First Footing

GOOD to be here and good to be back were the twin sentiments as Argyle kicked off their pre-season campaign with a comfortable 4-2 win over Elburton Villa at Haye Road.

Two goals from Ryan Brunt – the second a penalty – in between a header from captain Curtis Nelson and a fine solo effort from new forward Jake Jervis ensured new manager Derek Adams got off to a winning start against the South West Peninsula League side.

All of Derek’s summer imports started the mist-shrouded game. As well as Jake, midfielders Graham Carey, Gregg Wylde and Josh Simpson made their Pilgrims’ bow, with defender Gary Sawyer beginning his second stint at the club.

“It was obviously nice to get 90 minutes of football,” said Derek afterwards. “It was our ninth day of pre-season, so it’s very early and there are a lot of things to work on, but there was also some very good play at times, a lot of chances created, and the fitness levels looked good.

“The ones that were here before – the nucleus of the squad – and the new signings all combined well. It takes a wee bit of time to get an understanding and it will do over the coming weeks, but they’ll get there; they’ll get an understanding of how we want them to go and play. Tonight was about getting that first 90 minutes and getting those fitness levels.”

The match afforded Derek his first encounter with the Green Army, as around 1,000 Argyle fans refused to be put off by weather not even the Scottish Highlands generally serves up in mid July.

He said: “It wasn’t a great night from the point of view that the mist had come in and it started to rain but it was a great turn-out from the Argyle fans. There were many here and I’m delighted that they all came out on what was a miserable night.

“I had a very good welcome and I am delighted to be here, and delighted to see them. They are obviously anxious to see the players that were here last season and anxious to see the new signings.”

Two players not on view as 18 players came through the game unscathed were goalkeeper Luke McCormick and midfielder Lee Cox, but Derek is hoping they will be back in contention for Saturday’s visit to Southern League Bideford or Tuesday’s trip to Conference South Bath City.

“They have both got slight injuries,” said Derek. “They will be out for a period of time. Hopefully it’s not too long and they may be back for Saturday or Tuesday. 

“There are a few knocks and bruises, and few tired legs, but that is what you are going to get at the start of pre-season. They’ll be tired tomorrow morning but we’ll look after them and get them ready for Saturday.

“As we go, the standard will improve, but tonight I thought Elburton were very good. They were competitive; there was some good play from them at times. It was nice to come here and it was a good game.”