The Weekly Round Up

In the first of a new series, new writer Jack May gives a lowdown on an eventful last week at Home Park.

Sunday 4th February

Whittaker Reflects on Swansea Win.

It was a Morgan Whittaker goal, of course, against his former club, of course, that secured Argyle’s first away win of the season.

Fresh off the back of a rejected eight-figure bid from Champions League giants Lazio and with a point to prove against his former employer, Whittaker fired home his 16th goal of the season, stretching new boss Ian Foster’s unbeaten record to 5 games in the process.

Speaking to Argyle TV after the game Whittaker reflected: “All in all, for me, it’s a perfect day: scoring, winning, clean sheet, first away win. I can’t be happier. It’s obviously a team effort. I think every man was unbelievable.

“Where I was this time last year to now, walking out as captain, back at Swansea, I couldn’t have imagined it. I’m pleased to be captain and I’m grateful for the opportunity from the Gaffer.”

Whittaker’s love of the Green Army is also evident. Speaking about the fans – nearly 2000 made the trip to the Stadium – he said: “I think we had a good feeling, even when we were warming up,” he said. “The fans were so loud. I know it’s our first away win, but even before that, they’ve been unbelievable.

“Coming to a place like this where you know it’s going to be tough, having the fans behind you, even in the warm-up, is massive. “I’m just happy where I am. I’m happy where I live. I’m happy with the team. I’m happy playing. I’m happy with the fans. It’s all reciprocated with the fans as well. I’m comfortable, and I think that’s shown with how I’m playing.”

Tuesday 6th February

Whittaker Wins CT1 January Player of the Month Award

On Tuesday, Morgan Whittaker was announced as the winner of the CT1 Argyle Player of the Month Award for January.

It is the fourth time that Whittaker has won the award since its inception six months ago. Kaine Kesler-Hayden won the award in August, with Lewis Gibson picking it up in November.

Whittaker picked up 42.9% of the vote, just pipping Ryan Hardie to the post, the Scotsman finishing with 38.3% of the vote. Brendan Galloway finished third, with Mickel Miller in fourth.

In speaking on winning the award once more, Whittaker said: “I didn’t expect to win again,” said Morgan. “I just try to go out and do my best in each game. “I try to keep going, and keep working hard. It is nice to win awards. I’ve won four, and now I want to win five or six, because it will mean my form has kept going.

“I have a fantastic group of team-mates, though, and the most important thing is that we keep on picking up results, as we have done so far this year. “I want to thank all the fans for voting, and for the backing they continue to give me and the team. It is much appreciated.”

Argyle 1 – 4 Leeds United (AET)

Argyle held Leeds to a 90 minute 1-1 draw in the fourth round FA Cup replay at Home Park.

Unfortunately, fitness, fatigue, and substitute star-power would go on to play a massive role in extra time with the visitors firing home three times in eleven minutes to secure their place in the fifth round, away at Chelsea.

With a host of players unavailable for a variety of reasons, Ian Foster made four changes from the weekend’s win away at Swansea. The changes saw Joe Edwards, Callum Wright, Adam Randell and Matty Sorinola coming in to replace Mickel Miller, Darko Gyabi, Adam Forshaw and Alfie Devine.

Argyle started brightly with attacks coming from wide, early crosses from Hardie and Sorinola asking questions of the Leeds United defence. Joe Edwards, operating from midfield, then saw a speculative effort outside of the area drift wide, much to the Leeds keeper’s relief.

The visitors replied with a thundering strike against the woodwork from Mateo Joseph. The woodwork then came to the rescue again shortly after, with a Joel Piroe drive deflecting off Brendan Galloway, smashing against the bar.

With the wind and rain picking up steadily throughout the evening, it felt as though anything could happen. Hardie again broke through the defence before teeing up Callum Wright in the six yard box, with Sam Byram well placed to make a clearance, preventing Wright a clear opportunity and the chance to go one up.

The game continued in a deadlock until 66 minutes when Leeds eventually found the breakthrough with Gnonto finding the bottom corner with an impeccable finish. Ian Foster brought on promising prospects Freddie Issaka and Caleb Roberts to add some youth and energy to the side. Issaka stormed into the box shortly after and found himself blocked by the ever-present Byram. Half-hearted shouts for a penalty rung from the Green Army, waved away by referee Robert Jones. Argyle eventually found their equaliser. A deep free kick from Whittaker picked out Phillips, who caressed the ball back across the six yard box into the path of Galloway who chested the ball into the empty net.

In an effort to put an end to the game within 90 minutes, Leeds brought on some of their Premier League pedigree firepower in Rutter and Bamford. There were chances for both sides in the final minutes, with substitute Joe Gelhardt testing the Argyle woodwork for the third time, before Hardie tested Leeds keeper Mesler in the final seconds. It was clear that Leeds had more gas in the tank as the game moved into extra time. They applied pressure from the off and found the breakthrough with a goal from Summerville.

Argyle fought hard but eventually fell prey to Leeds’ quality in front of goal. Two more goals from Rutter and Gruev saw Leeds emphatically secure their place in the fifth round. Argyle: 21 Conor Hazard; 2 Bali Mumba, 8 Joe Edwards (capt) (23 Ben Waine 105), 9 Ryan Hardie, 10 Morgan Whittaker (capt), 11 Callum Wright (35 Freddie Issaka 72), 17 Lewis Gibson, 20 Adam Randell, 22 Brendan Galloway (6 Dan Scarr 105), 26 Ashley Phillips (37 Jack Matthews 117), 29 Matty Sorinola (34 Caleb Roberts 78). Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk). Booked: Wright 58, Phillips 80, Galloway 105 Leeds United: 1 Ilan Meslier; 3 Junior Firpo, 6 Liam Cooper (capt), 7 Joel Piroe, 8 Glen Kamara (22 Archie Gray 71), 12 Jaidon Anthony (24 Georginio Rutter 82), 14 Joe Rodon, 25 Sam Byram (10 Crysencio Summerville 90+2), 29 Willy Gnonto (30 Joe Gelhardt 71), 44 Ilia Gruev, 49 Mateo Joseph (9 Patrick Bamford 82). Substitutes (not used): 13 Kristoffer Klaesson (gk), 40 Dani van den Heuvel (gk), 4 Ethan Ampadu, 5 Charlie Cresswell. Booked: Rodon 70 Referee: Robert Jones Attendance: 16,636 (1,920 away)


Wednesday 7th February

Foster and Whittaker Nominated For Monthly Sky Bet Awards

Ian Foster has been nominated for the Sky Bet Manager of the Month Award in his first month in charge of the Pilgrims. Morgan Whittaker has also been nominated for Player of The Month. Foster took over the reins on 5th January, going on to oversee a three match unbeaten streak for the remainder of the month, including a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield, a 3-1 home win against Cardiff City and a 1-1 draw away at Leeds in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Whittaker scored in all of Argyle’s league games in January, grabbing the second goal of the game against Watford in a 3-3 draw, putting the greens ahead against Huddersfield, and the final goal against Cardiff. Also nominated alongside Whittaker are Stuart Armstrong of Southampton, Watford goalkeeper Ben Hamer and Leeds winger Dan James.

Friday 9th February.

Morgan Whittaker Named Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for January Morgan Whittaker was today announced as Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for January, beating Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong, Watford keeper Ben Hamer and Leeds winger Dan James to the award.

“I am so happy to win this award,” said Whittaker. “First of all, it was a great January for the team. We stayed unbeaten, picked up some really important league points and had some excellent performances, home and away. “For me personally, it went really well, scoring some important goals and helping the team. I am so happy at the moment, really enjoying my football and loving life in the South West.

“It is not possible to win awards like this without the support of my team-mates. We have a great group of lads here who are really talented and are a joy to play with. “The gaffer has shown faith in me, letting me play my game and express myself, as well as giving me the responsibility of the captain’s armband. “I also want to thank the Green Army for their support. Our fans, wherever they are, are so passionate and so supportive. I love scoring goals for them, and I hope there are more to come for the rest of the season.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Morgan Whittaker has been a consistent performer this season but is excelling in his role as captain under new manager Ian Foster. He is finding new ways to score in a team that are slowly finding their feet in the Championship.”

Argyle head coach Ian Foster, who was himself nominated for the Manager of The Month Award – which was won by Leeds manager Daniel Farke – said about Whittaker’s winning the award: “It’s a wonderful honour for Morgan.” “There are some outstanding players at this level. January is always a difficult month on the back of a busy Christmas period, so it shows the levels of his fitness and his consistency. “He has had to adapt to playing under a different coach with different players, so he’s had a lot to think about. “He’s a wonderfully gifted player, and it’s well deserved.”