Greetings and happy Monday. Back after an enforced one week break is Zak, closing out another season of the Warnock challenge. Will it be another Warnock success story?
Welcome back, Champers.
Niall Warnock’s Plymouth Argyle side have ten games left of the 2002-03 season. Division Three is proving somewhat challenging for our young Padawan. Argyle are five points off automatic promotion and five points clear of the playoff chasers. Let’s go!
Reminder of the squad; A few ‘wtd’ signs and three weeks to keep the lads together before the transfer window closes.
Spoke too soon as we wave goodbye to Kirk Sorvel right away. A tidy £900k profit after 17 appearances will do nicely, though I’m not able to stand in his way due to release clause hell.
It’s no big loss at this stage as Gradilenko can have Riccardo Scimeca slot in alongside a center back.
I’m forced to play Paul Wotton as an emergency CB as we travel to sixth-placed Rotherham. The lads are able to comfortably see out the game. The Millers don’t have a shot in the first half as we build a commanding halftime lead courtest of Pates (Nicky Forster), McClare (Gazza) and Allott. Ndah adds to the tally and we see out the win.
We follow Rotherham by hosting table-toppers York City. Ndah and Austrian winger Flogel give us a 2-0 lead before York fight back. I celebrate a winner by substitute Allott. As I’m returning from the tunnel York get another equalizer.
A late flurry of transfer bids follows, including this one for Ndah.
Ndah declines Brighton, and I send out Hopkins, Coleman, and Lynch out on loan. I myself sign loanees Christian Westley and a young Chelsea regen Richard Birch as cover.
Here’s the squad to take us through to season-end.
Third placed Cambridge next. An early goal is a welcome distraction as leftback Reinelt sees red before young Gazza gets injured. Supersub Allott scores his third in three to make it a 2-0 smash and grab.
It’s tight at the top! We sneak into the top three. We’ve some work to do to catch Oldham and York. Time to keep our noses ahead of the chasing pack. Rotherham are in freefall.
Fourth fixture in a row against a top-six side, this time Hull. Young Teddy scores early again before Hull twice break through the Kalac wall. David Hopkin to the rescue as we draw 2-2.
From a top side, to the bottom side. It’s a welcome reprieve as Hartlepool are hit for five.
An early red card is a gift against Bishop Auckland. The lads tidy up and win 2-0.
Cambridge are also keeping pace. Four to go.
I don’t think a draw with Barnet will help at Hull close the gap. Cambridge themselves drop points.
No such mistake against Hollywood FC. Another five goals and even veteran Gradilenko gets on the score sheet!
York and Oldham can’t be caught. Congrats. Cambridge remain one point ahead. Hull are also sniffing. Two to go.
A shock early goal at Dean Court for seventh side Bournemouth. The lads react well through the experienced Ndah. A tight 2-1 win.
Cambridge lose and Hull leapfrog them too!
We need to win our last game.. and it’s against bitter rivals Exeter. What a chance for the Grecians to create folklore for years to come.
GOSH – What. A. Game. tt’s a see-saw first half before local boy Wotton is crocked by Lacey, who gets his marching orders. George Ndah despatcihes the penaly. 2-2 at halftime.
We knock on the door pushing for a winner and it’s Ndah to the rescue with a hattrick and late winner to get the Green Army pulses racing! Exeter is Green! Ndah scored five in final two games to drag us over the line. The hero does it again.
Confirmation as Hull draw and Cambridge lose again.
We’ve followed Neil’s leadership and the class of ’96 in getting promoted from Division Three!
Here are the stats; David Hopkin the stand-out performer, with young left back Daryl Reinelt not far behind. The goals are shared between Ndah, Pates, Gooden and Allott.
The V2 purists will be purring at the Premier League table. Admittedly, it’s ten years early. Man United fans get an eyeful of things to come post-Fergie down in seventh.
Personal prizes too..
Here’s how the spreadsheet looks; Next up: the road the Premiership.
We hit 294 league games. Only 1300 to go!
I hope you enjoyed our sixth season with Niall and the gang. Join us next week as we have a decision to make. Do we stick in Division two or leave Argyle aside for the next challenge? Until next time!