Yeovil players celebrate Charlie Wakefield’s FA Cup winner in Round 2

Here’s a conundrum for you.

How do you cope with the injuries and illness that the Glovers have had this mid-season, in ‘COVID World’ whilst having a squad as small as Yeovil Town’s, and yet at the same time have multiple selection headaches with multiple options in different positions?

That’s exactly what manager Darren Sarll has not just up front with Joe Quigley, Reuben Reid and Adi Yussuf seemingly vying for one spot, but also now in goal.

First choice Grant Smith has been nothing short of fantastic between the sticks this season, and his post-match red card at Torquay on Boxing Day threw a spanner in the works for the upcoming games including last weekend’s FA Cup tie against Bournemouth.

With the greatest of respect, the loan keeper from QPR, Dillon Barnes, was far from an adequate replacement. The 87th player to take his place between the posts for us since the end of the Second World War (we think) but not one to stick in the memory.

Dillon Barnes vs Bournemouth

Errors against both Torquay and the Cherries at key moments were killer blows in big matches and the team suffered.

Barnes is not a bad ‘keeper, far from it in fact, he has played plenty of EFL games and a contract at a Championship club is a clear sign that he has qualities.

But he was clearly rusty, thrown into two big games with players he’d barely met and maybe, couldn’t quite get up to speed in time.

The Glovers’ regular back-up keeper Max Evans, with not a lot more than a single FA Trophy game behind him, had the potential to be a rabbit in the headlights in those games too, and I totally understand Sarll’s choice to get in a loan keeper.

Max Evans

Evans will get his chance against Needham Market, but I am sure glad Grant Smith is back. A reliable pair of gloves has been the mainstay of successful Yeovil sides, see Tony Pennock, Chris Weale, Steve Mildenhall and Marek Stech in previous years.

We’ve had some great on loan goalkeepers – Begovic, McCarthy, Henderson, Steer – and some high quality back-up keepers down the years, haven’t we? Gareth Stewart, Ben Roberts, even Wealey himself for a time. Malcolm Rigby, anyone?

Grant Smith might need to keep his composure and his hips slightly less thrusted at times, but his absence has only solidified his value to the group. 

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