Venue: The Shay
Tuesday 4th March 2003, 7.45pm kick-off.


Nationwide Conference :
Halifax Town 2 Yeovil Town 3

Att: 2,222

Referee: Mr G Mellor (South Yorkshire)

Yeovil: Pluck (45, foul)
Halifax: Quinn (62, foul), Garnett (67, dissent), Monington (85, foul) Red card: Monington (86, 2nd bookable offence)

Line up : (3-4-1-2)

1. Chris Weale

2. Adam Lockwood

4. Terry Skiverton

5. Colin Pluck

24. Abdelhalim El Kholti

6. Darren Way

8. Lee Johnson

11. Michael McIndoe

20. Gavin Williams

25. Kirk Jackson

9. Kevin Gall

Substitutes: 14. Roy O’Brien (55, for Pluck), 16. Andy Lindegaard, 18. Kim Grant, 22. Steven Collis, 23. Neil Mustoe

Halifax: 1. Lee Butler 12. Adam Quinn 19. Shaun Garnett 23. Mark Monington 2. Alistair Asher 15. Michael Senior 9. Craig Midgley 8. Phil Clarkson 14. Neil Grayston 16. Simon Parke 18. Brian Quailey
Subs : 3. Sean McAuley 13. Tom Morgan 11. Ian Fitzpatrick (88, for Quailey) 20. Robert Herbert (90, for Senior) 22. Andy Farrell (76, for Parke)

Scorers: Simon Parke (13 mins, 1-0) (15 mins, 2-0), Kevin GALL (51 mins 2-1) (56 mins, 2-2) (90 mins, 2-3)

For many people, when Yeovil Town won the FA Trophy last season, it was not the final itself that stuck most in the minds of many who witnessed the campaign – it was the astonishing 5-4 victory at Doncaster that many saw as the lynchpin that defined the Glovers success in that competition. IF (and there are still nine games left!) the Glovers do manage to grasp the Holy Grail at the end of the season, this may well be the match that everyone talks about in the years to come. At 2-0 down, with just 15 minutes gone, a few optimists in the crowd might have held hopes of a point out of the game, but few would have predicted Yeovil’s smash’n’grab raid right on the final whistle.

Gary Johnson started the match with just one change to Saturday’s line-up with Neil Mustoe unlucky to drop to the bench after being part of Yeovil’s 4-0 thrashing of Hereford on the weekend. But with Darren Way available after a single match suspension, it was too tempting for Johnson to recall one of Yeovil’s stars of the season back into the side.

The Glovers started off like a steam train, and Halifax barely had the ball out of their own half in the first ten minutes. Abdelhalim El Kholti, playing initially as a right wing-back, tested Lee Butler with an early strike, whilst Kevin Gall shot straight at Butler that probably should have given Yeovil the lead.

But Halifax showed Yeovil a giant warning sign shortly after, when Chris Weale was forced to tip an Adam Quinn strike onto the crossbar, and Yeovil managed to clear the rebound. But two set plays in quick succession caught the Yeovil defence napping, and gave the Shaymen the upper hand. Firstly a free kick found former Southport striker Simon PARKE in acres of space to nod home past Chris Weale with 13 minutes gone. Two minutes later, it was Simon PARKE again – this time taking advantage of a Brian Quailey cross, which again came from a well-taken Southport free-kick.

Halifax were a huge side, and their mix of good wing-play and up’n’under aerial bombardment was clearly disturbing a disheartened looking Yeovil side, and Gary Johnson very quickly changed to a 4-4-2 to try and strengthen the wings. Every time Halifax got a set-piece near the edge of the box, or got behind the Yeovil defence, they looked dangerous, and Parke and Quailey were keeping the Yeovil back line very busy indeed.

The best Yeovil could muster was a Gavin Williams long range drive that went wide, and then a near freak goal, as a Michael McIndoe cross deflected off Shaun Garnett, leaving Lee Butler struggling to spoon the ball away from his goal line. At the other end, Colin Pluck got himself in the book, after two infringements in barely 30 seconds tested the patience of the match referee. The conversation in the half-time dressing room was going to be interesting.

Half Time: Halifax Town 2 Yeovil Town 0

For not the first time this season, Yeovil’s second half performance by far exceeded their first half showing. Whatever Gary Johnson said, seemed to reinspire his team. That said, they took a while to get going. Brian Quailey had appeals for a penalty turned down when he collapsed in a heap when he went in for a through ball with Chris Weale. In all honesty though, Quailey was fortunate not to be booked for a dive, having clearly played for the penalty with the ball running wide and out of his control. Simon Parke came close to a hat-trick when he flashed a ball across the face of the box. Colin Pluck had to be substituted when he received the proverbial final warning for a third foul on Brian Quailey, with the reliable Roy O’Brien given the nod to replace him.

But gradually Yeovil began to turn the screw on Halifax. Lee Johnson’s piledriver could only be palmed away by Butler, and rather like Saturday’s game, barely 60 seconds after O’Brien’s arrival on the field of play, Yeovil were back in business. The corner resulted in a penalty area melee, and waiting on the edge of the scramble was Kevin GALL, who pounced on the loose ball to fire home from six yards out.

Although Gall was providing the inspiration at one end for Yeovil, Chris Weale was in sparkling form, superbly turning an Adam Quinn header round the post to keep Yeovil in the game. Had that one gone in, there is little doubt that Yeovil would have been dead and buried. Yet just five minutes after his first, Kevin GALL did it again, beating the Halifax offside trap to a treat, latching on to Kirk Jackson’s through ball, and slotting the ball under the body of Lee Butler as the Halifax back line looked stunned. 2-2 and this game was definitely up for grabs.

Play danced from end to end, and the match could have easily have swung either way, but it was clear that Halifax were starting to look jaded, and their tired legs brough bookings for Adam Quinn and Shaun Garnett as their frustrations began to show. Halifax’s chances became limited to long-range shots, with Alistair Asher’s 20 yard drive the pick of the bunch, just going wide of Weale’s far post.

In an attempt to get fresh legs on, Halifax withdrew Simon Parke, who had been the thorn in Yeovil’s side all night, and that seemed to spell the end of Halifax as an attacking force. Worse was to come for the home side, when Mark Monington, who had only just been booked for dissent, went in two-footed from behind on Michael McIndoe, and the second yellow card was the very least he deserved for his reckless challenge. Down to ten men, Halifax withdrew Brian Quailey for a more defensively minded substitute, and their whole team’s body language almost seemed to play into Yeovil’s hands as they attempted to slow the play down.

But the home side’s dithering in defence was to cost them dear when Kevin GALL intercepted a sloppy sideways header, and squirmed his way past a tired looking Halifax defender, slotting the ball into the corner to stun the home crowd, and send the 250-300 travelling army into delirium. There was barely time for Gavin Williams to play keep ball in the corner of the Halifax half before the referee blew the final whistle, and to give Yeovil a sensational victory against a very useful looking Halifax Town side.

Full Time: Halifax Town 2 Yeovil Town 3

This 2nd view of the game comes courtesy of Jeremy Gear:

Smash and Grab Raid at the Shay

When you ask any Yeovil fan about Chris Weale’s early save in the trophy final, ironically from Kirk Jacksons header, they’ll tell you it came out of the top drawer. But when you ask one of the 300 or so travelling fans who made their way to the impressive Shay Stadium about Wealeys save in the 53rd minute from a goal bound header, they’ll tell you not only was it as good, but in terms of importance, it was vital. In the 51st minute Kevin Gall pulled back a decisive early goal that put the Glovers right back into the game, 2 minutes later came Weale’s moment, a terrific tip round the post when at full stretch from a fine header. If that had gone in, it would have been as good as over, not even Yeovil could have come back from 3-1 down, then again, who would have said after going into the interval at 2.0 down, that Yeovil would get anything better than a draw from this game.

Playing 3 at the back, and with Darren Way replacing Neil Mustoe, the affair started in typical Town fashion, coming out of the blocks like a sprinter at the Olympics. As early as the 1st and 3rd minute, both “Gary” El Kholti and Kevin Gall should have put Yeovil 2 up with what, in cricket terms would be described as regulation catches.they missed them both!

A warning shot across the bows was received after 10 minutes when Weale tipped a header against the bar, In the 11th minute Terry Skiverton went up the other end and headed over following a Yeovil corner, and in the 12th minute, at the other end, the impressive Simon PARKE headed Halifax into the lead, in the 13th minute another corner for Yeovil was cleared, and in the 14th minute, that man PARKE again scored with another header. Talk about having the wind knocked out of your sails!

The remainder of the first half saw the Yeovil defence having their work cut out, as Parke, and the equally impressive Brian Quailley, his striking partner appear to unsettle the back 3 with their pace, strength and trickery. Yeovil tried hard, Lee Johnson especially, to play the ball around with the accuracy and the speed we have been accustomed to, but all too often play resorted to the long ball, which never quite had the same impact. That said, several more good chances went begging, but the Town just did not appear to be as fluent as usual.

2nd Half

The second half started as per the first, but in Halifax’s favour. Quailley was clean through on goal in the 46th minute, but lost possession and opted to con the ref into giving a penalty after crashing to the deck following Weales challenge, the ref declined. Then, in the 46th minute, Mcindoe, sporting an unbelievable new haircut, which beats anything Beckham has ever done, shot very wide when in a good position. In the 47th minute, that man Quailley should have done better, when again clean through skewed his low, angle shot across the face of goal with no Halifax player sharp enough to react.

Yeovil now appeared to up their tempo, reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, 2 or 3 minutes of pressure resulted in a pile driver from Lee Johnson being parried away for a corner, From that, Colin Plucks shot was deflected into the path of Kevin GALL who made no mistake following up..2-1.. Then came that save in the 53rd minute, Chris Weale, whose place in the side before christmas was being questioned by some, has turned from a boy into a man, gone is that innocent, almost embarrassed smile, its been replaced with a look of steely grit and important that transformation could prove to be come May!

Coincidently, like Saturdays game against Hereford, Gary Johnson made a substitution, replacing Colin Pluck with Roy O’Brien and within a minute, Yeovil scored and drew level. Inspirational change maybe, but the finish from Kevin GALL was almost identical to that of his goal on Saturday, a peach!

Roy O’Brien made a wonderful tackle toe poking the ball away from Quailley as he prepared to shoot, O’Brien stayed on the ground holding his back, but fortunately to the relief of the fans he soon regained his standing and composure after some treatment. For the remainder of the game, the Irishman was a rock!

As Halifax began to resort to the long ball, the threat from the front two receded as they appeared to tire, Parke was replaced, and Yeovil started to take the game by the scruff of the neck, as we have seen so often of late, one thing the team can never be accused of is panicking under pressure, or deviating from the plan. There approach work continued to make chances, with Lee Johnson, my man of the match, controlling the midfield and spraying the ball around neatly to the wide players, but they, somehow, could not find that killer touch!

On 85 minutes, Halifax lost Monnington to a red card, who rashly challenged Mcindoe on the edge of the box, and as the 90th minute approached Gall, and Mcindoe himself should have done better when in dangerous positions with a shot and cross respectively.

So, deep into 3 minutes of injury time, with the majority settling for 2-2, and who wouldn’t have at half time, Kevin GALL had other idea’s and, after what I think was the second attempt smashed the ball into the roof of the net to send the away end into raptures of delight.. Fantastic!

The Shay Stadium, when the construction and rebuilding is finished will be a fine stadium. Gary Johnson’s project, which has only taken two years is almost complete. This house has blown down before, and sensibly, this time no one is shouting from the roof tops… yet!

Jeremy Gear

Internet Man of the Match Voting Result:

Player MOTM Score
Kevin Gall 16 825
Chris Weale 6 617
Darren Way 1 92
Lee Johnson 42
Terry Skiverton 42

Overall match rating: 8.6 / 10
Performance: 7.8
Entertainment: 9.4

24 votes received.