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.”