Spirit of Competition

BEN Purrington is grateful for the help and support of team-mate Gary Sawyer, even though he wants to take Gary’s place in the Argyle first team.

Ben, 20, made his first start of the season in midweek as the Pilgrims powered to a 4-1 Checkatrade Trophy home victory over Newport County to register a fourth successive victory

The young Westcountyman played his part, as a substitute, in the previous three Sky Bet League Two wins, most notably at Blackpool. He was a half-time replacement at Bloomfield Road for Gary, who tweaked his groin stretching for a ball.

His colleague’s unfortunate injury may allow Ben to continue in his favourite left-back position this Saturday, when Cheltenham Town visit, and make a second successive start for only the fifth time in the last two seasons.

“It’s the most important thing, to be getting game-time,” he said. “Since I was 17, I’ve been playing odd games in centre-midfield and at left-back, but it’s nice if you can get a run in the team, get more minutes under your belt.

“Last year, the gaffer put me in centre midfield quite a bit, but I favour the left-back position where I can get up and down the line. I have got the opportunity through Gaz’s injury and hopefully I can capitalise on that and keep the position.”

The situation epitomises Argyle manager Derek Adams’ much desired competition-for-places scenario, with two able players essentially vying for one place. Up until now, the senior pro has held sway.

“He’s a solid left-back and he’s experienced,” said Ben, of Gary. “It can be frustrating, at times, but, when he’s playing well and he’s consistent, he’s seven or eight out of ten every weekend and there is not a lot you can do.  

“You have just got to keep your head down; keep working hard in training; doing extra sessions, try to grind away; and hope you get an opportunity when he gets an injury, like now.”

Being able to take that opportunity owes plenty to some mentoring from the man whose place he has and wants to keep.

Ben said: “We’re together every day in training; crossing and finishing; shape-drills; working together. So you learn off him. You talk to each other and he can guide you through things.”

The Green Army can take heart from the fact that Argyle have won four of the last five games in which Ben has started, including two in a row at Home Park.

“There is nothing better than a league game when it’s pretty full,” he said. “There was a smaller crowd in midweek, but it was still loud, as always.

“We have won four on the bounce now, including the cup, so we are doing well; we are on a good run.”