Magpies Steal Sad Yeovil’s Thunder
Yeovil’s dream of becoming 2nd division champions let alone gaining automatic promotion took a serious tumble tonight against the league’s oldest side Notts County. After a somewhat erratic March, the corner, so to speak was assumed turned at York Street, Boston on Saturday after a gritty victory saw The Glovers cling to top spot at the same time as burying some of the demons that have so often raised their heads in Lincolnshire. Tonight was surely about not only getting back to winning ways at Huish but doing so with the swagger and poise seen so much this season, that even our sternest critics have agreed that this Yeovil side is without doubt the best in the league and worthy of becoming champions.
Writing match reports and supporting your team is not easy, sometimes you write through green tinted specs, sometimes you don’t criticise for fear of offending, sometimes you don’t give the opposition credit when credits due, therefore - most of the time - you toe the party political line, well…tonight my gloves are coming off…and that was simply not good enough!
After the poor Bury game I had a conspiracy theory, Gary Johnson had told his players that he was being linked with the Watford job (that was announced was up for grabs the following Monday) and his players were so deflated it affected their performance. Tonight, post Boston and with Watford announcing Adrian Boothroyd as manager, and with nearest rivals Scunthorpe and Macclesfield slipping up 24 hours earlier, I believed that we were in for a goal feast, a bonanza, more goals than my kids have got Easter eggs. I was wrong…the promotion train is not quite off the tracks but it’s sure running out of coal fast and there is only six stations left to refuel, starting at Rushden and Diamonds this Saturday.
Against Bury, the pitch was watered – to suit our game I suppose, no need for that treatment tonight as the heavens did that for us. In fact it was too wet, and seemed to suit County more than it did us. Michael Rose, ineffective of late was dropped to the bench, replaced by Lindegaard. Paul Terry played at right back, with Skiverton and Lockwood, who looked eager, composed and back to his best alongside the captain. The midfield was made up of Way, Johnson, Gall and Stolcers and quite frankly this is where we appeared to lose it. Seconds after Gall and Jevons teed up Tarachulski, who should have got his shot on target at least, Notts County broke, and a completely unchallenged Stefan OAKES, leaving Johnson in his wake saw Weale off his line, and from just inside the Yeovil half lobbed powerfully to see his spectacular effort bounce in off the post and give his side a shock 1-0 lead.
Lee Johnson has so often received from me glowing tributes, the Architect of all things good, but recently he has hit such a poor vein of form at such the wrong time. Where has his vision gone, where has his threaded through balls gone, where has his movement gone, for the first time in their Yeovil careers Way and Johnson are not performing as a unit. I’ll stand up and be counted here too, but for all Way’s industry where has the end product gone, as for Stolcers who had a glorious chance to claw a goal back before half time, where’s his creativity gone…as for Gall…did he leave his pace at Charlton!! With the midfield being bypassed that left Tarachulski and Jevons up front to add to the goal tally of 35 plus between them, but to see them play tonight you’d think they’d never have played together once. I don’t like saying it but I’m going to…something is amiss. You don’t lose your bottle or nerve overnight, you don’t lose your flair and confidence when your top of the league by a country mile, you don’t stutter at the final hurdle when you’ve got so close to reaching the end unscathed, you may do if your not battle hardened, but we are, we’ve won leagues, cups and come close to promotion in our first season in the football league, we’ve done it and proudly wear the t-shirts to prove it…so if we don’t sort this blip out now- I may begin to believe the odd rumour that there is disharmony in the ranks!
Back to the game, after Yeovil dominated possession in the first 20 odd minutes, the Magpies came back. Undone down the Yeovil left, Lindegaard was wrong footed, unable to deal with the tricky Ruben Radkovich and his strong accurate cross found the head of Glynn HURST who made no mistake with a clinical powerful header leaving Weale with absolutely no chance. Notts County, unlike Bury were not content to sit on their lead, and to their credit it was they who put Yeovil under mounting pressure. So often the back four’s only option was to lay the ball back to Weale, who actually coped with his kicking well until, on a couple of occasions he very nearly gifted a couple of goals with sliced clearances, chances that fortunately went begging. Weale again was also caught off guard as another long distance lob had him scrambling back goalwards, but again his and his midfield's blushes were saved – once bitten twice shy you’d think.
On 40 minutes Yeovil’s most clear cut chance of the half came as Stolcers with only the keeper to beat, and time and space to pick his spot, fired straight at Deeney in the County goal. As the ref blew for half time boos rang out from the Westland Terrace, call me a cynic but only seconds earlier the same section sang “Yeovil till I die” and “Loyal Supporters”. Disappointing yes, but booing……..no!