Steven Schumacher

Schumacher's Swindon Reaction

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It was a good night for Pilgrims at Swindon Town on Tuesday night, whether they were established players or the latest breed.

Argyle won 3-1 at The County Ground, taking their tally of points in the Papa Johns Trophy to five from two games. Four teenagers started the game for Argyle, and it was two of them who gave The Greens a 2-0 half-time lead.

Will Jenkins Davies seized upon a loose ball to put Argyle in front just before the half-hour mark, and just two minutes later Oscar Halls added a second with a far post header. Oscar’s goal came from a Jack Endacott cross, and with Brandon Pursall putting in an accomplished performance in the centre of the defence, plus Freddie Issaka making a meaningful cameo from the bench, it was a positive night for Steven Schumacher’s young Pilgrims.

They were ably assisted by a selection of senior pros, with Pursall flanked by Brendan Galloway and James Wilson in the back three; Jordan Houghton instigating the move that led to Jenkins Davies’ goal; Danny Mayor back in the side to cause chaos and Ryan Hardie coming on as a second-half sub to score Argyle’s third.

As one might imagine, Schumacher was delighted with the contribution with all his players, with focus starting on the younger contingent.

“They’re getting more confident, more comfortable playing in the first team, understanding the system,” said Schumacher. “The first thing we say to them when they come in and join us is relax, be themselves, and enjoy it, because it is something that they should enjoy coming to do.

“Their standards have got to be right. It’s no good just getting an opportunity, they’ve got to play well - and they all did. It was a test, especially second half, for young Brandon, at the back. Their movement was different to what we have seen before, but it was a good game and we got loads out of it.

“We got some players some minutes where we needed to. James Wilson’s not played for a little while, and he was good tonight, really professional.

“Whenever you play young players in the first team, if you throw too many in all at once, then you expose them a little bit where you don’t need to. I thought we had a good mix where there were some seniors in there, a bit of energy in there with Adam Randell, and the senior players helped the young players get through the game, talk them through the game.

“I think it is the first time Oscar Halls has ever played right wing-back, but he had James Wilson behind him telling him when to press and where to go. Having that experience on the pitch massively helps, and the young boys will definitely appreciate that.”

Argyle are not yet guaranteed a spot in the competition’s second round, with Bristol Rovers and Crystal Palace Under-21s not meeting in their second fixture until 4 October, although Tuesday’s fixture does mean Swindon cannot qualify.

Since the competition switched to its current format in 2016/17, Argyle are yet to progress past the group stage. Although that is not yet assured, Schumacher is hopeful that the pattern can be broken, and that the club’s current momentum, in league and cup action, can continue.

The win and performance against Swindon certainly went a long way to helping towards that aim.

Schumacher said: “I thought first half especially we played some good football, scored two great goals with two young boys scoring which is really pleasing. The second half was tougher; Swindon changed their shape and played well. Thankfully we got the third goal for a bit of a cushion. I was disappointed with the calamity for their goal, but it’s three points on the board.

“It keeps the momentum going. We are in a good vein of form at the moment, and when a game comes along you want to play well and you want to win it. We take every competition seriously, and as long as we do the right things and keep our standards high throughout the team, we will be fine.

“Hopefully we get through the group. We have one game to go, against Crystal Palace. We’ll try to win that game and see where it takes us.”

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