School of Hard Knocks

ARGYLE overcame injury and illness problems that saw them start Saturday’s Sky Bet League One game at Fleetwood with two apprentices and first-year professional on the substitutes’ bench to maintain their promotion push.

The point that they took from a 1-1 draw on the Fylde coast was enough to keep them in the division’s play-off positions with just ten games of the 2018-19 season to play. 

A first-half goal from on-loan West Ham United midfielder Moses Makasi was just reward for a dominant opening, but Fleetwood rallied and claimed a point when Paddy Madden took advantage of some confusion in the Pilgrims’ defence to tap home on the hour. 

Moses started the game – making his full EFL debut – after Antoni Sarcevic was ruled out with a groin problem. With Gary Miller and Simon Church also injured, Ryan Edwards recovering from an operation, and Sonny Bradley suffering illness, manager Derek Adams called apprentices Cameron Sangster ad Ryan Law into an 18-man squad that also included first-year professional Alex Fletcher. 

Their elevation is part of a long-term Home Park strategy to nurture home-grown talent. 

“It’s learning process,” said Derek. “I said that to[them] before the game: “It’s not Under-18 football now – it’s men’s football. We’re playing for points; you’re playing for your living.’ They’ll get that point the more they work with the first team. 

“Promoting the Youth Academy at this football club and trying to take in players to the first team over the last seven years since we came out of administration…we haven’t had enough players coming into the first team – two: Ben Purrington and Tyler Harvey. 

“It’s about trying to get the next batch through and I am doing all in my power to try to help the Academy. I took six [apprentices] from nine last year and I’ve got more to take on this year. I am trying to help them improve and get players in the first team.”

The personnel problems could deepen this week after Ruben Lameiras and Jamie Ness were substituted at Fleetwood because of injury, Ruben folowing a meaty tackle by Lewie Coyle. 

“It was an atrocious challenge,” said Derek. “The boy got booked – he is lucky, probably, that he didn’t get sent off because he’s got the ball but, in this day and age, getting the ball is not good enough. If you get the ball and the man, then, technically, it should be a sending-off. 

“It’s what it is. You just get on with it. Deal with the cards you are given to play. As I said before, nobody knows what a football manager has got to deal with, not one iota of a clue.”