Steven Pressley must have spent much of this week staring meaningfully across the training ground wondering which players he can trust for such an important game coming up. A loss against Yeovil would not necessarily be the end of the world but it would most certainly drag us into the relegation picture and will surely be the last straw for the section of the fan-base still supportive of Steven Pressley.
The past 12 months has seen the team all too often turn one bad result into several, losing to Swindon was bad enough but understandable given the pedigree of the opposition, against Gillingham, in those circumstances, less so. Without the good start to the season that we had last time around, we cannot afford to allow this run to continue any longer. For Pressley it would be a sign of very slow progress if he could at least stop the bad run early but you would imagine that Pressley’s focus right now is solely on this game rather anything lying ahead.
Allsop’s departure left the club in the lurch this week with no adequate first-team goalkeeper on the books (sorry Lee Burge). The signing of Jamie Jones allows for some greater patience in the transfer market. The fact that Jones will be ineligible for our trip to Preston in a few weeks shows just how much of a rush it was to get a warm body between the sticks. Steve Waggott and Steven Pressley should hang their heads in shame that they were so unprepared but Jamie Jones could well turn out to be a good signing for us.
Reda Johnson has returned to training this week, he is the personality that you would want on the pitch in a make-or-break game. You would imagine that if Pressley can pick him, he will, but it seems that Johnson is still short of full fitness. It would be a blow were he not fully fit considering that Ryan Haynes has been playing below the standard he set out earlier on in his career as a first-teamer.
Jim O’Brien’s return to the team gives Steven Pressley something of a selection headache in midfield. That performance against Walsall aside, O’Brien has been poor for the past few months but he is the captain and clearly a player that Pressley has a liking for. Were he restored to the starting 11, either Nouble or Swanson will drop out on the flanks. Nouble is a threat but not much more as a left-winger and with Swanson winning a penalty last week with a dazzling run, the balance may have tipped in the Scot’s favour.
This week has seen Marcus Tudgay officially taken off the transfer-list, which suggests that there will be no permanent deal for Madine. It’s a disappointment for sure but Madine hasn’t exactly set the world alight here. There is an argument then to be had over whether he’s the man you would want to splurge all your budget on. I would still expect Madine to start this game, just so we can squeeze the most out of him whilst he’s here.
Possible Line-Up: (4-4-2) Jones; Willis, Martin, Webster, Haynes; O’Brien, Thomas, Fleck, Swanson; Jackson, Madine.
Last Time We Played
Our last meeting against Yeovil was the second game back at the Ricoh Arena. Goals from Reda Johnson and Simeon Jackson in an assured performance meant that Sam Foley’s equaliser for Gary Johnson’s Yeovil Town was all for nought. The win was our first in the league against Yeovil, with the caveat that it was only our third league meeting against The Glovers.
Our last trip to Huish Park was our very first game in League One, very much a voyage into the unknown that day. Cody McDonald opened the scoring for the Sky Blues only for Yeovil’s Richard Hinds to punish some characteristically poor set-piece defending from Andy Thorn’s Coventry City to make it 1-1, which was how it ended. Only Adam Barton and John Fleck are members of the squad that day who remain at the club.
How Are They Doing?
That 2012-13 season saw Yeovil promoted to the second-tier for the first time in their history. There was no shame in relegation considering the vast disparity in spending power between Yeovil and even the more modest Championship sides. That time in the second-tier was meant to do Yeovil good, instead they lie bottom of the table and are in real danger of double relegations.
There are signs that Gary Johnson is finally finding some order to a Yeovil Town squad that has seen plenty of player turnover. The recent signing of Gozie Ugwu, a loanee at Huish Park during that promotion season, has provided them with some firepower up front. After scoring 10 in 14 games in the Scottish League One, Ugwu has managed two in two since joining Yeovil. He is a doubt for this game through injury and we might just get lucky for this game.
Look out for Kieffer Moore, the club’s top-scorer this season, in defence for the Glovers. A man doing his best Dion Dublin impersonation, Moore has impressed both as a striker and defender for Yeovil this season but it has been his transition into the defensive line which has helped Gary Johnson’s side go unbeaten in their past two games.
Despite some injuries, there is some genuine quality in Yeovil’s midfield with Joe Edwards and Sam Foley particularly impressive. Edwards is a holding midfielder and the club captain who has been an important player after Gary Johnson picked him out of Bristol City’s reserve team. Foley provides set-pieces and goals from midfield for Yeovil, having scored in the previous meeting between the two sides.
A final thing to note is that Yeovil’s squad is so small thanks to injuries that they haven’t named a full complement of substitutes for the past three games.
Possible Line-Up: (4-4-2) Steer; Shephard, Moore, Arthurworrey, N Smith; Ofori-Twumasi, Edwards, Foley, A Smith; Ugwu, Loza.
Forgive me for being a bit superstitious but we could have done with the manager of the opposing team in such an important game not being Gary Johnson. Aside from that recent game at the Ricoh Arena, Johnson has an impeccable record against the Sky Blues and will surely sense an opportunity to ignite his team’s campaign against his lucky charm team. There may be an incentive then to set up not to lose, but we saw against Gillingham that it doesn’t work for this team, we need to be bolder and braver in all areas.
Whilst I have decried my support for Steven Pressley, a defeat here will be close to the final straw for me. It’s not only that we would find ourselves in a relegation scrap now but we have such a tough February ahead, Pressley may be unable to turn it around by the time Spring arrives. I am though predicting a 2-1 Sky Blues win, take that negativity!