Sunday, 22 September 2013

One step forward, two steps back

I left the ground formerly known as Fortress Whaddon eight days ago with a bit more spring in my step, optimistic after we should have beaten Oxford, and definitely deserved a draw.
Yes, we gave one stupid goal away, but all over the pitch there were decent performances - the front two both scored, James Wilson had a decent debut at the back, the midfield looked solid and worked hard.
So, after a testing week off the field, I travelled to Plainmoor in good heart, thinking the corner had been turned and that things were going to start on an upward curve.
To be fair, the vast majority of what I saw for the opening 46 and a half minutes did nothing to shake that optimism - we should have been 4-1 up by that point. Should have, but weren't.
Byron Harrison and Terry Gornell were giving the centre-halves the run-around; they were scared stiff of Jermaine McGlashan and I lost count of how many times he was fouled; David Noble was probing and passing through their back four.
But that nagging feeling would not go away. That nagging feeling that just around the corner was another howler, another calamity just waiting to happen.
Matt Richards had set the tone with, well, I am still trying to work out what on earth he was trying to do inside the first two minutes.
Was it a pass back to Scott Brown? Having seen it twice through my fingers on the Football League Show, that is my best bet. There are countless other options he could have taken, but he chose that one.
It just sums it up. A vastly-experienced player who should know better in a situation like that, making a poor decision. And such is the way of things at the moment, every poor decision is being punished.
But we responded well. Byron headed us level, making a good decision to play to the whistle while Torquay wanted an offside flag. Five goals now for him, one of the few positives we can glean so far.
Gornell had a goalbound shot superbly blocked, Elliott's header was brilliantly saved, Lowe's effort from the rebound hit the bar, then Byron diverted a shot wide after Noble's brilliant pass sent McGlashan to the byline.
It surely had to come. They were wobbling, like a boxer on the ropes.
Half-time was coming, and at 1-1 but on top, I thought 'ok, we can regroup, come out and carry on where we left off, three points, thanks very much'.
Then it happened.
The last seconds of the half, an innocuous cross, Karl Hawley not closed down, after we had countless chances to relieve the pressure, but again, made the wrong decisions.
In came the cross, Callum Ball stuck a leg out, it span off Steve Elliott and, almost in slow motion, ended up in the net. I couldn't believe it.
But still there was hope, given the way we had played for the 44 minutes between the two Torquay goals. Not for long though.
Within a minute of the re-start, Hawley was somehow allowed to twist and turn past three so-called challenges to fire into the net past an unsighted Brown. It was unbelievable.
From being in a position of superiority despite being level, to 3-1 down and out of the game in the blink of an eye. A microcosm of the season so far - good in patches, let down by goals conceded in patches. See also Bury and Plymouth.
After that knock-out blow, we never hit the heights of the first half. Gornell got a goal back, but we never looked like making it 3-3 and getting something out of the game.
Yates' substitutions didn't work. Ashley Vincent never got into the game after replacing Richards, whose display was the poorest we have seen from him so far.
I don't disagree with the change. Vincent did - finally - balance the midfield on the left had side, but we never gave him or McGlashan enough sight of the ball for them to have any effect on the scoreline.
McGlashan, especially, was a peripheral figure after the break - not his fault but baffling after had caused so many first-half headaches. Some credit to Torquay I guess for stopping the supply.
Cureton for Gornell was fair enough - Gornell had worked hard, but equally you have wonder why, at that stage, there was not the thought of going 3-4-3 maybe - with possibly Jombati or Lowe going off, and putting Elliott, Wilson and either of the full-backs as a back three. May as well go for it.
The Taylor for Noble change is the one which seems to be the most contentious for the Yates dissenters. Defensive midfielder for an attacking one.
I can see the point - Sam Deering was on the bench, and could have been an alternative there.
But we didn't do enough from 3-1 down, whoever was on the pitch.
I will exonerate the front two, who scored again, but are being asked to climb Everest blindfolded every week by the ineptitude of some of those around them.
I also excuse Scott Brown. He has seen 27 goals go past him in 11 games (10, as none went in at Accrington) as has, in my view, been blameless for all of them. I cannot make a case for any of them, the closest maybe being Dave Kitson's last week - did he give Elliott a shout to leave the ball?
Yesterday, Jermaine McGlashan also escapes blame. But the rest of them need to look in the mirror and have a good, long think about their performances.
They are well paid, they carry the hopes and dreams of the fans, who pay good money. The manager has put his trust in them, the chairman has invested in them. All of them are being let down.
They are not kids. Not inexperienced players being asked to step up to a new level. Many of them have won promotion before, won trophies, played at a higher level. It's time for them to show it.
The back four yesterday - Keith Lowe (200+ games), James Wilson (50+ games), Steve Elliott (500+ games), Sido Jombati (100+_ games). All experienced players.
We all deserve better from all of these players.
So what of the manager? The Yates out cries were there again as soon as the first goal went in, and they were louder by the end. I disagree with them (for now...) but I can understand them.
This is his team. He has built it, he chose the players, he brought them all in.
After four years, he cannot talk about what he inherited. It is down to him to motivate them, to organise them and to turn the results around. If he can't do that, then at some point the change will come. It will be inevitable, but I feel that day is still a fair distance away.
Along the way, he has made ruthless decisions, two of which still haunt him in the eyes of some fans, especially with our goals against tally - the departures of Alan Bennett and Billy Jones.
Bennett was a fabulous leader for us in the Wembley season, but in the second season we leaked a lot of goals - remember Bradford, Chesterfield, Rotherham, those games up North where threes and fours were going in all too often, just as they are now.
The decision to allow Benno to go to Wimbledon and the arrival of Michael Hector to replace him nearly paid dividends, but is now being used as a stick to beat the manager with - more so as Wimbledon sit third in the table going into next week's game here.
The same goes for the Jones decision - even more so as he scored after two minutes in a Newport shirt and they kept a clean sheet at Exeter yesterday.
Only time will tell if this was a wise decision or not. At the moment, I have to say it isn't, but it may pan out differently in the long run.
One of his set-pieces yesterday could have made a difference, as since he has gone that same threat has not been there.
Defensively, it is a bit naïve to say that with him at left-back we would not be conceding so many goals, as CBB or Sido have not been directly culpable for all 27 of them.
The defensive injuries have not helped the manager. We have used six centre-halves so far in 11 games - Elliott, Lowe, Wilson, Brown, Inniss and Taylor. We desperately need some stability back there.
But we cannot use that as an excuse. As a team, we have not been good enough. It cannot just be thrown on to the back four.
The midfield, like the back four, has not been settled, and has not had the right balance and solid feel to it at any point this season.
McGlashan has been the bright spot. I have been critical of him in the past and come in for a lot of flak as a result, but this season I think he has been much more hit than miss.
A lot of the time, he has found himself on the left hand side, and he has been effective there. yesterday, he and Sido linked well in both attack and defence.
We have tried a number of combinations centrally, and none of them seem to have worked, all having flaws which have only served to put more pressure on our low-in-confidence defenders.
Yesterday, after it worked against Oxford, we had Noble and Richards. Both like to pass the ball, but neither is exactly razor-sharp in the tackle. It left Russ Penn on the right-hand side, largely out of the game.
Richards had a stinker and deservedly went off, so we had Penn and Noble after that, and it was Penn's pass which set up Gornell's goal. I have to say I think this is probably the best pair if we are playing 4-4-2.
The manager has to bite the bullet and leave one of them out. Against Pompey it was Penn, but now it seems he wants to keep them all happy by shoe-horning them into the side, leaving one out of his best position.
In my view, Penn and Noble is the way to go -  one tackler, one playmaker.
Having done that, he has to balance it up. If he doesn't want to start Kotwica, then he needs to start Vincent. He bought him back to the club, many fans are sceptical, some feeling it was a panic move after the Ashley Grimes move failed. Until we see him start, nothing will change that perception.
After last season's woes, it is a strange irony that the area with fewest problems is up front.
Perhaps hurt by the flak he got after the poor way he used the likes of Harrad, Benson, Duffy, Goulding and Harrison at points last season, the manager has gone for a less is more policy.
Three forwards, play two - and it is paying off. For the second successive game, Harrison and Gornell both scored, linked up very well and were a danger all game. Cureton has to wait, but not a bad guy to have up your sleeve.
The fear I have is that in the need to stiffen things up at the back, we lose some of that threat up front. We have scored 19 goals this season, six more than at the same stage last year.
I don't want us to go back to one isolated forward up front, having to forage alone on hopeful balls around his midriff. None of the three forwards we have can play that game.
They are just about the only confident players we have in the squad right now, and we have to feed off that.
After the game, the manager talked about 'wheeling and dealing'. I cannot see what he can possibly do.
The board have backed him superbly, on and off the field, with loan signings on the majority of occasions he has requested them, and the arrival of Dave Kevan to spruce up the coaching team.
They have given him the tools, he can have no complaints about that, now it is down to him to use them in the right way.
I cannot see he has much scope for change. We cannot keep going on paying off players almost on a whim to try to bring someone else in. He has to stick by these players and get them performing as we know they can, and as they have done for other clubs.
After the run of games at the start of the season, ending with Oxford game, which were all (bar the one we won at Accrington) against teams I fancied to be in the top half, things - I thought - would get a bit easier.
I expected us to win yesterday, but the result has left me with a sobering reality (about time, I hear some of you cry...).
Next up is AFC Wimbledon. They are third, we are 21st - and I cannot be alone in thinking those positions would be the other way around, given recent history. After that, we have two tough away games at Scunthorpe and Dagenham. It doesn't get any easier.
These may be hollow words, but I hope fans stick with it. It's easy to follow a club when they are winning, but times like this are the true test.
We have to trust the manager and the players to turn it round, and get it right. But that trust will not last forever.
The time for talking is over. It's time to deliver.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Playing up against Pompey

Our season starts here...!
This seems to be our new catchphrase. It has to be, as it seems to be all we are hearing at the moment.
After each game recently it has been trotted out, seemingly in the hope that it will miraculously spark us into life.
Not working so far - although Saturday's result coupled with the stickability and resolve we showed in the second half suggested better days might not be far away. He said, hopefully...
There are still problems, and my pre-match attentions were taken up by the chairman Paul Baker's notes in the programme - a not-too-thinly-veiled attack on the attitudes and effort levels of some of the players.
He came to see us on the radio gantry before the game, and I congratulated him on his words. I thought they were spot on - he is a fan like the rest of us after all, and we all know that some of the team have short-changed us this season, and Paul deserves credit for coming out and saying it.
But I sense it was not only aimed at those who cross the white line, and was also a little message to the management team - a shot across the bows if you like.
Something along the lines of "you have bought these players in, and they are not performing. It is up to you to sort them out..."
Quite justifiably, he feels he and his board are not getting anywhere near full value for the money they have laid out this summer, and before.
Two players were singled out in that piece as an example to follow - Steve Elliott and Russ Penn. As things panned out, Elliott did not exactly distinguish himself with the two Pompey goals, while Penn found himself dropped before coming on like a man possessed for the last hour.
Oh the irony...
Without Russ on the field, we were distinctly second-best for the first 20-25 minutes.
Patrick Agyemang bullied our centre-halves - not the first time that has happened against a centre-forward with some presence and power (see also Marvin Morgan and Jessy Reindorf).
What I would give for someone like that in OUR forward line, roasting opposition centre-backs, rather than the other way round.
He burst through for the opener after a Keystone Cops comedy collision between Elliott and Ryan Inniss, then somehow missed an absolute sitter which would have been 2-0 after 12 minutes.
We were chasing shadows. Sharp movement, incisive runners and crisp passing were slicing us to pieces, and we were second best all over the field.
They look a decent side, and you think it won't be long before they move up the table. Will we be joining them?
As the half wore on, we gradually got to grips with it, then we suffered yet another defensive injury. Inniss this time, and it meant another re-shuffle - Sido to right-back, Keith Lowe to centre-half, Matt Richards to left-back, Russ alongside David Noble.
Russ won a 30-70 challenge with his first touch, and finally that woke up the CTFC contingent, then we grabbed an equaliser - all down to the determination of Jermaine McGlashan.
Terry Gornell put him in, and as John Sullivan came out and brushed his ankles, he could have gone down, but no, he wanted that goal, and he finished it well.
While overall we might not have deserved to go in at 1-1, we would have taken it, but out came the self-destructing revolver once again, and this was one of the most spectacularly comical goals we have conceded so far.
Some title that, considering some of the X-rated stuff that has gone before, but the way Jed Wallace skipped past Elliott and Penn, then walked along the by-line and placed the ball across the six-yard box, where Johnny Ertl was leaning on the far post having a crafty fag (ok, maybe not the last bit, but he had enough time for one) waiting to tap in, was, frankly, an utter joke at this level.
It is no wonder, with goals like that going in, that our defence is the worst in the division. Even injuries, disruption and constant changes, frequently during games, cannot excuse it.
The time for excuses has passed. These are experienced players (bar Inniss) and it is high time it was sorted out and people started doing their jobs properly.
With our re-shuffled side, the second half was better. Not without its alarms, but better.
The defence did look more solid, and dealt better with Agyemang and the wide threats of Wallace, Ricky Holmes and Andy Barcham.
Noble's cool head and good passing got us out of trouble a couple of times, but as time was running out, we didn't threaten Sullivan's goal much.
Mark Yates tried a couple of new systems, taking off Steve Gillespie for Zack Kotwica and moving Sam Deering in off the wing, where again he struggled (not surprising as he is out of position) into the 'hole'.
Like others, I would question taking a forward off for a winger at 2-1 down, but Gillespie was very ineffective. Yes, there was a combination of no service and the wrong type of service, but nevertheless he was ineffective.
That particular experiment lasted all of nine minutes, then it was 4-4-2 again with Byron Harrison replacing Deering and going up alongside Gornell.
Agyemang gradually ran out of puff, and Guy Whittingham did us a favour with one of the longest drawn-out triple substitutions in footballing history.
Thankfully, the Pompey trio coming on were nowhere near as effective as the three coming off (and it is this strength in depth or the lack of it which may keep them out of the top three), and the ludicrous amount of time it took to get them on the field eventually won us a point.
The fact that we did that was, for the second time in the game, solely down to the determination of McGlashan.
He is someone I have been critical of in the past for end-product (and he admitted to me afterwards he doesn't score enough goals) - but this time he deserves all the accolades coming to him.
Elliott dinked the ball through, and Danny East had a simple clearance, but Jermaine put on the afterburners and snaked a leg round East to steer the ball in.
Like his first goal, he wanted to get there. No chickening out, but the sort of determination, will-to-win, commitment and application the chairman was lamenting the lack of... Certainly a message there for some of his team-mates.
We could have nicked it but for the offside flag, yet even the most blinkered CTFC observer (me included) would have agreed that would have been a complete travesty - even nicking a point was maybe a bit fortuitous, but we'll take it, thanks very much.
Regarding Russ Penn, I wondered if being taken off at half-time against Plymouth mean he had a slight knock, and with only six on the bench on Saturday he was asked to do a job while not 100 per cent.
Not so. The manager confirmed he was dropped by virtue of his form so far. If it was a rocket for him, it worked, and maybe it was also a message to everyone else - no-one is guaranteed a place in my team, not even my skipper...
His dropping means, aside from Scott Brown, that Sam Deering is the only outfield player to have started all nine League and Cup games - the majority on the wing and out of position.
I have nothing against Deering, in fact I am a big fan and was delighted when he signed, but he is no wide man. I know it, the vast majority of CTFC fans know it. I hope Mark Yates knows it, yet he keeps playing him there, it seems because he has no alternative.
But he does. He can change the system to one which suits all the players within it, instead of adopting a formation which immediately handicaps one or more of them, putting more pressure on everyone else.
We had success in the past with consistency of selection and consistency of system. At the moment, we have neither - and yes, I know some of that is down to injuries, but not all of it.
Still the side has no natural balance. Nine games in, we seem to be searching for that magic formula and we wonder how long it will take to find it... if at all.
I do not believe the never-ending rumours that there are problems in the dressing room. I believe the players are pulling in the same direction, and are still playing for the manager.
As I said last time, I feel a lot of these rumours and theories will always blow up when results are not going well.
I saw another cracker this week about the way our subs were warming up at half-time, compared to what Portsmouths were doing. Our subs have always done the same thing at half-time whether we are 2-0 up or 2-0 down. It's another straw-clutching exercise which would not be aired in happier circumstances.
So what can be done? We are not going to bring in more players as that ship has sailed, so this is what we have to work with, so therefore maybe the manager needs some help?
This suggestion is not a slight on him, or Neil Howarth or anyone else in the backroom team, but maybe the need is there some fresh ideas - a new pair of eyes to take a different perspective, even just on a part-time basis.
I note also the recent absence of Jason Murphy. He seems to have either taken a back seat or left the set-up completely.
There has been no announcement from the club, but Ian Hutton, a fitness trainer regularly used by the squad and the manager of our Ladies team, has been doing the bulk of the pre-match and post-match fitness work - so I wonder if there is scope for a new coach to come in and just cast an eye over things, and give some different input.
I sense a few more twists in this troubled start to the season, and things don't get any easier with Oxford in town on Saturday.
After years of underachievement, they have made a flying start, and will come in confident mood, so if our season does indeed start here, it would be very welcome!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Frustration and conspiracy

ON Tuesday, as I had no commentary duties, I took the opportunity to watch from my more traditional vantage point, the Paddock.
I lasted 15 minutes before deciding to move as I was utterly fed up with the abuse being thrown at our players, by our fans.
In that time, Jason Taylor, Sam Deering, Byron Harrison and Ashley Vincent had been thoroughly slagged off by certain individuals, as had the injured CBB, by someone who seriously asked his mate if he thought we could tempt Jamie Victory out of retirement. I kid you not.
In the past, I have had a go at people when I have become fed up with their tirades against players, but on this occasion I opted just to turn heel and make for the main stand to watch the rest of the game.
Now, I know what the argument will be ... it's that usual mantra "I pay their wages, so I am allowed to say what I want".
Fine. But, for example, if you saw them shopping in Tesco, or walking in Pittville Park with their wife/girlfriend, would you greet them with something like 'Oi (name of player), you are a lazy f***ing c**t' or 'hey (name), why can't you cross a f***ing ball, you useless pile of s**t' ??
Of course you wouldn't, or I hope not anyway.
In the same way, I pay my council tax, so I must therefore contribute to a dustman's wages, but I don't give him a tirade of abuse if I don't like the way he wheels my green bin towards his dustcart...
I fail to see what the motivation is to hurl abuse at players you claim to support. How does it motivate them? Here, the perpetrators' defence is 'they need a kick up the arse, so I am giving it to them.'
I get as frustrated as anyone when players mis-control a ball, give the ball away or miss a chance, but I don't get the urge to yell abuse at them. I prefer to encourage, along the lines of  'chin up, keep going', something along those lines - and be constructive, as I try to do in this blog and on the radio.
There is a massive difference between constructive criticism and abuse. Abusing your own players is even more brainless in my view when your team is not firing as it maybe should be, like ours at the moment.
Confidence is low, so the players need to have that reassurance that the fans are behind them, that the fans believe in them, and that they want them to succeed.
It isn't always that way though. At Bury on Saturday, I had my first 'Yates out' text. I was a bit stunned, as my own view is that things would have to be pretty rough in December for any thoughts like that to even enter the board's minds.
Expectations are high, and so when they are not being met, frustrations rise - but I feel at the moment things are going too far in the 'negative' direction and everything surrounding the club is being magnified and scrutinised 10 times more than it would be if we were on a good run of form.
For example, Russ Penn's comments after Bury about 'angry exchanges' in the dressing room post-match quickly became 'a full-scale fight', 'a split' or 'serious unrest' depending on what Nest thread or which tweets you read.
My view is that I am pleased they were cross and had a shout and rant at each other. It shows they care. If they were laughing and joking, then I would be angry with everyone else. It would be a shame if players felt they could not talk freely to the media.
Then there was a tweet from Russ the other day, in which he called Scott Brown 'skip'. Straight away, one or two tweets flew around saying Russ had been axed/stripped/resigned as skipper!
Nonsense of course - it was banter as Browny had taken the armband on Tuesday when Russ went off.... but that is the danger of Twitter.
It would be a shame of the players felt they couldn't have this interaction with the fans without everything they say being misconstrued or analysed to the 'n'-th degree.
Next, I saw a post somewhere which said the players 'didn't look happy on the bus to Accrington or Bury, so things must be wrong.' Good grief. I wouldn't be happy if I was faced with a bus ride up the M6...!
Then there is the manager. There is now all of a sudden a lot of criticism of his Pro-Licence visit to Turkey in the summer - now dismissed widely as 'a jolly'. Wouldn't happen if we were winning.
His interview demeanour gets flak. I have been there after practically every game for four years - it rarely changes after a win or a loss! Do people want him wearing a red nose or clown's wig, and cracking jokes if we have lost a game? Wouldn't happen if we were winning.
But we are not, although Tuesday did bring plenty of positives, I felt.
It started like Groundhog Day - 1-0 up, then 2-1 down in the blink of an eye, the first a goal kick, flicked on and lobbed in, the second a cross into our box (shock...) and put in at the second attempt.
It was hardly a surprise, with three defenders injured, that we conceded some poor goals, and we let in another with a header in the second half from a free-kick swung into our box.
Continuing the theme of this blog, some fans weren't so understanding. One wrote how 'we conceded three goals to 10 men'. Give me strength. If you are going to criticise, at least be accurate.
I know - I should grow a thicker skin, and let it all wash over me. But I hate the negativity. It is so draining and pointless, does no one any good, and just hangs over the club like a raincloud.
So that's why from 3-1 down I was delighted to see us show a bit of backbone and haul ourselves back into the game - and arguably we should have won it.
We had our first look at David Noble, and he wasted one pass in 45 minutes, kept it simple and allowed Deering to go forward more, which he did to good effect.
Vincent and Zack Kotwica on the flansk gave us balance and we took the game to Plymouth, with Vincent's great touch to Steve Gillespie bringing the penalty.
That reduced Plymouth to 10, but they kept two banks of four and sat back as we pressed well and, I thought, looked as dangerous going forward as we had in any game - it was Crawley all over again.
Taylor equalised, and then we should ahve won the game - led by the introduction of Jermaine McGlashan, who sent across three or four superb crosses which should have been converted.
Harrison was denied by a good save for the best opportunity - or he missed a sitter, depending on your viewpoint. I give credit to Jake Cole, in the same way I praise Scott Brown for coming off his line to thwart Marvin Morgan, rather than castigating Morgan...
Once it got to a shoot-out, it was a lottery, and there is no blame on Terry Gornell - in fact in some ways I am pleased we are out, as we can concentrate on sorting out the League form - until the FA Cup comes round anyway.
It doesn't get any easier though, with Portsmouth tomorrow. Personally, I would take any sort of result which doesn't involve us being 3-1 down at some point. After Crawley, Plymouth (twice) and Bury, I have had a gutful of that...!
So what team would I play? I would like to see us go back to the system which served us well two seasons ago, three in midfield and two wide men playing off a central striker.
I believe we have the players to do it, and I think we need to show that bit of adventure and go for it.
There are two questions - after his very bright display on Tuesday, do we start Kotwica, and what about Jamie Cureton - do we throw him straight back in?
My answers are yes to the first, no to the second. My team tomorrow (assuming fitness of some players) would be: Brown; Lowe, Elliott, Inniss, Jombati; Noble, Penn, Richards (otherwise Taylor); Kotwica, Gillespie, Gornell.
Harsh on Deering and McGlashan I know after their second half displays on Tuesday - but they can impact from the bench of needed, as could Cureton.
I just feel we need to be careful with him and ease him back in gently. Gillespie's two goals in midweek seal his place in my opinion, while I am a big fan of Gornell's work-rate and creativity.
Let's hope we are all smiling tomorrow evening - including the manager when that microphone is put under his nose at around 5pm...

Sunday, 1 September 2013


A few years back, after a defeat at Shrewsbury, one of my BBC Gloucestershire colleagues put a microphone under the then-manager's nose and said "That wasn't very good, was it?"
Pete Matthews resisted the temptation to start yesterday's press conference with the same question, but it might have been justified after we returned to type up north, letting in four goals in a heavy defeat.
Mark Yates was honest with his assessment that it wasn't good enough, and there was a lot of hard work ahead, a view shared by a clearly quite angry Russ Penn and a forthright Keith Lowe as well.
But I thought between goals three and four, we actually played quite well - I'm not making excuses for the defending for goals one, two and three however.
From 3-1 to 4-1, especially in the second half, we caused them some problems - Penn hit the post, Terry Gornell had a shot over, Ryan Inniss had a header blocked. But it counted for nothing as the failings at the other end had left us with a mountain to climb. Again.
Two defensive injuries in the opening quarter of the game did not help - but by the time Steve Elliott went off, we were already 3-1 down.
The makeshift centre-half partnership of Inniss, on his league debut, and Jason Taylor, who I would think has rarely played centre-back in his life before, brought back memories of Sam Cox and Julian Alsop together on that horror day at Accrington - but they only conceded one goal as a unit.
No-one had any qualms about the team Yates had selected. Same 18 as West Ham, same set-up, solidity first and after three minutes things were going our way.
It was a great, direct run from Jermaine McGlashan, just what we want to see from him, good movement and timing of the run from Gornell, and a bit of luck when his shot, going wide, was turned in by Andy Proctor.
But that was a good as it got in a crazy, and kamikaze at times, 20-minute spell which turned the game right round.
It started with an injury to Craig Braham-Barrett. He went down, and was playing Bury onside. He got up, limped down the touchline and went down again.
Play carried on, and Bury, under no obligation to put the ball out, carried on. This lasted for about 60-90 seconds. We seemed totally distracted by CBB's injury.
Any player could have made a challenge, committed a foul, tried to get the ball out of play. But nothing, we were at sixes and sevens, no-one knowing what to do - it was farcical, and only ended when Danny Mayor smashed in the equaliser from 30 yards after riding some powder-puff 'tackling'.
Some Bury neanderthals had been booing CBB during all this, and then were more intent on jeering him off the field, rather than celebrating a great strike from one of their own players - butI stopped being surprised at the actions of some football fans years ago.
Looking at our bench, I then expected Billy Jones to come on. Left-back for left-back, not too much disruption. But no - on came Sido Jombati.
I have nothing against Sido, and I actually thought he did ok when he came on, better than he has been performing at right back in fact, but it seemed a strange decision.
Post-match, Yatesy said Sido was ahead of Billy at left-back - indeed, he came on there for Billy in the play-off semi. He also said he wanted Sido up against the tricky winger (Craig Jones).
That is borne out of Billy having problems against Jennison Myrie-Williams and Chris Hackett at the back end of last season - but this decision now effectively means Billy is our third-choice left-back.
Added to that, it seems practically every team we come up against has a 'tricky winger' - so if Yatesy doesn't fancy Billy against that sort of player, then that doesn't say a lot for his long-term prospects at CTFC, wand of a left foot, great set-piece delivery or not.
I am not sure a League Two club is in a position to have a third-choice left-back, especially one conceding goals hand over fist, so it would appear that Billy's days here are numbered. A shame in my view.
If Yates has lost confidence in him, and isn't going to use him, then he has 24 hours to move him on permanently, freeing up a wage to address other areas of the squad - a loan centre-half maybe, if Elliott and Troy Brown are out for a while, a fourth striker, a right or left-winger. Or let him go on loan when that window re-opens.
We cannot have players in the squad who are (as Billy seems to be in the manager's view) surplus to requirements.
"We need players who are going to challenge for the first team" is the manager's own mantra when he is asked about potential triallists signing and loan players coming in.
If he deems Billy isn't going to do that, then he needs to move him on, and give himself some scope, and the situation doesn't deter those who question his man-management - they will cite the names of Darryl Duffy and Shaun Harrad from last season.
Anyway, at 1-1 with one player off injured, surely things could not get any worse. But one free header from a corner and dozing off to allow a cross and a centre-half to nip in unchallenged for a tap-in later, they did.
Then we lost Elliott, knocked out in a challenge by Marlon Jackson. To Yates' credit here, he made a positive substitution. We could have seen Billy, switched Sido over, and put Lowe and Inniss together, but instead he out Byron Harrison on and went to 4-4-2 with Jason Taylor at centre-half.
We got to half-time at 3-1. Just. It was a bit hairy at times, but we got there. Bury should have been down to 10 men, with goakeeper Trevor Carson lucky not to to walk after flattening Gornell on the edge of the box - think a much less brutal Battiston v Schumacher, France v Germany Spain '82 (here).
Post-match, Yatesy said he thought he had got the ball and it wasn't even a foul. Hmm. The referee disagreed, and once he had given a foul, he had to send Carson off as the last man. But he didn't - yellow card.
But once again we seemed incapable of stopping any sort of cross from coming into our box. Craig Jones and Danny Mayor were having a field day, beating our full-backs and midfield players too easily and being given far too much time to deliver the ball in.
We are seeing it too often. Players seem to get so much space to deliver balls in. We don't seem to get tight enough, or show them outside - we seem to get done time after time for pace or fall for a little trick, then the ball is in our box.
In contrast at the other end, teams seem to have no problem in stopping our wide men or full-backs getting forward and getting crosses in. At the other end, it is almost open house.
No matter who is at full-back, they always get exposed, and then seem to fight a losing battle. Sooner or later, with crosses into the box raining in, we will concede a goal.
It's the law of averages. Elliott, Brown, Inniss - whoever is at centre-half, cannot be expected to win every header or make every interception. Scott Brown cannot be expected to save everything.
It was the same against Plymouth - full backs not tight enough. Same at Chesterfield - too much room for Gary Roberts and Nathan Smith.
We are a soft touch down the flanks. Until that is addressed we will keep conceding goals, keep crosses coming into our box, keep giving opposition wingers and forwards an easy ride, and keep giving oursleves a mountain to climb.
Since the game, I have seen tweet after tweet saying fans cannot wait until Jamie Cureton is back. Me neither, but he would need a season of Lionel Messi proportions if we are still letting in two, three or four goals a game.
Others have said we need Alan Bennett back. He was in a defence which let in four at Chesterfield, Rochdale and Rotherham - games were we were also ripped apart down the flanks. This is not exactly a new problem.
But you defend from the front. To stop the wide men being effective, you have to stop the supply to them, which means better ball retention further up the field.
I am not convinced the balance of the side is right. In a 4-4-2 especially, with McGlashan, Penn, Richards and Deering as the midfield four.
We have one out-and-out winger in McGlashan, with Deering forced to fill in down the other flank, be that left or right, in a position he is alien to and which will not bring the best out of him.
He is happier in that 'hole' position, or in the centre of a midfield three, but cannot play in a 'two' in central midfield, or out wide.
Last season we had McGlashan and Kaid Mohamed, which gave us that balance, and pace on both flanks.
This time around, on the bench, we have Ashley Vincent. He wants to be a central striker, but clearly isn't in my view - he is a winger. If we used him as such, we might get that elusive balance back.
Deering hasn't done anything wrong in my view, he just doesn't seem to naturally fit in to the system which  the manager wants to use.
I am not convinced we can play 4-4-2 with the players have at the club - with Penn and Richards together in a 4-4-2 we just look too open.
If we are going to fit the players we have into a tactic which suits then rather than shoehorning them into a system, we have to use 4-1-3-2, or go back to the 4-5-1 with two wide men supporting the forward.
Both have Penn, Richards and Taylor as the first-choice midfield three, with Deering behind the front two in a 4-1-3-2, while McGlashan and Vincent would be the first choices as wide men off the forward in the 4-5-1/4-3-3.
Back to Gigg Lane - and for the first half-hour of the second half, I don't know if Bury sat back, but we had some chances. Strangely, I felt if we got back to 3-2, we might have been in with a sniff of a point.
Whether that is just my natural optimism talking, or if was still hungover from Friday night, I am not sure, but we didn't get it back to 3-2, so we will never know if we would have had a chance or if Bury would just have gone up another gear and got another one.
We had some chances, we at least showed a bit of backbone, and didn't cave in completely, which we could have done with a depleted back four.
The fourth came 15 minutes from the end, more poor defending, another easy cross and another free header, this time for Jessy Reindorf, surely the first Rwandan ever to score against CTFC, and that was that.
So where now? Well, the JPT then Portsmouth and Oxford at home, so the nice, easy games keep coming.
For the JPT, we know CBB and Troy Brown are out. Steve Elliott must be doubtful, and saved for Saturday. It's too soon for Jamie Cureton (Saturday maybe...?) while teenager Bobbie Dale has had an MRI scan on an ankle problem.
Joe Hanks and Ed Williams have been loaned to Bishops Cleeve and I am unsure whether their loan terms allow them to be recalled or not, so I have left them out.
I am envisaging a team something like this: Brown; Jombati, Lowe, Inniss, Jones; McGlashan, Penn, Richards, Kotwica/Vincent; Gornell, Gillespie. The bench could be Roberts, Deering, Taylor, Harrison, Kotwica/Vincent, and the likes of Harry Williams (scoring for fun in the youth team) and another of Russ Milton's young guns might get a look-in - maybe Adam Powell or Spencer Hamilton - or we may just go for five subs.
However, the manager doesn't seem to want to use Billy, so he might play a back four of Lowe, Taylor, Inniss and Jombati, the one which finished on Saturday. Whatever happens, it is all a bit threadbare - and after a good run of injuries over the past season-and-a-bit, that luck is changing and we are suffering a bit.
I haven't read the Robins Nest since Saturday, but was told about a post/thread questioning Neil Howarth, and what he actually 'does'. Answer - the same as any other assistant manager at clubs up and down the country, ones which win lots of games, and ones which don't.
He does the same as he did in our great run in the autumn and winter of 2011 taking us to Wembley, the same as he did last season when we kept 20 clean sheets and came within a game of going to Wembley again. It's no use looking for scapegoats - it does no good.
No use either expecting the chairman to dip into his pocket for a signing or two. He did that in the summer (remember, this is the highest average wage we have paid to players since being in the FL).
This is the squad (and manager) we fans need to get behind. It's not going to change.
But this is the squad the manager needs to organise. He signed them after all. He needs to find a system which suits them, and fast.
The players need to look at themselves, buck its own ideas up and show us they are worth their money.
I am consoling myself with a few omens and facts. In 2001-2, we started with six games without a win, and won the play-off final. Two season ago, we took until October to click, then went on a great run and nearly went up.
Yes, is still only five games into the season, but I think we have played three sides in Burton, Chesterfield and Bury, who will be near the top - but have not beaten any of them, and only got close to beating Burton. Plymouth might also be higher than many people think. They swept us aside as well.
Saturday's Echo led with a story about talks tomorrow between Paul Baker, Yatesy and Howarth about a new contract beyond the summer. That alone suggests it is far, far too premature to suggest a change at the top.
But I had a text during yesterday's commentary (just as we went 3-1 down) saying 'Yates out'. My reply was 'don't be silly', and the reply back was 'gone by November'.
That won't happen in my view - but he does need to get to work on a solution, and fast.
While things are not going well on the field, I have noticed that practically everything he does off it these days is getting criticised more and more.
Demeanour in interviews (must say it hasn't changed much down the years...!), not clapping fans after games, and most of all it seems, what he actually says - after yesterday, there were tweets about 'hearing the same old excuses'.
I am not sure exactly what he is supposed to say. He came out and said the performance wasn't good enough, gave his explanation for the Billy Jones substitution, updated the injuries, and said he would do everything he could to put it right. What more he can say? His last line to Pete on Saturday was "We are dishing up a load of rubbish at the moment". Quite right Mark!
The players lost their Sunday off, and if fans are expecting him to slate his players in public, they are going to be disappointed. In private, I am sure he will make it crystal clear.
As will the chairman to Mark and Neil tomorrow. If I were in his shoes, I would be tempted to say: "We'll delay this contract chat for a month or so I think chaps - win us a few games and we'll chat again..."