Match Details: 13/04/1999
Rushden & Diamonds 1 Yeovil Town 2
Yeovil scorers: Patmore 27, Piper 30
Yeovil Town line-up:
Substitutes: B Smith (for Stott 46 mins), Simpson (for Thompson 8 mins), Keeling (not used).
Team Selection: Kevan Brown returned from his hamstring injury giving Colin Lippiatt all four central defenders fit for the first time since February. Similarly up front Warren Patmore returned, displacing Darren Keeling. However, in midfield Lippiatt made the surprising choice of leaving Phil Simpson out on the bench whilst Steve Thompson confounded all (for eight minutes at least) by returning from injury two weeks early. Rob Cousins filled the midfield slot vacated by Simpson.
First Half: Rushden came into this game knowing that defeat was not an option if they were to continue having a say in the title race, and they started the better of the two sides. A Michael McElhatton 25 yarder breezed over the bar in the fourth minute to remind Yeovil of their task tonight. Yet Yeovil had the worst of starts when Steve Thompson, surprisingly in the team following a hamstring strain was fouled in the centre-circle and fell to the ground in pain, quite clearly having damaged his hamstring further. A stretcher was called for immediately and Phil Simpson was restored to the team line-up.
Rushden continued to exert plenty of pressure during the first 25 minutes. Paul Underwood shot wide of the right hand post and there was another moment when the Yeovil defence seemed to be all over the place. Simpson and Hannigan both left balls inside their own area, but Rushden were not decisive enough to capitalise. Their best chance came when Al-James failed to close down Darren Bradshaw and an intelligent knock-back by Colin West was blasted wide by Carl Heggs. During this time Yeovil had only made one real chance when Steve Stott received a rebound off a Rushden defender, but he tried to lob the keeper and his shot skewed horribly wide.
Yet somehow Yeovil took the lead in the 27th minute. Rob Cousins ran forward with the ball and his rifle shot crashed off the cross-bar leaving Rushden keeper Mark Smith stranded. From the rebound, Warren PATMORE flicked the ball past Smith a second time and somewhat against the run of play Yeovil had the lead with Patmore racing 90 yards to the Yeovil supporters at the opposite end, raising one finger to indicate how many goals he believed he needed to reach his ton at Yeovil.
Not content one goal, Yeovil’s next chance three minutes later put them 2-0 up. Warren Patmore put Murray Fishlock away on the left wing, and his low cross went across the face of the goal, and with the Rushden defence seemingly either leaving it for each other or thinking the ball was going out of play, in slid David PIPER at the far post from two yards.
It seemed at this point that Rushden, despite all their early promise, gave up on the match and the title race. Looking shell-shocked and unpassionate, they allowed first Hannigan to head narrowly wide of the left hand post with the keeper beaten, then Owen Pickard did the same to the opposite side of the goal.Hannigan got booked for a foul on Paul Underwood, but even the ex-Enfield man looked embarrassed at the decision, apologising to Hannigan as he ran past.
Just before half time Rushden did have a glimmer of a chance when Rigby came off his line for a ball that wasn’t his, and ex-Yeovil player Miguel De Souza’s header looped over the keeper, but Hannigan was covering intelligently and cleared a yard from the goal line with ease.
Half Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Yeovil Town 2
Second Half: The second half started with Ben Smith replacing Steve Stott who had a pulled calf muscle. It was a far less frenetic half until the dying minutes came. Ben Smith made a good account of himself and was unlucky on the hour mark not to get a penalty for Yeovil. Warren Patmore put Smith through and as the keeper advanced Smith pushed the ball forward and the keeper dived, missing the ball. Smith tried to leap-frog the keeper, but caught him and went down. The referee presumably deemed that Ben had knocked the ball too far forward to realistically get the ball, but it was a close call.
Rushden’s Carl Heggs and Ben Smith both got themselves into the book, with Smith’s being supposedly for a foul on Mark Cooper. The tackle had come from behind, yet Smith had won the ball, and his frustration at the referee’s whistle and the card produced, threatened to produce a repeat during the next five minute’s whilst Ben’s temper gradually subsided.
Rushden made a last gasp double-substitution on 73 minutes, with Chris Whyte and Tim Wooding put on for Jon Brady and Guy Branston. Whyte, normally a defender, was amusingly put up front, and this was clearly do or die tactics from Rushden. Malcolm Rigby came under increasing pressure from Rushden’s numerous corners (I can’t believe Matchfacts only counted four!) and with five minutes remaining Jim Rodwell rattled the crossbar, but largely Kevan Brown, Rigby and Hannigan were making light work of poor crosses.
Yeovil still threatened on the break, largely through Patmore and Smith, with Underwood entering the referee’s notebook for the one bad foul of the night on Smith. With three minutes remaining Ben had a chance to seal the game, after a Patmore knock-down, but both keeper and defender blocked his angled shot.
Then came the exciting bit. With the clock now into injury time, Colin WEST gave Rushden a late consolation (or so it seemed) when he scored a diving header low down on the left hand post. Rushden finally woke up after an hour of passionless football and suddenly looked like they wanted something out of the game. Seven minute of injury time were conjured up by the referee, during which Rushden thought they had scored an equaliser in a goalmouth melee, but a linesman’s flag went up and he ruled that Rigby had been fouled after he had caught the ball when a Rushden player kicked his hand, and so after a lengthy delay, the goal was scrubbed and Yeovil took all three points home.
Final Score: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Yeovil Town 2
Verdict: One of those battling gutsy performances that Yeovil seem to be able to knock up at will away from home. Once they got their noses in front they were by far the better team, and a spineless performance from Rushden did not deserve the point they so nearly got.
Badger’s Man of the Match – Kevan Brown: He was here, he was there, he was everywhere. So many of Yeovil’s away wins have relied on their defensive trio. With Rob Cousins in midfield, Kevan and Al-James seemed to be everywhere, and where they weren’t Malcolm Rigby was. So hard to single out one person after a performance like that, but Kevan’s ground ball tackling and ability to take the ball off opponents heads was outstanding tonight.