Pirates excitement lured Ward

AZ Alkmaar travel to Dordrecht in the KNVB Beker fourth round in
midweek, while Ajax are away to Groningen.

AZ boss Gertjan Verbeek believes winning the Dutch Cup
represents the best chance for his side to qualify for Europe next
season.

Verbeek’s side are currently languishing in 12th place in the
Eredivisie table after a poor start which has seen them pick up
just 18 points from their opening 17 fixtures.

On Tuesday they travel to second-tier outfit Dordrecht, who are
currently third in the table and Verbeek is hoping his side can
book a place in the last eight of the competition.

“We want to be fighting for a place in Europe this season,” he
told reporters.

“This is from the league position, but this is now very
difficult because we have lost a lot of points.

“Performing well in the cup would take the pressure away. That’s
the pressure that we as a club have imposed on ourselves.

“The pressure of the players who want to perform and repeat what
we did last season.

“And of course the pressure of sponsors, public and the press
that help us remember our goals.”

Verbeek will have Donny Gorter after he recovered from a head
injury but his replacement Giliano Wijnaldum is likely to start the
match.

Tuesday’s other games see Den Bosch host Cambuur and Eredivisie
leaders PSV travel to Rijnsburgse Boys, who play in the third
tier.

Wednesday sees NAC Breda against Heracles, while Go Ahead Eagles
and PEC Zwolle face off. Vitesse play ADO ’20, while the tie of the
round sees Heerenveen host Feyenoord.

Groningen are at home to Ajax on Thursday in the last match of
the round.

The 22-year-old was sentenced to 12 months in prison at
Guildford Crown Court on Friday for actual bodily harm, with a
concurrent four-month sentence for common assault after pleading
guilty to both charges.

A statement on the club’s website read: “We were informed on
Friday afternoon that Joshua Payne had received a custodial
sentence after pleading guilty in relation to two charges following
an incident that occurred in Guildford in May 2012.

“In the light of this, notice to terminate the contract of the
player will be given forthwith. The club cannot condone or excuse
such behaviour.

“Our players and staff are important role models for our next
generation of supporters and will be reminded of their behavioural
responsibilities to the club at all times.”

Following Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Rochdale, boss Dean
Holdsworth said: “As a manager and a person I’m upset at what’s
happened, I love the lad. He’s had this hanging over his head for a
long time.

“The players love him, it’s a shock for everybody. I told the
players that if they’re going to do anything then Josh is part of
it – he’s part of us. Our thoughts are with is family, and we’ve
just got to get on with our jobs.”

Jennings will remain with Jim Gannon’s side until January 15,
although The Iron do have a 24-hour recall clause.

The 21-year-old has scored four goals in five games during his
stint with the Hatters.

The 61-year-old rejoined the struggling Pirates, a side he
managed between 1993 and 1996, on a contract until the end of the
season with a view to extending his stay at the Memorial Stadium –
a decision which meant he had to turn down a director of football
role at Plymouth Argyle.

“The excitement was the thing that convinced me that this was
the right thing to do,” he said. “I had been three months without a
job and I then had two choices which was incredible.

“With my hand on my heart; Plymouth was a great job and a nice
job. But this one puts my neck on the block. Part of me thinks I’m
crazy but part of my is excited about this fantastic
challenge.”

“I feel I have had to let Plymouth down a little bit but to be
fair to the people of Plymouth, they’ve been brilliant.

“They knew of my contact here and my affinity with this football
club. I had to do it. You have some things in life where you think
‘I have to do that’ and this is one of those things.

“I couldn’t turn Bristol Rovers down. Had it been any other
football club then I’d have probably said no and that I had a
commitment to Plymouth Argyle.”