Plymouth Argyle's Jamie Lowry progresses well on long road back from injury
PLYMOUTH Argyle midfielder Jamie Lowry has taken another step closer to full fitness after recovering from a long-term ankle injury.
Lowry played for nearly an hour of a specially arranged practice game for him against Exeter City at Home Park yesterday afternoon.
It was his first run-out in 12 weeks, since suffering his injury in a pre-season friendly away to Truro City in July.
Argyle trailed 2-0 to Exeter when Lowry was replaced by first-year professional Jared Sims in the 59th minute.
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However, the home side battled back to draw 2-2 after goals from apprentice striker Tyler Harvey and centre-back Curtis Nelson.
Argyle first team coach Kevin Nancekivell thought Lowry, who was signed as a free agent in the summer after leaving Chesterfield, put in a good shift against Exeter.
Nancekivell told Herald Sport: "Jamie is not there yet, but it was a great 60 minutes for him.
"He has been training with us now for a couple of weeks and this is just part of his development to get back to full fitness.
"It's going to be another couple of weeks before we see the real Jamie Lowry, but it's just nice to have him on the pitch because he was a big signing for us.
"We were delighted to get him and then the Truro game hit us hard with his injury.
"I'm delighted for Jamie because he has worked really hard. People don't see what he does with the physio, Paul Atkinson.
"When everyone else is playing and training, Jamie is away on his own working.
"He has worked really hard to get back to this stage and, hopefully, now we can take it up another notch and get him closer to a first team shirt."
Nancekivell added: "The game was there to get Jamie some minutes – purely for that reason – and I thought his performance was fine.
"He got better as the game went on, and for someone who has been out for three months he did terrific."
With Argyle no longer competing in a reserve team league, getting games for players who are not in the first team or returning from injury is not always easy.
So the fixture against Exeter was a useful exercise not only for Lowry but for several members of the Pilgrims' squad.
Nancekivell said: "We need more games like this, without a shadow of a doubt, not just for Jamie but for our first-year pros and everybody.
"It's an important part of the club that we have these development games and we are grateful to Exeter for coming down and playing us."
Argyle's starting line-up included four players who have featured for the first team this season – Nelson, his centre-back partner Jamie Richards, winger Joe Lennox and striker Nick Chadwick.
It was also a chance for young professionals such as goalkeeper Ollie Chenoweth, midfielder Jordan Copp and winger Jed Harper-Penman to get some match practice.
Nancekivell was in the dug-out for Argyle while manager Carl Fletcher and assistant boss Romain Larrieu watched from the stand.
Exeter took a 2-0 lead inside the opening half-an-hour and it was not until the 72nd minute that Argyle reduced the deficit.
Two of the Pilgrims' apprentices linked up as a cross from midfielder Jordan Berry was firmly headed past Exeter 'keeper Artur Krysiak.
The equaliser came four minutes later when City failed to clear their lines following a free-kick and Nelson slammed the ball into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Argyle's team also included 16-year-old left-back Ben Purrington and right-back Colin Watson, 17, who both earned praise from Nancekivell.
He said: "I thought the two young full-backs were terrific."
Argyle and Exeter will renew their rivalry at Home Park next Wednesday (October 24) in a FA Youth Cup first round tie (7pm).
Argyle: Ollie Chenoweth; Colin Watson, Curtis Nelson, Jamie Richards, Ben Purrington; Joe Lennox (James Bradley 65 mins), Jamie Lowry (Jared Sims 59 mins), Jordan Berry (River Allen 72 mins), Jed Harper-Penman; Jordan Copp; Nick Chadwick (Tyler Harvey 62 mins). Substitute (not used): Christian Walton (gk).