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WAY CELEBRATES ONE YEAR IN CHARGE

31 December 2016

Celebrating one year since taking permanent charge of the Glovers, we look back at Darren Way’s tenure so far at Huish Park.

After a winless run of 12 Sky Bet League Two matches, Town parted company with Paul Sturrock at the end of November 2015 following a 2-0 defeat at Northampton Town.

Initially named as interim manager, Way was given the position on a permanent basis after six games in temporary charge which saw Yeovil progress into the Emirates FA Cup third round and pick up three draws in League Two – most notably against high-flyers Oxford United.

The then 36-year-old put pen to paper on a deal at Huish Park after the impressive draw with the U’s, marking his managerial appointment in style just two days later on January 2nd 2016. 

With York City the visitors, Matty Dolan’s first half penalty earned Way his first win as a boss, but more importantly recorded a first league victory in 17 matches and first at home since August. 

Under Way’s guidance, Yeovil went on to lose just once in January (2-1 at Morecambe), seeing off Crawley Town at Huish Park before ending the month with a memorable 3-2 win at eventually promoted AFC Wimbledon, coming from behind twice to claim all three points via a Jack Compton hat-trick. 

Way’s first month in charge also saw him bring in three loan players who would go on to a play an instrumental part in the Glovers' survival; Liam Walsh (Everton), Tahvon Campbell (West Brom) and Harry Cornick (Bournemouth) all arriving in Somerset. 

Town’s revival under ‘Weasel’ continued in February, losing just once in five games and picking up impressive draws against Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth, both of whom occupied top six spots as Yeovil became increasingly hard to beat.

Having taken over with the Green and Whites rock bottom on just 11 points, Way’s side ended February in 21st three points above the relegation zone, thanks to an important 1-0 win against fellow strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge in London. 

With belief growing around Huish Park thanks to the former fans’ favourite’s energy and determination, March saw Town take huge steps to securing their English Football League status. 

In five matches, Yeovil claimed three wins and a draw, seeing off Accrington Stanley, Mansfield Town and Notts County all by the same 1-0 scoreline in consecutive matches to make it six games unbeaten. 

With 10 points collected from a possible 15, Way’s side entered April in 20th, but had increased the gap between themselves and relegation to 11 points with only eight games remaining. 

As EFL survival edged closer, Town moved 11 games unbeaten at home with a 1-0 win against Newport County and 0-0 draw with Stevenage, form which saw Way rewarded with a new three-year deal. 

After that personal achievement, the club’s safety was confirmed with four games left to play – an unlikely achievement given the Glovers' precarious position when Way took over. 

Having taken just 11 points from the first 20 matches under Sturrock, the club’s form turned around remarkably under the guidance of the former midfield maestro, picking up 38 points from 26 games ending the campaign in 19th and 14 points clear of the drop zone. 

With the benefit of his first pre-season in charge, Way went about assembling the squad he wanted for the 2016/17 season. 

The gaffer released eight players upon the expiry of their contracts, Mark Beck and Wes Fogden had their contracts terminated a year early before Ryan Bird and Ben Tozer departed for Eastleigh and Newport respectively. 

Nathan Smith and Francois Zoko agreed new one-year deals while Artur Krysiak, Ryan Dickson and Omar Sowunmi all extended their stay in Somerset by a further two years. 

Eleven players arrived prior to the opening game of the season against Notts County, with Tom Eaves, Otis Khan, Joe Lea, Josh Ezewele, Jonny Maddison, Alex Lawless, Bevis Mugabi, Liam Shephard, Ryan Hedges, Campbell and Matt Butcher all arriving at Huish Park. 

Having assembled the majority of the squad early enough to feature consistently throughout pre-season, Town hit the ground running and kicked off the new campaign in style. 

Kevin Dawson, fresh back from a lengthy injury, and Khan, on debut, both netted first half goals which saw Way’s side claim an opening day three points with a 2-0 win against Notts County. 

A superb start to the season was confirmed when the Glovers progressed to the EFL Cup Second Round with a 2-0 win against Sky bet League One outfit Walsall in the Midlands, a game which will be rightly remembered for Matty Dolan’s goal from inside his own half. 

Town then picked up a point from a trip to Luton Town in the league before a run of three straight League Two defeats sandwiched themselves between a memorable trip to Everton in the EFL Cup, albeit ending in defeat at Goodison Park.

Entering September, Yeovil’s winless run in the league stretched to five games before his side bounced back with back-to-back victories. 

Eaves’ header secured victory at Leyton Orient, before Gary Johnson’s return to Huish Park with Cheltenham Town turned sour as Way’s side turned out 4-2 victors. 

October began with a heavy defeat away to Plymouth Argyle before a run of three consecutive 1-0 wins acted as the catalyst for a run of eight games unbeaten in League Two. 

Despite exiting the FA Cup in the First Round at the hands of National League outfit Solihull Moors after a replay in what was Way’s self-confessed ‘worst moment as a manager’, November saw the Glovers climb as high as eighth – their highest position since returning to the division.

With the play-offs within touching distance Town stormed into sixth place at the start of December with the 5-0 demolition of Crawley Town at home. 

Not only did it lift Way’s outfit into the play-off mix, it equalled the club’s highest ever margin of victory in the Football League, with Yeovil last winning by five goals 12 years ago (6-1 v Oxford United). 

Demonstrating the team’s progression under ‘Weasel’, at the same stage during the 2015/16 season Town sat bottom of the table with just 11 points, compared to 28 by the start of December. 

Progress to Round Three of the Checkatrade Trophy followed with another high scoring occasion at Huish Park as Town saw off League One outfit MK Dons 4-1, before unfortunate defeats to Barnet and Carlisle United in the league. 

A day before his anniversary the Glovers claimed a point after a 0-0 draw with Portsmouth at Huish Park in extremely foggy conditions, but whilst the weather surrounding the ground may be misty, there’s no doubting the clear direction in which Way is taking the side. 

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