Schumacher pleased with tough Parkway test
Argyle’s pre-season is up and running after a 2-2 draw at city neighbours Plymouth Parkway heralded a new campaign for the men in Green.
And it was a tough outing for the Sky Bet League One side, 2-0 down to their non-league opponents at the break, two strikes from Ryan Hardie and Joe Edwards meant that Steven Schumacher was able to reflect on a positive beginning to their summer schedule.
“It was a tough game really,” he said, speaking after the match, “they were hard to break down and set their stall out early to defend deep.
“They really made it difficult for us to play and we weren’t able to move the ball as quickly as we would have liked.”
The old adage goes that results don’t really matter in pre-season, and you can imagine the Argyle fans in the crowd at Bolitho Park would have been muttering that to themselves when first Billy Palfrey and then Ben Seymour put the home side 2-0 in front.
But the fact that it was such a tough opening for Argyle probably made the run out even more productive.
“The two goals they scored were great bits of quality from them and we were really up against it,” Steven said.
“Thankfully we kept going, the fresh legs in the second half helped us and we were able to get two goals at the end.”
The Greens started with a mix of youth and experience from the off, with 17-year-old Oscar Halls playing in the middle of a back three, flanked by James Wilson and Macaulay Gillesphey.
Finley Craske, returning to Parkway where he spent the back end of last season on loan, and Ryan Law played at wingback, with Danny Mayor and Adam Randell alongside Alfie Lewis.
The benefits these younger lads would have gained from Saturday’s match are huge, as outlined by the manager.
Steven said, “There are a lot of positives to take, and the young lads would have gained so much from that.
“Oscar Halls was in the middle of two experienced centre backs which will do him the world of good.
“The other young lads who came on in the second half did really well as well, they looked calm and confident.”
Those other young lads were second year scholars Jack Endacott and Jeffery Forkuo. And it was the latter who made a big impact setting up skipper, Joe Edwards, to head Argyle level in injury time.
Joe didn’t start the match but looked back to his energetic self when he slotted in at right wingback for the second period.
Renowned for his running stats even he excelled, racking up high numbers in the short amount of time he was on, which certainly impressed Schumacher.
“Today isn’t about tactics,” he said, “it’s about getting back out there and getting the distances and minutes in the legs.
“We’ve been working on the high-speed intensity and covering long distances all week. Some of the lads have done 6,500 metres, joe Edwards covered 7,000 in one half of football, which is massive and a real positive.
“We also managed to come away from it with no injuries, which is great, you don’t want any niggles and knocks this early in pre-season.”
With ten days of training behind them and with most of that time spent on fitness, it was maybe understandable the players took a little while to get going.
Four divisions above their opponents yes, but the ring rust and cohesion still takes a little time before it really starts ticking.
“The game went as we thought,” said Steven, “we saw a lot of the ball, kept possession and I lost count of the number of balls we put into the box - it was a bit rusty overall, but it’s the first one out of the way.”
The game was played in front of a sold-out Bolitho Park with almost 2,500 supporters inside the ground, enjoying the sun (when it arrived) and generally having a great time.
It’s always the same in matches against Parkway and Steven was pleased they were able to make the fixture happen again.
“It’s great to see the familiar faces and the die-hard fans again,” he said, “We know they travel such long distances to watch us so luckily this was only a couple of minutes away today.
“It’s great for Parkway as well, they make a lot of money out of this fixture every year and it’s just great to come out and play them.”
The Greens will now have an evening of rest and recovery before being back at Home Park on Sunday afternoon as they make the short journey up the M5 to Bristol Airport as they jet off for a week-long warm weather training camp in the south of Spain.
After missing out on a trip last season, Steven is looking forward to getting out there and spending some good quality time with his players and staff.
He said, “It’s going to be great to get away, we haven’t really done any tactical work yet, so having the lads in for three sessions a day gives us time to work on what we’re going to do and how we’re going to play.
“The new lads will get a chance to integrate and get to know the other lads – it’ll do us the world of good.”