With the run we’ve been on, and with teams above us dropping points on Saturday, the draw at Newport has to be viewed as a disappointing result. Fortunately, it hasn’t been a costly draw, the gap to third place remains at six points (with a game in hand) and the cushion to the play-offs cushion reduced by one point. If we can back up Saturday’s result with three points in this upcoming game against Yeovil, the run continues, anything less and we’re back to looking nervously over our shoulders to hang onto a play-off spot.
Having based this recent run on a settled line-up and being able to score the first goal in games, to have salvaged the draw against Newport via the introductions of Kyel Reid and Maxime Biamou from the bench, it’s a sign that Mark Robins hasn’t simply stumbled on a temporary winning formula. Players are likely to get fatigued over the next seven games, we’re also likely to fall behind in at least a couple of those games, the Newport result was a sign that we might be able to overcome those kind of setbacks.
With this Yeovil game coming so quickly off the back of the Newport game, Mark Robins may have to change up the starting XI that’s served us so well in recent weeks – particularly as Yeovil have the advantage over us of not having played on Friday. The question is which changes can be made that avoid disrupting the balance of the side?
It only really looks like the introduction of Kyel Reid on the wing for either Peter Vincenti or Jordan Shipley doesn’t alter the team dynamic too drastically, but even then, it takes away a game-changing substitution that we could potentially need in this game – with Shipley and Vincenti players less likely to change games as substitutes. Unless there are players carrying knocks, it seems unlikely that Robins will make changes for this game, despite how quickly this game has come around.
Last Time We Met
Our last meeting with Yeovil came off the back of the defeat to Newport and saw us lose in similar manner. A decent start to the game was undermined by Liam O’Brien needlessly charging off his line and colliding with Chris Stokes to hand Yeovil’s Rhys Browne a tap-in. We continued to pound away with decent-ish half chances before Olufela Olomola charged through our defence to seal the win for Yeovil.
How Are They Doing?
Yeovil looked like heavy favourites for relegation this season – emphasised by their 8-2 opening day defeat to Luton Town – however, manager Darren Way has managed his resources well to render Yeovil effectively safe from relegation with nine games of their season remaining.
What has been particularly impressive is that Yeovil’s safety has been achieved with a relatively inexperienced squad – packed out with loanees – which has rarely been the formula for avoiding relegation in the lower leagues. Darren Way seems to put an emphasis on developing promising young players in need of experience to round out their games, rather than the safe approach of doling out one-year contracts to experienced journeymen – however, their away form this season has arguably demonstrated the limitations of such an approach.
With the experienced lower league maverick Francois Zoko as the figurehead in attack, the pace and skill of wingers Otis Khan, Jordan Green, Rhys Browne and Jake Gray has really come to the fore at times for Yeovil this season. Khan in particular has shone for Yeovil this season, and was seemingly close to a move to a League One club in January which fell through. Green and Browne offer raw pace in wide areas, while Jake Gray can operate as a central midfielder, where he offers drive and creativity.
In defence, Yeovil have a few players who are being linked with bigger and better things. The lanky Omar Sowunmi – who has also played as an emergency centre-forward – is seemingly on the radar of League One sides, while the composed Shaun Donellan at centre-back has impressed immediately since joining the club in January, and the versatile Tom James has been linked in the press to Swansea and Bournemouth. The form of those three – along with emergency goalkeeper signing Stuart Nelson – has helped Yeovil tighten up at the back considerably over the past couple of months.
There is a danger that the expectation that this a straightforward three points for us against a side that not only has little to play for but has one of the worst away records in the division engenders a sense of complacency among our players and anxiety in the stands if we take time to settle into this game. However, we’ve shown in recent weeks that we can put away these kind of sides and this should be a three points to set us up for a big game against Notts County afterwards.
As for a scoreline, I can see us winning this 2-0.