Forwards and Back

NOT only is 20-year-old left-back Ben Purrington enjoying his longest stretch of games in an Argyle shirt...

...but he is developing his game to adapt to manager Derek Adams’ demands. 

Ben made seven starts and nine substitute appearances in Adams’ first season as Argyle boss, but the promising full-back got his first true chance to impress the manager came from circumstances beyond his control. 

Regular left-back Gary Sawyer was injured at Blackpool at the end of August, with Ben his automatic replacement. Purrington has started every game since then, contributing three assists in a sensational run which has seen the Pilgrims surge to the top of the Sky Bet League Two table. 

“It’s been going well,” said Ben, “we’re on a good run. We haven’t lost many games, in the league. It’s unfortunate for Gary. It wasn’t nice that he got injured, but it has given me an opportunity to get in the team. Hopefully I can take it, and stay there. 

“It is my longest run, now, and it has been good to be in the team while we are winning. We’ve done well in the league this year. It’s not nice to come into a losing team – you just think ‘I’ll be straight out next week.’

“As the only left-back in the squad it’s good to know you will probably be starting, although you don’t take anything for granted. I’ve got to be playing well, especially for when Gary Sawyer is back. 

“The new players that came in probably thought I was just a young, back-up left-back. Now that I’ve played, hopefully they realise I’ve played a few games now, and am a bit more experienced than they first thought.”

Argyle’s 4-2-3-1 system  demands that full-backs get high up the field and join in with attacks, and with the defensive cover brought by the holding midfield players, that means Ben and his fellow full-back – typically Gary Miller – can press high up the field and influence the play. 

“The way the gaffer plays, you’ve got to be able to get up and down,” said Ben, “because if the opposite full-back is up and crossing, sometimes he wants you in at the back post. 

“It can be quite tiring at times, but you know you’ve got to do it, keep getting up and down. It’s probably one of the most tiring positions of modern football.”

Argyle meet Grimsby in the annual Armed Services Day fixture at Home Park on Saturday. Tickets are cheaper in advance - click here to get yours