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Taylor Made Uncomplicated Football - Can We Not Knock It!?

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November 2020

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In the 1st Round of the FA Cup, against National League side Hartlepool United, Jamille Matt got the games only goal in the 18th minute. We march onto the 2nd Round, where we’ve been drawn to play Port Vale at home on the 28th of November.

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In a meaningless fixture, a experimental selection battered MK Dons 5-1, with Marcus Barnes and Mamadou Touray, both scoring 2 goals each.

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In the draw for the Knockout Round of the Southern Section, we were paired with Northampton Town. That match will take place at Rodney Parade on the 8th of December.  

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With Joe Dunne out for the rest of the season, I signed defensive midfielder Adam May on a free transfer, after impressing while on trial at the club. The 6’0” 22 year-old is a strong, fit central midfielder, and I’m hoping he’ll be can help shore up our leaky defence. He was released last Summer from Portsmouth, after spending the season on loan playing in the National League for Cheltenham.

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We played top of the table Barnsley at the Oakwell Stadium, and came away with a point, after a creditable 2-2 draw. The match started at a blistering pace, with 3 goals scored in the opening 10 minutes. Jamille Matt put us ahead in the 3rd minute, before Brandon Barker equalised for the home side in the 8th minute. Two minutes later, Jamille Matt scored his 2nd goal in the 10th minute, to put us ahead again. Brandon Barker got his 2nd goal to equalise again, in the 28th minute, and leave it 2-2 at the halftime break. No goals were scored in the 2nd half, so the points were shared. Even though performances have improved, we’ve now gone 7 games without a win in the league.

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In the 2nd half, Paris Cowan-Hall got the only goal of this match, to consign us to our 8th consecutive game in the league without a win. This was a real disappointment, as I targeted this one as a winnable match, at home to Ebbsfleet, who are now in 20th position in the table, 6 ahead of Newport County. Normally, this run of form is sackable for any manager, but the boards expectations at the start of the season didn’t show much ambition, so we are where we are now.  

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We defended stoutly for the final 10 minutes, after Mamadou Touray was sent off, to keep out fellow strugglers Swindon town. Sharing the points was not good for either side, and we both remain adrift in the relegation zone.  We’ve not won in 9 now, but with 10 men, a point away from home is not to be sneezed at.

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Marcus Barnes scored the only goal in the 15th minute, to put us into the FA Cup 3rd round, where we'll play Peterborough at home.

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The results in November were better than October, but only slightly. We have made good progress in 2 cup competitions, but we still have that now 9 match winless streak hanging around our heads. The defeat to Ebbsfleet could be costly come the end of the season, but there's enough time to bridge the gap to safety. 

In the run up to the festive fixtures, we host bottom of the table Walsall, then Scunthorpe United. Then we play Northampton Town twice in 4 days, home and away, in both the League and the Checkatrade Trophy.

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Early December 2020

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New Walsall manager Daryl McMahon won his 1st match in charge, by beating us 1-0, 10 days after leaving his position at fellow relegation candidates, Ebbsfleet United. I never managed to beat him in the 4 matches, while he was Ebbsfleet boss, and this match was no different. A 24th minute goal by Alfie Bates was the difference between the two sides, and our miserable winless streak in the league has increased to 10 matches now!

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Another 1-0 defeat at home to a relegation rival, leaves us bottom of the table, 7 points adrift of safety, increasing our winless run in the league to 11 matches!

This was a particularly frustrating defeat, as Scunthorpes winning goal in the 75th minute, literally came out of the blue. Their left back took a free kick from just inside our half, delivering it long into the box. It somehow managed to go into the back of our net, without anybody touching it, including our goalkeeper, Marcin Bulka. If the goal wasn’t so funny looking, I would’ve cried.

A comical way to lose.

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In the 1st of 2 consecutive matches against Northampton Town, we won 1-0 in the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy, thanks to a 2nd half goal by Jamille Matt. In the 3rd Round of the Southern Section, we’ve been drawn to play Chelsea U23's next month, after they beat Portsmouth 2-0.

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Three days later, Jamille Matt scored for the 2nd match in a row, against the same opposition to end our bad run of 11 matches without a win in the league. This win lifts us off the bottom, 4 points away from safety.

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4 matches where the scoreline was 1-0, beginning with two defeats, and ending with two wins against Northampton Town, which gives us renewed hope heading into the matches played over the Christmas and New Year.

On Boxing Day, we face Mansfield Town away, before facing Peterborough United twice at home in the same week, with the 2nd of those matches coming in the 3rd Round of the Cup.

After that, we’ve another home match against Exeter City on the 5th night of 2021.

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Christmas and New Year 2020/21

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The optimism we had following our wins in the 2 previous matches faded away on Boxing Day against Mansfield Town. It only took 5 minutes for Mansfield to go 1-0 ahead, Mohamed Elsa with the goal from a corner. Jacob Mellis scored a 35th minute goal, to leave us 2-0 down at the halftime break. About ten minutes from the end of the match, Joe Morrell sealed the win for the home side. A bad result for us, that sees us 2nd from bottom in the table, 7 points off safety.

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Only two days later, a late Josh Sheehan goal gave us the win in the 1st of 2 consecutive matches against Peterborough United. This was a great response after getting hammered in Mansfield 2 days earlier, and we’re back to within 4 points of climbing out the relegation zone.

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Five days after we beat them in the League, Peterborough United returned to Rodney Parade looking for revenge, but lost again in this FA Cup 3rd Round match. We needed to come from behind to win this match, as Matt Godden gave them a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute. Three minutes later, we were level when our captain Mark O’Brien volleyed a shot to the top corner.

In the 2nd half, Jamille Matt put us in front in front, with just over half an hour remaining. Peterborough United were pushing for the equaliser, when we broke on them in the 81st minute.

Substitute Padraig Amond ran on to a Tyler Forbes pass, to insure our progress to the 4th Round, where we’ve been handed a home draw against Premier League Champions Manchester City!

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Jamille Matt scored 2 goals in this match, as we won 3-2 against Exeter City. Josh Sheehan got the opening goal in the 17th minute, with a shot from distance. Jamille Matt scored the 1st of his 2 goals just before the half hour mark, to leave us comfortably 2-0 up at halftime. Jamille Matt  scored another just after the restart of the 2nd half, after being put through by Cameron Pring. Exeter didn’t collapse though, and began a fightback, when Tom Nichols scored in the 65th minute. Another goal by Nichols in the 85th minute, set up a tense finish, but we hung on to the 3 points that leaves us only 1 point away from safety.

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Three wins out of the four matches played over the Christmas and New Year period, have given me hope that we’re turning our fortunes around. There’s plenty to look forward to next month, with Manchester City coming to town to play in the 4th Round of the FA Cup, and the prospect of moving out of the relegation zone for the 1st time this season.

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January 2021

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After a disastrous 1st half, that left us 3-0 down at half-time, we made a spirited fightback in the 2nd half and got it back to 3-2. It was too late though, the damage was already done, as Wimbledon survived the 2nd half scare to win all 3 points.

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In the Checkatrade Trophy, we went out of the tournament, after Josh Grant scored from the penalty spot, to give Chelsea U23’s a narrow 1-0 win.

 

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An equaliser in the 13th minute, by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall gave us a share of the points at Kenilworth Road. Luton Town had gone ahead in the 8th minute, through midfielder Glen Rea, but it was quickly cancelled out by Dewsbury-Hall, with a strike from just outside the box.

This result sees us drop down one position into 22nd, 2 points away from safety.

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An 88th minute winner by Josh Sheehan, drags us out of the relegation zone for the 1st time this season! Sheehan, who deservedly picked up Man of the Match, also got the opening goal of the match in the 8th minute to give us an early lead. Simon Cox equalised for Southend United on the half hour mark, to leave it 1-1 at the break.

In the 58th minute, we went ahead and conceded again, all within the space of minute. Marcus Barnes put us ahead, after the Southend goalkeeper failed to control a dodgy back pass from the under pressure centre-half Dion Conroy. Immediately after the restart, Southend United equalised through left winger Stephen McLaughlin. As the match edged near the 90th minute, Sheehan struck again, to lift us up to 20th position in the table.

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In front of a record breaking attendance at Rodney Parade, we managed to limit the reigning Premier League Champions to a single goal in this FA Cup 4th Round tie. Yannick Carrasco scored in the 30th minute of his debut, after his £30.5 million move to City from China. Unsurprisingly Manchester City dominated possession with 60% of the ball, and while we could only muster up 2 shots on goal throughout the 90 minutes, we can still be proud of this performance.

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While we went out in the 4th Round of the Cup, we also dropped back down into the relegation zone, after Walsall won their game in hand against Wigan 4-1. Their win means we’re now 2 points behind them with 16 matches left in the season.

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Padraig Amond scored the winner in the 15th minute, as we jumped back into 20th position, while Scunthorpe United slip into the relegation zone, a point behind us.

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Despite being eliminated from 2 Cup competitions this month, we’ve had a good month in the league. The 2 wins and a draw in the 4 matches in the league, have lifted us out of the relegation zone, albeit only by a single point.

Next month, we play Rotherham and Oxford at home, with away trips to Gillingham and Bradford City.

Hopefully we can maintain this upturn in form.   

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February 2021

 

Just before the winter transfer window closed at midnight on the 1st of February, there was a flurry of comings and goings on the last day...

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Two defenders were sold, while young attacking midfielder Lewis Collins, was sent on loan to Welsh Premier League side TNS.

Only a year after joining from Swindon on a free, right fullback Kyle Knoyle, joins Bradford City for an initial fee of 38k that could rise to 44k. Knoyle, who only made 7 appearances in his short time at Rodney Parade, was getting frustrated at the lack of 1st team football, so it’s a good deal all round.

Centre-half Chris Smith joins League Two Lincoln City, for £925. His contract runs out in the Summer, so it made sense to move him on. As a result of Chris Smith's departure, young centre-half Jay Foulston has been recalled, after impressing while playing on loan for National League side Tranmere Rovers.

 

Two players joined on the last day of the window, I made the decision to take George Moncur on loan from Charlton Athletic until the end of the season, while my new Director of Football Tyrone Mears, made the decision to put a bid in for left wing-back Adam Chicksen.

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We moved 4 points clear of the relegation zone, thanks to a 63rd minute spot-kick by Matt Dolan, after James Tilley handled inside his own box. This is our 3rd win in the league in a row, and we’ve now gone 4 games unbeaten in League One.  

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A goal 3 minutes into injury time, by Gillingham substitute Josh Parker, robbed us of all 3 points at the Priestfield Stadium. Marcus Barnes got us off to a great start after 3 minutes, when he volleyed home Cameron Prings pullback from the byline, at the near post. Callum Reilly equalised for Gillingham just before the half hour mark, when he nodded in a corner, to leave the scoreline 1-1 at the break.

Nine minutes after the restart of the 2nd half, Matt Dolan put us ahead again, when his free-kick found the net. And it looked like we had done enough to win it, until Josh Parker ran on to a through ball from Mark Byrne, to make it 2-2 in the 3rd minute of injury time.

The late goal conceded means we’ve dropped 2 points, and are now 3 points ahead of the relegation zone, instead of 5.

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A goal by Freddie Sears in the 9th minute, proved to be decisive, as Oxford ended our unbeaten run at Rodney Parade. This defeat sees us drop down a 1 position in the table to 20th, only 2 points ahead of Scunthorpe United, who are in the relegation zone.

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Arsenal beat Manchester City in a penalty shoot-out, to win this seasons League Cup.

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We lost a 2nd consecutive match in the league, when we faced Bradford City at the Valley Parade.  A bad 1st half display, left us 2-0 down at the break, and although Padraig Amond got one back for us in the 74th minute, Bradford City hung on to all 3 points. With only 11 matches left in the season, we’re still only 2 points ahead of Scunthorpe United, who sit in the relegation zone.

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After looking like we were going to pull away from the relegation zone earlier in the month, the two latest defeats have cast doubts on our survival hopes this season.

Looking ahead to the fixtures in March, when we play 5 matches, 3 at home and 2 away, in hope of some points to take us away from the drop zone.

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March 2021

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Everything was going well, we even went 1-0 up in the 23rd minute, through a penalty converted by Jamille Matt. Our lead didn’t last long, Sam Wright equalised for MK Dons in the 25th minute, then came the moment that changed the complexion of the match and made this match an uphill battle. Tyler Forbes got himself sent-off for a reckless challenge in the 27th minute, before Chuks Aneke scored two goal in 3 minutes just before half-time, to leave us 3-1 down at the halftime break.

Even though we played with ten men, we managed to get 1 goal back, when Peter Pawlett scored an own goal in the 83rd minute, while trying to defend a corner. We pushed for an equaliser, but it didn’t arrive, which means we’re still 2 points ahead of Scunthorpe United in the relegation zone.

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It looked as though we were about to end our winless streak, until Sammy Ameobi capitalised on a moment of hesitancy to equalise in the 90th minute. We didn’t start the match well, and were a goal down after only 4 minutes, when Lorenzo Gonzalez scored for Bolton.

In the 2nd half, we fought back well and even took the lead, with Padraig Amond bagging both goals in the 56th and 65th minute, to make the scoreline 2-1 to us. Unfortunately, they got the late equaliser that sees our winless streak increase to 5 matches now.

On a more positive note, the point we got in Bolton means we’re now 3 points above the relegation zone.

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On the day when Scunthorpe United beat Southend United 4-0, a Marcus Barnes second half equaliser at home to Wigan, keeps us out of the relegation zone by a single point. Wigan had taken the lead in the 1st half, when Jack Baldwin scored from an indirect free-kick in the 24th minute. Fortunately, we had Marcus Barnes to come off the bench in the 2nd half, and rescue the point that keeps out of the drop zone.

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Our club captain Mark O’ Brien, has been ruled out with a knee ligament injury, that could see him sidelined for most, if not all of the remaining 8 matches left in the season.

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Portsmouth continued their push for promotion, with 22 year old left winger, Levi Lumeka, scoring 2 goals in the 1st half, to give his side a comfortable halftime lead. Once again we fought back well in the second-half, and managed to pull 1 goal back, when Marcus Barnes scored from close range in the 86th minute, after Mamadou Touray’s shot rebounded back off the post.

This result sees Portsmouth in 2nd position in the table, while at the opposite end, we’ve now gone 7 games without a win again. With only 7 matches remaining in the season, we’re still 1 point above Scunthorpe United, who sit just inside the dreaded drop zone.

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Despite playing most of the match with 10 men, after Josh Sheehan got himself sent off after 3 minutes, we somehow managed to fightback and earn a draw, by scoring 2 late goals deep into injury time.

In the 1st half, Burton used the extra man to their advantage, with goals by Ben Fox and young Lukas Nmecha giving Burton Albion a comfortable 2-0 lead.

In the 2nd half, the scoreline remained 2-0 to the visitors, until Cameron Pring started an amazing finish to the match, when he pulled a goal back to gives us a glimmer of home.

That hope seemed to be squashed in the 3rd minute of Injury time, when Burton’s Lucas Akins scored from the penalty spot. Somehow that wasn’t the end, and even though there was only supposed to be 4 minutes of injury time, Mamadou Touray had the time to score, after being put through on goal by Cameron Pring. I thought it was no more than a consolation goal, but incredibly the referee continued playing for a little while longer, which enabled Cameron Pring to score his 2nd goal of the match in the 6th minute of Injury time!!!! An incredible end to the match, earns us a point that sees us 2 points above the drop zone, with only 6 matches remaining.

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Liverpool U23’s were the eventual winners of the 2020/21 Checkatrade Trophy, beating Oxford United in the final.

 

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March wasn’t a great month for us, with 3 draws and 2 defeats in our 5 matches this month. Thankfully Scunthorpe United can’t find a win for love nor money either, so we’re still 2 points above them.

 

My next update is about the Easter weekend, where we’ll travel up to Doncaster on Good Friday, before the visit of top of the table Barnsley to Rodney Parade, on Easter Monday.

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Easter 2021

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In this Good Friday fixture, away to Doncaster Rovers, we ended our run of 8 matches without a win. A penalty kick, taken in the 16th minute by Jamille Matt gave us a 1-0 lead. Doncaster drew level, against the run of play, in 1st half stoppage time, when Joe Rafferty scored.

In the 2nd half, we took the lead once more, when Tommie Hoban deflected the ball past his own ‘keeper in the 51st minute. Marcus Barnes wrapped it up in the 82nd minute, with a header, as we collected our 38 points of the season. The win should have increased the gap between us and the relegation zone, but unfortunately it didn’t, as Scunthorpe United surprisingly beat MK Dons 1-0.

That means there’s still only 2 points between both clubs, with 5 matches remaining.

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Top of the table Barnsley arrived at Rodney Parade, looking to possibly seal the League One title if they won and Portsmouth slipped up. On the other hand, we had other ideas and took the lead in the ninth minute, when Jamille Matt dispossessed the Barnsley goalkeeper trying to play it out from the back, and was left with a simple finish into the back of the net. It stayed at 1-0 to us for the duration of the 1st half, but Barnsley equalised 5 minutes after the restart of the 2nd half. Brandon Barker bending his free-kick around our wall, and in at the near post. Both sides had chances to win it after that, but it remained 1 apiece at full time, a result that sees us 3 points ahead of the relegation zone going into the final 4 games of the season.

 

Good results over Easter, when we collected 4 points from a possible 6, sets up a career defining last 4 matches of the season.

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Incredibly, all of our 4 next opponents are in the bottom 6 battling for survival!

The next match is away at bottom side Ebbsfleet United, who now know anything less than a win against will see them relegated. Our next match after that is a week later, when we face 2nd from bottom Swindon Town, in our last home game of the season.

After that match, we’ve a trip away to take on Walsall, to try and beat Daryl McMahon for the 1st time in my career. And then finally, on the last day of the season, we face Scunthorpe United in Glanford Park, in what could be a relegation playoff final.

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End of 2020/21 Season

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Ebbsfleet scored a late equaliser in the 3rd minute of injury time, but it wasn’t enough to save them from relegation, as they needed to win. We took the lead after 11 minutes, when Jamille Matt nodded in a corner.

In the 2nd half, Ebbsfleet equalised two minutes after the restart, when Billy Waters nodded in a cross at the near post. Ten minutes from the 90th minute, I thought we had gotten the winner,  when Mitch Hancox struck a half-volley to score his 1st goal for Newport. Ebbsfleet piled on the pressure late on, in a desperate attempt to save their season, and eventually it told when their centre-half scored from a rebounded shot in injury time. It was too late for them though, and it didn’t prevent them from being relegated. Swindon Town were also relegated today, when they lost 3-1 to Barnsley. And instead of going 6 points clear of Scunthorpe United, with 3 matches left, we’re only 4 ahead of them, thanks to Ebbsfleets late equaliser.

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In our final home match of the season, we moved closer to confirming our League One survival, after a narrow win over recently relegated Swindon at Rodney Parade. Fraser Franks gave us the lead after 11 minutes, when he nodded in a corner. Four minutes later, we were 2 ahead, when Marcus Barnes cut in on to his favoured left foot, and rifled a low shot into the bottom corner. Just when I thought we were about to take a comfortable 2-0 lead in at the break, Glen McAuley pulled on back for Swindon in the 42nd minute.

The danger that Swindon would score was always there in the 2nd half, but it wasn’t until Matt Dolan put us 3-1 up from a spot-kick in the 87th minute, that I began to relax, but not for long. Only a minute later, McAuley struck for the 2nd time in the match, setting up a fraught climax.

Fortunately we hung onto the win, to remain 4 clear of the relegation zone, after Scunthorpe surprisingly beat Barnsley 2-1 at home.

Hopefully we can seal our safety in the next match in Walsall, before facing Scunthorpe.

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We didn’t get the win we wanted but it didn’t matter, as Swindon done us a massive favour by beating Scunthorpe, which means we are finally safe from relegation!

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After securing League One football for the club next season, and with my contract due to run out in June 2021, the board were keen to enter negotiations for a new contract, but I refused.

I feel it’s time to open a new chapter in the Graham Taylor career emulation, even if it means dropping a division and returning to manage in League Two. With an eye on the job situation at Plymouth Argyle, where Slavisa Jokanovic is close to the sack, I won’t be entering any new contract with Newport County.

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In what could possibly be my last game in charge of Newport County, Mamadou Touray struck his 7th goal of the season in injury time, to give us a 2-1 win on the last day of the season.

It means we finish the season in 20th position, with 46 points from the 46 matches.

At the top of the table, Barnsley won the title with 100 points, while Bradford City snuck into 2nd place ahead of Portsmouth, who had to settle for the playoffs along with Wimbledon, Bolton, and Peterborough.

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Despite beating Coventry 1-0 on the last day of the season, Plymouth missed out on the League Two play-offs, which means Slavisa Jokanovic got the sack. I’ve applied for the job, believing I can fire them up the divisions, ala Graham Taylor’s Watford.

 

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At the Newport County End of Season Awards, Josh Sheehan won the Supporters Player of the Year, for the 3rd season in a row. Marcus Barnes won Goal of the Season, for his left-footed strike against Swindon Town, earlier this month, while Adam May was rightly voted as signing of the season. Mamadou Touray picked up Young Player of the Season for 2020/21.

This season was tough going at times, but I think it can be looked back on and viewed as a success, considering the start we made.

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Plymouth Argyle offered me an interview, and I thought it went quite well, let’s see if they offer it. Newport County have made a last ditch attempt to keep me, but it’s not going to happen.

A new job, a new venture, a new challenge, a new chapter awaits.

 

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Plymouth Argyle

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On the morning of the 21st of May 2021, I got in my car outside Rodney Parade and drove for 2 hours and 15 minutes, down the M5 motorway until I reached Home Park, Plymouth, where I signed a 1 year deal to be Manager of Plymouth Argyle FC. As part of the deal, the two clubs have agreed a 12K compensation package to be paid to Newport County. Three members of my coaching staff have followed me out the doors of Rodney Parade, and will join me in my new venture at Home Park. They are my Assistant Manager, Justin Skinner, my Head of Youth Development, Richard Meek, along with my Fitness Coach, Mark Armitage.   

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“The Pilgrims” Home Park is a 17,904 all-seater stadium, that has the nickname of “The Theatre of Greens”. Originally built in 1903, 17 years after the club was founded, it was rebuilt in 2002, so it’s in good condition. The season of 2020/21 saw average attendances of 7,964, the 2nd highest attendances in League Two, and I’m hoping we can turn this place into a fortress in the seasons to come.  

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The most southerly and westerly League Club in England, have won the 3rd tier of English football twice, while they’ve only won the 4th tier of English football on one occasion, back in 2002. Plymouth Argyle spent 6 seasons playing Championship football, after winning the League One title in 2003/04. Two back to back relegations in 2010 and 2011, saw them sink into League Two, where they played for 6 seasons, before gaining promotion back to League One in 2017. In their 1st season back in League One, they finished 7th, just missing out on the playoffs. The next season they finished a disappointing 18th in League One, and then they were relegated once again into the 4th tier in the 2019/20 season. In the season just finished, they were a disappointing 12th place in League Two, which resulted in Slavisa Jokanovic being fired after only 112 days in charge.

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The population of Plymouth is 263,100, making it the largest city in England, never to have hosted top flight football. Hopefully I can change that, and I have set myself the challenge of bringing Plymouth Argyle F.C into the Premier League by the start of the 2026/27 season, the same timespan that Graham Taylor did at Watford, 5 seasons.

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Playing Staff

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According to my Number 2, Justin Skinner, the 3 best players at Plymouth Argyle currently are:

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Graham Taylor loved a big number 9, and so do I. That means Jamie Proctor will play a crucial role as my Target Man for next season. The 29 year-old Proctor, joined Plymouth Argyle from Rotherham United last summer, for a fee worth 225k, and is the current club captain. Our vice-captain, Sam Lavelle, is another player who was marked out by Skinner as one of the best players upon my arrival. Lavelle is a physically strong 24 year-old centre-half, who joined from Morecambe last summer, for a fee of 105k.

The third highly rated player at the club is 19 year-old midfielder Tommy Doyle, who finished the season as the clubs joint top scorer in the league with 8 goals, alongside Jamie Proctor, during his season long loan from Manchester City. I’m not sure, if we’ll be able to acquire him on loan for next season, hopefully we will.

Looking at the stats from the season just gone by, it tells us we had the 6th best defence in the league, while at the other end, we only scored 52 goals in 46 matches. The fact that both our joint topscorers only scored 8 goals apiece, highlights the need for investment at the top end of the pitch in the Summer transfer window.

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After assessing the squads contracts situation, I’ve offered new 1 year deals to 2 midfielders, Jimmy Ryan and Joel Grant. Although both players are pushing on in age, I feel their experience can be of benefit next season.

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Seven players will leave Plymouth Argyle at the end of June, some by choice, some not.

Ashley Smith-Brown, a full-back who can play on either side of the defence, has been unhappy at the club ever since Plymouth got relegated from League One last year. Having spent last season playing in League Two, he’s determined to leave the club when his contract expires in June 2021.

Mauro Vilhete has already agreed a deal to join Leixoes, a club in the Portugals 3rd tier, at the end of June. The right winger joined last Summer from Barnet on a free, but only 3 starts for the club all season.

The other 5 players leaving the club n June include Ryan Williams. As the club is overstocked in attacking midfielders, I’ve decided against renewing his deal after only making 1 start all season.

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When I sold Keanu Marsh-Brown from Newport County to Southend United for 90k, back in June 2020, I didn’t think I‘d be managing him again. It turns out he had been sold to Plymouth Argyle on the last day of the 2021 winter transfer, back in February. For this reason, I’ve placed him on the transfer list, whilst offering him to other clubs. It might be a struggle trying to sell him however, as he a year left on his contract, and he’s digging his heels in, wanting to remain.

 

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One of the attractions of the move to Plymouth Argyle, was that they’ve got better rated training facilities than Newport County, despite competing in a division below.

In the initial budgets, we’ve nearly 800k in the transfer budget, and an extra 27 and a half thousand per week for wages, while I set aside 236k for the scouting budget. This was the kind of budget I could only dream of, when I was back in Rodney Parade.

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Great work keeping Newport up, and Plymouth is a great club to move onto next as they have a better base, facilities wise, to build on!

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The 2020/21 Season

European Competitions

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In the 2021 Champions League Final, a 36 year old Cristiano Ronaldo proved he has still got it, when he scored twice in extra-time, to seal a 3-0 victory for Juventus against AS Monaco.

 

In the Europa League Final, A.C Milan won their 1st European trophy since 2007, when they beat RB Leipzig 2-0 in Parc des Princes, Paris.

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English Football

At the top of the Premier League, Manchester City retained their title, finishing 11 points ahead of 2nd place Liverpool. Manchester United and Chelsea qualified for next season's Champions League, while Tottenham and Everton will play in next season's Europa League.

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At the other end, Newcastle United, Derby County and West Brom, were all relegated from the Premier League to next seasons Championship. Norwich City, Leicester City and Watford, will play in next season's Premier League, after gaining promotion from the Championship.

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At the bottom end of the Championship table, the 3 clubs to go down into League One were Fleetwood, Charlton Athletic, and Sheffield Wednesday. They’ll be replaced in next seasons Championship by Barnsley, Bradford City, and Portsmouth, after they won promotion from League One.

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My new Plymouth Argyle side will face Southend United, Ebbsfleet, Scunthorpe United, and Swindon Town, in next season’s League Two, after their relegation from League One.

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Rochdale, Colchester United, Bury, and Salford, will play their football in League One next  season, after gaining promotion from the 2020/21 League Two.

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At the other end of League Two table, Port Vale and Crawley Town were relegated from the Football League this season.

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In the 20/21 season, Leyton Orient won the National League title, while Sutton United were also promoted to the Football League via the playoffs. At the bottom end of the table, Dartford, Eastleigh, Welling United, and Barrow were relegated.

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In the National League North, Stockport County and AFC Telford won promotion to the National League, while Stalybridge, Leamington, and Alfreton were were relegated. In the National League South, Oxford City and Dulwich Hamlet won promotion, while Eastbourne Boro, Basingstoke, and Tonbridge were relegated

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In the 2021 F.A Cup, Manchester City went on to complete a double, after they beat Tottenham Hotspurs 4-2 in the final.

My next update will focus on my 1st summer as Plymouth Argyle boss, and a look ahead to the 2021/22 season.

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Summer 2021

Transfers In

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Manchester City have agreed to loan us Tommy Doyle for another season. The 19 year-old central midfielder, who was joint top scorer for the club last season, is an excellent free-kick taker, and hopefully he’ll be a major asset during the upcoming season.

 

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The right-sided winger Jordan Cox, who also spent last season at the club whilst on loan from Aston Villa, joins us on a free transfer. The 22 year-old is a welcome addition to the squad, as he had 4 goals and 4 assists to his name in 36 starts last season.

 

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The player who scored the very 1st goal in my very 1st match as manager, reunites with me in Plymouth.

Cameron Pring joins on a free, after his contract with Bristol City ran out this summer, and I’m almost certain that the attacking full-back/wing-back will be a big hit in Devon.

 

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The 23 year-old ‘keeper Andrew Fisher joins us on a free transfer, after impressing whilst on loan. Fisher, who was released by Blackburn Rovers this summer, will provide good backup for our No.1 ‘keeper Mike Cooper.

 

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The 6’4” Target Man, Joe Quigley joins Plymouth Argyle from Bromley this summer, for a transfer fee of 60k. He scored 45 goals for Bromley, in the 3 seasons playing for them in the National League, and he’ll provide cover for Jamie Proctor this season.

 

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Another ‘keeper signed for the club this summer after impressing during his trial. The 18 year-old James Beard joins, after he was released by Liverpool at the end of the 2020/21 season. He won the Checkatrade Trophy with Liverpool U-23s, and has lots of potential. After we signed him, I decided to loan him out to Grimsby Town until the end of the season, as he’s mightn’t get much 1st team action as 3rd choice keeper.

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We played in 9 pre-season friendlies and done well, winning 5, drawing 2, before losing the last 2 matches.

We are ranked as one of the favourites for promotion from League Two this season.

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The club's board expect us to at least reach the play-offs this season, so a good start is imperative.

In the draw for the 1st Round of the League Cup, we’ve been drawn to play League One Gillingham at Home Park. Although the board doesn’t place too much importance on the League Cup, I’m hopeful of going on a good run.  

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The season kicks off on the 31st of July, with a trip away to Stonebridge Road, to take on the recently relegated, Ebbsfleet United. My 1st competitive game at Home Park takes place on the 4th of August, when we face Stevenage. That’s followed up with a trip to Southend, before that League Cup tie against Gillingham, on the 10th. We’ll have Blackpool and Barnet at home, before a trip to The Racecourse Ground to face Wrexham. Oldham at home completes the fixtures for August on the 28th.

Hopefully, we can get off to a good start and build momentum for the rest of the season.

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Posted (edited)

Start of the 2021/22 Season

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My 1st competitive match as Manager of Plymouth Argyle F.C, didn’t get off to a good start, as Ebbsfleet United gained revenge on me for relegating them from League 1 last season. We made a slow start to this match and were 2 down within the 1st half hour. Jordan Cox pulled a goal back for us 15 minutes from the full-time whistle, but Ebbsfleet United hung on to all 3 points. I hope it’s just a blip.

 

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In the Checkatrade Trophy, we’ve been drawn in Group F, alongside Colchester United, Swindon Town, and Brighton U23’s.

Our 1st match in the group is against Swindon Town, on the 31st of August.

 

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Jamie Proctor scored twice in the opening 15 minutes, to give us a comfortable victory in my 1st competitive match at Home Park. The 1st goal was from the penalty spot in the 10th minute, and then 3 minutes later he scored again, after being put through by a Tommy Doyle pass over the top.

My 1st win as manager of Plymouth Argyle sees us on the board with 3 points.

 

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Three days later, we increased our points total to 6, when we had our 1st away win of the season, against Southend United at Roots Hall. Canadian International, Cameron Sangster gave us the lead in the 18th minute, when he rifled in a shot from just outside the box with his left peg. Southend’s Cypriot left full-back, Harry Kyprianou, nodded past his own ‘keeper in the 26th minute, to put us 2 up at half-time.

Ten minutes after the restart, Mason Bloomfield put us 3-0 up, when he nodded in Cameron Prings cross from the left. Southend’s left winger, Stephen McLaughlin, got one back for the home side in the 66th minute, when he clinically finished a swift counter attack. The game was up for Southend United by that stage, and we seen the game out comfortably.

 

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We went out of the League Cup at the first hurdle, after Gillingham knocked us out on penalties. We went ahead after 6 minutes, when Proctor poked home a cross from the left by Cameron Pring. We held onto the lead until the 80th minute, when Regan Charles-Cook equalised for Gillingham, after the ball pinged around our box after a corner. That goal was enough to force it into a penalty shoot-out, which got off to a bad start, when Proctor crashed our 1st penalty off the bar. Gillingham didn’t miss any of their penalties, which meant all the pressure was on the young Jordan Cox, when he took our 5th penalty. Their goalie saved it and won the tie for Gillingham. Although I wanted us to go further in this competition, we played well against a League One side, and were unlucky to exit on penalties.

 

 

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The following Saturday, we’re back at Home Park to play Blackpool. Mason Bloomfield opened the scoring after 23 minutes, when he bulleted in a header from a Zak Mills cross. Jamie Proctor came off with a torn hamstring in the 37th, and was replaced by Summer signing Joe Quigley. Three minutes later, Quigley scored his 1st goal for Plymouth Argyle, when his header from a corner went in off the underside of the bar, to give us a comfortable 2-0 lead at half-time.

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Fifteen minutes from the full-time whistle, we were awarded a penalty, when Alex Whitmore was obstructed trying to attack an indirect free-kick. Bloomfield stepped up and converted for his 2nd goal of the match, sealing our third win of the season in the process.

 

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A Tommy Doyle goal from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute, was the difference between the two sides at Home Park. This is our fourth consecutive victory in the league, and we’ve now got 12 points from the first 5 matches of the season.

 

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Wrexham inflicted our 2nd defeat of the season, by coming back from a goal down to win 2-1. For the 2nd consecutive match, Tommy Doyle gave us the lead after 13 minutes, when he was played in by Mason Bloomfield. Just when it looked like we were heading in at half-time with a 1-0 lead, Wrexham equalised through Calum Dyson, to leave it 1-1 at the break.

In the 2nd half, the 18 year-old striker, Kieran Wynne hit what proved to be the winner after 64 minutes.

This ends our recent run of 4 straight wins in the league, leaving us in 4th place after the opening 6 matches.

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In the week after the defeat in Wrexham, we received the bad news that our No.1 ‘keeper, Mike Cooper, will be out for the next 4-5 weeks, after getting injured in training. It means I’ll have no other choice, than to hand a debut to Summer signing Andrew Fisher.


 

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A week after losing in Wrexham, we got back to winning ways by beating Oldham 3-1 at Home Park. We were forced into an early substitution, when Tommy Doyle twisted his ankle and was forced off after 13 minutes. Joe Quigley put us 1 up, after 23 minutes, when he was set up by his strike partner Mason Bloomfield.

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Bloomfield doubled our lead from the penalty spot, 4 minutes after the restart of the 2nd half. Substitute Alex Babos, gave Oldham hope of a fightback, when he scored in the 73rd minute, to make it 2-1. Those hopes were squashed 7 minutes later, when veteran central midfielder, Jimmy Ryan smashed in a free-kick, to seal the win.

Our fourth win in Home Park this season, maintains our 100% record at home, moving us up to 2nd in the table, a point behind early leaders Lincoln City.

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In the 1st match of our Checkatrade Trophy Group, we recovered well from going a goal down, and coasted to a 5-1 victory in the end. The home side went 1-0 up after 12 minutes, when Tyrese Campbell nodded in a Tyler Reid cross from the right. Ilias Chair, the makeshift striker, equalised on the half-hour mark. Five minutes before half-time, Joe Quigley put us 2-1 ahead going in at the break.

Quigley scored his second goal, 5 minutes after the restart of the 2nd half, to put us 3-1 up.He then had a chance to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot on the hour mark but missed it. Joel Grant scored after 79 minutes to make it 4-1, and Quigley finally completed his hat-trick in the 89th minute, after being put through on goal by Ilias Chair.This win sees us top the group, after the 1st round of matches, ahead of Colchester United, courtesy of goal difference.

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Overall, we’ve made a strong start to the season, with 5 wins out of 7 in the League, and an unlucky exit in the League Cup.

Next month, we kick-off the first of six fixtures in the League, by taking on Forest Green at The New Lawn. The following Saturday, we travel north to face Accrington Stanley, before a midweek fixture at Home Park against Morecambe. Three days after that, we travel to Huish Park to take on Yeovil Town. Our 2nd home game in September happens a week later, when we face Scunthorpe in Home Park. Then the fixtures for the month are completed, when we travel to East London to take on Leyton Orient on a Tuesday night.

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Edited by mylescattle

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Posted (edited)

September 2021

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September started with good news for the club, when I was awarded Manager of the Month for our performances in August, while young Man City loanee Tommy Doyle, won Young Player of the Month for League Two.

 

After taking a look at Anthony Grant in most of the pre-season games, I decided he wasn’t going to play a part in our push for promotion. He joins Torquay until the end of the season, after they agreed to pay 70% of his wages.

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We got off to a bad start in this match, and were 2-0 down after just 9 minutes. Centre-half Farrend Rawson, got the opener after just 4 minutes, when he nodded in Yan Dhandas free-kick delivery. Only five minutes later, Forest Green added a second, when central midfielder Max Sanders, fired a 20 yard shot to back of our net. Seven minutes before the halftime break, Joe Quigley got one back, when he turned in Mason Bloomfields pullback from the byline at the near post.

Our task of mounting a comeback got even harder, when only 5 minutes after the restart of the 2nd half, Max Sanders hit an unstoppable volley to make it 3-1 to Forest Green. Farrend Rawson also got his 2nd goal of this match, when he nodded in a corner in the 80th minute, to seal all 3 points for the home side.

Our 3rd defeat away from home this season, sees us drop down to 5th place in the table.

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Only 2 days after losing heavily to Forest Green, I received the bad news that our Captain Sam Lavelle, will miss the next 5-6 weeks with a calf strain. This means that we’re currently without our 3 best players, Lavelle, Doyle, and Proctor, plus our No. 1 ‘keeper Mike Cooper.

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Despite our current injury crisis, we still managed to eek out our 2nd win away win of the season, when we faced Accrington Stanley at Wham Stadium. An own goal by young Accrington Centre-half, Pascal Kpohomouh, after 9 minutes, proved to be the decisive moment in this match. Mason Bloomfield had a chance from the penalty spot in the 12th minute to put us 2-0 up, after he was fouled in the box, but saw his shot saved. Thankfully we held onto the slender 1-0 lead until the final whistle, to record our 6th win.
 

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After being 1-0 down at halftime, 2 second half goals by Mason Bloomfield, saw us maintain our 100% record at Home Park. Morecambe took an early lead after only 8 minutes, when their 18 year-old winger, Keelan Vinten, cut inside from the right and took a shot, that deflected off one of our defenders, and flew past Mike Cooper and into the top corner of the net.

It didn’t take long for us to respond after the break. Seven minutes after the restart of the 2nd half we equalised, when Bloomfield got his 1st goal of the match, by poking home a cross from right wing-back Zak Mills. A further 4 minutes after that goal, we scored again to go 2-1 ahead, in an almost identical manner. Zak Mills again the provider, for Bloomfield to this time nod in at the far post.  

Two back to back wins, and our 7th win of the season, sees us up to 3rd in the table, 2 points behind leaders Lincoln City.

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For the 1st time this season, we fail to score a single goal in a match, as Yeovil Town give us a 3-0 hiding at Huish Park. A 2nd half brace from an 18 year-old left winger, Tommy Kelly, set Yeovil Town on their way to a comfortable victory. His 1st goal arrived after 56 minutes, when the youngster, who’s on loan from Portsmouth, hit a 30 yard shot into the top corner. He added his second goal after 69 minutes, when he got in and nodded one in at the far post. In the 87th minute, it was another 18 year-old, Scott Jeggo, who sealed the victory by heading a cross from the right into the net.

Another bad performance away from home, means we drop out of the top 3 again, and into 4th place.

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Mason Bloomfield walked off the pitch at Home Park with the match ball at full-time, after scoring a hat-trick, that maintains our 100% home record this season. Scunthorpe United went ahead after 21 minutes, when their Central Defender Charlie Good, connected with a free-kick delivery from out wide. Bloomfield got his 1st goal after 41 minutes, when he headed in Jimmy Ryan's ball over the top of the defence, to see it 1 apiece at the break. About 15 minutes from full-time, he got his 2nd goal with his left foot, after being put through 1-on-1 with their keeper by Joe Quigley. After 88 minutes, he completed his hat-trick with his right foot, after collecting a long punt upfield by our ‘keeper Mike Cooper. A perfect hat-trick from the Jamaican International, who is our top scorer in the league with 9 goals. This win puts us back in the automatic promotion places in 3rd place, a point behind leaders Lincoln City.  

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Last year's National League Champions, Leyton Orient, have made a good start to life back in the Football League, and were in 7th place before this 2-0 win at Brisbane Road. Vernon Parkes scored the 2 goals in this match, in either half, as we suffer our 3rd away defeat this month. As a result, we drop to 7th place in the table, while the O’s rise to 5th.

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September wasn’t a disastrous month, but it wasn’t brilliant either. We still have our impeccable record at Home Park intact, however our record in the away matches needs addressing.

 

October starts with 3 fixtures in Home Park. The first is the visit of Cambridge United, who sit in 11th position in the table. The following Tuesday night, the Brighton U23s visit, to take us on in our 2nd Checkatrade Trophy Group match.  The last of the three consecutive home matches takes place on the following Saturday, when Sutton United play us in the league. A week after that, we face the 1st of 2 tough away matches, when we travel to take on top of the table, Crewe. The following Tuesday night, we’re on the road again, when we face Lincoln City at Sincil Bank. We play at home in the last fixture of the month, when Wycombe Wanderers visit us on the 23rd of October. It means 4 of the 6 matches next month are at home, and I’ll be hopeful of continuing our record in Home Park.

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Edited by mylescattle

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October 2021
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Mason Bloomfield scored twice in this match, as we beat Cambridge United 3-0 at Home Park, to bring us back up to 4th in the table. Bloomfield scored his 10th goal of the season from the penalty spot after 28 minutes, when Joe Quigley was pushed inside the box, to see us 1 up at halftime. 
Bloomfield added his 2nd, his 11th for the season, when he volleyed in a cross from the right by Zak Mills, ten minutes into the 2nd half. Joe Quigley scored our 3rd goal of the match on the hour mark, to seal another comfortable 3 points at Home Park. 
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A 2-0 victory over Brighton U23’s in matchday 2 of Checkatrade Trophy Group, has seen us qualified for the next round with a game to spare. Tommy Doyle gave us an the lead from the penalty spot after 8 minutes. In the 2nd half, Josh Taylor doubled our lead after 64 minutes, with a shot from outside the box, that went in with the help of the post. In the groups other match, Colchester United beat Swindon Town on penalties, making our final group match against Colchester United, a dead rubber. 
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On the 8th of October 2021, I agreed a deal to sell the veteran 34 year-old midfielder, Sam Foley, to National League North side, Boston United.

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A late winner by Joe Quigley after 86 minutes, maintained our 100% record at Home Park, whilst pushing us up 2 places in the table to 2nd place, a point behind leaders Crewe Alexandra, who we play next. 

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Zak Mills got himself sent-off in 56th minute, only minutes after setting up Mason Bloomfields equaliser, and that changed the complexion of this match, allowing Crewe to go on to win 3-1. Losing this top of the table clash means we drop back down to 4th position in the table, 4 points away from Crewe.  
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In the draw for the 1st Round of the F.A Cup, we were drawn to play League One side Luton Town at Kenilworth Road. The match will take place on the 6th of November, and it’ll be a tough test for us. 


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In my 20th match in charge of Plymouth Argyle, we continued our bad form away from home, by losing 2-1 to Lincoln City at Sincil Bank. Will Miller gave Lincoln the early lead after 7 minutes, before Tommy Doyle equalised for us, with a shot from the edge of the box, to leave it 1 apiece at half-time.
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Only 5 minutes after the break, Lincoln City struck what would prove to be a winner, when right-sided midfielder Jordan Clark, volleyed in a cross from the left at the far post. For 2nd consecutive match, we were reduced to 10 men, when Ryan Sweeney picked up a second yellow in injury time, as we pushed to try get an equaliser. This result sees us drop down to 6th position in the table, 7 points behind leaders Crewe Alexandra.  
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Despite testing the Wycombe ‘keeper on 10 occasions, we failed to make the breakthrough in this match, dropping points at Home Park for the 1st time this season. We are now 9 points behind table toppers Crewe, as we drop 1 place in the table to 7th. 
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Like last month, October proved to be a mixed bag of results. It started well, winning the first 3 fixtures, but then it turned sour with 2 back to back defeats away from home, followed by a scoreless draw in Home Park. We qualified for the 2nd round of the Checkatrade Trophy with a game to spare, and still sit in the play-off places, if only just. 

Novembers fixtures kicks-off with a 1st Round F.A Cup tie against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road, followed by a meaningless final group game in the Checkatrade Trophy. Four days after that, Shrewsbury Town visit Home Park. The months fixtures are completed with 2 matches away from home, when we visit Swindon Town on the 20th of November, and Coventry City on the 23rd. So that means we’ve 4 away matches and only 1 match at Home Park in November. Hopefully we can get a grip and start improving our away performances soon. 
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November 2021

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We limped out of the F.A Cup at the 1st Round stage, after losing 2-0 to Luton Town in Kenilworth Road. Luton went 1 up after 34 minutes, when their centre-half nodded in from a corner. With about a quarter of an hour to go in the match, they virtually sealed the win, when their right wing-back Justin James, stormed into the box at the far post and finished to make it 2-0. It was a disappointing performance where we only managed 1 shot on target all match. It means I have failed the pre-season target of at least reaching the 2nd Round  set by our board.  

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In a meaningless final group match because both teams were already through, we had a 0-0 bore draw against Colchester United. In the penalty shoot-out, Colchester won but we still top the group on goal difference. Afterwards, the draw was made for the 2nd Round, where we were paired with Watford U23's. That match will take place in Home Park next month on the 7th of December. 
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Having not won our last 5 matches, it was important to put a halt to that against Shrewsbury Town at Home Park. We were 3-0 up by the half hour mark in this match. Jamie Proctor volleyed in a shot after a mix up between the Shrewsbury ‘keeper and one of his centre-halfs after 8 minutes. Jordan Cox doubled our lead after 24 minutes with a 23 yard strike, and 4 minutes after that, a Cameron Pring free-kick went through the Shrewsbury wall, and in at the near post to make it 3-0. Shrewsbury centre-half Nathan Wood pulled 1 back for the visitors after 36 minutes, when he rebounded in a shot from a free-kick that came back off the post. 
In the 2nd half, a 67th minute goal by Elliot List set up the possibility of a Shrewsbury Town comeback, but we held on to the win that moves us up 1 place in the table to 6th. 
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We won our 1st away match since beating Accrington Stanley on the 11th of September, by beating Swindon Town 3-0. Mason Bloomfield scored the 1st goal after 3 minutes, when he nodded a Jordan Cox cross, back where it came from, and in at the far post. Bloomfield won a penalty kick just before half-time, which young Man City loanee Tommy Doyle dispatched to the net, to put us 2-0 up. 
Any hopes of Swindon Town mounting a 2nd half comeback, were put to bed 5 minutes after the restart, when Jamie Proctor scored our third goal. A 2nd consecutive victory for us puts us in 5th place in the table after 20 matches, and 4 points behind leaders Crewe. 
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The following Tuesday night in the Ricoh Arena against Coventry City, we failed to make it 3 consecutive wins on the trot, after a bad display in the 1st half left us 2 down at the break. Young Jack Burroughs put Coventry ahead after 35 minutes, when he nodded in a cross by young 22 year-old left winger Luke Thomas. Just on the stroke of half-time, Coventrys centre-half Gabriel Osho headed in from a corner, to leave us 2 goals down at the break. 
In the 2nd half, Sam Lavelle gave us a glimmer of hope, when he got his 1st goal for the club after 79 minutes, but Coventry City held onto the 1 goal lead until the full-time whistle. As a result of this defeat, we drop 1 place to 6th in the table, 3 points behind the 3rd automatic promotion spot.
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We received further bad news, when Joe Quigley picked up an injury in training, that’ll rule him out for between 3-4 weeks. 
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Another mixed bag of results this month, including the disappointing exit in the F.A Cup 1st Round, means I’m starting to consider additions in the upcoming January transfer window, to try solve our inconsistent form. 

Our 1st match in December happens in Home Park on the 4th, when 3rd placed Notts County visit. The following Tuesday night after that, we play Watford U23’s in the Checkatrade Trophy. And a busy week is completed on the 11th of December, when travel way up North to take on Carlisle United in Brunton Park. Hopefully, we can give ourselves a morale boost heading into the Christmas and New Year fixtures. 
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December 2021

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A late winner in the 88th minute by our left wing-back Cameron Pring, handed us our 40th point of the season so far. Notts County were very cagey and tried to catch us on the break throughout this match, but we piled on the pressure late on and it eventually told, when Prings shot hit the back of the net. 
It could be a crucial moment come the end of this season, and it moves to within a point of the 3rd automatic promotion place. 
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Watford U23’s dumped us out of the Checkatrade Trophy on a 4-1 scoreline. Young 20 year-old forward, Ryan Cassidy, struck twice for the visitors in the 1st half, to see them 2 up at the halftime break. Jamie Proctor pulled a goal back around the hour mark, but by stage we were already 3-0 down. Their centre-half Federico Fernandez scored to make it 4-1. It was the 1st time I’ve been beaten in Home Park since I took charge of Plymouth Argyle. 

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Jamie Proctors late equaliser in the 81st minute, salvaged a point from our long distance away trip to Carlisle. The home team went in front in 1st half stoppage time, when Daniel Butterworth met a cross from right full-back Teddy Howe. We had an early goal by Cameron Sangster disallowed after 8 minutes, when he was adjudged to be offside. In the 2nd half, we pushed for an equaliser, and the pressure told when Proctor headed in a cross from the left by substitute Ryan Sweeney.
Having played 23 matches in the league this season, it means we’ve now reached the halfway point in the season and still sit in the playoff places in 5th place.     
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I received an early Christmas present, when the board agreed to extend my contract until June 2023.
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Despite the heavy defeat to Watford U23’s in the Checkatrade Trophy, we picked up 4 points from both league matches with the aid of late goals, so I’m reasonably happy as we go into the hectic Christmas and New Year schedule. 

Our next match is at home to the struggling Ebbsfleet United, who aren’t coping very well with life back down in League Two. We’ve an 8 day break until the Boxing Day fixture, when we face Stevenage away, before another away trip 2 days later, when we travel up to Blackpool. On New Year's day, we start 2022 by hosting Wrexham, who are currently 2nd in the table. A week later, Southend United visit Home Park hoping to edge themselves away from the relegation zone. 
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Christmas and New Years 2021/2022

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Just before Christmas, our veteran 36 year old defender John White announced his decision to retire at the end of the season. And although it says on the screenshot that he’s been struggling to break into the 1st team of late, he’s made 24 starts so far this season in all competitions, so I don’t know what that’s all about. 

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Our Captain Sam Lavelle was ruled out before this match, due to an illness but we still managed to win 4-2 in the end, with our stand in Captain Jamie Proctor scoring twice. We took the lead after 11 minutes, when our left wing-back Cameron Pring scored his 3rd goal of the season. 
In the 2nd half, Ebbsfleet equalised ten minutes after the restart, when Billy Waters scored a rebound, after Mike Cooper saved his initial shot. Cameron Pring turned provider after 65 minutes, when his deep cross was volleyed to the net at the far post by Jamie Proctor. Ten minutes later, Proctor looked to have killed off any hope for Ebbsfleet, when he made it 3-1. When Tom Scully  flicked on a free-kick at the near post, that went in at the far corner, Ebbsfleet were back to within a goal of us, with only 13 minutes left. In the 89th minute, Mason Bloomfield made the 3 points certain, when he poked in a cross from the right by substitute Calum Johnson. We made hard work of this win, but we got there in the end.
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We travelled away to face Stevenage in the traditional Boxing Day fixture, and ended up coming away with a point after a 1-1 draw. Jordan Cox put us ahead after 9 minutes, but our lead didn’t last long, as the 17 year-old striker Mike Deacey equalised only 2 minutes later. 
A point away from home keeps us in 5th place in the table, with 25 matches played. 
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We picked up another point on the road, 2 days later, when we played bottom of the table, Blackpool in Bloomfield Road. This one goes down as 2 points dropped however, as we had the better of them but couldn’t manage to get the breakthrough that would’ve given us all 3 points. 
We’re still 5th in the table, 4 points away from 3rd placed Leyton Orient, and 10 points away from leaders Crewe, as we head into year 2022.  
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On the 1st day of the January transfer window, 2 players officially left Plymouth Argyle. 
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 Josh Taylor joins struggling Ebbsfleet for 12.48k, after he became unhappy with the number of starts he got in the 1st half of this season. Ilias Chair also leaves the club, after he joined Moroccan side Raja Casablanca for an initial fee of 125,000. I didn’t really want to sell him but he forced my hand, by demanding I accept a bid by Raja Casablanca. 

 

 

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Wrexham visited Home Park for the traditional New Year's Day fixture, and walked away with a point. For the 2nd match in a row, we have a 0-0 draw, and I’m starting to think we need to invest in another striker. We picked up 6 yellow cards in this match, and the club were fined 1k for ill-discipline afterwards. 
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After playing in 27 league matches, we remain in 5th place, 3 points away from the automatic promotion places, so we’re still in the hunt. 
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A penalty kick after half an hour, scored by Man City loanee Tommy Doyle, was the difference between the 2 teams at Home Park. Southend United didn’t threaten much and only had 1 shot on target during the entire 90 minutes. Twenty minutes from the end of the match, any hope of Southend United making a comeback seemed distant, when their centre-half Kyle Howkins picked up his 2nd yellow of the game, for a foul on Mason Bloomfield. It wasn’t a great performance by us but we got the 3 points regardless. 
We’re still in 5th place in the table with a points tally of 50, a single point behind Leyton Orient, who are 3rd in the table. 
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Two wins and three draws over Christmas and New Year, means we’ve not been beaten in League Two in 7 matches. 
Our next 3 matches start with 2 consecutive away games against 7th placed Barnet, and 8th placed Oldham, followed up by a match at Home Park against 10th placed Forest Green. We’ll be hoping to stretch our unbeaten run in the league to 10 matches, whilst getting some business done before the transfer window shuts at the end of January.  
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January 2022

 

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My 1st signing in January is the 25 year-old forward, Fejiri Okenabirhie. He joins us from fellow League Two side Shrewsbury Town, costing us 205k, and is most effective in the Advanced forward role, due to his pace and flair. After spending 3 and a half seasons at Shrewsbury Town, where he scored 26 goals in 117 appearances, he joins our squad to provide competition for Mason Bloomfield. 
For my 2nd January signing, I went back to Newport County to sign a player I had signed before. The defensive midfielder, Liam Nolan, joins us for 8,750k, 18 months after he left Accrington Stanley for Newport. Although he mightn’t be the total answer to our players in the long term, I’m certain he can be a good acquisition for our push for promotion. 
With the arrival of Okenabirhie into Home Park, I decided to let Klaidi Lolos go out on loan to Albanian club Egnatia until the end of the season. After scoring 10 goals in pre-season last summer, I really thought he could be an asset to us when the competitive matches started, but he hasn’t scored so far this season. 
His contract with us runs out in the Summer, so it’s probably the last he’ll play for us.    
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Fejiri Okenabirhie made his debut for Plymouth Argyle as a 2nd half substitute, as we beat Barnet 2-0 at the Hive ground. Mason Bloomfield put us ahead after 24 minutes, when Tommy Doyle won the ball in defence and burst forward on run, playing a beautifully weighted pass in behind the Barnet defence, for Bloomfield to finish, just before the out-rushing Barnet ‘keeper couldn’t stop him from scoring. 
Tommy Doyle was again the provider for our 2nd goal, as it was his corner delivery, that was headed in at the near post by Jamie Proctor after 66 minutes. 
A comfortable enough victory in the end, in a match I was expecting to be more difficult. And it see us move up to 3rd in the table, with only our superior goal difference separating ourselves and Wrexham in 4th, while leaders Crewe are 9 points ahead of us at the top of the League Two table.  

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The day after we beat Barnet, our No.1 ‘keeper Mike Cooper left Plymouth Argyle, after 5 and a half seasons with the club, to join Championship side Portsmouth. Initially, when the offer came in from Portsmouth, I wanted to reject it but then I seen his agents advice, that he could become unsettled should I reject the bid by Portsmouth, and I began to negotiate. We eventually agreed an initial deal of 325,000k, that may rise to 450,000k, and I think it’s a good deal. Especially when you also factor in his unwillingness to extend his current deal, which ran out in June 2022.
 It’s the 2nd consecutive season that Portsmouth have purchased my No.1 Goalkeeper, the last time this happened was when they bought Nick Townsend from Newport County at the beginning of last season. Like that time, this feels like a bit of a risk, but I feel our 2nd choice, Andrew Fisher, can step up and be our main goalkeeper for the rest of the season at least. 

 

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Our big Number 9, Jamie Proctor scored twice, in this match against Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park, as we ran out 3-1 winners. It’s our 3rd victory in as many matches, and we’re now up to 2nd in the table, 6 points behind 1st place Crewe. 
Proctor got his 1st goal just after the half hour stage of the match, when he got onto a direct pass from the defence by left wing-back Cameron Pring, to finish into the far corner with his right foot.
It remained 1-0 to us until the 57th minute, when Oldhams right full-back, Rob Hunt, fired a free-kick in from just outside the box. We went back in front in the 77th minute, when our Captain Sam Lavelle was on hand at the far post, to tap in a flicked on corner delivery. Six minutes later, Proctor smashed home his 2nd goal, after being put through with only the ‘keeper to beat by new signing Okenabirhie, to seal an important 3-1 victory away from home.  
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Heading into the final week of the January transfer window, two full-backs/wing-backs were sold. 
The 17 year-old left wing-back, Phil Hughton, who was our hottest prospect, was sold to Championship club Bradford City for an initial fee of 22,000, and may rise to 44,500k depending on conditions. Since all incomings and outgoings are handled by my Head of Youth Development, I had no act or part in this deal.
   
The 2nd deal done was the transfer of Callum Johnson to League One Salford City for a fee of 74k. Since I felt he was underperforming and he had only 6 months left to run out his contract, I accepted the bid for the 25 year-old right wing-back. 
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Mason Bloomfield scored the only goal of the match, as early as the 3rd minute, to stretch our unbeaten run in the league to 10 consecutive matches. Bloomfield used his pace to full effect, when he ran onto a beautifully weighted through ball by our right winger Jordan Cox. 
This win keeps us 2nd place in the table, while the gap between us and leaders Crewe is now narrowed to only 4 points!!!
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On the final day of the January transfer window, we completed 3 deals with 1 more player leaving the club, while another 2 players joined our 1st team squad. The 34 year-old midfielder Joel Grant, leaves Plymouth to join Ebbsfleet for a fee of 2,300. The Inside forward spent 4 and a half seasons with Plymouth, making 131 appearances and scoring 14 goals, after joining from local rivals Exeter City. 

I signed another player I had worked with previously, when Dan Butler resigned for Plymouth Argyle, almost a year after leaving to join Billericay in the National League for a fee of 19.25K. And don’t forget he was on the books at Newport County, when I was appointed as their Manager back in November 2018, and sold him to Plymouth Argyle for 225k in the Summer of 2019. This time, the 27 year-old left wing-back goes back to Plymouth for a fee of 52k. 
With Calum Johnson sold to Salford City, I decided to sign the 22-year old, Dougie Nyaupembe, from Bury as his replacement. The deal only cost us 6.5k, and I’m hoping he’ll be with us for the long-term.
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We were the biggest spenders in League Two during January, with a total of 275k spent by the club.
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The 3 wins at the end of January have boosted us up to 2nd in the table, giving us hope that we can now catch leaders Crewe and win the League Two title. Our defence has been immense lately, with only 1 goal conceded in the entire 5 matches played in the whole of January. 

Next month's fixtures kicks-off on the 5th of February, when we host Accrington Stanley at Home Park. A week after that, we travel to play Morecambe at the Globe Arena. On the 19th of next month, Yeovil Town will travel to Home Park to take us on, and then a week later we complete the fixtures for February, by travelling to Glanford Park to take on the relegation threatened Scunthorpe United. 
Hopefully these new January signings can help maintain our push for promotion!
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February 2022

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After winning 4 from 5 last month, I was awarded League Two Manager of the Month for January 2022. 

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Accrington Stanley visited Home Park and stretched their unbeaten run to 10 matches, after a 1-1 draw. Jimmy Ryan gave us the lead after 20 minutes, when he cut in from the left hand side of the pitch and unleashed a dipping curling shot into the top corner from some distance out. It’s his 2nd goal of the season, and surely a contender for goal of the season. Accrington Stanley’s equaliser came just before half-time, when their winger Niall Watson turned in a cross at the far post. It’s a disappointing result for us, as we had the chance to narrow the gap between ourselves and Crewe at the top, after they drew 1-1 in Wycombe. 
Instead, we’re still 4 points behind them in 2nd place. 
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A 90th minute equaliser by Morecambe, prevented us from picking up a narrow victory in the Globe Arena. 18 year-old right winger, Keelan Vinten, gave Morecambe a 1-0 lead after 23 minutes, when we failed to defend a free-kick delivery into our box. Mason Bloomfield equalised 5 minutes later, when he capitalised on a bad mistake by Morecambe. 
Seven minutes after the restart of the 2nd half, we went 2-1 up, when Bloomfield volleyed in a cross from the right by Zak Mills. We looked to be heading for 3 points, until Carlos Mendes Gomes struck in the 90th minute. 
We’re still in 2nd place, and still 4 points behind leaders Crewe, as they failed to beat Barnet at home 
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Irish U-19, Tommy Kelly struck the winner for Yeovil in the 76th minute of this match, as Yeovil came from 1 behind to win 2-1, and become the 1st team to pick up all 3 points at Home Park this season. 
A free-kick by Cameron Pring found the the top corner in the 7th minute to put us 1-0 up. The lead didn’t last long however, as within a matter of seconds, Zak Mills scored an unfortunate own goal to make it 1-1. 
Crewe lost 1-0 away to Notts County, which means we’re still only 4 points away in 2nd place, despite losing.  
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Liverpool won the 2022 League Cup, by beating their local rivals Everton 3-0 at Wembley. It’s the 1st time Liverpool have won the League Cup competition since 2003.

 

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Scunthorpe United scored an 86th minute equaliser, when defensive midfielder Levi Sutton struck a shot from distance to the net and denied us all 3 points. Making his 1st start since joining the club in January, Okenabirhie scored twice in the 1st half, after Scunthorpes right winger, Nick Freeman gave the home side the early lead.
To concede so late is really disappointing, especially when I realised Wrexham had beaten table toppers Crewe 2-1. We still stay in 2nd place though, 3 points behind Crewe, instead of a single point. 
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We only picked up 3 points from a possible 12 this month, but thankfully leaders Crewe have begun to falter too, as they only managed to collect 2 points from their 4 matches this month. Third and fourth placed Notts County and Wrexham, are both breathing down our necks. With 11 matches to go, there’s only 4 points separating the top 4 teams in the League Two table. 

A look ahead to our fixtures next month, tells us that we have 3 home games against 3 clubs, who currently sitting within the top 7 clubs in the table. The 1st of these is on Saturday, the 5th of March, when Leyton Orient  visit Home Park. This match is followed the week after, by two consecutive away matches against Cambridge on Tuesday night, and Sutton United on Sunday the 13th of March. The stand out fixture of March happens a week later on the 19th, when League Two leaders Crewe visit Home Park. 
The fixture list for March is completed, when 7th placed Lincoln City visit Home Park on the 26th.
It’s an important month that could make or break us. 
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March 2022

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Our big number 9 Jamie Proctor, hit the winning goal ten minutes before the end, to earn us all 3 points, against Leyton Orient at Home Park. With the score 0-0 at half-time, the deadlock was broken only a minute into the 2nd half, when Tommy Doyle struck a wonderful dipping shot into the top corner. 
Leyton Orient 19 year-old centre-half, Aidan Walker, prodded home an equaliser after 63 minutes, after Macauley Bonne was unlucky to hit the post. With the score at 1-1 heading into the final 10 minutes, Proctor saved the day with a left-footed strike to the near post corner. 
These 3 points could prove crucial come the seasons end, and it keeps us leading the chasing pack, as we try overtake Crewe at the top, who also won.  
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After a disastrous 1st half performance that left us 2-0 down at the break, Mason Bloomfield scored twice in the 2nd half, to claw us back to 2-2. Unfortunately, Emmanuel Osadebe struck a late winner for Cambridge United in the 90th minute. On the same night, Crewe opened up a 6 point gap over us, as they beat Accrington Stanley 4-1. We’re still in 2nd place, but with only 9 matches remaining, the League two title is starting to look like it might be beyond our grasp.
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We were 9 points behind Crewe before this kicked-off, as they had already beaten Swindon on Saturday afternoon, while our match kicked-off a day later, so it was a must win game for us. We responded well to the pressure of playing a day later and ran out comfortable 2-0 winners, with goals either side of the halftime break, by the deadly duo upfront, Bloomfield and Proctor. 
Our next match is against top of the table Crewe at home, and it’s a big chance to try cut the gap at the top back down to 3 points.
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A Tommy Doyle goal from a free-kick after 5 minutes, got us off to a good start against League Two leaders Crewe in Home Park. And we were 2-0 up by halftime, when Proctor scored in the 40th minute. 
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In the 2nd half, Cameron Pring went off with a hamstring strain, that’ll rule him out for most, if not, all of the remaining 7 matches in the season. It was the only downside to an important win, that puts us back to within 3 points of Crewe, with 7 matches to go. 
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I finally got rid of my nemesis, Keanu Marsh-Brown, when he agreed to join National League leaders Chesterfield. He leaves Plymouth Argyle, having spent all season playing for our U-23s. 

 

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We dropped 2 points at Home Park again, after a 0-0 draw with Lincoln City. This result, coupled with Crewe’s 3-1 win over Oldham, means we’re still in 2nd place but 5 points behind top of the table Crewe. 
With only 6 more matches left to play in the season, 5 points is a sizeable gap at this stage of the season.  
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In the final of the 2022 Checkatrade Trophy, Fleetwood Town beat Colchester United 2-0 at Wembley. 

 

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Three wins, a draw and a defeat, means we picked up 10 points from a possible 15 in the 5 league games in March. It’s certainly an improvement on last months performance, hopefully we’ll be able to continue to pick up more points in the final 6 matches of the season in April. 
Our next 2 matches are away from home. The 1st of these is against Wycombe Wanderers on the 2nd of April, before we travel to Shrewsbury a week later. Looking at the table, we know 2 wins would more or less guarantee us at least a playoff spot. 
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April 2022

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Tommy Doyle, on loan from Manchester City, won Goal of the Month for his wonderful 28 yard strike against Leyton Orient, back at the beginning of last month. 

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Mason Bloomfield scored his 22nd goal of the season, when he equalised just before the hour mark of this match, after a good run down the right by Tommy Doyle. Earlier in the 2nd half, young right winger J’Neil Bennet put Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 ahead just after the halftime break, when he got to the rebound first, after a save from our ‘keeper Alex Fisher. It’s not a bad result, but it could’ve been so much better had we won this, as Shrewsbury beat Crewe 2-1 on same day. With 5 matches now left in the season, we’re still in 2nd place, 4 points behind leaders Crewe.
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Fresh from defeating leaders Crewe a week earlier, Shrewsbury Town continued their push for a playoff spot, by beating us 1-0 in their home ground. An early goal by Jacob Brown, after just 6 minutes, was enough to give them another 3 points in their bid to catch 7th placed Barnet. We on the other hand however, have dropped down to 3rd place with 4 matches remaining. 
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As we go into the Easter weekend matches next, a look at the top of the table shows us how tight it is. There’s only 6 points separating leaders Crewe from Barnet in 7th place, with 4 rounds of matches left to play. Our next 2 matches are at Home Park. The 1st of these matches is against Swindon Town on Good Friday, followed on Easter Monday by a match against Coventry City. And we know another 3 points would almost certainly guarantee us at least a playoff spot. Hopefully, we can win both games, to be in with a chance of winning the League Two title.  
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Easter 2022

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We will need to plan to be without Zak Mills for the remaining matches of the season, after he picked up an injury in training. The right wing back has been important for us this season, providing 10 assists for goals, and he’ll be a big loss as we try seal promotion. 

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In the traditional Good Friday fixture, Mason Bloomfield came to the rescue again late on, when he scored an equaliser in the 81st minute, to earn us a point at home to Swindon Town. We had got off to a good start earlier in the match, when Tommy Doyle gave us the early lead with one of his trademark strikes from outside the box. About 10 minutes before halftime, Swindon Town drew level, when their central midfielder Robbie McKenzie hit the back of our net with a shot from just outside our box.

Only 4 minutes after the break, Swindon went in front, when their centre-half Terrell Thomas, nodded in a corner at the far post. Swindon frustrated us for the rest of the match but Bloomfield’s ferocious strike in the 81st minute, his 23rd of the season, salvaged at least a point from the match. 
 It’s a disappointing result, that sees us drop down to 4th in the table, and out of the automatic promotion places, with only 3 matches remaining in the season. We’re still only 4 points off leaders Crewe, but we’ll need to win on Easter Monday, against Coventry City, to stand any chance of lifting the title. 
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I feel like vomiting after this match. We were 2 nil up at halftime, and cruising towards a victory that would’ve secured at least a playoff, thanks to 2 goals just  before the break, by Tommy Doyle and Jamie  Proctor. Then Coventry City scored twice in the space of 5 minutes to make 2-2, with 25 minutes to go.
With a draw no use for either of us, both teams were pushing for the late winning goal. Coventry City’s Jack Blake scored the winner in the 2nd minute of injury time, to complete the comeback. 
I really don’t know how this happened, but it leaves our title aspirations in tatters. 
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We now head into the the 2 remaining matches of the season, on 5 match winless streak, leaving even automatic promotion in jeopardy.  
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23rd of April 2022

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After going 5 games without a win, we got back on track by winning 2-0, in what will hopefully be, our final away game of the season. Two first half goals put us in a comfortable position to see out the rest of the match. The 1st goal came after 17 minutes, when Proctor finished of a swift counter-attack, that involved our young right wing-back Nyaupembe. We doubled our lead in 36th minute, when Man of the Match John White scored his 1st goal for Plymouth Argyle in 44 appearances for the club!

This win keeps us in contention of grabbing an automatic promotion place, going into the final home game of the season, while at the same time it guarantees us a playoff spot, should we not make it inside the top 3 in the league table. Hopefully, we don’t need to use the playoffs, but we’re dependant on favours from elsewhere to get automatically promoted. 
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Going into the final round of matches in the season, we’re in 4th place, level on points with 3rd place Leyton Orient, who are ahead of us courtesy of their better goal difference. Lincoln City are only a point behind both clubs in 5th place, and can move jump into 3rd place only if both clubs slip up on the last day. We face Carlisle United in Home Park, expecting to win, while hoping Swindon Town can do us a favour by taking points off Leyton Orient.  
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Loved the story till now... but, have you ever studied any licenses? or still having National A?

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3 hours ago, ucdark said:

Loved the story till now... but, have you ever studied any licenses? or still having National A?

Still have the National A license yeah, but gonna try ask my board if I can study for an upgrade, once this season is finished. I asked Newport County after I got them promoted, but they refused, saying they couldn't afford it financially. Actually, you could say it was the main reason I decided to leave them. Hopefully, Plymouth's board will agree this time, especially if we get the promotion over the line. Thanks for asking that, I think it was something I neglected to mention in the writing, and I'm very glad you've enjoyed it.

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The Last Day of the 2021/22 Season

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We upheld our side of the bargain, by comfortably beating Carlisle United 4-1, on the last day of the season. We went ahead after half an hour through Jamie Proctor, after good work down the right by Jordan Cox. I began to get excited a few minutes later, when I heard Bohui had equalised, in the other match going on at the same time, between Swindon Town against Leyton Orient. Five minutes before halftime, Tommy Doyle doubled our advantage by scoring a free-kick, to make it 2-0 at the break. 
With the score in Leyton Orient’s match at 1 apiece at halftime, we were set to be promoted, if the results in both matches stayed as it stood. 

Our victory was never in doubt, once Jordan Cox scored in the 50th minute to make it 3-0. 
It all seemed futile though just after the 60th minute, as news came through that Leyton Orient had scored twice in 5 minutes to give them a cushion of a 2 goal lead. Carlisle United pulled one goal back in the 75th minute to make it 3-1. And we began to get to get our hopes up again, when Lee Molyneux scored for Swindon Town in the 81st minute, to make it 3-2. Those hopes were dashed in injury time, around the same time Mason Bloomfield scored to make it 4-1 to us, when Leyton Orient also scored, to seal all 3 points. It was too late for Swindon to make a comeback, by the time Terrell Thomas, their centre half scored in the 5th minute of injury time, to make it 4-3.
And that was that, Leyton Orient go up automatically, while we have to settle for 4th place and a spot in the League Two playoffs. 
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Elsewhere on the final day, Wrexham won the League Two title, after Crewe, who had been top for the majority of the season, drew 2-2 away to Ebbsfleet United. 
At the other end of the table, Southend United suffered their 2nd consecutive relegation and drop down into the National League. Blackpool will join them there too, after finishing 24th in League Two.
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Coventry City will be our opponent in the Playoff Semi-Final, as they finished the season in 7th place, ahead of Notts County on goal difference. Of all the possible teams to play, Coventry City is the worst for us, as they’ve beaten us home and away, in the 2 times we’ve played them this season. 

In the other Playoff Semi-Final, 5th and 6th placed Lincoln City and Barnet, will play one another. 
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Tommy Doyle, on loan to us from Manchester City, won Young Player of the Month for April 2022, after scoring 3 goals in the 6 matches in April. The 20 year-old had a terrific end to the season, and hopefully he’ll continue his rich vein of form, in the Playoff Semi-Final matches against Coventry City. 
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Playoff Semi-Finals

Leg 1
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Twenty days after Easter Monday, when we threw away a 2-0 halftime lead in Home Park, we gain some revenge, by coming back from 2 down against Coventry City. In the 1st leg of Playoff Semi-Final, played at the Ricoh Arena, we were 2 down after 35 minutes, with both goals scored by the young Coventry City Centre-forward, Jack Burroughs. It was a dreadful start to the match for us, but we got a lifeline 5 minutes before halftime, when their central midfielder Andy Rinomhota bundled the ball into his own net, while trying to defend a corner. His mistake meant we went in at the halftime break only a goal behind, after a bad start to the match. 
In the 2nd half, 20 minutes from the end our equaliser came from an unlikely source, when our Centre-half Alex Whitmore scored his 1st ever goal for Plymouth Argyle. It was a strike that a Centre-forward would have been proud of, as he bent the ball around their keeper, with his favoured right foot, in at the far post corner. 
The goal completed a comeback that puts us in the driving seat, giving us great confidence and momentum, going into the 2nd leg, that we can make it to Wembley!!!  

Leg 2
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It was almost a full house in Home Park, as a crowd of 16,565 turned out to watch us defeat Coventry City 3-1, which means we are going to Wembley!!! 
The ball was in the Coventry City net as early as the 2nd minute, when Mason Bloomfield headed in a cross by Jamie Proctor, but unfortunately it was ruled out, as Bloomfield was judged to have been offside.
Instead, we went 1-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the 25th minute, when Jamie Proctor was fouled, while jumping for a cross, by Coventry’s young Greek Centre-half, Pavlos Athanasakos. Tommy Doyle stepped up and rolled it into the corner of the net, for his 12th goal of the season. 
Just as the 3rd official was getting ready to indicate the amount of stoppage time, that was to be added to the end of the 1st half, Nyaupembe gave us a 2 goal lead, when he struck a half volley at the far post. 
It’s his 1st goal for Plymouth Argyle, since his move from League One Bury, back in late January, and he timed it to perfection!    

In the 2nd half, Jamie Proctor made our progress to Wembley almost certain in the 77th minute, when he looped a header, back where it came from, and in at the far post. Coventry City got one back in injury time through Luke Thomas, but there was to be no comeback from them tonight, as we march on to the Playoff Final!!!
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Our opponents in the League Two Playoff Final will be Barnet, after they beat Lincoln City on a 3-1 aggregate in the other Semi-Final. It’ll almost feel like a home game for Barnet, with their ground The Hive, only a 20 minute drive away from Wembley. 

Liam Nolan is certain to start the final, now that Tom Purrington has been ruled out. Purrington had been on a course of injections to get him through the 2 previous games against Coventry City, but that won’t do this time around.
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Plymouth Argyle have won against Barnet on all previous 4 occasions they’ve met, including the two times we’ve met this season. My head to head record against their Manager is also excellent. Ronnie Moore has never won in any of the 4 times he’s faced a team managed by me. When I was managing Newport County, we faced each other in the dugout twice, while he lost both home and away matches to Plymouth Argyle this season. All of this is a good omen for the upcoming League Two Playoff Final!
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Posted (edited)

The 2022 League Two Playoff Final

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After a an absence of 2 seasons, Plymouth Argyle are back in League One! A 2nd half hat-trick by our big number 9 Jamie Proctor, helped us win this League Two Playoff final, quite comfortably, 4-0 in the end. After an even enough 1st half, where both teams threatened to score, the sides went in at the break at 0-0. 

Three minutes into the 2nd half, Proctor broke the deadlock by finishing low to the bottom corner, after being put through on goal, by a superb ball played over the top of the Barnet defence, from our left wing-back Dan Butler. Just after the hour mark, Proctor scored again in almost an identical manner. Mason Bloomfield picked up the ball on the left wing, then cut inside onto his favoured right foot, and played a superb ball over the top of the Barnet defence, for Proctor to finish like the first goal, low into the bottom corner. At 2-0 down, Barnet began to stream men forward hoping for a goal to get back in this final. That left a lot of space behind their defence, which Bloomfield exploited perfectly for our 3rd goal, a devastating counter attack involving sub Jordan Cox, gave Bloomfield the opportunity to kill the game. 
Jamie Proctor made sure he was awarded the match ball, when he nodded in a cross by sub Cameron Pring, from point blank range. It capped a superb performance by Proctor, on a great day for Plymouth Argyle, and hopefully this is just the beginning of some more big days in Wembley Stadium!!!  
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After securing promotion to next season’s League One, praise reigned in from former players, fans, and the Plymouth Argyle board. I Immediately requested to study for a Continental license, but it was rejected on the grounds that they’ll need me in training. Has it not dawned on them that the season is finished?
Anyway, I’ll try request it again over the course of the upcoming off season. 
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At Plymouth Argyle’s End of Season Awards, Jamie Proctor won the Fan’s Player of the Season. Proctor scored 21 goals for Plymouth Argyle this season, and his heroics in the Playoff final were nothing short of superb. Tommy Doyle came 2nd in the fan’s vote, but did pick up the Young Player of the Year, after the central midfielder scored 12 goal for us, while on loan from Manchester City. One of those goals was against Leyton Orient on the 5th of March, and that 28 yard strike was voted as Plymouth’s Goal of the Season. Hopefully, they’ll agree to loan us him for another season. Jordan Cox won Signing of the Season, after he scored 4 goals, and provided 6 assists in 21 starts this season. 
It’s been a successful season overall, although I’m still disappointed we didn’t win the title and had to settle for the playoffs, but as they say, you can’t win ‘em all!

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Our front two won the individual honours. Our big number 9 won League Two Player of the Year, for his performances in the 35 games he played this season, while our number 10 won the League Two Top Goalscorer Award, for his 25 league goals this season!
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Edited by mylescattle

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The 2021/2022 Season

English Football

Manchester United lifted their 1st title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, by finishing 7 points ahead of Manchester City in the 2022 race for the Premier League. It’s a 1st title for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, since he joined the club as Manager in the Summer of 2016.  Liverpool finished in 3rd place, 10 points off the top of the table, while Chelsea pipped Tottenham Hotspurs to the the last Champions League place. Brighton and Hove Albion will play European football next season, after surprisingly finishing in 6th place in the Premier League table.  
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At the other end of the table, Norwich and Watford were relegated to the Championship, while Leicester were also relegated, only 6 seasons after being crowned Champions in 2016. 

 

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It has been a good season for Mourinho and Manchester United, after they completed a double, by beating Everton in the FA Cup Final at Wembley. It was the 2nd Cup final defeat this season for Everton, since they also lost the League Cup Final to rivals Liverpool, earlier in the season. 

 

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After getting relegated last season, Newcastle United will bounce straight back into the Premier League next season, after winning the Championship title, ahead of 2nd placed West Bromwich Albion. 
Ipswich Town will also be playing top flight football next season, after they beat Stoke City in the Championship Playoff in Wembley. Ipswich Town’s last season in the Premier League was the 2001/02 season, so they’ve had an absence of top flight football for about 20 years. It’s a remarkable achievement for the club, especially after narrowly avoiding relegation from the Championship last season. 

At the bottom end of the Championship table, Bradford City went straight back down to League One, after finishing last in the table. Bristol City and Reading will join them in next season’s League One, after narrowly finishing a point behind QPR in the table. It’s the 2nd relegation for Bristol City in 3 seasons, after their promotion to the Premier League in 2019.
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After spending 2 seasons in League One, Bolton went up as Champions, finishing a massive 17 points clear of Sheffield Wednesday in 2nd spot. AFC Wimbledon will also play in next seasons Championship, after they won their playoff final against Bristol Rovers. 

Rochdale, Colchester United and Bury, were all sent straight down to League Two, after spending just a single season in League One. Doncaster Rovers will join them in League Two next season, after they finished 23rd in the League One table. 
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Last year’s National League runners-up, Chesterfield collected a massive 114 points, on the way to their return to The Football League. Crawley Town, who finished the season in 3rd place in the National League, were also promoted up to The Football League, via the playoffs. 

At the bottom end of the National League table this season, Boreham Wood, AFC Telford, Harrogate, and Oxford City, were all relegated to the 6th tier of English football. 
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Solihull Moors won the 2022 National League North, while 3rd placed Boston United, were also promoted to the National League, after winning the playoff final. In the National League South, Eastleigh won the title, while 2nd placed Torquay United, went up via the playoffs. 

Bradford Park Avenue, Gloucester, and Halesowen, were all relegated from the National League North in 2022, while Chippenham, Bognor Regis, and Gosport were sent down from the National League South. 

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European Club Competitions

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Despite having another disappointing season in the Premier League, where they finished 9th for the 2nd consecutive season, Arsenal beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in Brussels, to qualify for next season's Champions League. It’s Arsenals 1st European trophy since 1970, but there’s been a lot of upheaval at the Emirates in the post Arsene Wenger era. Just after last Christmas, former player Fredrik Ljungberg, stepped into the manager’s role as caretaker boss until the end of the season, and guided the Gunners to their 1st European trophy in 42 years. Ljungberg filled in temporarily, after Didier Deschamps was sacked, after nearly a year at the helm. After this season ended, the Arsenal board announced Thomas Tuchel as their new permanent manager. The 48 year-old German joins Arsenal, after spending 4 seasons as Manager of Paris Saint-Germain. 

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Manchester City won their 2nd Champions League in 3 seasons, when they beat Barcelona 1-0, in a final played in Barcelona’s home ground, Camp Nou. It’s the 2nd Champions League trophy that Massimiliano Allegri has won with Manchester City, since his appointment as boss back in May, 2019. 

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Summer 2022

 

Transfers In

Ahead of the new League One season, I decided to bring in 7 new signings to the club…

 

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The 1st of these is midfielder Charlie Wakefield, signed from Bradford City for a fee of 115K. He is an attacking midfielder, who can do a job for me on both the right wing and in central midfield. His main strengths are his crossing and passing ability, who likes to switch play to the opposite flank. Bradford City only signed him last January from Chesterfield, for a fee of 375k, and he went on to make only 9 appearances in last season’s Championship. I hope he can replace the loss of Tommy Doyle, who won’t be with us next season, as Manchester City have refused to extend his loan deal for another season. 

 

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Our 2nd addition in the Summer 2022 transfer window is Goalkeeper Thomas McGill. He spent last season on loan, playing League Two football for Yeovil Town, and when Brighton, his parent club, decided against offering him a new deal, we snapped him up on a free. He’ll slot into the squad as our No.1 ‘keeper because Andrew Fisher has refused to extend his deal beyond June 2022. 

 

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Nathan McGinley joins Plymouth Argyle on a free transfer, after spending 5 seasons in League Two playing for Forest Green. He is a left footed defender, who can play Centre-half, left Full-Back, and can even do a job for us at left Wing-Back. Although he won’t start the season as 1st choice starter, his versatility should see him be useful over the course of a long League One season. 

 

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Our 4th addition to the 1st team squad this Summer is midfielder Tristan Nydam. He joins on free transfer from Ipswich Town, after spending the end of last season on loan, playing for Sutton United in League Two. The 22-year old, who can play in central midfield and also on the left side of midfield, is a physically strong fit footballer with a high work rate. 

 

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Flynn Downes also joins us on a free transfer from Ipswich Town. The 23-year old spent last season on loan to Chesterfield, and helped them win the National League title with ease. Downes is an aggressive, brave, fit midfielder, and I’m hoping he is the defensive midfielder I’ve been looking for since joining Plymouth Argyle. 

 

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Sam Howes, the 24 year-old ‘keeper, joins us from Bristol Rovers for a fee of 6.75K. He’ll provide cover should our No.1 ‘keeper McGill be unavailable throughout the upcoming season. 

 

Our 7th signing of the Summer is Centre-half Matthew Platt. He joins us from Billericay Town for 60K, after making 71 appearances for them in the National League. Platt is a physically strong imposing Centre-half, who is aggressive and brave, and he’ll provide good cover should our Captain, Sam Lavelle be unavailable.

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Transfers Out

Two players have left the club during the Summer transfer window...

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Goalkeeper James Beard was sold to QPR for an initial fee of 235K, that may rise tom 400K. The 19 year-old, who only joined us last season on a free from Liverpool, spent all last season playing National League football for Grimsby Town, and so never made an appearance for our 1st team. There was a lot of interest in the young keeper this Summer, but it was QPR who made the highest bid. It’ll be interesting to see how fares at the Championship club, and I’ll be keeping an eye on him. Overall, we’ve made a sizeable profit on a player we got for nothing only last Summer. 

 

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Jordan Cox was the other player to leave Plymouth Argyle this Summer, after Rotherham United agreed a fee with us worth 180K. I was a little hesitant when accepting this bid, as Rotherham United are in the same division as us, but I countered that with the arrival of Charlie Wakefield. It’s a risk that hopefully won’t come back to haunt me. 

Squad

After the Summer transfer window has closed, the squad looks like this... 

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Season Preview

 

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The expectations set by the board have been announced. I’m expected to avoid relegation from League One, and I’m quietly confident we can achieve that and possibly more. 

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The draw for the 1st Round of the League Cup was made. We’ll play Championship side Brentford away from home on the 10th of August 2022. 

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The pre-season odds have us at 85-1, predicted to finish in 17th position, with a 9-2 chance of being relegated. 

 

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We had decent results in the Pre-Season friendlies, with 4 wins, 2 defeats, and a draw. 

Our Captain, Sam Lavelle will miss the start of the season, after he damaged his knee cap in training

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We kick-off the season on the 30th of July, with a match against last years League Two Champions, Wrexham. Then we travel up to the North-West to take on Wigan in the DW Stadium, before hosting Rotherham United in Home Park on the 6th of August. After that, we travel to West London to take on Brentford in the 1st Round of the League Cup. The following Saturday, we face Reading at the Majewski Stadium, before travelling to Ashton Gate to take on Bristol City on the 16th of August. We finish the month of August with 2 consecutive matches at Home Park. Oxford United visit on the 20th of August, and then a week later, Bristol Rovers visit Home Park. We’ve 4 matches at home and 4 matches away, and I’m hopful my new signings can settle quickly to provide a platform for a successful season.

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Start of 2022/23 Season

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30th of July 2022
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We kicked off the season by losing 2-1 at home to last season’s League Two Champions Wrexham. After the sides went in at halftime level at 0-0, their right winger, Tobias Hayles-Docherthy put them 1-0 up, only 4 minutes into the 2nd half. Wrexham seemed to have wrapped up the 3 points in the 81st minute, when substitute Ben Hinchcliffe nodded in a cross at the far post. Fejiri Okenabirhie pulled a goal back for us in the 87th minute but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation. 
It’s a bad start against a side I was hopeful of beating. 

 

 

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We’ve been drawn in a Checkatrade Trophy group alongside Chelsea U-23’s, Northampton Town, and Wycombe Wanderers. The board expects us to qualify for knock-out phase, so it’s important that we get off to a good start when we face Wycombe at Adams Park on the 30th of August. 

 

 

3rd of August 2022
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In my 200 game in management, two equalising goals by Mason Bloomfield was enough to earn us a point at the DW Stadium against Wigan. After about a quarter of an hour, Jordan Holsgrove dispatched a free-kick to the net, to put Wigan 1 up. Mason Bloomfield scored his 1st goal of the season in the 24th minute, when he nodded in a cross from the right by wing-back Nyaupembe. Four minutes later, Wigan went back in front, when Zeli Ismail nodded in a cross from their left full-back, Matty Foulds. 
Nyaupembe was again the provider in the 82nd minute, when Bloomfield nodded in his 2nd goal to level the scores late on. We hung onto to the draw for the remaining 8 minutes of the match, to insure we pocketed our very 1st point of the season. 
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6th of August 2022
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Three days after earning a point at the DW Stadium, we bag our 1st win of the season, when Rotherham United visited Home Park. Two goals in 3 minutes in the 1st half, both from direct free-kicks, set us on the way to victory. The 1st goal came in the 17th minute, when Cameron Pring shot to the top corner from the edge of the box. Jimmy Ryan doubled our lead in the 19th minute, with a curling dipping free-kick from distance, leaving us 2-0 up at half-time.
Kyle Vassell pulled a goal back for Rotherham United in the 73rd minute. We responded almost immediately, when Mason Bloomfield was fouled inside the box, Proctor stepped up to the spot to score his 1st of the season and seal the win. Four points from the opening 3 matches isn’t a bad start for a newly promoted club, and hopefully we can build on this.

 

 

 

10th of August 2022
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Just before half-time, Jack Clarke scored his 1st goal for Brentford since his loan move from Leeds United. It was a decisive moment in the match, which means we exit the League Cup in the 1st Round.  

 

 

 

13th of August 2022
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We picked up our 7th point of the season, by beating recently relegated Reading, 2-1 at the Majewski Stadium. Reading took the lead after 10 minutes, when their 19 year-old centre-forward, Bryan Barton dispatched a direct free-kick, with his favoured left foot. Five minutes later, Bloomfield equalised for us, after a delightful through ball by Charlie Wakefield. 
Ten minutes from full-time, Bloomfield scored his 2nd goal, after Charlie Wakefield hit another sumptuous pass over the top. 
This is our 2nd victory of the season so far, and we seemed to have settled well into League One football.

 

 

 

16th of August 2022
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Nineteen year-old Jack Robinson, on loan from Everton, scored a 77th minute winner at Ashton Gate. It’s our third defeat of the season, but it was another good performance away from home, against a club only recently relegated from the Championship. 

 

 

 

20th of August 2022
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Four days after losing in Ashton Gate, we drew 1-1 at Home Park against Oxford United. Michael Obafemi seemed to have given Oxford an early lead after 6 minutes, when he nodded in a cross, but he was adjudged to have been offside. Instead, it was ourselves who got the 1st goal of the match, when Jamie Proctor scored from the penalty spot, after Mason Bloomfield was fouled attempting to attack a corner. 
Oxford United equalised about halfway through the 2nd half, when their right full-back, Liam Shephard nodded in a free-kick delivery from out wide. This draw means we’ve now got 8 points chalked on the board after 6 matches. 

 

 

 

27th of August 2022
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We had our 2nd consecutive drawn match, when Bristol Rovers visited Home Park. We went 1-0 up after 31 minutes through Jamie Proctor, after great play on the left flank by Mason Bloomfield. 
Five minutes after the restart of the 2nd half, 21 year-old left winger Jack Stretton got his head on a cross from the right to equalise for Bristol Rovers. After about 66 minutes, Mason Bloomfield found the back of the net, but was adjudged to have been offside. 
Looking at the league table, we find ourselves in 12th place, with 9 points after 7 matches. 
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30th of August 2022
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Sam Howes made his 1st start between the sticks for Plymouth Argyle, as Wycombe Wanderers beat us 2-1, in the 1st round of group matches in the Checkatrade Trophy. We thought we had gone 1-0 up after 5 minutes, when Bloomfield rebounded in the ball, after it had crashed off the crossbar. Unfortunately, it was ruled out for offside, and the scores still stayed at 0-0. Instead, it was Wycombe who took the lead, after Joe Quigley fouled his man defending a corner, when 19 year-old Ben Widdowson dispatched the spot kick past Howes in goal. 
Wycome Wanderers doubled their lead in the 61st minute, when the young Irish attacking midfielder, Shane Kelly finished from just outside the box. In the 70th minute, Jimmy Ryan pulled a goal back for us, with a curling free-kick that clip the underside of the bar before going in. It proved to little more than a consolation goal, as Wycombe held on to the victory. 
It’s a bad start to the group for us, and it makes our next game in this competition, against Chelsea U-23’s in October, very important. 
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Four defeats, three draws, and two victories, has left us mid-table, and it isn’t a bad start for a newly promoted club.

In September, we face Daryl McMahons Walsall away on the 3rd, before facing Northampton away, a week later. On the 14th of September, we host Rochdale at Home Park, and then we’re at home again on the 17th, with Tim Sherwoods Mansfield Town visiting. On the 24th of September, I’ll be returning to Rodney Parade and Newport County, for the 1st time since leaving them to join Plymouth Argyle in May 2021. On Tuesday the 27th, we complete Septembers fixtures by hosting local rivals Exeter City in the West Country Derby!
Hopefully, in September, we can add some more points, to the 9 points we picked up in August. 
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September 2022

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3rd of September 2022
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We drew yet another league game, when we travelled to take on Walsall in Bank’s Stadium, where it finished 1 apiece. Shortly before the half hour mark, Bloomfield nodded us in front, when he connected with a long throw into the oppositions penalty by Zak Mills. 
In the 2nd half, with just under 20 minutes left to play, 17 year-old attacking midfielder, Ricky Peters curled a free-kick into the top corner to equalise for Walsall. 
It’s the 3rd consecutive drawn match for us in the league, which leaves us in 10th place, on 10 points after 8 games played.  
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10th of September 2022
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We picked up our 11th point of the season, when we played out a dull 0-0 with Northampton Town at the PTS Academy Stadium. In a match of very few clear chances for both sides, we only managed to have possession for 33% of the match, but still managed to keep Northampton out. It’s another point on the road, although the fact that we’ve not won in 5 games, is starting to worry me. 
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14th of September 2022
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On a Wednesday night at Home Park, we eked out a 1-0 win against Rochdale. Young Canadian International, Cameron Sangster was the hero of the night in the 77th minute, when he reacted quickest as soon as he saw Mason Bloomfields header crash off the bar. It was his 1st goal for the club since scoring against Southend United in August of last season, but it could be crucial come the end of this season.
We picked up 6 yellow cards over the full 90 minutes, and were handed a fine of £2,500 after the match. I don’t mind though, because this win means we’ve now collected 14 points from our first 10 matches. 
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17th of September 2022
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Mansfield Town were 2 up at half-time, but a stirring 2nd half comeback from us, means we’ve now 17 points on the board after 11 matches. Tim Sherwoods side struck twice within the 1st half hour, with both goals coming their left winger CJ Hamilton. 
We were staring defeat straight in the face at half-time, so I decided to give the dressing room a bit of the aggressive verbals. It worked a treat, as within 5 minutes of the restart, Jamie Proctor headed in a Mason Bloomfield cross, ahead of the onrushing Mansfield ‘keeper. Around the hour mark of the match, Mason Bloomfield nodded in at the far post to make it 2-2, after good work down the right by wing-back Nyaupembe. Home Park erupted in the 82nd minute, when Bloomfield headed in another Nyaupembe cross to score his 2nd goal, and complete a great comeback!
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24th of September 2022
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About 16 months after leaving Rodney Parade, I received a warm welcome from the home fans as I took my seat in the opposition dugout. It turned into a comfortable victory for us in the end, with all of our 3 goals arriving in a 4 minute blitz just after the 2nd half started. Our 1st goal arrived in the 47th minute, and was credited as an own goal, when Jordan Flores deflected a Jamie Proctor shot past his own ‘keeper. Two minutes later, we went 2 up, when Bloomfield got on the end of a Nyaupembe cross from the right. Bloomfield was the provider for our 3rd goal, which arrived in the 51st minute, by playing a great ball into the path of Jamie Proctor, who lashed his shot to the top corner. It was all over after that treble goal blitz, and it was just a matter of seeing it out until the final whistle. 
Only 2 players, from my time with Newport, started the match. They are Josh Sheehan and Harry Lennon, while my former captain, Mark O’Brien made an appearance from the bench. Daniel Farke’s Newport currently sit in the relegation zone, with 11 points from their opening 11 games. In contrast, we’ve moved up to sixth place in the League One table, after amassing 20 points from our first 12 games. We’re on a good run of form now and haven’t been beaten in 7 league matches, with Exeter City at Home Park next, in the West Country Derby!
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The day before the West Country Derby, I extended my contract by another 12 months, which means my new deal will expire at the end of June 2024. We’ve made such a strong start to the season, it was a no-brainer to ask for an extension. As part of the negotiations, the wage and transfer budget has been slightly increased, should I decide to sign anyone in January. 

 

 

 

 

27th of September 2022
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Home Park was a full house, as fans flocked to see the 1st West Country Derby in 3 seasons. Unfortunately we weren’t able to send them home happy, as Exeter City won 2-0 in the end. 
Their 1st goal arrived in the 2nd half, just after the hour mark, when their young 18 year-old centre-forward, Archie Hannah, on loan from Derby, turned in a cross from the left at the far post. We attacked for an equaliser, and came close a few times, but Scott Orr fired in a free-kick in the 3rd minute of added time, to seal the win for the visiting arch rivals. It was his 1st goal for Exeter City since joining them on loan from West Brom. 
Losing at Home Park to our arch rivals is a bad way to end our unbeaten run. 
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September 2022 has been good to me. Three wins, and two draws, means we picked up 11 points from a possible 18, leaving us 8th place in the table. If it wasn’t for the loss to Exeter City in the West Country Derby, we would’ve gone the whole month unbeaten. 
October begins with a trip to Manchester on the 1st, to take on 4th place Salford City. The Tuesday night after that, we are fighting to stay in the Checkatrade Trophy, when we face Chelsea U-23s at Home Park. On Saturday the 8th, we play Crewe away for the 1st time this season, before hosting Bradford City at Home Park, a week later. The following Tuesday night, we travel to East London, to take on the 11th placed Leyton Orient. On the 22nd of October, we are due to play our final match of the month, when Charlton Athletic travel to Home Park. 
Hopefully, we can build on our good start to the season in October.
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October 2022

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1st of October 2022
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October begins with a 2-0 defeat away to Salford City. A former player of mine at Newport County, Matt Dolan put Salford ahead 5 minutes after the half-time break ended, from the penalty spot, after our Centre-half, Alex Whitmore had pushed Bobby Duncan in the box. Substitute Mamadou Thiam wrapped up the 3 points for the home side in the 88th minute, only 9 minutes after coming on, when he finished off a pull-back from the byline by Bobby Duncan. 
Salford played a 4-5-1 formation, and we found it difficult to get anything going in an attacking sense, only managing a single shot on target, throughout the entire 90 minutes. 
This is our 2nd consecutive defeat in League One, which means we’ve dropped down to 10th place, with 20 points after 14 matches played.
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4th of October 2022
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After this match finished scoreless in the 90 minutes, our Goalkeeper Thomas McGill, was the hero of the night, when he saved 3 penalties in the shoot-out. The penalty shoot-out win means we picked up the extra point, and now have 2 points chalked on the board, heading into the final round of group matches next month. Our final match is against Northampton Town away from home, and we now know we’ll need to beat them in the full 90 minutes, to have any chance of progressing to the knockout phase. 
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8th of October 2022
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We went a goal down early in this match, but managed to recover and win 2-1. Crewe went ahead after 12 minutes, when their 19 year-old Centre-forward, Chris Todd struck a low shot to the corner of the net, from just outside the box. Man of the match, Charlie Wakefield scored the equaliser after 35 minutes. We had a free-kick, just outside our box, which Nydam played short to Wakefield. He then played a one-two with Nydam, before lashing the ball to the net from the edge of the box. It was a beautifully worked move to bring us level. Just before half-time we went ahead, when Proctor nodded in a corner, at the near-post, delivered by Nydam. 
In the 2nd half, there were no further goals, as we seen out an away victory, that gives us our 23rd point of the season. It moves us back up to 8th in the League One table, 9 points clear of the relegation zone. 
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15th of October 2022
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The 34 year old Bradford City Goalkeeper, Richard O’Donnell was Man of the Match in Home Park, as we couldn’t find a way past him. Bradford City never managed a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes, but O’Donnells performance at the other end, insured they kept a clean sheet, to earn a point.
This frustrating scoreless draw, means we’ve now collected 24 points from 16 matches.
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17th of October 2022
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Local media are reporting that a bid from a “local investor” has been made to Plymouth Argyle Chairman, Simon Hallett. 

In other news, we’ve been drawn away to Morecambe in the 1st Round Draw for the FA Cup. With Morecambe struggling in 21st place in League Two, it’s a relatively soft draw for us. 
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18th of October 2022
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Leyton Orient snatched a late win in the 4th minute of added time, when 24 year-old Irish man, Josh Barrett struck a free-kick from a long way out from goal.
 Earlier in the match, Mason Bloomfield put us 1 up in the 11th minute, with a half-volley struck from 25 yards out. Twenty minutes later, the home side equalised, when young 17 year-old midfielder, Ben MacDonald thumped in a left-footed shot from about 25 yards out.
It looked as if we had done enough to earn a point from the match, until late Josh Barrett struck.  
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22nd of October 2022
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Four days after losing to a late goal, it was our turn to snatch a late win, when Fejiri Okenabirhie scored in the 4th minute of added time, to give us a 1-0 victory against Charlton Athletic in Home Park. It was Okenabirhie’s 1st goal since, scoring in a 2-1 defeat to Wrexham, on the opening day of the season. 
A few minutes before the winning goal, we were reduced to 10 men, when Flynn Downes twisted his ankle and I had already brought on the 3 subs. Charlton were on the attack, when Okenabirhie raced onto a long punt upfield by Nathan McGinley to score. We have 27 points from 18 matches now, and comfortably in the top half of the League One table. 
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29th of October 2022
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Although we didn’t play on the last Saturday of October, there were 6 matches in League One for the clubs that had a game in hand. Our arch rivals, Exeter City stretched their lead at the top to 5 points, by beating Leyton Orient 2-1 away. In the other matches of the day in League One, 3 of them were draws, while there were wins for Rotherham United and Mansfield Town. 
We still sit in 8th place in the League One table, 5 points behind the playoff places, and 10 points clear of the relegation zone.  
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World Cup 2022 Preview

Next month, the World Cup 2022 kicks off in Qatar, on the 21st of November. Thirty two Nations will compete to be crowned World Champion. 
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England and Wales are going. Ryan Giggs will lead Wales into the tournament, where they’ll face holders France, Morocco, and South Korea in their group. 
Sean Dyches England will begin the tournament on the 23rd of November, when they face Jamaica. Four days later, they’ll face South Korea in their 2nd match of the tournament. And their final match of the group, takes place on the 1st of December, when they face Belgium.
Dyche will know he’ll be expected to progress beyond the group, so the pressure is on, as England once again expects.  
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We picked up 7 points from a possible 15 in October, and it leaves us lurking just outside the play-off places in 8th. 
For November, we’ve only 4 fixtures scheduled, but could have 5, if we progress beyond the 1st Round of the FA Cup. We face Morecambe away in the 1st Round, in a tie I’m expecting to win. Only 2 nights after that, we’ll face Northampton Town, knowing nothing less than a win will do, to progress to the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy. We have a gap of 11 days, before  we return to League One football on the 19th, when we face Peterborough United away. Three nights after that, we face Luton Town in Home Park in our 1st home since playing Charlton. 
In the next update, I’ll be keeping you in the know on all the news in Devon, while keeping an eye on how Sean Dyche gets on in the Qatar World Cup. 
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Posted (edited)

November 2022
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World Cup Squads Announced

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All of the squads have been announced for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. Mason Bloomfield was the only Plymouth Argyle player to be called up, when he was included in Jamaica’s 23 man squad. He’ll head off on International duty on the 9th of November and will be missing for at least the rest of November for us. It’s a big blow as he’s our topscorer again this season, but it’ll be good to see one of our players represent their country on the World stage. 

Bloomfield could feature when Jamaica take on Sean Dyche’s England in their  1st game of the tournament. Dyche has also named his 23-man squad ahead of the Qatar World Cup.    
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5th of November 2022
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 Only a few days after he was included in the Jamaica squad, Mason Bloomfield extended his contract until 2024. It's a reward for the 9 goals he scored so far this season. Seven other important players have been rewarded with contract extensions. They are our Captain, Sam Lavelle, Ryan Sweeney, Flynn Downes, Tristan Nydam, Thomas McGill, Charlie Wakefield, and Cameron Pring.
My Director of Football also offered our right wing-back, Nyaupembe, a new contract but he rejected it. Nyaupembe has been outstanding this season, providing 6 assists in his 14 appearances, and it’s a real worry that himself and the club couldn’t come to an agreement. Hopefully, he’ll agree when negotiations resume next month.    

 

 

 

6th of November 2022
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Our big Number 9, Jamie Proctor scored both goals, as we beat Morecambe 2-0 at Globe Arena, to enter the draw for the 2nd Round of the FA Cup. His 1st goal came after 18 minutes, when he headed in a cross to the near post, from the right by Nyaupembe. 
He added his 2nd goal in the 58th minute, when he nodded in a corner taken by Cameron Pring, to seal the win. 
In the subsequent draw for the 2nd Round, we’ve been paired against Luton Town, the club that knocked us out in the 1st Round of last years FA Cup. We’ll take on Luton Town in Home Park on the 26th of November, only 4 days after playing them in a League One fixture. 
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8th of November 2022
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Twenty-four old Centre-forward, Michael Folivi struck the winner for Northampton Town in the 88th minute, to dump us out of the Checkatrade Trophy in the group stage.
It’s disappointing, as we were expected by the board to get beyond the group stage.
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11th of November 2022
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The board at Plymouth Argyle have put a transfer embargo in place, after entering talks with business man, Paul Scally. The former owner of a photocopier business in South London, is willing to wipe out the club’s debt, should he become Chairman. 

 

 

 

12th of November 2022
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We have no match this weekend, however there was 9 fixtures played in League One. Five of the matches ended drawn, while there were wins for Northampton Town, Newport County, Walsall, and Rotherham United. Looking at the table, it shows us that we’ve not changed our position, remaining in 8th place, 5 points behind 6th placed Oxford United with a game in hand. 
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16th of November 2022
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Our 2nd Round FA Cup tie against Luton Town, has been rescheduled for Sunday the 27th of November, for the purpose of live tv coverage. 

 

 

 

19th of November 2022 
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After a break without a match for 11 days, we lost 1-0 away to Peterborough United. Central-midfielder Alex Woodyard, got the only goal of the match, 5 minutes before the half-time break, when scored from close range, after getting on a flick on from an in-direct free-kick. It’s a defeat that sees us drop 2 places in the League One table to 10th, after 19 matches. 
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22nd of November 2022
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In the 1st of 2 consecutive home games against Luton Town, we ended up 2-0 winners. 
Our 1st goal came through the left peg of Jamie Proctor, with about 20 minutes left on the clock. 
His low shot from just outside the box, caught Marek Stech, the Luton goalkeeper, by surprise and snuck into the bottom corner. Twenty year-old Regen, Jack Rhodes-Hamilton, scored his 1st goal for Plymouth Argyle in the 78th minute, after being set up by a Nyaupembe cross from the right wing. It’s the 1st time in this save that a Regen has scored a goal for me, and hopefully there’ll be more to follow in the future.

The 3 points here moves us back up to 8th in the table, with 30 points from 20 matches, which means we’ve collected exactly 50% of all available points this season. Not bad going for a newly promoted club.  
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23rd of November 2022
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England narrowly beat Jamaica in their 1st match of the World Cup in Qatar. Sean Dyche’s men should have went ahead earlier than they did, as Harry Kane missed a penalty after 3 minutes. It didn’t matter however, as Eric Dier got the games only goal after 36 minutes. Our topscorer, Mason Bloomfield was an unused substitute for Jamaica in this match. 
In the groups other match, Belgium comfortably beat Paraguay 4-1. 
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27th of November 2022
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Despite having 25 shots on goal, England were unable to find a goal against Paraguay, in their 2nd match of the World Cup. However, they’re now top of the group heading into their final group match against Belgium, because the Belgians surprisingly lost 1-0 to Jamaica. This means a draw in the final match for England would be enough to qualify them for the Second Round Knock-Out stage.  
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Back in England, Tom Purrington was the hero in Home Park, with his 1st goal for Plymouth Argyle,  that saw off Luton Town 1-0 and enter the 3rd Round draw. Purringtons hit a pot-shot from just outside the box that went in with the help of the post in the 78th minute, and in the subsequent 3rd Round Draw for the Cup, we were drawn away from home against Championship side Portsmouth. That match will take place in Fratton Park on New Years Eve.  
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30th of November 2022
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There’s only 8 more matches left in the whole of the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar, and we already know 4 of the pairings for the Second Round Knock-Out Stage. 
 

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Review
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We disappointingly got knocked out of the Checkatrade Trophy this month, but we’ve made great progress in the FA Cup, and look forward to that 3rd Round test on New Years Eve.
We lost one away and won at Home Park, in the only 2 League One matches in November. 
And as we approach the halfway point of the season, we have 2nd placed Fleetwood away, and then 2 home matches in the space of 5 days, when Burton Albion and MK Dons visit Home Park. 
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Edited by mylescattle
mistakes made

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December 2022

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World Cup 2022
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Belgium went into the match against England needing a result to save their World Cup, but ended up getting obliterated by The Three Lions in the end, losing an astonishing 7-0. Dele Alli put England ahead after 34 minutes, and Belgium were 1 down at the halftime break. England scored 6 more goals in the 2nd half, as Belgium collapsed completely. 

It opened the door for Jamaica to qualify, for the Second Round of the World Cup for the 1st time, when they beat Paraguay 2-1, to finish 2nd in the group behind England. 
The 2020 European Championship winners, Wales exited the World Cup in the group stage too, when Giggsy and his team lost 5-3 to Morocco in their final group match.   

The group stage is completed now and we know the identity of the 16 Nations who qualified for the knock-out stages. England will play Switzerland in the 2nd Round, while Jamaica have a tough match against former holders Spain. The standout match of the Second Round is between two European rivals, as France and Italy meet in a repeat of the 2006 final.  
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3rd of December 2022
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Second placed Fleetwood were 1 down at halftime, but a 2nd half comeback, made sure they were able to narrow the gap on leaders Exeter City to 2 points. Cameron Pring gave us the lead in the 13th minute, when hit a fantastic half-volley into the top right corner of the net.
In the 2nd half, Fleetwood equalised shortly before the hour mark, when a Ben Whiteman shot crashed against the underside of the crossbar, 22 year-old Centre-forward, Aidan Barlow reacted quicker to the rebound than McGill to score. Fleetwoods winner came in the 83rd minute, when Ben Whiteman struck another shot from distance. This time the central-midfielder hit the net, to give the home side a late winner. Whiteman was awarded Man of the Match afterwards, and his goal must be a contender for goal of the month. 
As a result of this defeat we’re in 9th place now, 6 points off Oxford United in 6th place, with a game in hand coming in our next match. 
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World Cup 2022
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England progress onto play Mexico in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup, after scoring 3 unanswered goals in extra-time, to win 5-2 against Switzerland. Mexico qualified for the quarters after beating Morrocco 3-2 in the 2nd Round. 
In the other 2nd Round matches, Italy knocked the World Cup holders France out, by winning 2-0. Spain beat Jamaica 1-0, after extra-time, while Germany had to rely on penalties to beat Ivory Coast. They’ll meet Nigeria in the quarters, after the Nigerians 3-1 win against Australia. Rivals, Brazil and Argentina will meet in the quarters after they both won against Croatia and Uruguay. 
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6th of December 2022

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Plymouth Argyle Football Club have a brand new board in place, after it was confirmed that the takeover by Paul Scally has been completed. Scally, the former Gillingham Chairman, has pumped 1.2 Million into the finances of the club. I have had a meeting with Scally, where we agreed on retaining the clubs philosophy of direct passing football. 
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Later that day, we won 2-0 against a side managed by former Argyle Manager, Tony Pulis, under the watchful eye of new Chairman, Paul Scally. For the 2nd consecutive match, Cameron Pring opened the scoring for us early on, when he finished off a cross from the right by Nyaupembe, in the 5th minute. Only 3 minutes later we went 2-0 up, when again a Nyaupembe cross, set up Okenabirhie to score at the far post. 
This win means we’re move up to 7th in the table, with 33 points after 22 matches,
 3 points behind 6th placed Oxford United. 
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7th of December 2022
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A day after he was Man of the Match against Burton Albion, Nyaupembe couldn’t agree terms once again with my Director of Football, and rejected the new contract offer. There’s nothing else to do but keep trying as the season progresses, though it is a worry, as he only has 6 months left on his current deal.

 

 

10th of December 2022
World Cup 2022
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Sean Dyche has led England to a World Cup Semi-Final, after beating Mexico 3-0 in Qatar. Dele Alli, Harry Kane, and Raheem Sterling got the goals that sees England reach their 2nd consecutive World Cup Semi-Final. They’ll meet the Germans next, after Germany beat Nigeria in a penalty shoot-out. 
In the 2 other quarters, Argentina and Italy prevailed on penalties too, and they progress onto the other World Cup Semi-Final.  


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In Home Park, 2 late goals for MK Dons meant we had to settle for a point. Mason Bloomfield, who recently returned from the World Cup, was once again available for selection, but I kept faith with Okenabirhie, who ended up walking away with a hat-trick. His 1st goal put us ahead, after half an hour of play, when Cameron Pring picked him out with a beautiful ball, to beat the keeper at the near post. 

Twenty minutes into the 2nd half, their left winger Luke Thomas scored at the far post, after a good first time cross from their right by full-back George Williams. We responded immediately, when a Cameron Pring cross from the left, set up Okenabirhie to tap in at the far post, for his 2nd goal of the match. 
It looked as if we had sealed the win in the 77th minute, when Okenabirhie hit his 3rd goal, by latching onto a long booming kick by our Goalkeeper Thomas McGill, just after MK Dons had poured men forward for a free-kick. MK Dons wouldn’t go away however, and Brandon Thomas-Asante began their late comeback in the 84th minute, when he cut in onto his favoured left boot and fired to the net from distance. Three minutes later, Chuks Aneke got the equaling goal, when he reacted quicker to a rebound than McGill, who had done well initially to keep out a deflected cross from creeping in. 

The late collapse, meant we missed out on a chance to go level with 6th placed Oxford United, at the halfway point of our season. Still though, I can’t complain with 34 points and 7th place in the table.      
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I promoted this young 19 year-old Target Man, Chris Parkin, to the 1st team squad, after he came looking for more 1st team opportunities. My Head of Youth Development, Richard Meek signed him last Summer, after he left his hometown club of Nottingham Forest, on a free. The 6’3” Centre-forward is strong, fast, good in the air, and has a reasonably good 1st touch, so I feel he’s ready to make the step up. 

With Parkins promotion in mind, I’ve decided to demote Joe Quigley to 3rd choice Number 9. Quigley, who hasn’t scored a single goal for us this season, has been placed on the transfer list and sent to play in the U-23’s, until we can sort out a move away for him. 

 


11th of December 2022
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Unusually, there were 2 Sunday fixtures in League One. Northampton Town lost at home to Bradford City, while Oxford United beat Bristol City 3-0.  

 

 

World Cup 2022
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England beat Germany on penalties to reach the World Cup Final, for the 1st time since 1966. 

NB: I’ve just realised that the German National Team doesn’t have the real players in the squad. Sorry about that. I have downloaded a fix for it, but it doesn’t seem to work. Maybe in the next squad they’ll call up the real players. Fingers crossed. Does anyone know how to fix this, if the save has already begun?

 

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Argentina will play England in the World Cup Final, after winning their Semi-Final against Italy on penalties. The Final will take place in the Khalifa International Stadium on the 18th of December. 
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15th of December 2022
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I signed Adam Lewis on a free transfer. The 23 year-old former Liverpool player, who was released from Anfield in the 2022 Summer, becomes our highest paid player, earning 4,100 pound a week. A highly versatile left footed footballer, who can play wing-back, central midfield, and on the left side of midfield. I believe he’s a major coup for the club and hopefully he’ll be able to help us break into the top 6 in the league this season. Looking ahead to the January transfer window, I’ve decided to bring in no more permanent signings until Summer 2023. Perhaps, I’ll bring in one or two on loan, depending, but I’m restricting my permanent signings for the rest of this season.  

 

 

Review


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A draw, a defeat, and a loss from the last 3 matches. Four points from nine. I suppose it’s not too bad. It could and should have been better though, had it not been for the late collapse against MK Dons. Ah well.

We’ll play 5 matches over the Christmas and New Year. We travel to Wrexham on the 17th of December, looking to gain revenge for our loss on the opening day of the season. On Boxing Day, we host Wigan in Home Park. Our last match of 2022, is the much anticipated, FA Cup 3rd Round tie in Fratton Park against Portsmouth on New Years Eve. 
Our first match of 2023, takes place in Home Park on the 3rd of January, when we face rivals Bristol City. 
Then on the 7th, we travel up to Yorkshire, to take on bottom of the table, Rotherham. 


Maybe, we can continue on past the 3rd Round of the Cup, and break into the top 6 in the league? 
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