A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Bobby Williamson is hopeful that Mathias Kouo-Doumbe will be fit for Saturday's game against Burnley following the injury he sustained at the end of last weekends defeat at Leicester. "Mat had a nasty cut above his eye," Williamson said. "He had eight internal and 16 external stitches. Thankfully, he was not concussed because if he had been he would have been missing for three weeks, but that never happened. It was a bad one and he was in a lot of pain. He has a bit of discolouration to his eye and he will have a scar. But he was far too pretty in the first place! If you look at his partner, Graham Coughlan, he's not as pretty. He has put his head in front of a few boots. It was only a matter of time before it caught up with Mat. But he was very committed and very brave when he got the injury. Unfortunately he never headed the ball. He headed an opponent, but credit to him for trying to get himself on the scoresheet. I would think he'll be available for Saturday. The stitches will come out later in the week and he may play with some form of protection."
Bobby Williamson has hinted that his players run the risk of being replaced if they continue to fail to learn from the mistakes they have been making this season. "We've got to work harder at stopping crosses coming into our box," he said. "We were working on that in training last Thursday, but unfortunately some of our players don't seem to have appreciated the importance of that work. It is a concern. We have to keep stressing that point to players. It's up to the players to show me that they can learn lessons and become better players. It can't go on forever. We have to stop crosses coming into the box - starting on Saturday. The fans have to be aware that I'm always trying to make this team better. That's nothing against the players I've already got at the club. They shouldn't feel threatened by that, if they have confidence in their own ability, but I'm always out there looking to see if there are players that can complement what we already have. If there are players out there who are better than what we have, then as a manager I have to do my best to try and get them here. The players I brought in last summer were signed to complement what we already had at the club and make us a better team."
Hasney Aljofree may feature in tomorrow's reserve fixture at Yeovil Town. "Hasney trained today," Bobby Williamson said, " and hopefully he can play a part in the game at Yeovil." Likely Argyle reserve team: McCormick, Connolly, Routledge, Aljofree, McKeever, Lasley, Hodges, Adams, Dickson, Keith, Sturrock. Subs - Laird, Summerfield, Reski, Bond, Hoyles
Argyle's under-18s will play Darlington in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at Home Park on Tuesday December 14th at 7pm. Admission prices are £3 for adults, £2 for senior citizens and students, and £1 for under-16s. The reserve game against Swindon Town on the same evening will therefore be postponed
Marino Keith said of the moment when he could have saved Argyle from defeat by Leicester City on Saturday: "Mickey laid it on, just in front of me. I knew the keeper was a big, imposing guy so I just tried to hit it across him. I knew there were quite a few people on their way in there and I didn't know whether it might ricochet in or he would parry it out to somebody. Rather than go for the near post, I thought I would hit it across him and improve the chances but he pulled off a decent save and got enough on it to get it clear of anybody. I thought he was quite safe all match. He was punching clear in the area and wasn't putting himself under any danger. He did quite well but I'm disappointed myself, obviously, because as a striker you are looking to score every chance you get. Although we have lost 2-1, I think the players can still take a lot of confidence out of it. I don't think we have been slaughtered by any means. We have come here and given a good account of ourselves. Had it not been for the few minutes of sloppiness at the start of the second half I think the result could have been far different. It was annoying because we stress week in, week out, that we must start each half well. And when we don't do that and they punish us like that, it's hard to take. We're not far away. We've held our own in a lot of games that we eventually lost. Anyone looking from the outside in can see that we're not being overawed by the whole scenario of playing in the Championship."
Bobby Williamson has played down speculation that Mathias Kouo-Doumbe could be a target for Everton when the transfer window opens in January. Williamson said: "There are representatives from loads of clubs at games every week. To suggest Everton are looking at someone in particular is misleading. I have had no dialogue with Everton." Paul Stapleton added that Doumbe was 'a very important part of our team.' He said: "We would expect a lot of clubs to be watching a lot of our players because they are all good quality but may be an unknown quantity to some managers. As far as we are concerned, Mathias Doumbe is doing a good job and is very settled here."
Bobby Williamson questioned his players' mental strength after yesterdays defeat. He said: "As yet, I've not seen any team that's much, much better than us. We're capable and we can compete in this league, but we have got to be stronger, mentally, especially early in matches, whether it be first half or second half. I don't think Leicester did terribly well to take the three points. They scored two good goals from their point of view, but we're disappointed in the manner in which we conceded them. We know we could have stopped them happening. If we don't let crosses come in, we don't have to worry about the headers in the box - if you stop it happening at source, that's it - but we're letting the ball come into the box. We have got to stay solid for the 90-odd minutes and we never did that. We let ourselves go. There was a lot of talking in the dressing-room but nobody seems to have been listening - to be caught by the two goals we have been caught with is hard to take. We know we've got to shut balls down in the wide areas, and we know we've got to pick up in the box, and we've done neither. It's disappointing. Ten minutes in the second half has cost us. It was always going to be difficult to get back into it, but we chopped and changed and tried to get the ball forward but, unfortunately for us, we couldn't get an equaliser. The effort is week in, week out. We do work hard at our game. We haven't been starting well in games and we started better today but to look at the positives now is really, really difficult because we're still hurting from defeat. It was disappointing for our fans who turned up in great numbers and encouraged us every step of the way. We've let them down with the result, if not the performance." Of Marino Keith's late chance Williamson said: "It was a good chance. Marino made the goalkeeper save it, and I'll give credit to the 'keeper rather than criticise one of my strikers for missing an opportunity." Williamson also thought Argyle should have had a penalty and said: "I thought it was a penalty. I felt Tony Capaldi might have impeded his man before Peter Gilbert got to the ball, but the referee played on. Gilbert has got onto the ball and his legs have been taken away from him, and the referee deemed that not a penalty. I don't know why. Maybe he felt he should have blown his whistle earlier in that situation, but two wrongs have never made a right as far as I'm concerned."
Argyle lose 2-1 at Leicester City, the goal scored by Tony Capaldi after 9 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Kouo-Doumbe, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Wotton, Capaldi, Evans, Crawford. Subs - Adams, Makel, Keith (not used - Lasley, Hodges). Attendance - 23,799.
Steven Milne could have keyhole surgery to try to solve a persistent knee injury.Bobby Williamson said: "It's looking like Stevie might require an operation, just to have a look inside and tidy up his knee. He has not got peace of mind and the scans have not really shown anything. The only way to find out is to have a look inside and do some keyhole surgery I would imagine. We will see how he is over the next couple of days."
Stuart Yetton has returned early from his loan spell at Weymouth because of a back problem and will start a weight training programme within the next week to 10 days
Hasney Aljofree has returned to training with the Argyle squad and Bobby Williamson said: "It's a step in the right direction for Hasney and, hopefully, he will keep progressing. I don't put targets on anybody. If I set a target for next week and they don't make it they are disappointed so I try not to put that in front of them."
David Friio wants Argyle to rediscover the form that earned them victory at Wigan Athletic. He said: "We have to start the game well at Leicester. It is a big pitch and a magnificent stadium and we have to be focused on our game, like we were at Wigan. That has to be our reference point. If we do the same things that we did there, then we can get a result. It's easy to say we're going to get more space away from home, but it depends how the game goes. If we let in two early goals, like we did at Coventry, we won't get that space. We have to accommodate every situation - we knew that every game was going to be tough this season. It was hard against Stoke because we didn't mix our game enough. We have worked on that this week. We have worked on the passing between the defenders and the striker, and then the striker and the midfielders, to make sure that we are doing the right runs at the right time. Sometimes we were doing the right run but too early or too late. The only way to perfect the system is to keep working at it and do the same thing over and over again in training sessions. Then it will come during games." Friio limped off the pitch last weekend, but he will be fit to play his part today, barring any late mishap. "I wasn't happy against Stoke because I sprained the same ankle that I did against Reading," he said. "It was OK to keep going but I wasn't 100 per-cent. When there are central midfielders on the bench, you have to give them a chance when they can do better than you, so it was my own decision to ask for a substitution. But it is fine now."
Bobby Williamson has admitted there will not be 'too many changes, if any' for the game against Leicester tomorrow. "If I tell you, I will be telling Leicester how we are going to approach the game," he said. "I think the less they know about us the better. When it comes to formations and shapes of teams, I don't talk about that publicly. It's up to the opposition to do their work and see how we operate. It's really only my opinion that counts anyway, so I will keep it to myself just now. I don't think we did terribly badly last week. I'm not expecting there to be too many changes, if any. We will wait and see." Leicester will start tomorrow's match as favourites to beat Argyle, and that suits Williamson. Williamson said: "I hope the people who were putting us down as favourites and speculating how well we were going to do at Coventry have learned their lesson. I certainly knew before the game it wasn't going to be as easy as some people suspected. As a football fan, you want to see your team playing against the best and overcoming the best, but I have had a reality check in football every other week. I know what to expect. It's going to be very difficult and very tough but if we can play as well as we can do then we can get a result. I have got to try to get the players in the right frame of mind to go along with that approach." More than 2,000 tickets have been sold to Argyle supporters in advance for the club's first trip to the Walkers Stadium. Williamson has been there before, however, having seen Leicester beat Coventry 3-0 earlier this month. He said: "Their crowd are very passionate and it was a great atmosphere that night. It's a lovely stadium and I'm sure our supporters will enjoy going up there. I hope our players are looking forward to playing there because it's a great venue. We have got to go there and give a good account of ourselves."
Jamie Laird will captain Scotland under-16s in their Victory Shield match against England at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, tomorrow night
Argyle youth players Brinton Nute and Kenny Schofield are joining Western League Saltash United and Southern League Clevedon Town, respectively, both on work experience. Meanwhile, first-year apprentice Daniel Rose has been released reluctantly by the club. Rose found it difficult to settle in Plymouth and has returned to Hertfordshire
Stuart Gibson was pleased with yesterdays reserve team performance, he said: "It was the proverbial game of two halves. We were very good in the first half, with some excellent passing and movement and should have scored more than the two goals. It was quite comfortable for us and we just relaxed a little bit too much in the second half and, credit to them, they didn't give us the same amount of space in the second half. It was a good test for our young back four and they stood toe to toe with them. I thought John Routledge was outstanding and he's maturing very well. Everybody came through the game unscathed and it was a good 90 minutes work for the players in and around the first team."
Argyle reserves beat Cheltenham Town reserves 2-1, the goals coming from Marino Keith and Tony Capaldi. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Routledge, Laird, Dickson, Lasley, Hodges, Adams, Capaldi, Keith, Sturrock. Subs -McKeever, Summerfield, Zebroski.
Bobby Williamson believes Tony Capaldi still has a lot of room for improvement after his comeback from a broken left leg. Williamson said: "Tony looked a bit ring-rusty on Saturday and he has got a long way to go yet. I think he doesn't feel as sharp as he should, but once he gets back to full fitness I'm sure we will see a better performance from him. Everybody has been telling me how much we have missed Tony. We will see how things go through the course of the week whether he's involved on Saturday again."
On-loan Argyle defender Matt Villis made his full league debut for Torquay in their 2-1 win at Port Vale on Saturday. Torquay boss Leroy Rosenior said: "Matt Villis was tremendous. I didn't see him put a foot wrong and he and Craig Taylor dealt with their front two very well." Another Argyle loanee, Gary Sawyer, earned rave reviews for his performance in Exeter's 5-1 win over Leigh RMI on Saturday and also scored one of the goals. Bobby Williamson believes Villis and Sawyer will benefit from the first-team experience they are getting at their respective clubs. "It gets these guys games and I will keep an eye on how they are progressing," he said
Graham Coughlan is the only ever-present for Argyle this season but he refuses to take his first-team spot for granted. For most of those matches his centre-back partner was Paul Wotton, but for the last 10 it has been Mathias Doumbe. "We are going alright," said Coughlan, when asked about his partnership with Doumbe. "Obviously, it will take time and I wouldn't say it's finished, but you have got to keep on your toes because you are looking over your shoulder all the time. You don't know who's going to come in and take your jersey. I have done well over the previous seasons but, as the gaffer has said, that counts for nothing now. We are in a new league and I have got to keep on my toes. My own form this season has been patchy but I am enjoying it. It's a great education and here's to the next 26 games." Coughlan and Doumbe were both in great form on Saturday, against Stoke's powerful strikers Ade Akinbiyi and Gifton Noel-Williams. "The two of them were big, strong and pacy," said Coughlan. "They held the ball up well and were a handful, but I have to say I thought myself and Mattie did okay. I'm not one for throwing bouquets and I don't really like giving praise but I thought we did okay. We were happy with our afternoon's work. It's obviously nice as a back player to keep a clean sheet. I think that was just our sixth in 20 games." Coughlan admitted teams were making it hard by defending in depth and trying to catch them out with the pace and power of their strikers. He said: "Every team that has come here, including Wigan, have got nine men behind the ball and banged it forward for the front two. That's just the way this league is. You stack up behind the ball when you go away from home."
Bobby Williamson had promised to apologise for his criticisms of referee Paul Taylor if subsequent examination of video evidence revealed that the official had been right to deny Argyle a goal against Stoke City on Saturday but after viewing the match footage, Williamson was even more certain that Mathias Kouo-Doumbe's header was a perfectly good goal. He said: "I still feel it was a decent goal. There are incidents going on in the penalty area at every set-piece. There are people holding on to people, there's pushing, there's shoving and I don't see what the big deal was this time. I didn't see much such wrong. Nothing happened that hadn't happened at previous corners. It was disappointing but now we just have to accept it and move on. There's absolutely nothing we can do about it now. I could complain to the FA but they'll not take much notice of it. It was the second time we've had that referee this season and we'll probably have him again in the future. Hopefully that was just a bad day for him and he'll have a good day next time."
Blair Sturrock is set to return from his trial spell at Swansea. Bobby Williamson said: "Blair is on his way back. I've spoken to Kenny Jackett and his priorities have changed. He's got suspensions but four strikers available so he's going to have to look to strengthen other areas of his team."
Graham Coughlan claimed Argyle had been robbed of victory by referee Paul Taylor after the draw with Stoke on Saturday. "We have asked him was it a push, was it a pull, was it a tug, was it holding?" said Coughlan. "We have asked him what the foul was given for and he just kept saying 'it was a foul, go away.' If that's the way he wants to speak to people then so be it. There's not a lot we can do about it. I have never seen a decision like that given. With every free-kick and throw-in that comes into the box there is bumping and barging. It's part and parcel of the game. He has got to blow his whistle then every time the ball comes near us. We have to challenge for it. We can't just stand with our hands down by our sides. I'm still adamant there was absolutely nothing in it. 'I would like to see it again on TV and that should clear it up. But to be fair, if it was a foul I would be very, very surprised. I can't believe he has got involved in something that was nothing to do with him. Let the game go. Just stay out of it. If it's something serious, yes, get involved and do your job. But they always say the best referees you never see and, obviously, we have seen him all day. I can't say too much. I don't want to get into bother. I will leave that to others. But I just hope there was an assessor maybe sitting up top." Coughlan was also convinced Argyle sHould have been awarded a penalty for a foul on Stevie Crawford by defender Clint Hill. He said: "I was 40-50 yards down the park and I could see the boy had his arm around his neck. Now the referee was 10 yards away and doesn't see that. You have got to rest your case. You have just got to chuck the towel in and say 'right, we are not going to get anything.' And then there has been the slightest little contact with people and he has blown up. So what's a foul? I don't know. It was baffling. To be fair, it was embarrassing." Crawford thought a penalty should have been given for the challenge on him by Hill. "I always feel centre-halves are pulling and tugging at you," he said. "But it's the reaction of the other boys in the team I'm going by. They were more or less sure it was a penalty, with the boy all over me. When you are on the pitch you do get caught up in things like that anyway. But I just knew from my team-mates' reaction they felt it should have been a penalty."
Bobby Williamson was convinced that his side deserved to beat Stoke yesterday and held nothing back in his criticisms of referee Paul Taylor. He condemned Taylor's handling of the game and was unhappy that he disallowed what looked like a perfectly good goal from Mathias Kouo-Doumbe five minutes from time. "I thought it was a goal," said Williamson. "The referee saw something and deemed it a free-kick to Stoke, and until I see the video I can't really argue - but it looked a perfectly good goal to me. If I am wrong I will apologise to the referee; if he's got it wrong, I don't know what he will do, he will probably not apologise, that's for sure. I think Mat Doumbe headed it in and I think Graham Coughlan barged into Mat Doumbe. I couldn't see anybody bumping into any Stoke players. I thought today was all about the referee, to be honest. He dominated the game from start to finish with bad decisions, carrying on regardless, and strutting about the park. He looked very good out there, strutting about, and he seemed to get the backs up of everyone, both sets of supporters and both benches were up in arms about some of the decisions he made. Even after the game, the referee was first up the tunnel and I thought they had to stay to the end to make sure the players got off the park safely. That just summed the man up today, I am afraid. It wasted the game, I felt. I wasn't abusive, I've never sworn at an official in my life and I've no intentions of doing so, but it was so frustrating. I think Stoke will be frustrated as well, but they got a point and will be happy with that. I think they came for a result, and they got a result. If they had got any more they would have been well over the moon and delighted about that. We gave a good account of ourselves. Both defences were on top at times. There wasn't a lot of action to talk about." Regarding the challenge by Hill on Crawford, Williamson said: "He had his arm right round his neck and why it is not a penalty-kick, I'll never know. If he deems he is not impeding him, I don't know what impeding is. The referee had a clear view of it and refused to call it. I don't know why. He upset everybody and incited the fans because of these bad decisions."
Argyle draw 0-0 at Home Park against Stoke City. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Coughlan, Doumbe, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Wotton, Capaldi, Evans, Crawford. Subs - Makel (not used - Adams, Lasley, Hodges, Keith). Attendance - 15,264. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Bobby Williamson has reassured Paul Connolly that he is still very much part of his plans at Home Park. He said: "Paul is very much part of the squad. He will be a big player for us in the future, as he has been in the past. At this moment in time, David Worrell has done okay and he stays in the team. Paul played in a reserve game the other night and got another 90 minutes under his belt. My concern with players who are out of the first team is their match fitness. We try to arrange games to keep them match fit but it's difficult finding quality opposition. I'm not being disrespectful to Weymouth, but it's not something that quenches the appetite of senior players, and that's a problem. Paul is in the same position as Luke McCormick, Stevie Adams, Lee Hodges and players like that. They have just got to keep their heads up and keep being professional. If they get their opportunity they have got to be prepared to take it." Argyle reserves will play their first match for more than a month at Cheltenham on Tuesday but the match will come too soon for Hasney Aljofree to make his comeback from shoulder and knee injuries. Williamson said: "Hasney is still not training with us. Once he's back into full training we can start considering him for reserve matches and take it from there. At this moment in time, he's still a week away at least."
Tony Capaldi is hoping to start against Stoke today. "It was nice to get back last weekend, after seven weeks out," he said. "It was so frustrating only being able to watch the lads play. It was great to be involved again. I feel OK. I've done plenty of fitness work. We trained on Tuesday morning and I played for an hour the same night in the reserve game at Weymouth. I've had a few little aches and pains in my legs but nothing out of the ordinary, so I'm ready to play against Stoke if selected. Injury-wise, there'll be no problem if I'm picked. Fitness- wise, we'll have to wait and see because I haven't played 90 minutes for a long while now. But I'm ready to start tomorrow if the gaffer wants me to play. It has been frustrating. You always want to be out there on the pitch. There's not much worse than sitting out games through injury. I've been at all the home games giving the lads my support, but I'm so pleased to be involved again now." Argyle lost only two of the eight games Capaldi missed. "The lads have played really well," he added. "We've seen all season that there are no teams in this league who are far better than we are."
Bobby Williamson has called on his players to bounce back from the disappointment of the defeat at Coventry last weekend. He said: "We lost the last game and I'm looking for a positive reaction from the players. I know it hurts everybody at the club when we suffer a defeat in the manner we did last week. I'm looking for us to bounce back, and to start the game a lot better than we did at Coventry. Hopefully we can start the way we finished, by getting at Stoke and putting them under a lot of pressure, the same way Coventry did to us. But Stoke aren't going to come here and just let us run over the top. They are a big, strong team. They have got strengths and we have got to be aware of that. I'm hoping we work hard enough to get the breaks we need to go on and win the match. Each game is different and it just needs one piece of magic or a break going in your favour and that can suddenly turn. I'm sure Tony Pulis is like every manager in this league. You always think your team could do better. He may be thinking if they can get one goal they could go on and score a barrel load, and somebody is going to be on the receiving end. I just hope it's not going to be us, and we can reward our supporters for their backing with a victory." The game against Stoke is Argyle's first home game in 19 days and Williamson said: "It's good to be back home. The fans will turn up in numbers and get behind us and give us their backing, as they do every game. We want to make it difficult for teams to beat us here. I think we did that against Reading and West Ham. I felt we deserved more out of those games. We have got to work very hard tomorrow if we want to get anything out of the game. If we don't give everything we have got then we will not get anything."
Marino Keith has shaken off the hip injury he suffered against Weymouth in midweek and will probably be on the bench tomorrow
David Friio is expecting a physical encounter against Stoke City tomorrow. He said: "They had a very good start and were top of the table in September, but then they had a bad patch. They are not scoring many goals, but they are not conceding many goals either. I think they are on the up again. They got a good result last week and we know it's going to be a physical game. They have got some big lads in the team, especially up front with Akinbiyi and Noel-Williams." Friio admitted it was good to be back playing at Home Park after successive away games. He said: "It's good to come back to Home Park and we will do everything we can to get the three points because we were disappointed with the way we played at Coventry, especially in the first half. We had a really good game at Wigan. Tactically, it was probably our best performance ever. They didn't know how to play us. But we started very badly against Coventry and we have to repay the fans who were there. We had about 2,500 supporters there and it was like playing at home. It was amazing. So we are desperate for the three points tomorrow and it would put us in the right area of the league again. At this moment we are not facing a relegation battle. We are more looking on the up. Now we are playing at home again and we need to get three points, it's as simple as that." Friio revealed Argyle had been working hard in training this week on their defending at corners and free-kicks after both of Coventry's goals came from set pieces. "We have to get back to being solid at the back, because I think we are always going to score goals," he said. "And we haven't got only one person in our team who can score goals. We know they can come from three, four or five players. If we can defend like we did against Reading in the first half, but for 90 minutes, I don't think there is a single team in the league who can compete with us. We are good enough to beat anyone. We proved that against Wigan but, on the other hand, the consistency is not there yet. That's going to make the difference in where we finish this season. We need to get on a run of six or seven games unbeaten, maybe lose one and then get on another run. That's the way to go forward." Of Argyle's eight defeats this season, only one of them has been by more than a one-goal margin. Friio added: "We are losing too many games by the odd goal. We have lost only one by two goals - at Watford. That means we are not that far from the consistency we need, but it's not enough yet. I'm sure it will come with time."
Bobby Williamson today reiterated his open-door policy regarding supporters' criticisms of the Pilgrims. Williamson has previously invited unhappy Argyle fans to contact him directly and he repeated that invitation today in the wake of remarks he made concerning supporters' comments on the internet. He called posters to message-boards on fans' websites 'very sad or very lonely', but has since clarified that remark by saying that he was not referring exclusively to Argyle supporters. However, he does believe that derogatory postings, or speculation about transfers, can have a destabilising effect on players. "I wasn't particularly addressing our fans," he said. "I was talking about football fans in general. Given the geography of the club, and its worldwide fan-base, I know message-boards can provide a valuable forum for fans to interact - as long as it's not being abusive towards our players. Supporters should have a good think before they broadcast comments where the whole world can see them, these remarks are read by players, by players' families, and are capable of having a detrimental effect. I'm sure no real fan of the club would want that. Personally, I don't read them, I think they can be demoralising and demotivating, but I'm willing to discuss anything with any of our supporters. If anyone wants to speak to me about anything, they can come to see me. All they have to do is make an appointment."
Paul Wotton's autobiography - 'My Journey: the First Ten Years' will be launched on December 5th
Bobby Williamson has attacked claims there is not enough goalscoring talent in his squad. He said: "I am quite comfortable with the players I have got in the squad. There seems to be a lot of concern from outsiders and supporters but I would like to ease those a bit. I believe in these players and hopefully most of the fans do as well. We are the sixth or seventh highest goalscorers in this division so the supporters should not be overly concerned. If we had to rely on one man to score our goals then I think we would be in trouble, but goals have been well shared out. We have got players in the squad who can score goals, but I am not getting complacent. I'm always keeping my eyes on players who may be available." Williamson derided the football internet sites, where speculation on potential signings is rife. "These people must be very sad or lonely," he said. "I deal with individuals face to face, but a lot of players do unfortunately read this internet rubbish, and may think we are in for a player, when we are not. Fans should only concern themselves with what happens on a Saturday, and I think most of them do. Some fans think they are managers because they play fantasy football. But they don't deal with players on a daily basis and have not seen training. Fans should have confidence on me and my ability and let me look at the transfer market." Williamson has been told by the board of directors funds are available to strengthen the squad but he refused to reveal how much finance is available to buy players. "I am not going to shout from the rooftops that I have got half a million, a million, whatever the figure is," he said. "As soon as you make that figure known, clubs increase the valuation of a player. You do read managers of other clubs talking about wanting players. I never do that and managers should be brought to task for that."
Argyle have been drawn at home to Milton Keynes Dons or Darlington in the FA Youth Cup third round. MK Dons and Darlington will meet on November 23rd, with the winners travelling to Home Park on December 18th
Bobby Williamson remains confident that Argyle are capable of holding their own this season, and that there are no teams in the League to fear. "There isn't much separating any of the teams in this League that I've seen so far," he said. "That's reassuring for us. We know that if we get the breaks and keep working hard, then we'll be OK. Nobody has over-run us over a whole game this season so far. I've not seen anything to really frighten me, to be honest. I know we're capable and it's just a case of believing that and putting it to the test." Williamson is aware that his job combines the need to enhance his team's self-belief with the necessity to warn against over-confidence, the latter role coming into play prior to the trip to Coventry. "We did try and guard them from complacency, but when everybody is talking about us being favourites going into away matches and nonsense like that, it is difficult. Players believe what they read, unfortunately, and they get into that mindset and it's hard to get them out of it. They only realise once the game has started, and by then it's usually too late. You always have to keep on reminding players how and why we got results. Then they have to have the belief to go out there and try and achieve things. We've got a big game on Saturday at home to Stoke and we've got to try and pick up points against them." A lack of reserve-team matches has hindered Williamson in his efforts to keep his entire squad match-fit. Last week, after efforts to bring Wycombe Wanderers' reserve side to Plymouth for a friendly fell through and plans for a game against St Blazey came to nothing, Argyle resorted to arranging a private practice match involving the senior and youth squads. This week, against Weymouth's second team, Paul Connolly and Steve Adams were given full games, while Keith Lasley was on the field for 75 minutes and Tony Capaldi for an hour. Steven Milne was deemed unfit to play and Marino Keith suffered another injury early in the first half. "Unfortunately for us, Marino took a knock on the hip," Williamson said. "It isn't as serious as we first thought, but it took him out of the game. Weymouth was a long way to go just to play ten minutes or so. We wanted him to play a full game so that he could come back into consideration. Stevie Milne wasn't fit enough to play. He picked up a slight knock in training on his knee. As a precaution, we didn't take any chances with him. It's difficult to get the quality of reserve competition that we need, but we've just got to make sure that we work the players hard enough in training so that, if they do get an opportunity, they can go straight into the first team and hopefully do well."
Stevie Crawford won his twenty-fourth Scotland cap as a substitute in last nights 4-1 loss to Sweden
Luke McCormick has spoken out about his disappointment at not being in the first team for last weekend's visit to his home city of Coventry. "Coventry away was the first fixture I looked for in the summer," he said. "It was hard not playing. When I was at school I had a season- ticket at Coventry. I watched the game with a lot of family and friends, but I couldn't help think that it could have been me out there. It was very frustrating, but it just makes me more hungry to get back in the team." In order to gain some match practice, McCormick joined Boston United on a month's loan in mid-October and played in two League Two games before making way for regular 'keeper, Nathan Abbey, who recovered from a broken finger. "I definitely benefited from going to Boston," McCormick said. "Even if it was only for two games, they were two games that I needed, to be honest with you. It was disappointing that I couldn't stay for the rest of the month, but I understood the situation. I did quite enjoy my spell with Boston, but at the same time I was very pleased to come back. It was a bit of an eye-opener there. You tend to forget just how good you've got it here. It makes you appreciate Home Park and the facilities here more. And Boston don't have a goalkeeping coach, so it was good to get back here and work with Geoff Crudgington." In the short term, McCormick would consider another loan move. "If something was to come up I would definitely look at it," he said, "because I do need to be playing first-team football. The ideal situation would be for me to get back in the Argyle first team, but I don't want that to happen because of an injury to Romain."
Goals from Scott Laird and Chris Zebroski gave Argyles reserve side a 2-1 win against Weymouth in last night's friendly. Marino Keith was substituted early in the game with another injury problem. He limped off after 15 minutes and is thought to have suffered a thigh or groin problem. Tony Capaldi played 60 minutes on the left, and his set pieces set up both the goals. Stuart Gibson said: "The physio will take a look at Keith's injury on Wednesday. I was pleased with the performance. We had five 16-year-olds on the pitch, and they gelled really well with the older pros." Argyle: Schofield, Connolly, Routledge, Laird, Dickson, Reski, Lasley, Adams, Capaldi, Keith, Zebroski. Subs - Bond, Summerfield, Rowbotham, McKeever
Bobby Williamson has one prime concern on the training ground this week - to stop Argyle conceding goals from set-pieces. "We should be well organised," he said. "We know what we want to do at set-pieces to defend them, but unfortunately we didn't do it as well as we would have liked. With Coventry's first goal, we conceded from a corner and I think we had four players in there who could all have done better and could have prevented the goal. With their second goal, we should have had a player in line with the ball and the goal. We did have a player in position to block that but unfortunately he decided to move away to mark a spare man. If you look at this league, most teams are scoring goals from set-pieces. It's the only time a manager can tell players what to do during a game. Once the game is in open play, then it's up to the players. I don't want to have to kick every ball for them. They'll end up becoming robots, not individuals. When they get the ball in the last third of the field, they have to improvise. They have to have the ability and skill to carve teams open, and create and take chances." At Wigan, Argyle had been able to play a counter-attacking game, while at Coventry they were obliged to take the initiative after conceding two early goals. Asked if his side were better suited to playing on the break, Williamson said: "Hitting teams on the counter is the best course of attack, because you can outnumber the opposition when they push men forward. That's where most goals come from, but if the other side decide to play the same game, then you don't get a game. We do try and vary the structure of the team. We changed a few times in the course of the game on Saturday, when we switched from 4-1-4-1 to 4-4-2 and then 3-4-3 at the end, when we threw on another striker to try and get an equaliser. We'll always throw caution to the wind at that stage of a game, if we're losing. We tried our best on Saturday, and maybe on another day we would have got something."
Bobby Williamson is hoping Stevie Crawford gets a boost of confidence by scoring for Scotland against Sweden tomorrow. He said: "I hope Stevie gets a game and gets a couple of goals under his belt. That will give him more confidence for coming back and, hopefully, we can get the benefit from that."
Marino Keith will play for Argyle reserves in their friendly at Weymouth tonight after recovering from an ankle ligament injury. Paul Connolly, Lee Hodges and Steven Milne are also expected to feature and there could be a run-out for Tony Capaldi. Bobby Williamson said: "The ones who have not been featuring recently will get a game tonight. It should be a reasonably strong squad. I will have a look at Tony in training today and decide whether I think he needs another part of a game under his belt."
Argyle's Ryan Moon will captain Wales under-16s against Northern Ireland in Ballymena on Thursday
Mickey Evans knows Argyle will have to stop conceding soft goals before they can climb the Championship table. He said: "When you give away two bad goals in the first half like we did, you don't expect to get anything from the game. We went out after half-time with nothing to lose. It's easy to give it everything when you're 2-0 down, but the disappointing thing is to be 2-0 down in the first place. That's what we've got to look at. At the moment we're conceding soft goals. It's hard enough to get points in this division and it's even harder if you're giving away soft goals at the beginning of the game. You can't blame individuals, though, it's the team's responsibility in defence and attack. The good thing is, though, that we had the spirit to get back into the game. I thought we were going to nick a point at the end, but it wasn't to be. I was pleased with the goal. I can't remember the last time I scored one like that. It was a long, long time ago. But it was a bit academic, really, because of the result. In the second half we had no complaints, but in the first half I think we did. After our first-half performance we deserved nothing, so looking back it was probably the right result in the end."
Paul Wotton admitted Argyle paid the price for making a sloppy start when they lost at Coventry on Saturday. He said: "Coventry started strongly but, to be honest, we didn't start at all. We didn't do what we normally do away from home and we found ourselves 2-0 down before we knew it. In this league, it was always going to be an uphill battle after that. We said at half-time if we could get an early goal we would be right back in it and the second half performance was a lot better. We did the things we are good at. We got more tackles in - which wasn't difficult - and we got a lot closer to them all over the pitch. We huffed and puffed but we didn't really create too much. It shows how far we have come that we are disappointed to have lost away to Coventry. There were not a great deal of positives to take from it. We know what we did wrong and we will just put it behind us and concentrate on the next game." Wotton scored with a deflected free-kick in the win over Wigan, but was not so lucky against Coventry, hitting the post in the 57th minute. He said: "The keeper left a big gap and I just tried whipping it into the corner but it clipped off the outside of the post. It was one of those days. Last week, I got a deflection and it went in. These things do tend to balance themselves out. We had them on the rack after Mickey scored a great goal and it's just a shame we didn't go on from there. We felt we could have got something from the game." Of the 2,500 Argyle fans at Highfield Road, Wotton said: "They were fantastic and we were all disappointed we couldn't get a result for them after they had travelled all that way. Our away supporters never cease to amaze me."
Argyle today released details of a half-season ticket offer which begins with the home game against QPR and will be valid for another 10 matches. Half-season ticket-holders will also be given priority-ticketing rights for away games and cup-ties and 10% discount in the club shop. A full adult half-season ticket is £180, with discounts for senior citizens (£120); the Mayflower Terrace price is adult £135 (discounts £110); and the disabled stand price (discounts £90). The price for children in all categories is £45
Blair Sturrock is training with Swansea City. Following a trial with Northampton Town, Blair spent part of last week at Bristol Rovers. Bobby Williamson said: "He was offered the chance to go back to Bristol Rovers, but he's decided to go to Swansea. We'll see what comes out of that."
Bobby Williamson admitted Argyle always faced a massive task after conceding two goals in the opening 15 minutes at Highfield Road. He said: "It was the worst possible start. We told them before we went out we needed to match them for endeavour and we never did that. We never cleared our lines at any time in the opening spell, and that was disappointing. We invited pressure on top of ourselves." Trailing 2-0 in the 31st minute, Williamson sent on Stevie Crawford as a replacement for Keith Lasley. Asked about the early introduction of Crawford, Williamson said: "You do what you see fit and I felt it was necessary to do that. The formation we were playing is OK to contain teams and then hit them on the counter attack. To try to keep it that way when you are two-nil down is difficult. You are not really going to penetrate as much as you would like, and that's why we changed it." Williamson was not surprised Coventry put in such a spirited performance after their defeat against Leicester. He said: "We knew they would get a reaction - Peter Reid is that type of manager. We knew how fired up they would be and we knew we had to match it. But in the opening spell they played the game in our half and we allowed them them to. I always insist that we try to play in their half but the roles were reversed today. They did that to us and they punished us." Argyle were thrown a lifeline when Mickey Evans scored in the 48th minute. Williamson said: "Mickey took his goal very well. He was a handful. He got the other side of the player, connected sweetly with it and it went in the back of the net. It was a good time for us to get one back and I felt we could have gone on and capitalised on that, but unfortunately for us we never. Credit to Coventry, they played it out and wasted as much time as they could and that's what the game is all about nowadays I'm afraid.” Williamson took some consolation from the fact his team battled back after conceding the two early goals. "We brought a lot of fans up here and if we don't get that effort and commitment from players then I'm going to be bitterly disappointed, for the fans and for the players," he said. "They do work hard for the fans and themselves and they did that. We got ourselves back in the game and I felt we could have got an equaliser but we never put the ball into dangerous areas as much as I would have liked. We'll analyse this game today in depth on Monday. When you watch it, you get up caught up in it. You see important situations in the game, and you learn from them. We've got a week to work this out of our system and hopefully put it right next Saturday. We knew it would be difficult here. As I keep saying to the players, there are no easy games in this league and you can be terrible one week and brilliant the next. We were striving to get a bit of a run going and show a bit of consistency, but maybe our formation wasn't as suitable for this game as it was last week. Sometimes you think you should change it but you're reluctant to do so because you've won the game so well the previous week. It's something to look at, but I've always been fair to players. If they've done well the previous game, I don't often change things. But we've lost this game, so I can have a look at the whole squad. We've got a friendly on Tuesday and some of the squad will play in that. If they impress, they have a chance of being involved next Saturday. Marino Keith will play on Tuesday and Tony Capaldi may play part of the game that night."
Argyle lose 2-1 at Coventry City, the goal scored by Mickey Evans after 48 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Kouo-Doumbe, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Wotton, Makel, Lasley, Evans. Subs - Crawford, Capaldi, Milne (not used - Adams, Hodges). Attendance - 15,314.
Keith Lasley is not expecting an easy time against Coventry today. He said: "It's going to be a hard game. Coventry have not had the best results over the last few weeks, but I'm sure that will make them more determined. But we'll give it our best, as we did last week, and hopefully that will be good enough. On their day, anybody can beat anyone else. It's all about which team is best prepared and plays best on the day. Hopefully that will be us, but it won't be easy because Coventry are an established team in this league." With Argyle making their first visit to Highfield Road since 1966, today's game is one of this season's big attractions for the Green Army. Argyle's away support has impressed Lasley, who was not used to such backing with his last club. "At times Motherwell only had a couple of hundred travelling fans," he said. "It makes a big difference. The travelling supporters give us a big boost, they helped us last week and I'm sure they'll help us again tomorrow." After starting the season on the right of midfield, Lasley has now found a home on the left side.He has yet to feature, however, in his favoured central midfield role. "With the squad we've got, I'm just happy to keep my place in the team," he said. "But it's going to be hard because of the competition for places. That's football, though. You just have to take your opportunities when they come."
Bobby Williamson knows he has to do more than just ask his players for 'more of the same' if they are to repeat last weekends away win. "Team-talks, unfortunately for players, are not short," he said. "We've got to give them as much information as we can about the opposition, without being over-bearing and putting them off. We have to make it clear that Coventry have decent players and we have to highlight their capabilities, and the weaknesses we've spotted. There are not many of those, I must add. It's up to our players to go out there and do what they did last week, and remember how they got the result at Wigan. That result was down to hard work and being organised and playing as well as they can do. If they produce all that again then we shouldn't be too far away, but it will be a totally different game to the one last week. I hope fans are not being misled by recent results and League positions, because Coventry are a very good team. They've been in this division for a few years now and they know how to deal with it. We're well warned. We know Highfield Road will be a very difficult venue for us to travel to and we hope we can do ourselves justice and not let the fans down. Their expectations are up there, and I'm certainly not going to dampen them. It's up to me as a manager to try and get the best out of the players to fulfil the fans' dreams." Williamson's options have been increased by the return to his squad of both Marino Keith and Tony Capaldi. "Both Capaldi and Keith will travel," Williamson said, "and one of them might be on the bench. "I've not made my mind up yet. Both of them have trained this week, but they're well short of match fitness. But they're big parts of this squad and they will be there."
Hasney Aljofree could be back playing by the end of November having started his rehabilitation from the shoulder injury he suffered while on loan at Sheffield Wednesday. Aljofree also returned to Argyle with a swollen knee, which followed surgery in pre-season to repair cartilage damage. Paul Maxwell said: "Hasney started his rehab programme on Monday. The knee is fine, it's just getting the strength back in his shoulder. He also needs to work on improving the range of movement in his shoulder." Bobby Williamson admitted it must have been a frustrating few months for Aljofree. He said: "It has been difficult for him and I feel for him. He worked ever so hard in pre-season and he could have been a first choice at the start of the season but, unfortunately, he picked up an inury. When he did get back to fitness Paul Sturrock came calling and we let him go up there, and then he picks up another injury. I'm hoping after this one that will be all his worries behind him but you never know in football. Hasney has just got to knuckle down and get himself as fit as he can be because he will really need to be superbly fit to get back into the team. Hasney isn't a naturally fit lad. He has got to work very, very hard to keep the pounds off and get himself into shape. It's a big blow for him to have been ruled out for so much of the season."
Romain Larrieu has praised the performances of Mathias Doumbe since he came into the first team. Larrieu said: "He's solid and he's quick, which really helps in this league. He has been up to every challenge that has been put in front of him. He has had a run of games now and he needs to keep going the same way because I don't think he has done anything wrong in any of them - and we have been up against top, top strikers. I'm really happy for him and I think he's enjoying his run in the team. He's settling in now as well, which always takes time. He's still young and he's foreign so David and I have tried to help him as much as we can. The gaffer gave him his chance and I think he has taken it. Now it's up to him to keep his standards where they are at the moment. If he does that I don't think he will be out of the team." Doumbe got his chance at the expense of Paul Wotton, but the captain is now playing in a central midfield role. "He played in midfield for a few games last season," said Larrieu. "He's always up for it. Wherever you put him on the pitch he will do his best. It happens that in this position his best is a very good standard for this league. He was one of our main players last Saturday, even though it's hard to pick somebody out from such a team performance." Larrieu was thrilled with the ease with which Argyle ended the unbeaten record of Wigan. He said: "We were really solid and we frustrated them - you could see it on their faces. They didn't know how to get going. That's what we have been good at over the seasons I have spent here. It was good to see we still have it. If we can reproduce this kind of performance we could get a few more points away from home. From where I was, I thought we were awesome against Wigan. We never looked in danger. They couldn't even get the ball into wide positions to cross it, so we really frustrated them, which is what you need to do away from home. We showed we could do it really well." The victory saw Larrieu keep his second clean sheet in 11 appearances this season. He said: "It was a good feeling. I would take this kind of game every week. If we can frustrate Wigan I think we can frustrate anybody. It's about attitude and hard work. I'm looking forward to this one because we are unbeaten in our last three games. It would be good to keep this run going as long as we can so we need a positive result in Coventry and, hopefully, it will happen. The belief was there before the game against Wigan and we need to carry it into tomorrow."
Bobby Williamson will warn his players against complacency before they take on Coventry City tomorrow. "We are confident without being over-confident," he said. "Coventry will be a different proposition to what Wigan were. We are expecting it to be a difficult game but we have got to go there and do our best." Williamson dismissed any talk that Argyle would start tomorrow's match as favourites after Coventry's recent poor results. "Anybody who thinks that is a fool and they don't know enough about football," he said. "You don't go anywhere on your travels and be favourites nowadays. It's very difficult to get results away from home. Coventry's fans will be very passionate and they will be shouting for every decision. I don't see us as favourites in any game for that matter. We have got to go out there and earn the right to play. That means winning our individual battles. Hopefully, collectively we will win enough of those to go and express ourselves. If we do that, we shouldn't be too far away. I'm confident in our ability. We treat teams with respect but we don't get too carried away. We don't want to put teams on too high a pedestal where we feel inferior." Williamson admitted the Argyle squad had been in high spirits after their victory last week. "You get that most weeks if you have managed to get a result on a Saturday," he said. "But I'm guarded against complacency and I will make sure everybody keeps their feet on the ground and remembers how hard they worked to get that result at Wigan. If we don't work as hard again tomorrow we will not get a result. It's up to me to try to get the best out of each inidividual and then we shouldn't be a bad team."
Argyle reserves will play a friendly at Weymouth next Tuesday evening, November 16th, at 7pm. This is to replace the fixture which was postponed just over two weeks ago
Tony Capaldi is eager to make his first-team comeback, but admits he faces a tough task to regain his place. He played a full 90 minutes in a behind-closed-doors reserves against youth team match on Tuesday, his first football since suffering a broken left leg on September 25th. Capaldi said: "I would like to be in the squad for Saturday and travel up to Coventry with the lads. I probably think it will be difficult for the manager to change the team around. The lads who have played on the left of midfield since I have been out have done well. Keith Lasley has played really well the last few games, and before him so did Ryan Dickson. It is going to be difficult to get my place back." Capaldi said his fitness was improving all the time. "I feel alright now. I played a full 90 minutes this week and the leg feels fine - it is just the rest of my body!" he said. "I've had six weeks out so obviously I need to get up to match fitness and match speed." Capaldi admitted the injury came at a frustrating, and inopportune, time. "I came back from the Northern Ireland game against Wales full of confidence so it was a bad time to get the injury problem. It has been frustrating. I managed only 20 minutes against QPR then only the 10 minutes against Ipswich. But it is the first real injury of my career and that's the way it goes." Capaldi praised his team-mates for their recent good form. "The lads have been excellent over recent games," he said. "The back four especially have done well and Mathias Doumbe has come on leaps and bounds. But the midfield and the two lads up front have also been playing very well."
Ryan Moon has again been included in the Wales squad for their Under-16 international against Northern Ireland next Thursday
Stevie Crawford has been named in the Scotland squad for their friendly against Sweden next Wednesday
Bobby Williamson is not too worried about fans expecting too much following Saturdays win at Wigan. "I'm not going to try and dampen the fans' expectations," he said. "They can expect what they want. We've got to try and deliver. I've been telling the players for long enough that we can beat the best teams in this league and I think we proved that on Saturday. Wigan are certainly one of the better teams. They're up there and they deserve to be, but we played really well and we got the breaks on the day. Our confidence grew after we got the first goal. We gave everything we could give on Saturday and we got our reward. We could have scored more than two goals, but a bigger win would have flattered us. We've had scorelines go against us that have flattered the opposition, and we've just got to take results as they come. It's up to me as a manager to try and instil confidence in the players, but they have to believe in themselves too. They have to remember how hard they worked at Wigan in each and every game from now on. If they do that, they'll not be too far away. It was only one game, though, and we've got a long way to go yet. I'm disappointed we didn't do more against West Ham and Reading. I think we could have picked up more points. That's always a manager's outlook. You're always disappointed. You're never happy with your lot and you're always striving to do better. You want perfection, but that very seldom happens. But that was close to a perfect performance on Saturday." The departure of Nathan Lowndes to Port Vale does not mean that Williamson will be hurrying into the transfer market to sign a replacement striker. "You never say never," he said. "I've got so many irons in the fire, I'm talking to agents and I'm looking at games. If the right person becomes available, then it's up to me to try and get him to the club, but there's nothing in the pipeline at this moment. I think we probably had too many strikers on the books anyway, and it was difficult to keep them all happy."
Luke McCormick has returned to Home Park after cutting short his loan spell at Boston United. Bobby Williamson, who does not want Luke to become cup-tied, said: "His month's done. He'll be back tomorrow. Boston have got an FA Cup game next week which Luke wouldn't have been available for. I spoke to Steve Evans and he's been happy with what Luke's produced for him." Vilson Knezevic, who has been training with Argyle, has moved on to Yeovil and will play in a game for them on Wednesday. Blair Sturrock, meanwhile, has joined Bristol Rovers on trial. "We hope things go well for him, too," said Williamson, who reiterated that he was not trying to offload Sturrock. "I'm not in any rush to push anyone out of the door, it has got to be suitable for the player if he wants to leave this club. He's just gone along for a couple of games so they can have a look at him. We'll see what comes out of that."
Tony Capaldi and Marino Keith have returned to training after injury while Hasney Aljofree will see a specialist on Tuesday concerning his damaged shoulder
David Friio thought that Argyle could have won more comfortably at Wigan on Saturday: "We were so well organised," he said, "and we made it difficult for them to play. Wigan are a good team, but we felt so strong. It was a new formation for us, but everyone respected their roles. As soon as their midfielders had the ball, we were on them and we made it very hard for them to express themselves in the way they are used to playing. We did very well and we scored two goals. We could have won by more goals, but we're not greedy. We'll take the 2-0 win and the three points. We were gutted last week. It was difficult to accept, but we bounced back. We came here with a good spirit and we worked so hard for each other." Friio paid tribute to his compatriot Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, who was superb in defence. "I think he's the quickest centre-back in the Championship," Friio said. "He has such pace and, with a bit more composure on the ball, he will become a very good player. He's still young."
Stevie Crawford’s sixth goal of the season ensured Argyle victory on Saturday. He said: "Of course it's disappointing when you don't start but I have always believed that you just give it your best when your chance comes along. That's the attitude I have always had. It's not just about one player or one individual anyway, especially this season. We need everybody in the squad to play their part and I thought the boys were fantastic today. We started to knock the ball about brilliantly in the second half." Crawford's 69th-minute goal came after David Norris forced Breckin into an attempted back pass to goalkeeper John Filan. "Chuck has done really well and put the boy under pressure," said Crawford. "Maybe over a season you can close down 20-30 pass backs and it gets through to the keeper. But I realised right away when the boy played it back the keeper wasn't getting there. It was just a matter of trying to take as cute a touch as possible and then making sure I hit the target. It was a tight angle so it was pleasing to see it hit the back of the net." Crawford almost added a third goal in the 78th minute after David Friio dispossessed Alan Mahon inside the centre circle. "David Friio did brilliant and I tried to do the keeper at his near post early, and on another day they can go in for you as well," said Crawford. "I don't think Wigan can complain that we have come away with the three points today, albeit they are a good side. Hopefully, it can set us on a good run now." It was only the second time that Crawford has scored in a game that Argyle have ended up winning and he added: "I have always said that I have hopefully got more to my game than just goals but it is nice to score, especially when you are on the winning side. Recently I have scored a few and we have not come away with three points." Argyle are 11th in the Championship and Crawford believes they can take a lot of confidence from the result. "What I have learned is that, on any given day, teams can take points off one another," he said. "Hopefully, we will have more days like this."
Bobby Williamson insisted there was no secret involved in yesterdays win. "There's no secret formula," he said. "It's about hard work and being organised, and we certainly had that. I'm pleased we got a result. We knew what we wanted to do when we came here and we've done that. It was very hard work and we're delighted we got the three points because nobody's beaten Wigan this season. We got the breaks on the day, which gave us those three points." Wigan put Argyle under severe pressure during the opening minutes and Williamson said: "We expected that. In any game, you are going to have to defend at some stage and we were put on the back foot right from kick-off. We gave away a lot of free-kicks in dangerous areas, but, thankfully, we dealt with them. Usually, we start the game better. I'm delighted for the lads at the back, and for the rest of them as well. For us to keep a clean sheet is pleasing - if we can nullify their attack, then we've got a good chance of doing that against most teams in this division. They missed a couple of players. Certainly when McCulloch went off, it was a big blow. I felt they never recovered from that. He's an out-ball for them and the strikers feed off him. Maybe that was a telling factor." Williamson admitted that Argyle enjoyed a slice of luck in opening the scoring, but was full of admiration for the way Crawford finished for the second. "Paul was also going to stride forward and have a crack," he said. "It's taken a wicked deflection and it's hard luck on the goalkeeper. Sometimes these things go for you and sometimes they go against you. I'd rather be having it, than it going against us. Stevie sniffed the danger and got himself between the goalkeeper and the ball. I thought it was a very acute angle to get a goal from. From where I was standing, it was one of those agonising ones - I didn't know whether it was going to bulge the net or go past the post. I'm pleased for Stevie because he played well the other night, but I decided to start with Trigger because I thought Stevie would be a better player to have coming off the bench than the big man, who gave us everything he had. The plan was to take Mickey off at half-time but we felt we could get another 10-15 minutes out of him because he was troubling them in the air - he was a good target for us." Williamson also sought to keep a sense of perspective on the result. He said: "We have got to take confidence from that, but it doesn't matter who you beat - you only get three points, whether it's a team at the top of the league or the bottom of the league. We have ability, as well but Wigan never let us play at any time and we had to had to hit them on the counter-attack. We can't get carried away. We've just had one result. It was a very good team performance and we're glad we picked up the points at a difficult venue. The teams at the top end of this league will be delighted we've managed to take three points off Wigan, so they don't stretch further away from everybody else, but I'm more concerned that we put a team on the park that can compete with the better teams in this league and please our supporters, who travel a long, long way to these matches. We have got to try and build on it. We go into the next game with the same thought, to try and get three points, but that won't be easy - there are no easy matches in this league. Every game's a test for us. I just hope we can compete in this league and give the fans their money's worth. You can only tell over the course of a season. I will look at the season as a whole, and how we've dealt with situations, and hopefully learn from it and become a better manager, and make the players better players. The end of the season is the time everybody should be judged, players and managers alike."
Argyle win 2-0 at Wigan Athletic, the goals scored by Paul Wotton after 40 minutes and Stevie Crawford (69). Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Kouo-Doumbe, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Lasley, Wotton, Friio, Makel, Evans. Subs - Hodges, Adams, Crawford (not used - Milne, Connolly). Attendance - 10,294.
Stevie Crawford is eager to add to his goal tally today, but he knows how hard a task Argyle face. "You just need to look at the League table to see that Wigan are producing week in, week out," he said. "We know that they are strong in every area and they're very experienced. It's a case of being positive going into the game. We went to Cardiff earlier in the season and won. If we can produce a performance as good as the one we produced that night, then hopefully it will stand us in good stead." Given that Mickey Evans started against both Reading and West Ham it would be no great surprise if he is on the bench today and Crawford is asked to lead the line alone. "You don't grumble at hard work," Crawford insisted. "The disappointment comes when you don't get any rewards, as a team rather than an individual, for it. I'm old enough and experienced enough to know that I'll be asked to do different jobs in different matches, and I'm also not taking it for granted that I'll be given a start at Wigan." Crawford's thoughts will soon turn to international football again and he will hope to feature in a friendly international against Sweden on Wednesday week. "Fingers crossed, I'll be in the squad," Crawford said. "It's never nice to see anyone lose their job. As a player, you have to take a certain responsibility. I was involved in a number of his squads. But I know I could look Berti in the eye and say that I gave him 100 per cent every time. He couldn't point the finger and say that I let him down in terms of effort."
A lack of first-team opportunities was behind Nathan Lowndes' decision to leave Argyle for Port Vale. Lowndes admitted he had become frustrated by his lack of first-team action and he said: "I don't think I've been given a fair crack of the whip, but that's football. A new manager comes in and brings in his own players and it has been frustrating. I have only played 70 minutes of first-team football this season. I feel I would have made a contribution to the team but then every footballer thinks like that. It is frustrating but I have been in the game long enough to understand what can happen." Lowndes insisted he was reluctant to leave Home Park. "I'm really disappointed that I have not been able to stay around the club," he said. "I got on with everyone very well and it is a real wrench to leave the players and the fans." Lowndes had only praise for the players Williamson brought in at the start of the season. "I think they are really talented players. I think Argyle are a good side and at the minimum they will stay up. I know the players and I know their hungry to do well." Williamson is expected to try to add a striker to his squad to replace Lowndes, although he was non-committal about his plans. "I have always got irons in the fire," he said. And when asked whether there would be a new face at Home Park next week, he said: "I never say never."
Bobby Williamson is unfazed by the prospect of facing Wigan tomorrow. "We want to go there and win," he said. "I'm not really too fussed what other people expect. I know what I expect from our players and if they give us everything they have got, then hopefully it's us that gets a result. They have got good players in every position. As for a footballing team, I don't think they were head and shoulders above anybody else we have faced, but they have got that bit about them and they are not losing games, and that's why they are up there." Williamson believes his defence can contain the strike-force of Jason Roberts and Nathan Ellington. "We are well aware of what their attributes are," he said, "but we have got defenders with attributes as well and, hopefully, we can combat them. We can't treat them any differently from anybody else. We can't play with extra defenders or we will be suffering in another department. It's up to the guys who get the nod to play the game to try their best to stop them." David Friio is fit to be considered, but not so Marino Keith, who returned to training this week after turning an ankle. "They have not had many off-days since the season started and maybe they are due one," said Williamson.
Keith Lasley is hoping he did enough in the draw against Reading to retain his place for the visit to Wigan tomorrow. "To be honest, I'm happy just to be in the team," said Lasley. "There are that many good players in the squad. Hopefully, I can keep my place in the starting 11 but it's going to be hard. When you see the players on the bench the other night, any one of them could come in, and even the boys not on the bench. We have got a strong squad and when you get your chance you have just got to try to take it." Despite not starting any of the previous four matches for Argyle Lasley was pleased with the way he lasted the pace on Tuesday. "There was a quick tempo to the game and when you haven't played for the first team for a few weeks it does tell a wee bit," he said. "Obviously, I have been training with the other boys and I didn't feel too bad fitness-wise, but the more games you get the better it is." Lasley is under no illusions about the difficult task Argyle face tomorrow. He said: "They are flying at the moment and their two front men are getting a lot of praise, and rightly so. We have just got to make sure we are a solid unit and maybe try to nick one at the other end."
Paul Wotton believes Argyle have proved they belong in the Championship. He said: "We are too far into the season for people to still be asking the question 'do we belong in this league?' We have proved we do with our results and performances. There has not been a team that has outrun us, outfought us or outplayed us. Maybe there will be at some point in the season but it will not be through a lack of effort from the players. We have got a few hard games coming up, but tell me one that's easy in this league. Not so long ago, I was playing for Argyle against Halifax in front of 3,000 fans. Now we are playing against West Ham in front of 20,000. That just shows the progression we have made. I think it's important people remember how far we have come in such a short space of time."
Bobby Williamson has said he sold Nathan Lowndes to Port Vale because he could not guarantee the striker first-team football. "A couple of clubs from the lower divisions had shown an interest in Nathan," said Williamson. "Port Vale made him an offer and, when Nathan came to me to talk about it I told him I couldn't offer him any more security than they had. The clubs talked and agreed a fee, so it was left up to Nathan, and he made up his mind to accept their offer. It is true to say he fell down the pecking order, I'm afraid and he felt his first-team opportunities were better at Port Vale. I am sure he probably feels, and that some fans certainly feel, that he never got his opportunity, and that is probably true, but there were others ahead of him in the queue."
Nathan Lowndes has left Argyle to join Port Vale on a two-and-a-half year contract, for an undisclosed fee
Paul Stapleton is very happy with Argyles start to the season. He said: "Perhaps we've done better than we expected, in some respects. We always knew how hard this division would be. But in every game, we've had a chance of snatching something. I don't usually enjoy games unless we're winning 4-0 with a minute to go, but I've really enjoyed some of the games this year. We're not far away from being a top-ten side, and that will come in time. We want to lay the foundations of long-term success. If the crowds keep coming, we can do that. We knew we were going to lose more games this season than we've been used to over the last three years, but we're not going to over-react to defeats." Financial common sense is, always, a priority for Stapleton. "We're not going to do a Leeds, who are £30 million in debt and still go out and spend big money on players," he said. "I think it's wrong that they can do that, but they're not alone. Other clubs in our division are massively in debt, like Coventry. But we're trying to be realistic. We want a balance sheet that's in the black. On the pitch, I'm happy with where we are in the League at the moment and I hope the fans are too. We'll work within the budget, but we've said to the manager that if he needs some funds we'll help him. We've always promised him that." Like Stapleton, Williamson is evidently a prudent man and shows no sign of wanting to risk the club's future with unwise expenditure. He is also happy to put his faith in Argyle's young talent, much to the chairman's satisfaction. "That could be the saving grace for this football club," Stapleton said. "If you can grow your own, then great. We're delighted that the manager is giving youth a chance. Seeing someone like Ryan Dickson, a 17-year-old from Saltash, playing first-team football is brilliant." Away from team affairs, a priority for Stapleton is the completion of Home Park's redevelopment. The board hopes to make an announcement about phase two of that work, the replacement of the Grandstand, sooner rather than later. "We are having very detailed talks with Plymouth City Council," he said, "and we'll be talking to the builders this week to see what they've got for the stadium, just to see where we are. It's something that is very, very likely to happen, and I don't think it will be long before there is an announcement of some sort, even if it's only a statement of intent." The club's rise in status on the pitch has been matched by a much bigger workload behind the scenes at Home Park. That prompted the board to advertise for a chief executive and a commercial director in August, but appointments are not imminent. Stapleton admitted: "I have to apologise to applicants, but with everything that's been going on and for a number of reasons beyond our control we've only just started to talk to the applicants for the chief executive position. We've also been persuaded by the applicants for that role that we have seen that it would be better if we didn't appoint a commercial director until we've hired a chief executive, so the chief executive can have some input."
Bobby Williamson expects David Friio to be fit for the trip to Wigan on Saturday. He said: "He is fine and he will be training and in contention for the game on Saturday. He came off but sometimes you don't know how bad it is and you have to wait until the next day. It is just a knock." Williamson refused to single out Friio's substitution as the reason for Argyle only drawing the game against Reading. He said: "You don't know how the game would have panned out if Friio had stayed out on the park. It is not about one player - it is about the team performance. I don't like to single players out as it takes away from the rest of the team. I don't think you are going to dominate a team for 90 minutes in this league. But we are disappointed in the way we conceded the goals. I felt we deserved to win the game. If we had got the third we could have killed the game off. It is just a break here or there that changes these games."
Stewart Yetton has re-joined Weymouth on a month's loan. His move was due to go through earlier this season but was held up when manager Steve Claridge parted company with the club.
Bobby Williamson could not explain why all three points evaded his side after yesterdays draw. "The players have let themselves down with their second-half performance and I'm disappointed for them as much as I am for the fans," he said. "We should have had three points tonight. We deserved a standing ovation at half-time and we deserved the silence we got at the final whistle. It wasn't for the lack of effort - lack of concentration has cost us. We knew there would be occasions in the game when we had to defend and, on the two occasions when they got their goals, we never defended as well as I would have liked. Unfortunately, we went to sleep at a set-piece and it's cost us two points. Who knows how vital those two points could be at the end of the season? I felt we played very, very well. We had a lot of good movement, a lot of good support, and good chances. Unfortunately for us, we only managed to take two of them. I don't know if complacency set in but, early in the second half, we conceded a free-kick and never dealt with it properly, and that's given them a goal and a lifeline. I felt we could have got further in front if we'd taken our chances, but we never took them. Mickey Evans has hit the post, but at 2-1, we were never comfortable." Williamson refused to name names and said: "I'm not looking for scapegoats. I'm looking to learn, move on, and put it behind us. We'll learn from that and hopefully defend that situation a bit better next time we come up against it. I am extremely encouraged by what we have shown so far this season, but we have still got a long way to go. It's up to me to instill in the guys that they are more than a match for any body in this league."
Bobby Williamson is hoping the ankle injury to midfielder David Friio is not too serious. Friio was replaced by Steve Adams in the 75th minute after hobbling off the pitch and left Home Park on crutches last night. "He's getting treatment just now and we will find out the extent of the damage tomorrow," said Williamson. "It definitely disrupted us, but that's part and parcel of football. You pick up knocks. I'm just disappointed we never got a free-kick with the incident. The referee seemed to have a good enough look at it, but there you go."
Keith Lasley admitted last nights draw felt like a defeat. He said: "I was happy to get back in the side and I did my best out there but, to be honest, it feels like a defeat. We have just got to get our heads up. We have got a hard game on Saturday and we have got to get up there and give it our best. There were a couple of players, myself included, who were maybe not playing in the positions you would usually see them in, but I thought we coped well. We passed the ball about and for some reason we stopped doing that in the second half, and I think that's what has cost us in the end. We got the second goal just before half-time and I think all of us were confident coming into the dressing room. But we never seemed to get going in the second half. Obviously, Mickey hit the post, which would have given us that two-goal cushion again, and I think that would have killed the game off." Reading had reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the 51st minute with an own goal from Graham Coughlan. Lasley said: "That gave them some encouragement and their fans got behind them. To be fair, I thought they played well but maybe at times we let them play too much. We have lost a goal in the last couple of minutes and it's just very disappointing for everybody involved. We have got a point against two good sides in West Ham and Reading, but they are two games we could have, and maybe should have, won. Wigan is another hard game but we have just got to get on with it. A couple of things were said in the dressing room after the game but I think everybody knew themselves how gutted they were. We have just got to get back into training and try to get our heads around Saturday's game." Mickey Evans shared the frustration of Lasley at the 2-2 draw: "I think our first half performance was the best we have played at home this season," he said. "They scored an early goal in the second half and got their tails up and, basically, we didn't play as well as we can do. We just got deeper and deeper so they had most of the ball. The lads are very disappointed."
Argyle drew 2-2 with Reading at Home Park, the goals coming from an own goal after 18 minutes and Stevie Crawford in the 41st minute. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Kouo-Doumbe, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Lasley, Wotton, Friio, Evans, Crawford. Subs - Adams, Makel, Milne (not used - Lowndes, Hodges). Attendance - 14,336. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Bobby Williamson is staying tight-lipped about whether Paul Wotton will be recalled for tonights game. He said: "Paul certainly comes into my thoughts because he made an impact on Saturday. I keep saying to the guys on the bench if they get an opportunity they have got to grasp it, and he did that. As Paul says, there are more strings to his bow than just his free-kicks and corners, he's a good football player. What everybody seems to think is he lacks pace, but Kenny Dalglish and Bobby Moore were not the fastest and it didn't make them bad players. Paul Wotton can play in a number of positions. That's why he sits on the bench if he's not on the park. He can give us cover at full-back, centre-back and in midfield. I wouldn't think I would play him up front, but who knows. Paul will play where he's asked and he's different class that way. He's a tremendous professional. I'm delighted he's here and part of things because he does play a big part for us. When he's called upon he never lets anybody down. He will make mistakes, the same as everybody will, but I can live with that as long as they are honest mistakes and you give it your best. Paul Wotton gives you that."
Bobby Williamson believes Reading have not been given the credit they deserve for their superb start to the season. He said: "People look at West Ham and say they are a fashionable club. What's unfashionable about Reading? I don't see it. They have got a magnificent stadium, a good manager, good players and a good team. They are up at the top end of this league and we have got to take notice of that. Hopefully, we can get the three points tonight and I think it would be a great scalp for us." Williamson is confident Argyle can cope with Readings strikers. He said: "You are going to find most teams in this league have got decent strikers. Some pay a lot of money for them. Reading paid good money for Kitson and he has brought a good goal ratio with him, but I'm hoping we can nullify that and keep them quiet, as we did with Zamora and Harewood on Saturday. It's a big test for our defenders and it's one they should be relishing. We have only managed one clean sheet in recent weeks and it would be nice if we could get another one." Tough games are coming thick and fast for Argyle but that suits Williamson. "I'm really enjoying this season and looking forward to every game. I think the fans are as well," he said. "They were different class on Saturday and really encouraged us when we went a goal down, which I felt was totally against the run of play and undeserved on our part. Reading lost on Saturday so they will be smarting from that and will be looking to pick up something from their travels. We are expecting a very tough game."
Tony Capaldi is continuing his recovery from a broken left leg, but todays match is too soon for him. Bobby Williamson said: "Tony hasn't trained with us yet. He has been out for a long time now and I would prefer it if he played a game before he gets any opportunity to be selected." Williamson revealed that he did not include Ryan Dickson in the squad for the draw against West Ham United because he thought he was too physically and mentally tired. Williamson said: "He has come a long way in a very short time. He's a great kid and he's learning his trade. I had a chat with him before the game on Saturday and I told him the reasons why he was back out of the team. It's up to him to deal with it, and I'm sure he will react in a positive manner. I took the pressure off him by not selecting him, and I think he needed that at this time. That's my judgment and I will not put people out there who I think might let themselves down. I will always try to protect younger players - and experienced ones - if I feel they have dropped their performance level slightly. He came in at Rotherham and did exceptionally well. He got the free-kick which got us the goal. But I just felt in the Sheffield United game he wasn't as positive as he had been at Rotherham, and I explained this to the kid. Adrenalin and exuberance got him through the first game, but in the second one he was mentally and physically drained. That's why he came off against Sheffield United and why he was not involved on Saturday, but he will be back. He's finding it difficult taking that step up because he's training with us on a daily basis now. He's not training with the youths, although he is a youth. He's finding that very difficult to deal with as well, physically and mentally. I noticed that and that's why I made the decision I did. I explained that to him, and he told me that he was feeling it. He has been very adult about it and has told me the reasons why he's not playing to the best he can do. That's brilliant. I'm looking for that kind of feedback. Some people aren't as honest as they should be at times. The kid has done that and he has shown a bit of maturity there by saying that to me." Argyle follow tonight's clash against Reading with a trip to Wigan on Saturday. "It was always going to be a difficult season for us and there are no easy matches," said Williamson. We have picked up a point against West Ham, we are the home team tonight and want to pick up three points and then, hopefully, we will go to Wigan and come back with something."
Bobby Williamson picked out Mickey Evans for special praise after the draw against West Ham on Saturday. He Williamson said: "I thought Mickey was tremendous. He gave us an out-ball. He made his presence known without being aggressive and dirty. He's just a big, honest lad who puts his head in. He uses his experience very well. He knows when to jump, when to stand and when to stop running towards the ball. The big boy Davenport probably learned a few lessons from Mickey. He looked a very accomplished player for someone so young and I'm sure he will go on to be a top player, but he came up against a decent, experienced striker on Saturday."
Bobby Williamson had remained optimistic the equaliser would eventually come for his team against West Ham. "You are always hoping, you just don't know which individual is going to put the ball in the back of the net," he said. "You have got to remain positive throughout the 90-odd minutes that you can get back in the game. Our players are not prepared to roll over and lay down. I don't think anybody has beaten us by more than two clear goals and that's good." Argyle have played all of the top teams in the Championship, with the exception of Reading, who are the visitiors to Home Park tomorrow and Williamson added: "I hope we have not got an inferiority complex. We have got to have belief in ourselves, and I felt that was lacking in the first 45 minutes. We had a couple of efforts at goal that never troubled their goalkeeper. That just comes down to belief and confidence. It's up to me to try to instil that in them and get them to believe they can trouble teams in this league. I don't fear anybody, whether it's the opposition manager or the opposition team. If everybody continues to pull together in the one direction, I'm hoping we will be nearer the top end of this league rather than the bottom."
Paul Wotton pressed his case for a first team recall after coming off the bench to grab Argyle's equaliser in the draw against West Ham United on Saturday. He said: "It has been a frustrating few weeks to find myself out of the team for whatever reasons. That's between me and the gaffer and that's the way it will stay. That's fine. It's just a case of waiting for my chance to come again and trying my best to stay in the team, whether that be in midfield, at centre-back or wherever. The gaffer knows where I want to play and I think everyone knows where I want to play, but I wouldn't have thought there is much difference between the amount of games I have played in midfield and defence. It's something that's not alien to me at all and it's something I feel I can do. I have got more strings to my bow than just dead balls and I think I can do a job in there, but that's not up to me. That's up to the gaffer." Williamson must now decide whether to include Wotton in midfield for the visit of Reading to Home Park tomorrow. "I can't force his hand," said Wotton. "He will do what's best for the football club and I will back his decision 100 per cent, whatever that is." Wotton not only scored the equaliser, he also impressed with his all-round play against West Ham. "The gaffer didn't give me any specific instructions," said Wotton. "Just to go on and try my best, which I always do anyway and, thankfully, I scored a goal. It was different to my normal free-kicks. I didn't smash it. I had to whip it around the wall. I think the curl on the ball gave it a nasty kick - a nasty kick for the goalie but a great kick for me. It was very pleasing to get the goal. As soon as I got the ball I was only going to do one thing, which everybody knew I think." Wotton thought Argyle were good value for their point against West Ham: He said: "We worked extremely hard and I don't think West Ham caused us too many problems. They will definitely be there at the end of the season. They are a big, strong team. They are very physical, very fit and are a handful up front, but I thought we limited their chances very well and we could have even stolen it at the end, but I think that would have been unjust. I don't think West Ham can argue with the result and we are certainly happy to have gained a point from it."
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