Venue: Huish Park
Tues 10th August 2004, 7.45pm kick-off.
Conditions: Dry, very mild
Pitch: Very good
Scorers: Phil Jevons (6, 1-0), Matthew Clarke (53, 1-1)
Attendance: 5,116 (including approx 150 Darlo fans)
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Assistants: Simon Hollick (Devon); Wendy Toms (Dorset)
Darlington: Kendrick (13 mins, unsporting behaviour), Liddle (24, foul), Clarke (31, unsporting behaviour), Thomas (56, foul), Russell (75, handball)
Steve Sowden’s Match Report
YEOVIL TOWN 1, DARLINGTON 1
STEVE SOWDEN REPORTS FROM HUISH PARK
IT is almost two years ago when Yeovil Town manager Gary Johnson emerged from the dressing room at Underhill and told waiting pressmen that the Glovers were a `million miles away’ from being title favourites after witnessing a depressing 2-1 defeat at Barnet in the Nationwide Conference.
Two years on and Johnson could have used that same phrase after being far from pleased with a lack-lustre display in the 1-1 draw with Darlington at Huish Park on Tuesday night.
Following on from Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Bury, the performance against Darlington was appalling and on the basis of two games Yeovil Town do not look anything like potential championship-winning contenders despite the bookies pre-season odds.
The display lacked any passion, the undoubted ability the players possess was demonstrated rarely, the defence looked decidedly shaky, the midfield was bossed out of the game, and the attack barely threatened to remove the gloom from an unusually hushed Huish Park.
And just as it was in London two years ago at Barnet, Johnson took an age to meet the press pack afterwards and he apologised to the media for the delay. You could forgive Johnson as he needed to tell his players, in no uncertain terms, that the display they produced against Darlington was far below the standard he and the supporters expect.
Johnson, who had discarded his jacket and tie once he met with the press, said: “The players have taken a lashing from me – that is why I am all hot and sweaty.
“There are some players who need some forceful direction. Some will prove themselves and some of them will not.”
And Johnson said: “Thank God we didn’t lose the game. Thank God we’ve got a point on the board.”
But the Yeovil gaffer has still got faith in his squad – which, despite the poor start to the season, still looks on paper one of the most exciting in the club’s entire history.
“We are going to turn it around,” he said. “We have got a great squad and we need that squad to pull through.”
Yeovil could not have wished for a better start. It took Phil JEVONS, who was making his first start of the season in place of the dropped Kevin Gall, just six minutes to make his mark when he received the ball, picked his spot and stroked a super shot past Darlington keeper Sam Russell. But from then it became a tedious, frustrating and somewhat depressing display by Yeovil.
After the disappointment of Bury, an early goal should have given Yeovil the spark to go on and win by a handsome margin. Unfortunately, however, it was a case of deja vu from Saturday where after taking the lead they seemed to run out of ideas, run out of puff and run out of energy and it was the visitors from Darlington who took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Darlington made the Yeovil defence look very jittery and if they had had someone with their shooting boots on then the eventual outcome could have been very much worse for the Glovers.
Andy Lindegaard was brought into Yeovil’s starting line-up at the expense of Roy O’Brien at right-back and he had a difficult evening, centre-halves Terry Skiverton and Colin Pluck looked far from composed, while the defence had to reshuffle midway through the opening period when left-back Michael Rose had to go off after splitting his lip.
The defence was carved open all too easily and Darlington’s Matt Clarke was a constant thorn in its side.
Manager Johnson spent the opening 20 minutes of the game watching from the stands, but as soon as he came down to the touchline he was barking orders constantly at his players in a bid to wake them up from their subdued slumber.
But come the half-hour mark, the game was already dying as a spectacle and there was that feeling – just as there was at Bury – that Yeovil were losing the battle in the middle and Darlington were getting the upper hand in proceedings.
Half Time: Yeovil 1 -0 Darlington
What everybody was expecting came soon after the restart when there was an awful moment of indecision between keeper Steve Collis and Yeovil skipper Skiverton. With no real apparent danger Skiverton put the ball out for a corner when Collis could quite easily have dealt with the situation and then from the resulting corner taken by the impressive Neil Wainwright it was left to the unmarked Craig Liddle to head home. No wonder Johnson later described the all-round incident as `diabolical.’
Clarke was being given more and more space, Wainwright almost walked through the defence unnoticed and narrowly missed connecting with a free-kick with the Yeovil defence ball watching, while the Glovers rarely looked dangerous in attack.
Come the end the Yeovil fans in the 5,116 crowd must have gone home relieved that their team had hung on for a draw.
But the concerns that were aired by fans after Bury gathered more substance on Tuesday. The middle of the park is being dominated by the opposition, Yeovil are playing much to narrow to allow the likes of Adrian Caceres and Gavin Williams the opportunity to weave their magic on the flanks, and the defence just does not seem comfortable dealing with set-pieces.
Yeovil have got to knuckle down, roll their sleeves up, dig in and fight for everything. At the moment there seems to be too many players who give the impression that the club is still in pre-season mode. The message is simple – the season has started and it is time for the players to produce the goods.
There are some great individually talented players at Huish Park this season, but what Johnson and his lieutenants must do, and do so quickly, is to make them work as a unit.
A league season is definitely a marathon rather than a sprint, but there is no doubting that Yeovil have got off to a very slow start and if they went any slower they would be going in reverse.
Two years ago and after that defeat at Barnet, Yeovil went on and won the Conference title by a country mile. It will take something even more special for Yeovil to do the same this time around in the Coca-Cola League Two – but it is still far too early to start pushing the panic buttons.
Just as Johnson spoke to reporters in darkness at Underhill following the 2-1 defeat, the lights went out in the media room at Huish Park on Tuesday as he was still talking to the press. Some might call that an omen, but the majority would say it perfectly summed up what had been a thoroughly miserable night.
© Steve Sowden/Yeovil Express.
MOTM Vote Result:
Overall match rating: 4.6 / 10
30 votes received.