Yeovil Town Ladies suffered a heavy defeat this afternoon at the hands of Chelsea Ladies with a 6-0 scoreline in their second Spring Series game. In a match played at Staines Town FC, the female Glovers appeared to be holding their own right up until the final minute before the break, but conceded twice inside a minute to give the home side the advantage. Chelsea's 2014 Player of the Season Ji So-Yun did the damage - her free kick opened the scoring by landing in the top corner, and she quickly scored the second by curling the ball into the net from the corner of the box.
The crowd at Wheatsheaf Park were soon seeing more goals nine minutes into the second half, when Drew Spence headed home from close range, with Erin Cuthburt adding another 13 minutes later. Chelsea then produced a quickfire double, as Chelsea's USA internationaal Crystal Dunn bagged the fifth followed by Ramona Bachmann who took advantage of a goalmouth scramble to poke home their sixth and final goal.
Yeovil's cause was not helped by losing goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes, after she picked up an injury during Bachmann's goal, leaving outfield player Helen Bleazard having to take the goalkeeper gloves for the final 15 minutes. With the Glovers left a bit shellshocked by the end, Yeovil captain Ellie Curson reminded her teammates that for the first 43 minutes they had played well, and said that much of the objective of the Spring Series was to bring themselves up to the new FAWSL1 standard, although clearly they have found the first two games a tough experience:
"It was tough. In the first half we competed for about 43 minutes and gave them the game in final two minutes of the first half. Obviously we were under a lot of pressure – we knew we were going to be today. They’re training every day together, they spend a lot of time together, so every game that we come up in this season is going to be tough. But to be honest I think we held our own for 43 minutes. Unfortunately they just came at us and that’s sometimes the way football goes. Disappointed and frustrating I think are the words that sum up our game today. I think we’ve learnt a lot. Even in terms of structure we’ve got a lot to learn as a club. Fitness wise we’re there for about 60-70 minutes and that’s when we start to fall off. I think we’ve learnt a lot, and we still have a lot to learn, but luckily enough the Spring Series offers that to us ready for September. Hopefully, in September, we’ll be able to compete at this level."
Final Score: Chelsea Ladies 6 Yeovil Town Ladies 0.
Following Saturday afternoon's 1-1 draw against Stevenage at Huish Park, Yeovil Town manager Darren Way spoke to the BBC about the game. With questions from local journalist Chris Spittles, in an interview for BBC Somerset, Darren talks about the draw, his thoughts on possibly making Barnet loanee Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro's stay a more permanent one, as well as his thoughts on plans for next season, and even his own position can be read in full via the link below.
The shape of the 2017-18 season in League Two has crystalised a little more this afternoon, with the conclusion of the standard season in League One. Yeovil Town will be playing Port Vale next season - who have Sam Foley on their books - after they failed to get the win they needed to keep themselves up. Their 0-0 draw at Fleetwood Town ultimately condemned them, meaning that the Valiants will join Swindon Town, Coventry City and Chesterfield in League Two next season.
Yesterday ensured that League Two's vital positions will go into the final game of the season, even if it looked at one stage that Hartlepool United were on the way down. Newport County had taken a shock lead at Carlisle United midway through Saturday afternoon, that would have settled the bottom two before the final day, but they ultimately lost 2-1. Hartlepool's 1-0 defeat at Cheltenham Town meant that Yeovil Town knew that they were safe slightly before the conclusion of their draw against Stevenage; the result also assured Cheltenham's own safety.
The results mean that Hartlepool have to win on the final day, and their match has been chosen by Sky Sports as their live match at Saturday teatime. The snag is that they're playing Doncaster Rovers at Victoria Park, with Donny needing victory to stand any chance of getting the League Two title. Newport County will be playing at Rodney Parade knowing that for their final fixture against Notts County, they either need to win, or to at least match Hartlepool's result to create what would be an incredible escape from relegation, given where the Exiles were at the point at which they sacked Graham Westley, when they were eleven points from safety.
The basket case ownership at Leyton Orient means they are already dead and buried, although the O's have now put out a statement claiming they have cleared their HMRC (tax man) debts, along with paying their staff wages. Not that this stopped an extraordinary situation at Brisbane Road, when an 84th minute pitch invasion stopped their game against Colchester United with the Essex side at that point 1-3 up. The protests appear to have been peaceful, with reports that Colchester fans joined in with their Eastern rivals in solidarity, with play being held up until 5.48p.m. when an announcement over the stadium told fans the game had been abandoned.
Orient fans eventually exited, and all went home, but it appeared that was a bit of a ruse to get the game completed. A total of 117 minutes later, Leyton Orient and Colchester players quietly sneaked back onto the pitch to play the remaining six minutes behind closed doors, with the end result important to Colchester's play-off hopes. We're disappointed to note that the Fourth Official merely signalled for "three minutes" added time, instead of the 117+3 minutes his board actually should have shown! The match finished with no further goals added.
The situation regarding the League Two play-offs remains beautifully chaotic, with only Luton Town and Exeter City being able to sleep soundly going into the final fixture. Any of Carlisle United, Blackpool, Stevenage, Cambridge United, Wycombe Wanderers and Mansfield Town can gain the final two play-off slots. From Blackpool in 7th place, who occupy the last play-off slots, there are currently clubs on 67, 67, 66, 66, 66 and 65 points which is likely to leave the final day going to the wire. Wycombe (11th) vs Cambridge (9th) looks like a dead rubber fixture until you realise that the winners only need Blackpool or Carlisle to drop points for them to sneak in on the final day.
In the National League, the final day of proper fixtures saw Aldershot grab the final play-off place. The two legged play-offs begin on Wednesday with the Shots at home to Tranmere Rovers, whilst on Thursday Dagenham and Redbridge are at home to Forest Green Rovers, with both games televised on BT Sport - the second legs take place next weekend.
Relegated From League One: Port Vale, Swindon Town, Coventry City, Chesterfield.
Promoted From League Two: Doncaster Rovers, Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth.
Former Yeovil Town loanee Shaun MacDonald looks set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering a horrific injury yesterday. The 28 year old, who had five loan spells at Huish Park whilst a Swansea City player, has suffered a double leg fracture, after he went in for a challenge with Reading's George Evans, whilst playing for Wigan Athletic in their 1-0 defeat at the Madejski Stadium.
MacDonald received on-the-pitch treatment for ten minutes before being stretchered off. Reports are that he has broken his tibia and fibula, meaning that he's likely to even miss the start of the 2017-18 season at this stage. Evans was booked for the tackle, but Wigan caretaker manager Graham Barrow has downplayed the role of the Royals player in the incident, saying he'd seen it as a fair challenge:
"I didn’t think there was a lot in the challenge. I don’t think the lad who tackled Shaun is that type of player – it wasn’t that type of game. It was just unfortunate. I heard the crack and I knew straight away he’d broken his leg. I’ve heard that noise three times in my career but I thought it was a fair challenge. I know the lad Evans and I’ve never seen that in his game."
Wigan have been relegated from the Championship, and so will start the 2017-18 season in League One.
For those who want to view match highlights of Saturday afternoon's 1-1 draw against Stevenage at Huish Park, these are now available online. You can see Barnet loanee Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro scoring his second goal for the Glovers, along with Josh McQuoid's equaliser, in two minutes worth of highlights, via YouTube on the video below.
Yeovil Town manager Darren Way believes that securing the club's safety in League Two for the 2017-18 season was a 'massive achievement' despite the second half of the campaign being one of attrition and struggle. The Glovers finally crept over the finish line on Game No.45 with a 1-1 draw against Stevenage that left them seven points clear of Hartlepool United, who are now hot favourites to be relegated after their 1-0 loss against Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road.
Saturday afternoon's draw also pushed Yeovil onto the 50 point mark, which is a much used benchmark in clubs trying to avoid going down. Speaking after the game, Way claimed that milestone had been their target for the players to get to, and so was more than happy with today's outcome:
"The players have got a lot of responsibility on them today. There was always that element of doubt with it not being mathematically safe. But this football club has got a huge history of success. We've got to try to do everything that we can to improve on the mistakes that we've made this year, and get off to a good start, but also maintain it in the second part of the season. We aimed for 50 points because in the dressing room it was really important that with the budget we were working with this year, to financially get the club stable and in a healthy position. That was a massive achievement."
The second half of the 2016-17 season has been a difficult one, with the club having picked up just three wins in 26 matches - a run of form that would leave them only above the current bottom two clubs if it was repeated at the start of a campaign. Despite that form, Way believed he still had the full support of the Yeovil Town board, and said that the Directors would see it as a 'massive plus' that the club had been made financially stable during the season - an issue that club haven't previously suggested was at stake:
"I think they know with the rounds and the Quarter-Finals of the Checkatrade, and the smallest squad we've ever worked with, and the most points that we've got in the last three years, and we've financially made the football club stable. From upstairs, I think that's a massive plus. For me of course I want loads of money, but sometimes loads of money doesn't guarantee you success. All I'm asking for is stability. You can see the football club has had an unbelievable time of developing young players. I want to make sure that no-one else reaps the rewards next year, and I can stand there and manage players that have ups and downs, have gained experience and have become better footballers with this club. Hopefully with the agents, the wages and the players, we can be able to make that happen."
If you watched Saturday afternoon's 1-1 draw against Stevenage at Huish Park, don't forget to cast your Man of the Match votes. Choose your top three players from the match, plus entertainment and performance ratings along with any other comments you want to make on the game, using the form below.
Yeovil Town's 2016-17 end of season awards took place following Saturday afternoon's home match against Stevenage. The main winner was defender Alex Lacey who picked up three awards on the day, along with one runners up award. Full awards were as follows:
GWSC Awards: Alex Lacey
Western Gazette Awards: Matt Dolan
Cary Glovers: Artur Krysiak (1st), Alex Lacey (2nd)
Bobby Hamilton Young Player Award: Otis Khan
Andy Stone Memorial Trophy: Francois Zoko
DSA: Alex Lacey
Community Sports Trust Player Award: Alex Lacey
Community Sports Trust Community Award: Artur Krysiak
Our congratulations to the above players for collecting their awards on the day.
Yeovil Town secured the one point they needed to guarantee League Two football for the 2017-18 season, when they secured a 1-1 draw against Stevenage. In an often cagey game, with both sides needing points, but on the other hand not wanting to throw away what they had, it was Barnet loanee Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro who got the opening goal when he steered the ball into the bottom corner just before the break. Stevenage equalised six minutes after the interval when Josh McQuoid converted from close range from a corner kick. That was enough to ensure that Hartlepool United can't catch Yeovil, leaving them in 19th place at the end of the day.
The Glovers went into the match naming an unchanged eleven from the team that turned out against Grimsby Town. Even the seven on the substitutes bench were unchanged, with the trio of Darren Ward, Artur Krysiak and Kevin Dawson all out injured. Stevenage, who went into the match in a play-off position, fielded former Glovers trialist Jamie Jones, who played a couple of Reserve Team matches whilst Russell Slade was first team manager.
The visitors had an early Ben Kennedy effort that went wide of the target, but had to defend their lines when Yeovil Town set themselves up with a couple of chances. Otis Khan set up Matt Dolan, whose shot was deflected into the side netting for a corner. Then Khan himself cut in from the flank before delivering a curling effort just wide of the post. Given Stevenage needed the win to get all three points, it was a surprise to not see them pressing further up the field, with neither keeper particularly busy - a Steven Schumacher free kick more dangered the cars parked behind the away end, than any goal nets.
It took 34 minutes for either side to get a shot on target, as Ben Kennedy got himself some room to shoot from distance, although Jonny Maddison's save was a relatively comfortable one. Maddison had to do rather more when Thomas Pett turned his man and provided a driven shot that had to make the Yeovil keeper work rather harder. Yeovil finally got their first on target effort four minutes before the break from Otis Khan but it was to produce probably their best bit of concentrated play, and most importantly a goal.
With two minutes to go before the break, Otis Khan put the ball into the box towards the near post, and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro was able to compose himself and give room to fire a downward shot into the bottom corner of the net from 12 yards out. 1-0 up in a 45 minute period that wasn't a classic, but in closing the half out with a flurry of corners, the Glovers had just about done enough to be ahead.
A quiet start to the second half saw Stevenage equalise with the first shooting opportunity six minutes in. Yeovil conceded a corner, and when Jack King put the set piece into the box, Jonny Maddison seemed to get himself out of position, failing to claim the ball, and Josh McQuoid got the chance for a close range finish and a 1-1 scoreline.
The goal seemed to give Stevenage a bit of a lift, and Maddison redeemed himself when he stopped a Steven Schumacher effort at the base of his goalpost. Maddison then had to save from Jobi McAnuff before a Ben Kennedy effort went over the crossbar via a Glovers deflection. It took a while for Yeovil to recompose themselves as they looked nervous from set pieces. However, with their first effort of the second half they really should have been ahead themselves - great work by Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro saw him square the ball, but somehow Francois Zoko squirmed the ball wide of the post from ultra-close range.
Stevenage were the side that needed the points more than the Glovers, with the play-off slots in League Two on a knife-edge. They gradually made all three substitutions, including putting defender Jack King up front in an attempt to force things their way. They came close when Jamie Gray produced a low shot that Maddison somehow clawed away for a corner, but without providing the killer blow that would prevent Yeovil Town taking on the final whistle the one point that they needed for their League Two survival.
Yeovil Town: 12. Johnny Maddison
2. Liam Shephard 6. Alex Lacey 3. Nathan Smith (Capt) 11. Ryan Dickson
28. Ben Whitfield 8. Alex Lawless 4. Matt Dolan 10. Otis Khan
13. Francois Zoko 31. Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro
Substitutes: 6. Bevis Mugabi 9. Tom Eaves 16. Matt Butcher (90 mins for Ben Whitfield) 17. Omar Sowunmi 19. Brandon Goodship 32. Tom James 39. Shayon Harrison
Stevenage: 1 Jamie Jones
25 Ronnie Henry 19 Dean Wells 4 Jack King 20 Connor Ogilvie
22 Charlie Lee
14 Ben Kennedy 8 Steven Schumacher 11 Thomas Pett 7 Jobi McAnuff
10 Josh McQuoid
Substitutes: 5 Fraser Franks 6 Luke Wilkinson (81 mins for Josh McQuoid) 16 Chris Day 17 Dale Gorman 18 Michael Tonge (69 mins for Ben Kennedy) 31 Jamie Gray (75 mins for Charlie Lee) 33 Kgosietsile Ntlhe
Yeovil Bookings: None.
Stevenage Bookings: None.
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 50%; Shots: 8; Shots On Target: 4; Corners: 6; Fouls: 7.
Stevenage Match Statistics: Possession: 50%; Shots: 11; Shots On Target: 7; Corners: 6; Fouls: 10.
Referee: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire). Assistants: Adam Bromley (Devon) and Ravel Cheosiaua (Worcestershire). Fourth Official: John Farries (Oxfordshire).
Yeovil Town have chosen their starting line-up for this afternoon's League Two match against Stevenage at Huish Park. The match sees the Glovers name an unchanged starting line-up compared to the team that played against Grimsby Town last Saturday. There are also no changes to the bench, with the entire eighteen being preserved.
Football League rules mean the club has to leave out two of its loan players. Once again Swansea City attacker Owain Jones and Milton Keynes Dons winger Kabongo Tshimanga are the pair to miss out. Other absentees due to injuries include Darren Ward (swollen knee) and goalkeeper Artur Krysiak (twisted ankle) - neither are expected to play for the remainder of the season. Midfielder Kevin Dawson (gashed ankle) is also missing. Midfielder Joe Lea is on loan with Gosport Borough. Midfielder Ollie Bassett doesn't make the teamsheet.
The team is as follows - we'll assume that the more recent successful usage of the 4-4-2 formation would mean that continues:
Yeovil Town: 12. Johnny Maddison
2. Liam Shephard 6. Alex Lacey 3. Nathan Smith (Capt) 11. Ryan Dickson
28. Ben Whitfield 8. Alex Lawless 4. Matt Dolan 10. Otis Khan
13. Francois Zoko 31. Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro
Substitutes: 6. Bevis Mugabi 9. Tom Eaves 16. Matt Butcher 17. Omar Sowunmi 19. Brandon Goodship 32. Tom James 39. Shayon Harrison
Stevenage: 1 Jamie Jones
25 Ronnie Henry 19 Dean Wells 4 Jack King 20 Connor Ogilvie
22 Charlie Lee
10 Josh McQuoid 8 Steven Schumacher 11 Thomas Pett 7 Jobi McAnuff
14 Ben Kennedy
Substitutes: 5 Fraser Franks 6 Luke Wilkinson 16 Chris Day 17 Dale Gorman 18 Michael Tonge 31 Jamie Gray 33 Kgosietsile Ntlhe
Later today at Huish Park, Yeovil Town will present its 2016-17 End Of Season Awards at the end of the game. The presentations will be made at around 5.00p.m. on Saturday 29th April once the League Two match against Stevenage has concluded and after a short break to enable the players to visit the dressing rooms and for the club to organise the trophy presentations.
As usual, a wide range of trophies will be presented, and the presentations made to the players will include (in no particular order):
Western Gazette Winner
Andy Stone Memorial Trophy
Cary Glovers Winner
Bobby Hamilton Young Player Award
YT Community Sports Trust Winner
DSA Player of the Year
As per previous seasons, please stay off the pitch at the end of the game, as this will only delay proceedings, and can be labelled as a breach of Ground Regulations. Past seasons have tended to see the last presentations made by around 5.30p.m. so if you're planning your evening or a lift home, then allow an extra half hour on top of the usual time you exit Huish Park.
As part of the build-up to the League Two home match against Stevenage at Huish Park, Yeovil Town manager Darren Way spoke to the BBC about the fixture. With questions from BBC Somerset reporter Dan Albutt, Darren givens an update on injuries, his thoughts on commencing contract talks, and his expectations for tomorrow's visitors. Read that interview via the link below.
Officials for the League Two fixture between Yeovil Town and Stevenage have been published by the Football League. The match takes place on Saturday 29th April 2017, with a 3.00p.m. kick-off at Huish Park. The man in charge of the fixture will be referee Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire) - the second time we've had him this month, having seen him at Fratton Park for the League Two match against Portsmouth.
We've had Mr Horwood seven times before as a match referee. The first was for the 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in December 2007 at Huish Park. We were more than happy with his first half performance, but felt that the longer the game went on, the more he seemed to be conscious of the match scoreline - booking Yeovil players for apparent time-wasting that had been no worse than offences committed by Brighton players whilst the score had been level, and awarding the Seagulls a series of controversial decisions. As such, he seemed to be getting a little too wrapped up in the game, rather than letting it flow as he had done so during the first period.
The second was the January 2009 1-0 win over Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road. Not the best of games to watch by any stretch of the imagination, but all of that was forgotten when Gavin Tomlin's 94th minute goal sent the away support slightly mad. We managed to recover our composure enough to remember that Mr Horwood had "an excellent game". We were due to have Mr Horwood for a home League One match against Stockport County in September 2009, but by the time everyone got to Huish Park, Mr Horwood had been replaced for an unspecified reason.
Next up was the April 2010 match at Griffin Park that saw Brentford and Yeovil Town share a 1-1 draw. The two teams also shared two highly dubious refereeing decisions. The one that went for us was a penalty that Brentford conceded for a handball that visiting supporters at the other end of the field didn't spot. Gavin Tomlin showed no mercy against his former club. But they do say luck levels itself out, and so it did when Mr Horwood penalised Luke Ayling for an excellent sliding tackle, and Brentford stuck a superb equaliser from the dead ball situation. No damage done to either side, but two wrongs don't make a right.
We were due to have Mr Horwood refereeing our October 2010 home match against Swindon Town but for the second time in being named as a match official for a Yeovil Town match, he was withdrawn and replaced by Mick Russell. He was then named for the December 2010 game against Carlisle United, but that match was called off long before the Cumbrians or Mr Horwood could get near the ground. He finally made it down for the rearranged match in March of that season, and overall had a "tidy" game, but one that was ended early by an injury during the second half, meaning that he had to be 'substituted'.
He headed down to Huish Park for the August 2014 League One match that opened the 2014-15 season against Doncaster Rovers. The 0-3 scoreline had us more concerned about the performance of our defensive line, than of the officials. There was another 0-3 home defeat during the early part of the 206-7 season, with the September 2016 League Two match against Blackpool on the messy side from our point of view. We had one gripe with him during the match. We'd been a bit lucky that Brad Potts didn't get a penalty when he was tackled inside the box by Matt Butcher. When the referee decided not to take any action a minute later when a Pools defender tried to take Tahvon Campbell's shirt home with him, it was comical that it was not given, and reeked of an official trying to balance out his own error.
Our most recent meeting was earlier this month for the 3-1 defeat against Portsmouth at Fratton Park. He managed to come out of the match without raising a single yellow card, although did have one major decision to make. He gave Portsmouth their opening penalty, but it was one that even green'n'white supporters would have nodded along with, as Bevis Mugabi miscontrolled a ball inside his own box, with the end result being a fairly obvious foul on Gary Roberts, which Gareth Evans dispatched. We don't recall too much else that was contentious - most seemed to come down to Pompey's superiority on the day, and the Glovers making one too many formation changes that seemed to upset things a bit at times.
It's worth noting that although Mr Horwood has been officiating at Football League level for a decade, our meetings have been a little sporadic, and part of that is down to his own movements. During the 2011-12 season he officiated very briefly at Conference level, followed by a more full-looking season at the same level during the next year. By the start of the 2013-14 season though he was back refereeing at Football League level again, only to spend the 2015-16 season only doing a short spell between October and January that meant he only took charge of twelve games during that season.
Mr Horwood will be assisted by Adam Bromley (Devon) and Ravel Cheosiaua (Worcestershire). The Fourth Official will be John Farries (Oxfordshire).
Yeovil Town striker Francois Zoko is hopeful that himself and the club will find some way to 'continue the adventure' at Huish Park. The 33 year old faces his old club Stevenage tomorrow, almost certain to finish as the Glovers' top goalscorer for the 2016-17 season, with currently 13 goals to his name.
Having also finished as joint top goalscorer during the 2015-16 season, despite having only arrived in November, meaning that he's clocked up 21 goals in 68 appearances, despite starting only 49 matches. Zoko has confirmed that he is one of the fifteen players that is out of contract at the end of this season, and although he admits nothing is certain, he is currently optimstic that something can be sorted out to take him beyond the summer:
"I'm at the end of my contract, so hopefully we're going to find some way to continue the adventure with Yeovil. I'm looking forward to that. But this is football and not everything happens like you want it to every time. So we will see, but today I'm really optimistic."
Whilst the club have yet to reveal which players will be offered contracts, or which manager Darren Way has held talks with, Zoko strongly implies that he is one of those who have been spoken to recently. He says that he has made his position clear, and is now waiting on the football club to see what they can offer him:
"The gaffer and the club know my position, and I've been clear. If I didn't want (to stay) I would say that clearly too. My first choice is Yeovil. So they have it in their hands to find an agreement. So I'm waiting - I don't know how it will happen, but I'm waiting, and if everything is alright then it will be fine."
The Football League have announced their list of Family Excellence Award winners for the season just gone. This is effectively a 'kitemark' for its member clubs who meet a certain standard in terms of dealing with Family related matters - covering ticket purchase, pre-match advice, entertainment inside and outside the stadium, access to players, mascot packages and dedicated family zones.
Yeovil Town had been given the Family Excellence Award for seven seasons running following its inception, but they dropped off the list in May 2015 and were also absent from the May 2016 list. It's therefore pleasing to see that they have now been restored to the list of clubs that have met that standard during the 2016-7 season.
There are eight clubs that have maintained a full record throughout the ten years that it's been running: Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Cardiff City, Doncaster Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town, Milton Keynes Dons and Reading. This season has seen the Football League give the Award to a total of 51 clubs - the highest number they've recognised in a single season. The list of clubs included are as follows:
AFC Wimbledon, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Cambridge United, Cardiff City, Carlisle United, Charlton Athletic, Cheltenham Town, Chesterfield, Colchester United, Crawley Town, Crewe Alexandra, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Exeter City, Fulham, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Luton Town, Mansfield Town, Millwall, Milton Keynes Dons, Morecambe, Newport County, Northampton Town, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Oxford United, Peterborough United, Portsmouth, Preston North End, Queens Park Rangers, Reading, Rochdale, Rotherham United, Scunthorpe United, Sheffield Wednesday, Shrewsbury Town, Southend United, Stevenage, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers, Yeovil Town.
The Award Winners are selected after the Football League send 'mystery shoppers' to member clubs to act out a typical family day at the stadium. Those families then give feedback to the League in terms of how good or bad their experience was on the day. Football League Chief Executive Shaun Harvey has said of this season's award winners:
"The EFL Family Excellence Awards have proven to be a fantastic vehicle for celebrating and highlighting the excellent progress that clubs are making in providing families with improved matchday experiences. Now in their 10th year, the Awards have made a significant impact and this year’s winners have once again shown how innovative thinking and a strong commitment can enhance the experience for both home and away supporters. I wish to congratulate each and every club who has been recognised for playing their part in continuing to attract a growing number of younger fans to the game in what is undoubtedly a valuable indication of a bright and healthy future for the EFL."
Yeovil Town striker Francois Zoko will undoubtedly finish as the club's 2016-17 season top goalscorer, but he has had one of his tally chalked off. During the club's April 3-1 defeat against Portsmouth, their 51st minute goal at Fratton Park was somewhat surprisingly credited to Zoko, even though most fans at the game considered that it was an own goal by Enda Stevens.
The Football League's Dubious Goals Committee have now met, and agreed that the goal should be classed as an own goal. That now gives Zoko a tally of 13 goals for the season, rather than the 14 goals he might have wanted to keep.
Unusually, this is the third time this season that the Dubious Goals Committee have had to intervene this season. Back in August, the EFL Cup tie against Walsall saw Tahvon Campbell credited with a 103rd minute goal - a bizarre claim given that video footage showed him 10 yards from the ball! The goal was eventually credited as a Amadou Bakayoko own goal.
Then in October 2016, Tom Eaves was initially credited as having scored the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Newport County, but that was later withdrawn, with the Committee stating that Newport's Dan Butler had put the ball into his own net.
The recrediting of the goal now means that Yeovil Town have benefitted through four own goals this season - the largest tally since they entered the Football League. You have to go back to 2000-01 to find a season in which more goals had been 'scored' by opposition players in a single season, with six being netted during that campaign.
Former Yeovil Town manager Gary Johnson won't be returning to front line management until next season, after he was forced to return to hospital for treatment on a secondary problem. The 61 year old Cheltenhamm Town boss has had to step back from his position at Whaddon Road since mid-March after he underwent a triple heart bypass operation, and although he quickly exited hospital and attended a couple of his side's games, it appears that an unrelated condition has forced him back into hospital again.
Writing in Cheltenham Town's matchday programme for their League Two match against Hartlepool United tomorrow, Johnson explains in his management column that he has developed a problem with his nervous system that has caused him problems with his legs. However, he stresses that this has nothing to do with his heart operation, and that although it's likely to put him out of action for a couple of weeks, he is able to at least lie on his hospital bed and keep himself productive:
"Unfortunately after my heart surgery I developed a problem with my nervous system, where my immune system created a misfunction of my legs. It's nothing to do with the heart surgery, it was just unlucky. I have made my hospital room my 'bunker' where I have been able to at least keep my brain ticking over by watching all of our games. I have also watched training sessions and discussed my thoughts with (assistant manager) Russell Milton and the other staff on a regular basis. We have been able to plan each game and pick each team accordingly. I am disappointed my medical team have told me I must rest for a few weeks yet. I look forward to seeing everyone next season. It will be a big summer coming up for us to build a squad that will be consistent and effective in League Two."
Johnson's side face a six-pointer against Hartlepool United. If the Robins win or draw that match, they are guaranteed safety in League Two for next season, given their opponents lie four points beneath them in the relegation zone. A point or three for Cheltenham would also simultaneously guarantee Yeovil Town's own survival, regardless of how they get on against Stevenage at Huish Park.
It's usually a slow and drawn out process around this time of year, but Yeovil Town manager Darren Way has stated that he has finally got permission to move forward with contract talks for his soon-to-be out of contract players. Whilst the official policy of the club over the last decade has been for contracts not to be given to players until the club's status in a given division is mathematically certain, it would seem that the extreme circumstances that would be needed for Yeovil Town to be relegated have convinced the club's Board of Directors that the Glovers are 99.9% safe.
As such, Darren is now able to open formal talks with his first team squad - something that may not be a quick conversation given that there are fifteen players to wade through the futures of. As yet, Way has not offered any concrete information as to who he wants to keep and who he plans to let go, although the general vibe has been that he hopes to keep the bulk of his squad members who have been regular part of his 2016-17 teamsheet.
He confirmed to BBC Somerset today that talks were now underway with 'one or two' players, claiming that he hoped to be able to get some of his players to sign up as early as next week:
"We've had discussions this week, which is good news - not just good news, fantastic news. I've spoken to one or two key players and it looks very promising. What I have got to do next week is I've got to make sure those key players are signed on the dotted line. The board have given the green light. I've spoken to one or two that have been very positive. So hopefully we can have good news next week."
One of the players to be interviewed this week by the media has been striker Francois Zoko, who faces his old club Stevenage on Saturday. He has told the BBC that he 'wants to stay' although at this time of year there are few footballers who would burn their bridges with their current clubs, particularly with two games of this season still yet to be played.
Yeovil Town will go into their League Two match against Stevenage on Saturday, with three players receiving treatment for injuries. Two of them are not expected to be on the teamsheet, with club captain Darren Ward already ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Meanwhile goalkeeper Artur Krysiak was spotted on Easter Monday wearing a knee-high protective boot and carrying a pair of crutches, with the club having described it as a 'twisted ankle'. Although the club have not given out a prognosis on the injury, the visual situation from ten days ago would not suggest a quick return.
The player most likely to get near the teamsheet is midfielder Kevin Dawson. Manager Darren Way revealed that the Irishman picked up a knock in the match against Portsmouth earlier this month - something that Dawson himself referred to in a post-match interview at Fratton Park. Whilst he got himself through the two Easter holiday fixtures, he was withdrawn from the squad for the Grimsby Town game, with Way indicating that he had been told to rest on 'medical grounds'.
For Saturday, manager Darren Way has indicated that he will be again conferring with his medical team before considering whether Dawson should play on Saturday. As far as we know, both substitutions made on Saturday at Grimsby were tactical, meaning that they should be the only forced absentees.
This weekend sees the deadline for Yeovil Town's 'Early Bird' Season Ticket Applications for the 2017-18 season. The pricing package for next season holds until the end of Sunday, with prices going up from Monday morning onwards. That inevitably means that this weekend's home League Two fixture against Stevenage will see the Ticket Office busier than usual. If you are planning to purchase or renew your Season Ticket for the 2017-18 season, here's some advice:
Thursday and Friday: The Ticket Office will be open as usual from 9.00a.m. until 5.00p.m. on Thursday and Friday, either in person or via 01935-847888. If you can purchase your Season Ticket on either of those days, then you'll be avoiding the last minute rush. This is particularly relevant if you've got any changes to your personal details or seating requirements that might require a discussion or a bit of time to process.
Saturday: If you are planning to purchase your Season Ticket on the Saturday, please complete your Season Ticket Application Form at home, if possible, and bring the form, and any payment in an envelope. Unless you've got particularly unusual/special requirements or seat alterations for your Ticket, the best advice will be to hand in your Application Form at the Huish Park Reception (situated next to the Club Shop) rather than queuing up at the Ticket Office.
The closer you get to kick-off, the greater the chance that the club will need to concentrate upon Stevenage-related issues, so if you turn up much beyond 1.30p.m. or 2.00p.m. then you'll probably be asked to just hand over your envelope/form, with the club inspecting the contents of it later on. Hence make sure your application includes a telephone number just in case they need to call you later.
The Ticket Office will also open for around one hour after the game, to help cater for anyone who wasn't able to hand theirs in before kick-off.
Sunday: The Ticket Office will be open from 10.00a.m. until 12.00 noon. However, note that only one person will be manning the office, so priority will be given to personal visitors - incoming telephone calls may not be answered if they are dealing with a personal customer.
Online Payments: You can avoid all of the hassle of queuing by using the club's online Ticketing Portal. Particularly if you're just renewing your exact same seat/position in the ground, or don't mind where you sit, you can do so by logging into the Portal and making an online payment. You can use this facility 24 hours a day, meaning that the Early Bird prices will be available up until 11.59p.m. on the Sunday night.
Out Of Hours Visits: If you are passing Huish Park outside any of the standard opening hours, then you can still drop off your application form. Again make sure both the Application Form and the payment are inside a sealed envelope. There is a letter box on the Main Stand side, close to the Club Shop/Reception area. Put "Ticket Office : Season Ticket Application" on the front of the envelope. You can then drop your application form through the letter box, and they'll process it when they're next open. Again, make sure there's a telephone number included on the application form in case they need to call you. These can be dropped off at any time up until the end of Sunday night.
NOTE: If you've not got an Application Form, you can download and print one off by clicking here - it's a 4.7Mb file so make sure you've got a decent internet connection first. For other Season Ticket Information head here.
Following Saturday afternoon's 4-2 defeat against Grimsby Town at Blundell Park, Yeovil Town midfielder Alex Lawless spoke to the BBC about the game. With questions from local journalist Chris Spittles, in an interview for BBC Somerset, Alex gives his views on the match, the decision for the third goal, and his side's failure to secure League Two safety. Read that interview via the link below.
Yesterday saw Yeovil Town Chairman John Fry respond to the Glovers Trust's letter concerning a Legal Charge on the Huish Park land and other associated issues. This was a response to around 13 questions the Trust had raised. The latest Taff's Gloversblog goes back to the start, and judges whether the Trust have got their answers to those questions, and where the gaps exist. Read the analysis via the link below, and feel free to add in your own thoughts on the questions and answers.
Yeovil Town have arranged their first pre-season of the 2017-18 season. They will be travelling to the Memorial Stadium to play Bristol Rovers who look likely to finish in the top half of League One by the end of this season.
The match will take place on Tuesday 25th July, with a 7.45p.m. kick-off at the Memorial Stadium. There is no ticketing information available at this stage.
Yeovil Town have issued a response to a letter penned by the Glovers Trust earlier this month. Their letter from April 5th, asked a series of questions related to the club's ownership and the split of assets between the various Yeovil Town 'Group' companies. The club have provided a response to their letter.
Whilst we read, digest and analyse the club's response, this is the reply in full - penned under the name of Chairman John Fry, acting for Yeovil Town Holdings Limited and the Yeovil Football and Athletic Club Limited (aka Yeovil Town Football Club):
"I have discussed your letter dated the 4th April with my Board of Directors and have to say, we are disappointed with the way you have chosen to communicate with us in public and, effectively, chosen to create misconceptions which may be harmful to the well being of the Football Club and its loyal supporters.
We have made it clear in our meetings with you that we have nothing to hide and any communication privately to myself seeking clarification or raising appropriate queries will be responded to. We would again urge you to become a member of the new Supporters Alliance, created to bring all official supporter groups closer together and closer to the Football Club for the benefit of everyone. Regular meetings will be held to debate any issues and to communicate more freely and fully.
There is no floating charge of any nature, nor any Debenture. This is the normal way of establishing such a charge over a business and/or its assets where the floating charge may crystallise into a fixed charge upon the occurrence of a specified event of default. It is in the public domain and correctly recorded at Companies House how the ‘Yeovil Town Group’ is structured. As you must know, Yeovil Town Holdings Limited (YTH) was set up in 2009 as part of the much publicised restructuring of the Group, and is the holding company for the Group and the Company in which all external shares are held. YTH holds
100% of the shares of Yeovil Football & Athletic Club (YTFC) and YTFC holds 100% of the shares of Yeovil Town FC Academy Limited.
None of the 26-acre site is in the ownership of any party other than YTH and YTFC. I can confirm that YTFC does not owe any money to Mr. Norman Hayward. YTH does owe Mr. Hayward the figure mentioned of £427,000, which is secured by a Legal Charge between YTH and Mr. Hayward. This figure includes the £278,000 originally secured. As explained above, there is no floating charge in existence at any level. The Legal Charge over the Stadium Land was put in place to secure a proposed loan from Mr. Hayward to YTFC of additional working capital which, to date, has not been required so, effectively, its provisions are not operative i.e. the Stadium is not security for anything. It could be discharged at any time, at minimal cost, should the envisaged loan not be required.
Board meetings of both YTH and YTFC are held regularly and conducted in accordance with best principles of corporate governance, Company Law and EFL Rules and Regulations (as appropriate). Companies Act provisions relating to conflicts of interest are observed at all times, and we can assure you that there has not been any disagreement in either Board, or any dissent, at decisions which have been properly taken. Succession planning has been carefully considered but must remain confidential. All annual accounts have been filed on a timely basis by the Company’s Auditors, after approval by the respective Boards."
In due course, we'll match up the Trust's original questions posed to the club, and see where inside the letter they have (or haven't) replied to the Trust's points.
Yeovil Town have appointed a Supporters Director to provide a link between fans and the football club. They have named former Yeovil Town Ladies Chairman and President David Mills, who will report to the Yeovil Town Board of Directors in that role.
He has been standing as an Associate Director of Yeovil Town Football Club since 2013 - a position that means a person takes on Director level responsibilities, but without being named as the main Company-registered list of Board Members. The club had previously used Stephen Allinson as a Supporters Director, but he implicitly relinquished his position when he took up the Yeovil Town Ladies Chairmanship on a dedicated basis.
David can be reached on Twitter via his account here - there will hopefully be other communication channels to follow, but the historical email address used over the years has been email@example.com
Yeovil Town supporters wanting to attend Saturday's final home match of the 2016-17 season should note that Junior supporters can attend the match FREE of charge. Any supporter aged Under-16 can pick up a free ticket from the Huish Park Ticket Office for the Saturday 29th April match at Huish Park, which kicks off at 3.00p.m.
If you've already purchased a Junior Ticket, hold onto it, and visit the Huish Park Ticket Office or give them a call on 01935-847888 to sort out a refund.
Former Yeovil Town striker Dean Bowditch is to leave Milton Keynes Dons. The 30 year old has spent six years with the League One side, and was part of their squad that gained promotion to the Championship at the end of the 2014-15 season. He had scored 48 goals in 227 appearances, but will be looking for a new club over the summer.
Whilst it's not absolutely explicit, the implication is that it's Bowditch himself that's chosen to pull the plug on his time in Milton Keynes. His time on the pitch has been rationed slightly this season, with just 35 appearances, bringing him nine goals, and that may have entered his thoughts. He explained his departure in a statement to their club website:
"I've enjoyed some fantastic memories during six years at MK Dons but all great things come to an end and it's time for a new challenge. I will never forget the night against Manchester United, promotion to the Championship and scoring the winning goal against AFC Wimbledon earlier this season. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve those things without the support of the chairman, the staff and my team-mates over the six years. I’d also like to say a massive thank you to the fans for their continued support. I wish the Club all the best for the future."
Bowditch left Yeovil Town for Milton Keynes in the summer of 2011, having spent two years at Huish Park, and scoring 25 goals in 75 appearances, finishing as the club's top goalscorer in both seasons. He was offered new terms at the end of the 2010-11 season, but decided to turn down the contract offer, leaving the club as a free agent.
Given his pedigree at League One, we'd expect him to be looking for a club at that level to continue his career.
The Football League have issued a statement responding to two statements issued jointly by employees of Leyton Orient to the press. Yesterday saw Orient staff issue their second statement pointing out that the East London local media had been blanked by Orient's senior executives when attempting to obtain information as to why staff had not been paid their March 2017 wages.
This morning there are various reports that 'some' staff and players have finally started to receive their wages for March, but it is clarified that not all have done so. With April's wages due to be paid on Friday, it seems highly likely that there will be another round of delays at Brisbane Road, and so the general theme of their concerns still hold.
It had been hoped that whilst Orient's owners might be prepared to blank the local media, that they would sit up and pay attention to one of the game's governing authorities. However, the EFL admit that they have had 'no response' to their own communications, describing 'silence' as unacceptable conduct:
"The EFL remains exceptionally concerned about the current situation at Leyton Orient. We are also aware of the frustration being expressed by the Club’s staff. This is shared by the EFL Executive, as we are similarly seeking answers to a number of important questions from the Directors of the Club. Silence is not an acceptable response. The EFL last met with Leyton Orient Chief Executive, Alessandro Angelieri on 9th March. At this meeting, we received confirmation that funds would be made available to dismiss the winding-up petition and fund the Club going forward. The EFL Board received an update on the situation at its meeting on 6th April with the Club being asked to provide a further commitment following widespread reporting that the required funding had not been made available. No response has been received to date."
So with Orient's owners not cooperating with the Football League, you'd hope that the League would have the teeth to take their own action to put them back in line? It appears not. The League's Fit and Proper Person's Test dates back to June 2004 and has gradually been strengthened to require clubs to disclose proof of funding in the case of any takeovers. The big issue is that once an owner or a director has got their feet under the table, then unless they commit an actual criminal offence concerning financial irregularities, or breach League rules, then the League admit they are powerless to intervene:
"There has been significant comment in recent days about the EFL’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test in the context of the ownership of Leyton Orient. It is important that supporters understand that the Test governs the eligibility of who is able to own a club - it does not also ensure that those individuals have the capability to manage it properly. The role of the EFL is one of a competition organiser and the management of clubs is a matter for their Directors, as long as their conduct is not in breach of any of our Regulations. There are any number of actions the EFL might wish to take, but it can only ever act in accordance with those Regulations."
The problem the Football League's executive committee face is that its powers are defined by rules agreed by its 72 member clubs. Thus to give them powers to directly intervene in the running of clubs, there would need to be a majority of clubs willing to vote for such measures, and that would only apply going forward. Thus it's clear that both staff and supporters are extremely vulnerable when it comes to either incompetent or negligent actions by their club's owners and directors.
The League have said that they plan to meet with Orient's Supporters Trust - Leyton Orient Fans Trust (LOFT) - who have been at the centre of plans to put together a rescue package if the club folds or their current owners entirely throw in the towel. However, given Orient have only two matches before they tumble out of the Football League, any action taken will be extremely short term.
Just before Saturday afternoon's match against Grimsby Town kicked off at Blundell Park, Yeovil Town manager Darren Way spoke to the about the game. With questions from Chris Spittles, in an interview for BBC Somerset, Darren explains the absence of Kevin Dawson from the weekend's squad, and his decision to put Ben Whitfield straight back in. He also reveals meeting Mariners boss Russell Slade at the team hotel before the match, and also touches on contractual issues at the club. Read that interview in full via the link below.
Whilst the wider issues of League Two were covered earlier today, one aspect that was deliberately glossed over at the time was whether Yeovil Town could still get relegated. Mathematically, as we go into Game No.45 the answer is yes, but it would take a seriously contrived set of results for that to happen.
The starting point is that Yeovil Town (20th) and Hartlepool United are separated by six points, with the Glovers having an eight goal advantage. What this means is that Yeovil Town would be guaranteed safety in League Two if they get a point, or if Hartlepool drop points. Even if Hartlepool were to win both of their final games, and Yeovil were to lose both, there would need to be a turnover of goals that added up to at least eight. So something along the lines of the following would be enough to lift Hartlepool United above Yeovil Town on goals scored (currently Yeovil Town 48, Hartlepool United 52):
Yeovil Town 0 Stevenage 2 - Away Win
Colchester United 2 Yeovil Town 0 - Home Win
Cheltenham Town 0 Hartlepool United 2 - Away Win
Hartlepool United 2 Doncaster Rovers 0 - Home Win
Other scorelines would also work, provided the combination of all four results adds up to at least an eight goal swing. At this stage would still not be relegated, unless Newport County have also picked up two wins. If Newport lose one game, then they can't catch Yeovil and thus the Glovers become safe. Theoretically Newport could get above us by recording a win and a draw, provided either Yeovil got sufficiently thrashed, or Newport won by a large margin to overturn a nine goal deficit. That's not really very likely, so for Newport to rise above Yeovil there would need to be the following:
Carlisle United vs Newport County - Away Win
Newport County vs Notts County - Home Win
If all of Yeovil Town AND Hartlepool United AND Newport County record the above results, then at that point we would be sweating on Cheltenham Town. Gary Johnson's side's next fixture is against Hartlepool, so in fact he could do us all a favour by drawing or beating Hartlepool on Saturday, given that irrespective of other results that would guarantee both Yeovil and Cheltenham safety. However, if Cheltenham were to lose and all of the other results were to go against both ourselves and the Robins, then for Yeovil Town to get relegated, Cheltenham would have to ensure the following result happened on the final day of the season:
Portsmouth vs Cheltenham Town - Away Win
Thus, to put this in betting terms, the only way Yeovil Town can get relegated is if the above seven-game accumulator goes horribly horribly wrong (or if you've placed a bet on it, you may see it otherwise!). If any of the above results don't materialise then by default the club would survive.
The Green and White Supporters Club have set their travel plans for the forthcoming League Two match against Colchester United. The match takes place at the Community Stadium on Saturday 6th May 2017, with a 5.30p.m. kick-off - note carefully the later kick-off time. Departure times and prices are listed as follows:
Colchester United : Saturday 6th May 2017. Huish Park: 10.45a.m. Adult Members: £28.00; Member Concessions: £26.00 Adult Non-Members: £30.00; Non-Member Concessions: £28.00
To place your booking, send a text message to Paul Hadlow on 07736 044570. If you want to call him please only do so after 6.00p.m. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember in all cases to ensure you make clear which match you are booking for, your full name (and any other names you are booking for) and a contact telephone number. You may be asked to pay a deposit of £5.00 to reserve your seat for the trip.
NOTE: Colchester United match tickets are being sold in a complicated timebanded way - if you are going, get your tickets as early as possible as it makes a difference. See below for details.
Saturday's results mean that the shape of League Two for the 2017-18 season is a little bit more certain, with one promotion and one relegation being confirmed over the weekend. It was already that Coventry City and Chesterfield were heading for the drop down to fourth tier football - they are now joined by Swindon Town, who have one game left to play and lie five points adrift of safety.
Swindon lost 1-2 at home to Scunthorpe United on Saturday in front of 7,579 spectators, with Murray Wallace and Sam Mantom doing the damage. Former Glovers loanee Rohan Ince pulled one back in the 85th minute, but the Robins needed a win which never came. The Wiltshire side have been lampooned somewhat for failing to mention anywhere on their official website that the result took them down. The nearest you'll find is an implicit mention in paragraph six of their match report that states that Swindon "knew that they needed a victory in order to keep alive their survival hopes" whilst their club Twitter account merely told fans the full time score and no mention of what that might mean - Bury's 3-0 victory over Northampton Town was actually what killed them.
The final League One relegation slot will be confirmed if Port Vale lose at Walsall on Tuesday night. The Valiants have a game in hand but lie four points adrift of safety with an inferior goal difference meaning that even if they draw, they would need to win their final match and overhaul a six goal difference against 20th placed Gillingham on the final day to escape. Realistically they'll need to win at Walsall and then at third-placed Fleetwood Town if they don't want to drop into League Two.
In League Two, the shambolic state of Leyton Orient finally saw them relegated on Saturday, due to a 3-0 loss at Crewe Alexandra. Late last week a joint letter from all of Orient's off-the-field staff revealed that they have not received any of their March 2017 wages, raising their concern that they had been given no communication to state whether their April 2017 salary would be paid either - that is due by Friday. During last month's High Court hearing into their ongoing debts, representatives for owner Francesco Becchetti claimed that he would be providing a cash injection of £1 million to ensure the club's problems didn't spiral out of control, but if that has happened, it hasn't reached their staff.
Today, Orient staff have put out a second statement after a Waltham Forest Guardian local journalist was blanked by Orient's Chief Operating Officer over the concerns raised. The second joint statement from Orient staff have demanded that the Football League and Football Association intervene, pointing out that they have held confidential meetings with Orient directors where the League claimed that a funding plan was in place to satisfy current demands. With that having failed to materialise, they've asked the League to intervene. Latest manager Omer Riza, who had been their Under-16s manager earlier this season, admitted the failure to pay wages had been affecting morale:
"It's affected everybody there's no doubt about that. It is a disappointing time when you are not being paid. People deal with it in different ways, but it has demoralised everybody. It has been tough and people can't focus on their jobs if they are not being paid. I'm very disappointed and it is a very sad day for Leyton Orient, but we knew it was a very tough position we'd been left in."
As reported earlier today, Hartlepool United have pressed the panic button after they dropped into the relegation zone over the weekend, with Newport County's 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley lifting them out of the bottom two. This is the first time that Pools have been in the relegation zone, and whether they get out of it will almost certainly depend on Saturday's match between Cheltenham Town (20th) and Hartlepool (23rd). They could be relegated if they lose at Whaddon Road, and Newport win at Carlisle United.
Relegated From League One: Swindon Town, Coventry City, Chesterfield. One of Port Vale, Gillingham, Bury or Shrewsbury Town will join them.
Promoted From League Two: Doncaster Rovers, Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth.
League Two Play-Offs: Luton Town (subject to a massive goal difference advantage) and three more from ten other clubs.
Relegated From League Two: Leyton Orient. One of Hartlepool United, Newport County, Cheltenham Town or Yeovil Town will join them.
Promoted From National League: Lincoln City.
National League Play-Offs: Tranmere Rovers, Forest Green, Dagenham and Redbridge. One of Aldershot or Dover Athletic will join them.
League Two side Hartlepool United have parted company with their manager Dave Jones. The 60 year old had been in charge of Pools for just 18 matches but has been shown the door by mutual consent after just four wins, and their fall into the League Two relegation zone over the weekend, following a 0-2 home defeat against Barnet that left them seven games without a win.
Jones came in as a replacement for Craig Hignett on January 18th and was a slightly surprising choice given that he'd not been in management for over three years and had generally managed at either Championship or Premier League level. His club's slide into the League Two relegation zone had provoked an open battle between himself and Club President Jeff Stelling, with the latter using his Sky Sports position to call for Jones's resignation in an on-air rant:
"I'm wearing my Hartlepool United tie today. We have lost at home, in the relegation places, and it's not personal but for God’s sake for the good of the club go now. Walk now. It’s 13 points from 51, this is not your level of football. (Financial Director) Pam Duxbury, the chairman Gary Coxall - if he won't walk then sack him. If it means me resigning as president then I do so happily – do it now, do it today."
Jones banned his players from reading the club's matchday programme on Saturday after Stelling described their performance at Leyton Orient as "the worst East End horror story since Jack The Ripper" and after the game delivered his own blast back to Stelling, accusing him of judging his position from a 'comfy chair' rather than from knowing what was going on:
"Jeff Stelling says that. Get rid of me. You got rid of Higgy (Craig Hignett), got rid of Ronnie Moore, and everyone else before that. There's a common denominator here, look at it and figure it out. It's OK Jeff Stelling saying it in his comfy chair. He doesn't know. He says you should play this person, that person, he doesn’t know the parameters of what goes on. Are they ill? Are they injured? It's a lack of respect for me. What do you do? Change the manager again, change the coaching staff again? It ain't my players, that's what I've been dealt with. Stop that. Grow up, fight for your lives, that's what I'm doing. You get the stupid comments that there's no passion and all this crap that goes with it. Rubbish, not right. Then people like Jeff Stelling are passing comments because he's on national TV. How about a bit of support Jeff, rather than the rubbish you are giving out?"
Stelling offered to resign his position as Club President in the wake of the row, but it would seem likely that will be undone shortly. They have put two senior players in charge for the two final matches, with defender Matthew Bates named as the main man, and striker Billy Paynter assisting him. Fitness coach Stuart Parnaby and physio Ian Gallagher will also stay as part of the team. Jones's assistants Kevin Cooper and Alex Armstrong have departed.
Hartlepool face what is close to a do-or-die fixture this coming Saturday. They travel to play Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road on Saturday in a classic six-pointer. If they fail to win, then Yeovil Town and Cheltenham are automatically safe from relegation, whilst if they lose then they would need to beat leaders Doncaster Rovers on the final day of the season and then hope that Newport County haven't won either of their last two matches. Realistically they need to beat Cheltenham to give themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the drop.