Cheltenham, home of national hunt racing, always on show the best thoroughbreds, today on the lush green turf down at Whaddon Road, the lesser known of the towns two sporting venues were two teams resembling something more like cart horses!
This has to go down as one of the seasons worst performances, against one of the worst sides Yeovil have played to date in division 3. That said whatever the Robins lacked in footballing ability today they more than made up for it in spirit. Boss Bobby Gould's programmes notes called for his players to "love it, and rather than panic be inspired" all this after the dreaded vote of confidence from his Chairman. Yeovil's gaffer on the other hand and in stark contrast had just won his the clubs first honour of this season after securing September's manager of the month award.
The defining moments of this game came in the first few minutes of each half. The killer blow coming in the 1st minute of the second, when Brayson, on as a second half substitute scored with his first touch following a powerful run down the left from Jamie Victory, making it 3-1 to the hosts, and that was the way it stayed.
After only 4 minutes of the first period Cheltenham scored the first goal of the afternoon when the Yeovil defence, so solid of late allowed a long ball to bounce and Martin DEVANEY punished that hesitancy with a low shot low down into the bottom left hand corner. 10 or so minutes later their lead was doubled, when Mark YATES and Adam Lockwood challenged on the near post following a whipped in cross, the ball appeared to come off Lockwood and Weale scrambled into action but could only help the ball into the net. The goal was accredited toYates.
Yeovil then came close to reducing the deficit when in the 17th minute Jackson was deemed to be offside when the travelling 1500 or so fans thought he had scored a perfectly good goal. Seconds later, Lee Johnson with a trade mark quick free kick, dinked the ball into the box and Gavin Williams timed his run to perfection only to see his goal bound effort bounce back of the post and to safety.
Cheltenham's approach was via the long ball method and as they rained down into the danger zone big Hugo Rodrigues never looked comfortable dealing with them, or the "clever" veteran Bob Taylor, once of West Brom. He eventually went into the book for a foul on the edge of the box, from which the resulting free kick fortunately bounced of the wall. Taylor was a handful and fell to the ground again, Rodrigues went unpunished but Gary Johnson had seen enough and took off the Portuguese player before he was sent off, not for being in any way malicious but up against the wily Taylor he was walking a tightrope. Paul Terry moved into the right back position, and Adam Lockwood took up the central defensive role in the 4-4-2 formation.
The next fifteen minutes saw Yeovil play the best football of the half, indeed the game. Darren Way had a great run down the left and into the box, he crossed from the by-line to the far post, the ball eventually found Kevin GALL 10 yards out and he hammered the ball into the net to score his first goal since August 16th. Richly deserved for all his work rate of late, and one that would hopefully re-launch his assault on the leading scorers chart.
Yeovil looked like scoring again when Ronnie Bull clipped a fine ball to Darren Way, down the right channel this time, and his powerful strike brought a great save from Shane Higgs who could only parry it to Williams,he really should have hit the target from the same spot as where Gall scored moments earlier.
Into injury time Abdel EL Kholti picked up a booking for flying in on Grant McCann, Gary Johnson questioned the fourth official but he really had no case. Yeovil could have been punished further as from Fyfe's free kick Victory met the ball sweetly but his bullet header went just over.
Yeovil though, had finally found their line and length so to speak, surely now they would come out into the second half sunshine and produce the kind of football we have become accustomed to, an early goal and then some more was probably Gary Johnson's instructions.