Berry's suspension leaves Fletcher with a headache ahead of York visit
Plymouth Argyle manager Carl Fletcher has admitted it will be a blow to be without ever-improving right-back Durrell Berry when the Pilgrims take on York City in npower League Two at Home Park on Saturday.
Berry must serve a one-match suspension after he was sent-off against Oxford United in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
The 20-year-old was dismissed for a second bookable offence near the end of the southern section quarter-final at Home Park on Tuesday. The tie ended in a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes before Oxford won 3-1 on penalties.
Berry was sent off by referee Roger East after a foul on Sean Rigg as the visitors tried to launch a counter attack. Fletcher said: "We gave the ball away, which led to Durrell getting sent off.
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"I think he was unfortunate to get booked in the first half. Their guy just fell into him, but once you are on a yellow card you are always on a tightrope. It's a shame because Durrell has been doing really well."
Berry has been a regular at right-back after sitting out the first three games of the current campaign because of injury. He has only missed one match since then, when he was banned for the 1-1 draw at Wycombe Wanderers on October 2 after being booked five times this term.
Fletcher has a couple of options open to him as he considers how to replace Berry at right-back against York. The versatile Jamie Lowry could play there, having been a substitute for recent matches.
Lowry, a free agent summer signing from Chesterfield, has made all of his appearances for Argyle in midfield. However, the 25-year-old has past experience of playing at right-back.
Alternatively, Curtis Nelson could be moved from the centre of defence to take over from Berry. That would see Argyle's transfer-listed captain Darren Purse return to the team. Purse, 35, has been suspended for the last three matches after he was sent off in the 3-0 defeat at Fleetwood Town on November 17.
Lowry was an 83rd-minute substitute for Mark Molesley in the JPT last 16 tie against Oxford. Molesley put in an excellent all-round performance and went close to scoring on several occasions with shots from distance.
Fletcher admitted he had been very pleased with the on-loan Bournemouth midfielder. Molesley made his debut for the Pilgrims in the 1-0 home defeat by Chesterfield on November 24. The game against Oxford was only his second run-out of the season after injury.
Fletcher said: "He got on the ball and was a driving force from midfield. He was very tired at the end.
"It was only his second game of the season and he was cramping up and all sorts. We had to think about Saturday [against York] and make sure he didn't pick up a little injury. It was a catch-22, really. We didn't want to take him off because he was doing well but you could see he was tiring, and that's when you get your injuries."
Fletcher was frustrated by Argyle's exit from the JPT, after taking a 20th-minute lead with a goal from Alex MacDonald. Oxford drew level in the 66th minute with a header from James Constable.
Fletcher said: "We probably didn't play as well as we have done over the last few weeks, but in the second half we had some good periods and some good chances.
"We should have seen the game out, really, but we didn't. It was a poor goal from our point of view. Then you go to penalties and it's a lottery.
"We worked hard at keeping Oxford at bay and restricted them to minimal chances. They had a bit of possession but it was fine, we kept our shape. We probably didn't keep the ball as well as we could have, but once the rain started coming down it was very difficult."