Nationwide Conference
Stevenage Borough 2 Yeovil Town 3

Att : 1,275

Scorers: Chris GILES (12 mins, 0-1), Francis KUMBUR (26 mins, 0-2), Kirk Jackson (28 mins, 1-2), Francis KUMBUR (45 mins, 1-3), Kirk Jackson (87 mins, 2-3)

Officials: Referee – N.Perkin Assistants – K.Batchelor (Red), T.Mason (Yellow)

Bookings :
Yeovil : Lindegaard (22 mins, foul), White (86 mins, foul)
Stevenage : Sam McMahon (18 mins, foul)

Starting Line-Up : 1. Steve Collis, 2. Adam Lockwood, 3. Anthony Tonkin, 4. Roy O’Brien, 5. Tom White, 6. Olivier Brassart, 7. Andy Lindegaard, 8. Francis Kumbur, 9. Chris Giles, 10. Kim Grant, 11. Michael McIndoe.
Subs: 12. Adam Stansfield (sub 80 mins for Giles) GK: Chris Weale, 14. Nick Crittenden (sub 46 mins for McIndoe) 15. Carl Alford (sub 64 mins for Grant)

1. Paul Wilkerson 2. John Hamsher 3. Jamie Campbell 4. Robin Trott 5. Jude Sterling 6. Sean Evers 7. Simon Wormull 8. Sam McMahon 9. Kirk Jackson 10. DJ Campbell 11. Liam George
Subs: 12. Sam Sodje (sub 66 mins for Wormull) 15. Jack Midson 16. Dean Greygoose 17. Paul Armstrong (sub 90 mins for George)

No surprises at Broadhall Way tonight as Gary Johnson chose to select only four players from the side that played just 48 hours earlier against Barnet. Tonkin, Lockwood, White and McIndoe were the only survivors as Johnson elected to keep his cards close to his chest, with the most notable selection being goalkeeper Steve Collis getting a chance to make his first team debut.

Stevenage unsurprisingly took the initiative, with Collis forced to turn one shot round his near post. From the resulting corner, Olivier Brassart was forced to clear off his own goal-line although the midfielder’s positioning from the corner made this a relatively comfortable exercise.

Despite the bright start by the home side though it was Yeovil who took the lead. Andy Lindegaard found his run down the right wing go unchecked and his low cross into the penalty area missed Kim Grant, who was either guilty of a total mis-kick or a dummy of genius proportions. As a result, the ball ran clean through to Chris GILES who confidently ran the ball around Boro keeper Paul Wilkerson and knocked the ball into an empty net.

A quiet period followed, with referee Mr Perkin cautioning one player per side, almost as a statement of intent against two sides anxious not to incur red cards that would see them miss a Villa Park Trophy final.

But Yeovil doubled their lead on 26th minute with a well worked team move, with Michael McIndoe instrumental in the move. He showboated his way down the left wing, leaving Boro defenders backing off all the way, exchanged passes with Olivier Brassart, then put in a classy cross that was met under pressure at the back post by Francis KUMBUR who knocked in a close range header to give Yeovil a 2-0 head start.

Just as well really as within two minutes, Stevenage were back in it. DJ Campbell managed to find all kinds of room down the right flank and his delicate cross evaded both Steve Collis and a Yeovil defender allowing Kirk JACKSON the simplest of headers into the bottom corner of the net to pull Yeovil back to 2-1.

Much of the rest of the half resembled a training match, with both sides passing the ball about without so much as a tackle being attempted from either defence. But Yeovil were still creating plenty of space in the Stevenage half, and after Olivier Brassart had struck a belter from the edge of the area that Wilkerson held at the second attempt, but right on the break the Glovers extended their lead once again.

Chris Giles produced a Patmoresque layoff from a long ball, and the result was Roy O’Brien in space on the right wing. The Irishman flighted in an excellent near post cross and both Andy Lindegaard and Francis KUMBUR went for the ball, with the Nigerian claiming his second goal of the night – for the second time dancing his way around the corner flag in celebration.

Half Time : Stevenage Borough 1 Yeovil Town 3

Michael McIndoe was replaced by Nick Crittenden at half time, with Critts occupying a very unorthodox left wing-back position as Yeovil continued their 3-4-1-2 formation.

Like the first half, first blood went to Stevenage – DJ Campbell intercepting a Chris Giles midfield pass and dancing his way past four Yeovil players almost daring to invite a tackle which in this game was never likely to come. Fortunately he lost his balance as he shot, and the subsequent attempt went straight into Steve Collis’ arms.

Both sides continued to carve out a series of half chances, although the home side were applying most of the pressure. Yeovil’s best effort was an Olivier Brassart corner that saw Adam Lockwood head goalward, only to find a defender blocking his attempt.

Stevenage forced a number of corners but looked unlikely to beat the Glovers in the air, with the Yeovil back line coping easily with everything that was thrown at them. Boro looked at their most dangerous when these crosses dropped to players feet, and Sam Sodje should have done better when he got space around the penalty spot, only to fire well wide of the target.

Yeovil rarely threatened at all – seemingly content to hold Stevenage at bay, although their rare forrays into the opposition half still seemed to create plenty of space. Francis Kumbur set up Nick Crittenden on one occasion, and Critts, who had switched wings, floated in a gem of a ball that just evaded Chris Giles, but could not be converted by Carl Alford, whose run was just a tad too late and resulted in a header into the side netting.

Tom White held his breath in the final five minutes when he clipped DJ Campbell who was running in on goal, but two covering Yeovil defenders saved White from anything more than a booking. And the Yeovil defence were probably still pondering that fact when another Stevenage move 60 seconds later opened up the Glovers defence and when the ball came through to Kirk JACKSON he hit a real beauty into the top corner from 20 yards out.

Good experience for the Glovers though, as they put their efforts into ensuring that Stevenage were held at bay for the closing minutes, despite the predictable pressure from the home side. Three minutes of added time brought little of consequence meaning that Yeovil’s extraordinary away record continues – tonight being their 12th away victory in the league.

Tonight’s victory will not tell us where the FA Trophy will be headed come May 12th. But what it has shown Gary Johnson is that his squad has some quality squad members who are more than capable of performing as a unit at Conference level. If there had to be some criticism of tonight’s performance, it would be that the Glovers sat back too much in the second half, but that shouldn’t take away the first 45 minutes worth that was certainly worth the entrance money.

Final Score : Stevenage Borough 2 Yeovil Town 3

Man Of The Match: Francis Kumbur

As voted for by YTFC fans on the internet, click here for more information.

Player MOTM Score
Francis Kumbur 2 489
Tom White 3 400
Andy Lindegaard 2 222
Adam Lockwood 1 200
Nick Crittenden 1 133

MATCH RATING – 6.4 (out of 10)
Performance – 6.6; Entertainment – 6.2

9 votes received.

Gary’s Verdict :

Gary JohnsonI thought the first half was terrific and that we played some great football. I’ve always said to you that the whole of my squad are first team players and I still believe that. You can see what we can achieve on a good pitch – that pitch out there was lovely for football.

I don’t think my boys in the dressing room will like tonight being described as an under-strength side. We had to pick a team to win the game and they are part of the first team as much as the boys back home.

You don’t get anywhere without a decent squad, and I’ve got to make sure that all of my players are first team players and that they think that way as well. They proved that today and I was very happy. Lindy got his 90 minutes and it was important that certain players got that 90 minutes under their belt and they got that today and did very well. Kim did very well in coming back from his injury – he needed a good hour and he gave us a good hour. He was very involved, and all of the substitutions tonight were tactical – there were no new injuries. Macca and Critts knew from the start they were only going to get a half each.

I thought we scored three wonderful goals – some well worked goals – some good passing with third man runners, and it was lovely to get Francis Kumbur his two goals – and you can see how he enjoyed it. It was nice that he finally gave his welcome to the Conference.

The first half was much better, but in the second half we just let Stevenage get on the ball a little too much more than I really like and they got their goal back. But all-round I felt we were nice and solid and good for the three points.

It wasn’t too uncomfortable was it? At 3-1 we looked quite comfortable. They got it back to 3-2 which meant their fellow threw a few balls into the box but most of the night was comfortable for us.

We want that third place to be alive. I said before the game we needed two or three wins. Now maybe we need one or two wins to get that third spot as I think Doncaster have still got a couple of difficult games. We want that third spot as you never know what might happen.

The supporters were great. There they all were again, albeit a hundred of them, but they still out-shouted the Stevenage fans which is great. I think they’ve seen a good football match and they’ve seen us play some good football tonight.

But tonight’s result doesn’t make for any significance as far as the final is concerned. It will be a new day. There were a thousand people here today whereas at Villa Park there could be 30,000 to 40,000 there and that might just liven a few people up on the day. We’ve sussed out a couple more of their players and they will have had a good look at us. They had a player – Scott Houghton – who got injured during the warm-up and he’ll obviously be around for the final. The final will be a different kettle of fish.

Because of Terry Skiverton’s and Colin Pluck’s injuries, Adam Lockwood and Anthony Tonkin have just played their third game in five days. That’s just too much, although the two of them are good athletes and we gave them all a round of applause for getting through it, so we’re proud of them. I’m sure they won’t want to be left out of the side on Saturday. We can moan about it but they’d be disappointed if I left them out!

Once the Leigh RMI game is out of the way at least we are back to a slightly more normal Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday routine. Then after our two home games, we’ve got a nice 14 days to help everyone recover from all those little knocks and all the problems people get with all these games such as sore feet. I know that if I’ve got a fully fit squad, then I can pick any eleven players from 23.