Plymouth Argyle boss Ryan Lowe has revealed that Cornish striking sensation Luke Jephcott spent time on loan at Truro City last term because his pre-season impact wasn’t big enough, before scoring ‘vital goals’ when he returned to Devon, writes Gareth Davies.
Reunited with his former Argyle assistant Paul Wotton at Treyew Road, Jephcott, who made his Greens first team bow while the Home Park legend was right-hand man to Derek Adams, impressed for the White Tigers.
Despite the Pilgrims moving themselves into the promotion picture just before the festive period, they were still struggling for goals.
Non-contract players Billy Clarke and Jose Baxter failed to impress and departed, while loanee Zac Rudden returned to parent club Glasgow Rangers.
Lowe then plumped to somewhat surprisingly recall Jephcott from his home county sabbatical, before further boosting Argyle’s firepower as Ryan Hardie joined on loan from Blackpool.
It proved to be a masterstroke from Lowe as the pair plundered 14 goals in as many games before the season was halted in March due to the coronaviris pandemic.
After much debate, the decision was made this week by clubs in League Two to decide final placings using an unweighted points-per game system. After the adjustment, Argyle finished third and returned to League One after just 12 months away.
Twenty-four hours later, at a socially distanced press conference at Home Park, the Indy spoke with an understandably overjoyed Lowe and the Pilgrims chief was asked directly about Jephcott’s impact.
“I wanted him to have a bigger impact in pre-season, but he never did so that is the reason why he went out on loan,” Lowe began.
“We wanted to give him an opportunity early on but that wasn’t to be. We brought him back from Truro as he was one of our own, but when he came back, he scored some vital goals.
“The strikers will always get the credit, but you had players like George Cooper who got 13 or 14 assists and then Danny Mayor was able to put the ball on a plate for people. Our back lads were tremendous too so the goalscorers will take the plaudits, but the whole team stepped things up a notch in January.
“Once the squad was solid in January, when we made no more signings, we pushed things on a bit and tweaked a few things in training.
“We were testing players a bit more by saying that they couldn’t be six or seven out of ten, but it had to be an eight, nine, even ten out of ten performance.
“I was pushing my staff and we were pushing each other but listen, the capture of Ryan Hardie also, for the goals he scored, was also vital because we needed goalscorers.
“We felt Dom Telford could have got some goals, but he was unfortunate with a few injuries and so we brought Jephs back too.”
Meanwhile, hopes of Truro supporters seeing Ryan Law back at Treyew Road next season seem unlikely as Lowe spoke highly of the promising left-back who spent the entire 2019-20 campaign with the Cornish outfit.
“Lawsy had a great season and we are going to give him a great opportunity by coaching him,” the Argyle chief added.
“We want to coach him into what we want and he hasn’t had that yet. To be fair to him, we want to give him that.
“He can be whatever he wants to be and if he wants to fulfil (his potential) down that left hand side, then we would urge him to go on and compete for it.”
Along with Jephcott and Law, another player with Cornish connections will be vying for a first team spot at Home Park in the shape of promising forward Rubin Wilson.
Educated at Penrice Academy in St Austell, Wilson first joined Argyle’s academy set-up at under-8 level, although he was released when playing for the clubs under-14 side.
However, he rejoined the Devon outfit on a trial basis and impressed playing in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup competition.
He made his full first team debut in an EFL trophy win at Swindon Town last year and has been rewarded with a first professional contract.
After inking terms, the 18-year-old said: “It’s such a good feeling (to sign the deal). I’ve just got to push on now and hopefully make it into the first-team.”