04/12/2007 : Football League Blog : Football League Review : December 4th 2007
4 December 2007 : Football League Review : December 4th 2007
Following a busy weekend of FA Cup action that Russell Slade’s men watched from the sidelines, league football returns to a damp Huish Park later today. The Glovers’ last outing dates back ten days to the 24th of November, when they were beaten at the New Den, and the ever-changing League One table was shaken up once again.

Most significantly Swansea stormed to top spot, securing two valuable wins in the space of four days. Playing both on Saturday and on Tuesday, the South Wales outfit won both ties by the narrowest of margins, first away at Tranmere on the weekend, then at home to Hartlepool – both courtesy of single late goals.

By contrast, Hartlepool, who also played twice, lost on both occasions - first at the Priestfield, where Mark Stimson at last bagged a win for his new club (and slightly over-ambitious chairman), and then in midweek against the Swans.

Paul Sturrock’s last game in charge of Swindon Town was eventful to say the least, with four men seeing red, as an erratic Rob Styles appeared to lose his calm and was repeatedly mobbed by both sets of players. In the end the fiery Scotsman signed off with a controversial win, thanks to Christian Roberts’ second half penalty. Come full-time, an incredulous Bristol Rovers manager, Paul Trollope, was struggling somewhat to contain his rage.

Also surrounded by controversy was Luton’s tie with Southend United, this time off the pitch. Recently becoming the second club to suffer a point deduction this season, an underpaid Luton eleven did themselves proud at Kenilworth Road, Calvin Andrew’s 74th minute header earning them three precious points. Although they are currently only four points away from safety, it remains to be seen whether they will manage to cancel their deficit as effectively as Leeds did earlier this season.

However the cash-strapped Hatters have already moved off the bottom of the table, at the expense of season-long strugglers Port Vale - Lee Sinnott’s men throwing away a 1-0 lead at home to Donny after the break.

At the Withdean, Brighton did well to claw back twice against Carlisle, thanks to Forster’s second half brace. Meanwhile in-form Walsall inflicted yet another home defeat on Northampton Town.

Elsewhere, at the top end of the division, Nottingham Forest picked up some pace, as a lively Arron Davies found the net on the stroke of half time (his first goal at the City Ground since his green and white heroics last May). The Reds thereafter cruised to their third straight league win, brushing aside Crewe Alexandra, 2-0.

Promotion rivals Leyton Orient temporarily reclaimed first place, securing an excellent result against an otherwise in-form Huddersfield Town - Adam Boyd’s 7th goal of the campaign, coming as early as the 4th minute, and proving to be the difference between the two sides.

On Sunday Keith Downing’s Cheltenham worked miracles against Leeds United, who went into their away tie with the Robins, having suffered their third cup elimination in mid-week against Yeovil’s favourite neighbours Hereford United. Adding to the Whites’ dismay was Steven Gillespie, whose 86th minute strike handed the jubilant home side a famous win at Whaddon Road.

At the Fitness First Stadium, the Cherries looked decidedly unfit, as Oldham’s revival continued – Lee Hughes’ good form partly accounting for an emphatic 3-0 win. Since then the Glovers’ next opponents crashed out of the FA Cup at the New Den, where they also lost by two goals to one.

Last week in South London, Russell’s plan for a ‘fresh start to the season’ went decidedly pear shaped, as Millwall came from behind to claim victory.

Although the Glovers enjoyed a healthy spell of possession off the back of Walker’s goalmouth master-class, the battling Lions grew in confidence, and undid Yeovil in the space of ten shaky minutes.

Failing to score the second goal which would surely have put the game beyond reach for the home side, the men in hoops instead made a couple of costly defensive mistakes. Twice they were exposed on the left wing, and a combination of lacklustre marking and poor goalkeeping eventually handed Millwall, who of course brought on a surprisingly sharp-looking Akinfenwa, all three points.

In response, a slightly desperate Russell Slade threw on Premiership starlet Zoltan Stieber, but the green and whites charged forward in vain. Once again they missed that much-needed killer finish, and the Lions ran down the clock relatively comfortably.

Against Bournemouth, the Glovers will be boosted by the return of star-striker Marcus Stewart, who could well be started alongside ‘Basil’ Owusu and the increasingly impressive James Walker.

On paper, surely Glovers fans should expect all three points come ten o’clock, but with so many upsets already recorded this season, nothing can be taken for granted in League One, and, to avoid slipping into an awkward relegation dogfight, the men from Somerset will need to be on their guard more than ever.

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