After a number of FA Cup matches, I’m finally back for my first league game of 2017. Recent weeks have seen me get behind my local side, Lincoln City, as they made it to the last 16 of the FA Cup for the first time in over 100 years. For now though, back to League 2, and Yeovil Town.
From Lincoln, this was a long trek up to Hartlepool at two and a half hours, but not as long as the nearly six hours travelling fans who live in Yeovil will have had to make. Therefore 97 away fans was a decent number. Victoria Park isn’t the biggest ground, and in terms of facilities, it certainly isn’t the best. One of the stands is all terracing, while one of the main stands is terracing in the lower tier, and seating in the upper tier. The pitch looked a little cut up, although given a couple of them I saw on TV that night, it was probably not that bad.
I’m afraid the less said about the food the better. The burger I had was pretty standard, however the main issue was that they were out of Chicken Balti pies in the away end by 2:00. I think only two people had bought one. I know there were never going to be too many Yeovil fans there, but come on, two?
For the first half, the less said about the football the better. In the first ten minutes, Yeovil were, well, dreadful. They seemed to have forgotten that they were playing in green and yellow and simply resorted to giving the ball back to Hartlepool every time that they got it. The flow of the game wasn’t helped however by the referee, who seemed intent on giving a free kick at every possible opportunity. This is not the Premier League. You can’t be giving a free kick every time a player brushes against another. It just ruins the spectacle.
Hartlepool were showing better quality on the ball, though they never really got into the right areas to cause the Glovers’ defence too many problems. At the other end, Jean Louis Akpa Akpro was making his Yeovil debut, and was showing some decent moments. Tom Eaves on the other hand, who I have criticised in the past, was once again absolutely awful. Despite being well above six feet tall, he never seems to win a header, and rarely holds it up. The main issue though, is how easily he gets bullied by defenders. He runs around a lot, but gets so easily knocked off the ball by defenders, and never seems to have the guts to battle for it.
The second half undoubtedly bought about an improvement in quality, not that that was too difficult. The first big chance fell to Louis Rooney, who rounded Yeovil ‘keeper Artur Krysiak, only to be denied by a brilliant sliding block by Darren Ward, who had come on to replace the injured Alex Lacey during the first half. Hartlepool weren’t to be kept out for long however, and just after the hour mark, Rooney crossed to Padraig Amond at the far post, who brilliantly looped a header over Krysiak and into the net. From the opposite end of the pitch it seemed to be a perfectly good goal, though on second viewing it appears that Amond may have been fractionally offside. Nevertheless, Hartlepool certainly deserved the lead.
The lead however only lasted five minutes, as Francois Zoko, who had been almost invisible for most of the match, pulled off a fantastic Cruyff turn to go past Andrew Nelson, who scythed him down as he ran into the box. A stonewall penalty. Matt Dolan stepped up from the spot, and sent Adam Bartlett the wrong way to bring Yeovil level. It was at this stage that Darren Way finally pulled off Eaves, but sent on Omar Sowunmi. The Glovers have at least nine forwards in their squad, yet they chose to send on a man who is naturally a defender, and I don’t think won a single header after coming on. He’s 6ft 6in tall.
The game opened up slightly after that, and bought about chances for both sides. Dolan’s free kick from just over 20 yards out was well kept out by Bartlett, while at the other end Rooney’s low drive fizzed just inches past the far post. Both teams continued to throw the ball into the box in search of a winner, but to be honest, neither side really deserved to win the game.
Overall, it was a good day out, and although the football could have been better, it’s what you come to expect from League 2. The atmosphere was alright considering the number of Yeovil fans who turned up, though it looks likely that there season will finish with them comfortably mid-table, unless they can launch a run for the play-offs, which seems unlikely given the club’s recent form. I plan to go to my next away match on the 18th February when I go to Burnley to follow Lincoln in the FA Cup, while my next league action should be just a week after that when the Glovers take on Notts County.
Rating out of 10: Decent game, alright ground, but just two Chicken Balti pies? Really? 6.5/10