2014/15: Sky Bet League One – Chesterfield v Yeovil Town

An usually mild and sunny afternoon greeted the first day of November at the Proact Stadium.

Neither side came into the game with any sort of form. Home side Chesterfield were without a win since 04 October with a 3-2 win over Sheffield United, whilst Yeovil Town’s dreadful run of a single point from six games had seen the side from Somerset drop into the relegation zone.

Changes were the order of the day for both camps. Chesterfield boss Paul Cook was without his captain Ian Evatt who was suspended, so Charlie Raglan came into the team, with Ollie Banks coming in for Jimmy Ryan who dropped to the bench. Yeovil manager Gary Johnson brought in a number of players on loan during the week with right-back Jordan Clarke arriving from Coventry City and keeper Jed Steer and defender Stephen Arthurworrey from Aston Villa and Fulham respectively – all three went straight into the starting line-up.

The Spireites kicked-off in a game which began with an open quarter of an hour.

After three minutes, Dan Gardener broke into the Yeovil box, but his cutback was comfortably cleared. The visitors though responded just a minute later, when from a free kick on-loan defender Stephen Arthurworrey headed over the bar.

Shortly after this chance, the first corner of the game came for Chesterfield following good work between, captain for the day, Samy Morsy and Daniel Jones. However, debutant keeper Jed Steer punched clear.

But it was the visitors who had the first real chance of the game after eight minutes, when from a Foley free kick, a flicked header gave Moore a chance at the far post, where Tommy Lee made a superb reaction save.

There was no panic from the home team though as they looked to create an opening opportunity with Darikwa and Clucas combining well, but Yeovil were proving dogged opposition and their second corner came on twelve minutes. Tommy Lee in the Chesterfield goal was equal to the task though, punching clear.

Just a couple of minutes later, he was in action again, as he had to deal with a dangerous in-swinging free kick from Foley, which come about after a foul which earned Darikwa a booking.

After this bright opening, the game hit a five minute spell in which neither side made much impression.

However, Chesterfield were the next team to show, as they tried at every opportunity to get wide through Doyle and Gardener. Nonetheless, Yeovil were proving solid at the back with Steer in goal confident in his handling and kicking game.

There was a moment of controversy on twenty six minutes when from a ball into the Yeovil box the awkwardly bouncing ball seemed to strike the arm of a Glovers player. However, despite huge appeals from the home fans, referee Oliver Langford waved play on. Chesterfield were now dominating and on twenty seven minutes had a free kick in a central position. However, the Yeovil wall did their job and the effort from Doyle was comfortably blocked.

Foley though was continuing to probe for the visitors and Tommy Lee had to be alert to punch clear just before the half hour mark. However, Chesterfield continued to look to work the ball wide with Clucas and Gardener proving dangerous, but ultimately the home side were unable to get anybody on the end of the crosses.

The visitors were forced into a change on thirty four minutes, with Moore being replaced by Hiwula-Mayifuila. Yeovil were struggling as the half entered the last ten minutes with Doyle, Clucas and Gardener looking dangerous for Chesterfield; however as with much of the opening half it was possession that came without an end.

Half-time:  Chesterfield (0) – (0) Yeovil Town

The home team may have finished the first-half on top, but it was the visitors who came out more positively in the second period. Within two minutes of the restart Grant had a shot on target, but it was an easy gather for Tommy Lee. Just a couple of minutes later Chesterfield’s Morsy slipped allowing Yeovil in which resulted in a corner for the visitors. From the kick, Arthurworrey had a free header which forced a save from Lee low down.

It wasn’t until fifty minutes on the clock that the home team provided any threat with Doyle drawing a good save from Steer and instigated the first of three successive corners for Chesterfield. The Spireites were now building some momentum; however, the good approach play was lost through poor crossing on a number of occasions.

On the hour though a great through ball gave Doyle a one-on-one with Steer, but the visiting keeper spread himself well to block the effort.

Chesterfield boss Paul Cook decided that on sixty one minutes it was time for change and carried out a double-change, with Gardener and Banks giving way to O’Shea and Johnson. The Aston Villa loanee Johnson was soon involved bringing a new energy to Chesterfield.

It gave the home side a sustained period of possession and pressure, but they were unable to create a decent chance as the game moved to the last fifteen minutes. Looking to give his side some fresh legs, Yeovil boss Gary Johnson brought on Hayter for Grant.

Chesterfield continued to look for a winner and manager Paul Cook made his final change as Ryan replaced Gobern on eighty one minutes.

However it was the visitors who nearly grabbed a winner as on eighty six minutes Tommy Lee raced outside his area to bring down substitute Jordy Hiwula, earning the keeper a booking.  Despite its promising position, the resulting free kick came to nothing.

The home side though weren’t done and a couple of corners in the dying minutes produced a volley from substitute Ryan, which sailed high over the bar. There were three minutes of time added-on, but neither side could conjure up a winner.

Full-time:  Chesterfield (0) – (0) Yeovil Town

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Post-match interviews:

Question:  A clean sheet today and a point away, so a sign of some progress Gary?

Gary Johnson (Yeovil Town manager): Yes it was important that we came here and looked solid. We’ve seen a couple of games they’ve played, not the last one, but even their last one they started very bright against Swindon and the crowd gets behind them and they get runs of attacks – and we had three new players in the team so we had to blood them in as best we could and so we thought we had a bit of a position of strength and then try and keep the ball and break on them.

Again we’ve had the first couple of chances that end, Kieffer Moore’s header and a shot or two, so although you’re never happy with just the one point – as there were three points on it – of course as long as you win your next home game, then that’s not a bad point from our position against a team like Chesterfield that have been going quite well up until the last couple of weeks. I was proud of the boys because they worked their socks off, our quality was a little bit lacking at times, but we can build on that now. I was so pleased with the three new lads because they came in and all had an effect on the game.

Question:  Jed Steer – clean sheet on his debut and made some fantastic saves.

GJ: Yes, one with his feet – and some others – I thought was the match-winning saving save. So yes it was a great debut for him. I don’t think he was peppered as such; I don’t think he was the only one that kept us in the game. Although as I said, I thought he had a terrific game along with everybody else.

Question:  Stephen Arthurworrey looks a different type of centre-half. You’ve had some big powerful lads in there, but he seems to read the game, he’s got pace as well and he can come forward.

GJ:  I thought him and Jordan Clarke both showed pace and were decent in the air. They both don’t panic when they are on the ball. So I think as you say it’s a step in the right direction.

There’s a long way to go of course. To win football matches as this level you not just only have to create the chances, like we did, you’ve got to go and score them as well. Even if you only get one or two chances away from home, you have to go and get one goal and walk away with a little bit of a ‘smash and grab’. So we are going to have to work a little bit on our final third play, especially when we are at home.

Question: Still no goal for Jordy Hiwula. What did you make of the challenge on him by Tommy Lee? It looked pretty cynical as he rushed out and Jordy appeared to be clean through on goal.

GJ: Well I mean obviously if the keeper misses him, he is clear in on goal. He was going at a little bit of an angle, but he would still have been able to get on the ball and tuck it in the net. It was a professional foul by their very experienced keeper and he got away with it.

Question:  And Kieffer Moore obviously he had to come off. Is that the same hamstring problem he’s been nursing?

GJ: Yes he’s really disappointed that it’s his hamstring again. It’s just something that keeps recurring. We give him a little bit longer each time, but it still breaks down. We’ll have to investigate even more really or give him a bit of a longer rest, because we can’t keep waiting for him, bringing him in and plays only half an hour or so. We can’t do that.

Question: Of course a break from league action now. A FA Cup tie with Crawley Town next weekend. How important is the FA Cup for Yeovil. I know in previous season, you’ve been ‘Giant-killers’. How important is it this season?

GJ: Well over the years it has been important for Yeovil. Yeovil and the FA Cup will always go together. Maybe it’s just in recent years that it has not worked out that way. But I mean, we want to beat Crawley, they beat us down there, and they are a side in our league.

So as you say if we are going to build on this performance we got to treat it like a league game and although we are not going to get the three points, you do get a chance to go into the next round and that’s what we’re after.

I think we should mention now because the FA Cup we always get a good atmosphere at Huish Park and our supporters here today were great – they were our twelfth man that’s for sure. That must have been a record for the length of time they sung that one song. Unbelievable. They certainly sang more than the home crowd anyway and we certainly appreciate it, and they can claim half a point.

Question:  Just one final question. Your loan players played a key role in the performance here today. Do you know in advance how many of those can play in the FA Cup or have you work to do this week?

GJ: Yes, I do. All of them can play. So that was a god bit of negotiation on our part. Certainly the ones we just brought in we couldn’t afford to pay them and then not play them in the Cup because they’d have had two weeks of doing nothing. They are all allowed to play in the Cup, so we’ve done well and our friends out there have done well for us.

 * * * * * * * * *

Question: After a few bad losses, on days like this a draw can be important?

Paul Cook (Chesterfield manager): Absolutely, it’s a good result. Every substitution becomes a challenge. What I never like is when people start shouting “get him off” from behind you. I don’t understand that and never will in football. Our lads to a man – not one of our players deserve that and I just appeal to supporters, for anyone who shouts behind me to get them off, that’s not the way forward. Have a bit of respect. I have respect as a manager, try and have it as a supporter. That’s an opinion and it’s valid one. You don’t have to shout, especially when a lad gives the ball away or something like that. The majority of our players now have been with us for a period of time through very successful times and its times like this when you find more out about people and that includes us all, me as a manager, supporters.

Question: Some great performances out there today. Georg Margreitter for example was superb.

PC: I thought Georg was excellent today, I really did. Looks like he’s done his hamstring, so we’ve got another blow there. But that’s part and parcel of the game.

We’ve got to look at what we are doing now. We keep working away; we keep trying to maybe sign a player or two that might help the situation. I think it’s apparent there’s an area of two on the pitch we might need that bit of help. That’s for me, the Chief Executive and the Chairman to try and sort out.

Question: How far along are you?

PC: You know you’ve got to have, if you can, a brighter outlook. I look at Liverpool as a club today, my own club that I love. Three or four months ago they are the best thing in the world and in the space of a blink it changes. I’m not saying that Chesterfield are the best, I’m just saying we are trying to go forward. Now and again we get little hurdles and obstacles to jump and sometimes they are not as easy as people think. My job is to manage the team to the best of my ability and I’ll always do that until the day somebody tells me different.

Question: And sometimes games like this and little periods like this can strengthen players can’t it?

PC: Imagine the mood if we’ve got beat 1-0. When Tommy Lee comes flying out the box late on, we all think the 1-0’s coming don’t we. That’s what football does to you. I’m honest enough to know and I keep telling everyone, I’m a lucky man me. I feel the pressure of all the world like you wouldn’t believe between three and five o’clock, but you can see by mood now I don’t feel it now.

This clubs been here for x amount of years and by the time we’ve all gone – it’ll still be going strong and that Kop will still be singing, but they won’t be singing “Cookie give us a wave” !

Question: A wonderful reception for Daniels Johnson when he walked off. I appreciate he’s going back to Aston Villa today, but how good has he been for you?

PC: He’s been outstanding. It’s a tough league and you’ve got to have good players. Our own players – Gary Roberts – Ollie Banks today, comes back in the team – people forget Ollie got 9 goals in twenty odd games last year. And then the fella behind me shouts “get him off” and I think to myself, I don’t grasp that – you know I really struggle to grasp that. Listen, makes no bones about it, any fan who pays money – I’m the most respectful person towards supporters you’ll ever get – but come on that’s just not right.

So let’s finish the interview on a positive – we got a point.

Question: And a nice positive at the end of the game, Gary Johnson coming out and thanking the ground staff.

PC: Gary’s a good man. Football is about the media nowadays building pressure on managers, and they get sacked and someone else gets the job. That’s football today and we’ve all got to love it, because when it’s going well there’s no better job in the world – it’s the best job – you go and get bought a pint and you’re a genius. When it’s not going so well, you don’t get bought a pint and you have to buy your own and you’re not such a genius. I’ll just keep enjoying it.

2011/12: FA Cup 2nd Round – Sheffield United v Torquay United

Friday 02 December 2011 (12.45 pm)

Whilst some quarters of the football community will have their thoughts on the UEFA 2012 European Championship Finals draw later today, for the fans of Fleetwood Town and Yeovil Town, tonight is all about the FA Cup. Yes it’s FA Cup 2nd Round weekend – the final Round of the FA Cup before 2011 becomes ‘last year’. Seven Rounds gone, seven to go.

Fleetwood Town are currently flying high in the Blue Square Bet Premier (BSBP) League and are second in the table. In midweek they overcame Kettering 3-0 so are in good form coming into the game. In the 4th Qualifying Round, Town overcame fellow BSBP opposition Mansfield with a convincing 5-0 win in a replay at Highbury. In the 1st Round, Fleetwood were one of the Rounds ‘Giant-killers’ as they beat Npower League One Wycombe Wanderers 2-0.

Town’s opponents tonight, Yeovil Town (like Wycombe) are struggling at the wrong end of the Npower League One table. Their 3-0 win at Edgar Street over Hereford United in the last Round provided some relief for Yeovil from their relegation battle. The team from Huish Park will not be relishing this tie and I’m going with Fleetwood to again create a Cup upset and put out League opposition for the second consecutive Round.

Friday 02 December 2011 (10.00 pm)

Fleetwood Town                (2)       –           (2)       Yeovil Town            

Just as in the 1st Round the Friday night Cup fixture ended in a 2-2 draw. Yeovil looked to be heading into the 3rd Round draw as they led 2-0 at Fleetwood with ten minutes to go. Edward Upson and Conor Clifford put the West Country team in the driving seat, but goals from Kieran Charnock and a penalty on 89 minutes Jamie Milligan earned the Non-League side a replay.

Saturday 03 December 2011 (08.30 am)

It was my intention to go to Valley Parade today for the fixture between Bradford City and AFC Wimbledon, but after the tragic news last Sunday of the death of Gary Speed, I wanted in some way to pay my respects and so it is off to Bramall Lane for the Sheffield United v Torquay United tie. Gary Speed ended his playing career at Bramall Lane and had a short spell managing the team. He may be more likely to be remembered for his time at Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers, but today the Bramall Lane faithful will get their chance to pay their respects. It will no doubt be a sombre occasion today.

There are occasions when certain news just leave you stunned, last Sunday was one of those instances. The reaction from the football community has been one of utter disbelief and the subsequent tributes from across the country have emphasised that Gary Speed was indeed a respected football figure. I had on this site, been critical of his move from the Blades to take charge of Wales, but recent results showed that Gary Speed was indeed turning around the fortunes of the Welsh National team before his tragic death.

Saturday 03 December 2011 (08.30 pm)

Under a dark sky and pouring rain, the flags on the stands at Bramall Lane fluttered at half-mast. Dismal weather for a sad occasion. The Blades players wore tops in the warm-up bearing the squad number and name of Gary Speed as the crowd slowly filtered into the ground. There was an air of solemnity as the players emerged for kick-off as the Red and White part of Sheffield paid their respects to ‘one of their own’. The minutes applause rang round the stands and the travelling Torquay fans were magnificent in their support of this mark of respect to ‘Speedo’ as they also chanted the former Blades name.

With wreaths laid at the side of the pitch, the focus turned to the action on the Bramall Lane turf. The Gulls made a flying start and within three minutes were ahead. A Torquay free kick found its way to Rene Howe who clinically  finished to give the visitors the lead. Sheffield struggled to get into the game and it wasn’t till nearly the half-hour mark that they had a serious attempt on goal, when Ched Evans had a free-kick brilliantly tipped over by Robert Olejnik in the Torquay goal. Evans was again denied by the Gulls keeper later in the first half from another free-kick. However, Torquay could easily have added to their lead in the first-half. Danny Stevens was put through by Rene Howe, but screwed horribly wide with only Sheffield custodian, Simonsen to beat. Rene Howe also had a chance for a second, when he rounded the Blades keeper, but was forced wide. The resultant cut-back to Billy Boden was gratefully gathered by Simonsen and the teams went in at half-time with the visitors still in front.

In the second half Sheffield came out brighter and were creating more. Robert Olejnik was being kept busy by the Blades attack and he carried out a magnificent double-save on fifty-two minutes. The Torquay keeper parried a Michael Doyle shot and then brilliantly pushed the rebound from Ched Evans onto the crossbar. With an hour gone, Danny Wilson brought on Kevin McDonald and Lecsinel Jean-Francois. However, it seemed to have little impact and the Blades appeared to be running out of ideas, with Olejnik dealing with everything that was pumped into his penalty area. Football can be a cruel game and with sixty-eight minutes gone Matthew Lowton’s hopeful cross into the box was sliced into his own net by Mark Ellis. The visitors were stunned and in the very next Blades attack, Ched Evans raced through to give Sheffield the lead. The Gulls were on the ropes and the Blades went looking for a third. This duly arrived on seventy-eight minutes when Torquay keeper Olejnik (who had been outstanding up to this point) unfortunately put a clearance kick straight to Ched Evans, who gratefully slotted home for his second. It was ‘game-over’, but credit to the visitors, who didn’t capitulate and in the fourth minute of time added-on, scored their second, with Danny Stevens lashing in. It was too late however and the final whistle soon went.

The Blades had got the result and topped off an emotional day in the right way. As the matchday programme said, “…Gary Speed enjoyed his time at Sheffield United…and Sheffield United enjoyed Gary Speed…” 

Sunday 04 December (11.00 am)

And so the FA Cup 2nd Round weekend comes to an end with the ‘televised’ games, both featuring a non-league against league team match-up. The first game features one of my Cup ‘Trail’ teams, AFC Totton who take on Bristol Rovers on ITV1. This is the first time the club from Hampshire have reached the 2nd Round. Totton destroyed Bradford Park Avenue in the last Round 8-1, whilst Rovers progressed with a 3-1 win over Corby. Will this be a game too far for The Stags? Later on ESPN, Sutton United play Notts County. United beat Kettering 1-0 in the last Round, whilst County were convincing 4-1 winners over Accrington Stanley.

Sunday 04 December (7.00 pm)

So how did the ‘trail’ sides get on this weekend? Yesterday I saw the Blades emerge 3-2 winners. Elsewhere, in the first televised game of the day, AFC Totton were essentially ‘down and out’ within the opening fifteen minutes as Bristol Rovers took a three goal lead, but The Stags did at least steady themselves to not concede anymore before half-time. However, Rovers found the net with three more in the second half, with a consolation goal for Totton on seventy-one minutes from Nathaniel Sherborne. Npower League One leaders Charlton Athletic overcame Carlisle United with two second-half goals from Matty Robson and Jason Euell. Chelmsford City of the Blue Square South drew 1-1 with Macclesfield. City led through a Max Cornhill goal in the first-half, but were pegged back on sixty-four minutes by a goal from Tony Diagne goal.

For the 3rd Round the ‘trail’ fixtures are as follows:

Bristol Rovers                                                v          Aston Villa

Chelmsford City/Macclesfield                v          Bolton Wanderers

Fulham                                                             v          Charlton Athletic

Sheffield United                                            v          Salisbury City/Grimsby Town

The final action of the weekend was between Sutton United and Notts County. Ultimately, there was to be no fairy-tale ending to the weekend for non-league Sutton United. However, the result could have been different if, in time added on in the first-half, Leroy Griffiths had converted the penalty awarded to the men from Gander Green Lane. Instead Notts County retained their 1-0 advantage at the break from a Jeff Hughes goal on thirty-five minutes. An equaliser in the second-half eluded Sutton and their fate was sealed in time added on when Hughes scored his and County’s second.

Congratulations to all those who got through this weekend – see you in January 2012!