The Thursday Preview: Yeovil Vs Rochdale
Before I move on, I’d like to apologise unreservedly to any Yeovil fans who’ve come across this site before. A not-so-grand total of two articles have been posted with Glovers tags, and neither of those pieces were solely dedicated to this, the other Green Army. Having been off the main correspondents’ radar for, well, ever, this is the first season that we’ve managed to catch up with where things stand in this town of two train stations.
It’s hardly been a good time to acquaint ourselves. Attendances have fallen sharply since Exeter, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday passed through earlier this season, and the Cidermen haven’t left League One’s bottom four since October. It’s not like it hasn’t been on the cards, however. With investment minimal, Yeovil have never quite recaptured the momentum that took them to the same division’s play-off final in 2007 where a Chris Cohen and Arron Davies-inspired vintage failed at the last hurdle against Blackpool. Three successive lower-mid finishes on, and one has to wonder how long the Glovers can keep going at this level unless manager Terry Skiverton can magic up some kind of chemical reaction from ‘limited resources’.
That’s not to say that he’s doing too badly right now. Four games ago, Skiverton’s side were rooted to the bottom after a long run of draws and defeats, but three wins and a draw have propelled Yeovil to a more comfortable position of 21st above Walsall, Dagenham and freefallers Bristol Rovers. Two not insignificant factors in the upsurge have been the arrival of young centre-half Max Ehmer and the agricultural stopper Paul Wotton, on loans from QPR and Southampton. Both have added a touch of force to a side that, at worst, do a bad impersonation of a West Brom or a Doncaster, steadying a ship that can sometimes be prone to the odd nosedive.
Fostering an outgoing approach, Skiverton’s tactics squeeze forward men Sam and Andrew Williams, and Dean Bowditch into advanced positions. With winger Andy Welsh also pushed forward at every opportunity, Yeovil’s central midfield could be said to be open to all and sundry, so Wotton’s appearances in particular have proved important over this recent positive spell. Supplying experience, a big mouth and even the odd pearler if Yeovil supporters are lucky, Wotton has been a good signing for Skiverton, and all concerned will hope that his spell can, as Ehmer’s has, be extended until the end of the season.
Despite Yeovil’s attempt at a tiki-taka, let’s have a go at them game, goals have been few and far all season, and the Glovers stand as the division’s lowest scorers along with Dagenham. My dad doesn’t say a lot at football matches, but in assessing Town’s main man Sam Williams a few weeks ago, he was bang on. “Bet his mum irons his laces”, he opined in another quiet moment in the stalemate we witnessed at Plymouth the other week. Timid and in possession of a band named Alice, I couldn’t argue with the old man as I watched Williams trot around affectedly in his spotless shorts.
They may struggle up front, but it gets better the further back you look. I’m not sure if he’s been spotted, but it’s surely only a matter of time before Yeovil’s athletic full-back Nathan Smith moves on to better things. Not only can he defend with muscle and attack with meaning, but he can also throw the ball quite far. One to look out for, I’d say. Otherwise, captain Paul Huntingdon also stands out and even though one can maybe understand why he wasn’t deemed good enough for Newcastle, he’s certainly a more than credible performer in the third tier.
Which leads me where? To Rochdale, the side that Yeovil first played upon their ascension to The League back in 2003. My partner in bloggery covered them nicely back in December ahead of their postponed home fixture against Charlton, but perhaps Lanterne Rouge was a little harsh when he wondered whether “the best that [Dale] can hope for is to be this year’s Exeter”. Subsequent form has proven that we perhaps know next to nothing on TTU as Keith Hill’s side have risen back to the top half after a series of fine results over the festive period, crowned by a rollicking win at those bigger boys from down the road, Oldham. Sitting just three points off the top six, Spotland’s finest have ridden the crest of a wave of contract extensions and maybe it’s dangerous to overlook this, the second most unfashionable side in League One. Unbeaten in five themselves, I can see the away team taking something from Huish Park on Saturday.