portsmouth and Carlisle; I knew of Gregg Wylde; I’d never heard of Graham Carey – and these boys have come in and taken this team by the scruff off the neck and really pushed us from what we did last season.”
Argyle have progressed to the play-off final at Wembley following a dramatic, last-gasp winner over Portsmouth that will live long in the memory. Argyle had missed chance after chance in the second half before Peter Hartley rose at the far post to nod in a Graham Carey corner in the 92nd minute. Argyle won the game 1-0 and will contest the play-off final on Monday May 30th for a spot in League One next season. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Boateng, Jervis, Carey, Tanner, Matt. Subs: Dorel, Purrington, Harvey, Rooney, Forster, Reid.
Derek Adams is very pleased with how Argyle dealt with the attention and pressure in the 2-2 draw at Portsmouth on Tuesday, saying: "Two very good teams put on a good show for the television audience. I think that over the 90 minutes, everyone will be pleased to see how good a football match it was. Four goals and lots of excitement. It didn't really look like a nervy affair; both teams wanted to win the match. It's been a great advert for League 2 football tonight. I think that anybody watching on the television would've seen two very good football teams. The atmosphere was fantastic. We've taken 2,000 here tonight, and they sang and sang their hearts out to keep us going. This is a big football match, and it's important that we keep them in check. You'd have seen that I didn't celebrate the two goals tonight because it's the first leg of the tie. I think that's important. We've come away from home, we've had to deal with the huge crowd that's been here, the expectation of the Portsmouth supporters. We've got to go back home and put on a really good display to get to the final.
"It was a horrible start to the game for us because we were prepared and we didn't expect to give away as cheap a goal as that. But we responded well: we scored two very good goals to get 2-1. We had to soak up the pressure, and that's just the nature of the game. There were probably two or three passes we needed: when we retained possession, we needed another two passes to be complete, and then we would've caused them trouble. We just lacked that composure in the second half. We were able to keep them at bay, so to speak. We didn't really allow them too much space to get good opportunities. Yes they had plenty of the ball but that's the nature of coming away from home. We've given away two bad goals really. Portsmouth had two goals that they really haven't had to work for. That's probably the disappointment of the night, but overall it was a good performance. It was an excellent game and we thoroughly deserved to go 2-1 ahead. We probably should've won the game on the night. We've had good opportunities and a very good performance from us. We passed the ball well, we had to deal with a wee bit of Portsmouth pressure because we're here. The fans have been very vocal tonight towards them, but we dealt with that exceptionally well. It was a terrific performance from the players tonight. I thought they were excellent."
Meanwhile, striker Jamille Matt is backing Argyle's fantastic fans to roar us to Wembley in the second leg at Home Park on Thursday. He reflected: “I said to Jake Jervis, before the game, when we came out, ‘That’s the atmosphere you want to play in’. If you can’t play in that atmosphere, then you shouldn’t be playing football. We were all looking forward to the game; we enjoyed the game; it was a great, great atmosphere. I can’t put into words how much I enjoy playing in front of these fans. Since I have come here, they have made me feel so welcome, with the lads. Some of the scenes, some of the atmospheres, since I have been here have been second to none. They travel well and they come to support us at Home Park – we’ll see them do it again one more time and I’m sure we’ll get over the line.”
It has also been confirmed that Matt will face no retrospective action for an alleged headbutt on Pompey's Michael Doyle. Matt had this to say about the incident: “Me and Doyley have had a few battles before. He’s tried to rile me and I’ve tried to give him a little bit back. I don’t think it was anything malicious. The referee said it was no red card; he said it was nothing and I agree with him. We’ll see what happens. It’s out of my hands. I think it’s nothing. I’m just looking forward to Sunday now. The lads just need to recover now and go into that game looking to win it, like we did today. Whoever wins the game is through to Wembley.”
Argyle have drawn 2-2 with Portsmouth in the first leg of the play-off semi-final at Fratton Park. Portsmouth took a very early lead but Argyle equalised in the 9th minute and took the lead in the 19th- both goals coming from Jamille Matt. Portsmouth equalised from the penalty spot early in the second half but ultimately, the tie is 'as you were' going back to Home Park. The game was marred by an off-the-ball altercation between Jamile Matt and Portsmouth's Michael Doyle which caused a touchline scuffle between Paul Wotton and Pompey manager Paul Cook. Both were dismissed to the stands. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Boateng(Purrington), Jervis, Carey, Wylde, Matt(Tanner). Subs: Dorel, Rooney, Harvey, Forster, Reid.
Derek Adams says he has known for a while of Argyle's players will start the play-off semi-final against Portsmouth on Thursday night and that it has not been at all influenced by the Hartlepool game. He explained: "I've already decided my team. I'd already picked my team before Saturday's game against Hartlepool. I'm not going to mention who's in or out. I think that would be very naïve of me to say anything like that. It's up to everybody to find out when we get to Thursday night and the team lines go in. We won't allow it to get out quickly, I'll tell you that! They've scored two good goals. The two of them have got a lot to do to get into the first team on a regular basis. They put in a very good showing on Saturday to score four goals between them. It's always nice to see younger players getting an opportunity, and they got an opportunity on Saturday. You look at Jordan Bentley: he was a first-year apprentice, just turned 17 last week and he's been able to get a game in the first team. His hard work, his dedication and good play has enabled him to do that. We've got six or seven match-winners in our team. We've seen that over the season; we haven't had to rely on one person to score the goals. We've got six or seven than can do something special to win a match. I think it'll just be the same as a cup final. The two legs will be played in a similar way, home and away. The two games earlier this season have been very good matches: two good footballing sides that pass the ball well, who've got creative players in their team."
Adams also scoffed at the notion that Argyle were the underdogs to get passed Portsmouth, pointing to another high-profile football success story: "Well, Leicester City weren't the favourites at the start of the season. If people want to do that, that's fair play to them, but from my point of view, we'll go there and try to win over two legs. We're not the underdogs - that's only by the bookmakers. If you look over the season, we've won more games than we did last year and we've collected 81 points, so we'll see. I don't know from their point of view team-wise, but we'll be looking at ourselves," said Adams, "and what problems we can cause them. We've seen each other twice this season, we know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and we'll try and take advantage of their weaknesses on Thursday night. I'm not going to go into [detail about] Portsmouth. What I want to look at is how we can deal with their strengths and weaknesses. We'll try and take the game to Portsmouth and try and win the match. We want to be attack-minded, and we don't want to be defensive, and I think that's important as well. We're going there to win the match, to try and be forceful and take the game to Portsmouth. Obviously we would like to come back here with that advantage, and we're going to try and do that. When you get to this stage in the season, it's important that you go and try and do as well as you can and use the players you've got in the best positions to affect the result."
Finally, Carl McHugh intends to draw on history to see us through the games against Pompey. He spoke about both the Wycombe play-off disappointment last year and his experience of winning the play-offs with Bradford. He said: “We had a slow start at home and gave ourselves too much to do. You just have to try and learn from that experience; this year not to think the game up too much and just play it as we’ve played every other game this season. I think that’s what we’ll be looking to do. We’ve got that bit of experience now, the spine of the players have played in the games last year so hopefully that’ll help us. You take confidence in that we were able to go there and win not so long ago. They’re a good side and we’re a good side so it’s going to be a really good game I think. Last season we were home first and away second - we’ve got that bit of an advantage this year - but we’re just focused purely on Thursday night. We’re going to go there and get a good result to take home. Both of the clubs want to get back up to probably where they belong - higher than League 2 - and it’s a great opportunity for us this year in the play-offs to do that.
“The play off final, we won that game. I didn’t play but it was an unbelievable experience. Both games were unbelievable. It’s what you want to do as a player, playing in the big stadiums on the big days. That was a really positive experience. When you’re growing up you want to play full houses, big clubs and at big grounds with a lot at stake. This is what you run around a track for in pre-season, for these games, so we’re really looking forward to it. We want to make the most of it. On the play-offs it’s all on the day; they’re not like normal games. Form and everything goes out the window. They’re different kind of games but we’re really looking forward to it, it’s going to be two great occasions.”
New director Simon Hallett has explained his motivations for coming to Argyle and says that he is living the dream at his boyhood club rather than having any sort of financial motive. Hallett explained that his is not interested in property development: "I would obviously like to see the grandstand improved, and I would like to see the facilities here improved more generally. I think maybe that overall improvement is going to have to be part of a grandstand redevelopment. I don't know what the politics are. I do know that there is disappointment at the multiplex cinema going to Bretonside. So I kind of know the facts about what has happened in the past and I completely share the ambition for redevelopment, but I'm not in the property development business. Everything I have seen about the property development business scares me.
"I do think that Plymouth as a city is on the rebound. After the game on Saturday, and before I had dinner with some old school mates I hadn't seen for 40 years, Peter Jones took me and my wife, Jane, around Royal William Yard. It was just glorious to see. My impression is that one of the things that Plymouth lacks is conference facilities, so I did like the idea that would be part of what was here at Home Park.
"I invested £500,000 for what turns out to be 29.2 per cent. Roughly 30 per cent. That is the undiluted share capital of the club. I also took on some old debt. So I have got both investment in stock and investment in debt. The injection into the club is £500,000, and there is about £620,000 of debt, so it's a seven-figure write-off. I have done that so James Brent and I have equal measures of debt.
"As a shareholder you look around and you think 'my goodness, this is partly mine'. As a fan you are obviously engaged with the club in some sense but as an owner the extent of the engagement is so much more. It was just a thrill. I only arrived on Friday evening so we have spent most of our time at the club. The level of engagement is astonishing. I have a day job so I'm going to have fight off getting sucked in. I'm living the dream – and having a blast."
James Brent welcomes Hallett to the board and explained why he passed the 'litmus test' for taking on part of Argyle's ownership. Brent detailed: "We, as a family, happened into a relationship with Argyle and it has been incredibly fulfilling. I came from a very different place to Simon. I hadn't watched a football game for 23 years and came into this involvement with the club by accident. There have been some challenging times over the last five years but it has been fun and a privilege. What we have always said is that we are custodians of a club that was founded in 1886 for future generations of Pilgrims.
"We will never hang onto ownership or control of Argyle if investors come along who meet two criteria. One, is that they are determined by the board to be good for the club and, two, that if they invest on acceptable terms then we will engage with them. We briefed the board on Simon's interest and asked whether the board wanted to take that interest forward. Simon joined part of the meeting by Skype and there was a unanimous view that he and John Morgan would be positive assets to the club going forward. That was how it was determined. I'm not very good at this football view of boards where the chairman has the voice and the other directors remain silent. It is run as a board. We have never actually taken a decision by a majority vote. But I can assure you that I get plenty of robust challenge from my colleagues, and I have no doubt that challenge will be enhanced by Simon and John's involvement."
Brent revealed that Argyle have finalised their budgets for the coming season and they would change dependant on which league Argyle are playing in next season: "We do run the club differently from any other. We finalised our budgets two or three months ago. We set two budgets – one for League One and one for League Two – so everyone knows exactly where they are. That's the right way to do it. You shouldn't leave budget setting until the end of your trading period, which for us is the football season. So there is real clarity on that.
"We have set a League Two budget, which generates a surplus for the club. And we have set a League One budget which we think is a very competitive one which still generates a surplus for the club. During my period of custodianship we will not set budgets the club cannot afford to meet.
"There is cash in the bank which will settle those debts. We have still got a loan from the city council which was for a maximum of £800,000 but we only borrowed £600,000 or so of that. There is roughly £400,000 of that left, but it is spread over four years so it's a tiny percentage of our revenue. So, for all intents and purposes, we have got rid of all the onerous contracts, which people never really focused on in the early days. It wasn't just the football creditor debt. It was paying a number of players that weren't playing anywhere near Plymouth."
Finally, Brent revealed his nervousness for the upcoming play-off semi-final against Portsmouth, saying: "I'm really excited about the play-offs but in equal proportion terrified because the outcome of the season depends on two matches and then hopefully a third. There is quite a bit of tension out there but I genuinely believe looking at our team that on our day we can beat anyone in the league.
"Our journey is split into seasons, but the journey is not the season. This is all about getting Plymouth Argyle back to being a sustainable Championship club, and I think this is further progression. Hopefully it will be progression up a league. If it's not the club will still have progressed.
"I think it's going to be absolutely stunning. It's difficult to know what the emotion will be and how that will impact on the enjoyment or otherwise. Pompey are clearly a very good club. The board of directors and their chairman are charming people. They have got real ambition for their club, as we have with ours, and I'm sure it will be very respectful but incredibly competitive. If we get to Wembley there is a significant cost and then half of the benefit goes to The Football League. But that's good for The Football League and while we need to be very self-interested on Argyle, we also need to recognise we have benefited from other people's success and others can benefit from ours."
Derek Adams praised the performance of Argyle's young players who came into the team for the Hartlepool team, speaking respectively of Tyler Harvey, Louis Rooney and Jordan Bentley: "Tyler is a player that has a good goal-scoring ability - you've seen that today. I think it's very good for him to score two goals today. I think it is the position he would prefer to play in. He could play up top as well, and it gives the team a different option.
"He did well. He took a touch and he's hit it into the top corner, the far side. We see him doing that quite often in training. We don't understand at times how he's able to get a goal, but that's what he does. He scores goals, he gets on the blind-side of defenders, and he's been able to get that goal because he's obviously been able to read where the ball's going to go.
"It was good for him to get that experience. He's done well: he's a first-year apprentice and he shows the rest of them what you can do with a bit of hard work. He's got very good attributes to be a centre half. He's robust, he's good in the air, he's a talker, he's a worker, and sometimes you get a boost, and he got that today.
"They didn't know the team until half-past one today because I didn't want it to be let out, what the team was going to be. They never knew, and it probably was a good thing, because it didn't give them a chance to get nervous. A great experience for both these young players to do that today. They're players who have played in the academy and come through the system."
Argyle have formally announced their first friendly for the upcoming pre-season schedule, away at Torquay United on Saturday September 16th at 3pm at Plainmoor.
Derek Adams spoke positively about Argyle's 5-0 win and particularly with regard to young starts Tyler Harvey and Louis Rooney. He did not, however, think that either of them would start at Fratton Park on Thursday. He explained: "I think when we scored early, that obviously helped us. It gave us a wee bit of confidence and it gave the younger kids in the team that confidence to go on and do well. The experienced players really helped them today. I think that the goals: two of them were outstanding. From Tyler, his first one, and Rooney, his first goal, were very good strikes. The other two goals were well worked from a wide area, and then Curtis Nelson scores with a ball from a corner. It was good that we gave debuts to three players today: Vincent Dorel, Louis Rooney and obviously Tyler Harvey - it was his debut under me. I think that Dorel wasn't troubled greatly, but when he was called upon from long-range efforts, he dealt well with the shot-stopping. They've done well today. They've been able to get four goals between them, but they're not going to start on Thursday. But don't take anything away from their performance today. We made seven changes today and we got a very good performance out of all the team today. Some good goals, we got a lot of the younger kids a chance today, so it was a good all-round day."
He also spoke with praise of Graham Carey who won the club's official player of the season award: "Graham's been able to come here: he's scored a lot of goals, he's created many assists this season as well, and he's been a top performer for us this season, but there's many players in the squad who have done likewise. Only one person can get recognition and I'm delighted for him, but there's a lot more in the squad as well as him that deserve recognition - and they get recognition from me and the supporters."
Tyler Harvey meanwhile spoke of his delight at getting the chance to start the game and described the scoring of his two goal, saying: “It was brilliant. Taking my chance was the most satisfying thing today. I hope, every game, I’m in the team. It has been a long time coming but it is what it is and you can only take your chance when you’re given it. Any goal’s a good goal and settled me and settled the team. It was ideal. I just hit and it and I knew it had a chance as soon as it left my foot. It hit me on the knee and went in but they all count, however they go in. It took everything out of me to get on the end. It’s handy having Gregg in the team because he gains you 60 yards in ten seconds which is a big asset. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. We seem to do alright against the big teams in the league.”
Louis Rooney as well spoke it it as one of the happiest moments of his life. He said: "I have waited a long time. To get that opportunity to start and be on the pitch. It's unreal. It really is. The standard of football has varied for me this year," said the 19-year-old, "but you have got to play what you get. You have got to play your football. The Peninsula league has been good for me. I have scored goals and it has been 90 minutes every week. To be involved with the first team and the bench, it's been a balance and it has really worked out. It's unbelievable to be honestly. I'm looking forward to seeing that one. If you don't have a go you're not going to score. None of the lads were near me at the time. I had to run straight to the fans. It was the best feeling, it really got to me when I got that first goal. To go and get the second is even better, the second goal is probably. That is the best way of doing it. Winning 5-0 and going into the play-offs everyone is going to be quite confident now, and that is the way you have got to be. There is no point going into it having a weary side."
Finally, Rooney spoke about his footballing influence and inspirations citing both a much better-known namesake and current Argyle players. When asked, he replied: "Quite a few to be honest. When I was younger I loved Wayne Rooney and the way he was, what he did and how young he started. As I have grown older and come through Argyle, Reuben Reid helps me out a lot and even me and Tyler Harvey have been close this year. We have both helped each other out through the year. Reuben has helped with different variations of movement. How to hold the ball up and where to take your touch and different styles of finishing, he really has helped, and so have people like Jake Jervis. You have got to hope every week you are going to get your chance and I go into every game expecting to be playing - that is the way you have got to do it. I have been waiting for my chance for a long time. I took it well I think. I was not too nervous because I found out late on, but that is the way it goes. I have gained the experience just being there to be honest. As a first year pro I wasn't expecting to even be that far, being on the bench that many times.
Argyle have ended the 2015/16 regular season in supreme fashion with a 5-0 victory over Hartlepool at Home Park. The starting eleven saw the shock inclusions of Tyler Harvey and Louis Rooney but they scored a brace apiece with a goal from captain Curtis Nelson also contributing. Also notable was the debut of Vincent Dorel in goal with Luke McCormick dropping to the bench and Jordan Bentley coming from the bench for his first appearance in green. Argyle end the season in 5th position and playing Pompey away in the first leg at Fratton Park on Thursday. Argyle: Dorel, Mellor, Nelson(Boateng), Forster, Sawyer, Boateng(Carey), Purrington, Wylde(Matt), Harvey, Rooney. Subs: McCormick, Jervis.
Graham Carey picked up the club's official player of the season award before kick-off. Hiram Boateng also won young player of the year award with Carl McHugh winning the Evening Herald award.
Derek Adams will be rotating his squad for Argyle's game against Hartlepool United, as he aims to head into the League 2 play-offs with a victory. He said: As a team, as a football club, that's what you try and achieve at the start of the season: to be in a better position and be on more points than you were the previous season. There's an opportunity for the likes of
Wylde and Tanner to play on Saturday - players who have played a lot of games this season. As in every game, we want to try and win the match," said Adams. "It doesn't matter what side we put out: we want to win the game. There's obviously points to play for for both sides, because in years to come nobody remembers the week leading up to the game; they look at the points total and what they finished on. We've just got to get over this game on Saturday, and then prepare for the Thursday game. We've got a few injuries in the team, a wee bit of illness, so we're just looking to try and get through this Saturday, and get ourselves prepared for next Thursday."
Before Argyle contend with the play-off games against Portsmouth, they have a tie with Hartlepool in a dead rubber end of season game to contend with. Former Hartlepool legend Peter Hartley spoke about a fixture that always means a lot to him, saying: “I know the majority of the players inside out. They’ve got a very good team. Craig Hignett has changed the philosophy of the club now. He’s given Nathan Thomas a free role and he’s scoring goals. Centre back Matthew Bates is fantastic player and would have been player of the season was it not for goalkeeper Trevor Carson, who I played with for 10 years at Sunderland. I want to be on the pitch because I’m playing against Hartlepool,” he said. “I know the staff, the kit man and a lot of players there and I’ve got a lot of friends and family coming to the game. It’s a fantastic little club and I want nothing but the best for them - just not when I’m playing against them. It’ll be nice to see a few familiar faces, to see if they’ve cleaned my statue up North!
“It’s such a big game because it’s two big clubs in this part of the country. It’s going to be a massive game. It’s not just another game; the fact its Portsmouth as well, it’s going to be an interesting fixture. We’ve got the experience of playing last year, we have the core of last year still here and we know how not to start a play-off game. Hopefully we go out next Thursday and absolutely play like our lives depend on it. I fully believe we’re going to come out victorious and get to Wembley. When you get there anything can happen and who doesn’t want to play at Wembley?
“In my opinion I don’t think it makes any difference whether we’re home or away first, as long as we get to Wembley on the 15th May. Pompey will come here and try and win the game and that suits the way we play with fast players and a very good counterattacking game. If we can catch them on the break at Home Park or Fratton Park we’re going to be a very dangerous outfit.”
Regardless of which position Argyle finish in after their game against Hartlepool, Derek Adams is confident of Argyle's success over Pompey against two legs: "They'll be very good games. Full houses at both fixtures and a good spectacle for the fans, for television and for the league as well. I think that over a number of weeks now, we've been playing a consistent side and we've only changed the team one or two times in personnel. Both sides know what each other play, mostly. Portsmouth don't change as much as we probably do formation-wise, so we'll have a good idea on both teams. In the grand scheme of things, when you're in the play-offs it doesn't really matter. You would always want to finish in the highest position but because the play-off fixtures have already been made up, it's difficult, and that's just the nature of the competition. But you always want to finish as high as you possibly can, and we're no different. I think we take it as it comes and deal with the situation when it comes around. Both teams have done very well away from home this season so that's something we've got to look at."
Ryan Brunt has given an update on his current injury situation following his recent operation to repair a cruciate ligament injury. He stressed the importance of staying positive and influencing the situation around the squad. Brunt philosophised: “The recovery is going really well. I saw the surgeon last week he said everything is fine and going as well as it possibly could. Andy Williams, one of the top surgeons, has done it and I’m as confident as can be really. I can’t tell how long it’ll be until later on in the rehab. I’d like it to be six months and to be back for the start of the season but that’ll probably be too optimistic. If you come back too quickly, your hamstring is a bit sore or you pull a calf. That is part and parcel of it because you don’t use the muscles in a match situation. It was Stoke in a youth team game and I had the same feeling then,” he said. “As soon as I went down at Barnet I knew I had done it again. When I did it when I was 17 I went in not having a clue about it and never even heard of what a cruciate was really. I came out the operation not knowing what was going on. I’ve learnt a lot over the last six years and now I’m happy with how I need to go about things; what I need to do and when I need to do them, so it’s been much easier. I shouldn’t have the injury again now as my knees should be stronger than people that have cruciates in both knees.
“It’s not a holiday; I’m working hard Monday to Friday, but it’s a change of scenery and it’s a great thing for me to go and do, especially at this stage. He lectures all over the world and has got this package and plan that works; his positivity is great. I’ve been liaising with him and Paul Atkinson, just getting the balance of trying to get back as soon as I can and as well as I can. Its football isn’t it. Because we’re fighting for promotion I wanted to play every minute I can and I was enjoying playing with a freedom and a confidence. I hadn’t really had that before because it takes time and effort to get that way. I felt confident when playing because this season I was under a manager that got the best out of me.
“Moping around is the worst thing I can do. Everyone keeps on asking daily how I’m getting on and stuff like that and it is a really nice thing to hear, to push the recovery every day. It’s not something you enjoy doing, going to the gym to do the same thing as yesterday and the day before that. There are quite a few periods when you need a lot of self motivation so the messages from the supporters have been fantastic.”
Brunt also gave his view on the upcoming play-off games against Portsmouth: “I’ve been speaking to the manager fairly regularly. He’s supported me fantastically and been as supportive as he possibly can. He’s been updating me on how everything is going. Of course it’s been hard watching the lads because when you’re not playing and watching it is just the worst thing. I’ve been to every home game and obviously the last few games have been frustrating but obviously were still in a good position to go and do it./ “It was a big blow Saturday not getting automatics but the lads are more upbeat than I thought they’d be, and are focused on what needs to be achieved. I think the Hartlepool game is important because we need to go into the next two play-off games with a little bit of oomph behind us. I think from the neutral point of view it’ll be fantastic. I think it’s going to be really set up for us to go and put the performances in - and the fans will support us. It’s great to be involved in it still and the play-offs are a great occasion to show what we’re about and have been all season.
“We learned a lot from the experience and having been through the process. It’s human nature that sometimes players get nervous and we probably felt Wycombe were the Manchester United of the league when they weren’t. I think we need to take Portsmouth as a normal game and not create the atmosphere that this is a play-off game. The main thing is to try and play it as a normal game and take the tactics and what we’ve been doing well all season in to that game.”
Adams also gave an update on Argyle's fitness situation and revealed that he would not risk playing any of Argyle's players who happened to be carrying injuries or illnesses into the game, saying: "We've got five or six that will be out for Saturday - out injured or illness. If they're struggling with injury or they're 50/50, 75/25 or whatever it is, then they'll not play. There's a wee bit of illness going around the squad at this moment in time, and we just have to deal with that in the best possible way. I would hazard a guess that we would have near enough a full strength side going into the play-offs next Thursday. We've still got Carl McHugh and Reuben Reid that will definitely miss Saturday's game," said Adams, "both of them haven't trained this week. He's trained today, Peter Hartley. He'll be fine for Saturday."
The football league have announced the dates and times of Argyle's play off games against Portsmouth. The sixth against fifth tie will take place on Thursday May 12th at 7.45pm and the fifth against sixth tie will take place on Sunday May 15th at 6PM. Derek Adams had this to say about the arrangement: “We’ll sit down and look at the recovery periods, between the Saturday game and the Thursday game, and go from there. We won’t do too much different if it is home or away, other than travel the day before. We’ll have to look at the injury situation for Hartlepool. We have to be careful if we have any injuries that are doubtful for the Saturday game – I wouldn’t really want to risk them before playing on Thursday. We’ve got a number of injuries – we’ll assess them and put a squad together to try and win the match against Hartlepool. Obviously, we have a bigger fixture on the Thursday to look at as well, But we want to put on a good show on the Saturday before that. We want to win every game we are involved in. It is no different throughout the season. We have got to look forward to the two play-off games, but we need to try to win on Saturday to add to our points total. It maybe doesn’t matter it great scale of things, but as a manager and a player you want to gather the points.”
Adams also gave updates on the fitness progress of Reuben Reid and Josh Simpson respectively: “I’m not sure as yet, I would be hopeful I can get him back for one of the game, possibly two. He is trying to get himself fit and prepared for these games.
"I’ve been told it’s very unlikely that Josh will be available. He hasn’t trained at all – he’s had a setback – and it’s disappointing. He’s missed a lot of games this season with injury. I wouldn’t have thought so. I had hoped he might be available for the first play-off game, but I’ve been told that might not be possible. Too many injuries have stop-started his season. When you’ve got a small squad – as we have – then it’s not something we need.”
Derek Adams has said that, in spite of natural disappointment from missing out on the automatic promotion places, he still views Argyle's season thus far as a success. He spoke philosophically, saying: "When I came here at the football club. I said that I would try and improve things, and I've done that. I've come here and we've played entertaining football. We've been able to get to 78 points already; we've had the most away wins for a long time; we've picked up good victories. From my point of view there's a lot of good teams in this league, and it's been difficult. They're disappointed because the game's just finished, but they can't be disappointed with the season we've had. You could be like other teams in this division, where next Saturday's the end of the season for them and they've got nothing else to play for. We've won 23 games this season and we've done exceptionally well away from home."
Adams reflection continued to look forward to the play-offs and bemoan Argyle's lack of defending to see their way over the automatic promotion line: "We're finishing in the play-off positions. We've given it a good go today and both teams needed to win the game, and neither team did. It's been a very good season so far, and we've got a good number of games now to play to get us to League 1. We've got a limited squad - everybody knows that - but they've given us every single ounce that they've got. It's going to be a very big game for both football clubs - the two best supported football clubs in the league. I think both clubs have shown that they've got a very strong fanbase, and on their day they've got a strong squad. They've spent heavily this season to invest, and it's going to be a good game. It's two football clubs that have done exceptionally well this season. We've taken over 1,500 here today. They've followed us throughout the season and they've always had something to shout about. We've given it our best efforts. We haven't defended well enough. If we defended well enough we'd be automatically up. There's no doubt about it. If we'd taken our chances we'd be automatically up, but that's the nature of sport and football. We can all say this and that, but that's where we are."
Kelvin Mellor spoke similarly and was optimistic about Argyle's chances of a positive conclusion to the play-offs and the season. Mellor: “It’s football; it’s tough, isn’t it? We have just got to take it. It is disappointing, but we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down, train again next week, have a good week, work hard, and look forward to Saturday. As a group, we have got to stick together, get a game-plan, stick to it, and I am sure the results will take care of themselves. If we prepare mentally right, we have got enough ability to do it.”
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