A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Kevin Hodges has admitted to mixed emotions about the scouts flocking to see Argyle's top young prospects. Christian Walton and Tyler Harvey have come in for attention from Premier League and Championship clubs recently but Hodges wants to see them continue their football education at Argyle and eventually break into the first team. However, he also recognises the interest in some of his charges is testament to the youth development programme at Home Park. Hodges said: "It's something we have been having all season, I have to say. As the academy manager, I'm naturally concerned because you have got all these clubs coming and wanting to see our young players. At the same time, we must be doing something right to capture the imagination of the bigger clubs. Let's not forget, we have already lost three of what would have been our intake this season, Sam Gallagher, Lloyd Jones and Danny Barrow. Now there seems to be a lot of speculation over Christian. I have got nothing but admiration for Christian because he seems to have coped with it very well, especially since it has come out in the Press. There has been a little bit of banter going on with him, but I had a little chat with him the other day and he has really stayed focused. It's a tricky one, but I think he has proven the qualities he has got and, hopefully, he will be fortunate enough to play in our first team at some point. That's what I would like to see first. If he was to get some games for us and then move on to bigger and better things that would be absolutely fantastic. He is showing signs that he has got the mentality to put things to the side and concentrate on his football, which is very important, and more so probably for a goalkeeper. Within a game you are not involved and then, all of a sudden, you are called into action. You have to have that type of focus and he's proving at the moment he has that." Under the Elite Player Performance Plan there has to be clear communication about which scouts, and the clubs they are representing, are at which matches but there is no longer any limitation on which part of the country clubs can sign players from. Hodges said: "It was very noticeable when we played at Bristol Rovers there were a lot of scouts there. There were a lot of people that I knew and hadn't seen for years, and they were all there. Under the EPPP we have to be notified of who is attending, but we are aware of it anyway. It's not just recently. Every game we have played this season we have had representatives from a lot of top clubs. At the same time, I don't really inform the players because it can be distracting. All I often say is that whenever you are playing there is always a window of opportunity. You never know who is watching." Hodges, though, wants to retain as many of his young players as possible. He added: "From our perspective, we are a club going forward having come through some really difficult times. Our young players have been given opportunities and a high percentage of them have done really well. Now we are in a position where we can develop our young players in the right way. We can put them in and take them out when it's right for that individual. What I want to see is them playing for Plymouth Argyle. If they have the potential and ability to go onto better things I would like to see them play for us first before moving on but, as we all know, it doesn't always work that way in football."
Maxime Blanchard remains in a positive frame of mind, despite Argyle suffering two successive defeats. He said: "We didn't get too high after those three victories. We have been saying from the beginning of the season that we want to keep improving our game. We have been looking to play another way, one that's going to bring us more wins than defeats. We are not down because we have lost the last two games. We know what we are capable of. We have got another game now and that's the brilliant thing about football, you can change the momentum." Blanchard was stand-in skipper against Rotherham because Darren Purse was ruled out by a toe injury, and he played alongside Curtis Nelson. Despite their efforts, even from the early stages of the game against Rotherham it was clear that Argyle were going to be put under plenty of pressure. Blanchard said: "It was very hard concentration-wise, because the ball was always coming back at us. They are a big side, with Revell, Sharps and Arnason as well, so physically and mentally it was a really tiring game. We didn't impose our way to play. We followed the way they wanted to play. We didn't set our own tempo. Against Cheltenham, we were braver to take the ball and put it on the floor and keep it more up front as well, to allow the defence to relax a bit. We didn't manage to do that on Saturday." Argyle were spared a heavy defeat at Rotherham by some resolute defending and a great display from Jake Cole. Blanchard said: "He came for crosses as well, which was really important for us because Rotherham were bigger than us. Defensively, I think we did really well. We tried to set the line as high as possible, but when the ball keeps coming back then you can concede a goal."
Kevin Hodges has praised the development of Tyler Harvey. He described him as 'a very good prospect' but insisted he still had a lot of work ahead of him to fulfil his potential. Harvey has already agreed to sign on as a professional with Argyle next summer, and Hodges said: "When we took him in at the start of last season there were a few little question marks. We saw the ability Tyler has and, I have to say, over the last 12 months he has gone up a number of levels. He's now scoring goals regularly in the youth team, and he came on and got one for the reserves the other week, so he's full of confidence. That's what you look for. The thing is he has got to find that level of consistency to keep that going. I see him as a very good prospect, but he has still got a lot of work to do." Harvey scored twice against Exeter City last week, and both goals were down to his quick reactions. Hodges said: "Not many people have the anticipation and the reaction in those types of situation in a game. Some players just stand and watch. The rebounding aspect is something we try to stress within our training sessions. We encourage the lads to anticipate things like that, and Tyler did very well against Exeter. It's the sign of a good striker. If you have reactions like that then your tally will soon go up during the course of a season. Tyler is in a rich vein of form at the moment and we want that to continue."
Curtis Nelson was called in to the Argyle side to replace Darren Purse at Rotherham, and given a brief to attack the ball at set-piece attacks. The plan worked well, only for Argyle to lose to a second-half goal from open play. "It was a massive blow," said Nelson. "We defended quite well, and to concede a goal which is not even from their main threat, an aerial threat, was just a blow. I didn't even see the goal. It came through a crowd of bodies and finished in the back of the net." Nelson has developed a prodigious leap, a talent for which he credits work with Cornish Pirates' rugby conditioning coach Simon Raynes. "As you get older, you get stronger," he said, "and I've been in the gym with Simon quite a lot. You work on those sort of things. We defended the set-pieces quite well considering there's probably only me and Jake who are over 6ft. The rest fall a bit short." With Purse and Maxime Blanchard ahead of him in the pecking-order, Nelson has to be prepared to make the most of his opportunities when they arise. "You've always got to be ready," he said. "Not just me, anyone in the squad. The manager's got his starting 11 and, if you're not in it, you have got to make sure you do enough to make sure you're on the bench. Then, when you do come on, make sure you're ready and fit. If you don't play regular games, you are not going to be match-sharp, but you have got to make sure you do the best you can. That's all you can do."
Darren Purse has finally been sidelined by his persistent toe problem. He was set to have an injection in the toe today to try to relieve the pain and a short period of rest will be required after that, so he could be doubtful for the FA Cup tie at Dorchester Town on Sunday. Carl Fletcher was not prepared to speculate about that possibility, however, and said: "It's a case of once it gets sore he gets a little jab in it and, hopefully, it settles down," Purse was replaced by Curtis Nelson against Rotherham and the teenager put in a solid display. Maxime Blanchard said: "He did really well. He was good in the air and with his positioning, and I think we kept our concentration and focus all of the game."
Jamie Lowry finally made his full Argyle debut at Rotherham, nearly four months after joining the club. "Like the rest of the lads, he stuck to it and dug in for us," said Carl Fletcher. "You could see he was getting tired towards the end, though. It's nice to have him back. It's been a long road to recovery and it is good to see him out there." Darren Purse missed the match after a recurrence of a long-standing toe injury. Fletcher said: "I think he's had it for years, to be honest, and it's a case of, when it gets sore, he has a little jab in it and hopes it settles down. We're looking at it on Monday. You miss him because of his size, which we could have done with. The extra height would have been helpful to us, but that's the way it is. Nelse came in and did well. He stood fast and won a high percentage of his headers."
Carl Fletcher blamed a lack of quality after the defeat at Rotherham. He said: "We knew it was going to be tough. The way Rotherham are, they have got the long throws, are a good physical side, and are well organised, we knew it was going to be a tough test. We stuck to our task well at times, defensively, but I thought we were poor in possession, and that's something that's not like us. Our quality in possession wasn't there and that let us down a bit." The defence withstood plenty of pressure from the home side's set-pieces, including Kari Arnason's long throw-ins. "We knew that any throw in the final third was coming into the box," said Fletcher, "and we're not a massive side, we've only got Nelse who's over 6ft. We had a game-plan to deal with the set-pieces and, to a degree, it worked pretty well, but, like I said, on the flip side, when we got the ball, the quality just wasn't there. Nelse, with his athleticism and height, when he times the ball right, there is no-one that can beat him in the air and he stuck to his task well. I was pleased with how all the lads did defensively at the set-pieces. We had lads who were a lot smaller than the Rotherham players and they had to scrap and fight. A lot of them were marking big lads and had to put their head in and do certain things they aren't accustomed to defensively. We didn't help our defenders and midfielders when we had the ball because we didn't keep it well enough. It wasn't just the quality in short passes. It could have been anything, a longer ball, a ball into space, or a delivery. It just wasn't there today. If you don't have the ball, you are never going to get a foothold in the game and progress from there, and we didn't have it. That was disappointing from our point of view, we didn't keep the ball as well as we can. We still created a couple of half-chances and a couple of chances where we could have done better." It is the first time this season that Argyle have suffered back-to-back defeats, and Fletcher added: "On Tuesday, we played really well and didn't get what we deserve. Today, we didn't do well enough to get anything. On the day, Rotherham were just better than us."
Argyle lost 1-0 at Rotherham United. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Nelson, Griffiths.S, Young, Gurrieri, Lowry, MacDonald, Cowan-Hall, Madjo. Subs Feeney, Chadwick, Bhasera (not used Gilmartin, Richards, Griffiths.R, Lennox). Attendance 6,938.
Argyle have already started planning for the televised FA Cup first-round trip to Dorchester Town next Sunday. Carl Fletcher has received two DVDs of their opponents in action and admitted 'we will do as much homework on them as we can'. He said: "We are looking forward to going to Dorchester and having a good game. The week after is going to be different from what we are used but it's all right, we will get on with it. We have a weekly schedule for the players so they are well aware of what's coming and where we are. It means everyone is well prepared for when they come in and what they need to do. The importance of the FA Cup is starting to come back. You can feel it. A few years ago, I think the bigger teams looked upon it as more of a headache than something to enjoy. They are good games to play in. You are up against teams you wouldn't usually play. Win or lose, just go out and enjoy the game."
Kevin Hodges has revealed the part Argyle's senior squad played in the FA Youth Cup win over Exeter City this week. He said: "The first team and all the management staff came in before the game and wished the young players the best of luck. It was a nice gesture and was very much appreciated. I don't think you see that very often at clubs where your senior players come in and support the younger ones. I was really pleased with that gesture and I think the young players responded in the right way. I wasn't expecting 748 people to turn up, to be fair, but it gave the young lads a nice experience. Hopefully, we gave them a little bit of entertainment and something useful to watch."
Jamie Lowry wants to make up for lost time after overcoming the injury which forced him to miss the first two months of the season. He said: "It was pleasing to get back on the pitch in a proper league game for a few minutes on Tuesday. I really enjoyed it and I want more of it now. I hope to play in every game I'm available for, so if I get selected tomorrow I will go out there and give it my all. After the amount of time I have had off, I'm obviously not at my peak. But if you don't play games then you won't get back to your peak. I feel fine. I don't get any niggles from my ankle anymore. I'm just loving being back playing football. It's so frustrating watching all the time. I have had enough of that already in my career. Every day on the training pitch I like to do as much as I can and just enjoy myself. We have got quite a competitive squad with a lot of good players in it. So I want to try to get a way into the team, put in a good performance and give the gaffer a selection headache." Argyle had won three successive matches before losing to Cheltenham in midweek, and Lowry said: "I thought the lads put in a really good performance and played a lot of nice stuff. It was tough to lose but the gaffer said it was just one of those things and now it's on to the next game and, hopefully, we can get on a little run again." Lowry has plenty of previous experience of playing against Rotherham from his stint at Chesterfield, and added: "I have played against Rotherham a few times. They have got a new stadium and I'm looking forward to going back up north. I have had a few wins against them so, hopefully, I will be a lucky omen for us tomorrow."
Carl Fletcher will meet up with one his favourite former team-mates, Kari Arnason, when Argyle take on Rotherham tomorrow. Fletcher said: "I like Arnie. I liked him as a player. I thought he did well for Argyle. He can play centre-half, midfield or you can even throw him up front if you wanted to. With everything that went on, it was a shame he had to leave but that's the decision he took for himself, which I think was only fair. At that stage, everyone had to look after themselves really. It will be good to see him again. I spoke to him a few times last season when he was at Aberdeen. Hopefully, we can keep him quiet tomorrow." Fletcher pays a lot of attention to detail, and that has included finding out the playing dimensions of the pitch at Rotherham's New York Stadium, which opened this season. He said: "It's not big and it's not small, it's in between. It's about the same size as Cheltenham. A lot of people have said it's a really nice stadium and the pitch is good. We are looking forward to it. It's a new ground, somewhere we have not been to before, and I have pretty much been to everywhere else I think." Rotherham, the pre-season title favourites, have won five of their seven home league games this season and are looking to mount a promotion push. Fletcher said: "In any away game you try to quieten the home crowd down. We see it ourselves when we play at home. You want the fans behind you and if things aren't going well the noise goes down a little bit and everybody starts getting tense. You can use that to your advantage when you are playing away from home. It's important to try to get a good start and if you can quieten the crowd down and frustrate the home side you are setting a good foundation to go on and progress in the game." Argyle were beaten 2-1 at Cheltenham on Tuesday but Fletcher took a lot of positives out of the performance. He said: "For the goal Conor got at Cheltenham, I think there were nine passes before he scored and it started on the other side of the pitch. The second goal against Rochdale last Saturday came after 10 or 11 passes. It's not a case of us getting the ball and passing for the sake of it. We are passing with a purpose and creating something at the end of it."
Tyler Harvey could be about to force his way into the first team reckoning at Argyle. Harvey has scored 10 goals for the under-18s this season, including the first two in the 3-0 win against Exeter City in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday. Carl Fletcher admitted the striker had put himself in contention for a call-up to the senior squad and when asked whether the striker could come into his plans, replied, without hesitation: "Yes. I have said it ever since I took over, it doesn't matter how old they are. If they are doing well and deserve a chance then they will get involved." Fletcher praised the under-18s for their victory over Exeter. He said: "Tyler played up front on his own and his movement is good. For both of his goals, the distance out didn't total more than four yards I don't think, but you could see he has been a regular scorer for the youth team the way he took them. He was just nice and relaxed and put them away. His goals capped off a good performance from the lads. You could see they were a bit edgy and nervous in the first 15-20 minutes, but once they settled into the game they dominated. A lot of credit has got to go to Hodgie and Gaz for getting the lads to play the way they do. We will look forward to the next round."
Carl Fletcher does not expect his players to curb their passion despite a spate of yellow cards. He said: "If you are a midfielder and you aren't suspended during a season, you aren't doing your job right. We've clipped together videos of all our yellow cards and, when you see them all together, you get a better picture of them all. Conor got booked on Tuesday for a dive, but we have seen, on the video, that it was a foul. Not many are for dissent. Most are for over exuberance, mistimed tackles, which you are going to get. Fans and the management team expect 100% commitment, whether it's going into a tackle, trying to win the game, or do something for your team, sometimes you are going to mis-time them and get a booking."
First European Securities are the new sponsors of the Devonport End at Home Park. Under the terms of the agreement the Devonport End, will be designated in the future as 'The FES Devonport End'. Argyle Commercial Operations Manager James Greenacre said: "We are delighted that FES have decided to extend their level of support to Plymouth Argyle and its promising future. The sponsorship agreement will clearly raise the profile of their business, and I am sure you have already noticed their presence around the ground, either on a static advertising hoarding or on our digital advertising boards. We hope to announce more sponsorship deals throughout the current campaign."
Jamie Lowry looks set to make his first start for Argyle in the game at Rotherham United on Saturday. He is on stand-by because Conor Hourihane will serve a one-match suspension and the late introduction of Lowry against Cheltenham on Tuesday was done for a specific reason. Carl Fletcher did not want Young to be booked in the closing stages and also be banned. Fletcher said: "I didn't really want to do it, to be honest, because Youngy was playing well. We had to take him off, though. We didn't want him to get a late booking in the hectic end to the game and both of them be suspended for Saturday. We had to make sure we looked a little bit ahead and got Jamie on the pitch for some minutes." Young's last involvement in the match came when his free-kick was deflected onto the top of the post. The ball rebounded to Alex MacDonald but he could not control his header and sent it over the open goal from close range. Fletcher said: "I don't know how he missed it, but he was in the right position. It's just one of those things. I think a draw was the least we deserved. We will play worse and win games."
Argyle under-18's beat Exeter City 3-0 at Home Park in the FA Youth Cup first round yesterday, the goals scored by Tyler Harvey (2) and Joshua Hutchinson. Argyle: Walton, Watson, Bentley, Bradley, Purrington, Elcock, Allen, Hutchinson, Lecointe, Wheatley, Harvey. Subs Moxham, Hall, Asumadu-Sakyi (not used - Hannah, Summers). Attendance 748.
Argyle lost 2-1 at Cheltenham Town last night, primarily as a result of their failure to defend set-pieces. "I'm really disappointed," Carl Fletcher said after the game. "I think we looked great tonight. We will play worse and win games. The lads will be disappointed now, but the way they played was a joy to watch. In the second half, we totally dominated. We didn't look in any trouble at all. We stuck to our job, kept the ball down, and made numerous chances. We were beaten by two set-plays. That's disappointing, but I think our overall performance was really good tonight." Despite conceding goals to two corners, Fletcher is not about to make changes. "Cheltenham are a big side, and the players we've got are good technical players but they aren't the tallest," he said. "Do you have someone in your team who is 6ft 2in, who can mark at set-pieces and can't control a bag of cement? Or do you get someone who has got good energy, likes to get on the ball in all different positions, be brave, and who's 5ft 8in? It's a no-brainer for me." Argyle had two penalty appeals, for fouls on Guy Madjo and Darren Purse, and Fletcher added: "The first one on Guy was a stonewaller," said Fletch, "a penalty and a sending-off. But that's the way it goes. The winning goal was probably totally against the run of play. We weren't just punting the ball forward, we tried to get it down. It came off sometimes, sometimes it didn't. We felt comfortable, and, the more possession we had, the more chances we were creating." Arguably the best chance of the game came when Luke Young's free-kick hit a post and rebounded to Alex MacDonald, who headed over an open goal. "He was in the right position," said Fletcher. "On another day, it would have gone in off his bum and it would have been a goal. A draw would have been the least we deserved. That's just football. You don't always get what you deserve in games."
Argyle's FA Cup tie at Dorchester Town will be shown live on ESPN, on Sunday, November 4th at 4.30pm. As a result, the home League Two game with Burton Albion has been put back 24 hours to Wednesday, November 7th.
Despite scoring his second goal of the season last night, Conor Hourihane was deflated as Argyle let slip a lead at Cheltenham Town. "We're gutted," he said. "I thought we dominated the game for big spells and to lose, especially with two set pieces when they haven't even broken us down. It's disappointing. I think the way we lost will be disappointing for a couple of days. All the lads are hurting. But in a couple of days we'll look back at playing well for large spells in the game. They lost in the play-off final last year, and we were down struggling for large parts of the season. It shows what big leaps we've taken. We're a good team in this league, definitely pushing for play-offs, and hopefully we'll get there. But it takes time. People are putting a lot of pressure on us. There are a lot of young lads in the team, but we're definitely going in the right direction. I've said this year that I want to score more goals. I've got two now, early on in the season. I think that's fourteen games. I got two in forty last year, so hopefully I can get a bit more." At the end of the first half Hourihane played a one-two with Guy Madjo but his shot was saved by the goalkeeper, and the score remained 1-1 going into the break. Hourihane said: "It fell to me nicely. I ran my way into the box, but it was on my right foot so I didn't hit it as well. I hit the target but I should have done better." In addition to his goal, Hourihane picked up a booking, as he was adjudged by the referee to have dived, a claim he denied. He will now miss the trip to Rotherham on due to it being his fifth caution of the season. "It's really frustrating," he said. "Especially for such a silly thing. I don't think it was a dive, but the referee said it was so we move on. It's frustrating." After the match, Carl Fletcher expressed sympathy for the booking, as well as offering some words of praise for his performance. "He's full of energy," said Fletcher, "His confidence is high. Unfortunately, he got a booking for diving. I'm disappointed for him. If he goes in and makes a bad challenge, or mis-times one, then, fair enough. Or if he said something to the referee out of tune, then you can't complain."
Argyle lost 2-1 at Cheltenham Town, the goal scored by Conor Hourihane after 30 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Purse, Griffiths.S, Young, Hourihane, Gurrieri, Lennox, MacDonald, Madjo. Subs Chadwick, Lowry (not used Gilmartin, Bhasera, Nelson, Feeney, Sims). Attendance 3,058.
Argyle's sudden goalscoring form has come because they are retaining possession of the ball better, according to Carl Fletcher. He said: "We were great defensively at the end of the season but we couldn't pass for toffee which, in turn, didn't create a lot of chances for us. It was a case of needs must and we did what we had to do. This year we wanted to look after the ball more and keep possession. If you have got the ball, you are going to have more time for players to get in the box and move defences around and create holes." Another by-product of retaining possession has been the six penalties awarded to Argyle in their last seven matches. Fletcher said: "If you keep the ball it gives more chance for midfielders to get in the box and my full-backs can get higher up the pitch. It's not just a chance of lumping it forward and hoping someone gets there, or putting a ball in the box and no-one is in there because they can't catch up. I think it also helps we have got some good, tricky players who are quick with their feet and are very good technically in tight situations. Sometimes, it's just the way it goes. If penalties keep coming our way we will keep taking them." Argyle are 15th in League Tow, but only five points behind Fleetwood Town, who are third. Fletcher said: "We aren't looking at the table too much, to be honest. We are concentrating on what we need to do to try to get a bit of consistency and some good performances. If we do that, the league table will take care of itself." Argyle face Cheltenham tonight, who did the double over them last season. Fletcher said: "They have got quite a settled side and when you play them at their place it's really tough. They will go into the game as favourites and we have got to go up there and make sure we are fully prepared."
Scott Griffiths is hoping the 'great start' to his loan spell at Argyle will continue when they take on Cheltenham Town tonight. He said: "It has been a great start to my time here. I hope we can get another three wins, that would be brilliant for me and the lads. We have been playing some great football. I have seen it in the games and it has been showing in training as well. The lads can pass the ball well, move it quickly and everybody has been doing really well." Argyle are 15th in League Two, but only two points behind Exeter City, who are in the last of the play-off positions. Griffiths said: "It's usually really tight in the league at this time of year. I don't think anybody should get too carried away by the position they are in until at least January or February. That's when it really starts to take shape." Griffiths took a lot of encouragement from Argyle's victory over Rochdale on Saturday, and said: "It was definitely a good win for us. They are a strong team but we matched them well. We were the better team and got the points we deserved. Every game in League Two is a tough one. Everybody knows it can go either way on the day unless you are having a particularly good run or are playing a team which is unfortunate enough to be in very bad shape. We are in good form and Cheltenham seem to be doing alright so it's anybody's game." Griffiths admitted he would be interested in extending his loan spell at Argyle, and added: "I like the club and I like the area. Being five hours away from home isn't as bad as what I thought it would be. I have settled into the place I'm staying at. I'm really happy with that, and everybody has made me feel welcome here. Playing first team football is a great thing, especially if you are winning games."
Argyle's FA Cup tie at Dorchester Town will see Carl Fletcher return to familiar territory. Fletcher played at Avenue Stadium for Bournemouth when they used the ground at the start of 2001/02 as Dean Court was being redeveloped. He said: "We played there for three or four months when our new stadium was being built. When I was at Bournemouth there were quite a few links with Dorchester, a bit similar to here and Truro City. Luckily, we haven't got a long journey and I suppose it's a bit of a local derby. We know it's going to be a real tough game but we haven't thought too much about it yet."
Argyle under-18s play Exeter City in the FA Youth Cup first round at Home Park tomorrow at 7pm. It will be the second meeting between the two teams in four days, after Argyle came out on top 1-0 in a Football League Youth Alliance Cup tie on Saturday. Kevin Hodges expects another close encounter, and said: "Our win on Saturday should give us confidence. We put in a very good performance in the first half but, I have to say, Exeter responded quite well and came back at us, and made an interesting game of it. I felt we deserved the win, but there is a lot to play for tomorrow. I'm sure our local rivals are going to be up for this game to try to get their own back. It's up to us to repeat what we did in the first half on Saturday. We had 11 good opportunities to score in the first half and their goalkeeper pulled off three or four fantastic saves. We will be looking for more clinical finishing tomorrow. In the second half, they had a few decisions that might have gone for them or could have gone against us. It makes for a very exciting game and all the boys are looking forward to it. Some of them will be playing on the main pitch for the first time and that's an experience in itself. Some people just love the environment and some find it a little bit more difficult. I don't know how everybody is going to adapt on the night but I'm sure it's going to be a memorable night." Hodges is waiting to find out from Carl Fletcher whether Matt Lecointe will be available for selection. Lecointe is eligible to play in the tie but has recently been sidelined by an injury. Hodges said: "I haven't been made aware of that one at this stage. If we do get Matty it would be a nice bonus, but we are planning without him." Admission to the Cup tie will cost £3 for adults and £1 for 65-plus, students and under-18s. Hodges added: "It wouldn't be normal if there wasn't a lot of rivalry between Argyle and Exeter. Both teams are going to want to win, and obviously we have the home advantage. It's an opportunity for our young players to be on the big stage. Hopefully, we will get a few people that will come along and support us. It's a great opportunity to see what young players we have coming through."
Andres Gurrieri is enjoying his football, and Argyle are benefiting. He said: "The gaffer wants me to try to find little pockets of space and get on the ball. It's very good for me. I can move with a lot of freedom and I'm enjoying my football. I'm trying to do my best for the team by creating chances for the other players, like I did for the first goal against Rochdale." Argyle opened the scoring with a penalty from Guy Madjo in only the fourth minute after a handball. Gurrieri said: "I took the ball and passed it to Scotty, and he put in a great cross, which led to the penalty." It was 2-0 in the seventh minute when Gurrieri headed home from close range. He said: "Madjo passed to me and I found Paris. He then played it to Macca and it was a great cross. Fifty per cent of the goal is for him because of that. I don't score with many headers so I was very happy about that." Gurrieri could have scored in three consecutive games for Argyle had it not been for a brilliant save by Barnet 'keeper Graham Stack the previous Saturday. "I was so close to scoring against Barnet," he said. "I will try to keep this going, but the most important thing is winning games." Gurrieri was given a loud ovation when he was substituted in the 89th minute against Rochdale, and admitted the support was much appreciated. He said: "Every time I got on the ball I could hear the fans so that encouraged me. It's very good." Rochdale cut Argyle's lead to 2-1 in the 76th minute before Guy Madjo settled the outcome of the match with his second penalty. Gurrieri said: "It was difficult because they were playing many long balls and their striker is quite big. But when we had the ball we tried to pass it and the defence did very well in the second half." Argyle have only moved up to 15th in the table after wins against Barnet and Rochdale but are now just two points away from a play-off position. Gurrieri said: "We are very glad with the win but we have to keep going. This is our third consecutive victory so it's good for our confidence. We are working very hard and I think this is like a gift for us."
Argyle will return to the scene of their first pre-season friendly when they face Dorchester Town in the FA Cup. Carl Fletcher's team faced Yeovil in a friendly at Dorchester's ground to begin the campaign, and he welcomed the return trip. "Luckily, we won't have to travel too far," he said. "We'll give it our full attention at the right time, but, now all our focus is on our very important game at Cheltenham on Tuesday."
Carl Fletcher believes he has found the solution to improving Argyle's form at Home Park, by letting the opposition have possession of the ball. He said: "Rochdale are a good side. They were in sixth position in the table and had won four out of their last five away from home. We knew it was going to be a tough test and the players stuck to the gameplan of what we needed to do. We changed a few things. We are too enthusiastic with our closing down at times and have been leaving big gaps, but I thought we were better here. We condensed the pitch a little bit. It was a case of telling the lads that it was all right for a team to come here and have possession. Sometimes when you are at home you want to try to win the ball back all the time and that's probably not the right thing to do. I'm really pleased the lads took everything on board and showed the quality they have got, and the desire and hunger to get the three points." Argyle made a storming start with Andres Gurrieri causing trouble for the visitors' defence. Fletcher said: "Andres is a good footballer and he works hard for the team. He's infectious with his energy. I just felt in the first half, at times, when the ball broke to us we were maybe too hurried and gave it away a little bit cheaply." Rochdale improved after the break and Jake Cole saved a 55th-minute penalty before the visitors did reduce the arrears. Fletcher said: "Apart from the referee giving them a penalty and, obviously, the goal, Rochdale didn't have too many chances. I was pleased with the way we conducted ourselves after they scored as well. We didn't really show too many signs of edginess. We just carried on and I'm really pleased we got the win." Argyle were without Rhys Griffiths against Rochdale because of a groin injury. "Griff has got a little niggle in his groin," said Fletcher. "We tried him on Friday, to see how he was, and it was no good for the game. It's just one of those things. That's life and you get on with it. If they are injured they don't play." Also absent from the Argyle squad was Onismor Bhasera. Fletcher added: "Baz picked up a little knock while on international duty. We will assess it in the next couple of days."
Argyle have been drawn away to Dorchester Town in the first round of the FA Cup. The tie will take place on the weekend of November 3rd and 4th.
After his first back-to-back league victories as Argyle manager, Carl Fletcher was delighted and credited his squad for their recent good form. "That's three on the bounce in all competitions and nine goals in three games, so I'm really pleased," he said. "To get wins in this division, like in any division, is really hard. We've worked hard, dug in again. Rochdale are a good side; they were in sixth position in the league, so we knew it was a real tough test today." Argyle were two up in seven minutes against Rochdale, and although they conceded a great deal of territorial possession in the second half, held out and scored a late third to secure the win. "I thought the lads had a great start today, and we did what we needed to do," said Fletcher. "In the first half, I thought we could have kept the ball a bit better, but we always looked dangerous on the break. In the second half, we did alright and, apart from the goal, there weren't too many major chances that we conceded. I was pleased with the way we conducted ourselves after they scored, as well. We didn't show signs of edginess or anything like that. We carried on and I'm really pleased we got the win." Argyle made two second-half changes. Paris Cowan-Hall succumbed to a dead leg and was replaced by Joe Lennox, who would later win Argyle's clinching penalty. Late in the game, Andres Gurrieri was replaced by Curtis Nelson. "With Paris coming off and Joe coming on, you can see what he brings," said Fletcher. "He's quick, he's sharp and he's got good technique. He got the penalty for us at the end. We brought Nelse on at the end to shore things up, because they were finding a little bit of joy getting it into Adebola and working from his flick-ons. But we always had that threat on the break, which is what you want when you've got a lead. You want to be nice and tight and solid, without being too defensive, because the best way to defend is to attack and keep the football. Paris has just got a bit of a dead leg. There was a collision between him, their goalie and Pursey in the first half, and he got a bang on his thigh. Everyone says 'Oh, it's only a dead leg,' but I've had them plenty of times over my career and they are very restrictive in what you can do. They tend to get worse and worse. We will rest him up and, hopefully, he will be all right for Tuesday."
Guy Madjo became the fourth different player to score from the penalty spot for Argyle this season in the win over Rochdale. He got his chance because Rhys Griffiths was sidelined by a groin injury and Robbie Williams and Warren Feeney, who had both scored from the spot earlier in the campaign, did not play against Rochdale. Carl Fletcher said: "I was pleased for Guy to get the two goals. He stuck them away well. He didn't have to fight off Rhys."
Argyle beat Rochdale 3-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Guy Madjo after 4 and 90 minutes, and Andres Gurrieri (7). Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Purse, Griffiths.S, Young, Hourihane, Gurrieri, Cowan-Hall, MacDonald, Madjo. Subs Nelson, Lennox, (not used Gilmartin, Lowry, Chadwick, Feeney, Sims). Attendance 6,261.
Luke Young believes 'confidence is high' among the Argyle squad as they prepare to take on Rochdale at today. Rochdale have won their last four away games, and Young said: "Any game in League Two is going to be tough, and I know our home form hasn't been great of late. But confidence is high within the team and the morale is up after getting that win at Barnet. I think everyone is just looking forward to cracking on with the game today. If we can start winning at home, and keep picking up points in our away games, before you know it you are touching the play-offs, if not in it." Young's goal against Barnet was his first of the season, and his third in 46 appearances for Argyle. He said: "To score that free-kick put the cherry on the top of a great team performance away from home. When one comes up you just try to hit the target and hopefully it goes in. There are a few players in the team who are capable of taking free-kicks. It's just if your opportunity comes you have got to try to take it." With Ross Jenkins having his loan spell from Watford cut short by a groin injury, Young has been paired with Conor Hourihane in the centre of midfield for the last three matches. "I enjoy playing with Conor because we are quite similar," he added. "We like to get the ball down and play."
The visit of Rochdale to Home Park today will present Argyle with a serious test. Carl Fletcher said: "Rochdale have got a good away record. They are sixth in the league so they come into the game as favourites. John Coleman always get his teams playing nice football so we know it's going to be a tough day for us. They have players who can be match-winners. We have just got to take the confidence we got from last week and try to express ourselves and enjoy the game. You don't get your best performances when you are tense or stressed out. We have got to make sure we do our jobs right and know what our roles are, but when we have got the opportunity we have got to go and express ourselves and enjoy playing football." Argyle have a record of one win, two draws and three defeats from their six league games at Home Park this season and Fletcher admitted it was hard to say why his side had struggled for results in front of their own fans. He said: "We might have to focus on the way we play. Our pitch is so big and sometimes there are a lot of open spaces. That can be good for the away team and not so good for us, where we are enthusiastic and high energy and want to try to close people down. Maybe our distances aren't right, but it can be any number of things. We will look at every avenue and see what we might need to improve on to make sure we get some good results at home, because that's what we want to do. This is where the majority of our fans come to see us play and you want to try to keep them happy and coming back for more."
Jamie Richards hopes to be one of the regular centre-backs for Argyle in the future. But for now he is happy to be learning from Darren Purse and Maxime Blanchard. Richards said: "Darren has been to some big clubs and played in the Premier League. It's great to have someone like that to look up to. If I do something wrong in training, him and Max will always tell me how to correct it to help me become better." Richards is among a group of talented teenagers who have broken into the first team squad over the past couple of years and admits there is a good atmosphere among them as they try to progress their careers. He said: "I think it would be a lot harder if you were on your own coming through. When you turn from being an apprentice to a professional it's such a change of environment, so it's nice to come through it with people you have known for a long time. You are slowly eased in. They are my mates and I see them outside of football as well. There is a lot of banter between us." Richards was an unused substitute at Barnet, but after his successful debut the previous week he has set his sights on more first-team football at some point. He added: "I'm not going to rest on my laurels and think, 'I have made my debut, that's it'. I want to keep pushing and, hopefully, get a few more games this season."
Carl Fletcher does not expect newspaper speculation to distract Christian Walton. "I know Christian," he said. "And I speak to all of the young lads. Christian's quite a level headed lad. He works hard and he trains hard and I think if there was any issue, then Hodgy would be the first to know about it and he'd speak to me. He's got ability and he's got potential but that is all it is at the moment. Until you go on to that pitch on a Saturday afternoon, play some league games and do it regularly, then all it is, potential. But, if someone is willing to pay good money for a player, any player really, the club is a business, it has to look at that and sometimes, you just can't say 'no'."
Paul Wotton has been sidelined until December after having a back operation this week. Carl Fletcher said: "He is fine. He has had a back op and it has all gone alright. We will just take it nice and slow with him and make sure he's right."
Carl Fletcher says Fulham have not made a bid for Argyle youth team goalkeeper Christian Walton, following newspaper reports that the Premier League side are ready to spend £300,000 on the 16-year-old. "From our point of view we've got some good youngsters," Fletcher said. "And from my point of view we want to keep them here and progress them through, and they can play lots of games for Argyle, and then we can sell them for massive money. At the end of the day if someone's prepared to pay good money for a player, any player, whoever it may be, the club as a business has to look at that and you can't turn it down. He's a good prospect and we'd like him here to play some games and play for the first team in years to come, but at the end of the day every player has his price."
Jamie Richards hopes he has proved to Carl Fletcher that he is capable of making the grade at first-team level. He said: "I thought I gave quite a good account of myself in the game last Tuesday. Hopefully, the gaffer knows he can trust me now and maybe I will get a few more appearances this season. I was very proud to make my debut. I have been waiting for this moment and it was a great feeling to be out there, and getting a win at the end of it as well. It was an enjoyable game to play in. We had a lot of the ball at the back and going forward we looked pretty sharp. The wingers, Joey and Paris, were brilliant. They created a lot." The partnership of Curtis Nelson and Richards was a new one at first-team level but they had plenty of previous experience as a centre-back pairing. Richards said: "I have known Nelse for a long time now. We played in the youth team together and know each other's games. I felt it worked quite well against Aldershot." With Argyle not having a reserves' side any more, Richards had played only one full game of football this season before making his debut, and that came when an under-21 'development side' won at Reading the previous week. Richards said: "The young lads and the ones that aren't playing have to do a lot more after training and do extra running to ensure we don't get left behind fitness-wise." Argyle were a Championship club when Richards first moved to Devon but, in recent years, they have had a turbulent time, on and off the pitch. He believes there is now a brighter future ahead, and said: "I have seen the ups and the downs of the club. Hopefully, we are going to be on our way back up." Richards is the latest in a long list of young players to break into the first team under Fletcher, and he added: "The gaffer is always saying he won't go on reputations, he will go on how you have been doing in training. In my case, I felt I had been doing alright in training and the opportunity opened up for me to make my debut through injuries and suspension."
Jamie Lowry made his comeback from injury in a specially arranged practice game at Home Park yesterday afternoon. He played for an hour in central midfield as Argyle drew 2-2 with Exeter City. The goals were scored by Tyler Harvey and Curtis Nelson. Kevin Nancekivell was delighted with Lowry's showing after three months out. He said: "Jamie is not there yet, but it was a great 60 minutes for him. He has been training with us now for a couple of weeks and this is just part of his development to get back to full fitness. It's going to be another couple of weeks before we see the real Jamie Lowry, but it's just nice to have him on the pitch because he was a big signing for us. We were delighted to get him and then the Truro game hit us hard with his injury. I'm delighted for Jamie because he has worked really hard. People don't see what he does with the physio, Paul Atkinson. When everyone else is playing and training, Jamie is away on his own working. He has worked really hard to get back to this stage and, hopefully, now we can take it up another notch and get him closer to a first team shirt. The game was there to get Jamie some minutes, purely for that reason, and I thought his performance was fine. He got better as the game went on, and for someone who has been out for three months he did terrific." With Argyle no longer competing in a reserve league, getting games for players who are not in the first team or returning from injury is not always easy. Nancekivell said: "We need more games like this, without a shadow of a doubt, not just for Jamie but for our first-year pros and everybody. It's an important part of the club that we have these development games and we are grateful to Exeter for coming down and playing us." Argyle's team also included 16-year-old left-back Ben Purrington and right-back Colin Watson, 17, who both earned praise from Nancekivell. He added: "I thought the two young full-backs were terrific." Argyle: Chenoweth, Watson, Nelson, Richards, Purrington, Lennox, Lowry, Berry, Harper-Penman, Copp, Chadwick. Subs Bradley, Sims, Allen, Harvey (not used - Walton).
Paris Cowan-Hall is encouraged by the progress he is making at Argyle. He said: "I feel confident when I'm playing. I think it's more the fact that I'm playing well that I'm happy with. The goals are an added bonus. Everyone always wants to score as much as they can and, hopefully, with the momentum we have got going I can get a couple more and we can get a few more wins." Cowan-Hall has played as a striker for Argyle after coming on as a substitute, but his best performances have been out wide. He said: "I will play anywhere up the front, on the right or the left. Throughout the game at Barnet we were switching anyway. At one point I was up top. We fill in where we need to fill in." Argyle took a 2-0 lead against Barnet inside 12 minutes but had to survive some pressure before they took complete control in the second half. Cowan-Hall said: "You are always going to periods of a game where you are not on top and you are under the cosh. The main thing is to get in tight, defend properly and then start playing again. I thought we did that well on Saturday. We played out from the back when we needed to and it was good to see." Cowan-Hall put the team 3-1 up in the 62nd minute when he got on the end of a free-kick from Alex MacDonald. He said: "It was a training ground goal. We have got our positions and when we have wide free-kicks we know where we are meant to be. I managed to get away from my man and it was a nice flicked on header. I jump quite high and I win my fair share of headers in a game. When it comes to heading the ball, I don't think of myself as one of the shortest players because I can out-jump some of the tallest." Cowan-Hall and RhysGriffiths were both playing part-time football last season but have already made a positive impact at Argyle this term. Cowan-Hall said: "Griff wins his fair share of headers and he holds the ball up well. I thought him and Madjo were unreal on Saturday. He's a good person to be playing up there with." Argyle are 18th in League Two after the win against Barnet and Cowan-Hall added: "Of late, we have been performing well but not necessarily getting the results we deserved or wanted. We were getting a few draws when we should have won, and so on and so forth. We have got a couple of wins now and, hopefully, the momentum will take us forward."
Rhys Griffiths has described as 'superb' the support Argyle received in their win at Barnet on Saturday. There were 1,053 away fans out of an attendance of 3,229 at Underhill, almost a third of the total gate. Griffiths said: "I have never experienced away fans like that before. They were superb. The noise from the away support was superb, so we can't thank them enough really."
Maxime Blanchard returned to the Argyle side in the 4-1 win at Barnet, and scored the second goal of the game. "It was a great delivery," he said. "We've worked on it on the training pitch, those balls. It was the perfect ball to attack, and I hit at its highest point with the front of my head. As it had some pace on it, I just had to have the right technique and the pace takes it straight into the goal. I think on set-pieces we were a real threat today. We talk about it, as centre halves, the amount of goals we score in a season. It's good to go up and do something that's worth a goal." Argyle were too much for bottom of the table Barnet, and ended up cruising to victory. Blanchard said: "We talk about the fact that if we do the right things in a game, we have more chance to win it. So far in the season we've been unlucky not to score more goals and to concede on individual mistakes. We could have scored even more today, which shows how we have improved and that feels good to be rewarded." Blanchard revealed that it was not until Friday that he was cleared to play, having overcome the symptoms that saw him checked at an Oxfordshire hospital after the fixture at Wycombe eleven days earlier. "I'm better," he said. "I'm a little tired now, because of the injury. If you concentrate like that for ninety minutes it's really tiring and the level of concentration is very hard to keep up. You have to be really careful with it. The Doc gave me six steps to go through, to come back slightly to sporting activity then progressively increase the tempo and increase the contact until full contact where you can head the ball. I'm now going to sleep for two days!"
Rhys Griffiths is determined to stay on the goal trail for Argyle and wants to see the team improve on their 18th place in the table and push towards a play-off position. He said: "I prefer to think of it as three goals in two starts, rather than five games. It's nice for me, and that's why I have been brought in. Even if I was playing very well and wasn't scoring I wouldn't be satisfied. Hopefully, I can score a few more. I should have had two on Saturday. My legs were a bit bobbly when I went around the keeper early in the second half." Griffiths arrived at Argyle having been the top scorer in the WPL for seven successive seasons. He said: "In the Welsh Premier League I had a reputation and I had to score goals. Here, I just want the team to win. I would love to be the one who scores every goal but, ultimately, as long as we are winning I'm happy." Argyle's victory over Barnet was their third in League Two this season and raised hopes they can start climbing the table. Griffiths said: "We have probably played badly in one or two games, but generally we have been playing well. This result has been coming for a while, I think, and there is no reason now why we can't start climbing the table. Before you know it, with two or three results, we are looking at the play-offs." Griffiths scored his penalty against Barnet after Luke Young had been fouled. The striker had taken a spot kick the previous Saturday, in the home game against AFC Wimbledon. On that occasion, his penalty was saved, although Griffiths followed up to tuck the ball into the net. Against Barnet, Griffiths opted for power as he blasted the ball past former Argyle 'keeper Graham Stack. He said: "It was definitely a penalty from where I was, and I had no doubt in my mind I was taking it either. Last week, it wasn't a very good penalty and I was fortunate it came back to me. To be honest, I think sometimes you need a kick up the proverbial. This week, the one I wasn't going to do was not put much power behind it. It was a decent penalty and it set us on our way." Maxime Blanchard headed Argyle into a 2-0 lead in the 12th minute from a corner taken by Alex MacDonald. Griffiths said: "It was a superb header. It was something we have worked on and it came off, so that's especially pleasing for the staff." Argyle made a tactical switch, with Andres Gurrieri replacing Guy Madjo at the break, and that paid off as they dominated the second period. Griffiths said: "Barnet brought Johnny Oster on and he got hold of the ball quite a lot, and it took us a little bit of time to adjust to that. Once we made allowances for him, although it was hard fought it was also quite comfortable in some ways." Luke Young then completed the scoring with a 25-yard free-kick in stoppage time. Griffiths added: "I have been at the club for three months now, and when I first came here on trial I could see his talent straight away. I thought his all-round performance game was outstanding on Saturday. With his goal I don't think the net moved, it was right in the stanchion. It was a great free-kick, and he's a great lad as well."
Onismor Bhasera's Zimbabwe lost to Angola 2-0 on Sunday, so missed out on qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations on away goals.
Argyle's 4-1 win at Barnet was satisfying for Carl Fletcher, but he is not getting carried away. "It's getting there," he said. "We are still looking to improve. Sometimes, when you put in a good performance and you don't get the result you deserve, you take a bit of a bonus, but you really want the points. Today, it shows what we are capable of and I hope we can keep progressing. Apart from a 15-20 minute period towards the end of the first half, I felt we were fully in control of the game. It was great to score four goals away from home." Barnet's Collins John limped off after 14 minutes of his debut and was replaced by John Oster. Oster was negated by in the second half after Fletcher substituted Guy Madjo with Andres Gurrieri. "We had to change it at half-time," said Fletcher. "We brought Andres on just to sit on John Oster. I played with John and I know what qualities he's got, and he started to show that. We just had to cancel that out, and we did. It wasn't down to the way Guy played, just tactical. Andres is more comfortable there." That left Rhys Griffiths up front alone, and Fletcher was delighted with his contribution. "When you are playing one up, you want a focal point," he said. "We don't want to use it all the time and punt it up to him. But, when you need to, you have got to cause them problems and not let them have free clearances and get the ball straight back into our box. Griff does that, and Conor, Andres and Youngy were picking up a lot of second balls. He worked his socks off. You could see he was a lot better for the game in midweek. He showed a good bit of quality."
Argyle's training-ground work came to fruition yesterday, as they scored three set-piece goals in the 4-1 win at Underhill. Maxime Blanchard, Paris Cowan-Hall and Luke Young all found the net following an early Rhys Griffiths penalty. First, Blanchard headed home Alex MacDonald's 11th-minute corner. Carl Fletcher said: "We work quite hard on our set-pieces and probably haven't scored the goals that we would have liked. I'm delighted for him to get one today. He's only 5ft 11in, he'll probably tell you he's 6ft 1in, but he gets up well and times it well and you can see how many headers he does win." MacDonald was also provider for Cowan-Hall's goal just after the hour, which came from a free-kick. "Paris is always a danger," said Fletcher. "He's only 5ft 8in, but he's got a great leap on him and we knew, when we signed him, he would be a danger at set-pieces. It was a great ball in from Mac, who wasn't feeling very well before the game and was really struggling." Young capped a fine display in the centre of midfield with a last-minute free-kick that gave former Argyle 'keeper Graham Stack no chance. "I thought Conor and Youngy were great today," added Fletcher. "In every game they play, they are growing in stature. We know they have got the quality on the ball; they are learning the game and were really solid today."
The sight of new joint head-coach Edgar Davids in the Barnet dug-out did not faze Argyle as they gained a big away win yesterday. Carl Fletcher said: "We've had it with Wycombe and Wimbledon both changing their managers and their players have a little bit more energy. So we were fully aware of it. Davids must have put a few more on the gate. It was just a question of quietening the game down, especially early on, and killing it. And our early goals helped that. I'm delighted for the team, really. They work hard, and sometimes we haven't got the results we have deserved with our performances this season. I felt today we got a bit of everything."
Jamie Lowry is ready to play his first game since his pre-season injury. He was among Argyle's unused substitutes at Barnet, and Carl Fletcher said: "We were going to try to bring him on to get a few minutes. We didn't, but hopefully we'll have a friendly next week where he can get some minutes in. We're trying to get Exeter, but, if we don't, we'll have an in-house match with the youth team, and so forth."
Argyle won 4-1 at Barnet, the goals scored by Rhys Griffiths after 2 minutes, Maxime Blanchard (11), Paris Cowan-Hall (62) and Luke Young (90). Argyle: Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Purse, Griffiths.S, Young, Hourihane, MacDonald, Cowan-Hall, Griffiths.R, Madjo. Subs Chadwick, Gurrieri, Lennox, (not used Gilmartin, Lowry, Nelson, Richards). Attendance 3,229.
Carl Fletcher is a fan of the emergency loan system, but says that he would not just sign players for the sake of it. He said: "You try and use it as best you can. I think it's important that, when you bring them in, they bring something to your squad. We're very lucky that our loan signings have come down and want to do well for the club, which is the most important thing."
Argyle have been drawn to play Oxford United at Home Park in the Southern Area quarter-final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. The tie will be play during the week commencing December 3rd.
Onismor Bhasera is excited about playing in a make-or-break Africa Cup of Nations qualifier for Zimbabwe tomorrow. Zimbabwe take a 3-1 lead into the second leg of the tie away to Angola and should they win on aggregate, the Warriors will qualify for the finals for only the third time in their history. Bhasera said: "Everyone in the country is rallying behind the team. They can't wait for this match, and it's the same with the players. We can't wait to take part in the match and finish the job we have started. Angola were the favourites before the first game. The job is 60 to 70 per cent done, but we know anything can happen. We just need to go out there and make sure we fight for the whole 90 minutes." Bhasera has become Zimbabwe's regular left-back and is set to win his 20th cap tomorrow. He said: "Any player in the world would love to represent his country so I'm very happy to be part of the national team at the moment. I hope it keeps going." Bhasera played against Wimbledon last weekend, before flying from Heathrow to Johannesburg the following day. On arrival there, he caught a connecting flight to Zimbabwe and then travelled to the Warriors' training camp. Bhasera said: "I always try to get a direct flight because, otherwise, if I go in transit it's a very long time. The direct flight to Johannesburg takes me about 12 hours, and then I connect from there to Zim, which is about one-and-a-half hours." Barring injury, Bhasera will be available for selection when Rochdale are the visitors to Home Park next Saturday. He added: "Of course, all the travelling is tiring but it's something that has to be done. It's up to me to take care of my body and do all my recovery things."
Ross Jenkins is set to have his loan spell with Argyle cut short by a groin injury. He has returned to Watford for further assessment by their medical staff but the chances are Jenkins will not complete his loan spell, scheduled to end on October 27th. Carl Fletcher said: "Under the terms of this particular emergency loan, the responsibility for a players' medical well-being rests with the parent club. Therefore, because Ross is injured, he has returned to Watford for assessment and the medical teams of both clubs will liaise as to where to go from here." Argyle will have Darren Purse available for their trip to Barnet tomorrow after he served a one-match suspension on Tuesday. Maxime Blanchard has also sat out the last two matches because of concussion. In their absence, Argyle's centre-backs against Aldershot were Curtis Nelson and Jamie Richards and Fletcher was impressed by the two, but it would be a surprise were Purse not to return at Underhill tomorrow. As for Blanchard, Fletcher said: "He did a bit of training yesterday but he's not doing any heading. He's progressing day by day and we will see how he gets on." Robbie Williams will be ruled out for a second match by a stomach muscle injury and Onismor Bhasera is still away on international duty with Zimbabwe, so Scott Griffiths will be Argyle's left-back against Barnet. Fletcher added: "Willo has kind of reached the end of his tether with trying to play through the pain."
Joe Lennox hopes he has made a strong case to be selected for Argyle's game at Barnet tomorrow, after an excellent display against Aldershot Town on Tuesday. He said: "It was good to get a win and good to get a start so I could prove myself. I did have a lot of tweets after the game, and I re-tweeted many of them. It just shows the support the fans give the club and all the players. It was good to get another start and, hopefully, I will be in the team tomorrow. I feel I have given myself a chance and proved what I can do, and that's all I wanted to do. That's all I could do." Lennox set up Paris Cowan-Hall for his goal against Aldershot with a low cross into the penalty area after a good run on the right. He said: "It was my first touch of the ball and I just got at the defender and took him on. I saw Paris running in so I put in an early cross and he finished it well. It was a perfect start and gave everyone the confidence, me included, to get on the ball. It was good." Aldershot equalised but Argyle regained the lead on the half-hour when Andres Gurrieri scored after more good approach play from Lennox. "I got the ball and was running with it again and I saw him in a good position," said Lennox. "I passed it off to him and it was a great finish." Lennox could even have had a hat-trick of assists when he set up Nick Chadwick early in the second half. He said: "Chadwick was unlucky not to finish that. It was a good save from the 'keeper." Argyle moved into the southern section quarter-finals of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with the win over Aldershot and Lennox added: "It gives the whole team confidence getting to the next round and it's only a few more games to Wembley." Lennox signed a short-term contract with Argyle in the summer and starting more games could improve his prospects of staying at Home Park. He said: "I just try my best every day in training and when I get the chance in a game. Hopefully, I can earn a longer contract here." Carl Fletcher has some selection issues to consider after some good individual performances against Aldershot Town. He said: "There are 11 places up for grabs tomorrow. No-one is guaranteed a place in this team. I'm a firm believer that if people play well they get in the team. If you are not playing well, your place is going to be under threat."
Alex MacDonald has revealed he is finding it difficult putting football before his family. He became a father for the first time in May and started a second loan spell with Argyle at the end of August. Since then, he has not seen much of his family and admitted he was 'putting a brave face on it'. However, he stressed he enjoyed playing for Argyle and working under Carl Fletcher. MacDonald said: "I have enjoyed every minute of being here, at a great club with great fans. And, like I have said many a time before, I enjoy working under the manager. I'm happy to be here for the next couple of months but I do need to settle down. It's hard at the minute with the missus and the baby being so far away. I'm here, there and everywhere. It's not ideal because I'm up there for a few days and then I'm back here for two or three weeks at a time and I don't see my daughter. Ever since I have been here I have put a brave face on it and just got on with it, but I have missed them so much. It's really hard, so I think I need a club where I'm wanted, where I'm enjoying my football, and, most of all, somewhere where my family is happy. I think no-one can really understand my situation unless they have got kids themselves. It is so hard, but what I'm doing is trying to give my family the best possible life. That's the way I'm thinking of it. Come January, I think I need a solution. I need somewhere to set up home. Who knows where that is going to be?" Carl Fletcher has been sympathetic to MacDonald's situation, who added: "Every time there is an away game up north I always ask the manager if I can stay up. He's a family man himself so he's fine about it, which is good."
Alex MacDonald and Guy Madjo have both extended their loan agreements at Home Park. Carl Fletcher said: "It's great that both Macca and Guy want to stay here so we have got it all signed, and they're now here for the next couple of months. Macca and Guy have both come in, settled in well and added something to the team and that's exactly what you want from loan players. Alex has been playing a little bit wider than normal but he's one of those players who can do a job anywhere and he seems to be relishing that position. The good thing with Guy is that he wants to do well and play. He always wants to improve, too, and can often be found doing a little bit extra on the training pitch. So we're very pleased to have got it all sorted out." MacDonald and Madjo will now remain with Argyle for the maximum period allowed under the emergency loan system. This will mean that MacDonald will be available for selection up to and including the Johnstone's Paint Trophy quarter-final during the week commencing December 3rd, whilst Madjo will return to Aldershot after the derby with Exeter City on December 15th.
Scott Griffiths had to make a cross-country dash in his car to Plymouth after signing on loan on Tuesday, arriving at Home Park shortly before the pre-match team meeting at 5.30. He said: "I got a phone call from Barry Fry around about 9.30am on Tuesday saying Plymouth were interested. I've gone in at a quarter past ten and signed the papers, and drove home as quickly as I could. I packed up everything I needed and was on my way. It was five hours on the road and I didn't get time for a proper pre-match meal. I had a Red Bull and an egg mayonnaise sandwich, and I lasted the 90 minutes, which I was happy with. If you're running a bit tight on time I suppose you can get away with that. I was happy I lasted the 90 minutes, considering I'd played two reserve-team games since the start of the season. I think I managed to get through it all right, and the feeling of winning a proper game was brilliant. It's all very well winning a reserve-team game, but you don't get the buzz I got on Tuesday. All the lads made me feel welcome, which really helped." Griffiths had loan spells at Crawley Town, Chesterfield and Rotherham United last season, but did not make any first-team appearances for Peterborough. He said: "I wouldn't say last season was the most productive for me. It was nowhere near my best season. I had one or two little knocks when I was out on loan at various clubs. Hopefully, I can get some more full 90s in at Argyle and improve my fitness and my performances even further. I pretty much lived in a hotel last season. My fiancιe and I go out for food all the time because, being in a hotel, it just gets boring. We get to explore different parts of the country, at least." Griffiths loan runs up to and including the game against Burton Albion on November 6th. Peterborough have also given him permission to play for Argyle in the FA Cup, with the first round set for November 3rd. Griffiths said: "As long as I stay injury-free, and if the gaffer is happy with me, I'm happy to start and finish every single one of them. It probably seems false, because I've only just come here, but I want to do well for the club, and try to do my bit for them as much as I can." Griffiths described his new team-mates as a 'friendly bunch' and thought Argyle deserved their victory over Aldershot. He added: "They are a friendly bunch, enthusiastic. I'm impressed. They have got fire in their bellies, which is nice to see. I was disappointed with the way Aldershot scored but we came back well and showed good fight and good spirit."
Andres Gurrieri scored the winning goal in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy against Aldershot Town on Tuesday, his first goal in English football. "I feel very happy," he said. "I think now I am the happiest man in Plymouth. I am so pleased because I scored my first goal for Plymouth and it's my first goal in England, as well. The team worked very hard and we won. We are going to the next round. For many of the players, it was a great opportunity for playing. Many young lads were working very hard for that. We had our chance. I think we did very well." Joe Lennox provided assists for both Argyle goals on Tuesday. "Both goals were great play by Joe," said Gurrieri. "He did very well. The gaffer will have to think for next Saturday because I think many of us did very well. So it will be a headache for him. It's good when the level is high. The gaffer has many players to pick and it's very good for the team."
Carl Fletcher praised the performance of Joe Lennox after Argyle beat Aldershot Town last night. He said: "I think you saw what Joe can do if you can get him on the ball. Obviously, he tired a little bit in the second half. We got him the ball four times in the first half and we scored twice from it. I was pleased for Joe, and I was pleased Paris got his goal because of the hard work he has put in." Rene Gilmartin, Scott Griffiths and Jamie Richards made their Argyle debuts in the game, Griffiths having only completed his loan move from Peterborough United yesterday morning. "He has not played loads of games but came in and did well," said Fletcher. "He had been in the car pretty much all of the day and was just enthusiastic to get down here and play. I'm really pleased we have got him down here. We have been trying to get a loan signing in for two days. We had a few fall through. We got it done about half-past nine. He was in the car and straight down here. Willo was really struggling with his injury on Saturday and with Baz being away it was important we got Scott in. It gives Willo that time to recover and we don't have to rush him back before he's properly healed up." Fletcher revealed that Paris Cowan-Hall had been substituted at half-time because of a tight hamstring and was also confident deals to extend the loans of Guy Madjo and Alex MacDonald would soon be finalised.
Carl Fletcher was pleased with the win over Aldershot Town last night, but more than simply the result, he explained that he was most satisfied by the attitude shown by his patchwork side as they stuck to their task against a near full-strength Aldershot. "We're really pleased, we had a really young side out," he said. "I was really pleased for the lads, because we had a game plan. I think the first time we stuck to it, we scored the goal. It was pleasing, the way they stuck at it. They are a big, physical side, Aldershot, with a lot of tall players in there. We didn't have many. I was really pleased with the start. We knew they were going to come out a little bit and we were definitely to be under pressure at times, but I thought the lads worked their socks off when it was so easy for this game to drift by and for us to get nothing out of it. I was pleased with the way they applied themselves to tonight's game. It would be easy to take your foot off the pedal, but I'm pleased they didn't. It's pleasing as a manager, and it should be pleasing as a fan, to see people working so hard for the club, rather than just strolling about. It wasn't against an under-strength side. It was a proper game with some really experienced players who play week in, week out in this league."
Jamie Richards gave a confident display in his Argyle debut last night, and Carl Fletcher said: "With Jamie he's still really young. He's 18, not 19 until next June. We've got some young players in the squad, and they can do all the training they like, but you'll only know about them once they get out there and actually play a game. Nelse and Jamie have grown up together through the youth team, played a lot of games together and I think that showed. Reid's played pretty much all of Aldershot's games, and Hylton is a good front man. It was a proper test, and we've come away from it and done well. They've handled themselves really well tonight, and they should be really happy with their performances."
Argyle beat Aldershot Town 2-1 in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at Home Park, the goals scored by Paris Cowan-Hall after 1 minute and Andres Gurrieri (30). Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Nelson, Richards, Griffiths.S, Lennox, Young, Gurrieri, Hourihane, Cowan-Hall, Chadwick. Subs Sims, Griffiths.R (not used Chenoweth, Copp, Harvey). Attendance 2,580.
Scott Griffiths today signed for Argyle on a one-month loan from Peterborough United. The left-back is set to make his debut against Aldershot Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at Home Park tonight.
Romain Larrieu is getting 'a different perspective' on Argyle by watching games from the stands. Carl Fletcher and Kevin Nancekivell sit in the dug-out and stay in close contact with Larrieu by way of mobile phone. Fletcher said: "It's just so we get a different perspective on games. Sometimes he can see things from a higher position that we can't see down on the side of the pitch. It's good for Ro to be up there, with another set of eyes, and we talk to him at half-time and discuss the way to go forward. He still phones down if he sees something we need to change straight away. In certain situations, such as set pieces, you can see things a lot clearer from up there. He can see whether markers are not tight enough or we need to change personnel over to mark someone different." Argyle have been hit by injuries, suspension and unavailability for the game against Aldershot tonight, but Fletcher insisted he was fully focused on the tie. "We want to win every time we play," he said. "We are only a few games away from a Wembley appearance. You see it every season that when teams do well in cup competitions it can translate to their league form and start things rolling." Aldershot played at Home Park less than two months ago, winning 2-0 on the opening day of the League campaign, so Fletcher has a good idea of their strengths and weaknesses. He said: "We are not sure whether Dean Holdsworth will change it or keep similar to the weekend. We will have to wait and see. They have got some good experienced players and are quite a big side as well, which we are going to have to try to compete against. From our point of view, it's important we go out there and give a good account of ourselves."
Carl Fletcher has been working around the clock to try to bolster the defensive options in his severely depleted squad and is hoping to complete a loan signing before the game against Aldershot. Robbie Williams is one of the players who is unavailable, despite playing regularly over recent weeks with a stomach muscle problem. Fletcher said: "He has had it for about the last four weeks. We have been keeping him out of training. He has had some muscle strains in his stomach. We have had it scanned and are waiting for the results back on that so we know for sure." Fletcher had his 'fingers crossed' a loan deal for a defender could be done in time for tonight. He said: "We spent all Sunday and all yesterday, non-stop, trying to find someone. It's quite frustrating at times because you have targets and for whatever reason they can't do it, or they won't come, or we can't afford them, or their clubs want to keep them there. Things like that." Jamie Richards is set to play tonight, having been an unused substitute on four occasions for Argyle. "He has come through the youth and been here for a fair few years," said Fletcher. "He's a left-sided defender. He trains every day and works hard. It will be a good test for him." Fletcher will decide whether to give Rene Gilmartin his Argyle debut against Aldershot. Asked about the chances of extending the loan spells of Alex MacDonald and Guy Madjo, Fletcher replied: "I will let you know but, hopefully, we should be able to get it done."
Darren Purse will miss Argyle's Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie against Aldershot Town on Tuesday after picking up a fifth yellow card of the season in the defeat by Wimbledon. "I'm a little bit disappointed to have five bookings at this stage of the season, but it comes with the territory," he said. "My goal at the start of every season is to be ever-present for every league game, and I've never done it, not through injuries, but through suspensions. It's followed me throughout my career. You just have to get on with it. We had a few bookings against Wimbledon and I think that was because of the way the game was going for us in the first half, we were a yard too short." The rest may help Purse, who is playing despite not being 100% fit. "I had an operation on my toe in the summer that's not right," he said. "I need an injection, but, because we've had so many games, I can't get the injection done. I think it comes with age. I'm 35 and like to be in the thick of the action, so I am going to get knocks, but I hate missing matches. Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, I try and be fit for every game and be available for selection. Sometimes, if you're not up to the high standards you set yourself, is that because you're carrying injuries, or other things? Hopefully, I can get the injection done in the next couple of weeks and be back without missing any games."
Carl Fletcher is facing a selection dilemma ahead of Tuesday night's game against Aldershot Town. Darren Purse will miss out due to a suspension whilst Onismor Bhasera is playing for Zimbabwe in an African Cup of Nations qualifier. Paul Wotton, Jamie Lowry, Maxime Blanchard, Ross Jenkins, Warren Feeney and Robbie Williams are all injury doubts and Guy Madjo and Alex MacDonald have both played the last game of their current loan spells. "We're bare bones," Fletcher said, "Baz is away, Madj and Macca's loans run out, Willo's struggling with injury. We're really low on numbers. Ross is still struggling, he's still sore in his groin. He's had a scan, we'll determine where we go from there. We're not too sure, and we'll have to wait and see. If it gets any longer than this Saturday then we'll have to make some decisions. Max has had a couple of bangs on the head, one at Morecambe and another one at Wycombe, in recent weeks, and had a bit of blurred vision after the game at Wycombe. He was still getting headaches, so we can't really risk him. You have to be on the safe side when it comes to head injuries. From what we've been told, it's like a little bruise in the brain. If you get a bang on it, then it bruises up again. We'll have to wait and see how he gets on with it. I was down the hospital with him on Tuesday night for a good few hours, doing nothing really. We saw a doctor and he said it wasn't vital. I think if the symptoms got worse over the next day they'd have got him in for a scan, but you just wait until the headaches subside. He hasn't done any training." Madjo and MacDonald are due to return to their parent clubs, but their loans could yet be extended. Fletcher added: "Fingers crossed we can get that done. Both of them really put a shift in for the team. We're not too short up front or in midfield, though, it's in defence that we are looking light. It's key that you get players in that, when you bring them in, come in and do well. We've been lucky with the ones we've brought in this year. Madj and Macca have settled in, and really bring something to the squad. That's what we need, defensive wise. And it keeps everyone on their toes." When asked if, as well as trying to tie up MacDonald and Madjo for a further month, he would be trying to add defensive cover to the squad, Fletch said: "Yes. Definitely. We've got a few in mind. Obviously you have to go through the right channels. We'll come with something. We'll pull a rabbit out of a hat."
Darren Purse's verdict of Argyle's performance yesterday could not have been more plain. "It wasn't good enough," he said. "We were just nowhere near what we have been in recent weeks. We didn't start the game well enough in the first half. We went a bit long-ball in the second half to try to get back into it, three big lads up front, and it paid off. We got the penalty. Whether or not we deserved to get a draw out of the game or not, they got that little bit of luck at the end, which sometimes you need and which was on their side." Asked why the team had underperformed, Purse said: "We were very poor before, in the warm-up. Very quiet. We weren't our usual jovial selves. I don't know if you could sense something. It's easy to say it afterwards. It's hard to put your finger on why things happen. Wimbledon looked like a side that were really up for the game, probably up for it more than us. That's the hardest thing to take. It's different if someone passes you off the park and were fantastic, like Port Vale were. You can't say that. It's hard." Purse had a rare outing alongside Curtis Nelson as Maxime Blanchard was out with a concussion. Purse added: "We've had a good rapport since we've played together for the last year, and it's very rare that one of us has missed a game. It was weird, but Nelse is a good enough player to fill in for him."
A late equaliser for Argyle against Wimbledon looked likely to salvage a point, only for the Dons to snatch a winner in stoppage time. Carl Fletcher admitted that his side did not deserve to finish the game with anything. "We let ourselves down in the first half," he said. "We were disappointed with the way the game went and the way we performed. To be honest, we got what we deserved. In the second half, we went a bit more direct because we just weren't at the races with trying to pass it. We kept huffing and puffing and eventually got back into the game with the penalty, or normal goal, as it turned out to be. And then a deflected shot into the top of the goal, that was hard to take." The introduction of Guy Madjo was a turning-point in the game. "We left it five or ten minutes after the break to see how we got on," said Fletcher, "but we weren't getting any joy so we changed it and put Guy on. Towards the end, we had Guy, Griff, Chads up there as well and try to get forward as quick as possible. We got some half-chances, and then some good work from Guy and we got the penalty. Madj showed good determination to get there. It's probably one of those that could have gone either way. Thankfully for us, it went our way. Griff went and grabbed the ball, and although the goalie saved it, he popped it in for his second goal, which was pleasing for us."
Argyle lost 2-1 to Wimbledon at Home Park, the goal scored by Rhys Griffiths after 89 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Nelson, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Bhasera, MacDonald, Cowan-Hall, Griffiths. Subs Lennox, Madjo, Chadwick (not used Gilmartin, Gurrieri, Richards, Lecointe). Attendance 6,271.
Argyle will take a cautious approach with the fitness of Nick Chadwick and Rhys Griffiths after their recovery from calf injuries. Both returned to action by playing as second half substitutes in the last two games and are expected to be on the bench again when Argyle take on Wimbledon today. Carl Fletcher said: "With both of them being on the taller side, you can't just throw them in and let them get on with it. You have got be careful with them and ease them in gently. Each day, each sub appearance and every few minutes they get in, it's better for them and better for us. It's going to take time for Rhys to adapt to playing in the games because he has come from a non-league environment. That's both for us and for him to learn from and mould the way we deal with him, really." Meanwhile, Fletcher does not believe a lack of matches for Argyle's young professionals will hinder their development. Argyle do not have a reserve side, and Fletcher admitted it had been difficult to arrange friendlies. An Argyle 'development side' beat a Reading youth team 2-0 on Wednesday afternoon and Fletcher said: "The facilities at Reading's training ground were amazing. The pitch was lovely and the lads played really well. It was a good win, and a good workout for them. We have been trying to get games down here for them recently, but with all the first team fixtures we have got, and everyone else has got, it has been hard. Also, early on in the season, we had a few injuries so we were down to bare bones and we couldn't risk any more games. When the schedule settles down a little bit, hopefully we will get a game at least once every couple of weeks." Fletcher is convinced the football education of the young professionals is not being impacted by the lack of match practice. He said: "They are training every day with the first team so they are learning each and every day."
Argyle have been drawn at home to Exeter City in the FA Youth Cup first round. The date of the tie has not yet been announced.
Onismor Bhasera believes he will not have to wait much longer for his first goal of the season after coming close to scoring in recent games. He said: "I could have scored in the past three or four games. I have been trying to get in the right positions. I just need to keep doing that and I'm sure a goal will come soon." Argyle drew 1-1 at Wycombe after Guy Madjo scored in the 50th minute but Bhasera had a good chance to equalise shortly before half-time. "It was very close, I thought it was in myself," said Bhasera. "I couldn't believe when I saw it going outside. I just have to keep being positive in games and the goal will definitely come." Wimbledon visit Home Park tomorrow and Bhasera is hoping history will repeat itself. "Wimbledon away was my last goal," he said. "It's something I will always remember and I would be very happy to score against them again." Bhasera admitted he is feeling on top of his game, and said: "I'm feeling fit and in football that's the most important thing before everything else. I'm happy with my fitness and also with my performances. I just need to keep going and work very hard." Bhasera admitted left-back was his natural position but said: "I don't have a problem with playing where the gaffer wants to put me. I'm contracted to the club and I just have to do the job asked of me. At the moment, he wants me to play in midfield, so I'm happy to do that." Bhasera and Robbie Williams have developed a good understanding on the left side of the pitch, and Bhasera added: "I have played at left-back and he has been in midfield so, in terms of covering each other, it is working very well."
Alex MacDonald and Guy Madjo look set to extend their loan spells at Argyle for another month. Carl Fletcher is aiming to finalise deals next week for the duo to continue their stays at Home Park. He wants to extend the loans, but preferably after the game against Aldershot in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy next Tuesday. By leaving the loan extensions until after the tie, MacDonald and Madjo would be able to play more League games for Argyle. Clubs have up to five days after the end of a loan deal to extend it for a further period of time and Fletcher said: "We would like to keep them here longer. Hopefully, we can get something sorted. I think the best way for us to do it is probably leave it for the week and let them miss the Johnstone's Paint Trophy so we can get as many league games in as possible." Madjo has made six appearances, including four starts, and scored his first goal in the draw at Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday. Fletcher said: "Guy has settled in and the lads have taken to him. When he plays he's a focal point for us, and I was pleased he got his goal. It probably wasn't the best game he has played for us but he scored, so that's great." Wimbledon have lost five of their last six fixtures, and Fletcher said: "From all reports, they played well against Oxford and were unlucky to lose, so we know it's going to be a real tough test for us. We are looking forward to the game and, hopefully, getting a good performance and a good result." Durrell Berry is set to return at right-back for Argyle after serving a one-match suspension against Wycombe, when Curtis Nelson deputised for him. Fletcher said: "Durrell is the only natural right-back we have got at the club. Obviously, Nelse has filled in a little bit this season and done it admirably, but that's Durrell's specific position. Unfortunately, Durrell didn't have a lot of pre-season and the fact he missed the game on Tuesday has probably done him a favour." Meanwhile, Jamie Lowry is expected to start full training with the rest of the squad next week after recovering from an ankle ligament. "I think we will start full contact training with him," said Fletcher. "He's been obviously involved in non-contact, but full contact will begin next week."
Carl Fletcher has praised the club's academy after adding another young player to the professional ranks. Second-year apprentice Tyler Harvey has scored seven goals in five youth team games this year and has agreed to sign as a professional next summer. "I'm really lucky to have Kevin Hodges," said Fletcher. "I think he has the same values as me, not just things on the pitch, but morally and in the way he likes to teach the kids. It's not just about making them into better footballers, it's about making them into better people, that's a vital part of the players' apprenticeship. We've got some good honest lads that are working hard and trying to do the right thing. Sometimes they stray a little bit away from the line, but Hodgey deals with it really well. Tyler's done really well and hopefully, over the next few years, he will continue to progress."
Argyle are in 18th position in League Two after their draw against Wycombe but have lost only one of their last seven games. Carl Fletcher said: "You get disappointed because you have had so many draws, but it picks you up a bit because you have only had one defeat. It's up and down, really. Obviously, we would like a few more wins, and we probably haven't got what we deserved from the performances, especially in a couple of games where we have been 1-0 up at home. But then again, it's only one defeat so we are being hard to beat and we keep going until the end. We want to get those wins as quickly as possible, and hopefully we can start that tomorrow."
Argyle came from behind to earn a draw at Wycombe Wanderers last night but Carl Fletcher was disappointed with their decision-making on the ball in the second half after they had equalised. He said: "We could have had three points, but we could have had none, as well. It must have been a great game to watch. We'll probably look back during the week and be pleased that we got a point. I was a bit disappointed, performance-wise. We could have been a bit better. We knew it was going to be tough. Wycombe have just changed their manager. It was his first home game, the players were up for it, the crowd was up for it. We felt we were a little bit off it, in the first half, in terms of possession, although it settled down a little bit. In the second half, we got a little bit better but I felt our decision-making on the ball was not where it could be. It was disappointing to concede but, once we did concede, I was happy with the way we responded. We settled down a little bit and passed the ball around a little bit, which was nice, and created some chances when we could have scored. I was pleased with the goal in the second half. It was what we talked about at half-time, to get the ball wide and let Macca create something. It was a great ball in and a good head-stroke-shoulder from Guy to get it in the corner. I'm pleased for him because he's come in and settled in well and worked hard for it. He was up against two massive centre-halves and was getting kicked about and elbows in his head, and all that type of thing. Alex can play anywhere, really. The pleasing thing for us was he was creating when he was on the ball. Then we scored the goal and we never gave him the ball again. That was disappointing. It was one of those games. We could have won it, but we could have lost it, as well. It's one defeat in seven, and we'll try to push on and look forward to playing Wimbledon on Saturday. It's very hard to start winning every game. You have got to build momentum. We're getting that now. These points away from home, good performances when we get a point, are only made better if we can secure three points over the next couple." Either side could have won the match in the final two minutes of added time, Jake Cole pulling off an excellent save just before a long-range drive from Conor Hourihane hit the crossbar and bounced back just too high for Nick Chadwick to head home the rebound. "It was great save from Coley," said Fletcher, "a real strong arm to get it over the bar. Then a super strike from Conor, we were right behind it and it could have gone in, then it was a bit too high for Chads, following in."
Guy Madjo scored his first goal for Argyle to earn a point at Wycombe last night. "The most important thing was the point we got from the game," he said, "It's not the person who scores that matters, it's the team. Obviously I'm happy because I scored my first goal of the season, but happy also because it's a point away from home. One point away is something rather than nothing." Madjo insisted that he feels there are lots more goals in him. "It was a good, quick ball from Macca, so credit to him," he said. "And credit to the whole team, because it was a good build up to Macca, then from Macca to me. A good cross, and a good header. Even though some people said it was off my shoulder! But it doesn't matter. The important thing was that it went in the net. They all count! When I headed it I knew it was in. You know as a striker that when you hit the right area then there's no way the keeper is going to get there. When I headed it I was sure. Before it went in I was celebrating. It's the first of many to come. I believe in myself. Now I've got that first one, there are many more to come." Madjo has now started four games for Argyle, the last three being partnered with Warren Feeney, and he believes that having played with Feeney a few times, an understanding is starting to develop. He said: "It's coming. Game after game we're building it up. For sure, there is more to come. As a striker, when you play up front with anyone, you should understand basic things. Any striker should know how to play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 and so on; they are basic things. Whoever you play up front with, you know that if one goes short then one goes long."
Jake Cole has earned the praise of Carl Fletcher for his recent form. "He's worked really hard," said Fletcher. "He came to us last year and, he said himself, he had a tough time early in the season. He's knuckled down, he's an ultimate professional, he wants to do really well. That comes out in his performances. The save at the end last night comes from all the hard work he does, the reaction, in that split second, to not just save it, but stick it over the bar."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Wycombe Wanderers, the goal scored by Guy Madjo after 50 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Nelson, Blanchard, Purse, Williams, Hourihane, Jenkins, Bhasera, MacDonald, Feeney, Madjo. Subs Cowan-Hall, Griffiths, Chadwick (not used Gilmartin, Young, Lennox, Gurrieri). Attendance 3,161.
Rhys Griffiths has spoken of his frustration that the worst injury of his career has coincided with the start of his time at Argyle. He said: "I have never been injured for so long in my whole career. It's sod's law that when you come to the place where you want to play the most, you pick up something. In the eagerness of myself to play against Northampton, and perhaps the team needing a lift, I probably came back a week too soon, and it cost me another three or four weeks. It's just one of those things." Argyle were trailing Northampton 1-0 at half-time when Griffiths came on, and by the 74th minute they were 3-1 up and the striker had been forced to leave the field. "It was a mad 20 minutes," said Griffiths. "I started the half and pretty early on I wasn't particularly comfortable, but we were on the crest of a wave. Feeney scored a great goal and then I managed to slot mine in, which was a fantastic feeling, the response of the crowd was amazing. That's why I came here, but it was all too short-lived and off I went. There are far worse injuries, and far worse things happen at sea, but it's the centre of my world and it has been very frustrating. When I played against Northampton I had only been out for three weeks and you aren't going to lose a lot of fitness in that time. Seven weeks is a different story altogether, so it's going to take me a little while now to get back in the swing of things, whereas I would have perhaps hit the ground running then." Griffiths has been pleased with the way fans have taken to him, with some supporters even wearing firemen's helmets in his honour. He said: "When I first came here, I promised I would give 100 per cent every time I play. I will produce some good moments and I'm sure I will have a couple of bad ones as well. I think the club is crying out for, for the want of a better word, a hero, whether that be Nick Chadwick, Feeney, myself, or whoever. If someone scores double figures, or towards 20, I think the fans are going to love him. The fans deserve someone like that, and I think we are all capable of it." Griffiths has seen a progression from the team since the start of the season and sees no reason why that cannot continue. He said: "I think we have had a couple of indifferent performances but, on the whole, we have done well in most of the games. The manager has got a way of playing that he wants us to take on, and it's going to take a little bit of time for us all to get in-sync with that. Certainly the boys are enjoying it and there are good signs there. We are dominating teams for large periods and if you do that you are going to win games." The visit to Wycombe tonight is Griffiths' first road trip as an Argyle player, and he added: "It's nice to be involved. It's at this point in the week I have been saying good-bye to the players for a couple of days and then hearing the stories when they get back. Now I will be involved and, hopefully, I will be able to make some kind of impact in however many minutes I get to play."
Carl Fletcher has warned Argyle must stay focused when they take on struggling Wycombe Wanderers tonight. He said: "A change of manager sometimes sparks a little bit of life into a team so we are going to have to be wary of that. With a new man coming in you are not really sure how he's going to go with formations and things. Hopefully, once we get the teamsheet we can nail things down, but it's a case of just trying to concentrate on what we need to do." Fletcher has been encouraged by Argyle's recent displays but believes there is still a lot of hard work ahead. He said: "We are getting longer and longer periods in games where we are dominating. We are getting there, but it's still a work in progress. We are always trying to get better and move on to the next step."
Ross Jenkins increased his chances of playing for Argyle in their game at Wycombe Wanderers by taking a full part in training yesterday. Carl Fletcher said: "Ross trained yesterday and he should be all right. I was disappointed he didn't make it on Saturday because he had done well the weekend before, but I thought Youngy came in and had a very good game." The squad set off on their trip to Wycombe yesterday, but Durrell Berry was not among them. He is serving a one-match suspension after he was booked for the fifth time this season against Southend. Fletcher was non-committal about who would replace Berry at right-back, but Curtis Nelson is the most likely candidate. Fletcher said: "Nelse came back for pre-season and did really well. He has got his head down and keeps working hard, and that goes a long way. Nelse has probably been a little bit unfortunate not to play more games, but he's still young and still learning." Alex MacDonald is coming to the end of his one-month spell with the club and when Fletcher was asked about his future he replied: "I think we will get tonight out of the way and then go from there."
Alex MacDonald wants to see Argyle turn their improved performances this season into more points. He said: "We feel as though we could have won the game against Southend. Whenever you take a lead in a game you look to see it out, but it didn't happen on Saturday. It's good to score a goal but we were gutted we didn't get the three points. I thought we created chances in the first half. It's when you are not creating them you need to start worrying. When we went 1-0 up, I think we needed another. We fought and gave it everything and we tried to go forward but, unfortunately, we couldn't get a second goal. We are a good team and over the last few games we have played better than the opposition and not really come off with what we deserved. We can't keep saying that. We need to start putting the results with the performances." MacDonald prefers playing as a striker but he has been used by Carl Fletcher on the right of midfield. However, Fletcher has allowed MacDonald to drift inside whenever he feels it is appropriate. "The manager has given me a bit of freedom to go and do what I can do," he said. "He has told me to try to get in pockets of space. At times it has worked, but in League Two you only go through little spells where you are able to get the ball down and find those pockets. My preferred position is up front but I have got a bit of freedom to go and do what I want to do and I'm enjoying it." Argyle are set for a busy October with seven matches between now and the end of the month. MacDonald added: "It's a good run of games for us now, games we are looking to pick up maximum points from. The next few games are crucial and they are coming thick and fast, which is good for us. We've got another chance to chance to go and put it right, to try to get three points on Tuesday night." MacDonald would be open to the possibility of making his loan move to Argyle permanent, and said: "I'm open to it, but it's not up to me, it's not my decision. If the time came and it was right for me and my family then it's definitely something I'd be interested in."
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