Yeovil Town stretched their unbeaten League run to five matches with a battling, backs-to-the-wall goalless draw against Rochdale at Spotland this afternoon.
The Glovers lived dangerously for long periods of the game with home forward Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro twice denied by the woodwork but they were indebted to a brilliant display from keeper Rene Gilmartin who is yet to concede a goal after his third game on loan from Watford. However one downside to today's fixture was a straight red card for Kerrea Gilbert which will most likely see him banned for three games as a result.
The point sees Yeovil remain in 19th place, ahead of last year's Christmas position and with a decent run of league form behind them..
It would have been no surprise that Town manager Terry Skiverton rang the changes following the FA Cup debacle against Fleetwood Town in midweek, which saw the Glovers exit the second round with a poor 2-0 defeat.
Watford loan keeper Rene Gilmartin came in for Gareth Stewart while the suspension to the dismissed Bondz N'Gala allowed a long awaited return for full back Kerrea Gilbert. The ex-Arsenal star replaced his former Gunners colleague Luke Ayling who switched to left back where Max Ehmer moved inside to cover for N'Gala.
In attack, Steve MacLean and Kieran Agard were replaced by Gavin Massey and Jonathan Obika, both cup tied for midweek and the final of the five changes saw Dominic Blizzard come in for his fellow ex-Bristol Rovers team mate Andy Williams.
With twenty minutes on the clock, the chilled spectators from both sides had seen chances created by their respective teams. The home attackers Nicky Adams and Jean-Louis Akpa-Apro were frightening the visiting defence with their pace on both attack and counter attack and combined well several times during the match.
Adams created a chance for fellow midfielder Joe Widdowson early on; Adams then shot wide follwoing good build up play and then Akpa-Akpro thundered a shot against the crossbar with a fantastic volley. For the Glovers, Ed Upson hit a shot wide and Conor Clifford shot straight at keeper Matt Edwards before the Chelsea loan midfielder scuffed another shot wide.
Akpa-Akpro was continuing his one man crusade against the visitors with a free header just wide and Gilbert had to be smart with a great defensive clearance as the ex-Grimsby man was about to pull the trigger on another shot.
Adams was proving a thorn in the side of the Somerset men but the rest of the half saw him starved of service and as a result, Dale lost a lot of their attacking impetus. The chance tally slowed down as both sides were reduced to hitting long range hopeful efforts.
The second half started with a scare for the Glovers. Giant keeper Rene Gilmartin rose to claim a cross but appeared to injure his finger in doing so. Physio Mike Micciche treated the stopper on the pitch while the worried management staff told striker Steve MacLean to warm up in the absence of a substitute keeper on the bench.
The Watford gloveman continued and was a vital part of the Glovers defensive system in the second period. Chances during the next twenty minutes were also at a premium but Gilmartin was involved in all of them, denying Harry Bunn after David Ball had set him up then reacting brilliantly to parry a fierce shot from the lively Akpa-Akpro, pushing it on to the post.
He then saved from an Adams free kick and after Andy Williams & Gavin Williams had come on for Clifford and Massey, Skiverton was forced into yet another tactical change when Gilbert was dismissed for a flying, mistimed challenge on Widdowson with fourteen minutes to go.
Gilmartin then produced the save of the match when he reacted to tip over a header from Bunn before the ball was cleared off the line by a Yeovil defender after Adams corner hadn't been cleared properly.
Akpa-Akpro then came inches away from connecting to a cross from Adams in the 82nd minute and Yeovil made their final change with four minutes of normal time to go, withdrawing Obika from play and replacing him with speedster Alan O'Brien.