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Matches of Yesteryear - Yeovil v U's 30/9/17
Written by wessex_exile on Friday, 10th Apr 2020 13:53

Good afternoon everyone, and first and foremost I must take the opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and most of all chocolicious Bank Holiday Easter weekend. This morning I should have been waking up in Langenhoe with all the kids, probably slightly muzzy-headed after my cousin’s wedding yesterday, and preparing for the journey home via Sixfields to watch the U’s bolster their promotion hopes. Needless to say, first the EFL, and then the wedding had to be postponed, so here I am still in North Wilts, though what a beautiful day it is!

[b]Yeovil Town v Colchester United

Saturday 30th September 2017

Sky Bet League 2 (Tier 4)

Attendance 2,556[/b]

Match #53 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and we come (relatively) bang up to date with a short trip for me to Huish Park to watch the U’s take on Yeovil Town. My random match selector has thrown out yet another odd coincidence, given that the colu_official YouTube channel at 3pm this afternoon is premiering the 2005/06 promotion season video “[i]Against All Odds[/i]”, which of course finished so magnificently at this very ground in front of an away terrace packed out with the U’s faithful (including most of us I’d imagine). Even if, like me, you already have the DVD, this is definitely worth a watch if you want something to cheer you up in these difficult times – so sit back, pour a cold one and enjoy!

Compared to May 2006, there were considerably fewer of the faithful at Huish Park for this match. The terrace may have been empty, but remarkably my solitary photo taken at the match, of that empty terrace, has also inadvertently captured dear departed Paul Wright in the process.

[b]RIP Bingo[/b]

The U’s, managed of course by John McGreal, were entering their second successive season in the basement, after missing out on the play-offs the season before by one place and one point – sounds familiar sadly. There were the usual comings and goings during the summer, the most notable departees including Matt Briggs, previous season’s top scorer Chris Porter (to Crewe), Richard Brindley, big George Elokobi, and most controversially, Macca Bonne to Leyton Orient (easy there [b]Gerry[/b] and [b]Durham[/b] 😊). New arrivals included Ryan Jackson from Gillingham, Cole Kpekawa from Barnsley, and French striker Mikael Mandron from Wigan Athletic.

We hadn’t started our second attempt at promotion out of this league particularly well, losing five, drawing three and only winning twice – albeit one of those was the emphatic 5-1 demolition of new boys Forest Green Rovers. As a result, going into this match we were perched precariously outside the relegation zone, and still without recording an away victory, nor indeed even managing a clean sheet. Me and Alfie therefore drove down to this relatively local game unburdened by any outrageous anticipation, but perhaps just a simmering of hope – surely we had to turn a corner soon? I don’t have a programme from this game, but I do still have mine and Alfie’s ticket stubs.

The U’s line-up that day was:

1….Sam Walker

2….Ryan Jackson

22..Kane Vincent-Young

6….Frankie Kent (captain)

26..Ryan Inniss

8….Doug Loft (Brandon Comley 69’)

16..Sean Murray

7….Drey Wright

17..Kyel Reid

19..Mikael Mandron

21..Brandon Hanlan (Kurtis Guthrie 92’)

The big news, however, was after seven months out with an ankle injury, bête noire Kurtis Guthrie was finally on the bench for the U’s – and not a moment too soon according to his own social media outbursts. The obvious name of note in the Yeovil line-up that day was Colcestrian Omar Sowunmi. A product of the Ipswich Town academy, giant centre-back Sowunmi had loan spells at both Braintree and Lowestoft, before catching the eye of Glovers’ then manager Paul Sturrock in an Exeter City triallist match against Yeovil Town in the summer of 2015. Sturrock signed Sowunmi on the back of that, and by the time of this match he was on his second contract at Huish Park, under new manager Darren Way. Also in the Glovers’ line-up that day was former U’s Ryan Dickson, who had joined Yeovil after one season at Crawley, having left the U’s back in 2014.

The U’s started very brightly, though without really creating any clear-cut chances, and dominated the first fifteen minutes or so. We were doing our bit in the stand as well, there may have only been 150 or so of the faithful, but we were creating plenty of vocal encouragement for the U’s. Inevitably Yeovil started to get back into the match, with a deflected shot from Olomola and a 25-yard effort from Khan both going close but thankfully wide. They went closer a few minutes later, with a drilled on target free-kick from James pushed back out into play by Walker, and shortly after Olomola thought he’d scored, only for it to be disallowed for a foul by Sowunmi in the lead-up play.

That was the wake-up call we needed, and for the last fifteen minutes of the half it was all U’s, with Hanlan’s fine headed effort from a wicked Drey Wright cross desperately cleared off the line, and a similar effort from a Jackson cross creating mayhem in the Glovers’ defence shortly after. As half-time approached, our dominance was finally rewarded. A recycled ball by Murray was passed out wide to Kyel Reid on the left, he returned the favour back to Murray, who took a couple of steps before drilling low into the corner of the goal, passed the despairing dive of Yeovil goalkeeper Artur Kysiak, for his first goal for the U’s! We were in bedlam, particularly G-Man (who’s also in that photo btw), who as we all know had quite a thing for Murray! However, Yeovil were still a threat, and deep into injury-time nearly equalised from a Gray shot that Walker palmed away, Zoko’s follow-up effort deflected wide for a corner, and Nelson’s header from that corner going narrowly wide – but we held on until half-time.

The second half was considerably less memorable, and whilst Yeovil did create one or two half-chances, an effort from Bailey outside the box curling narrowly over for instance, these moments were few and far between. So much so that relatively early on in the second half the home support were already openly expressing their frustration at this lack of intent. If Yeovil were showing a lack of intent, you should have seen the U’s – clearly happy to just sit back and stifle the game. A reckless strategy at the best of times, particularly as we were only holding a slender 1-0 lead, but nervy as it was the U’s were just about controlling the game, and we were still in good voice supporting their efforts to do so.

Yeovil manager Darren Way had used all three substitutes during the second half in an attempt to inject some pace and urgency into his squad, but it was John McGreal bringing on Brandon Comley for Doug Loft that really made the biggest difference. In the final ten minutes, with Comley and particularly man-of-the-match Jackson making big nuisances of themselves, we came very close to doubling our lead on a number of occasions, including Mandron only inches away from connecting with a fine Jackson cross. The final meaningful attempt, however, fell to Sowunmi, who had the best chance of the half for Yeovil with only minutes to go, but he didn’t connect properly with a close-range header from a corner, and his effort thankfully went wide.

And then finally to the closing seconds, and after receiving great support during the pre-match and half-time warm-ups, Guthrie earned the second biggest cheer of the afternoon from the U’s faithful, as he came off the bench deep into injury-time. This was nothing more than game management by McGreal, but I remember thinking at the time it was nice that he’d chosen Guthrie for it. And so the match finished 1-0 to the U’s – our first away victory, our first clean sheet of the season, and a much merrier drive back to Wiltshire for me and the boy!

[b]Yeovil Town 0 Colchester United 1 (Sean Murray 43’)[/b]

This was the start of much better things to come, and throughout the next three months the U’s would only lose two more matches, and firmly establish themselves as genuine promotion/ play-off contenders. However, as we know only too well, performances slipped into 2018, and after a pretty cataclysmic end to the season, losing four and drawing one of the last five matches, we finished well short in mid-table.

Although Sowunmi had fired blanks in this match for Yeovil, McGreal must have seen something he liked – and in truth he had been a handful. So much so that when the opportunity came last year he was signed by his hometown club for an undisclosed fee.

The match was recent enough that there’s still a highlights video on Youtube, so as a prelude to this afternoon’s main event, sit back and enjoy our first away win of that season.

Up the U’s

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