A Round-up of Argyle News
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John Sheridan was generally pleased with Argyle's 2-0 victory over Southend at Home Park yesterday. He divided the game into three phases: the first fifteen minutes in which it was eleven men against eleven, the rest of the first half where he was disappointed with Argyle's tempo and the second half in which he says that we were much improved. Sheridan said: "I thought we competed really well. I was pleased with the way we played even before they had a man sent-off. The only downside to the performance today was when they went down to 10 men and I felt they were the better team. It's always difficult when you are playing against 10 men but I expected us to dominate the game more and have a little bit of know-how. In the second half, I thought we were very professional. I made a little change and put Jason in the hole around Conor Clifford and pushed the three up. I said to them at half-time 'just keep playing two and three-touch and stretch the play.' They were getting tired, and we were moving the ball quickly and creating chances. To win 2-0 is a really good result for us.
"Kelvin likes to get forward. He might be too relaxed on the ball at times. I told him at half-time he needed to up his game and he was excellent after that. He really got involved in the game and was a big plus for us going forward. His quick feet in the box and lay-off to Lewis was a great bit of football from him. I think Reuben should be scoring more headers. He has met it with his forehead and kept it down, and it's in the back of the net. I'm pleased with the clean sheet as well. You have always got to have a good record at home if you want to get out of this division. If you win your home games, you can get a point here and a point there away from home and grind out results."
Sheridan also revealed that Marvin Morgan almost did not start yesterday's game. Tyler Harvey was initially due to be in the starting line-up but Sheridan made a last minute change of mind after Morgan seriously impressed in training. Sheridan: "I went 4-4-2 today. I changed my mind at the last minute. I told Tyler he was playing, but I just made a decision on Friday. Marvin has been really good in training. I think he has looked sharp when he has come on in games as well."
The manager has also given an update on potential additions to Argyle's squad, with just one day remaining in the summer transfer window. He revealed that Darcy Blake, who has been training with the club for some weeks, will now not be signing for the greens because it would not be beneficial for the player or the club. He did however hint at an arrival on the right hand side of midfield: "I have asked about two players. Everyone knows I'm after a right winger."
Argyle's unbeaten start to the home season has continued with a 2-0 victory over Southend United. Southend were on the back foot from early on following Cian Bolger's early red card for two bookable offences. It took a while for Argyle to open the door but they eventually did so in the 52nd minute with Lewis Alessandra's first goal of the season. He then went on to assist Reuben Reid for Argyle's second 15 minutes later: the striker now on his fifth goal of the season. Argyle saw the game out. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, McHugh, Alessandra, O'Connor, Cox(Norburn), Banton(Thomas), Reid, Morgan(Harvey). Subs: Bittner, Allen, Blizzard, Purrington.
Matt Lecointe has suffered a devastating set-back in his progress with Argyle by aggravating the knee injury which made him sit out the whole of last season. Lecointe, who missed part of pre-season with an unrelated calf strain, has now had another problem in the same knee that has caused him such difficulty.
Physio Paul Atkinson said: "Unfortunately, anterior cruciate ligament injuries rarely occur in isolation; there is usually associated damage to other structures within the knee and this was the case with Matty. We are now working with leading specialists in this field to ensure he recovers from this set back as soon as possible."
John Sheridan also gave his sympathies to the young Argyle forward: "He had a little calf injury and came back training; everything was fine; he didn't have any problems with his knee. I think someone pulled him off balance and that's when he's felt the same knee. He's been trying to get a bit of treatment and get his fitness and try to come back, but it hasn't happened. He's had one scan and we're going to get another opinion on it. It's a crying shame for the kid because he's worked ever so hard to try to get back."
Former Argyle defender Graham Coughlan makes his return to Home Park on Saturday and he foresees a huge game between two sides who will doubtless be aiming for promotion out of the league this season. Coughlan is now a coach at Southend but still holds deep affection for Argyle from his time in Devon. The former centre-half said: "To say this is a big game for both clubs is hardly doing it justice it's a massive pointer to where both go from here. Obviously, having come close to going up in the past couple of years, for Southend we are pinning are hopes of gaining promotion at the end of this season. That's our ambition and nobody here is making any secret of the fact. And I'm sure the Argyle manager and his coaching staff and players will be just as ambitious.
"I'm not being biased on account of my great times while at Plymouth, when I say it is a massive club and should be in the Championship. Argyle and Portsmouth are the two biggest clubs in this division, in my opinion, and I think Plymouth has an added advantage, in its geographical distance from nearly anywhere else. When I was at Home Park and the place was buzzing, I remember thinking 'we're not on the coach at 5.30pm on a Friday afternoon before playing on Saturday'. That was a massive incentive to us, as it really does play on teams' minds what's it doing to our legs'. And it's an obvious fact, but winning your home games is so important if you want to be a successful side and go on to have a memorable season. As I learned from my time at Plymouth under Luggy (Paul Sturrock), the momentum and head of steam you build up from being successful is habit-forming and the team oozes confidence and spirit. That's what we had in those great times in the recent past and that's what both sides will need this season. It should be some match on Saturday."
John Sheridan has said that he is not afraid to change his system this season depending on whether Argyle are playing at home or away. He does not necessarily stand by the maxim 'never change a winning team' and he knows that there are some players who perform better on the road for Argyle and vice-versa. Argyle are unbeaten at home so far this season yet have lost both games on the road. This is something with Sheridan is looking to rectify and fast. The manager said: "I have done it at other clubs, and I definitely believe I have got a team who are going to play at home, and a team who are going to play away from home. I have thought long and hard about that. I believe I have got players who will be effective at home, and players who will be effective away from home. From now on, whether we win or lose, I will be changing my team when we are at home and when we are away. If people keep playing well, they will probably stay in the team, but I know the shape of my team has got to be different away from home.
"Usually when you are away from home, you come under the cosh and your work ethic has got to be a little bit more. That's just a common fact. Whereas at home you have got to be brave and take the game to the opposition, get on the ball and don't worry about making mistakes. This is what I'm trying to get into the players. There is a difference playing away from home rather than at home, and that's something I have looked at. I definitely think I have got personnel who will play better away from home than they will at home.
"Not many teams play through us. I think our shape is good, but I think we have conceded five or six goals from crosses, including pre-season. That was a big part why we lost to Bury because I definitely thought there was something for us to get from the game. We showed that in the second half, when we were the better team. Bury are a good footballing side and take care of the ball, but I never felt they were causing us any problems whatsoever. But we shot ourselves in the foot and found ourselves two-nil down. It's always a mountain to climb after that, whoever you are playing against. We have addressed it this week. We have had a chat and watched DVDs and, hopefully, we can sort it out."
Whilst Lewis Alessandra considers himself to be primarily a striker, he is also more than happy to play on the right side of midfield. He feels that he would be getting more goals if played in a two alongside Reuben Reid but he is nonetheless happy to put in a shift wherever John Sheridan selects him. Alessandra: "When I'm playing football, I'm happy; I'm in the team and I'll always be giving it my best," said Lewi, 25. "If it's the formation we're playing, I'm more than happy to be playing on the right or the left I don't mind either. Reuben is always going to be that predominant front man down the middle; he's started well and long may it continue. I know I'm probably not going to score as many goals playing on the right as I am playing right up next to Reuben in a two, but that's the way we are playing at the minute, the formation. I'll always be looking to score as many as I can, but I do feel I'd be getting more chances if I was to be playing with Reuben in a two. I think I need to get closer to Rube at times and get in a central position where you are going to get scoring opportunities, but it's not like it's a problem for us. We've scored seven goals at home in three games."
The football club has offered a tight-lipped response to claims made by the council leader Tudor Evans that, amongst other things, the development at Higher Home Park is stalling. The Argyle Fans Trust published the minutes of a meeting with Councillor Evans about the development. Evans made a number of claims including that it was behind schedule and would not include a hotel as part of the overall package. Argyle stated that there were inaccuracies in what Evans said but that they could not elaborate upon them at this present time. They reiterated that they were working towards solutions for the new grandstand and the upcoming balloon payment with the promise of a further statement by the end of October. The full minutes and full responding statement can be found on the websites of the Fans Trust and the football club respectively.
Argyle will face Torquay United next Tuesday in a friendly match at Home Park in a development game. The match will kick-off at 1pm and members will get free admittance. Non-members will be charged £3 for an adult ticket or £1 for a concessions ticket.
Martyn Starnes has expressed his concern about the effect that the Elite Player Performance Plan regulations have and will continue to have on lower league clubs such as Argyle. Before EPPP, there were restrictions on where clubs could sign players from and they would have to negotiate prices with lower league clubs for youth players. Nowadays, clubs can sign some of those young players for a set fee and from anywhere in the country. Starnes said: "It's a huge challenge, and I find it very disappointing that Premier League clubs seem to have a free rein to go and recruit players from all over the country. We have lost several players to Premier League clubs that appear to be on a good career path. Who's to say they wouldn't be in our first team very shortly if we had been able to retain them? I find it particularly frustrating because we have developed a number of boys and spotted their talent, which I would very much like to see stay in the Argyle set-up and make the first team. But all we can do is the best we can under the (EPPP) rules and regulations. So if a Premier League club comes along and entices a young player away, we have got to try to maximise the compensation. Under the EPPP, this compensation now has a fixed matrix and it gives us very little room to manoeuvre, and it's not generous.
"Typically, if a boy has been with you from the outset, at under-nines, and he moves when he's an under-14 or under-15, the fixed fee is likely to be in the order of £40,000. You get add-ons for appearances in the first team, but there is only a five per cent sell-on. They can fund it in a way that we can't."
John Sheridan once again displayed no small amount of frustration after Argyle's 2-1 loss at Bury on Saturday. Sheridan had negative things to say about both Argyle's defending and their attitude as they started the game. He did however, praise the way in which they picked up in the second half: "It was always an uphill battle after conceding the two goals like we did. I thought the game was there to get something out of it, but I don't know whether the lads believed they could. They get instructions and everything is on the board inside. They know who is marking who, and one or two people didn't do their jobs properly. I let them know that at half-time, and I will show them the video. It was a poor goal to give away and it was even a poor foul to give away. It was very weak and cheap. It gives you a problem because they are going to put the ball in the box. It shouldn't have happened. I don't really know what happened with the second goal. I was far away, but it looked quite a simple one from where I was stood.
"Once we matched them up I thought we were well in the game and the better team. I changed the shape and I think it worked. We got right back in the game. There is always a chance you could get an injury but when you are 2-0 down you have got to try one or two things. We got the goal, and I just think had we been cleverer with our passing 30 or 40 yards from goal we could have caused them problems, but we didn't. I think one or two players were off their game today. It was a lovely pitch to play on and I think we should have been braver and really believed we could have got something out of the game, and I don't think we did."
Meanwhile, Reuben Reid is furious about what he perceives to be ungenerous treatment from referees this season. The referee did award Argyle a penalty yesterday for a foul just inside the area, but Reid is adamant that the greens out to have also had another penalty for handball. Reid went onto bemoan his general bad treatment this season at the hands of referees, saying: "When we matched them up, formation-wise player for player, we have come out the better team. Unfortunately, we didn't get the rub of the green with a couple of decisions and they have ended up hanging on for 2-1. As I was about to shoot, the guy Cameron has tapped it back to the 'keeper with his hand. It should have been another penalty and a red card. How the referee has failed to see that I don't know. We didn't get the rub of the green on that one. Sometimes it beggars belief how they have not seen it. The second one was blatant and how the linesman has not seen it I will never know.
"I don't think I'm getting a lot of protection this far, with decisions I am receiving going against me. I'm up against big guys and I'm getting blown up for free-kicks, which is a bit frustrating at the moment, but hopefully things will work out for us soon. There's some big boys back there and it seems like every time the ball comes into me and they get nudged it's a free-kick, but they can come through the back of me and win the ball and I get 'Hey Rubes, you're not competing' the minute I stop fouling them."
Argyle's inconsistent start to the season continued with a 2-1 loss away to Bury. Two early goals gave Bury a headstart to the game and they went in two goals to the good at half-time. A triple sub from Argyle changed things in the favour of the away side and a Reuben Reid penalty pulled a goal back halfway through the second half. Argyle were brighter but unable to secure the equalising goal that they needed and lost their second away game of the season. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, McHugh(Purrington), O'Connor, Cox, Norburn, Smalley(Morgan), Banton(Cox), Alessandra, Reid. Unused subs: Bittner, Blizzard, Harvey, Thomas.
Argyle's start to the new season could be seen as either positive or negative- depending from which position you look at the four games in all competitions that Argyle have undertaken so far. Curtis Nelson however is keen to extenuate the positives, citing Argyle's determination to fight to the last against Stevenage and the excellent all round performance against Exeter: "We have had a positive start to the season. Obviously we didn't get a result at Cambridge but we picked it up against Exeter, and against Stevenage, we fought to the end a never-say-die attitude and we got a point. We're unbeaten at home this season and home form is a big part of any team's season. The strikers are doing well and everyone's chipping in with the goals," said Curtis, who is happy to downplay his contribution the goals-for column. I don't think it matters who puts them in, as long as they go in. At the end of the day, it was another goal that closed the game off and we got three points."
Ollie Norburn returns to the Argyle squad tomorrow at Bury with John Sheridan has admitted that he was missed by the team in the game against Bury on Tuesday, pointing out his particular skills in midfield that are hard to do without. Sheridan said: "You have got to have someone who is going to be comfortable and get on the ball, and get us started playing in deep areas and moving the ball a little bit quickly. Probably we did miss him, but I still expected the players who went out on the pitch to do that. We probably had six or seven doing that on Saturday. When the game's tight, you need that player who is going to be at the nub of things in the middle of the park and get the team playing."
Sheridan went onto hint that the summer's transfer business was not over yet. Nine players have joined the greens this summer and the manager hinted that there was at least one more addition to come: "I'm after a winger I think we could do with a right-sided player and I'm talking to one or two clubs. I'm trying to work on that and get someone in, and possibly even bring in another player. I know what my budget is and what we can afford."
John Sheridan has dismissed Graham Westley's comments following the 1-1 draw with Stevenage on Tuesday. Westley claimed that his first half push on Tyler Harvey was to protect his own personal safety but Sheridan gave short shrift to such an idea: "Whatever Westley is talking about, I haven't a clue. I don't listen to what he says. He got bullied by Tyler, or something? I don't know where he is coming from so I wouldn't even make anything of it."
John Sheridan was only able to take small consolations from Argyle's 1-1 League Two draw against Stevenage last night in a game which Sheridan conceded that the opposition deserved all three points. Sheridan was disappointed in Argyle for what he classes as a poor performance as both individuals and a collective team. He is, however, happy to at least have a point rather than none. Sheridan said: "The only positive thing is that we got a point out of the game and never said die. If that game happened one or two seasons ago, we probably would have lost 1-0. We will hold our hands up and say we have not played well, but we have come out of the game with something. I did not enjoy the game one bit. I think everyone is just relieved that we got a point out of the game. The fans tried to get behind us and get us going, but we have not performed. We had to be a bit braver, and I do not think we were. No excuses I am just happy to get a point. It is hard to talk about, but I will reflect on the game.
"It was a big game, obviously, on Saturday, but then we come into tonight and we were very flat. We have got a point; I would have liked to get three, but I thought we were very scrappy. I do not think we really got going at all. I beat myself up about it, and I probably keep coming out here, saying the same things and repeating myself, but we have just got to be careful, because it is all about consistency."
Deane Smalley thinks that a draw was a fair result and that the referee was justified in the awarding of the penalty. He hopes that Argyle can take the positives now and move on to Bury away: It was 100% a penalty. I was always going down the middle; I was taking no risks, and I was just hoping the 'keeper dived and thankfully he did. All the way through the game I thought the lads battled hard," he said. "I don't think we deserved to go 1-0 down, so I think a draw is a fair result. But luckily enough we got the penalty right at the end to equalise. I thought we were brilliant on Saturday, a little bit of a contrast today because not everything clicked, but you are going to have days like that in this league. We came away with a point today and hopefully we can take this into the Bury game on Saturday and come away with the three points."
Argyle secured their first draw of the season with a 1-1 tie against Stevenage with what was possibly the latest ever Argyle goal in a match. Stevenage went 1-0 up shortly after half-time after a defensive Argyle mix-up gifted them the opener. Delays ensued throughout the second half and the referee eventually indicated a minimum of 6 minutes stoppage time. After seven and a half minutes of that time had been played, Argyle were awarded a penalty for handball. Deane Smalley duly converted to ensure the spoils of the match were shared. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, McHugh, O'Connor, Cox(Allen), Harvey(Smalley), Alessandra, Reid, Banton. Subs: Bittner, Blizzard, Purrington.
After being praised by his manager for the integral role he played in Saturday's win over Exeter, Tyler Harvey himself spoke of the utter joy he felt as an Argyle supporter as well as player in scoring the first goal then going on to have an excellent game in such an important win for the greens. Harvey went on to say that he feels he has now found his best position for the club- as well as elaborating on the role John Sheridan gave him for the game. Harvey said: "It's what you dream of it's hard to explain," Harvey told Herald Sport, on how he felt to score for the Pilgrims in a Devon derby against Exeter. It's probably the coolest thing I have ever done. The goal celebration was a little bit embarrassing. I tried to do a knee slide, hit the floor and did a complete front flip. Once you cross the line, a game is a game. You have got to win, but coming from Plymouth it was nice to score.
"I enjoy free-kicks and the gaffer (Sheridan) gave it to me and trusted me with it. Hopefully, I repaid him. The aim was to keep myself in the team and, fingers crossed, I have done that. I played a bit more advanced, just off the striker and in front of the midfield. I enjoy that position a lot. I think that's probably me in the hole I think they call it. He's a good passer, you could tell he has been at the top," said Harvey. "He gave me a bit of a run around but, in the end, we got the job done.
"We needed to get a bit of redemption, and we have done it. It's nice we have got a game on Tuesday night. We can't dwell on this too much."
John Sheridan echoed Harvey in re-directing thoughts away from the Exeter game and towards the Stevenage one. As happy as Sheridan was, all focus now from him was on tomorrow night's visit of Stevenage to ensure that the Pilgrims continue to climb the league two table. Sheridan: "I'm thinking of Stevenage straight away," he said. "I'm thinking 'After a great result today, if we can get three points on Tuesday, it takes away a little bit of the defeat of the first game of the season.' It puts you on two points a game from your first few games, which is promotion form. You have got to enjoy it when you're winning, because a lot of people let you know when you are losing. It was a great result for us because we were playing our local rivals and it's the biggest game for the fans, and I think the fans appreciated the way we played. I'm more disappointed that the score wasn't more. We have got to focus on Stevenage now, but the result was very good, the performance was very good, and it was what everyone wanted. We enjoyed it. I thought we played really well and deserved to win. As a team, we went about our job really well on Saturday, so we have got to stay focused and not get carried away. We have got another home game now and I want us to take the game to Stevenage and see what the outcome is. If we play as well as we did on Saturday, we will have a good chance of winning the game.
"Stevenage have got different strengths and they play a bit different to Exeter but we have just got to carry on. They have made one or two changes in each of the last four games they've played so I don't know what team they'll play, but it will be a hard game they are always physical and strong at set-plays, so we have to be wary of that. I have always said that I want to concentrate on what we're doing. Our performances have been okay this season we have just got to keep that consistency in our game, because we have got some good players and match-winners. We have got a good group of players, and they have all got different strengths. It's important I keep on at them, because they are all different types of players, but if they all knot together, we have got a decent team. That's all I'm focusing on."
Peter Hartley played down focus on the connection between himself and tomorrow night's opponents. Hartley spent a season at Stevenage but said that the main opponents that have an emotional resonance for himself would be Hartlepool United with whom he spent many years. He too noted that it would not be an easy game. Hartley: "I have got a lot of friends at Stevenage, players-wise, and it will be nice to see a few of them. But, to be honest, I'm not really concerned about Stevenage as a club. What happened there has happened. I had a season there and now I have come to Plymouth and all that really concerns me is getting the three points. Hartlepool is where I'm from, and I used to go and watch them when I was a young boy with my uncles. I had a season at Stevenage and met a lot of nice people but everyone moves on in their career. I'm here now.
"Westley has changed his personnel, but the gaffer there doesn't tend to change his set pieces. Defensively and offensively, I know every single one of them. A lot of new players have come in. Obviously, Simon Walton is there and I think it will be nice for him coming back to Home Park after the time he spent here."
After impressing his desire for Argyle to go out and make a positive early start against Exeter, John Sheridan could not have been more delighted with the positive attacking play that followed in Argyle's 3-0 win in the Devon Derby. He even said that Argyle could have scored more after a first half that was completely and utterly one sided. Sheridan:"I am really pleased," he said. "In the first half, we were tremendous. Our first-half performance has won us the game, and it should have been all over by half-time. I thought we opened them up at times. Exeter are a good footballing side if you let them dictate the way they want to play, they slow the game down so I told the players that we need to play at a high tempo, and get in their faces. Once we did get hold of the ball, we did move it well and create some really good chances. It was an outstanding performance. Everyone knew what their job was, and they created a lot of opportunities with their work ethic. Some of the football they played at times was tremendous.
"Reuben's goal, with the little passage of play before it, was terrific. If we were cute enough we could have scored more goals. I thought Anthony O' Connor was tremendous. He just does the simple things, and reads the game very well, wins headers, and those are the players who go unnoticed. I don't want to pick any players out, though. When you win 3-0, you do not want to pick an individual out. As a team we were really good, especially in the first half. Everyone knew what they had to do it was a team effort. I thought we could go on and win 4-0 or 5-0 I really did if we kept the same the tempo and kept doing the things we were doing. It was a big game for the supporters, so this one is for them, and it is pleasing that we came out well on top."
He also reserved particular praise for youngster Tyler Harvey in his new role between the midfield and the striker and scored the first goal from a well placed free kick. Harvey has been played in a number of different roles under John Sheridan so far but in this one, it seems, he has finally found his niche. Sheridan: "He did really well. He has got a great touch and great awareness. He is not someone who is going to run 30 or 40 yards. His movement has got to be over 10 or 15 yards, where he can disturb people. I told him to just stick in around Matt Oakley do not chase anyone else, just be aware of him and stop him from getting the ball. I told him to try and find space for himself and, in the first half, I thought he was tremendous: a great goal; a great little ball for the second goal; and I thought he did a really good job."
Argyle got their home league campaign off to a fantastic start with a thumping 3-0 victory over Devon rivals Exeter City. The Devon Expressway Derby was a throughly one sided affair and Argyle took the lead early on with a well placed direct free-kick from Tyler Harvey who was making a rare start for the greens. Harvey also got the assist for Argyle's second, playing in Reuben Reid for a second goal which he could hardly miss. The final goal was from Curtis Nelson after an Ollie Norburn free-kick had been spilled by Exeter keeper Christie Pym. Argyle climb to 10th in the table. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, McHugh, O'Connor, Norburn, Harvey(Allen), Alessandra, Reid(Morgan), Banton(Thomas). Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Blizzard, Smalley.
John Sheridan wants to make the most of back to back home matches at Home Park. The greens face Stevenage at home this coming Tuesday and most importantly , Devon rivals Exeter City at home park tomorrow. Sheridan knows that two home victories in quick succession would be a fantastic springboard to success:"With it being the first home league game, it would be great if we can get the result. It just gives everyone a lift, and we have got another home game on Tuesday. In a matter of seven to 10 days you could look at the whole season totally differently. We have got to start well against Exeter and really get in their faces, and that is what we are going to do."
The manager has also promised that Argyle will take a positive approach into tomorrow's Devon Expressway Derby. In spite of his annoyance at the way Argyle started their match against Leyton Orient, he takes such confidence from the way we finished the game that he is certain that a similar tempo against the Grecians will secure Argyle a positive result. Sheridan said:"If we go in and play like we did Tuesday night, with that belief, that confidence and tempo, then we'll give Exeter a hard game. I have got to be realistic it's going to be tight; it's a derby game but if we perform like we did on Tuesday night, then I'm confident we'll get the three points. We showed a lot of character and hopefully that will stand us in good stead. That's all down to the players and I'm very pleased with the way they went about things. "We just need to keep that mentality, and hopefully that will stand us and keep up going for the rest of the season."
Reuben Reid knows the importance that such a game will have in terms of local bragging rights and the pride of the loyal Argyle supporters. Reid showed a grudging respect for Exeter and the way Paul Tisdale has done a solid job on a low budget at St James's Park but he also made it clear that if the new players did not know how imperative it was that Argyle secure a win tomorrow, then they soon will do. Reid: "We obviously have to do it for the fans; it's a special game. "We have to win - that's the pressure we're putting on ourselves as a team. For the new lads, they won't really know what the game means to the city and the fans. They'll hear Wottsy , Luke and myself, who have been involved in these games just to give them an extra incentive to do well because it means a lot to anyone who is involved at Plymouth Argyle."
"We're playing for points. In every game, you have got to go out and get the win. With regards to getting off to a good start, in my opinion, the first 10 games in the league sort of sets you up in the league. I think we need to try and get as many points as quickly as possible on the board, and then we'll see."
"When we are both in the league together, I think this is the fixture that everyone looks out for. For some reason, it has popped up as the first home league game of the season. Hopefully, after an encouraging two-thirds of a game on Tuesday night, we can get a big crowd in behind us and put a show on for them. Their manager Paul Tisdale works really well with whatever resources he has got. You know when you are playing against a Tisdale team because he puts his identity on them. They are a good footballing team and, hopefully, it will make for a good game tomorrow. I can't see into the future but we will be doing all we can to win it."
John Sheridan was delighted with the character that his team showed to recover from 2-0 down at home to Leyton Orient yesterday as well as their performance throughout the second half and all of extra time. Whilst the manager did not have a lot of positive stuff to say about the first half performance, he was delighted with Argyle's display since Reuben Reid got a goal back on the stroke of half-time. He was ultimately philosophical about the elimination, claiming that Argyle will win more than they lose based on yesterday's quality of play. Sheridan
:"For the second half and all of extra-time, I thought we were tremendous we showed a lot of good things. A good thing that has come out of the game is that the lads showed a lot of character. We got ourselves back in the game at 2-2. Reuben deserved his goals, and he is the main man who has got us back in the game. To play how we did in the end is very pleasing for me. I think everyone will appreciate it when I say that we should have won the game. We hit the post, hit the bar, and we had a penalty to win it. That's life, but I will take a lot from the game."
"If we play like that against any team at home in or league, we will win a lot more games than we lose. It is just a shame that we have not got through, because it would have given us that little bit of confidence. Sometimes with a lot of lower-league teams, they do not tend to get the breaks that other teams do, but Orient are a good team."
Sheridan gave particular praise to the players who had the nerve to step up for the penalty shoot-out. He praised their confidence and noted his satisfaction with the sharpness of the subs in general. Sheridan:"It does not matter if you are 19, 18 or whatever age you are a professional footballer and they should be confident enough to take a penalty, no matter what age they are. I am pleased for them. I was pleased with all the subs that came on. They gave us a spark and a little bit of sharpness. They get information off of me because they are midfielders, and I thought they both looked sharp and made a real impact on the game. It's the same with Marvin. That's what I want from my subs. I want everyone to think they can play in the team, and I want them to give me a headache. They came on, gave us a lift, and they really pushed us on to finish strong."
Argyle have once again departed at the first round of the League Cup, going out 6-5 on penalties to Leyton Orient following a 3-3 draw after extra time at Home Park. Orient raced into an early 2-0 lead in a first half in which Argyle were never really at the races. Reuben Reid pulled a goal back from the greens on the stroke of half-time and then went on to get our equaliser shortly after the hour mark. The game then went to extra time- halfway through the additional half-hour, Orient got a third goal against the run of play. Not long after however, a goal from Carl McHugh was enough to ensure a penalty shoot-out. Both sides missed one penalty a piece in the standard five penalties with Banton being the man to miss for the Pilgrims. Allen, Alessandra, Harvey and Morgan all duly converted in this period. In sudden death, Peter Hartley scored when he had to to keep Argyle in the game. Ironically given that it was his equaliser that took the game to penalties to start with, it was eventually Carl McHugh who missed the penalty which he had to score and therefore Argyle once again went out of the cup early. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, McHugh, O'Connor, Cox(Allen), Norburn(Harvey), Banton, Alessandra, Reid(Morgan). Subs: Bittner, Smalley, Thomas, Purrington.
John Sheridan was eager to take the positives from yesterday's match in spite of our 1-0 loss to newly promoted Cambridge United yesterday. The manager was naturally disappointed with the result but unlike the opening day loss last year at Southend, he beleives there are some positives to be taken out of the way in which Argyle played. Sheridan said:"I was not too disappointed with the performance I am just disappointed about the result. We have got to learn, so hopefully we will learn quickly. I thought we started the game really well, to be fair," he said. "I was pleased with the way we were playing, and then the penalty went our way, with Luke making a great save. I thought we looked quite comfortable, and I could not see us losing the game, then we do little naοve things that end up costing you and putting you under pressure. It just gives your opponent a bit of belief and lets them get their tempo. It is a bad start. I would have liked to have got something out of the game even a 0-0. We were saying, at half-time, to take just take something out of the game if we need to: 'If it is 0-0, so be it.'; but it wasn't."
"We have just got to take it on the chin, and we have got to try and get back on Tuesday, and then win the big game on Saturday. We have got to try and win as many games as quickly as possible. We have got a tough game against Leyton Orient, and we have to try and get the result we want."
Deane Smalley contemplated over a momentary lack of awareness that cost Argyle a result yesterday after Josh Coulson's goal from a corner won Cambridge the match. Like John Sheridan however, he was also ready to step back take the positives from the game- namely our performance in the first half and that throughout the match of his former Oxford teammate Luke McCormick. Smalley: "It was very disappointing," he said. "In the first game of the season, no matter who you are playing, you are looking to get the three points. Saying that, I don't think we deserved to get beaten today. I thought we put in a good shift, especially first half, created a few chances, and were a little bit unlucky to concede in the second half. I thought we played relatively well; [there was] just a little bit of lapse of concentration from everyone at a set-piece. You don't want to be conceding from them. At the other end, we had plenty of set-pieces of the sort that we need to do better with and get our heads on, and hopefully score a few more goals that way during the season. He's unbelievable and he proved that today. He couldn't do anything with the goal; he's saved a penalty; and made a few good one-on-one saves that have kept us in the game. Saying that, we've had a couple of chances at the other end and we need to be more ruthless."
Argyle have lost the opening game of the season 1-0 away at Cambridge United. The goal came after 61 minutes when Josh Coulson scored his first ever football league goal. Adam Cunnington had already had an early penalty saved by Luke McCormick after Carl McHugh had handled in the area. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, McHugh, Smalley, Cox, Norburn(Blizzard), Banton(Morgan), Reid, Alessandra(Thomas). Subs: Bittner, Bentley, Purrington, Harvey.
John Sheridan will not be afraid to try a variety of different formations this coming season, in both home matches and away. He said today that he was not the type of manager to be restricted to a particular system but instead will adapt for particular games. Sheridan:"I'll play any system, whatever I feel like. I think we've played very well with a 3-5-2 formation, especially away from home; 4-3-3 doesn't worry me, I've played that before. With the attack-minded players that we have in the team, I have got to think how we can affect games. If it's a case of going away to one of the so-called favourites. I won't be frightened to play a 3-5-2, but I think that, if we can go on and win the game, I'll play an attacking formation. I'm realistic. I've got to do things where I feel that the players are comfortable with."
Paul Wotton is loving every minute of his new role as a coach at Plymouth Argyle in addition to his playing responsibilities. Wotton admitted that whilst spending so much time in the offices took some getting used to, it was something that he is delighted to be doing. The Argyle legend knows that the time to hang up his boots will soon be upon him, and he is happy to see out the remainder of his playing days whilst learning the trade of coaching. Wotton said: "That has been a real eye-opener for me. As a player you have got an easy life you come in, you work hard and you go home. That's all you have got to worry about. Behind the scenes, it's absolutely crazy what goes on. It's non-stop. You have phone calls to make, you plan training, you see who's injured or who's not. All these sorts of things. I have loved it though, and loved the little transition I have made."
"I'm still registered as a player and still available to play, but I haven't played many minutes because I picked up a bit of a back injury. The gaffer does lots of drills as well, and the shape and set pieces all the important things. I have been taking the defenders, which is quite natural to me anyway. That's how it has gone so far. You can't play for ever," he said. "Football is the only thing I know and, fortunately, the gaffer has given me the chance to progress on the next level of my career. If I could have chosen a role to go into this season, that would have been it. It is perfect. I have still got a desire to play, but I'm under no illusions. I certainly couldn't play two games in a week. The gaffer has been different class with me. If he needs me, he knows I'm there. If he doesn't, then fine. It is what it is. But I'm really thankful for the opportunity that he has given me, on the first rung of the ladder of what, hopefully, will be a decent coaching career."
"I did a couple of years in the academy, which was a good learning curve for me, in terms of coaching habits and mannerisms. Getting my badges was a real grind. There is a lot theory work involved, and I'm not used to that academic side of things. I haven't sat in a classroom for years, and even when I did, I didn't pay much attention. I'm glad I did it while I was still playing. All those little things stand you in good stead, but it doesn't prepare you for professional football. I have always said if I ever was lucky enough to move into coaching, I would like to do it with a first team. That's where I feel my mannerisms are best suited. It's a special art coaching younger players. I think you would be foolish not to learn how to do things off certain managers, and how not to do things off others. There have been sessions that, as a player, I have enjoyed, but there have been sessions and I have thought 'I don't know what we are getting out of this'. I have definitely learned off the ones I wanted to learn from. I like our new signings. They have gelled in really well. The gaffer has got a very clear goal and we all want to go with him in that same way."
Martyn Starnes has declared himself pleased with Argyle's re-energised transfer policy this summer, with a much higher than usual turnover of players. Whilst he (like all at the club) was disappointed to see Conor Hourihane leave this summer, the Chief Executive was very positive about Argyle's overall transfer activity this summer. Amongst other revelations, Starnes confirmed that players were only being targeted if the club felt they were able to keep on playing regularly after promotion to League One:
"It has been a very positive summer for the club. We felt that some changes needed to be made in the playing personnel. We looked for people who we thought could get the club promoted and still be able to play in League One if that was achieved. The squad probably needed a bit of freshening up and we are quite pleased with the business that has been done. We got most of it done early and they have all been able to join in pre-season training, which is important. The only disappointment and this is what hits you in football on a regular basis are the niggling injuries we have sustained. Although we have had the squad in, several of them have not been able to play in some of the pre-season friendlies."
"We had been building the team, if you like, around Conor. To be honest, it was a bitter blow. He had a year to go on his contract, and we felt he would have at least that year. We hoped to be making a strong promotion challenge and he would continue to be captain for that year. And we were talking to him about extending his contract. So we were hoping that if we had a good season, we would have got him signed up and with promotion to League One he would still be with us. Unfortunately, Barnsley made several approaches for him, which Conor obviously had to be made aware of. He was very keen to go because I think he sees Barnsley as having a lot of potential to get promoted back into the Championship. He made it quite clear that he wasn't going to sign an extension to his contract, which I respect, but it doesn't make it any less disappointing. So it seemed the best outcome for everybody was to allow him to make the move providing we got the appropriate value for him, which in the end we did."
"There is always a risk of us building expectations up for the fans and then being disappointed if we don't achieve those expectations. But, let's be honest, Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth are massive clubs in this division. And with no disrespect to the other teams in this division, we don't want to be here. We want to be in at least League One. We have had a season where we have turned the tide, in terms of where we have been. We finished 10th, which was a big improvement on where we had been, and we have got to now build on that and look towards a top seven place. If we got to the play-offs and won it, we would be absolutely delighted. If we got to the play-offs and didn't make it, we would be absolutely devastated, so the best route is to get automatic promotion."
John Sheridan may have awarded the captain's armband to Curtis Nelson this season, but he has said that he hoped there will be more than one person on the pitch assuming the responsibility of a captain. The Argyle boss hopes that the role will make Nelson into a more vocal players but he is also assured that he has players who will talk whether they are the designated captain or not. Sheridan:"
He's played a lot of games for a lad of a young age, and, when you speak to him and when he's in and around the players, you wouldn't think he's a 21 year-old. More than anything, I hope it will help his game, get him more vocal; he's got to be communicating on the pitch, and he's got the armband hopefully that will give him more responsibility. I've got no worries. I've got other players around him. I've got Pete Hartley, Pete talks anyway, he doesn't need an armband; Coxy talks; Luke McCormick talks; and I've made it clear I want more players who are going to be vocal. Obviously, Nelse has the captain's armband, but I'd like more people to think like a captain, and talk like a captain. It will make my job a lot easier."
In the lead-up to the new season, John Sheridan has also said that pressure is something not to be feared but thrived upon. Whilst last season was ultimately disappointing for Argyle's aims, Sheridan sees no reason why the same expectation again should be daunting:
"I want people to talk like that. I want people to think that we're going to have a really good, successful, season. I like putting a bit of pressure on myself; I don't mind people saying that we're going to try to push for promotion. I've done well in this league with my previous clubs, and last season was a step up from the season before, so, from tenth, you are going to be in and around the play-offs hopefully if it's a step up again. I won't take anything less. I like to think that we're going to be up there this season."
Paul Wotton has fitted into his new coaching role so seamlessly according to Luke McCormick, that he is already doing the same things as title winning former Argyle defensive coordinator John 'Sloop' Blackley. Luke said:"He reminds me of John Blackley, to a degree. I remember the amount of work we used to do, defensively and that was such a big part of why we kept 20-odd clean sheets in the championship-winning team. I understand the importance of the work Paul Wotton has been doing and obviously he does. I think everyone can only benefit. John Blackley was a real taskmaster and he worked the back unit really hard. He had standards and he set them high, and I think Wottsy has taken something from that and is delivering those standards and those demands on to today's lads. It looks like he's been doing it all his life, to be honest, and I think he did sort of coach when he played on the field; from what I can see, there's been no problem in that transition from playing to coaching."
McCormick went onto add his pride at becoming the Plymouth Argyle club captain. The role will primarily involve off pitch responsibilities leaving Curtis Nelson to be the on pitch captain:"I feel very privileged and honoured to be given the role. I have always said how much I think of the club and how happy I am here, so I'm really pleased to be given the extra responsibility. It's more an off-the-pitch thing. I think what I do is probably take a little bit of strain off Curtis. He's a very capable, competent young man and it enables him to channel his leadership qualities on the pitch and I can pick up the loose ends during the week if bits and pieces need doing. Maybe I'm just someone to touch base with a point of contact for the staff and the players if there are any issues."
John Sheridan has said that he will take his time in order to have a good look at former Argyle defender Darcy Blake who is currently on trial with the club. Blake played for Argyle seven times under Paul Sturrock in his previous spell with the club- on loan from Cardiff in 2009. Darcy is currently without a club having left Newport at the end of last season. He is not currently fit and the manager has said that he'll make a judgement when 3 or 4 weeks have passed, and he has had time to properly assess a fit Darcy Blake. Sheridan said:
"It'll be three or four weeks before he is fit, but he wants to do that, so he'll come in, get himself fit as quickly as possible, and then we can have a good look at him. If I feel as though he's impressed me enough, we'll possibly do something. He's another player who I enquired about in the summer. He's working very hard at the moment, it's just down to the case of getting himself fit, because I know he has the ability to play at this level, and I'll have a good look at him. When you look at the clubs he's played for and he's played international games he's got the ability. It's just a case of getting his fitness levels right, and hopefully we can do that whilst he's here. He's good on the ball; he's got good qualities; and calmness. He's not the biggest centre-half, but he's physical enough to play there, and I feel as though he can play in a couple of positions, which is always good. I don't think there's any question about his ability; it's down to Darcy, really."
Argyle striker Reuben Reid has said that he is all geared up and ready to go for the 2014/15 season with Argyle- whilst admitting that the soaring temperatures of pre-season have made it more difficult to train. The forward also gave his approval of the signings that Argyle have made this summer thus far. Reid:
"It has been very hot during pre-season but we have got some decent work in. It has been hard training because of the surface at Harper's Park. That has been a bit unfortunate, but fitness-wise I think we are where we want to be.
"Whenever we break up (at the end of a season), it seems to rain for a while. Then when we go away on holiday you phone home and everyone tells you how hot it is. When you come back from holiday it's raining, but then you start pre-season it's roasting hot again. I think it's good to train in the heat, but the surface has been a downfall for pre-season. Other than that, it has gone well.
"I think the players who have come in have gelled in quite nicely now. We are getting close to the first game of the season and everything seems to be coming together."
Anthony O'Connor has shown early signs of ambition following his arrival at the club yesterday. The Irish utility defender claimed that he was immediately attracted by Argyle because he deems them to be a big club for this league. He, like manager John Sheridan, thinks that promotion must be the target this season: "I've played a lot of games in League 2 and I would have liked to be playing at Blackburn now, but it wasn't to be and Plymouth came calling. It's a massive club and I didn't have to think twice about it. The gaffer at Blackburn said he'd had a few 'phone calls about me and he mentioned Plymouth. As soon as I heard him say 'Plymouth', it was something I was very interested in. To be honest, there wasn't much to think about. I tried to get it sorted as soon as I could and, thankfully, I'm here now.
"I want to come here and get more games I'm not here to make up the numbers; I'm here to get on the pitch and give everything for the club. I like to think I've got a bit of everything. I've been at Blackburn a long time, so I've been brought up the right way. I like the physical side of the game and I also like playing football. One thing I will bring is a bit of commitment. In the two loan spells I've had, at Burton and Torquay, I was 100% committed, and I think I did really well. Hopefully, I can bring that here to Plymouth."
"I think that the play-offs has got to be the expectation of a club like this. "Where the club is, in terms of leagues, doesn't do it any justice. I think the club should be a lot higher at least League 1. There has to be no less expectation than being in the play-offs. If it was down to me, I'd be saying we should be pushing for automatic promotion, but it's a long season ahead, a long journey, and I've experienced that anything can happen in this league you can have three results go your way, then three results not go your way. But I'll be doing everything to give my bit to the club and hopefully, come the end of the season, we'll be there or thereabouts."
Argyle have signed Anthony O'Connor on loan from Championship club Blackburn Rovers. The 21-year-old defender - who can play at centre back or right back - has joined the Pilgrims on loan until January. He will wear squad number 28. Although he is yet to make a first-team appearance for Blackburn, O'Connor has spent the last two seasons on loan in League 2. Last season he made 32 appearances whilst on loan at Torquay United, while in 2012-13 he was an ever-present as Burton Albion reached the play-offs. He has been capped for Ireland at under-17 and under-19 level, and has made eight appearances for the country's Under-21 side.
Former Pilgrim Darcy Blake, who played for Argyle seven times in a loan spell from Cardiff City in 2009, is training with Argyle this week. The former Wales international defender is a free agent having been released by Newport County at the end of last season.
John Sheridan declared his 2014-15 Pilgrims are fit and ready to hit the ground running following the completion of their pre-season campaign. A 2-1 win at Skrill Conference South side Weston-super-Mare, where Reuben Reid and Marvin Morgan were on target, completed Argyle's build-up for the new League 2 campaign, that begins at Cambridge United next Saturday. "It was a funny game," said the Argyle manager. "I don't think we really got going, but we got a result and they were good goals. Pre-season results don't matter in my eyes the main thing is we've got everyone fit for the first game of the season next Saturday. Everyone's fit and been working hard; now I'll be working throughout the week with my team that is going to start the first game. We've got another week's hard training. It will all be about how I want us to play and the team shape, and hopefully we can get off to a strong start."
That start also sees home games against Leyton Orient, in the Capital One Cup, and Exeter City, in the league, during the first eight days of the season. Despite the difficult looking sequence, John is targeting and confident of a big improvement on 12 months ago, when Argyle were pointless and goal-less after their first two league games, and went out of the cup at Birmingham. "I feel as though we are going to be ready," he said. "We need to start a lot better than we did last season that's the main thing in my eyes." Luke McCormick, Jason Banton, Deane Smalley and Dominic Blizzard missed the Weston match, but John says all will be in his plans for the visit to Cambridge. He said: "Banton probably could have played but he hasn't missed a day's training or missed a game. so he will be fit next week. Likewise with Smalley. He could have played today and Blizzard. But I didn't want to risk them. Everyone will be available and that's the most important thing in my eyes get everyone fit, and give them a bit of match-time. I would like Dom and Smalley to have a bit more, but they are doing all the running and joining in training. It's just about getting involved in a match now, and they both want to be playing."
Despite the win at the Woodspring Stadium, Sheridan was less than impressed with his side's overall performance. He said: "With no disrespect to Weston-super-Mare, I would have liked us to have been a bit more in control of the game. I like us to pass the ball; take control of the game; and create more chances. I felt we didn't do that today. Weston-super-Mare gave us a good run-out. We are the professional team, the so-called better team, and I expect us to dominate the game a lot more than we did."
John Sheridan has missed out on one transfer target and has all but ruled out the possibility of bringing in a new player before next Saturday's curtain-raiser at Cambridge United. John had hoped to be working with a loan signing in the build-up to the Pilgrims' trip to the Abbey Stadium at the weekend, only for an all-but done deal to falter at the last because of injury worries at the player's club. "We agreed everything with the player and with the club," said John, "and we get a 'phone call just after training yesterday he can't come; they have got one or two injuries which is a big downer. Everything was sorted out he was bringing his girlfriend and his kid down. It's just football, isn't it? You have just got to take it. I'm disappointed because I would have liked the payer to come in. He would have been a big asset for us. It's something we have got to deal with and get around. I'll try to get someone in but whether it's a bit too late I have got to prepare, now. Every day next week, we are going to be working on our shape and what formation we are going to be playing at Cambridge, so I think it would be hard to bring someone in who is just going to be involved in the game next Saturday."
Sheridan's search for fresh talent stems from a desire to bolster the core of his squad. He said: "I've seen it again today we are short of strength in depth. One or two players aren't really showing me they are ready to be in and around the team, and I'm a bit disappointed with that. I expect a lot better from one or two players and I expect them to be fighting a little bit more and showing me more to force their way in the side: if anyone is performing well, I'll put them in. It doesn't matter who it is."
Argyle finished their pre-season matches with a 2-1 win over Weston-Super-Mare. Marvin Morgan netted midway through the second half to seal a win that was never really in doubt from the 31st second, when Reuben Reid fired the Pilgrims ahead. Weston pulled one back late on through Bradley Ash, but the result completed a satisfactory pre-season for John Sheridan's much revamped squad which can now look forward to their first proper test at newly-promoted Cambridge on August 9.
Carl McHugh was feeling very positive after Argyle's 2-1 defeat to Yeovil Town, giving praise to his team-mates and the club's pre-season preparation. The 21-year-old started at left-back for the penultimate friendly before the season gets underway, and watched Reuben Reid slot home a superb individual effort on ten minutes to open the scoring. Yeovil, though, hit back, with a long-range curler from Liam Davis making it 1-1 before a deflected effort from Sam Hoskins agonisingly found the net with nine minutes to go.
Despite the defeat, McHugh was very pleased with the performance against the Glovers, and believes there is plenty to take from the game. "Whatever the score was, I think we did quite well in stages," said McHugh. "We passed the ball around really well at the start of the second half. There were just a few sloppy moments that could have been avoided. I think there are a lot of positives to be taken out of the game. There was not a lot between the two teams, apart from a few sloppy mistakes that we can iron out as we go forward. I do not think there was much anyone could have done for their second goal, but there are still a lot of positives moving forward.
Much like his manager John Sheridan, McHugh singled out Jason Banton as a player who impressed on the night, as well as someone he relishes linking up with on the field. "I enjoy playing behind Bants. He was brilliant in the first half tonight," he said. "He is a real threat going forward, and I think he will cause full backs a lot of problems in this league. He will be a big player for us."
The Irishman believes the good performances shown this pre-season against opposition in higher divisions is a result of excellent preparation on the training field. "We have had a really good pre-season with John Harbin, the gaffer, Sean McCarthy and Paul Wotton," he said. "It has been really tough, but sensible at the same time. There has been a lot of football work and match-related stuff, so it has been enjoyable but tough. Hopefully we will feel the benefits of it. Friendlies are great but nothing beats competitive games, fighting for three points. I think we are all just counting down now to that first day of the season. Hopefully we will have a good performance on Saturday, get another week of training under our belts, and then it is full steam ahead."
Argyle's travelling youth squad have created history by finishing third in the Dale Farm Junior Milk Cup. The young Pilgrims beat Chilean side O'Higgins 2-0 in the competition's third-placed play-off, having lost their semi-final against Corinthians by the same margin. The third-placed finish is the highest position any Argyle side have finished in during the competition - going one better than the 2009 squad, who lost at this stage.
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