Yeovil v Carlisle: New Years’ Resolutions

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Darren Way

These two teams might be 15 points apart in the League Two table, but 2016 results tell a very different story. Yeovil have picked up 24 points since the turn of the year, meaning that they would be third had the season started on New Years’ Day. Carlisle, on the other hand, would be 17th, with just three wins in the same timeframe. The bookies have taken form further into account than league positions, making the Glovers 7/5 favourites despite the nine place gulf that remains.

Since the fireworks and Auld Lang Syne, what has changed for both clubs? Carlisle have been creating chances in recent weeks but have lost their potency in front of goal. Jabo Ibehre hit fourteen in the first half of the season but, since his brace against Notts County just before Christmas, he has netted only once. Ibehre was left out of the matchday squad to play Exeter a couple of weeks ago and was given only a 13-minute cameo against Wycombe. The striker has looked a touch off the pace lately – be that due to a reported elbow injury or, as some rumours suggest, that he is unsettled in Cumbria.

While Carlisle have suffered hugely from a drop off in form from their key marksmen, Yeovil have in fact improved. Ryan Bird scored seven (37%) of the team’s 19 goals under Paul Sturrock, but he has only started one league match since Way took over, netting once. Francois Zoko, who joined from Blackpool in November, has caused defences problems with his pace and power, making him the new boss’ number one choice up front.

Unfortunately for Way, Zoko is likely to miss the next three matches due to injury, meaning the goal burden is likely to fall on free signing Leroy Lita. The 31-year-old has had numerous disappointing stints – despite being part of a successful Reading side nearly a decade ago – and looks to rebuild his career at Huish Park.

Carlisle, on the other hand, hope Charlie Wyke can build on his recent run of three goals in five games and develop into the consistent finisher they require. Otherwise, they look short up top: Steven Rigg has been known to lack pace, Hallam Hope has done little to inspire fans while Derek Asamoah is deemed no more than an impact sub.

Forwards aside, Yeovil now have a sturdier spine than their northern counterparts. Ben Tozer is not the most exciting player, but he gives the team some defensive stability. The former Northampton man’s positional discipline may be a reason why the Glovers have kept eight clean sheets from the 18 league games he has started in.

Carlisle have looked to add attacking flair in the form of Louis Pedro, who joins on a short-term deal. The winger’s arrival suggests Curle will look for his side to play with a bit more speed and width than they have since the turn of the year. As the 52-year-old looks to shake up his stuttering side, Darren Way hopes that New Year trends continue.