Schumacher's Bristol Rovers Reaction
A 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers has moved Argyle into the semi-finals of the Papa Johns Trophy for only the second time in the 38-year history of the competition.
A first goal in English football for Ben Waine and one from his strike partner Ryan Hardie gave the Pilgrims a two-goal cushion by half-time, and it was a lead they never looked like giving up.
Manager Steven Schumacher was pleased not only with the all-round performance on the night, but also how the side have progressed through the rounds to this point.
“We’re one step closer to Wembley, which is great,” said Schumacher. “Being in the semi-final of a cup competition is brilliant. The way we’ve gone about this competition this season has been excellent. From the performances of the young players, to tonight, when we were a bit stronger: everyone, to a man, has performed exceptionally.
“We fully deserved to win the game. I thought we showed more quality. When we got the ball down the sides, we produced some lovely moves. The two centre forwards were a big threat all game. We showed some really nice composure.”
Waine’s goal, in his first Argyle start, was a superb header from a floated Matt Butcher cross, steered into the corner of the net. In truth, it was not his easiest chance. After scoring, he had two attempts on goal from good positions from which he missed the target, but the mere fact that he was getting into those positions was pleasing for Schumacher.
“It was a brilliant header, right in the top corner,” said the boss. “He showed strength to get rid of the centre back that was marking him, and guide it onto the corner. It was a brilliant goal.
“He actually missed two easier chances! He’ll get chances because he works so hard. His attitude to the game, how he wants to learn and get better. He’s going to be a good player, because we’ll spend time with him, put in the effort and keep working on his weaknesses. What a fantastic start to his career at Argyle!”
James Bolton played 82 minutes of the game, having started a match for Argyle for the first time since the end of March. He played in the centre of a defensive unit that were commanding and kept a comfortable clean sheet, but that was, in some ways, secondary to his successful return from injury.
“He was starting to feel a bit of cramp so we took him off, but he was a rock,” said Schumacher, of Bolton. “James can do that, he just needs to put the games together. He had about ten games in the team last season and I think he kept eight clean sheets. We know he is a top defender, we’ve just got to keep him on the pitch. I thought he was excellent. Fair play; getting through your first game after eight months out isn’t easy, especially on that pitch.”
Generally, Schumacher picked a side containing senior professionals, but 18-year-old Jack Endacott was given the nod at left wing-back, and caught the eye with a hard-working and mature performance that pleased his manager no end.
“He was outstanding, Schumacher said. “He’s a good player. He’s got loads to learn, loads of improvement to come, but he played really well, he crossed some nice balls in. But the thing I loved most about the game was right in the corner, up against John Marquis who is a senior pro, Jack bought a foul off him, fell on the ball and got us a free-kick in the last minute.
“I’m really pleased with how all the young boys are developing and enjoying the experience of the competition.”
Argyle will find out on Saturday which of fellow Sky Bet League One sides Bolton Wanderers, Cheltenham Town or Accrington Stanley they will face in the final four. Whichever it is, Schumacher is keen to give it everything possible to take the Green Army to Wembley for a cup final for the first time.
“It feels great, but let’s go one more,” he said. “We’ve worked so hard, so it’s important that we get back, and recover - we’ve got a huge game this weekend.
“We’ll see what the draw brings us. I want to go for it. We’re one game from Wembley and a great day out for everybody, to try to win a trophy.”