Match Details: 24/04/1999
Northwich Victoria 1 Yeovil Town 2
Yeovil scorers: Patmore 56, Pounder 90
Yeovil Town line-up:
Substitutes: Darren Keeling (for Phil Simpson 46 mins), Tony Pounder (for Keeling 78 mins), Paul Steele (not used)
Team Selection: With Owen Pickard still suffering from the thigh strain that got him substituted against Cheltenham, Colin Lippiatt initially decided to go for the 5-2-2-1 formation that Yeovil had employed so successfully in the early part of the season. This allowed Phil Simpson to claim the spare place alongside Ben Smith in the attacking midfield role. In defence, Al-James Hannigan passed a fitness test and so displaced Paul Steele, whilst Lippiatt ensured he could get a closer look at Malcolm Rigby by putting Tony Pennock into the reserves to give the whole line-up a very experimental feel.
After the fireworks at Cheltenham, this game was back to basics and it didn’t half show. With the team setting foot onto the pitch only 41 hours after the last game, it was clearly going to be a difficult one, and with Northwich having competed in two County Cup finals during the week, it was to be a tired game by both sides.
The game started brightly enough for Yeovil. A superb Murray Fishlock left wing cross was headed downward and goalbound by Warren Patmore, yet somehow keeper Lance Key produced a wonderful save to tip the ball round the corner at the base of his left hand post.
Northwich made an early substitution on 14 minutes when Ian Cooke replaced Nathan Peel, who had mildly troubled Malcolm Rigby in the Yeovil goal with a looping header. Neil Illman was producing far more of Northwich’s chances though. Midway through the half he firstly forced Rigby to save a shot low to his left, then an acrobatic effort on the turn by the same player went a few feet over the bar.Just before half time he made it a trio of misses when from a right wing cross his mis-hit shot deflected off Dave Piper for a corner.
Yeovil really were not being very creative. Their 5-2-2-1 formation was being played so deep, that it was difficult to break out of defence without springing the offside trap, and their only other effort of the half came when Fishlock’s cross was heading for Patmore, but it was just inches too far forward for him to get on the end of it. In short nothing was getting through the centre of the park. Both Yeovil’s bookings of the game came within a 30 second period just before the half hour mark. Firstly, a deliberate handball by Hannigan, which was followed by a late tackle by Murray Fishlock.
Half Time : Northwich Victoria 0 Yeovil Town 0
Second half: With so little creative play going on, it was no surprise at the start of the second half to find that Darren Keeling had replaced Phil Simpson, and that Yeovil had reverted back to their more familiar 5-3-2 formation, with Smith still tucked in behind the two forwards. The Vics also made a half time change, bringing on Stuart Terry for Mark Birch.
Pretty much out of the blue, Yeovil took the lead. A short low pass to Patmore from the midfield was not spotted by the Vics defence, and PATMORE was given room to turn in the penalty area and to fire home from 10 yards for his 26th goal of the season.
Kevan Brown got his ritual booking midway through the second half, for as usual doing very little wrong. Someone in the referee’s association doesn’t like him very much, I suspect. At the Yeovil end, Neil Illman was still worrying the Yeovil defence in a one-man show up front. He produced another low shot that Rigby saved, then later went on a solo run dancing his way past four Yeovil players down the middle of the park. His party piece was spoilt though when Ian Cooke took the ball off his feet and spooned the shot well wide. It was difficult to tell if Illman was good because he was getting so many chances, or awful because he was wasting them all.
Doubtless the Vics manager was wondering the same, and on 75 minutes, leading goalscorer Paul Tait finally made an appearance for Cooke and on 78 minutes, Yeovil also substituted the substitute by bringing on Tony Pounder for Darren Keeling, with Pounder surprisingly taking the strikers position. In the 33 minutes that Keeling had been on the field, it was difficult to remember Keeling having made a constructive contribution to the game.
With five minutes remaining, firstly Northwich’s Mark Devlin shot well wide of the mark, then Tony Pounder tried to out-do him when he shot a Patmore cross well over the bar from barely two yards out. This miss looked very costly when Northwich marched down the other end, and Chris Duffy put in a good 87th minute left wing cross that was met by the head of Darren VICARY, who was just being announced as the sponsors man of the match. Perhaps the sponsors had their crystal ball with them!
And so it looked as though Yeovil would have to settle for yet another late kick in the teeth but for once that didn’t happen. A Ben Smith run and shot was deflected for a corner and from the 92nd minute kick, the Vics left Hannigan, Patmore and Pounder all unmarked, and when Key couldn’t hold onto Warren Patmore’s header at the foot of the right post, in came Tony POUNDER to scramble the ball over the line from a yard out. Then much like the Cheltenham game two days previously, this was to be pretty much the last kick of the match, only this time we all went home happy. For Yeovil it gave them 68 points and passed their previous record Conference points total of 66 points gained during the 1992/93 season. Despite the low entertainment value, no-one was going to complain about that or the result.
Final Score: Northwich Victoria 1 Yeovil Town 2
Verdict: A messy disjointed match, not helped by a fussy referee and a tired performance from both teams. The first two attempts at the forward line didn’t really work for Yeovil at all, and it was concerning to note that stand-in striker Tony Pounder created more havoc in Northwich’s penalty area than Darren Keeling had in 33 minutes. The winner wasn’t overly deserved by Yeovil; they played better on Thursday night at Cheltenham, but at least for once, a 90th minute goal went in their favour, and with tired limbs, a win was far more valuable than entertainment, in order to get the team over Thursday’s Cheltenham hangover. Isn’t it ironic that in comparison with Thursday’s dynamite, today produced less entertainment value, a lesser team performance, yet three more points ?
Badger’s Man Of The Match – David Piper: A real tricky choice in such a disjointed game. Dean Chandler and Ben Smith impressed me, but David Piper got the nod, as he looked the least physically weary from the weeks events. His defending was excellent, and bar Ben Smith, David was the one player who looked like being able to unlock the Vic’s defences, as Murray Fishlock was unusually kept in his own half by the useful Darren Vicary.