27/11/2009 : Yeovil Town Blog : Chipping Away At Yeovil's Travel Problems
27 November 2009 : Chipping Away At Yeovil's Travel Problems
Yeovil Town boss Terry Skiverton has explained his thinking regarding both his choice of substitutions and his concern over the club's away form. After Tuesday night's match at Gillingham, Skivo admitted he had growing concern at the club's performances on their travels, and felt that something may need to change.

Speaking to the Western Morning News, he expands upon that view, and explains why wingers Scott Murray and Andy Welsh were the two players sacrificed:

"I'm starting to wonder if I've got to pick a totally different team away from home than I pick at home. At home we play good football and I was disappointed that we didn't show bravery and try to get on the ball. The pitch (at the Priestfield Stadium) was narrow and tight and we couldn't get our wide people on the ball. It's not worth having Scott Murray and Andy Welsh in the team just to defend. I might have to think about what we do away from home."

The Priestfield Stadium pitch does have the reputation for being one of the narrowest, although whether that is justified or not is debatable. The Sky Sports Handbook (formerly known as the Rothmans) claims that Gillingham's pitch is 110x70 yards, whilst they list Huish Park as 120x75 yards (specifically 110x69 metres), suggesting that Yeovil's pitch does have a bit of extra legroom on it - 10 yards longer and 5 yards wider.

The sight of one of Murray or Welsh being withdrawn before the end of a match to invoke a tactical switch has been a fairly familiar one during this season, and both failed to last the distance on Tuesday. A similar change was done at Oxford United, with Welsh being withdrawn, and Jonathan Obika being moved from his right wing slot into a striking position. At Bristol Rovers, the Glovers only started firing once Obika had replaced Murray and the formation had been changed again. In all three cases, the removal of one or both wingers, and the inclusion of a second striker improved the overall team performance and balance.

Given Skiverton's comments concerning Murray and Welsh's defensive abilities, it may be that he feels the team need to defend more away from home, and that he therefore needs a formation or set of personnel that would satisfy that. Options available would include a 4-3-1-2 formation, allowing Obika and Sam Williams to partner up front, with Mason tucked behind, which Taff's Gloversblog recently suggested, albeit with Bowditch taking Williams' role. The other alternative is the 'diamond formation' (4-1-2-1-2) which was favoured under former manager Russell Slade for much of the club's away matches last season, and allowed the club to pick up a number of points. The downside of this formation is that it makes the play very narrow. The upside is that it made Yeovil very difficult to break down.

Certainly one obvious thing that needs to be considered is that one up front away from home isn't really working, with both Obika and Williams having frequently looked isolated from their teammates. Under the current 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 formation, the Glovers haven't scored away from home since August, with both goals against Bristol Rovers coming from set pieces after a switch had been made to a 4-4-2. Based on that, as soon as the Glovers go 1-0 down in an away match, it means they've got problems on their hands - unless they break the starting formation, which at Gillingham was forced into happening after just 20 minutes, and immediately limited the number of changes that could be made later in the game.

Whilst Yeovil's home form needs little doing to it, there is a touch of the Jekyll and Hyde about them once they get on the road, and that does need looking at. However, it also needs to be balanced by considering that if Skiverton does opt for alternating home and away tactics, that he risks disturbing the momentum of the home form by introducing change. Settled sides, particularly when they are winning, produce momentum and rhythm, and it's clear that the Glovers are a very confident side when they step out on the Huish Park turf. In 'fixing' the away form, Skiverton has to be cautious that he doesn't break what's already working.


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Comments On This Article
Taff said ...

Tricky innit? As you point out, Skivo's got to be careful. If he changes formation too radically away from home then he risks disrupting the home form. But FWIW I'm sticking to what I said in my blog. The lone striker is somehow becoming too isolated away from home and our wingers too peripheral. Better IMO to have 2 strikers with Mason buzzing around behind them and if that means playing more directly then so be it. What we've been doing up 'til now just ain't working.
28/11/2009 15:28:25

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