BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Mansfield Town v Yeovil Town '“ Saturday, 5th March 2016
BIG MATCH PREVIEW
Although the League Two table shows Yeovil Town just six points off the drop zone, the Glovers are currently anything but strugglers.
Their record of one defeat in the last eight League games is more like play-off form as they finally start to find their feet in this division under new boss and club legend Darren Way.
Yeovil were relegated from League One last season and the hangover from that misery saw them continue to plummet and before Christmas they were rock bottom of the table without a win in 12 games.
However, the sacking of Paul Sturrock as manager and installation of Way has proved a master stroke as they can now see a chance of staying in the League.
If they do go down it would see a Championship club drop into the conference in three successive seasons.
Stags won the clash down at Huish Park in October 1-0 with a very late Reggie Lambe header.
Mansfield aim to bounce straight back from last week’s miserable 1-0 defeat on a pitch containing 40 tons of sand at Newport County.
The winning goal was allowed to stand, despite Stags being adamant it was offside.
Click HERE to see video highlights of last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Newport County
STAGS TEAM NEWS
Mansfield will again be without central defender Krystian Pearce on Saturday as he completes his two game ban.
Boss Adam Murray will speak to midfielder Jamie McGuire about his fitness after a tough afternoon on Newport’s sandy surface with his problem knee last weekend. Adam Chapman will stand by to replace him.
Returning utility player Junior Daniel will make his second Stags ‘home debut’ on his loan spell from Port Vale and could be asked to again help Matt Green up front.
POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI (4-1-3-2): Shearer; Alfei, Collins, Tafazolli, Benning; Chapman; Clements, Baxendale, Blair; Daniel, Green.
YEOVIL TEAM NEWS
The Glovers’ recent run of eight points from four games in 11 days is all the more impressive when it is considered that a sickness bug has been wreaking havoc among the squad.
Liam Walsh has missed the last two games as a result, whilst Francois Zoko and Jakub Sokolik have also seen their game time limited.
Aside from them at least five other players have suffered, but the hope is it will have cleared the club by the weekend.
On the injury front Kevin Dawson was welcomed back from an ankle problem on Tuesday, coming off the bench for the last 13 minutes of the 1-0 win over Accrington.
Jack Compton, who has been out with a hamstring injury picked up at Hartlepool United on February 13th, could also be in line for a return.
There has been some bad news this week, however, with Darren Way revealing that a serious knee injury for Wes Fogden means the midfielder will not play again this season.
Omar Sowunmi and Jordan Gibbons are also long-term absentees, but striker Shaun Jeffers is available again after returning from a loan spell with Woking.
POSSIBLE YEOVIL STARTING XI (4-3-3): Krysiak; Roberts; Ward; Sokolik; Dickson; Walsh; Tozer; Dolan; Cornick; Zoko; Campbell.
KEY BATTLE: ADAM CHAPMAN v LIAM WALSH
If he is chosen to protect his defence, Adam Chapman will have to keep a close eye on Liam Walsh, who at 18-years-old looks to have a great career ahead of him after settling into the Yeovil midfield immediately after making a loan move from parent club Everton.
Walsh plays with a maturity beyond his years and for a diminutive figure is not at all scared of a physical challenge on the pitch.
The teenager is also the most creative source from the middle, often being given licence to break forward knowing that the more defensively minded Ben Tozer will cover him.
Walsh’s absence due to illness has been felt and his impressive displays for the Glovers have not gone unnoticed as scouts are starting to keep tabs on the midfielder with his future set to be played at a much higher level than League Two.
Darren Way has a good relationship with Toffees boss Roberto Martinez from their time together at Swansea City, though, which could play a big part when it comes to negotiating an extension to the youngster’s loan – which expires this month.
Click HERE to see a video of Liam Walsh talking about his man of the match display against Plymouth last week
YEOVIL ONE TO WATCH: FRANCOIS ZOKO
There are several players who have been giving impressive performances for Yeovil in what has largely been a disappointing season.
Goalkeeper Artur Krysiak has really come into his one since cementing the number one shirt, while veteran captain Darren Ward has brought composure (and clean sheets) to the back four.
However, for his influence and goals during the upturn in form, Francois Zoko edges it as the star man.
Darren Way awarded the striker a contract until the end of the season not long after being awarded a permanent deal himself and Zoko has repaid that faith with some very important goals.
In Way’s favoured 4-3-3 formation he spearheads the attack; holding the ball up well and linking up with his fellow forwards in a way that Ryan Bird and Brandon Goodship have just been unable to do.
His record of six goals in 19 appearances is also a fairly good total considering he is playing for a relegation candidate and therefore goals can be at a minimum sometimes.
Click HERE to see a video of Zoko showing some amazing skill and determination
OPPOSITION MANAGER: DARREN WAY
Darren Way has changed many things and impressed – and probably surprised - many people along the way with just how much detail he goes in to.
Paul Sturrock was a manager that definitely fitted into the “old school” mould, with pre-season training that consisted of gruelling long distance runs to the players essentially being allowed to eat what they want as long as they played well on a Saturday.
Way is on the other side of the spectrum.
He monitors everything the players do from their diet to their sleeping patterns and has injected sports science into all aspects of his training regime.
Aside from that he is also a passionate man who has been at Yeovil since 2001 – bar a brief spell with Swansea City – as a player, coach and now manager and therefore has an emotional bond to the club.
Admittedly there were doubts when he first took charge as he was an unknown entity in terms of management with no experience in the number one role.
But he has exceeded expectations and then some with just how quickly he has turned results around and also with how the players and staff at Huish Park have responded to his positive attitude.
Click HERE to see video of Darren Way talking about Yeovil’s fight for survival and his own survival from a car crash that ended his playing career
YEOVIL SEASON SO FAR
It has very much been a tale of two very different stories for Yeovil in 2015-16 under the guidance of two different managers.
They started the campaign under Paul Sturrock – who had also brought in an entirely new squad after deeming all but four of last season’s players not good enough – and struggled.
Results were difficult to come by and in a 4-4-2 formation the players looked like they lacked creativity and the ability to win matches, even from winning positions – such as the 3-2 defeat away at Carlisle United after going 2-0 up inside the first 10 minutes.
It wasn’t a surprise when Sturrock was sacked; in fact the only real surprise was that it took until the end of November for the board to make the decision.
Since then fortunes have changed greatly under Darren Way. Pretty much working with what his predecessor had left him in terms of players – bar the signing of young loan trio Liam Walsh, Tahvon Campbell and Brandon Goodship – he changed the whole feeling around the club and, perhaps more importantly, the results on the pitch.
In 14 games under Way, Yeovil have already won five Leagues matches, in comparison to the two in 20 they had won under Sturrock.
In fact their form in the 10 League matches played in 2016 so far is bettered by just three others in the division – Northampton Town, Oxford United and AFC Wimbledon.
It was probably the 3-2 victory away at Wimbledon where it felt like the tide had definitely turned for the club, and since then wins against Dagenham and Redbridge and most recently Accrington Stanley has moved them six points clear of the relegation zone and given the fans genuine belief their side can avoid a third successive relegation.
The midweek 1-0 win over in-form Accrington saw 21-year-old on-loan Bournemouth striker Brandon Goodship notch his first goal in professional football.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20th 2015: YEOVIL TOWN 0, MANSFIELD TOWN 1
Reggie Lambe scored a dramatic winner in the 10th minute of injury-time at Yeovil Town to ensure Mansfield Town remained fourth in League Two.
On a night of very few chances, the game was decided with one of the final moments of the match at Huish Park when Lambe applied the finish to Mitchell Rose’s cross.
With defenders Nicky Hunt, Krystian Pearce and Mal Benning all out, it was no surprise to see new loan signing Blair Adams start in defence.
To read a full report click HERE
Click HERE to see video highlights from the game
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Yeovil Town info supplied by Tom Seymour at the WESTERN GAZETTE