It was a good effort. Fantastic, even. After a run of four straight defeats, including that truly dreadful performance again Blackpool- which I still maintain to this day is the worst Yeovil performance I have seen in my life- Yeovil finally managed to reverse the slide against Leyton Orient, with that man Tom Eaves rising up and heading home the only goal of the game, helping our boys in green and white to drags themselves out of the relegation zone.
I will admit, even experiencing yet more abject performances this season, to being a little concerned about Yeovil’s plight- the same old problems were persisting. They had no creative vision, a lack of a killer instinct, and a defence that was at best shambolic. After such dire results at home, I was nervous of how we could perform away from home, with the crippling defeat to Doncaster still rich in my mind. Before yesterday’s match, had you asked me, I would have said that a draw away from home would have been satisfactory. Anything to stop the rot, I would say. A clean sheet would be preferable. Well, it seems that Yeovil heard this, and decided that they wanted to have their cake and well and truly eat it. Not only did they keep a clean sheet, but they actually managed to bag a goal and see the game out for a hard earned three points. It is no coincidence that the return of Darren Ward resulted in a much more organised back four. At 38 years old, he is certainly no spring chicken, and with his contract only running to the end of the season, I can’t see him continuing his playing career much beyond his time here in Somerset. However, if possible, some effort should be made to contract him on a coaching level, as his experience and passion are invaluable to our young and inexperienced squad. Playing in the centre of defence alongside Alex Lacey, Ward commanded the back line and once again helped secure a clean sheet- I don’t think that this should come as any surprise to fans that have seen the big man in action. He is driven, determined, focused, and a calming influence on a back four that- at times this season- have looked flustered and disorganised. Lacey is still young, but he is a competent player who seems to become even better when placed alongside Ward. The fact that he is playing despite still, in theory, nursing a broken arm (he has to play with a cast on) tells you all you need to know about his personality. He is a player who will throw himself in front of the ball, which indeed he did yesterday to block a shot. The fact that one of his arms isn’t fully functioning and is still worryingly weak was clearly of no concern to him.
More concerning, though, is the fact that our talisman striker- Francois Zoko- is still out injured with recurring problems of his hip flexor. I have no idea what that is, but it seems to be constantly giving him grief, and his ability to hold up the ball and create chances out of nothing is still missed. Izale McCleod, too, an experienced striker and valuable addition, was out with a slight knock. Hopefully he can return to action soon lest we have to start worrying about squad numbers again. Anyway, about the performance: well, firstly, a win is a win. It doesn’t always have to be pretty, especially away from home with confidence at a low. Sometimes all it takes is one moment. Ryan Hedges crossed, Tom Eaves rose and headed simply into the corner of the net- it was nothing special but probably something perfected on the training ground. For a striker, those sorts of chances should be bread and butter stuff. Eaves made it look as simple as it was. Yesterday’s performance was reminiscent of Darren Way’s team last season- solid defensive displays and players giving their all for the cause. The mentality seemed to be that, sure, we might not be the most potent team up front, but if we can shut out the other team and just take that one opportunity, we will pick up points this season. A 1-0 victory is still worth three points as much as a 7-0 thrashing is. Keep tight at the back, take your chances, stop the other team from taking theirs, and you’ll be okay. A little bit of luck wouldn’t go amiss, either. Still, there’s nothing wrong with ‘parking the bus’.
I just hope that fans don’t let up on the pressure. The club’s running is still rotten to the core, and our chairman and board have some questions to answer. Last season, discontent was rising, but then a turn in form on the pitch made everyone forget about the issues and just start shrugging their shoulders again. Lo and behold, the form dips, the same complaints are made, and suddenly everyone wants the board and chairman out all over again. Even if Yeovil go on a run now and win promotion, the board and chairman should still go, because what they have done to the club is unforgivable. I hope fans remember that. I do believe it is possible to cheer the boys on when they take to the pitch but also show the board and owners that their mistakes have not been forgotten and will not be ignored. Once again, Yeovil haul themselves out of trouble, and they should try and build on this momentum to pick up some points and make that gap between them and the drop that bit bigger. I said it last season, and I’ll say it again: all we have to do to stay up is be less shit than two other teams. I think that’s manageable.
Next up: Cheltenham Town. The return of Sir Gary Johnson, who isn’t actually a sir, but deserves it for what he did for Yeovil and our humble little club. In the end, I think his reign rightly came to an end at Yeovil, although I never for one second believed he had transformed into a terrible manager. Winning promotion for Cheltenham proved that, and no doubt he’ll be keen to see his team take something when he returns to the hallowed ground of Huish Park. With Yeovil’s inconsistency, that might very well be possible. But right now, we’re out of the relegation zone, we’re playing with a bit more fire, and our back line looks organised for the first time in goodness knows how long. I say bring ’em on.
Another 1-0 victory courtesy of a towering Tom Eaves header will do nicely, thanks.