IF Yeovil Town’s de- fence could hold a two-goal lead the Glovers would have gone into yesterday’s League Two match with Coventry on the edge of the play-off zone.
And this column could be enthusing about the prospects of staying among the elite as the September programme brings Darren Way’s men up against several sides the bookmakers consider also-rans.
Instead, losing 4-3 to new boys Forest Green Rovers, after leading 2-0 inside 14 minutes and 3-1 before half-time, left Yeovil in 21st place in the table – the sort of scenario that has become all too familiar in recent seasons.
Way was quick to act to bolster a back-line that conceded 14 goals in the first three League games.
He brought in Sid Nelson from Millwall on loan. The 21-year-old came on the recommendation of Neil Harris and Ian Holloway, among others, with the encouraging comment ‘he’s a lad who loves to defend’.
This time last year the Glovers had a sound central defensive pairing in Alex Lacey and Darren Ward. The former, subsequently to be named ‘Player of the Year’, has departed to try his luck with Sky Bet One Gillingham, while Ward’s battle-damaged knee forced him to an early retirement and the task of helping his wife run her cattery.
‘I was under pressure when I lost that pair,’ groaned the boss.
He has reacted by playing Nathan Smith at the heart of the defence with a succession of different early-season partners, but although Smith has become a firm favourite with Yeovil fans in 250-plus appearances, he would not regard himself as an organiser, and could point out that full-back is his best position.
‘Nelson loves to lead, but we have to give him time to get to know the situation and to build confidence,’ says Way, pointing out that last season the big youngster had a highly-successful 12-game loan spell at Newport County, playing a significant role in staving off relegation.
The manager adds: ‘League Two football is a different ball game. It has be- come a real battle.
‘It is not like your friendly against Bournemouth where they did everything in front of us. Teams now put the ball in behind you and down the sides of you, and you have to learn how to deal with it.
‘We are all working on it but things don’t always change overnight and fans everywhere become impatient.
‘Just look at the stick Steve Bruce got at Aston Villa when they lost their first two games.’
Nelson, who has had some Championship games at Millwall, is with Yeovil on loan until January. He is the 12th signing of a busy summer, but although the transfer deadline is so close, Way said midweek that he wants to bring in one more player before the window snaps shut, increasing his squad to 21.
As usual, that is not easy financially. When Forest Green chalked up their first-ever League win by beating Yeovil last weekend, it was not a case of David beating Goliath – probably the reverse.
The whisper is that the promoted newcomers have had a lot more money to throw around than Yeovil.
Although the defence has been getting most attention at Huish Park, the irony of the situation has not been lost on Way.
‘For seasons we have been struggling to score goals. Now we are getting plenty – eight in three League games.
‘It would have been nine but for a penalty miss at Luton,’ he points out, adding: ‘At least we now know we have got the potential to do well up front.’