TT MATCH VERDICT
Matty Orton – @MattyOrton1
Yeovil (a). The third part of the Gary Johnson’s Christmas ‘Trilogy’. Part one was an epic. Part two was full of twists and turns with one of the best endings you’ve ever seen. Part three was, erm, probably as good as ‘Birdemic: Shock and Terror’, which after a quick Google search got voted one of the worst films ever made. 47 minutes into the film a small town gets attacked by birds. They spit acid and explode into flames when they hit the ground. Although in this version it was United’s net that got hit in the 88th minute, only to then burst into flames in stoppage time as the birds kept raining down. Shock and Terror amongst the United ranks and supporters watching from home would probably be the only way describe it, and to say Johnson would have been spitting feathers is an understatement.
It was a bright start from United, with the accustomed crisp and well executed passing around the opposition area. We were looking dangerous and were starting to pull Yeovil around a bit. We were bright for a good 10 minutes with no real threat from Yeovil apart from a couple of runs from forward Josh Neufville. This prompted a description from the home commentary team (in the 5th minute) that he had been ‘causing problems in the 1st half’, which indicated Yeovil were in for a long afternoon.
A minute after Moxey beautifully nutmegs Albi Skendi, Umerah finds a chance from our left hand side, he’s forced slightly wide but still manages to get his shot away which fizzes just past the Yeovil post. Up until the 15th minute that was our best and first real effort of the game. Yeovil dug in slightly deeper as their defending improved somewhat. United had had their period of pressure on top but to no real avail. Yeovil barely threatened for the rest of the half as the nature of the game slowly changed, it became more scrappy, more competitive and combative. Umerah was getting a tough time, as Yeovil muscled the half, and went down for a possible penalty claim. Apart from a few tame efforts straight at Covolan there was no real threat on goal, the best being a looping header from Luke Wilkinson which grazed the top of the bar. 0-0 at the break in a half that had accumulated 16 fouls and the phrase we have all heard, ‘stop-start’. However, despite not feeling under too much pressure it felt like we could certainly go on and win it in the second half.
United needed an early second half goal and it was delivered in the 46th minute. Nemane had ghosted through the middle and received the ball to slot home past Adam Smith for his 4th goal of the season. 1-0. United’s tails were up as CLE found himself offside with another great chance which Smith only just got a hand too.
A bad Yeovil injury then took the sting out of United’s intent and the game regressed to how the majority of the first half had been. Scrappy, stop-start, and lacking any real quality. Covolan stopped the majority of the Yellow Army’s hearts as he came extraordinarily far out of his box in an attempt to win the ball which he HAD to get. He did. We got away with being caught in possession on a couple of occasions as Yeovil’s Sonupe (not Dogg) was finding himself in a bit of space in the Number 10 role.
It was beginning to be a quiet performance from our lads. Randell, Whits, Umerah, CLE were all finding themselves suppressed out of the game as it continued to be scrappy. A great save in the 73rd minute from a long driven shot from Alex Bradbury forced a spill from Covolan, who was then clattered in the follow up as he gathered. A few minutes later he was quick off his line again, as for the first time in the game Yeovil had managed to get in behind in with Neufville although he never really had the ball under control. The game remained bitty as the clock ticked and United looked for a way forward, a neat overlap between Whitfield and Moxey resulted in another foul as once again the game had stopped.
It was shaping up to be not only a frustrating but tense last 15 minutes. We all know the phrase ‘game management’ is one of Johnson’s favourites, and United up until, this point, had managed the game well, forcing Yeovil sideways and winning free kicks where we could.
Then came the shock. A floated ball into our box was failed to be claimed by Covolan who ended up in a pile on the floor with a green and yellow shirts on top. The ball spilled loose to the edge of the 6 yard area and was picked up by Neufville, who still had a bit of work to do. He turned and spun the ball into the top corner. 1-1! Then it was time for terror. An excellent corner from the United’s left saw the ball rain in and land right on top Wilkinson who lept the highest and buried the ball home for the win.
It was almost 3 from Yeovil as the Birdemic raged on in the final part of the Christmas trilogy. Covolan parried away and it was all over. United had fallen to their third defeat in 17 games.
Covolan 5 – The Covolan/MacDonald debate will rumble on for as long both keepers are at the club. Mac was dropped for a questionable ‘howler’ against Weymouth so a rusty Covolan finds himself back between the sticks. Are we back to square one?
Sherring 5.5 – Playing out of position and doing his best whilst Wynter is out but is naturally a CB. A quality player, playing out of position.
Warren 6 – Warren was solid today. I don’t recall any ‘dodgy’ moments as we managed the largest proportion of the game.
Cameron 5.5 – Had a couple of good interceptions in the first half that were vital under Yeovil pressure. Not the performance we know the big man can deliver and was a frustrating and niggly afternoon for him.
Moxey 6.5 – See MOTM
Whitfield 5 – Whits couldn’t find his rhythm today as the game was so disjointed and scrappy. Won fouls but was denied his usual freedom which is credit to Yeovil and not so much discredit to Ben.
Randell 5 – Would love to see Argyle extend his loan spell but he didn’t have the best of games today.
Evans 5 – Connor had a quiet second half. Just one of those days for the Lemon.
Hall 6 – Had an excellent first half. You can guarantee his performance week in week out. Ever the consistent captain
Nemane 6 – I enjoy watching Aaron play. He’s one of those players where the ball seems to stick to his feet on a jinky run and you’re never quite sure where he is going with it. Today he finished his chance well as he slotted the ball home.
Umerah 5.5 – Josh is still very raw and learning his trade. At TUFC there is nowhere to hide and today all eyes were on him as a lone striker. It must feel lonely for him up there in a team where the majority of goals are generated from midfield.
Subs: Andrews, Buse, MacDonald, Kerr, Waters
Do you agree with Matt? Rate the players here – TUFC PLAYER RATINGS
MAN OF THE MATCH: Dean Moxey
I thought he was great at times on the overlaps with Whitfield. His Skendi nutmeg was very enjoyable and I don’t think you can point the finger at him with regards to the collapse at the end. Yeovil were visibly quicker at putting us under pressure and worked noticeably harder at closing down as oppose to Boxing Day. It wasn’t a problem for Moxey who dealt with this like a breeze, cool under pressure and showed off his higher level pedigree. A quality player to have along for the ride.
Covolan came in ahead of MacDonald’s display against Weymouth in a debate that is now as old as the hills and generally, doesn’t work. Do we now stick with Covolan or is MacDonald reinstated? Deja-vu. We looked tired today and somewhat lost at times. After it was evident that long balls to Umerah weren’t going to work we resorted to keeping it on the deck where we appeared to hold on to it for one phase too many at times. I would have liked to seen Andrews on earlier on in the game, despite not getting on the pitch at all which was a surprise for me. After three games in a week you would have thought substitutions would have been utilised.
It pains me to say it but the injury to Charlie Lee took the sting out of us getting the lead and forcing a second. It happened against Crawley as it changed the complexion of the game. I can’t help but feel the same has happened again today where we were on top and looking for bright for a second goal.
Poor and nothing particularly special despite playing out of their skins after a Boxing Day roasting. Neuvfille, who after having 2 runs forward after 5 minutes ‘caused us problems’ in the 1st half (apparently), looked sharp. You can see they had picked up a small slice of confidence after beating Aldershot and they can sleep safe tonight that they’ve had one the best results in their club’s history whilst being 19th in the league. They were tame in front of goal for large periods of the game and didn’t get in behind us until the 76th minute. They’ve won a smash and grab. We’ve all been there. Next.
I must have escaped doing a match verdict where we have received a bad referee or refereeing decision. Went largely unnoticed which is an indication to me that the officials have had a good game. If I had criticisms it was his positioning, where at times he felt a little too close to the play and once again no help for Umerah who was having a bit of tough time under pressure. If anything he made decisions in our favour which could have been protested by the opposition.
Games like this happen. We only have ourselves to blame. We dominated the first quarter of the game and going in at half time even was about right. We needed to start the second half brightly and we did. We got the lead and our tails were up as we looked to be gaining a foothold. Despite not getting a second we managed large proportions of the game. We coped with the long throws and free kicks all afternoon then in the 88th minute we were sucker punched. Whilst in shock from the equaliser we were then mugged. It’s frustrating to be on the receiving end of a late winner and it is shame we haven’t learnt that from the Crawley game, but it would feel wrong of me to criticise this side too much. Johnson won’t be happy with the way we capitulated so late on. I imagine he cut the figure of a small angry bear in the changing rooms at full time but you can’t help but love the man. The Covolan/MacDonald situation is still very much up for grabs and should he have brought Andrews on to give us a bit more fight and stability late on the game? Who am I to question that?
A quick look at previous tables and 3 losses in 17 games suggests we are still well on track for winning this league. Good teams always tend to be compared, and this team reverberates the Torquay United side that was last successful in this division. To me, Hall, Wright, Whitfield, CLE, KC, Moxey, Nemane echoes the era of Hargreaves, Sills, Benyon, Wroe, Todd, Carlisle, Stevens.
It can be said with real conviction and integrity, that it’s about time we took one long last look at this division, and once again adopted the Football League as our permanent home. Start dreaming. Start believing.