A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle have further extended their run of winning form with a 2-0 victory over Morecambe in which both the goals came in the opening 12 minutes. Graham Carey scored a beautiful goal almost from the kick-off and Craig Tanner doubled the lead with another fine individual effort. There were to be no further goals and Argyle extended the lead at the top of League Two to five points. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer(Purrington), McHugh, Boateng(Simpson), Tanner(Threlkeld), Carey, Jervis, Brunt. Subs: Bittner, Harvey, Cox, Rooney.
Craig Tanner knows that defensive solidity will be crucial in playing high-scorers Morecambe on Saturday. The young attacker said: "I know they've scored a lot of goals this season. I think they beat AFC Wimbledon 5-2 so we know they are good going forward. We need to make sure we're strong, get in our shape quickly and play our game. We are at home, so we need to impose ourselves on them and go for the three points to, hopefully, keep us four points clear. I'll do my research, if I'm playing, on the full-back, or even if I'm not playing. I'll find out his strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully I'll use my strengths against his weaknesses, have a bit of a one-v-one and hopefully come out on top. Derek pushes us really hard [in training], which I personally prefer anyway because if you train hard off the pitch, you'll take it onto the pitch. That's the definitely the mentality the lads have at the moment: making sure we're the hardest workers. When we played Exeter, I thought the stadium was rocking. I don't think you'll get that at any other League 2 club. Against Portsmouth, as well. If you're doing well, more fans will come, which is good. I think this is such a big club, and it is on the rise. I don't think the club's status warrants being in League 2. It's exciting times for Plymouth, but I don't think we're getting carried away at the moment. We'll just have to see what we do on Saturday and take it game by game."
Tanner also rejected talk of his own inclusion in the starting eleven, preferring to compliment the entire squad: "I think when you look at Graham Carey, Gregg Wylde, Jake Jervis, Reuben Reid and Jake Jervis, they've been on fire. The manager is not going to take out people who are performing really well just to put me in, so I need to bide my time and, when I get my chance, take my chance. We are where we are in the league because those players have been different-class. It's all about a squad game, so I need to help the team out to get the promotion push. I can play number nine, behind the striker, right, left or even centre midfield I'll play anywhere to be honest. I'll play left back if I need to! It doesn't really bother me. My natural position is behind the striker, but as long as I'm on the pitch and contributing, I'm not really too fussed."
Derek Adams is expecting a wide open game when Argyle face Morecambe on Saturday who are amongst the highest scorers and conceders in League Two. He also gave an update on the fitness of Reuben Reid and Peter Hartley. The gaffer said: "They play open, expansive football and try and score goals but that leaves spaces on the other side. They're sitting nice in the table, they've collected a good number of points and they probably feel they've got the players in the team to score goals. We've shown in games that we can defend well and we can score goals. We can counter attack teams very well. We've got players in the team that are very creative and can cause the other team problems. They're a team that is a bit mixed," he said. "They've got players in the team that have stature, they've got creativity as well but I don't see them doing too much different from the other teams that we have played against. We'll have to defend well and then we'll have to counter attack. We need to keep possession of the ball and score goals. They start at a quick pace and we'll have to deal with that and put the onus of the game back onto them.
"Reuben is out and we'll keep hoping that we can get him back sooner rather than later. Peter will train today, he's been recovering well from last Saturday so we'll assess him today and tomorrow and see how he's feeling for Saturday."
Adams also noted how impressed he has been since arriving at the club with young captain Curtis Nelson. Nelson is only 22 but has already made well over 200 appearances for the club. Adams eulogised: "He's only a young boy, but he has had experience of being at this football club for many years. He's played a lot of games and he knows how the football club works. That helps the new players coming into the squad and it helps the players that are here already. It's always important that you have people in and around the football club that know the tradition, know where the club's been and where it wants to go to."
Craig Tanner has stated he is enjoying every minute of his loan spell at Home Park and would be "more than happy" to extend it beyond January, saying: "It's been really enjoyable. I'm very happy to have the opportunity to come here and learn my trade at such a big club. The first goal I scored was a right-foot volley into the top corner, which I've never done before. That was in my first game at Home Park. I think I'm performing well at the moment. I think I've settled in now and getting used to understanding what the gaffer wants from me. It always takes time. I just want to score goals and enjoy my football, because when I enjoy my football, that's when I play at my best. Derek just wants me to be aggressive on the ball and play my game because I'm a creative, attacking player. Just try and create chances for the team, work my socks off and hopefully get a couple of goals. I think my game's really come on, especially in the last month. I've got a couple of goals from not that many starts, so hopefully I can get a few more starts, but I need to improve on my consistency and take it from there. My loan is up on January 2 so luckily enough they managed to squeeze in Carlisle away as my last game! I'll have to wait and see with the two clubs it's all down to them really. I'm really enjoying my time here, and if everyone says it's right, I'm more than happy to sign for the season. I'll leave it down to the two clubs. I've been really impressed. Hopefully the fans have taken to me the way that I've taken to them."
Derek Adams is delighted to have a home draw in the first round of the FA Cup but he warned against underestimating opponents Carlisle, saying: "I watched the draw and I'm delighted it was a home tie. Being at home is a major factor. We're comfortable in our own surroundings and it allows us to have the best possible chance of getting through. A team from your division that you know about also helps and Carlisle'll be happy with that, too. It's a difficult match; they've done very well this season. We're fortunate that we've got a home tie and Carlisle are having to travel. It's something they'll not be too keen on. That's the difficulty with the draw. It's a famous cup competition that all the teams in England want to try and win. We'll take the cup games extremely seriously because you want to progress in the cup competitions. The further you can go in the cup, and being able to pick up a bigger team on the way, can help finances. Being at home - being the first round in the FA Cup - we want to try and get through."
Argyle have been drawn at home to Carlisle United in the first round proper of the FA Cup- having already beaten them 4-1 earlier in the league season. The match will be played on the weekend of November 6/7/8. The two sides have never previously met in cup competition.
Ryan Brunt assessed Argyle's performance in their dramatic victory over Luton Town and was hasty to note that it was the performances of the whole time and not his own pivotal role that counted. The forward said: "It's nice," he understated, after nicking the victory that sent nearly 800 travelling Pilgrims home happy. "I've been working hard since pre-season and just to do that...that's what you train for, that's what you work for, and I'm buzzing for the lads because we worked hard. For me to do that, personally that's what I've been working for. It's pleasing for me. Tanner was absolutely unbelievable, I have to say. No-one got near him. There were three full-backs he had to try to take on and he was fantastic. Oscar's pulled it back and I've half hit it and half not and it's come off a defender and fallen into my path; it bounced nicely and I put it in. Goals like that are the best goals; you can score from 30 yards and put it in the top corner, but they don't feel like that. There's a togetherness in the squad and I have never known anything like it. Everyone gets on with everyone when Jake is playing and he scores, I am ecstatic for him and I'm sure he's the same with me. You are not going to get anywhere with only 11 players: Oscar's come on; Coxy has come on and have both put in a good five-ten minutes. There were periods in the game when we did really well, and periods when we didn't, but we stuck there in a hostile atmosphere. It was really good. We went out in the second half and weren't on the front foot and let Luton back into the game but, with 20 minutes left, we just looked like we were going to do something. It's a clichι, but we mustn't let the foot off the gas and train really hard, as we're doing every day."
Derek Adams believes that Argyle's ability to bounce back from conceding and score a last minute winner against Luton exemplifies the fighting spirit on display at the club. He was complimentary too of the general performance: "It's something we talked about, the goal to start the game, with Tanner coming and getting the ball short. We knew how they were set up, and it worked. I'm delighted with that. It nearly worked a couple of other times. McHugh has been playing in a position where I think it helps the team. We've been able to play on the front foot, he's been able to defend, and he's a better user of the ball than people give him credit for. I thought that in the first half the way we created chances with the likes of Tanner, Gregg Wylde and Graham Carey, we were causing them problems with McHugh and Hiram Boateng as well. We caused Luton a lot of problems, but in the second half they were always going to do something different. They put a winger on at left-back and tried to get players forward, and you have to deal with that. We dealt with it. We conceded a goal, but after that we pushed forward to get the winner. Luton were at home, they have got the fans behind them, and they were going to put us under pressure. I did notice that they were quite happy to take a point, so then I thought 'forget about that; we'll try and get the three points!' We worked it quite well to get it wide and put a ball in the box. When you put a ball in the box, you're going to have an opportunity. I'm delighted for him that he's got on the end of it. It's a hard shift up there, playing against two very aggressive centre halves, but he's got a goal. We played ever so well for long periods of the game and to finish the way we did was typical Plymouth Argyle. We've shown a great determination to go and win a football match, and that's what you get you get the rewards."
Adams also paid tribute to the good week for the club on the whole and went on to explain why Jake Jervis was left out of the starting eleven: "To take six points from the last three games is very good. We've had a difficult week. You can't forget that we played Accrington and won that. You're always looking at ways to improve, and we've done that already this season. To have started 15 games, and to have 10 wins in those 15 games is very good. You can see the players have got a great togetherness, and they're all working in one direction.
"I left Jake out just to get him back to playing his best. I think that he's done really well for us this season, but it's important that you keep people on their toes, and have them ready to get back in the team. I keep on saying about trying to get competition for places; Craig Tanner's come in today and done particularly well. Jake will be back in the team and be back on song."
Argyle returned to winning ways in emphatic style with a dramatic last gasp victory away to Luton Town. Argyle went 1-0 up early on in the game with a well worked set piece routine which resulted in Carl McHugh heading home. Luton however equalised with around a quarter of an hour left to play. They were soon reduced to ten men following this with Ryan Hall receiving his second yellow card of the game for dissent. Argyle dominated the closing stages and Ryan Brunt found the bottom corner of the goal from an Oscar Threlkeld cross with what was nearly the last kick of the match. Argyle establish a 4 point lead at the top of League Two. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley(Cox), Sawyer, McHugh, Boateng(Simpson), Tanner, Carey, Wylde(Threlkeld), Brunt. Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Tyler Harvey, Jervis.
Jake Jervis was played as a striker on Tuesday having spent most of his time at Argyle wide on the right of a 4-2-3-1 system and he himself said that this is a very important quality to have in the modern game. Jervis said: "You have got to nowadays. You have got to play more than one position. That's what I have done, up front and out wide, Graham has played up front, out wide and number 10 and there are a few players like that, and you have got to be versatile. Playing out wide it has given me a bit more freedom to get on the ball and show a bit more of the ability I have got. There is not as much freedom there when you play through the middle. You have got a bit more responsibility to hold the ball up and you don't get the ball as much. Nevertheless I still enjoyed it, and I can play anywhere really. It was just getting back used to it. I've played there a lot before so I know a lot of positions. But it was getting used to getting into those positions and getting across the pitch. Up until this season that is where I have played. Since I have came here I felt I have done really well out wide. It has just given me a chance to express myself a bit more. I thought I would give it a go and the first game I did I scored two goals in pre-season. I was more than happy. From then on that's where I have started playing. We've got Reuben who is out at the minute but he is great at doing the job of holding the ball up and bringing people into the play, and me, I am more likely to and run in behind and use my pace a little bit more. I like it, to be honest. They can do that job and I can do the football side of things. At the minute we have not got Reubs but I am more than happy to chip in and help with that. Not only can he bring a ball down and bully a defender. I think that is what you need; players that can all do different things. I can still run a player down the line with my pace, but at the same time I can come inside and play with Graham and get on the end of things which is your job; to get goals. The goals side of it has been very good. In some of my performances I have done well as well. But I think I can still improve, I have got a lot more to show. Through the middle it is the physicality. I have got to hold the ball up better and out wide I have got to really express myself and get at players and do that week in week out. I have always had my pace since I was young, and you get quicker when you get older. At the same time you're still growing. Maybe it works to my advantage sometimes, now I have played a bit people know I have got pace, so they will try and defend against that, but I will try to use it to my advantage."
Jervis echoed the assessments of his manager and teammate in saying that there are a lot of positives to take from the season so far in spite of the loss against Oxford. He added: "It's extremely positive. We are at the top of the table and two points clear, and the gap is getting bigger from fourth as well. That is what it is about. You concentrate on yourself and let everything take care of itself, but you want that gap to bridge up. Of course you are relieved we are top but you have lost the game. So you're not too happy about it, but because we are still two points at the top it gives us chance to go again and it's in our hands to stay there. You are disappointed at the time. Now it's gone, you accept it and move on. Oxford are a good team, and in the second-half we were all over them and unlucky not to get a goal. They have had their chances but at the same time we could easily have nicked it. I have came in and got goals and I have enjoyed everything about it," he said. "Before I came I didn't realise how good of a club it was, with the fans. That has helped me settle in, how well they have been with me. It's all positive. Tuesday night the whole section was full. It's a great thing to have. When we play at home you will see there is not many away fans usually unless it's a bigger team, and that shows how big this club is. They all get behind you and obviously the team respond to that. We are confident going in against anyone. Luton are one of the bigger teams this season, who are expected to be in and around the top and you can't underestimate them. I think all we need to concentrate on ourselves and if we do that every game then we can hopefully get a result. I have never played there so it will be a first for me. I know that they have been challenging the last few seasons, they have always had a good backing so we can't underestimate them."
Derek Adams is surprised at the high standard of football he has experienced managing in League Two. The Scotsman said that he expected the league to be much more direct than it has turned out to be, saying: "A number of teams are direct, but there is a good number that look to try to pass the ball. The standard is very good. You saw that the other night against Oxford. It was a very good game. I don't think people would have thought it was a League Two game, the way both teams passed the ball and created chances. I have seen that more than I thought it was going to be. League Two is not as direct as people say it is. Yes, one or two teams are direct, but you get that in any division. A lot drop down because of foreign players coming into the Premier League and then it filters right down. I think there are a lot of clubs in League Two spending a bit of money as well to try to get into the next division as well as the Championship. There are a lot of quality players in League Two. The best teams we have played are Portsmouth and Oxford, and we have been beaten by them both. I thought they were both structured well, experienced and have the squads to go far. You see of the scores on Tuesday night and you think 'How has that happened'? We have played in a lot of difficult matches this season because people have upped their game against us. That has made it more difficult for us and we have coped with it well. A lot of managers have said after they have played us 'That's the best performance I have had this season', so that doesn't really help us! I hear that and think 'Any chance that somebody could just have an off day'. We have played at close to full tilt most of the season so far."
Reuben Reid has been ruled out of Saturday's game at Luton Town with a hip injury but Derek Adams confirmed that he does not expect it to be a long term issue. He said of Saturday: "Reuben Reid is out. He's the only absentee. He has picked up a slight injury and will get over it quite quickly, I presume. It will not be long term."
Derek Adams refused to be downbeat after Argyle suffered what was only their third league defeat of the season to Oxford United on Tuesday. This was only the second time under Adams's management that Argyle had failed to score and thus Adams was keen to view the game in isolation. He then went onto compliment the greens' second half performance, saying: "As a football club, we're doing well and it's important we keep moving forward. We've picked up 29 points and it's a very good points total from 14 games. We've overachieved already this season. We've shown, in the games, how competitive we can be. Oxford are an experienced side, a well-staffed side, and we have had to come here and play against a very good team. It was a game of two halves: in the first half, Oxford played very well and, in the second half, we were excellent as well. From our point of view, we could have taken something from the game we had opportunities in the second half and so did Oxford. We were in total command of the second half; 90% of the play was played in the Oxford half; they dominated the first half. They passed the ball; they ran forward; and they created chances. But that's what happens sometimes. There was half an hour in the second half when we did exactly the same to them we ran forward and created chances as well. We have got to give credit to Oxford. They defended their penalty box very well. I was not surprised. Oxford are a good football side and we're a good football side, as well. We showed that in the second half. I thought there were a lot of good performances in the team. We're a well-supported football club and they have shown by their loyalty tonight to travel to Oxford. It has been recognised by the players and the staff. It is testimony to them, the way they support their football club."
Argyle have a chance to bounce back from this setback against Luton Town on Saturday but Adams warned that the hatters would not be easy opposition. He said: "They've got a very good support, and over the years they've been a very good football club, so we understand what we're going to. It's a difficult venue to go to. It's a tight, enclosed ground, and there's going to be a good atmosphere because they get very good crowds. That will probably change the game I imagine it will be quite frenetic. You don't get to pass the ball as much in that atmosphere, and that's what happens. John has changed his team about a bit this season they've changed formation. They have got very good experience. It's one that's going to be a tough test for us. We would hope to try and go there and be positive, and try to get enough creative players in the team to try and create openings and score goals. We go into every game trying to win it. We look at the analysis of previous games, and look at how they've conceded their goals or scored their goals. We look at everything before the game, then see how we can cause them problems, and deal with the good players that they have.
We have to be aware of the travelling time. We didn't get back until 2:45am last night. Sleep is important, then you're out of that sleep pattern, and now we've obviously got to go away to Luton. I have to try and prepare the players in a different way to get them fit and raring to go on Saturday."
Graham Carey, like his manager Derek Adams, believes that Argyle's second half performance against Oxford was significantly better than their first half one and hopes they replicate it against Luton: "To be fair, they're a big, strong, powerful side. They were on the front foot from the start, and it was difficult to stop them. We set up in a different formation in the first half, to try and counter-attack them. We had a bit of luck in the first half. They hit the post a couple of times, and we've got the best goalkeeper in the league. We didn't trouble their keeper enough. It was two different games. We made a change at half-time, and I think it worked.
"We were a totally different side in the second half. We pressed and we worked harder. We caused them problems and we moved the ball a lot quicker. I think they were tiring at the end, which shows how fit they are as a team. There are positives to take from the game, but all in all I think they probably had enough chances to win the game. They're a good side. They're on a good run, and it was an interesting game tonight; two teams that want to play football. They pass the ball and move like we want to do, as well. We knew it was going to be a tough game, to play one of the top teams in the league. We'll take the positives from that second half, and if we start games like that then we'll have no problems. Come Saturday, I just think we need to be on the front foot more in the first half. We move on. We need to move on and keep our heads up for Saturday. It's another big game, and we'll go there and try and get three points. They've got a lot of experienced players who have played in a higher division, so it's going to be a tough game. But if we take the second half performance into the game on Saturday, we should have no problems."
Argyle's winning run has come to an end with a 1-0 loss to promotion rivals Oxford United. After hitting the post twice in the first half, Oxford took the lead shortly before the break and retained it for the rest of the match. Argyle keep top spot however due to Portsmouth's draw with Stevenage. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Boateng, Simpson, Carey, Wylde(Tanner), Brunt(Jervis). Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Cox, Threlkeld, Tyler Harvey,
Peter Hartley believes the keys to the Pilgrims successful start to the season are hard work and togetherness. It was the 9th win in 13 league games under Derek Adams, who Argyle Hartley credits for the greens' great start. The vice-captain eulogised: "He doesn't accept mediocrity, that's one of the biggest things. His standards are high; every day, he raises the bar; every day, he expects 100%. We don't do things in halves here now. We work hard every day and we give everything we've got. Training sessions are tough but I think you see the rewards every Saturday. This time last year, we would probably have lost against Accrington, if I'm honest. You set your goals and your targets. Everyone in the dressing-room will have wanted to have been top of the league and expected to be top of the league. No team in this division had a harder pre-season than us; and no-one has better team morale than us we are all friends; we get along alright. That's what's helping us gel really quick as a team, with all the new signings. That's one of the big factors."
Argyle's performance in the 1-0 victory over Accrington Stanley may not have been perfect performance-wise but it was certainly the perfect result. That's what matters according to vice-captain Peter Hartley who believes that such things even themselves out over the course of a season: "You have got to give credit where credit's due they were good. But we made them look better than they were, if I'm totally honest. We weren't at it; our game-plan didn't get executed by the 11 players that started the game; and we looked very unorganised in the first half. We dogged it out, as a team, defensively. We had chances to score and so did they it could have been 6-6; it could have been 10-6; it was one of those games. It's unlike us. We usually nail our jobs down and we set high standards. We won today and the boys are happy, but there are a few boys disappointed because we set so high standards and that wasn't good enough from us today.
"You look at your personal performance and you know if you're good enough and I'm honest enough to say when I look in the mirror that there's more to come I wasn't good enough. But you have games like that when it's relentless pressure, it's an end-to-end game and you can't get comfortable. At the end of the day, we kept a clean sheet. Alright, we rode a bit of a wave and we got a bit lucky at times but we won 1-0 good performance; bad performance; it doesn't matter. How many games are you going to play well and get beaten? A fan just grabbed me and said 'that was a good win it's the points that count' and the guy's right; we got the points. It's done and dusted now."
Although he was not fully satisfied with the overall team performance, Hartley was very proud of Luke McCormick and Reuben Reid's contributions to the victory. He added: "We've got the best goalkeeper in the league and the best striker in the league and we needed both of them today. As a team, we looked a jaded today; we weren't fresh; we were off the pace. It was one of those games. Reuben's won us the game, so has Luke, but the togetherness to grind a result out when we got the goal, as a team, spoke volumes for the group of lads we've got in the dressing-room. It was unbelievable. He does it in training. You see how good he was last week; you see how good he was against Exeter. It's Reuben when he turns it on, he's special and you can't live with him, any defender, from Championship downwards. He's different class. Luke was on a different level. I don't know what he had for pre-match but he was an animal today. He's so humble as a person, as well. He's got a great attitude; he's a great guy; and a great professional. He's different gravy. Their manager will probably say that how they never scored, he'll never know, but they never scored because we've got the best 'keeper in the league and we scored because we've got the best striker in the league."
Derek Adams' verdict on the game was similar to that of his defender, saying: I didn't say too much at half-time because we always know we have got players that can score goals. We just had to tighten up the midfield and pass the ball more than we did in the first half. I thought we were too direct and gave the ball away in needless positions. In the second half we seemed to pass the ball better and after we scored the goal we were on top; Accrington had lost a wee bit of belief. Then they came back in and had another go at the end.
"Graham's obviously coming back from injury, and Carl is coming back from suspension and injury. He's obviously trying again to get himself suspended as quick as possible. Carey is a very good player for us, but Craig Tanner has done well for us as well. I just felt we needed to change something at half-time to give us that impetus to go forward in the second-half. I think we had to nullify the space a wee bit in the second half and we did that. Carl is capable of sitting in that midfield and shoring that up. I think the two games are always different, but it was another good win for us, another three points and we move on. Accrington played well and they are a good side. They are not near the top of the table for nothing. Take nothing away from their performance, but we have come away with a clean sheet and a goal because we have had a very good goalkeeper and a very good striker. Week on week the fixtures get tougher and tougher and I think that is the nature of the league. We have got a tough game on Tuesday night away to Oxford. That's where we want to try and be, you want to try and win every game. It's a difficult league and where we end up at the end of the season, time will tell, but we have given ourselves a very good start."
Adams similarly echoed Hartley's shout that Luke McCormick is the best keeper in League Two. He said:"I thought we did have a lot of chances for and against; both teams went for it today. Luke's made a number of very good saves and we've obviously had opportunities on goal as well. We've had a lot of clean sheets this season and Luke's made a number of important saves for us today - that's why he is the best goalkeeper in the league and he's shown that today. It's a difficult period for us and it has been since the start of the season. It's not an easy league we are in, it's a competitive league and we are happy with the start we have had. You have got to be resolute, and you have got to be able to score goals, you have got to be able to keep clean sheets and we've done that today. It's another game where we've had a clean sheet."
Argyle have now made it 5 wins in a row in all competitions and have maintained their three point lead at the top of League Two after a 1-0 victory over Accrington Stanley. Reuben Reid got the only goal from a Graham Carey free-kick delivery in the 64th minute and Argyle were able to see out the win. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, Simpson, Boateng(McHugh), Jervis, Tanner(Carey), Wylde, Reid(Brunt). Subs: Bittner, Threlkeld, Purrington, Cox.
Luke McCormick will not be underestimating Saturday's opponents Accrington Stanley when they visit Home Park. They may not be the most traditionally 'big' club in this league but they have made an impressive start to the season. McCormick said: "John Coleman has bought in some good players and got them playing," said McCormick. "They're effective at what they do and we can't underestimate them. We'll prepare as we prepare with every team. We'll do a lot of work on what they do and worry about ourselves a little bit hopefully. The manager's installed confidence and belief in us this year. If we go and lose a goal that's not the end of the game as it might have been previously. We're confident home or away whoever it's against. The defensive side is something that we work hard on and we've started where we left off last year. It is pleasing given the fact that we have changed formations. Having 3 centre-halves within the width of your goalposts, in a sense you feel more set up not to concede. The way Pete and Curtis have handled the change in formation with the help of Kelvin and Gary, it looks like the lads have been playing together for years really. We've got good talkers along the line which helps and I think we're all after the same goal which is not to concede any. We're all on the same script and that goes into the work we've put in on the training ground. The stats speak for themselves. If i can contribute positively then I'm pleased with that but the fact is that we just want to keep winning games. If I can help do that as well then that's the only objective."
Tickets are now on sale for our Johnstone's Paint Trophy fixture at home to Millwall. We meet the Lions at Home Park in the area quarter-final on Tuesday, November 10, at 7.45pm. Details are to be found on the club's official site.
Luke McCormick has been at the club for a long time now (over two spells) are believes he is capable of spotting a good manager when he sees one. McCormick gave a big vote of confidence to Derek Adams and Argyle's renewed form this season before praising Gary Sawyer who is also on his second spell at Argyle. McCormick: There's a fantastic amount of quality that has come in to the squad. Credit goes to the manager for that, but he's also had a part of bedding everyone in. The standards have gone up not just on the pitch but on the training ground and around the club in general. He's (Derek) set the bar there and we all follow. He's installed a fantastic work ethic that we all adhere to. Team spirit is crucial if we're going to achieve anything this season. Everyone gets on well and we're all good friends. We're prepared to work hard for each other on the pitch and I think that will hopefully help us throughout the course of the season. We're well aware that there's a long road ahead so I think it's just a case of approaching every game with the mentality that we're going to go and win it. Hopefully the way the lads have been playing and the results that we've had have been able to drag people in. Hopefully we'll continue to do that and there'll be a few more over the course of the season. The fans have been waiting a long time to have a club that they can sing and shout about again. We have to make sure we can keep them happy and by doing that it means that you have to stay focused and keep our feet on the ground a little bit. With the players we've got in the team if we can keep everyone fit then who knows. We've showed that up until this point that we can handle the consistency side of things. It's a long way to go but we've certainly done ourselves no harm up until now. There's a feelgood factor about the place again and we're pushing on in the right direction. Who wouldn't want to be part of that?
"Gary Sawyer's a very good player. He has got good experience and has come in and done fantastically well. That left-side over recent years hasn't really been settled, but he has come in and you know what you are going to get from him every week. You are going to get a solid seven out of 10 out of him every week. He has been a good addition to us. The defensive side is something that we work hard on. We have carried on from where we left off last season, which is pleasing given the fact we have changed formation from 3-5-2 to 4-2-3-1 and stuff like that. A lot of credit goes to the lads that are in front of me, but also the way the team goes forward. It means we spend more time attacking than we do defending. It's a settled back four and the lads look like they have been playing together for years. We have got good talkers along the line, which obviously helps, and we are after the same goal which is not to concede any. I think we are all on the same script, to be honest, and that goes down to the work we put in on the training ground."
Derek Adams looked ahead to Saturday's clash with Accrington Stanley who have made a very good start to the season. Adams noted the importance of paying respect to Saturday's opposition: "They've scored goals, they've defended well and they've done well away from home this season. John Coleman has built a foundation and he's taken in players that can create - like we have. They've got Windass in their team that can score goals for them. That all bodes well for the season ahead for them. To start the season in the manner that they have is exceptional. We've got good defenders and goalkeeper as well. They're the ones that give us the spine of the team, they give us that solid foundation to play on. Luke's been outstanding for us this season. He's made a number of vital saves at good times in the game. The creativity - the ones that can run and score - can give us the goals."
Josh Simpson hailed Argyle's ability to grind out a 2-0 win over Notts County whilst admitting that the side were far from their very best. Simpson praised his teammates's ability to graft, saying: "It was a really tough game today. We knew it was going to be hard, and sometimes it's going to be like that, but we grafted. Every time I've played here it's always been a tough place to come, with the crowd behind them. They made it difficult for us, and it wasn't a pretty game for us, but we got the three points, which we came here for. The whole back four as a unit today were fantastic. It was really good. It just seemed like wave after wave of attacks, but we were strong. We tried to snuff their chances out and get them on the counter, which we did a few times. We didn't play as well as we would've liked, but sometimes you need to dig in, which we did. We grafted today, and it's those sort of games today that are going to win you the league. We get the three points we wanted and we're top of the league, so you can't ask for more than that. We could've got more, but a 2-0 win away from home, a clean sheet and three points; it was a good Sunday."
Derek Adams was largely impressed with Argyle's general level of performance in the game against Notts County but believes we can and have played better. The gaffer explained: "They threw bodies forward, and had a lot of attacking players on the park. They tried to create chances, but we limited them. Luke hasn't really had many saves in the game. They had opportunities you can't take that away from them but we knew that when we could counter attack, we could score goals. We're always going to cause problems on the counter attack, because we've got a wee bit of pace. I thought that with 20 minutes to go, I think it was, you wanted a wee bit of quality. Hiram had run his race really. He's played a lot of games for a young boy, and it gave us some fresh legs. I think that's he's played a lot of games, and we've just taken him out and tried to protect him. It'll benefit him in the long run.
"The fans have been magnificent since I came to the football club. Today was no different. It's a long journey, it's a lot of expense, and they could've easily sat at home, but that's not what a Plymouth Argyle fan does. They travel and support the football team. We didn't play as well as we could. We didn't pass the ball as well as we can do, but we showed our resilience. At some times, we picked the right opportunities to score goals."
Reuben Reid had admitted to suffering a crisis of confidence in the early stages of this season. But he went onto reveal that a few choice words from Derek Adams have got him on form and firing once more. Reuben elaborated: "A bit of honesty now, getting it out there I lost massive confidence with my performances last season because I was playing in pain, and I think maybe a bit of the lack of confidence and sharpness carried a bit into this season. I've only shown glimpses in games, but luckily, in games like this over the last couple of weeks, I can get into my routine and rhythm, get my sharpness up and the main thing confidence because it's hard when it's stop-start. I had a little hamstring strain against Northampton so it's been a bit stop-start. The gaffer spoke to me and he's built up my confidence, saying he needs more from me; what to do; 'don't worry'; and basically 'play your game', so I'm very thankful for that. He keeps putting me up there and talking me through. Hopefully I can repay him with my performances."
Reuben Reid was the "shining light" for Argyle during their 2-0 victory over Notts County, according to his manager Derek Adams: "He's played really well today - I said to him at half-time. He was the one that was a shining light for us today, and I thought he took his goals really well. He's unfortunate not to get a hat-trick today. I thought last week he did really well, and I thought today he was excellent, as well. He's got a wee bit of power about him just now. He's shown he's quick, he's strong, he's a great finisher, and we've got players in our team that find him."
According to Josh Simpson who made another start after keeping his place from the Exeter match, Argyle's success under Adams has been underpinned by a kind of team spirit that is not always easy to find at football clubs. Simpson said: "I got promoted from the Conference to League Two, and League Two to League One, and there's definitely a winning mentality in the changing room, and there's a real togetherness. You can feel that before the game and after the game. We've gelled really well, and there's positive vibe about the place. We've got players that can dig in and we've got players that'll finish the game and score goals. Reuben's done that for us today. Without him, we wouldn't have won the game today, so it shows what he's all about. He's clinical, he got the two goals and he killed the game for us, so it was good. He's been looking very good, and he's been looking sharp in training as well. He's looking stronger each game, and long may it continue."
Derek Adams set his sights on improving the away form when he was appointed Argyle manager and is delighted that his work appears to be coming to fruition. Adams said of the professional win at County: "When you come away from home, you've got to soak up the pressure. That's the nature of the league. 12 teams have got a very good away record in this league; they haven't conceded a lot of goals. I looked at some of the stats before I took the job on, and it's important that we have to try and win away from home, as well as at home. I was looking at it before the game: we've got a very good away record. We haven't conceded many goals away from home, and it was important today that you have to defend well. We did that. It's quite amazing. You have to do that in this league."
Argyle won live on Sky TV again with a 2-0 victory over Notts County in which Reuben Reid put in a fantastic performance winning the man of the match award scoring both goals in the game. The first came early in the match and the second in the final five minutes. Argyle have now extended the lead at the top of League Two to 3 points. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, Simpson, Boateng(Carey), Jervis, Tanner(Brunt), Wylde(McHugh), Reid. Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Cox, Threlkeld.
Argyle have been drawn at home to Millwall in the area-quarter-finals of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. The match will be played at Home Park on the week commencing November 9th with full details to be released in due course.
Graham Carey was ruled out of the win against Exeter in midweek with a knee injury but the Irishman said that he enjoyed watching his teammates so comprehensively defeat the Grecians and he hoped that he would be fit for tomorrow's trip to Notts County. Carey explained: "It was a bit frustrating [not to be playing] but I think it was all in all a great team performance. We really deserved the victory; the way we played was probably the best we've done all season. That was a good taste of the derby, my first taste of the derby but I think it was good to see it from the outside in. It didn't really feel like a derby on the pitch, off the pitch it did but on the pitch we totally controlled the game and we were by far the better side. I've seen a few of the other Johnstone Paint Trophy games and the crowds weren't too good. The better football we play - and we've tried to do that all season - and the better we do the more fans will come to the games. I thought Craig Tanner was man of the match by a mile. I thought his goal just shows what he's all about - committing defenders. It was a calm finish. We have Josh Simpson who came in as well and did really well, the competition for places is so tough. It shows the depth we have in the squad it shows that if anyone's not on their game there's other players to come in and take their position. I'd imagine it'd be a bit different," he said. "I think they'd play a few different players if it was a league game Tuesday. A cup game is totally different to the league so it'll be a different mindset for both teams but we'll be going there to try and get three points again.
"I was still a bit sore and the manager said there's no point risking it. Going into away games I think we've performed quite well this season. I think it suits us as well playing away from home with the players we have to counter-attack teams. We have our own game plan and we want to play the same way we've played all season, so I think we'll just focus on their strengths, work on our strengths and hopefully our strengths will be better than theirs. It's all about us on the day and if we play to our strengths there's no reason why we can't take 3 points."
Derek Adams has stated what he believes to be one of the key components of Argyle's success so far this season: versatility. Argyle have a number of players who can play in more positions than one and Adams believes this is crucial to do well in League Two. He went on to play down concerns that loanees Craig Tanner and Hiram Boateng are set to be recalled in January. Adams explained: "The likes of Gregg Wylde, Jake Jervis, Graham Carey and Craig Tanner can play anywhere across the front area: left, right or central. That's important in a team. Ryan Brunt played on the left-hand side against Mansfield, as well. We have got that flexibility in the squad we have got Carl McHugh who can play in midfield or at centre-half that's important. It's not a luxury; it's a must, because of the squad we've got. You need players who have got good game-knowledge. They understand positions in the team and we can change formation; we have done that a few times this season. You have got to take in the right players and we have been able to do that over the summer. We have taken players in who have complimented players who were here last season.
"We'll have to wait and see," he said. "We're only in October and we've only started 11 games of the season. It's too early to talk about anything like that. The clocks have not gone backwards yet and some players have only just come into the squad."
Graham Carey has been voted by League Two supporters as the PFA Fans player of the month for September and the man himself puts his success down to how easily he has fitted into the set up at Argyle. Carey spoke positively about his career as a green so far: "I'm more happy with how I've settled and how quickly I've settled in. It's down to the club and the players and the manager. I think if any player wins an award like this it is really down to the team and how well we've done. I think it helps that we're top of the league. We've done so well that a couple of players could have been up for that award. It just shows how well we've settled in I think. It's down to the coaching staff really for playing me in the team and it's down to the team itself on how we've played and the consistency we've shown. The most important thing is to get settled and get your family down as quickly as possible and I think a lot of the lads here have done that and I think that's why we've started so well. Everyone's happy and as a squad we compliment ourselves quite well.
"At 26 I don't think I've played as many games as I should have so for 26 I'm quite fresh. I've been wanting to get down to England for the last few years so I'm making up for lost time. I feel good and it's down to the pre-season we had. We've done well to be top of the league at this minute but we know it can all change very quickly. I think it's down to the manager and the players to help push the club on."
As well as versatility, consistency is the other buzzword that Derek Adams believes has helped Argyle to get where they are at the top of League Two: "The squad is a very tight squad and we have got a lot of good players in it," he said. "They will all be happy because they'll be involved in the 18. When you have got a squad with the ability we have in that 18, everybody has got to understand that they are going to play sometimes and they are not going to play other times. In football, you have always got tough decisions to make, on a daily basis. We have got creativity; we have got good legs in the team; and quickness. Everybody will be happy because they are getting a starting shot or they are getting on the substitutes' bench."
Adams frankly admitted that he is not sure what to expect from Sunday's opponents Notts County due to the size of their squad and the amount of changes that they make on a regular basis. He also said that he is looking forward to the match being on television and being watched by the nation: They have got a suspension and a couple of injuries I think. I don't think I will manage to guess their team. I don't think anybody will because of the nature of the turnaround of players. It doesn't make a huge difference to our planning for the game, but it's always nice to have an idea who the opposition are going to play and their strengths and weaknesses.
"We have obviously got a day more to rest after Tuesday night's game, which is beneficial. I think that will help both teams. I think that it helps being in front of the cameras. People all over the world are watching it. It gives the players the opportunity to show the ability they have to a wider audience. I think it definitely helps being on the television."
Finally, Craig Tanner has paid tribute to the performances of player of the month winning Graham Carey and spoke about how well he gels with the Irishman both on and off the pitch. Tanner said: "Graham has been phenomenal this season. I have actually thoroughly enjoyed watching him. Obviously, I'm wanting to play with him, but I think everyone can appreciate what he has done. I don't think we would be in the position we are in without his goals and assists. I have just been watching him and learning off him. He's a great person and I get on really well with him on and off the pitch. We play a lot of ping pong together. I just want to put it out there and say I'm the reigning champion!
"It's going well. We are playing well but we have still got a lot to work on. The gaffer keeps us all grounded. I don't think the boys are looking any further ahead than the next game."
Derek Adams spoke of a seamless transition into the first team for the three players who came into the side for the win against Exeter. Suspensions of Gary Sawyer and Carl McHugh as well as an injury to Graham Carey meant that Ben Purrington, Josh Simpson and Craig Tanner came into the starting eleven. Adams praised the performance of each of them, saying: "We had three players that came in tonight - Purrington, Simpson and Tanner - and they seamlessly went into the team. That's a good thing, and there'll be a few nervous faces now for Sunday, but that's what you need. We've got a good number of players that have come in tonight and caused them a problem. Purrington was excellent tonight. It wasn't easy for him, because Gary Sawyer has played the whole season there and done really well. But I thought he was composed, he defended well, and his use of the ball was excellent. When you look at last week, Notts County changed a lot of players from the team that played the week. I'm not sure what they did tonight, but they've got a squad of 35 players, and I've used I think 18 players this season. We'll see how Sunday goes. You need a good squad, and as you go along the season, you want to have that problem. We've got players now who are pushing other players in the team."
Adams also hoped that the victory over the club's fiercest rivals in our five thousandth game would serve to give the city as well as the club more momentum going forward. The manager spoke of the collective 'heartbeat' that he currently feels is beating around Plymouth Argyle: "There's a heartbeat in the football club. There's a great soul, and we're bouncing along just now. We need to keep it going, but we've got a city that's with us. We've got a football club that is beating, and we need that to go forward. I think that there was a large crowd here tonight, and that was important. It was a bigger crowd than I expected, and you can see the amount of people that have just turned up on the night to support the team. I think the positivity about the place is great. We've got to keep that going. It's a tough league we're in, and the momentum's there I can see it in the players."
Finally, Adams spoke of the great team performance and remarked on the quality of football played in such a tense environment. He enthused: "We passed the ball extremely well, the possession stats were obviously very high, and the amount of chances we had on goal were into double figures. We've totally dominated a football match tonight. To do that in a derby match is very difficult, but we passed the ball with an outstanding capability. We've maintained possession; the amount of breaks and counter attacks we had were outstanding. We've got a very good team there. We passed the ball really well tonight, and opened them up time and time again.
"It's another clean sheet, and I think that's important, but we could've scored a lot more goals tonight. We had a lot of pace in the side, we had players who take the ball on and move it. Exhilarating is probably the word. A fantastic performance. I said on Saturday that the first 45 minutes was the best, but tonight was by far the best. I watched them press the game very well tonight. We won a lot of tackles, regained possession well, and kept the ball well. We counter-attacked because Exeter can go forward. They take chances, and when teams do take chances, you regain possession of the ball, then use it well."
Craig Tanner scored an excellent goal to put Argyle 2-0 up in the derby and spoke with delight about it as well as the general performance of the team: "The lads were talking to me throughout the week saying how big a game it is. How many fans come and watch and the atmosphere would be like nothing I've seen before, I can't really say they were wrong to be honest. When I walked out the tunnel you could just hear the noise; it was something special, it gave me goosebumps. I just had that feeling like I knew I was going to have a good game.
"I just drove and drove at the player and I could feel the goal on my right shoulder so I kept the ball on my left and drove into the box, I dropped it on my right shoulder then cut in on my stronger foot and passed it in the corner. I think my goal against Gillingham still is my favourite due to the fact it was with my peg leg and I do very rarely see it used. I don't think I've ever hit it like that. It's close because of the atmosphere and the occasion and everything - it's a close second."
Argyle have progressed to the area quarter-finals of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and have won their first Devon Derby of the season with a comprehensive 2-0 defeat of Exeter. Argyle's squad was weakened due to injury and suspension but this did not matter. A Hiram Boateng header from a Craig Tanner corner gave Argyle the lead and Tanner himself scored the second goal with a fantastic individual effort that will surely go into contention for goal of the season awards. Argyle saw the tie out comfortably to progress into the next round. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Purrington, Simpson(Cox), Boateng, Jervis, Tanner(T Harvey), Wydle, Reid(Brunt). Subs: C Harvey, Threlkeld.
Carl McHugh has said that Argyle are taking things game by game at the moment despite the positive feeling of being top of the league: "It's obviously nice. Its nice for the supporters and everyone around the club because they have been through hard times in the last few years and it's nice for everyone. We're just looking at it game by game, we're not really looking too much into that, there's a long long way to go, but three points is the most important thing at the moment. I thought we were really good in the first half. We really dominated and we probably should have been 2-0, 3-0 or 4-0 up really. The second-half we got a bit sloppy, but games usually change, you never get two halves of a game that are exactly the same. You knew they were going to have their spell and it was a real kick in the teeth when they got the equaliser, but we showed great character to come back, to keep going, to push on and get the winner."
McHugh's defensive counterpart Peter Hartley however had particular praise for Hiram Boateng- claiming that he has it in him to reach the very top level in football. Hartley went on to praise the squad in general and its strength in depth, saying: "He's a good lad, as well; that's an important thing. He wants to learn; he's got good character; he's a good person. He's 19 years old, and some of things you see him do in games...I forget how old he is. He looks like a 28 or 29 year old player, when he's only 19. If he keeps improving and keeps a level head, I think he could go all the way. They've been massive. They've really bounced off of each other. I really feel like we've got a good mix with Carl, Hiram, and obviously Graham Carey, who all have different strengths and different weaknesses. They complement each other really well. They're quite young lads as well Carl's only 22; H is 19 so they're taking a big weight on their shoulders, and so far, so good for those boys. It gives other people opportunities. Ben Purrington is obviously chomping at the bit to come in if he's chosen to play; Josh Simpson's fit; Coxy's fit. So we've got strength in depth. Whoever comes in, the boys have full faith in them having the ability to do the job that's there to be done."
After Argyle's 2-1 victory over Crawley, Derek Adams said that he has no time for negativity around a club that has just risen to top of the League Two table. Adams believes his positive attitude can propel the club up through the leagues as it did at Notts County: "There's not a downer from the day. It's all positive: we've won 2-1. We're a positive football club we talk in a positive manner. Negativity is something that we don't talk about. That's when people around about you are not favourable, and we only talk about positives. I'm happy with everybody the whole football club. The players that have come in, the players that were already here, they've all been excellent, and we're working every day to improve ourselves. I've driven a football club from the second division to the Premier League. I've been to Scottish Cup finals, finished fifth and seventh in the top flight. I've not got there without being positive, and negative people can get lost!"
Hiram Boateng was naturally delighted to get his first goal for the club in the victory but he placed a greater stress on what the win meant for the team and took the chance to big up his teammates as well as himself. The loanee said: "I'm delighted. I'm happy to score, but it is good for the bigger picture and our chase for promotion. The bigger picture is us winning the game. That's the most important thing. Hopefully we can chase this title. It was a perfect time to score for me. I've been a bit frustrated because I've not scored before today. I'm just ecstatic, to be honest, and the fans were happy with it. I know Graham always hits the target from his free-kicks. I thought to myself 'If I chance it, take a gamble and try to get in, I've got a good chance of scoring' and, after that, it was just euphoria. The biggest thing I've noticed in the team is the character when we have conceded. We have always showed great fight and determination to get back. A lot of the lads are saying that's the difference from last year that we are able to get together and claw back results.
"When you have got the ball, that's when you get your breather football's easiest when you have got possession of the ball, so that's what we aim to do. Obviously, Crawley gave quite a bit of pressure in the second half so it made it a bit more difficult but, going forward, that's the kind of football we like to be playing. There's a really good balance in the team. Carl does so much for the team, puts his body on the line; Graham is very creative. Let's not forget players like Josh and Coxy on the bench those two can also come on and do a job; they are just as good players. It is definitely good to have those options. It's a long season there are lot of games to be played and I am sure everyone will be needed in the team. It's important we don't get ahead of ourselves and we keep composed and focused on the job in hand, and just keep going. Eventually let's hope we can create some distance between us and other teams in the league. That's what we're aiming for."
Boateng then looked ahead to the game against Exeter in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and admitted that the rivalry between the two sides gives it an extra edge. He said: "I didn't know beforehand but, since I've been here, speaking to fans, they all want to get one over Exeter. I know it's an important thing for the Argyle fans, so we are going to give it our all to win that game. So far, all the home games we have had have been a good atmosphere and a big crowd so hopefully that can continue we're going to need that throughout the season if we are going to keep on winning games. It is as important as the players on the pitch, so hopefully we do get a big crowd for the game."
Argyle earned a successive 2-1 home win today against Crawley, but this was a game quite unlike Argyle's earlier success this week. Argyle dominated the majority of the match, but having led at half-time via a Reuben Reid goal, Argyle were hit by a Crawley sucker punch with five minutes remaining. Roarie Deacon's equaliser sucked the air out of Home Park and threatened to spoil an otherwise perfect day, but Hiram Boateng's first goal for Argyle in the last minute of normal time secured the three points to put Argyle on top of the division. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Boateng, Jervis (Simpson), Carey, Wylde (Brunt), Reid. Substitutes (not used): Harvey, Purrington, Threlkeld, Tanner, Harvey.
Argyle's youngsters went out of the FA Youth Alliance League Cup after a penalty shoot-out at Wimbledon yesterday. Kevin Hodges' side drew their second-round match 0-0 with the Dons in London, with the game moving straight to the sudden-death decider after 90 minutes. Argyle missed their first penalty and scored the next four, but were unable to prevent Wimbledon from converting all five of their spot-kicks. "It is very disappointing," Hodges said afterwards. "We were the better side and finished very strongly and created some good chances, especially towards the end of the game. The boys did very well and their fitness levels on a very hot day were impressive. It is a useful learning-curve for them and we can take a lot out of the game."
The Pilgrims are sitting in second position in the table after 10 games, with 16 goals and six wins already under their belts, but have come up against some stubborn, defensive-minded opposition along the way and Manager Derek Adams expects more of the same as the season goes on. He said: "It's a tough division we are in. We have had a very good start and we would like to continue that. We are under no illusions about the type of games we are going into. We have seen how difficult it can be. Teams will sit in and try to frustrate."
Argyle play the second of three successive matches at Home Park tomorrow when Crawley Town are the visitors. Argyle's team is likely to include former Crawley midfielder and captain Josh Simpson, who left the Sussex club after they were relegated from League One at the end of last season. Another connection between Argyle and Crawley is Derek Adams' assistant manager Craig Brewster, who worked as the No 2 to Steve Evans during his time at Broadfield Stadium. After Evans left to take over at Rotherham in 2012, Brewster was the caretaker boss as Crawley clinched promotion to League One. And two other connections: Crawley's squad tomorrow is expected to include former Argyle midfielder Simon Walton, and the club's chief executive is Michael Dunford, who held a similar role at Home Park in their Championship days.
Argyle have been drawn away to Millwall in the second qualifying round of the Under-21 Premier League Cup.
Deane Smalley played for the first time in ten months last night, following anterior cruciate ligament surgery last December. He played for 69 minutes of the Pilgrims' 3-3 draw at Penryn in the South West Peninsula League Division One West, scoring an equaliser for Argyle after the home team had taken the lead. Louis Rooney then netted twice to put the second-placed Pilgrims 3-1 up, only for Penryn to hit back and force a draw.
The game came exactly 300 days after the 27-year-old damaged the cruciate ligament and cartilage in his right knee when he tackled team-mate Ollie Norburn in training. Smalley said: "I'm just glad to be back, running around on the pitch again. Initially, the plan was to play 30-45 minutes, just to see how the knee held out, but I got to half-time and said to Nance I wanted to play the full game. He was like 'Don't be ridiculous' and he brought me off after [another] 20-25 minutes. Mentally, it's massive encouragement. It's brilliant to be back. I think it's what I've needed for the last couple of months, since I've been back in training." Smalley had particular praise for physio Paul Atkinson, who has been an ever-present help during his recovery. "He's been brilliant with me," he said, "and not just him, everyone around the players, the staff, everyone but having Paul by my side every day ... he's been a massive encouragement, a massive help."
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