Yeovil Town stuttered their way to a poor-quality 0-0 home draw this afternoon at Huish Park, as a battling Gillingham side neutered any attempts that Yeovil might have had to steal three points. A paint-drying first half display by both sides thankfully showed a second half improvement, but even then Yeovil's best chance was a misdirected left-wing cross by Nathan Smith that had to be tipped onto the crossbar by visiting keeper Alan Julian. At the other end, Curtis Weston hit the woodwork a minute later.
The first half was one of almost zero concrete chances, with defences looking well on top at both ends. Whilst Yeovil repeated last weekend's 4-4-2 formation, the Gills flooded the midfield, generally leaving just one player up front in a 4-5-1 formation, although their tactics were still flexible enough to allow one of the players to push up and support when required. Yeovil made just one change, with Gavin Tomlin pulling out of the match after he failed a fitness test meaning that Ryan Mason slotted in on the right wing. Arron Davies became the 'sixth loan' sat in the stand meaning that he continues his long running break away from competitive football.
Midfielder Dennis Oli provided Gillingham's only first half on target effort as Alex McCarthy was forced into a save, whilst shots going wide from Dean Bowditch and Shaun McDonald at the other end were as good as it got for Yeovil. Crosses into the box from full-backs Nathan Jones and Terrell Forbes were crying out for someone to get a sliding boot on them, as Gillingham's defence occasionally looked stretched but unlike last week at Adams Park there weren't the bodies to finish off the half chances.
The best two chances of the game came within 60 seconds of each other, early in the second period. Left-back Nathan Smith's cross into the box was probably never meant to turn into an on target shot, but the end result was that visiting keeper Alan Julian had to scramble back and deflect the ball onto his own crossbar. Heading down the other end, the Gills managed to get Curtis Weston in behind the Yeovil back four, and as he rounded Alex McCarthy, it looked like an open goal was at his mercy. Fortunately McCarthy had narrowed the angle enough to ensure that Weston's attempt came back off the post, and McCarthy was grateful as the ball landed off the woodwork and into his arms.
Yeovil had appeals for a second half penalty turned down when a scramble inside the box saw visiting keeper Alan Julian stuck in no-man's land, and as Williams sought to get control on the ball, suggestions that defenders arms on him were ignored by match referee Phil Crossley as Yeovil's target man fell in the box. Minutes later a Ryan Mason shot was deflected wide of the target as Yeovil finally threatened to liven up.
Long range drives from Mason were largely Yeovil's main outlet, and another attempt from Mason that was heading to the top corner forced visiting keeper Alan Julian into an extravagent save. However Mason was withdrawn with 10 minutes remaining, and Yeovil's attacks got increasy edgy and nervous, as you just willed for the ball to land at the feet of the right person inside the box.
The home draw was no great disaster, given that it maintained Yeovil's five point gap on the Gills, who remain in fourth from bottom in the table, and clearly keeping that distance will be paramount between now and May. However, given the opposition's away record, this still had the air of an opportunity lost, and will stack up the pressure on what is a run of difficult games for the Glovers over the coming weeks. Both performances and the number of chances created will need to be improved upon if the likes of Charlton Athletic, Walsall, MK Dons and Norwich City are to bring fruitful returns.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 0 Gillingham 0.
Yeovil Town: (4-4-2)
1. Alex McCarthy
6. Terrell Forbes 4. Stefan Stam 5. Steven Caulker 28. Nathan Smith
13. Ryan Mason 20. Owain Tudur Jones 25. Shaun MacDonald 11. Andy Welsh
9. Sam Williams 14. Dean Bowditch
33. Ben Roberts (GK) 2. Craig Alcock (46 mins for Stefan Stam) 8. Keiran Murtagh (80 mins for Ryan Mason) 16. Scott Murray 17. Aidan Downes 23. Danny Hutchins
23. Alan Julian 2. Barry Fuller 31. Darren Dennehy 6. Garry Richards 3. John Nutter 21. Dennis Oli 14. Adam Miller 7. Kevin Maher 18. Danny Jackman 26. Curtis Weston 34. James Walker
1. Simon Royce (GK) 8. Mark Bentley 9. Chris Palmer 10. Simeon Jackson (78 mins for James Walker) 16. Josh Gowling 11. Andy Barcham (87 mins for Adam Miller) 27. Luke Rooney
Yeovil Bookings: Craig Alcock (foul, 54 mins)
Gillingham Bookings: Adam Miller (foul, 84 mins)
Referee: Phil Crossley (Kent). Assistants: Brett Huxtable (Devon) and Mark Russell (Gloucestershire). Fourth Official: Brendan Malone (Wiltshire).
Attendance: 3,853 (including 252 Gillingham fans)
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