Mark Cooper is trying to block out the noise of expectation that Yeovil Town could be National League South champions with a draw against Truro City on Thursday night.

The Glovers missed the opportunity to seal the title as they lost 3-1 at home to Worthing in front of another bumper crowd at Huish Park on Saturday, but know just one point will be enough to seal it in Gloucester this week.

He revealed that midfielder Jordan Stevens would be available for that match and said he was keeping a watching brief on influential full-back Michael Smith, who is back in training. But, he confirmed the season is over for both Will Dawes and on-loan striker Jahmari Clarke due to injury.

Speaking on Monday, Cooper said: “The occasion got to some of our players and some of our best performers did not have their best games on Saturday, that is pressure. As much as I try and dampen that down, it will be built up in to ‘this has to be’ and we have to make sure we drill in to the players what happens on Saturday can happen.

So let’s get the performance right first and then the rest will happen. That is our work for this week, keeping everyone level-headed and looking forward to Thursday. We have to be really cold and calculated, forget the noise and make sure we get a performance on the pitch.

We can enjoy everything that comes with (winning the league) when it is done. We know the fans are with us and we have to make sure we give them the performance, we have to focus on our performance and give them everything.

Jordan Stevens will be available for Thursday’s match. Picture courtesy of Gary Brown.

On Saturday, Smith and striker Jake Hyde, who has not featured this year, were involved in the pre-match warm-ups. But Cooper confirmed there was the potential for Stevens to return having been withdrawn late in the first half in the abandoned match at W*ymouth on Easter Monday.

The manager said: “Jordan Stevens came off as a precaution with a tight hamstring at W*ymouth. With his history we had to be careful with him and he was not right for Saturday. He is such an explosive player and we can’t take any risks, but he will come back in to the squad on Thursday. Jahmari Clarke is out for the season with a big strain on his thigh muscle. Michael Smith trained again today, so we will see how he is on Wednesday.

On Hyde, he added: “Jake is back in training, he will not play on 3G, so that rules him out of Thursday.

Truro, managed by ex-Glovers’ midfielder Paul Wotton, have two more matches to play before the Glovers come to town (well, the City of Gloucester) on Thursday night. They host Torquay United on Monday night before facing Eastbourne Borough on Wednesday night, just 24 hours before Yeovil’s visit.

The match will be played on another artificial surface with the Cornish side having to travel almost 200 miles from their home town to get their fixtures played after making the decision (which looked ridiculous then and even more so now) to ground share at Taunton at the start of February.

Cooper said: “We will train on Wednesday on the 3G at Huish Park. At the start of the season, you are told who you have to play against and where you have to play and then when it comes to that game, they are playing at a different place at a stadium which is in a different regional league, on a different surface. I am not sure it is right, but that is the way it is and we have to obey by the National League rules.”

The boss said he would be attending the match against Torquay, adding: “They have a really tough schedule with the travelling as well – fans, players, staff. It is a tough ask for them, but they are doing it quite well.

The moment that could have been. Picture by Gary Brown.

Last weekend, the Glovers found themselves 2-0 down at half-time as Worthing marksman Ollie Pearce netted from the penalty spot before Brad Dolaghan added a second after a defensive mistake. Glovers’ substitute Rhys Murphy then saw his 50th-minute penalty saved, before Alex Fisher pulled one back with seven minutes remaining.

The breathless encounter then almost served up a fairytale ending as Murphy ran clear to lift the ball over Worthing keeper Ollie Wright just seconds after news came through that second-placed Chelmsford City had conceded against Slough Town, meaning a draw would have been enough to win the title. Sadly, the linesman’s flag had other ideas. Pearce then wrapped up the win with his second with the final kick of the game.

Asked about the game on Monday, Cooper said: “I thought we played well and could have been two or three-nil up before they even got out of their half. When you look back at the game, key moments went against us. I am not sure it is a penalty, the second goal was a mistake and a bit of a killer, and the third goal they catch us on the break. But in between that we felt in control of the game, but we just did not get it right at key moments. It would have been a fairytale at the end, wouldn’t it? But it just was not to be.

For me, the penalty (miss from Murphy) was the defining moment. If that goes in, we win the game, because we would have had the momentum. That took the wind out of our sails, but we then score and I thought their goalkeeper should have been sent off when he rushed out of the penalty area, blatant handball and pulled the ball away from Murphy and a foul was given against Murphy after that. When we got the goal, we thought that with the amount of pressure we are putting on we were going to create a chance and we had a couple of great chances.

Picture courtesy of Gary Brown.

On the offside decision, he added: “I have seen it back numerous times and I don’t think it is offside, with a game of this magnitude with what is at stake, you have to be really sure if you are going to flag. If you are not sure, the advantage should go with the forward. It was as if it was not meant to be our day.

Despite his penalty miss, the manager has no doubts about Murphy, he said: “When we put the squad together we wanted characters who could deal with high pressure situations, because we have had lots of them because of the size of the club at this level. Murph is a great character, the players love him, he’s great in the changing room and he is just another experienced player we know is not phased by playing in front of big crowds. He will be frustrated he missed the penalty, but penalties get missed. That’s the way it is.

Asked whether the striker could start on Thursday, he added: “It’s a fine balance between making sure we do not injure them again with three games to go. As desperate as we are to play them, we are mindful there is a timeframe from the specialists that says if you start him, there is a risk.”

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