Academy Preview | Oxford United (H)
Argyle’s Under-18s are back in action on Saturday, 22 October, as they meet Oxford United at Millennium Fields for another Youth Alliance League fixture (12 noon).
The Young Pilgrims arrive at this week’s game after recently defeating Exeter City 5-0 in the West Country derby. Darren Way's side secured a convincing victory after playing some solid football at Harper’s Park, demonstrating that this team is very resilient and dangerous near the rival's area.
Last season, it was against Oxford that Argyle secured the Merit League championship in April, with a superb 4-0 win to clinch the title.
Now Argyle will be taking on an Oxford side who lost their most recent game 2-0 against Bournemouth and sit fourth, seven points behind an unbeaten Argyle. However, Way emphasises what a tough encounter Argyle should expect.
“We’re expecting a physical game,” said Way. “It is normally a physical game against Oxford, you got to show real character and personality, but we've enjoyed playing against them, we've had some competitive games over the last few years and we expect the same again
“Last year’s season finale was good; that was a competitive game, there was a lot of physicality to it, but I thought we got the ball down, we moved the ball really well, we scored some really good goals, and we were exciting on the counter-attack.
“We are all looking forward to it, we want to make sure we're going into the games with real momentum, continue the momentum of what we've built on over the last few weeks and put in a good performance on Saturday.”
The team is looking incredibly strong at the start of this season and Way took time to praise his players. He said: “I think the team is showing a real willingness to learn in certain areas that we felt we were weak. We've talked about the cohesion, we've talked about the togetherness, we've talked about the robustness and the team being able to play Saturday and Tuesday, and we've talked about the turnaround toughness.
“We've got a really busy schedule coming up and I think some of the lads, 16-year-olds, have handled that competitiveness really well. It can be challenging, physically and mentally, and I think the lads have done really well with them
“It is tough and is becoming more difficult because some of the lads are doing extended diplomas. We want them to excel in that area of their work commitments and at the same time make sure they recover well from, ultimately, what they're here to do, which is play football. Trying to get that balance right can be very difficult to manage, but I think the lads have become accustomed now and they are used to the relentlessness of the programme.”