Ben Barrett Sports Writing

Sports Writer and Yeovil Town Fan

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Preston 3 - 0 Yeovil - FA Cup 1st Round

Posted by Ben Barrett on November 3, 2012 at 4:45 PM


When Yeovil were drawn away at former big shots Preston North End, Somerset, as a whole, sighed.

It was away, again, a long way away at that, it presented a game with no hope of TV coverage for some extra pennies and unfortunately a game where we wouldn’t even be close to being favourites for progression.

It was, to anyone who only sees the results, just that. A 3-0 win for the home side. Bish bash bosh, job done.

In truth, it wasn’t quite that clear cut – don’t get me wrong, Preston had three chances, took them all and won through but if that exact game had ended 5-5 it wouldn’t have been that much of a surprise.

Both sides were poor defensively. For the Glovers, Byron Webster has been on form recently, he was missing. The only fit right back, Joe Edwards was barred from playing leaving us with a midfielder at right back and two of the most painfully slow centre halves.

He scores when he wants - Pic from TeamTalk

PNE gaffer Graham Westley is known for his robust teams and love of the neck ache style of football made famous by Stoke, but with our weaknesses being in the foot races he kept his team on the deck and  just settled for half of his usual style.

North End got about Yeovil, ruffling some feathers and forthe first 30 minutes not only were we wise to it, but we played around it, using advantages played by the referee to get at the gaps.

Paddy Madden showed he is more than a finisher, he did somehard graft today creating moves with Keanu Marsh Brown and Sam Foley – if anything Madden’s extra work was keeping James Hayter quiet, or at least that is how it seemed to me.

KMB’s performance was summed up once the late tackles and little nicks from the home side began to get under the skin of our players. His late challenge on Joel Byrom (I think) wasn’t nice, it was only late rather than nasty but it showed that the frustrations were bubbling under.

The referee did lose the game; both Yeovil and PNE were on the wrong end of some poor decisions.

KMB was booked, and rightly so, Paul Huntington also booked for a shocker of a challenge, which in the interest of keeping the game 11 v 11 I can almost forgive, but to then send off Ed Upson for a challenge no worse than those that had gone before was baffling.

If the ref deems the Upson challenge to be a direct red card, then Hunts should have gone before him. Consistent inconsistency.

I’ve seen each incident just the once, from much worse angles and with green tinted glasses on but I like to think I’m right on this one. If not, I apologise.

OK, so we’ve conceded two goals to a lack of pace at the back and a team who can take advantage of it – we were also taking on their weaknesses, lots of set pieces came Yeovil’s way and Dan Burn was causing problems in the air. However the flicks weren’t falling right or were dealt with by a sometimeslucky back line.

The one thing we cannot blame the ref, or Ed Upson or Pat the Mad Bell Man for is the third goal.

"Those early showers are that way, right?" Pic This Is Somerset.

Anyone who has read (and been bored to sleep with) my tweets may have seen me mention that defending of set pieces has cost us time andagain. Well, yeah. That.

Anywho, positives and there are quite a few.

I’ve already explained that this was the first game I’ve seen Madden as something other than the finisher – this, added to the tiny glimmer of hope that the deal could become permanent is rather exciting.

Secondly, Sam Foley, but I’ll go into more on that in thesection on Gav.

Thirdly, this new lad we brought off the bench, Reuben something-or-another I think, he reminds me of a chap we had against West Brom, he was direct, getting at the full back and becoming a real hassle.

With KMB’s off day, and the midfield being stretched alittle bit with Upson’s suspension he might be set for a spell in the side as a right winger. Not where he’d want to be but on the pitch must be better for the lad than on the bench.

Being out of the FA Cup is never a positive and without telling you to prepare your cliché klaxon we really can now concentrate on the league, we’re friggin’ 10th – 3 points off the play offs. If I was given a direct choice of another crack at the play offs - even if we were to fall short - or have a cup run to lose to a Premier League or Championship side in round three, I think, in the interest of seasonal progression I’d take the league position. Again, I can only speak for myself. Other fans and the bank manager may well disagree.

If I were to make a tiny negative point out of today – I wasa tiny bit disappointed that neither of the young lads got 15 minutes at the end. The game was over – and for example, we could have given Blizzard a rest atright back, with his midfield expertise in need during the next four games hecould have been given 20 minutes with an ice pack and a leg rub whilst Mitch Brundle was given a run – would it have really mattered if he had struggled and we’d conceded again? I’d argue not, and that the postives far outweigh the negatives of giving a young lad 20 minutes of football at League One level.

Anyway, it’s not my position to question Gary Johnson on the upbringing of youngsters – I can’t say I’ve ever seen the Under 18s play so it’s nothing more than a whimsical comment.

Right then,

Oh this hurts. Do I have to?

SuperGav - Pic Sky Sports

I’ll start by saying I love him, he’s one of the finest men ever to wear the green and white shirt, he ran rings around Liverpool in ’04 and everyone he faced in the league was chasing his shadow but for today and maybe this season as whole, Super Gavin Williams was not fit enough, not ready enough and unfortunately, not at the same level of those around him.

One swift kick early in the first half and the away end took in a sharp intake of breath, shortly after Gav was played through clean on goal, he was 30 yards out and without a defender in sight, in 2003 that was a goal – end of conversation, today he had no choice but to pass it to Paddy Madden who was making up ground to support.

Jeez, this kills me to say, but in Sam Foley and to a certain extend Keanu Marsh Brown, we have two play makers who are more than suitable replacements.

Foley is, to be frank, incredible. He’s too good for League One in both wide areas and in the middle.

The harsh truth is that in playing 90 minutes today Gav practically rules himself out for Tuesday and possibly Saturday.

Again, that’s not helpful for team consistency. Today, his passing wasn’t as crisp, his tackling was a bit rash and his influence wasn’t as great. Where previously everything would go through Gav, now it goes through Foley.

It’s the former Newport man picking the ball up on the edge of his own box, it’s Foley taking three men on, it’s Foley whipping the cross in, it’s Foley who is spraying 40 yard passes.

I’d be really worried if Gav’s recent form wasn’t being replaced, but with Foley in the side Gav could be the ideal role model. His off-the-pitch influence is still as strong I’m sad to say, that on the pitch it’s gone.

Prove me wrong Gav, please.

So we’re out of the cup – take on the JPT, have a crack at the top half and we’ll not give two hoots about today by the time May comes around.

Final credit to the Yeovil fans, out sung Preston andcracked out a lovely “12 Days of Marek Stech”.


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