It's nearly Christmas, and the final Saturday for shopping, the weather forecast looks horrendous, and half of Eastern England is covered in snow. So, where are Yeovil Town heading to this weekend? The second longest away trip of their whole season, and a long haul up to the North-East and Hartlepool United. Thank you, fixture computer!
Unsurprisingly the team are setting off today, hoping that they don't have to put up with a repeat of the 10.5 hour trip they experienced going up to Huddersfield Town earlier this season. They do so with a near full squad of players, with only Aidan Downes (shoulder and knee) left at home as he continues his rehabilitation. Midfielder Shaun MacDonald will start the last game of his loan spell with the club, and there are expected to be very few changes to the recent 4-1-2-1-2 diamond formation that has been in place for the last two matches.
The Glovers go into the match on the back of just one win in their last eight matches, and winless in their last five games. Although three of those have been highly creditable draws against Charlton Athletic, MK Dons and Norwich City, they could do with a win or two over Christmas to avoid the gap between them and the bottom four sides narrowing.
Yeovil's 15th place is currently two points behind Hartlepool in 12th, who have lost a bit of form as well lately. They've lost four out of their last five league matches, with some concern being raised over their second half performances in such matches. Those five games accrued nine goals, but with only one of them scored during the first half. Conversely of the 11 goals conceded during those five games, nine of them have come after the break, leaving many at Victoria Park wondering what goes in the half time cuppa. If the Glovers are a goal down at the break, clearly they should not see this as cause for alarm, with Pools having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on a number of occasions lately.
The home side go into the game with seven players reported as missing, as Ben Clark (suspension), James Brown (knee), Steve Haslam (hernia), Denis Behan (ankle), Colin Larkin (hamstring), Neil Austin (hamstring), David Foley (leg) and Dylan Purvis (calf) are all expected to be sat in the stands.
Despite that glut of injuries, that should still allow them to field an unchanged starting line-up, with the majority of the above being long term injuries, or fringe players. Scott Flinders has been nursing a shoulder complaint lately but should be fit to start, whilst Ritchie Jones should play against the Glovers, despite having had an up'n'down season that saw him dropped earlier in the campaign. Their main danger man is Adam Boyd, who has netted eight times so far this season.
The last meeting between the two clubs took place in April at Huish Park and saw a 2-3 defeat for the Glovers, with goals for Gavin Tomlin and Andros Townsend wiped out by two strikes for Joel Porter and one for Daniel Nardiello. Prior to that, the December 2008 meeting at Victoria Park that saw a 0-0 draw was the last meeting in the North-East.
Tickets for the match will be available on the day from Victoria Park. For full ticketing details and everything else you need for a day out in Hartlepool, see the Ciderspace guide below. Needless to say, given the weather conditions, pack a blanket, a fully charged mobile phone and allow a bit of extra time for travelling if you're heading by car tomorrow. At present, we're not aware of any pitch inspections, however if there are any positive or negative updates on Hartlepool's pitch, then we'll provide rolling updates on the situation. For those who are not travelling, BBC Somerset will have live commentary on 95.5FM.
Link: Officials For Hartlepool United vs Yeovil Town.
Link: Ciderspace Guide To Hartlepool United.
Link: Pools Running Thin On Options For Saturday.
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