SHEFFIELD United did not enjoy confounding the pools panel but they revelled in making enemies at Huish Park.
Danny Wilson’s side made the long journey south intent on ending a run of three successive draws and departed Yeovil Town’s atmospheric little stadium having achieved their objective in exactly the manner desired.
As the visitors’ manager acknowledged afterwards, victories over unfashionable opponents are never likely to capture the imagination of newspaper headline writers or columnists.
But, within the game, their currency is well known.
A sentiment echoed by Scottish centre-half Neill Collins, who embellished an immaculate display at the heart of United’s rearguard by scoring the fixture’s only goal.
“When I was at Wolves I used to speak a lot with Jackie McNamara,” Collins said. “He’d previously been at Celtic and told me what it was like there. No matter who they played, they were expected to win. Not draw or lose. And it didn’t matter who that was against.”
actly the same here at Sheffield United,” Collins, who spent three years at Molineux, added. “Especially when we are in League One.
“But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’d much rather be at a club where it’s like that than one that just goes along with the flow.”
Yeovil have come a long way since the days when players pilfered from London trained at home during the week before travelling to Somerset on match days.
Gary Johnson, Wilson‘s counterpart across the technical area, has sought to address the club’s reliance on loans after returning for a second spell in charge eight months ago but without completely disregarding the benefits of the temporary transfer market.
Indeed it was Korey Smith, acquired from Premier League club Norwich City, who was Yeovil’s most eye-catching performer throughout an intriguing, hard-fought contest.
The 21-year-old, who Johnson hopes will be minded to extend his stay in Somerset, forced a fine save from United’s Mark Howard after instigating several penetrating moves but could not prevent his new colleagues from suffering a fourth straight defeat for the first time since achieving Football League status.
“Small margins decided that,” Johnson said. “I thought we did well and probably deserved something against a side that is going to be right up there come the end of the season.
“I don’t like losing. Nobody here does.
“But that was a good loss if you know what I mean.”
As Collins alluded after powering home Paul Gallagher’s corner, being able to focus on aesthetics rather than results is not a luxury anyone at Bramall Lane can afford.
Wilson made no attempt to disguise his irritation with those critics who had questioned United’s credentials when, four days earlier, their South Yorkshire derby ended in stalemate.
“We’ve been carpeted by people who haven’t even been to games. I don’t think the boys got anywhere near the credit they deserved,” he said.
But, behind the scenes, his captain revealed the former Northern Ireland international is a model of calm.
“A lot of credit has got to go to the manager, his assistant, Frank (Barlow), and (coach) Chris Morgan,” Collins said. “There’s always pressure somewhere like this but they help to keep us on an even keel by staying relaxed and methodical about everything.
“They always make sure we try and do the right things.“
Johnson had warned his players would “scratch, batter and bite” their way out of trouble and Yeovil were as good as their word.
Marek Stech expertly tipped Tony McMahon’s early free-kick over the crossbar,
Smith served notice of his intentions with a wonderful piece of trickery to carve an opening for Edward Upson at the opposite end of the field before again testing Howard’s reactions from close range.
seeing Dominic Blizzard and Sam Foley also threaten their defence after the interval, United were the more accomplished team and also proved adept at creating chances.
Dave Kitson, making his first start since signing a short-term contract, flashed wide from McMahon’s centre.
It was Collins, having missed a carbon-copy opportunity during the first period, who finally shattered Yeovil’s stubborn resistance with a perfect connection from Gal
lagher’s corner.The winger, on loan from Leicester, was substituted with what appeared to be an ankle problem. Wilson insisted he had simply “run himself into the ground”.
Unbeaten United resume their League One campaign against second-placed Notts County this weekend.
“We haven’t lost yet and that feels good,” Collins said. “We came down here really determined to win. But even if we hadn’t won it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.
“It’s still early days; there is a long way to go and plenty of room for improvement.
“We’ve got a great game coming up now.”