Match Details: 17/03/1999
Forest Green Rovers 1 Yeovil Town 1
Yeovil scorers: Thompson (52), Patmore (88)
Yeovil Town Line-Up:
Substitutes : Smith (not used), Stott (65mins for Chandler), Keeling (not used)
Team Selection : Colin Lippiatt was able to pick his first unchanged starting line-up since December last year as the team were rewarded for their 3-0 win over Hereford four days previously. This meant that Rob Cousins kept the captains armband and the pivotal midfield position. A concussed Dean Chandler was substituted in favour of Steve Stott midway through the second half allowing Cousins to revert back to his more familiar defensive role, as Stott returned from the injury he sustained at Kingstonian.
First Half : Yeovil made their first ever competitive trip to The Lawn knowing full well the size of their task. They faced a Forest Green team that had inflicted the most humiliating defeat they had been on the receiving end of this season, with the 0-4 defeat coming only six weeks previously to this tie. To make matters worse, Forest Green were on great form, and were the Conference’s only unbeaten side in 1999, with their last defeat coming a week before Christmas.
Yeovil may have made the better start, with a Thompson shot being rifled over the bar from just inside the area after just three minutes, but it was Forest Green, with their physical kick-and-rush game that had the better of the first half. Fortunately, their shooting was poor, and the car park received the ball on more occasions than Yeovil goalkeeper Tony Pennock. Despite the pressure from Forest Green, the first time Pennock had to deal with anything serious it involved picking the ball out of the net. An 18th minute corner from Jason DRYSDALE curled in, and as Pennock moved to his front post to collect the ball, a Forest Green player ran across his line of view, and the diversion was enough to see the ball sail clean above everyone’s heads and clean into the goal.
Yeovil looked shell-shocked and the scoreline could have easily have been 2-0 when Marc MacGregor, recently being chased by Cardiff City, broke clear behind the Yeovil back line, and his crafty lob over the advancing Pennock looked goalbound until Kevan Brown’s acrobatic clearance hoofed the ball clear. Cries of “dodgy keeper” came from the home supporters, but to do so was an insult to MacGregor’s delicate touch. Pennock will have almost certainly have blamed himself for the goal, but there was nothing he could have done about MacGregor’s attempt.
The half continued in a chaotic fashion, with Forest Green continuing to press and Pennock making up for his mistake with an excellent close range block. Rob Cousins was booked for a two footed challenge whilst Rovers’ Mike Kilgour was also shown a yellow card for handbags at six paces when he shoved Warren Patmore.
Yeovil finally began to get the measure of Rovers’ style just before half time and began to work the ball well, giving them three good chances just before half time. Fishlock and Simpson combined well on the left wing but Pickard’s shot from Fishlock’s pass went wide of Shuttlewood’s left hand post. Then Yeovil’s best chance of the half was missed by Patmore when he headed over from close range after Al-James Hannigan had headed a Steve Thompson cross back across the box. Finally, Rob Cousins made good use of his midfield position by trying an ambitious drive from 30 yards which Shuttlewood did well to hold first time.
Half Time : Forest Green 1 Yeovil Town 0
Second Half : Another good half time team talk seemed to do the trick for Yeovil, and they made an immediate impact with Owen Pickard believing that he had an equaliser within 60 seconds of the restart, but the linesman spotted his control of the ball with his hand before he struck home from 10 yards, and so the goal was ruled out.
Forest Green’s reprieve didn’t last for long though. Owen Pickard beat a couple of players out on the right wing, and although he was fouled on his last touch of the ball, the loose ball was pushed to David Piper on the corner of the area and his accurate cross gave Steve THOMPSON a free header on the back post to give Yeovil an equaliser and a much needed psychological boost.
Forest Green rarely threatened in the second half, whilst Yeovil maintained plenty of possession without putting enough pressure on the home sides goal. On the hour mark Murray Fishlock was booked for a foul on Rob Cook, but 15 minutes later he returned the favour by fouling Fishlock and joining him in the referee’s book. Yeovil made an enforced substitution with Steve Stott replacing Dean Chandler who had concussion, whilst the useful MacGregor came off with his arm in a sling having been replaced by Shaun Chapple.
But there was little doubt as the game wore on that Yeovil were the team that wanted all three points. Their throw-ins were taken with great haste whilst Forest Green seemed happy to play for the single point. But they should have read the warning signs when Pickard’s narrow angled shot went into the side netting with three minutes left.
Forest Green failed to clear their lines and as Phil Simpson, who had been impressively involved all game, won the ball, he exchanged passes with Pickard and Thompson on the right wing before Thompson’s pass reached Piper. His attempted shot skewed wide, but straight to the right boot of an unmarked Warren PATMORE who gleefully hit his 88th minute first time low past the keeper’s right hand to give Yeovil a certain winner, and Patmore a chance to run past the noisy Yeovil supporters behind the goal in celebration. This left Yeovil just a couple of minutes of injury time during which they successfully played “keep ball” until the whistle blew.
Final Score : Forest Green 1 Yeovil Town 2
Verdict : A difficult first half where Yeovil had to contain Rovers’ physical play, and nearly came unstuck. But it was the sheer determination during the second half that deserved Yeovil the points, and there’s clearly no suggestion amongst the players that just because the season is “over” that they plan to let the foot off the pedal. And that late late winner will have done their confidence no harm at all, as the final whistle celebrations showed.
Badger’s Man of the Match : Phil Simpson : Credit where credit is due. Simpson had a torrid first couple of games for Yeovil, where he could do little right, and where grumblings from supporters implied we might have bought a dud. But against Forest Green he was the most involved player on the pitch and was our key ball winner. That performance will have done him a lot of good, but may tell our supporters that he deserves a second look before they make up their minds.