Yeovil Town take on Brighton and Hove Albion tomorrow afternoon at Huish Park, as they finally return to South Somerset after an intense run of away fixtures.
At the time that Yeovil last played at home, against Leeds United three weeks ago, they lay 6th in the table and unbeaten in all competitions. Now, having travelled 2,300 miles - once hotel and training ground detours are factored in - across four away fixtures, they lie in 19th place and with the need to get their season back on track with a home win.
They come up against an eighth placed Brighton side with a curious record. Last season when the Glovers travelled to the Withdean Stadium in September, Brighton had won every home game, and lost every away game. This season they've decided to do things the other way around - they've not won in three attempts at the Withdean, yet have a 100% away record and in fact are on for a club record of six away victories if they take maximum points at Huish Park. Given that in the 2006-07, the Seagulls only won five matches at home, but took more points on their travels, there are probably people down in Brighton struggling to work out how they can get both home and away form to come good at the same time.
Brighton must also wonder about their record against Yeovil Town. They've currently lost every game they've played against the Glovers, although manager Russell Slade warned against using that as a guide, pointing out that Croatia were very good at beating England at football until Wednesday night.
The Seagulls go into tomorrow's game with injuries complicating their team selection, and this is likely to mean that loan signing Joe Anyinsah (see yesterday's news) is likely to go straight into their starting line-up. First choice winger Kevin McLeod damaged his left knee in last weekend's defeat against Southend United and is expected to go under the knife next week. As Yeovil Town have discovered, often injuries come in pairs, and Brighton lost their second winger Jake Robinson, when he suffered concussion just two minutes into a midweek Reserve match. Manager Micky Adams said of their situation:
"Because of what happened, we needed to have a look around and see what was available to us. One of my scouts went to a game last week where Joe (Anyinsah) scored a hat-trick against Blackpool reserves and he sent in a fantastic report about him. He was also somebody I spotted when he was on loan to Carlisle last season, so I was aware of him, but because of the two wide players going down this week it became a necessity and we acted as quickly as we could. He has got pace. He can get in behind teams and we hope, once he has done that, he has got sufficient quality to put decent balls in the box."
Brighton also face a dilemma over their choice of centre-backs. Colin Hawkins is due to have a hernia operation next week, but his natural replacement Joel Lynch picked up a calf injury in training, and so Hawkins may be asked to go through the pain barrier one more time. They do have some brighter news though with Adam Virgo and Adam Hinshelwood having returned to training this week. The latter though is unlikely to feature as he needs to recover fitness after being out long-term with a knee injury.
The Glovers go into the game with winger Aidan Downes and centre-back Rob Fitzgerald the only definite absentees. However, left-back Nathan Smith has only just returned to training following a groin injury, whilst midfielder Darren Way has missed several training sessions this week with a stomach bug. Gavin Tomlin and Craig Alcock should be available though after having their own problems clear up this week. For full injury news, see yesterday's news item.
Russell Slade clearly wants his side to return to their early season form now that they are back on home soil, and he has told the Western Daily Press that he wants to see a minimum of four points from Yeovil's next two games:
"My personal thoughts are if we can take four points from the next two games then that will get us off to a start of won two, drawn three, lost two, which is a decent start. We need to win one of these two games for sure. If we get six points then it will be absolutely great. We know it won't be easy because Brighton lost 4-1 at home on Saturday so they will be massively up for the game. We want to keep a nice, tight record at home this season and we are looking to mount some points on the board and show some consistency to make it a fortress. We have got a good record against Brighton (four wins out of four) in previous seasons but of course that will count for nothing. We are looking at our own form and focussing on what we need to do better."
The match kicks off at 3.00p.m. on Saturday, and tickets are available on the day of the match, subject to the usual matchday tariffs, from the Huish Park Ticket Office. For those wanting to take advantage of the pre-match rates, the Huish Park Ticket Office will be open until 6.00p.m. tonight.
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