A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Derek Adams has come out against artificial pitches following some calls for them to be implemented in football league matches due to recent weather conditions that have caused some games to be abandoned due to snow. Adams said: "They shouldn't be introduced. I don't think it's a proper surface to play football on. I know in Holland they've had to do that because of the weather out there. They have had a lot of rain, but there is no way it should come into English football again. The ball doesn't run the same. They are great for training, the community and opportunities for people training every hour of every day. That is a great idea for youth football, but when you get to first team football grass is the best surface.
"It becomes complicated, they should have the artificial pitch at their training ground that they can use if they want to make money from it. I don't think it should be allowed as their main stadium pitch. I just think, how many times a year do you have games getting postponed for frost? It doesn't happen very often and we all panic when it does."
Reacting to the statistic that Peterborough manager Grant McCann was the 33rd manager to this season to lose his job, Adams reacted with dismay at the lack of stability shown by some football club owners with all the blame being landed on the manager's door. He said: "It's not a great statistic for football clubs. It's nothing to be proud of if you are a football club chairman or an owner, to say that you have made a wrong decision. Probably of the 33, not many of them will have been in a job for that long as well. Sometimes it's not always the manager that should get the blame, but it always is the manager that gets the blame. It's ridiculous that is the case. I think that stability in any football club is the way forward. It's always the manager that gets changed, it's never the personnel inside a football club. That has to change because it's not always the manager's fault."
Derek Adams has given a fitness update on the progress of injured goalkeepers Robbert te Loeke and Luke McCormick, stating that both should be fit around the end of April. He said: "I think both of them will be back in mid to late April. They are still recovering from their operations. We have got three goalkeepers in Remi Matthews, Letheren and Michael Cooper so there is no rush. You never say never. It depends how quickly they get back to full fitness in that April period."
Adams also came out in favour of goalline technology following the news that it will be used in the League One play-offs this May. He said: "I'm in favour of goal-line technology. It's definitely going to help the game. VAR definitely has changed the way that we view football as well. It has made watching the game quite interesting at times. To get the right decision, I think that goal-line technology is important. It's very expensive to instal but as we go on in future years then it will become cheaper and they will have it throughout all the leagues."
Derek Adams declared himself unsurprised by the recent good form of midfielder Jamie Ness, praising in particular the game he had against Bradford: "I thought he started the game very well. He got himself on the end of a number of blocks. Then he got himself on a number of second balls, completed passes and got himself in the 18-yard box as well. He's a very good passer of the ball, he reads the game well and he plays his position perfectly. "He probably should have (scored), but he was unfortunate with the opportunity. It would have finished off a fine day for him. We always knew what a good player he is. We just had to get him through that period. He has worked very hard to do that and he has become a mainstay."
Derek Adams spoke of the fact that Argyle are no longer an unknown quantity as they faced play-off rivals Bradford but were nonetheless able to make the most out of it and win the game. He said: "They wouldn't have thought it was going to be an easy game, coming here," said Derek. "I think people would look at the results coming and they see that Plymouth have won another game, they'd be thinking to themselves: 'We don't want to play them next.' I think that, at home, it's a different ball game to them. But they've been on a magnificent run away from home; I think they'd only lost one game before today. You've got to remember: Bradford are a good side. They've been up at that end of the table for a good majority of the time. I don't think they've been out of the play-offs too much this season. I thought we started the game very well. We started on the front foot and won a lot of second balls. When we did that, we completed good passes into forward areas. We got into the pockets well, because the gap from defence to midfield to Bradford was quite large. One of the players coming in off the side, Ruben Lameiras and Graham Carey, as well as Jamie Ness and Sarcevic, playing in that area, gave Bradford a lot of problems. Eventually, we worked a great move to get the first goal. It was a good move, because we passed the ball during that period. We controlled large spells of the game with our passing and movement and, eventually, a good passage of play allowed Antoni Sarcevic to get into the 18-yard box. It was via a deflection, but it was a good bit of play by him and others."
"If they were going to score it was going to be from a crossed ball. I didn't think they were going to play through us in the middle of the pitch. We dealt well with the threat they were going to give us. I did think they were going to be more of a threat today, Bradford. I thought they might've put us under more pressure, but it was probably one of the lesser games this season where we haven't had a lot to defend, and we looked very comfortable. But I thought we created good opportunities. We got into the final third. If we completed one or two more passes, we'd have been in a number of times. I thought the back four and midfield looked very solid, as they have done. Offensively as well, we look good at times. I think the players have got an understanding of each other, of the system, and when you play week in, week out, that's only going to be beneficial. They've got a good understanding of each other's abilities."
Adams also spoke about the pressure to win after coming back from a week in Spain at a warm weather training camp: "We're under a bit of pressure as always when we're coming back from Spain. People want to see what the reaction is and what you've done in Spain. Well, the boys worked very hard and it's been a productive week. I thought the players showed a very good fitness level. We've been training in a hot climate – it's been 20 degrees morning and night – and I think that's been hugely beneficial for us today. There was no doubt about it: We'd have got criticised no end if we'd gone and lost the game today. There's no two ways about it. That's the nature of a human being sometimes, and we've been able to keep everybody quiet and the people who might've jumped on the bandwagon quiet tonight."
Playmaker Ruben Lameiras believed that his Argyle side were always capable of picking up the kinds of results that they recently have, even when they were languishing at the bottom of the table. He explained: "It's been a good run. We knew we had quality in the camp and we knew we had the players to damage teams. Maybe at the start it didn't happen for us, but we were determined to keep going. We never laid down and we said we were determined for when it did click we can do something special. I try to create as many chances as I can for the boys, or score. When you have runners and options its sometimes easy as you just play what you see. Sarce was screaming 'just play me' and he finished it off well. When we went 1-0 up, we almost put the shutters down and say 'no goals'. Again, the defence and midfield today were solid. Sarce is a great lad who loves to score goals and perhaps doesn't get the credit he deserves. He is always in the box making runs and today I am really happy for him as he has put in a lot of shift over the weeks. He struggled with injuries at the start but he is flying at the minute and we need him to carry on.
"It's good. We can say no one wants to come play us at the moment. We are playing some good stuff, even from the back; solid defensive performances, the midfield running all over the place and we are creating goals and chances. We maybe should have got a few more today, but we are happy and we keep going. We just take every game as it comes. Today was a great chance to lay down a marker to the league that we are a really tough side to play against. We did that today, we have just got to keep pushing on and see where that takes us."
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the Grandstand, the Mayflower seating, and the disabled enclosure will all be closed for the whole of next season before re-opening for the 2019-20 campaign after the refurbishment is complete.
Argyle have kept their outstanding run of form going with a 6th win in a row in the league and a vital 1-0 victory over play-off rivals Bradford City. An Antoni Sarcevic goal near the end of the first half was enough to secure all three points and the 8th win in 9 home games. Argyle have climbed into the League One play-off places for the first time all season following a tremendous run of form. Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer, Fox, Ness, Sarcevic(Songo'o), Carey, Taylor, Lameiras(Taylor-Sinclair). Subs: Letheren, Makasi, Church, Grant, Ainsworth.
Derek Adams might have been expected to have welcomed moves to move back the end date of the summer transfer window but in fact believes it should go back even earlier, to before the first game of the season. He said: "My thoughts are that it should close before the first game of the season. We will try to do our business before the first game of the season. There will be no outgoings after that unless somebody comes in and gives an absolute brilliant deal for somebody, because it would make no sense to have a player in your squad and, then, four days later, he's out of the squad. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever if you're preparing for a season and then, four days later, you sell one of your players for small fee. The football manager is then most important person at a football club because they have to deal with the consequences of a transfer-window. I think that maybe the EFL should speak to the managers more often because we have got a game on a Saturday, a game on the Tuesday; we have got to deal with getting a squad right, and they want to close the transfer window after the season starts."
On a more positive note, Adams spoke positively of Argyle's experience training in Marbella for warm weather purposes stating his belief that it will prove vital for success in the remaining quarter of Argyle's season. Adams explained: "We've had four days of good training in a warm climate. It was a very good trip and we got done what we needed to get done. The benefits are that the players are together 24 hours a day and it brings the whole squad together. We've taken in new players and it bridges the gap of them coming into a new squad, getting everybody to train at the same time. You always have your groups within a group, and it's about getting them together. They are a good group. We had 22 players away with us. We had two apprentices in Michael Cooper and Cameron Sangster – that gave them good experience to see first-team traveling and first-team training. Getting away together...it's more expensive staying in England, if we went to St George's Park. It's expensive to go to St George's Park to train. It's a beautiful setting but it is cheaper for us to go to Marbella. The big difference is we are getting heat when we're across there. We can do more training while we are across there."
Jamie Ness revealed that his faith in his own ability to overcome injury and the ability of the team to battle through tough spells of form was integral to his mindset when things were going poorly earlier in the season. The midfielder, now in a rich vein of form, has said: "We've always had faith that we're a good team with good players. We were putting in the hard work earlier in the season and weren't getting rewarded for it. Confidence went with that, as well. We've stuck at it. We've kept doing what we have been doing, kept working hard, and we're getting the results from it now. It was really frustrating for me, the first half of the season – we weren't picking up points and being injured. I managed to do a lot of work over that time and make sure I was ready to come back into the team. I'm feeling the benefits of it now and I think we're all playing with confidence now and can't wait for the games to come around. In the last 12 games, we are playing a lot of the teams that are round about us, so it should be an interesting finish to the season. We knew it would come down to this. When you see the fixtures, we have got the likes of Bradford, Charlton, Scunthorpe, all in the run-in, and if we can keep going the way we have been going, we are confident we can push forward. We are looking to continue in the same vein of form we have been in and keep carrying on with the wins. Ryan has been brilliant for us recently, holding the ball up," said Jamie. "We can kind of gamble a little bit more because you know, when it goes up to him, it is going to stick. So, me and Sarce have been trying to weigh in with goals – Foxy as well – so there's a little bit of competition going on at the moment. I'd like to add a couple more before the end of the season."
EFL CLUBS have officially voted through proposals that will see the EFL transfer window close following the opening game of the League season. Consultation with clubs has been ongoing since last year and as a result of today's vote, the window will now close for permanent transfers from another club on Thursday, August 9, at 5pm. This is aligned with the decision the Premier League opted to take in September 2017. In addition, EFL Clubs will still be able to: Sign players on Standard Loan up to August 31.
Sign players on Standard Loan up to August 31, with an option to agree a permanent transfer when the next window opens.
Register players who ceased to be registered with a club during the period up until the August 31.
Transfer players out to a club in any league whose window is still open.
Kevin Hodges has welcomed the decision of Derek Adams to include youth prospects Michael Cooper and Cameron Sangster in the travelling party to the warm weather training camp in Marbella this week. He said: "When you are in a first team squad, you are in each other's pockets every day whilst you are in the football club. You are travelling together, you are staying in hotels together. You are around each other so much and it takes some people longer than others to fit in that sort of environment. So I think the manager has made a great decision to take these two young lads. It's great for them, but for the ones that have been left behind it shows it's achievable. I would like to think the reaction from some of those will be 'Hey, I want some of that, I want to be able to do that'. That's the type of environment our young boys are in and have to respond to."
Argyle are off to a training camp in Marbella for the week leading up to the game against Bradford that could make or break the club's play-off hopes. Sonny Bradley described how the move came about, explaining: "We're looking forward to it," said manager Derek Adams. "We've had a hard season and the players have worked ever so hard. We're going to get a bit of sun and train in the warm weather, and look forward to next week's game. It certainly does help. I've done it many times in my managerial career and it's a good place to go. It's a good time of year to go there and the facilities are excellent. It's been organised for a number of weeks now. It's about getting the players out there to recharge and look ahead to the final 12 games of the season."
"We're off for a bit of warm-weather training now; we're off to Marbella, so I'm sure we'll be preparing well for Bradford. At the awards night a few weeks ago, I spoke to the Chairman. I said to him: 'When we went to Marbella, we came back and beat Exeter and got promoted. We've got to go again'. He said: 'Leave it with me. I'll see what I can do.' Then last Saturday, the manager comes in and tells us we're going to Marbella! It's certainly not a holiday. It certainly wasn't last year. I think last year a couple of lads thought it was going to be a jolly-up, but I can tell you now: it's far from that. It'll be double sessions every day; very similar to what we do in the week, just warmer and dryer, hopefully. We're in the mix now. We're going to go to Marbella and we're going to work harder than we've ever worked before. We'll be turning up against Bradford, expecting to win."
Meanwhile, Argyle have issued an update on the progress of Ryan Edwards who begins the next stage of his treatment for testicular cancer this week. The centre-back will undergo a short course of chemotherapy to help combat the disease having already had surgery after diagnosis of the cancer earlier this year. Of the supportive response to his diagnosis, Edwards said: "I am more than overwhelmed by the messages of amazing support that keep coming in. I cannot thank everyone at Argyle enough, especially the Green Army, and am humbled at the way football has come together. I am looking forward to kicking this thing and getting back in a green and white shirt as soon as possible."
Derek Adams believes that the Pilgrims were better value for their victory at Oxford United than the 1-0 scoreline suggests. Sonny Bradley's header in first-half stoppage-time was enough to secure a fifth successive victory, as Argyle were able to frustrate the home side's efforts before and after the winner. Derek said: "We had to grind it out in the end but we probably should have been two or three up – Ryan Taylor hit the bar; Graham Carey had a chance; Antoni Sarcevic had an opportunity, as well. We didn't really allow Oxford the opportunity to have too many clear-cut chances. We had probably the better of the opportunities and should have gone further ahead in the game. If we've created more clear-cut chances than the opposition, we must be better than the opposition, and that's the way it is today. We were better than Oxford because we created the better opportunities; we kept a clean sheet; and we scored a goal. It's a difficult league and Oxford are one of the better teams in the league and we've come here and won 1-0; we've taken the three points and we're delighted about that. You can see the way that Oxford want to play. They want to have their two central midfield players on the ball and try to play diagonal passes but it didn't really trouble us because we sat off the game and allowed them to either knock it into our full-backs or knock it out of play."
Taylor, who joined Argyle from Oxford just over a year ago, was eager to leave his mark at his former home, and came close when he rattled the frame of the goal in the second half. Derek said: "He probably delayed it just a second and hit the top of the crossbar, but it was very good play leading up to that and we were unfortunate not to have gone 2-0 ahead."
After action-packed and attack-minded wins in recent weeks over the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Shrewsbury Town, the Pilgrims' progress towards Sky Bet League One's post-season party was added to in very different fashion against the Stags. Despite the home side's recent struggles, they adapted to a difficult playing surface the quickest and had plenty of creative threats in forward positions. Argyle were rarely able to get into gear and were on back foot for spells, yet still managed to head into the break ahead. Graham Carey's corner to the far post was met by a towering Sonny Bradley header, with the final action of anger in the first half – the perfect combination at the perfect time.
"We get the first goal – the perfect time to get that goal, in my opinion – and then basically defend for your life after," said Sonny. "It's probably the perfect time to score a goal. They go into the break deflated and it totally changes their team talk. Everything they're prepared to say, they probably have to change at the last minute. It throws you off from a defender's point of view. When you concede at that time, it's dreadful, so I know exactly how they were feeling. Me and the back stick have a good relationship. We've been a bit frosty for a few weeks, but that's what I like to do; I like to get myself to the back stick. If the ball's hung up in the air, I fancy myself against anybody in football to be honest. That's just the confidence I have. From a defender's point of view, it's very hard to mark someone at the back post, especially when the ball's coming in with momentum. I know because of where I run to pick up players from defensive set pieces. It's a great ball again by Graham; it's one we've worked on again. It was just enough for the 'keeper to sniff at and bring him off his line, and obviously he's made a mistake and should've stayed on his line. As soon as I see him miss the ball, I think: 'All I've got to do here is head the ball and it's in.'"
That goal was all the Greens needed to record a fifth straight victory, and a third in a row on their travels, thanks to defensive solidity that paved the way for Argyle to ply their trade at this level. Ably assisted by their peers, Bradley and Yann Songo'o put in a performance the Green Army will remember fondly from previous League Two campaigns, to seal a result that Sonny considers, well, perfect. "I just said to Wottsy that the performance reminded me of last season," said Bradley. "I think 80% to 90% of our performances were like that last season. I think in the second half we could've gone 2-0 up; Ryan had a good chance, Graham had one cleared off the line, so we could've maybe seen the game out a bit easier. But it's the best result in football, for a centre-half, in my opinion: a 1-0 win away from home. It's a nice bonus to get the goal. It wasn't pretty today, but we've shown that we can turn up and play ugly and still get a result. In this division, that's massive. We never really got out of second gear – which is a bit of compliment, because when we're in fourth or fifth gear, we're unplayable. We didn't get there today, but we scored at the perfect time. In the second half, they went more attacking. They went two up front and had a good go, and caused us quite a few problems. Remi's had a great game again. Yann, Zak, Gary, even Sincs when he came on; they've stepped up today and shown everyone how to defend. Yann I've played with Yann for quite a while now. 18 or 19 months in football is quite a long time, so me and Yann know each other well. We know our games well, and we knew it wouldn't be a problem. We knew as well that Zak's got experience at right back. It was the right decision from the manager and it's paid off today. We're a team that knows how to defend. We're organised. We run drills in training for situations like that, so it's a great result and all the boys did well."
Fleeting glances at the division's top six places are now turning into prolonged stares, as Argyle moved to within a point of the play-off spots. Once eager to avoid talk of a promotion push, it is now clear that Sonny and the squad have their sights fully set on a target that seemed so unlikely just a couple of months ago. "If you look at the games we've played – Blackburn, Shrewsbury, this one today – they're all difficult games," said Bradley. "We've got momentum and confidence, and it's going to be very hard to beat us now, because we're only getting better. We've had a bit of an off day today, but we've shown we can win. It's very much in our hands now. If we go and win that game now, I certainly think we'll be in the mix come the end of the season. We aren't going to down tools. We've got no time for that now. We can see something special happening here, and we're not going to throw it away now. There's 12 games to go. It's time to press on and get a play-off place."
Argyle's 1-0 win at Oxford, their fifth in succession, was a far cry from the incisive destruction of leaders Shrewsbury or the flamboyant victory against AFC Wimbledon, but was full of grit, heart, commitment and - crucially - the deciding goal. Sonny Bradley, for the 11th time in his Argyle career, headed home, and in the second minute of first half injury-time, the Pilgrims had the goal that would ultimately win them all three points.
Argyle: Matthews; Vyner, Songo'o, Bradley, Sawyer (Taylor-Sinclair); Sarcevic, Fox, Ness; Carey, Taylor, Lameiras (Grant). Substitutes (not used): Miller, Ainsworth, Church, Makasi, Letheren.
Derek Adams believes there is a buzz of excitement throughout the club both inside the dressing room and in the stands. The Pilgrims continued their rich vein of form with a 4-2 thriller at Home Park against AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night. The victory saw the Greens go within three points of the Sky Bet League One play-offs, with the increasing possibility of the Pilgrims reaching the Play-offs starting to resonate wider and wider.
Adams said of his players: "They are in a good place; they have an excellent team spirit. That's not just the 11 that are starting, that is everyone around the squad as well. We had a very good transfer window where we offloaded players and took in cash while reducing the wage bill; all these things have been beneficial too us. I think that in football, winning games does excite people and we have been able to put on a very good run. The players are in great form, they are playing with a lot of confidence and with that the crowds have improved again this year. We had 10,000 on a Tuesday night; they were very vocal and that helped the team immensely. We go to Oxford on Saturday and we have sold out our full allocation. That shows you how they feel about the team and that's a good thing. Anything is possible, I think that the position we are in and the way we have played it is certainly a possibility. I would say there is only one place up for grabs in that play-off position."
With the Greens travelling to out of sorts Oxford United on Saturday, Adams knows that Argyle have to be wary as managerless United's league position does not reflect the quality of the U's squad. Adams said: "They are a very good side and probably in a false positon, from the point of view that the amount of finance that has been pumped into the football club to get them into the position that they want to be. They were looking at the start of the season to be in the play-off positions, and they have fallen away from that at this moment in time. But, that's not to say they can't have a good run until the end of the season."
With the Pilgrims having a match to forget in the reverse fixture at Home Park, when Oxford won 4-0 Adams doesn't feel that gives Argyle any extra incentive at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday. "I wouldn't have thought so," he said. "Circumstances were against us that day. We had the sending off and we know earlier on in the season that didn't help us. We played very well at times, but when we lost the second goal and the man it was very difficult after that."
Argyle beat AFC Wimbledon 4-2 on Tuesday night in Taylor's 13th consecutive league start since returning from injury. In those games, the Pilgrims have won nine, drawn three and lost just one. Ryan Taylor, on five goals for the season, has been pivotal to Argyle's remarkable resurgence. Ryan's comeback in late November came nearly four months after breaking his ankle twenty minutes into the opening game of the season. Taylor admitted himself and his teammates are enjoying their football at the moment and he is feeling as fit as he ever has been. "I'm loving it at the moment," he said, "and why wouldn't I be? The results are going well, I have played in the last 13 games now and we have picked up a fair few points now. So, I'm enjoying my football and I think it shows on the football pitch. The team are also doing pretty well. It was a bit different a few months ago. We were at the bottom of the league and things weren't looking so good. The last three months we have really picked up and everybody is enjoying it. The changing room is a different place to be, everyone is confident and rightly so. It's a bit more upbeat, why would you be happy sitting at the bottom of the league? We are doing fantastic at the minute and the last 13 games have been superb. We have got to keep going. We are not happy with that in the changing room; we want to do more and will do more. If we carry on doing what we are doing, then we can go up the league."
Argyle rejected a 'derisory' bid for Taylor in January, which Ryan acknowledged, but asked his own rhetorical question about his current situation, underlining his satisfaction with his situation. "The manager told me they put in a bid for me," he said, "but I'm enjoying my football here. I'm loving it and I am happy where I am. I love it here; it is a great location for us as a family. I am enjoying it and hopefully I'll be here a lot longer. I've played the last thirteen games and I have been involved in all of them. Things are going pretty well. So, why would I want to leave this football club?"
Argyle's attacking trifecta has been integral to the side's upward charge, and Derek Adams was delighted to see them create and convert plenty more chances in their 4-2 win over AFC Wimbledon. Graham Carey, Ryan Taylor and Ruben Lameiras all etched their names into the score-sheet against the Dons – joined by the slightly more unfamiliar name of David Fox – as the Pilgrims overpowered their opponents to notch yet another win and rise to eighth in the League One table. Each of the three forwards notched a single goal, but it could well have been plenty more, as the Greens ran riot on a memorable evening at Home Park. Taylor, for example, had two other goals ruled out for extremely tight offside decisions. "The chances created for Ryan Taylor; he could've had a hat-trick," said Derek, "having two chopped off. I couldn't tell you if they were offside from where I was. It's two great crosses – one from Gary Sawyer and one from Graham Carey – and two great runs from Ryan Taylor, but I can't tell you if it was offside or not. Overall, it's about getting three points and moving up the league."
Lameiras was the last to find the back of the net, but it was an inevitability after his dazzling display of darting runs and precise passing. Netting his fourth of the season, it seems that Ruben is adding a goal-scoring streak to his already impressive arsenal of skills. "He was unlucky not to have scored a second," said Adams. "He's got very quick feet and is wonderfully skilful. To do what he did for his goal: it was a good ball into Ryan Taylor, a flick-on and he just took it away from the goalkeeper, and struck it cleanly into the net."
The performances of not just the three forwards, but also the eight Pilgrims behind them, always looked like enough to give Argyle a comfortable victory. However, for a period in both the first and second halves, that looked very much in doubt, as AFC Wimbledon's Lyle Taylor netted twice. The Dons' stand-out striker caused problems for much of the evening, but a tactical switch from Adams in the second half killed off the potential for the visitors to record another away day upset. "They probably didn't deserve to be anywhere near us tonight," said Derek, "because we were the better side throughout the 90 minutes. Their goalkeeper was in outstanding form. Graham Carey had two fantastic strikes and he was able to save them. But Lyle Taylor always causes a problem. He's a very good player at this level and he scores goals. Taylor was causing us huge problems down our left-hand side, and I took Gary Sawyer off to bring Aaron Taylor-Sinclair on. Taylor has been playing on the right flank for a good period of the season. He's very capable of playing in that area. He's a player that does really well. In League Two and League One, he's shown that he can score goals. We knew it was important game tonight, because they'd gone away to Bradford and won 4-0. They've shown that, away from home, they can get that result. I know they'd lost their last three games, but to win 4-0 there is not easy."
As much as he enjoyed last season, David Fox is sensing an even better feeling this time around. Last season, David's first at Home Park, saw the Pilgrims promoted from Sky Bet League Two in second place. With a set discipline to their performances last season Fox feels that this season is different to last as the nervousness around the stadium has gone. Speaking after scoring in Argyle's 4-2 win over Wimbledon at Home Park, to extend the Greens' winning run to four games, Fox said: "I think it's got a different feel to it this season than last. I think there was an expectation last year and a nervousness around the place to get promoted. It was expected of us whereas this season I think everyone's enjoying it a little bit more. The players are playing with freedom. We're not expected to do anything outside this football club but inside the football club we're trying to do something quite special at the minute. There is that freedom but I think fair play to the boys they work very hard as well when they haven't got the ball and there is times where we've sat back, been disciplined and we've got that in our locker to do, I think we're very good at that. But also we play with a bit of freedom and try and outnumber teams in wide areas and let the boys sort of do what they want and as long as we've got that steady base of the 4 and the 3 then the other boys can go and try and win us games. Fair play to them they're doing great at it at the minute. We're full of confidence going into every game. No-one's getting carried away, no-one's talking about anything other than the next game and we'll just see where we go. The whole point of being a football fan is to try and dream, that's what the fans are doing at the minute and it's great and they come in their numbers and we try and entertain them. I think we're doing that at the minute."
A 4-2 win over Wimbledon tonight ensured that Argyle's fine run of results continued in game that just about had it all: a Graham Carey special; a rare David Fox goal; a Remi Matthews' penalty save; six goals; and, most importantly, another three points which saw the Pilgrims progress to within one win of the play-off positions.
Argyle: Matthews; Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer (Taylor-Sinclair); Sarcevic (Makasi), Fox (Songo'o), Ness; Carey, Taylor, Lameiras. Substitutes: Ainsworth, Church, Grant, Letheren.
For the second week win a row Argyle played the second-placed team in League One, but not for one second did that seem to faze Derek Adams or his Argyle team who notched up an impressive 2-1 win at Shrewsbury. After Shrewsbury opened the scoring early on via Carlton Morris, most sides would have folded. Argyle rolled up sleeves, and after Graham Carey had seen a penalty saved, Jamie Ness scored the equaliser with his first goal for Argyle. They needed a second, and when Carey sent in a corner, at the second attempt, Zak Vyner found the net to give Argyle the win.
Matthews, Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Fox (Songo'o), Ness, Carey, Taylor, Lameiras (Ainsworth). Substitutes: Church, Makasi, Grant, Taylor-Sinclair, Letheren.
Sonny Bradley reiterated the Argyle squad are still #WithYouEddy as Ryan Edwards continues his recovery from an operation for testicular cancer. Bradley said: "He came in on Tuesday as he had an appointment at the hospital down here. It was nice to see him, he actually looked really well. All the lads are missing him and we need him back as soon as possible. We've got fifteen games left and although I don't want to say it, as we are always thinking about him, but we have to push on as a team and think about the next game ahead of us. I'm sure that's what Eddy would want. I think he found out a couple of weeks before he told us. We honestly didn't have a clue; Ryan didn't change anything he did around the place. His attitude was the same; he was still laughing and joking. I room with him at away games and I really couldn't tell the difference to any other time. That's fair play to Ryan. I don't think there are many people that strong; I certainly don't think I would have been. He's a nice quiet guy off the pitch so it's hard thinking about it. But, everything is going well for him and over the next couple of weeks he will be on the road to recovery. He's popped up at a couple of games. At Oldham I turned around and saw a big white jacket, and he was stood there with his Dad in their end. Its great support for the boys and we all noticed he was there. We just wish him a speedy recovery now."
Derek Adams echoed Sonny's support for Edwards. "He's improving; he has had the operation now a couple of weeks ago. He is still awaiting his results, and when he gets them the next course of action will take place. Either, he goes for chemotherapy or not." said Derek. "I think that everybody has been very supportive to him. He has played a number of games knowing he was going to have the operation and he was going to have to go through a process of time without football."
Argyle's brave young Pilgrims fell narrowly short of claiming another FA Cup Youth Cup scalp, concluding their superb run at the fifth round stage, losing 3-1 after extra time to Fulham. Klaidi Lolos capped off a superb first half for the under-18 side, scoring on 22 minutes to grab a deserved lead. A classy finish from Nicolos Santos-Clase levelled things up with 20 minutes to go and, once the game headed into extra time, tiredness began to show. Substitute Fabio Carvalho made it 2-1 to Fulham in the first 15 minutes of the 30 added on, and Jayden Harris put the tie to bed in the final 15.
"IT'S been a fantastic journey." was Kevin Hodges' summation of the Argyle Academy's FA Youth Cup run. Facing another Category One side in a row after creating the cup sensation of this, or any other, season by knocking out Manchester City's global young superstars-in-waiting and turfing out Burnley on their own patch, they could not quite make it three in a row. They pushed Fulham all the way in their fifth-round tie, though. Leading by KlaidiLolos's first-half goal, the Young Pilgrims were taken to extra-time before two late goals, and Cameron Sangster's even later penalty miss, brought the fairy-tale to an end. "We can reflect on this cup run with a lot of pride," said Academy Director Kevin. "The boys have been competing against Category One and Premier League clubs and they have shown that they can hold their own, which is fantastic for out Academy. They have done exceptionally well and they have gained lots of experience from it, in more ways than one. We had a perfect start to get a goal in front and, when you get the other opportunities, we have got to be a little more clinical and take those opportunities. For a spell there, I thought we were going to go one step further. We got a nice goal, a well-taken goal, and could easily have maybe added to it in the first half. I thought we were excellent in the first period. We did everything right. Their equalising goal came out of nowhere – the only spot the young boy could put it in, he did – and it just gave them a bit of hope and they started coming at us a little bit more. We never caved in and we took it to extra-time once more. Then, the second goal was very similar to the first one, and we had to throw something at it, which we did and which resulted in us conceding a third one. We had a bit of a lifeline right at the end with the penalty. That just shows the character of the boys they kept on going right to the very end. It would have been nice to have stuck that one away and it would have been another interesting couple of minutes. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be."
The learning experience has not ended with the cup exit, though. "Now they have got to move on," said Kevin. "You can't feel sorry for yourself for too long. It's a professional environment that they are in and they can feel sorry for their selves this evening but we're back to work tomorrow with games coming up at the weekend. It is up to the boys to respond in a real positive way for the coming fixtures. They have come up against players who are playing at top clubs and it gives them a benchmark of where they need to be if they have got aspirations of becoming top players. It demonstrates what you have to do to play at a higher level."
Argyle under 18's take on Fulham at Home Park tonight in the fifth round of the Youth FA Cup, with the carrot of Chelsea or Tottenham dangling at the end of it. After Eastleigh and Wimbledon were beaten, most would expected Argyle to go down valiantly in round three, against Manchester City. When the Pilgrims saw off the mighty Sky Blues on penalties following 120 goalless minutes, their luck could have been assumed to have been exhausted before heading to Burnley in round four – and then a last minute Billy Craske winner saw another hurdle hopped.
"It's been a fantastic, excellent journey in the FA Youth Cup," said Kevin Hodges, "and it's been one the players have thoroughly deserved. We've had our challenges along the way. It's been invaluable for the young players that will be fortunate to go on with the opportunity to be a professional, to break into our first team or someone else's first team, these experiences that they have been through will put them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Some will not become professionals, but semi-professionals or in different directions. They will treasure this for the rest of their lives."
Championship side Fulham have a Category 1 Academy, and have already beaten Huddersfield Town and Swansea City on their way to round five. They will prove a tough opposition, but when you have seen off one of the best sides in Europe, one can forgive Argyle a little confidence. Good game management, organisation and hard work were crucial to the Pilgrims getting past previous opponents, and Kevin will be seeking similar tonight.
Hodges said, of Fulham: "A very well known Academy, known for producing good players. Steve Wigley is head of coaching there, and has good history behind him working at Southampton and brining quality players through. We're going to have to be at our best. We're going to have to prove we are consistent in what we have done so far. If we go away from that we will make it hard for ourselves. The players are looking forward to it, relishing the opportunity. As a Category 3 football club to get into the last 16 has been excellent. But we want to go further. We want to be organised like we have been. We want to be free when we are on the ball, for players to have the confident to get on the ball and play. We want to create some opportunities. The players want to progress, and we all know we will have to be at our best. There's international players on view from Fulham. We want as many people to come along as possible to get behind our lads and perhaps even cheer them on to another win."
Antoni Sarcevic's outstanding display in Argyle's 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers epitomises the faith that manager Derek Adams has entrusted in his team, following a difficult start to the campaign. The 25-year old played a starring role in a memorable victory for the Greens, showing all aspects of an all-action midfielder throughout the afternoon. Antoni watched on as Ruben Lameiras punched in the opening goal on 25 minutes, before kicking off the counter-attack for the second goal with a clever flick over a Rovers player and a surging run. He then gave Graham Carey the perfect ball to cross into Ryan Taylor, who slid in to score on 37 minutes. Sarcevic said himself following the match that great displays such as this one were not always present earlier on in the season, as he struggled with injuries and confidence. Like other players in his team, though, Adams never lost faith in a player who he believes has the potential to be one of the best in his position in the league. "He can do whatever he wants to do," said Derek. "He can be the complete midfield player. He can get back. He can tackle. He can pass the ball. He can score goals. He can assist goals. In my eyes, he's a top player that needs to believe that. In pre-season training I gave him the captain's armband, and that's why I'm happy to see him doing really well. He had a couple of niggles early in the season that affected him. He's got through that now and he's a main part of this team."
Sarcevic is not the only player to now be enjoying success personally and as part of a team after struggling early on. Whilst others may have looked to rip things up and start again, Adams has simply made minor alterations to his team and trusted the core of his squad. With just one loss in eleven games and sitting closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone, Derek's belief is now paying him back with interest. "At the start of the season, we had injuries and suspensions that we had to overcome," said Adams. "That was the reason why we were where we were. There's nothing else to it. We have shown when we're in this division that we've competed against the best teams. We haven't looked like we've been outplayed by anybody. We've outplayed teams and dealt with their threats at times as well."
One of those aforementioned acquisitions to bolster Argyle is Zak Vyner, slotting into the centre of defence since joining on loan from Bristol City. The youngster comfortably dealt with Blackburn's considerable attacking threat, including striker Danny Graham. "He's quick, he's strong, he reads the game well, a very good user of the ball," said Derek of Zak. "We weren't actually sure that Graham was going to start today. He obviously just played 45 minutes, but we just felt that his pace could help us. With Bristol City, he's been involved in the first team throughout the season. He's played in the FA Cup this year and he's played in the League Cup as well. To come out and get game time is important, but physically and mentally, he's very strong. He's assured, and you can see that in his performances."
The likes of Vyner and other Argyle defenders prevented Blackburn's second half retaliation from producing any goals, with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Yann Songo'o coming off the bench to shore things up. "I didn't think they created too many opportunities," said Derek on Rovers. "I didn't think they were in our 18-yard box or in behind us, but they're always capable of finding that through pass. We dealt well with it, and we had to. We showed up the left-hand side for us, we showed up the midfield, and that gave us the platform to go on and win the game. The full back, Ryan Nyambe, was getting forward as well, so we just had to stop that. We were winning the game 2-0 at the time, we didn't need to get another goal, so it was just about counteracting that problem."
Blackburn Rovers arrived at Home Park unbeaten in 18 league matches but left a well beaten side as Argyle notched up a 2-0 win. First-half goals from Ruben Lameiras and Ryan Taylor crowned a fine team performance from a side that was bottom when these two met previously in mid-October
Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Bradley, Vyner, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Fox (Songo'o), Ness, Lameiras (Taylor-Sinclair), Taylor, Carey (Grant). Substitutes (not used): Ainsworth, Church, Makasi, Cooper.
Argyle landed their man on the final day of the January transfer window when West Ham United midfielder Moses Makasi joined on loan for the remainder of the Sky Bet League One season. However, manager Derek Adams was frustrated in attempts to add a fifth mid-winter Pilgrim to the ranks after Moses followed Remi Matthews, Simon Church and Zak Vyner to Home Park. "It's the worst transfer window that I have been involved in," he said. "It's been a difficult and trying window for a variety of reasons. We tried and failed with a number of deals over the transfer window. We were involved in triangles and deals not happening somewhere else. We tried to take in a good number of players but it didn't work for one reason or another, either choosing to go to another club; can't agree a fee with another club; wages; players wanting to stay in different areas; a whole host of things. We had players close, but it fell through. There were a couple of players that we did try to get, which had been going on for most of the January transfer window. That's the nature of the transfer window."
With seven players out and four in during January, Derek is content to dip into the club's extensive pool of young talent to bolster his squad on the training pitch. He said: "We have now go the opportunity for some of the younger players – the likes of Alex Fletcher, who's come back from Torquay, and Cameron Sangster will train with the first team; and Ryan Law, as well; Michael Cooper. We have got four players there who are getting affiliated with the first team. It will give them the opportunity to train with the first team on a frequent basis; that was something that wasn't possible because of numbers."
Fletcher is back at Home Park after an unproductive loan spell at National League Torquay United. Derek said: "He didn't get game-time and the purpose of him going there was to play games and be in the starting 11, but, unfortunately, that wasn't the case. It was a difficult one for all involved but he comes back here and it gives him the opportunity to train with us daily now. He's seen what's it's like to be away, and gets a different experience and learns from that, and then comes back and improves on the ability that he already has."
Derek Adams wanted Moses Makasi to come to Home Park because he has something to prove. The 22-year-old West Ham United midfielder has firmly established himself as part of the Hammers' Development Squad, and is a leader, having captained the Under-23's nine times this season. He has also been on the Premier League side's first-team substitutes' bench five times, and Derek believes Moses' time at Home Park can help him make the final step to lining up as a starter with his boyhood club. Derek said: "He's been a mainstay in the West Ham Under-23 team. We wanted somebody who had a bit to prove and wanted to come and do well and move their career on – it gives him that opportunity. We needed another midfielder in. We had looked at him and thought that he was an option for us. He's left-sided; he can play in a midfield two or three; technically excellent; good running power; he can win tackles; he's a good user of the ball; a good reader of the game; and he keeps it nice and simple. It's an important area of the pitch and we just needed to strengthen there. We have been able to do that."
Derek has no concerns about Moses' lack of competitive first-team football. He said: "If you look at the ones that I've taken in in the past, the ones that hadn't played league football have all come in and competed well and contributed to a good season for Plymouth Argyle."
Derek Adams declared himself "delighted" with the deadline day deal that saw Jake Jervis join Luton Town and believes that Argyle's transfer-window dealings have left the club in good shape. Jake's move to the League Two leaders was the last of seven temporary or permanent Home Park departures since the start of the year, with Toumani Diagouraga, Nadir Ciftci, Nathan Blissett, Gregg Wylde, Callum Rose and Jakub Sokolik all hitting the road. On the credit side, goalkeeper Remi Matthews' return on loan from Norwich was the first of an influx that culminated with another loan deal for West Ham United midfielder Moses Makasi on the day the window closed. In between, free agent forward Simon Church and Bristol City loan defender Zak Vyner also arrived.
Derek said: "We've taken in four players who we feel will contribute from now until the end of the season. We've had a very good transfer window. A number of players who were not featuring have moved one; we've made a profit; we've reduced the wage-bill. We can use that money to take in players – free agents – now the window's closed. If we require to go and do that, we will. What happens is a few players terminate their contract early and that allows them to sign for somebody until the end of the season. Over the next week or so, these players pop up. It gives us the opportunity to do any business if we feel we need to."
Argyle received a substantial fee for Jervis, who came to Home Park on a free transfer in the summer of 2015, after Luton activated a buy-out clause in his contract. "We're absolutely delighted," said Derek. "To take someone in for nothing and with five months of the contract to run, it's excellent business to do. He wasn't in our team and hasn't been for a number of weeks now. The reason why he wasn't in the squad was that others were ahead of him. When players are not featuring, it allows them to move on. We save wages there and we re-invest. We had a situation where the buy-out clause was met. He had the opportunity to stay or go and he chose to go because he's got a very lucrative contact with Luton."
Jake's departure comes after 127 appearances and 31 goals, and Derek said: "He's played really well for us and scored important goals. I signed him twice, at Ross County and at Plymouth, and he's contributed last season and the season before to getting us to play-off final and getting us promotion."
Although Derek did not land all his targets, he is clearly content with his squd, going into the final third of the season. He said: "We've got 16 games to go. We've got cover all over the pitch. We've added some talented players to our squad and we've let players leave who weren't playing for us. It was important that we kept the current group of players together, the ones that had been featuring, and we have been able to do that. We've taken in Remi Matthews, Vyner, Makasi and Church to the strength of the team. If you look at the ones we've moved out – Gregg Wylde, Jervis, Ciftci, Sokolik; Callum Rose has gone out on loan; Toums has gone to Fleetwood – we have had a good transfer window where we have been able to take in four players and move out players who either wanted to move out or needed to move out and freed up some money."
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