Darren Way

Academy Preview | Forest Green Rovers (H)

Sync Fixtures

After a two-week hiatus, Argyle’s Under-18 side are back in action this weekend as they take on Forest Green Rovers at Tavistock’s Langsford Park on Saturday morning (11am).

The Young Pilgrims were last in action on 2 September, losing 2-1 to rivals Exeter City in the Professional Development Cup.

Argyle have won both of their league fixtures so far, and now meet Forest Green who have only played one, and lost it at home to Portsmouth.

Argyle manager Darren Way has taken the positives from the enforced break, and is looking to bounce back on Saturday morning.

“It’s given us time to reflect on our last performance,” said Way. “We’ve recapped where we are as a group and as individuals. We’ve been able to do some good work on the training ground, but it is good to have this game coming up because as a group we need it.

“I’m making sure we analyse their strengths and weaknesses. They play a similar shape to us. We’ve been working up against that. We want to impose ourselves, and see our strengths come out in the game.”

An unusual – but welcome – learning experience for the group came from a pair of interesting visitors. Carlo Garside and Angel Wariuh were both part of the Argyle side that won the Merit League title last season. Both were released by the club in the summer, with Garside now playing for Larkhall Athletic in the Southern League Division One South and Wariuh having been picked up Brentford’s B team.

Way wanted his current crop to hear about life – good and bad – as an Academy player, and beyond.

He said: “We’ve had two ex-players come back and talk to the players about their journey, which has been really interesting. They talked about how they settled from under-16 into an under-18s programme. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with it, in terms of education and the pressure of performing when you go from three days a week to full-time. It takes time to adjust to the competition, the team selection.

“Sometimes you need to hear a different voice. As much as we, the coaches, have been in football, it is so nice to hear a player who has been, from the age of nine, having to deal with rejection, which is part and parcel of being a professional footballer; dealing with team selection; dealing with when another player gets called up to the first team – sometimes that can be a distraction to a player whose performance levels drop, because they are questioning themselves as to why they have not been called up.

“We’ve dug really deep psychologically, as that plays a big part in this two-year programme. A lot of players do not have the tools to be equipped as to what the game demands.

“If you watched the game on Tuesday (against Oxford), the level of speed, concentration, it is a great experience for our players to watch that, in front of 12,500 supporters,  playing under pressure and playing to win.

“It’s been really good to have that time for players to be able to understand where they are because they are all on different journeys, different pathways. Some have come in and settled really well, some have found it more difficult to adjust to the programme, but it has been good to have been allowed that time for players to think and put that into a performance on Saturday.”

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