Schumacher and Hughes

Schumacher Satisfied With Swans Outing

Before Argyle’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City in the first home friendly of this pre-season, manager Steven Schumacher challenged his side to put in a sturdy defensive performance.

After a game in which Joel Piroe struck early for the visitors, and late substitute Ryan Hardie levelled for the Pilgrims, Schumacher declared himself content with how things went.

“I thought the defensive shape was good,” he said. “Everyone was organised. It wasn’t perfect, and we probably could have got a bit more pressure on the ball from midfield.

“There’s plenty of stuff to work on, but overall I’m pleased they didn’t have that many shots on goal, everything was from long distance. The goal was from a mistake; a poor clearance from us. That happens; it’s the rustiness of pre-season.

“It was a tough test, as we knew it was going to be. They are one of the best teams in the Championship in possession of the ball and they showed it at times tonight. I felt that we were organised, we looked okay and then when we did force them into errors, we didn’t make the most of the opportunities.”

Hardie’s goal came with little time left on the clock. The Argyle number nine latched onto a throughball from fellow sub Luke Jephcott, and neatly clipped over Swansea goalkeeper Andy Fisher. It was a trademark Hardie goal, and one that naturally pleased his manager.

“We had a nice turnover, a good transition and Ryan Hardie goes and slots one away.

“There’s no-one else in our team that can score that type of goal, running from the halfway line and going away from defenders. It’s what he’s got; it’s why he is such a good player, and such a threat. It was a great ball from Luke Jephcott, too. It was a good night all round. A good test; I’m really pleased.”

Argyle are in action at Home Park again on Saturday, with Bristol City the visitors. As the pre-season campaign develops, Schumacher is interested to see how his squad reacts to the task ahead.

Schumacher said: “We get another tough test on Saturday against Championship opposition which will again be a good marker of where we are at. We’ll recover from this game; physically it has taken a lot of out of them. Most of the players played 60 minutes – can they go again on Saturday? We’ll have to do that in the league season.

“It’s moving along nicely in the direction we want to go. I think we’re in decent shape.”

Also in decent shape is the Home Park pitch, and Schumacher praised the Home Park ground-staff for their work in the searing Devon sunshine of late. He also declared himself satisfied with the contribution of three players turning out at Home Park for the first time as Pilgrims.

“The pitch looks great. It’s not quite at the height we need it, the grass is a bit longer, but it will get there. The work they have done is brilliant. I spoke to the new players before the game and said: ‘go and enjoy your first experience of playing in front of the Green Army at Home Park, and enjoy the pitch’.

“I thought all the new lads were great. Mickel Miller was fantastic, some real glimpses of quality. Matt Butcher put in a great shift for us, getting to know that role. Finn Azaz, when he came on, showed why we were keen to bring him in. I’m sure they all enjoyed it.”

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