Ground #: 55
Ground: Huish Park
Competition: Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Section 1st Round
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Cost: £5 (16-21 ticket)
Yeovil Town 1
Welsh 76’, S.Williams s/off 45’
Exeter City 3
Cureton 10’,78’, Harley 90’
After a while without football (2 weeks!!) I was itching to get to a game and luckily the draw of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy pulled out a game that was meaningful for many reasons. Yeovil Town were drawn against Exeter so it was a chance to get to a FL Ground at a reasonable price, as with all JPT ties, admission was reduced. Also, it paired both of Adam Stansfield’s last clubs as I have previously commented when I went to Elmore, that he sadly lost his life against cancer earlier last month and it gave both sets of supporters the chance to remember him together.
Google Maps stated that it would take just under 2 hours to get from mine to Huish Park, however clearly they hadn’t factored in how I drive and I arrived in 1 hour and a half. This meant that I had time to buy my ticket, look around the ground and get pictures outside before they opened the gates. Luckily, Huish Park has a massive amount of car parking space and it only costs £2 to park there, unlike some rip off clubs *cough* Wigan *cough*. One thing I did notice straight away around the ground was the Huish Park Memorial Garden where a plaque had been erected in memory of Stansfield to go along side Yeovil fans.
Yeovil is one of the major towns in the small South-West county of Somerset and can be dated back all the way to the Bronze Age or at least Roman times since it is aligned with the old Roman road that sweeps South to Dorchester. Yeovil was also a major player during the Industrial Revolution, but unlike most Northern towns, its major export was strangely gloves. It also connected the wild West to the rest of the country via its large amount of railways going through the town before the awful Beeching Axe cut them down in the 1960’s. Today, Yeovil isn’t that exciting (sorry people of Yeovil) but local landmarks include, “Jack the Treacle Eater”, a folly (I didn’t know what it was either!) and the Yeovil Railway Centre. Yeovil has also appeared in The Idler’s “Crap Town” series. Says it all.
Yeovil Town FC have rocketed up the leagues in recent time to add to their reputation of giant killers in the FA Cup. This was achieved after they defeated Sunderland way back in 1948/49 to reach the 5th Round of the FA Cup. (Although they lost the match 8-0 to Manchester Utd) After floating about around the top tiers of non-league football, they hit the big time in 2002 with an FA Trophy win over Stevanage Borough at Villa Park. Man of the match that day was, Adam Stansfield. They won promotion to the Football League in 2003 under Gary Johnson and have been present ever since. They even managed promotion to League 1 in 2005 and have stayed at Level 3 since, impressive for a club of their size. One final point on Yeovil, they just missed out on promotion to the Championship in 2007 after losing to Blackpool in the Play-Off final. Blackpool are now in the Premiership, Yeovil could be there too….
Their ground of Huish Park is a very tidy and smart looking ground that suits Yeovil brilliantly. After I asked the ticket woman where the best view was, I ended up in the AgustaWestland Community Stand which is the larger seated stand that runs down one side of the pitch. I was slightly put off with this being the official family stand, but luckily annoying kids running around were few and far between. The stand nearest to me behind one goal is the Blackthorn Stand which the “hardcore” Yeovil support stand, behind the other goal is an uncovered standing area, the Corpse Road Terrace, which the away fans were put into after Exeter filled their section first in the other seated stand, the Cowlin Stand. As Exeter is just down the road, the Grecians brought a fair amount of fans to this game after making a slow start to their League 1 campaign with an effort to try and avoid the relegation nailbiter that they suffered last season.
Just before KO, a minute’s applause was observed for Adam Stansfield as both sets of supporters got fully behind it. When the game kicked off, Yeovil made the better start when they finally got hold of possession and forced the first save of the match from Exeter goalie Paul Jones when Dean Bowditch curled a shot that was well saved. Yeovil also passed off a couple of other chances before Exeter took the lead on 10 minutes when a long punt from Ryan Harley sent Jamie Cureton away against Adam Virgo and when Virgo just fell on his arse, Cureton dispatched the ball past Gloves goalie John Sullivan to make it 0-1. Both sides kept going with chances being created at both ends as Bowditch and Exeter’s Richard Logan both missed chances. The best chance fell to Yeovil right on half-time when a Virgo cross caused panic in the Exeter penalty area and Paul Huntingdon smashed a shot off the bar and away to safety. There was also a moment of madness from Yeovil striker Sam Williams on half-time when a ball was to be cleared, he aimed a headbutt at an Exeter defender which the referee saw. Oh dear. Cheerio and a 3 match ban.
Yeovil started the 2nd half still on top and not looking at all like they were a man down. They were dominating so much that Exeter boss Paul Tisdale even re-jigged his formation to resort back to a 4 man defensive. With the match at a high tempo, Yeovil began to create even more and finally got back into the match on 75 minutes. When a cross was headed out of the Exeter box, it only fell to Yeovil’s Andy Welsh who controlled the ball with his chest (or hand) and fired a first time shot past Jones into the bottom corner. Huish Park was delighted with that, although two minutes later you could only hear the away fans when Thomson raced away down the right wing and put in a cross that Exeter players were queuing up to put away and it was Cureton at the front of this queue to make it 1-2. Exeter added some undeserved gloss to the scoreline right on full-time when they won a free kick on the edge of the area and Ryan Harley curled a shot delightfully over the wall to leave Sullivan stranded and the give the cue for Yeovil fans to depart en masse.
So it was Exeter City who marched onto the next round of the Football League Trophy (A.K.A – Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) by beating Yeovil for the very first time. Yeovil shouldn’t be too downbeat as they put on a decent performance but will need to be more clinical in league games otherwise a relegation battle awaits. Exeter on that performance may also need a little extra to avoid being sucked in. Huish Park is a great venue though and there was a great atmosphere for this game as Yeovil seemed to not only have brought a drummer, but a whole band too!
- Match: 7/10 (was interesting throughout)
- Value for money: 7/10 (its why I came!)
- Ground: 7/10 (very tidy and a good feel)
- Atmosphere: 7.5/10 (band drummed it up)
- Food: 5/10 (was ok, shame about the FL prices though)
- Programme: 8/10 (an excellent effort)
- Referee: Brendan Malone – 4/10 (not his best game)