Yeovil Town: Three Sent Off But All Three Outstanding
Any rundown of Reading Football Club’s top ten most embarrassing performances would be sure to include some real horror shows – a 6-0 beating by Bristol Rovers at the Madejski Stadium in which all the goals were scored by future Royals Jamie Cureton and Jason Roberts, all in the second half; a 6-1 dynamiting by Crystal Palace, also at home and that ridiculous 7-5 defeat against Arsenal which had seen the Biscuitmen ease into a 4-0 lead early in the game.
But such a roster will no longer include merely defeats. On the face of it, Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Championship basement dwellers Yeovil would appear to be an unremarkable addition to any statistician’s notebook but given that Reading played the best part of 20 minutes against 9 men and more than 10 against 8, the failure to take advantage, the numbskullish tendency to continue with high balls into a crowded box and the general lack of intelligence shown by both players and coaching staff puts it firmly on the list of abominations.
That would be a little unfair on Gary Johnson though – a man who has come to the Mad Stad and out thought his opposite number before. True, Yeovil had little option but to re-enact scenes from the movie 300 once their numbers started to reduce but up until the incident which saw Byron Webster see red for tumbling on top of Royston Drenthe, the Somerset team had been well worth their 1-0 lead.
There was much huffing and puffing from Reading but this is a team that has really struggled to deal with tall, angular centre backs in this season’s Championship. Until his exit, Webster had been dominant in the area in the way that Reading’s ever so slightly similar Alex Pearce really ought to be while alongside him, canny loan acquisition Shane Duffy was all calmness and composure, even getting his name on the score sheet after Reading’s Alex McCarthy imagined himself representing Coldplay’s second studio album on Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Temporary signings have been vital in stiffening the Glovers’ resolve and as well as Duffy, the flanks in Saturday’s game were graced by loan men – Tom Lawrence from Manchester United and Duane Holmes from Huddersfield. Both impressed with their tracking back and while obtaining loanees from teams in one’s own division might not be top of the requirements of your average message boarder, Holmes shows the policy can work if the fit is right.
Joe Ralls is another taking time out at Huish Park , this time from Cardiff, and his was also a hard working display, first in midfield and then at left back, only for a horror challenge on Garath McCleary to end his afternoon. A few minutes later, Kieffer Moore received his orders of the march for a similar tackle but rather preversely, all three of the expelled can consider themselves very happy with their afternoon.
That’s due to the ultimate result of course, as well as their performances. Moore was toweringly immense up front, utterly dominating Pearce and his confrère Kaspars Gorkšs and this from a man who was at Dorchester Town last season and at troubled Truro City not long before that.
Add to that some spectacular net minding from Marek Štěch – one pile driver from Danny Guthrie in the melée of a dénouement was turned away brilliantly – a busy right back display from Luke Ayling, the player who most impressed me when I saw Yeovil at home to Reading earlier in the season, clever forward runs from James Hayter, a captain’s example from left-back Jamie McAllister and a fine shift of typical water carrying from Joe Edwards and you have a Yeovil Town where everyone knows their job and a team for whom exalted reputations provide little fear.
The Glovers now find themselves in a group of five scrapping to avoid relegation and are arguably the form team among them. With back to back home games coming up, we might well be seeing Yeovil Town back for second helpings of Championship pie in August.