After 85 minutes of last nights first home game of the season one fan walked out of the Bartlett Stand and off into the warm sultry evening shaking his head. What short memories some people have!
They say the Conference is the hardest league to get out of, I suppose they are right…it took us long enough! Others will then say it's the Championship. I suppose if you are a Wolves or a Ipswich fan you’d agree, but judging by the two games Yeovil have played so far, Division One looks the toughest of the lot…as I’m sure any Bristol City fan will tell you!
On view for Rotherham last night was none other than Deon Burton, recipient of some 50 caps from his native Jamaica. Burton has filled out somewhat since his Derby days but was still a fine player. In the squad was Paolo Vernazza, Jon Otsemobor and Scott Minto, well known to Arsenal, Liverpool and West Ham fans respectively…maybe I got it wrong…perhaps the “fan” left Huish Park shaking his head in disbelief that after a season or two in the league, here we were playing, and holding our own against that calibre of opposition; then again maybe, as he left the tunnel to enter the car park he saw the kind of traffic organisation that has been sadly lacking for a while. Just like on the field…progress is being made.
Yeovil unsurprisingly started the game with three changes following Saturday's disappointing result at Oldham. Chris Weale returned following Steve Collis’s error for the first goal at Boundary Park - the sign of things to come no doubt. Gary Johnson has taken a Zero Tolerance attitude with his keepers', both inseparable in terms of talent. The one who shows the most mental toughness is now the one who will command that spot. Kevin Gall replaced David Poole on the right hand side of midfield, and Matt “Prince” Harrold was the preferred choice alongside Phil Jevons. Arron Davies and Luke Oliver dropped back to the bench. Pablo Bastianini, still unable to play due to his work permit not arriving in time, was once again denied his home debut.
With the home crowd, a small one of 5800 considering the occasion, behind them from the start the Glovers started brightly. Rotherham were a different side compared to that of last season when the two teams met in the FA Cup, new manager Mick Harford has already stamped his mark. Rotherham were bright upfront and Jamal Cambell-Ryce quick of feet. Weale was alert to several long range efforts and made one great save tipping a fierce drive over the bar, whilst at the other end Yeovil huffed and they puffed but they could not blow the Millers house down. Colin Murdock at the heart of their defence was made of granite! Matt Harrold tried as did Jevons, but neither could shake the resolve of the big man, at times the duel was infuriating as niggly fouls on both sides led to stops in play, but we are going to face more of the same each week until May, something that underlines the step up in class we have made…it’s a giant leap.
10 minutes or so before half time the Westland Stand upped the tempo with some fanatical support which spread to the stands, it was that proverbial twelfth man. Lesser teams would have panicked under the tribal atmosphere that was Huish Park, but Rotherham having seen it all before took it in their stride and as the half time whistle blew you could tell something special was required to break the deadlock, at both ends, because Yeovil too defended stoutly.