The beginning of the end?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Rich Mills

31 January 2018

Yeovil 3 Grimsby 0

It was a cold (but not too cold) evening in Zummerzet and unlike the last time I visited Huish Park I was driving, sober and therefore able to remember what happened. I wish I hadn't been. 

In the beer tent, a lovely lady with a penchant for cushions told us that her daughter was Josh Gowling's bestest mate. We shrugged and told her that this current town is a shadow of the team that beat them nine months ago. 

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with a starting XI of Killip; Mills, Clarke, Collins, Osborne; Berrett, Summerfield, Rose, Dixon; Matt, Vernam and Cardwell, Woolford, Warrington, Vernon, Jaiyesimi, Wilks, Clifton warming the bench. Well, it looked like 4-4-2, okay? You can argue the case for 5-3-2 if you want but as Dixon was hogging the halfway line and not tracking back, then I'm presuming he wasn't playing as a wing-back. No Jones who is still (ahem) recovering from a bug, and Dembele has a crocked back. Accordng to our physio, not Pompey's by the way.

First half

Yeovil kicked off from left to right and for a couple of minutes it all looked okay. It's all relative of course; our okay this season would not have been okay a couple of seasons ago but now our expectations are a lot lower. At least it was only lowly Yeovil, a team looking over their shoulders at the relegation places even more than us. We are looking, right?

Uh-oh. Collins totally mistimed a high ball and Yeovil's Zoko was in, only for Osborne to come to our rescue. Still, nothing to worry about. We went up the other end and Summerfield, I think, wasted an awful free kick.

And then on 5 minutes, it all unravelled as Rose went in two-footed on Green and was shown a straight red. Town's travelling support was angry, suggesting that the Glovers' man had dived but really their anger should have been directed at Rose. Why commit a reckless challenge that early in the game? It wasn't as if Green was anywhere near the goal, nor Rose the last man, so why do something stupid? 

Still, if I remember rightly from Russ's post Luton interview, it's difficult to play against 10 men so Yeovil were going to really struggle with the man advantage for 85 minutes. Vernam dropped deeper to cover the midfield gap as the game restarted. Yeovil looked quick but couldn't beat Collins who was putting in a bit of a shift as makeshift leftback. Oo! Was that a bicycle kick? Not a good one. 

Matt beat his man and legged it at the goal, created some space and shot from the edge of the area but it was saved by Yeovil's keeper.

Yeovil had pace and attacked in numbers. They got the ball onto the right wing, he'd beat a man and get the ball into the box where there were teammates waiting for the ball. It looked like a system, a definite plan, at least it did to us watching from the stands. Maybe Russ couldn't see it from the other side of the pitch or he'd have done something about it. Or don't we change anything until it's too late? Well, it was too late as Yeovil's system paid off and Wing netted through Killip's legs after a break down the wing. 

If Yeovil could shoot better we'd have been down by more than one goal but luckily for Town a couple of shots went well over the terrace into the car park. And it was luck for Town had no answer for a team running at them with intent. 

A booking for Summerfield, the side netting for Yeovil and Vernam working his socks off. You know what, he was playing like Sam Jones did last season, before he lost faith in his manager and wanted to leave. There, I've said it. We neatly turned attack to defence on half an hour and Killip then spilled a bobbling ball but luckily there was no Glover following up     

Come on Town, show some fight! Oh. I didn't mean with each other, but I guess it proves at least one of you is bothered. Osborne was booked after a spat of handbags with Summerfield and Matt displayed some wicked pace to track back and intervene. Crikey. 

Yeovil squandered another chance with some poor control and Dixon went into the book just before the break, the latest Town player to hack at a passing Glover.

Half time

There are posters in the loo advertising a series of summer gigs at Huish Park. Steps, Aqua and Blue, and Aha supported by one of the Thompson Twins.  

The pasties were superb by the way. Plenty of pepper and a nice traditional mix of steak, potato and swede.

Second half

Better late than never Far too late (it should have happened after Rose was dismissed), Russ made a change with DJ on for Dixon and it looked like he was playing a sort of wingback role to counter their winger and maybe also offer some threat up front. Oops, he lost his man. Killip saved him. Steady on, lads.

Summerfield and Vernam were putting in more effort than the rest of the team combined at this point. Pressing, harrying, chasing, tackling. Were Yeovil far better than their League position implied or were Town making them look good with the lack of numbers and static system?

Chance! Chances!! Collins headed over on 55 and that man Vernam had a dangerous run cancelled out by sheer numbers awake to his threat. 

Hold on, you're winning and you make an attacking substitutions? That's just not cricket, Yeovil! Former Mariner (technically speaking) Rhys Browne was one of the Glovers who entered the fray before Osborne decided to spice things up by getting himself a second booking for a stupid challenge. Idiot. Half an hour to go with nine men and fresh legs up front for them? We're not winning this one are we?

DJ beat a couple of men and shot wide and then Browne scrambled a goal with 20 minutes still to play. Dead and buried. Matt made way for Wilks with a quarter hour left before Gray made it three for them and a few Town fans headed for the exit. 

129 Town fans, by the way. I'm sure our directors are taking a close look at our dwindling home gates but they shouldn't ignore the away following. We used to take far more away to fixtures like this. You lose faith, Russ.

Russ shuffled his deck for a third and final (if only that might be true) with just over 10 minutes to go when he replaced the clearly knackered Vernam with Harry Clifton. Man of the match Barry Whittleton summed up the thoughts of the fans at Huish Park, and those at home with a shout of, "Do it when it matters you thunderous fucking arsehole!" which rang around the ground as clear as a bell. Quite. Introduce him when he can show us what he's got, when he can influence a game. 

The game should have petered out then but those that remained in their seats were rewarded with a superb pitch invasion as four young Yeovil fans jumped the fence in front of the home terrace and dashed the length of the pitch and up the opposite terrace and over the back fence onto the roof of the temporary toilets still there from the Man Utd game. Stuck they shrugged, climbed back and surrendered to the stewards. 

A final goal-line clearance and a charged-down shot kept the arrears down to three and the referee put us out of our misery. The remaining players walked over to the fans for some mutual appreciation. We couldn't and didn't blame them. They put in a lot of effort and were let down by some frankly ridiculous decision making by Osborne and Rose, and Russell's piss-poor tactics and squad building dismantling. You might think that some of them aren't good enough or that some are journeymen but it's not their fault that they're here and forced to play like this. You can see it in their faces that they're thinking the same as us.