Yeovil Town manager Mark Cooper heaped praise on his defence for a battling performance as they picked up another three points in horrendous conditions against Braintree Town at Huish Park.

The Glovers had to scrap on a surface which got increasingly sodden as the rain continued to pour and having gone ahead through Matt Worthington’s first half strike, sealed the victory with a late goal from substitute Jake Hyde.

The victory moves them six points clear at the top of the National League South table and means they have now racked up tens consecutive wins in all competitions.

Speaking after the match, Cooper said: “I have never witnessed rain like that from start to finish in two consecutive games, the pitch was under water at the end and we just had to get it done.

There was no football played after the first 20 minutes. I thought we were quite good in the first 20 minutes and we could have been a couple up, Joe Day made a couple of good saves and then the second half was a non-event.

They gambled but the pitch was under water so we just had to get the game won.

The Huish Park pitch cut up badly as the match went on.

He added: “When the conditions are like that it is just heads down, sleeves up. I thought our two big centre halves (Jake Wannell and Morgan Williams), (Alex) Whittle, Michael Smith and our goalkeeper (Joe Day) were amazing. They headed, competed, tackled and they were the reason we won today.

Cooper admitted he was worried that referee Samuel Read could abandon the fixture, adding: “Once you score the second one it is difficult for them to call it off.

Having gone ahead with a neat lob from Worthington after an error from Braintree keeper Vicente Reyes, the manager brought on experienced heads in strikers Frank Nouble and Hyde after the hour mark. 

He said: “I thought we needed two big lumps up there because the pitch was impossible to play any real football on.

So I put those two on to get it up to and let them get on with it. They didn’t start great when they came on but we grew in to it and started to hold the ball up for us. Today was a game for physicality and whoever made the least mistakes was going to win the game.

Cooper admitted the “biggest bonus” was he was able to give top-scorer Rhys Murphy the game off meaning he will be available for the trip to Torquay United in ten days time. The frontman is currently one booking away from a one-match suspension and the manager was pleased not to have to bring him on today.

Cooper said: “That was not the plan, the plan was to get him on for half-an-hour, but that surface would not have suited Rhys. So we get our top scorer freshened up and available for Torquay.

Rhys Murphy fires in a shot.
Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

The manager admitted the Huish Park pitch is at the mercy of Mother Nature with the under-investment by the club’s previous owners meaning the club could only do “the bare minimum” of repairs to it in the summer.

He said: “We could only do limited renovations on the pitch in the summer because the owner (Martin Hellier) had not taken over, it was the previous regime where we did the bare minimum.

There’s no length to any of the roots on the pitch, no drainage, so the groundsman is dependent on the weather. You can see how many divots there are and that is because there is no root on the grass.

It is not conducive to how we want to play but, like you saw in the last 20 minutes today, if we have to bring two big lads on and bash the ball up to them and get the second balls then we will do it.

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