15th May 2015
JASON Banton and Dominic Blizzard are being released by Plymouth Argyle.
The midfielders, who both featured in Thursday’s Sky Bet League 2 play-off semi-final defeat at Wycombe, are among eight out-of-contract Pilgrims who are not being offered a new deal.
Four players whose current contract expires this summer – forwards Lewi Alessandra and Tyler Harvey, midfielder Anthony O’Connor, and goalkeeper James Bittner – are being offered new terms.
The club is taking up an option to extend the contracts of central defenders Aaron Bentley and Peter Hartley for a further season.
The Pilgrims released their Retain List for the 2015-16 season on Friday, less than 24 hours after their season came to an abrupt end one match short of Wembley.
Also being released are River Allen, Matt Lecointe, Marvin Morgan, Ollie Norburn and Jamie Richards.
First-team coach Paul Wotton is formally retiring from playing after making 491 appearances for his home-town club.
Nine players are already under contract for next season: Ryan Brunt, Lee Cox, Carl McHugh, Luke McCormick, Kelvin Mellor, Curtis Nelson, Ben Purrington, Reuben Reid and Deane Smalley.
Loan players Zak Ansah, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Gethin Jones and Bobby Reid have returned to their parent clubs.
Argyle chairman James Brent paid tribute to the players being released by the club.
He said: “On behalf of all Pilgrims, I’d like to thank the players who are leaving Home Park for the part they have played in the life of the club.
“Despite the disappointing end to the campaign, we have enjoyed our best season for a number of years – with more points and our highest league placing in a decade.
“They have all played their part in the club’s resurgence, and we are grateful for their contribution.
“We wish them every success in their future career.”
Banton, 22, who made 56 appearances for the Pilgrims in two spells, will be forever remembered by grateful Argyle supporters for helping the Pilgrims maintain their Football League status in 2012-13.
After joining on loan from Crystal Palace in February that season, he scored six goals in 14 games, including a vital winner in the home Devon Expressway Derby against Exeter City, to top the club’s scoring charts for the campaign. Those goals were worth eight points to Argyle in the ultimately successful survival struggle.
Following a loan spell the following season at MK Dons, he re-signed as a Pilgrim in January 2014, but never fully reproduced his previous excellent Home Park form during the following 18 months, with a succession of minor injuries impeding smooth progress.
He made 11 starts in the 2014-15 league campaign, with only four of those coming since September. His only goal of the season came in last Saturday’s first league of the Sky Bet League 2 play-off semi-final against Wycombe during a substitute appearance that showed tantalising glimpses of the Banton who first arrived at Home Park two and a half seasons earlier.
Blizzard, 31, came to Home Park in the summer of 2013 after helping Yeovil win promotion to the Championship for the first time in the Somerset club’s history and made 65 appearances in his two seasons with the club.
He scored twice – once in each of his two seasons at Home Park – with this season’s winner in a Sky televised game at Luton Town being a particularly memorable strike.
Although held back on occasions by injury, he was a key member of the first-team during his time at Home Park, playing a full part in this spring’s key wins over Tranmere and Shrewsbury which led to his final game on Thursday against Wycombe, the town of his birth.
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE RETAINED LIST 2015-16
Out of contract, offered new contract: Lewis Alessandra, James Bittner, Tyler Harvey, Anthony O’Connor.
Option to extend contract taken up by the club: Aaron Bentley, Peter Hartley.
Out of contract, released: River Allen, Jason Banton, Dominic Blizzard, Matt Lecointe, Marvin Morgan, Ollie Norburn, Jamie Richards, Paul Wotton (retired).
Loans expired: Zak Ansah, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Gethin Jones, Bobby Reid.
Under contract: Ryan Brunt, Lee Cox, Carl McHugh, Luke McCormick, Kelvin Mellor, Curtis Nelson, Ben Purrington, Reuben Reid, Deane Smalley.
Apprentices offered professional contract: Callum Hall, Louis Rooney.
Apprentices released: Andrew Hannah, Mason Hughes, Tom Moxham, Will Sargent.