Match Details: 01/01/2019
Yeovil Town 1-4 Cheltenham Town
EFL League Two
Yeovil Goals: Tom James (47)
Yeovil Line-Up: 1. Stuart Nelson, 2. Adel Gafaiti, 3. Carl Dickinson, 4. Gary Warren, 9. Alex Fisher, 11. Jordan Green, 13. Francois Zoko, 18. Yoann Arquin, 20. Sessi D'Almeida, 23. Tom James, 30. Alefe Santos
Subs: 5. Bevis Mugabi, 7. Rhys Browne, 10. Jake Gray, 12. Nathan Baxter, 24. Olufela Olomola, 27. Shaun Donnellan, 28. Devon Arnold,
Substitutes Used: Rhys Browne for Francois Zoko (67 mins), Olufela Olomola for Alex Fisher (80 mins), Devon Arnold for Yoann Arquin (88 mins)
Bookings: Francois Zoko (Ungentlemanly Conduct, 15), Carl Dickinson (Foul, 76), Adel Gafaiti (Foul, 79), Darren Way (Ungentlemanly Conduct, 90)
Yeovil Town slumped to their worst defeat of the 2018-19 season on New Year's Day, as an improving Cheltenham Town swept them aside by a 1-4 scoreline at Huish Park. The Glovers suffered a dreadful first half, as Luke Varney got in behind their defence to open the scoring, followed ten minutes later by a penalty from Conor Thomas after Sessi D'Almeida fouled inside the box. The second period saw the home side rally for 20 minutes, with Tom James providing a free kick that deflected in to give some hope of a comeback. But Jordan Forster extended Cheltenham's lead from a corner, whilst old boy Kevin Dawson rubbed salt into the wound with three minutes remaining to score the final goal of the day, as the home supporters showed loud dissent against manager Darren Way as the game ended, with the Glovers stranded in 21st place and just three points off the drop.
The Glovers went into the match naming an unchanged starting eleven and an unchanged bench, meaning that all four Christmas holiday fixtures were fielded by using the same eighteen players, as Omari Patrick and Enes Mahmoutovic - confirmed by Middlesbrough to have returned to the Riverside Stadium due to lack of action - were absent once again. They came up against a Cheltenham side that fielded Scott Flinders and Ben Tozer as starters, with Craig Alcock and Kevin Dawson on the bench.
After Yoann Arquin had fired wide from a narrow angle early on, the Robins suffered disruption to their back line, with Johnny Mullins picking up an injury after he came out the worse from a tackle by Francois Zoko. The Cheltenham captain was replaced by Craig Alcock, who was to play 81 minutes as a left-sided centre-back - not quite what he was used to at Huish Park!
On the whole, Yeovil had started reasonably well, with Jordan Green slicing a chance well wide from a Francois Zoko cross. Then Alex Fisher had a goal chalked off as he provided a stooped header from a Yoann Arquin cross, with a linesman's flag going up for offside. Zoko was then given a yellow card for diving inside the box after he appealed for a first half penalty.
But Yeovil appear to have the body armour of a fragile egg shell at present, and in the 25th minute, Jacob Maddox provided a crossfield pass that carved open the Glovers defence, with Tom James and Gary Warren appearing to be marking each other rather than looking after Luke Varney. The Cheltenham striker worked his way into the box before firing low into the far corner past Stuart Nelson, for a 0-1 opener.
At this point, almost as if switching off a set of lights, the early tentative promise of Yeovil's play was shut out. Alex Addai had a pair of chances, the first of which saw him put a shot into the sidenetting after Chris Hussey's cross into the box had only been half cleared by Gary Warren. Addai then broke behind the Glovers back line, but cleared the crossbar.
Ten minutes before the break, gaps in Yeovil's defence were shown up in the same area as the first goal. Chris Hussey got room to run into the box and cut inside, and when Sessi D'Almeida tried to track back into the gaping open space, he appeared to clip Hussey's foot, and referee Trevor Kettle pointed to the spot. Up stepped Conor Thomas who sent Stuart Nelson the wrong way from the spot kick. That allowed the visitors to cruise into a 0-2 half time lead with Yeovil looking rather sorry for themselves and boos greeting them on the half time whistle.
As bad as Yeovil had finished the half, they came out for the start of the second looking an entirely different team. That attitude to the half was helped hugely by them scoring just two minutes into the second session. Tom James got himself a free kick on a narrow angle on the left flank, in an almost identical spot to how he scored at Brunton Park in October. During that game, he scored with the aid of a deflection off a defender covering the near post. Against Cheltenham, he somehow managed to entirely replicate every aspect of that Carlisle goal, including the deflection, and in doing so he pulled Yeovil back to 1-2.
For the fifteen minutes that followed, Yeovil looked as though they were going to force their way back into it. Jordan Green forced Scott Flinders into a parried save, as the home crowd were finally lifted by the attacking play. Then Alex Fisher struck the woodwork inside a crowded penalty area, before the same player shot from outside the box, clearing the crossbar, with the Glovers doing more attacking inside ten minutes than they'd managed during the opening 45.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite last. Cheltenham made a tactical change, as Tyrone Barnett came on as an attacker. They went close as Stuart Nelson saved from Luke Varney's effort, before Conor Thomas wastefully blazed the loose ball over the bar. But with Yeovil legs beginning to tire, they got the most crucial goal of the game with 11 minutes remaining. A corner from Chris Hussey was nodded down at the back post by Barnett, and Jordan Forster was able to sweep the ball home from close range.
Cheltenham introduced Kevin Dawson as a late substitute, and the former Glovers midfielder needed just three minutes to leave his mark. Alex Addai rode a wild challenge from Ade Gafaiti to give him space to get down the right flank, and when he put a low cross towards the six yard box, Dawson was able to bundle the ball home from close range for a 1-4 scoreline.
To his credit, despite being at the away end of the ground, Dawson chose not to celebrate - you'd think that he would also not have taken great pleasure in seeing the way his former club had - bar the the short spell at the start of the second period - really not been at the races on the day. Tom James struck the woodwork deep into second half injury time, but that would have flattered the display of a club that has now only won one game in their last 17 League Two fixtures, with no wins in their last nine. Pity the Huish Park crowd, who also have now only seen one victory in close to 11 months of football. Only the ongoing problems at Cambridge United and Notts County are preventing Yeovil's current 21st placed position from turning into a full blown crisis. The Huish Park crowd made it clear on the final whistle what they thought of it all on the final whistle, chanting for the manager to 'Walk Away'. You only wonder what Norman Hayward and John Fry made of it all.
Link: 2018-19 Latest League Two Table.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 1 Cheltenham Town 4.
Scorers: Luke Varney (0-1, 24 mins), Conor Thomas (0-2, 34 min, pen), Tom James (1-2, 47 mins), Jordan Forster (1-3, 79 mins), Kevin Dawson (1-4, 87 mins)
1. Stuart Nelson
23. Tom James 2. Adel Gafaiti 4. Gary Warren (Capt) 3. Carl Dickinson
11. Jordan Green 20. Sessi D'Almeida 30. Alefe Santos 18. Yoann Arquin
9. Alex Fisher 13. Francois Zoko
12. Nathan Baxter (GK) 5. Bevis Mugabi 7. Rhys Browne (67 mins for Francois Zoko) 10. Jake Gray 24. Olufela Olomola (80 mins for Alex Fisher) 27. Shaun Donnellan 28. Devon Arnold (88 mins for Yoann Arquin)
1 Scott Flinders
4 Ben Tozer 5 John Mullins 23 Jordan Forster
7 Conor Thomas 26 Chris Clements 6 Nigel Atangana 20 Jacob Maddox 3 Chris Hussey
16 Alex Addai 32 Luke Varney
8 Kevin Dawson (84 mins for Luke Varney) 18 Matt Bower 22 Rhys Lovett 25 Sam Jones 28 Kelsey Mooney 29 Tyrone Barnett (60 mins for Jacob Maddox) 30 Craig Alcock (9 mins for John Mullins)
Yeovil Bookings: Francois Zoko (diving, 15 mins), Carl Dickinson (foul, 76 mins), Adel Gafaiti (foul, 79 mins)
Cheltenham Town Bookings: Jordan Forster (foul, 47 mins)
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 47%; Shots: 9; Shots On Target: 4; Corners: 4; Fouls: 14.
Cheltenham Town Match Statistics: Possession: 53%; Shots: 11; Shots On Target: 6; Corners: 4; Fouls: 13.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland). Assistants: Steven Plane (Worcestershire) and Samuel Ogles (Hampshire). Fourth Official: Marc Whaley (Devon).
Attendance: 2,883 (with 205 Cheltenham Town supporters).