Att: 3,290

Line up : (4-4-2 / 3-5-2 / 4-4-2 / 3-4-3)

Jon Sheffield

Nick Crittenden

Terry Skiverton

Colin Pluck

Anthony Tonkin

Darren Way

Lee Johnson

Michael McIndoe

Andy Turner

Barrington Belgrave

Scott Ramsay

Subs used: Carl Alford (61, for Turner), Chris Giles (82, for Belgrave), Tom White (61, for Ramsay)

Gibson, Knowles, Jones, Talbot, Barnard, Brownrigg, Norris, Devlin, Burke, Blundell, Mike.
Subs used: Bailey(45, for Knowles), Garvey (66, for Brownrigg), Mitchell (87, for Mike)

Scorers: Michael McINDOE (11, 1-0), Andrew Brownrigg (32, 1-1), Gary Burke (41, 1-2), Greg Blundell (90, 1-3), Chris GILES (90, 2-3)

This report courtesy of Fe7:

One hundred and six years is a long time. But now, Yeovil Town Football Club enters the finishing straight leading to League status. Improving on last year’s success will ensure this becomes a reality. A larger squad of all full-time players must mean that, over a complete season, Yeovil will be better than last season.

However, the start of Yeovil’s “year of success” faltered at the first hurdle. Northwich finished just three points ahead of the relegation trio last season and expectation was high that three points for Yeovil would be a formality. This view was underlined by Yeovil’s domination in the first thirty minutes, resulting in the opening goal by MacIndoe. Yeovil continued their domination but failed to capitalise and poor marking in the box allowed Northwich to equalised on 31 minutes. Northwich were now inspired and continued to press for a second goal. This duly arrived on 40 minutes when Sheffield failed to pick out an innocuous header that bounced past him and his goal-line defenders. When White failed to clear a through ball on 90 minutes and Sheffield was nowhere, when he might have been supporting his defender, the Yeovil faithful became the Yeovil unfaithful and hurriedly scampered for the exit. Most would have failed to see Blundell, the goal-scorer, collect his second yellow card for “celebrating” his goal, and being subsequently ordered from the pitch.

This incident signalled the farce that was then to ensue. Almost immediately from the kick-off Gibson, the Northwich keeper, failed to collect a Giles header and Alford and Giles scrambled the ball over the line. The goal was credited to Giles by the public address system. As Alford attempted to collect the ball from under Gibson’s body, lying in the back of the Northwich goal, everybody joined in – Yeovil midfielders, Northwich defenders and midfielders, Referee, Yeovil supporters from the Westland Terrace, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, to explain to Gibson that the ball should be returned to the centre-spot. With the crowd baying for blood, anybody’s, the referee blew a rather hasty final whistle shortly after the restart. The Yeovil supporters who had turned back from the exits had eventually seen what they came to see a bit of blood and guts. The fight-back was not complete but at least, eventually, they got sight of the sort of spirit that will win the league.

Back to the game.

Gary Johnson, with all but O’Brien available chose Pluck in preference to White at the back, and Ramsey in preference to Alford up front. Crittenden was retained at the contentious right back position.

In contrast to the exiting finale, Yeovil played pretty football in the opening spell. Before the goal, in the opening minute there was a strong appeal for a Yeovil penalty as Ramsey appeared to be brought down from behind when it looked as if scoring would be a formality.

Northwich had their first chance after 6 minutes when Sheffield fumbled the ball but the Northwich striker was only able to blast the ball over the Yeovil bar form about eight yards.

On 10 minutes the Yeovil faithful received their expected rewards. A super cross from the right appeared to be too strong for the lonely McIndoe in the Northwich box. McIndoe, back-peddling at the far post, managed to get his head to the ball. Although the header had no pace, its direction was accurate. While Gibson headed for his near post, McIndoe, wisely, headed the ball back towards the far post. It bounced once, maybe twice, but had eluded Gibson. The only danger to Yeovil’s joy was an incoming defender who could only manage to confirm a goal by smashing the ball into the roof of his net in an attempt to clear it. The ball had already crossed the line for McIndoe to claim his first, and Yeovil’s first, goal of the season.

From then on Northwich seemed unable to cope with the damp conditions, and any forward play to Mike, deep on the wings, aimlessly flew out of play on many occasions.

Yeovil continued to dominate with Crittenden particularly creating problems down the right hand side. Yeovil might have doubled their lead, and killed off the game, when Turner broke clear into the box but failed to ensure that his shot cleared Gibson’s on-rushing body.

Against the run of play Northwich equalised. Yeovil failed to challenge on the edge of their own box. Northwich were left plenty of time to measure a cross to the far post where Brownrigg, unmarked, directed his header back across Sheffield inside the right hand post.

Northwich, inspired by this goal held the upper hand for the next ten minutes until a header from the edge of the box eluded Sheffield as the Northwich strikers littering the box impeded him.

Yeovil responded with one or two chances but the first half tended to fade away to half time.

Half Time: Yeovil 1 Northwich Victoria 2

Yeovil continued where they finished the first half, having most of the play but failing to create significant opportunities. Northwich picked up a number of yellow cards, the most rewarding being that of Jones after a foul on Crittenden.

Halfway through the second half Alford and White replaced Turner and Ramsey. This returned Yeovil to a more familiar 4-4-2 with White fulfilling the right-back position, allowing Crittenden to move forward to a more comfortable right-wing role. But, to be honest while Crittenden looked more comfortable, Yeovil failed to make much headway in the box. Northwich always looked capable against the Yeovil strikers, Jones coping well with the speed of Belgrave. Any shots that managed to get through to Gibson were comfortably saved.

Into the second period of the second half Yeovil turned up the pressure and made a strong appeal for a penalty when a Tonkin cross hit a Northwich defender’s hand in the box. The referee failed to see this as a penalty.

Yeovil continued with a spell of successive corners and optimism increased.

After 82 minutes Giles replaced Belgrave and was immediately in the thick of the action, eventually resulting in a yellow card for his youthful exuberance and failure to adjust to the pace of the game.

On 90 minutes Northwich scored their third goal. The goal-scorer was sent off. Yeovil scored their second, the goal-mouth melee ensued, crowd spilled onto the pitch and, it was over. Phew, what a finish.

Final score: Yeovil 2 Northwich Victoria 3

A good team will always be built around a strong defence. The cohesion between Sheffield and his back three or four was, today, very poor. At times it appeared as if Sheffield was worried about his recent injury – reluctant to leave his goal line and support the defence. The mid-field are – I believe – our strongest asset, MacIndoe again was inspirational – which great manager snapped him up? However, too frequently, Yeovil failed to make significant in-roads into the box. Without that, it is difficult to evaluate the striker’s contribution – Belgrave failed to get the better of Jones – and that isn’t good enough. Having said that, Giles and Alford created more mayhem in eight minutes than had been created before that.

Next May this match will be a dim and distant memory. But, much has to change. Pitting his team against a fellow Conference side, Gary Johnson now knows how much.