Venue: Hilton Park
Sat 28th September 2002, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions: Dry, but cloudy
Pitch: Very good

Nationwide Conference :
Leigh RMI 2 – 4 Yeovil Town

Att: 415 (approx 120 Glovers – seemed to be more in Green & White than in Red & White!)

Referee: Mr T Kettle (Maidenhead)
Assistants: Mr T Conway, Mr S Cook
Fourth Official: Mr M Morledge

Yeovil: Pluck (72, foul), Elkholti (80, foul)
Leigh: Coburn (69, foul), Courtney (72, dissent)

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

12. Jon Sheffield

2. Adam Lockwood

4. Terry Skiverton

5. Colin Pluck

10. Nick Crittenden

6. Darren Way

8. Lee Johnson

11. Michael McIndoe

20. Gavin Williams

23. Howard Forinton

18. Kim Grant

Substitutes: 1. Chris Weale, 9. Carl Alford (39, for Forinton), 12. Chris Giles, 16. Andy Lindegaard (89, for Way), 24. Abdou Elkholti (60, for Grant)

Leigh: (4-4-2) 1. Stuart Coburn, 5. Wayne Maden, 4. Neil Durkin, 6. Neil Fitzhenry, 7. Ian Monk, 15. Phillip Salt, 8. Ged Kielty, 14. Andy Heald, 33. Stuart Whittaker, 9. Dino Maamria, 34. Chris Ward
Subs : 19. Neil Fisher (87, for Durkin), 3. Paul Williams (41, for Heald), 18. John McGill, 21. Ged Courtney (57, for Ward), 17. Andy Kendrick

Scorers: Terry SKIVERTON (5, 0-1), Ged Kielty (9, 1-1), Michael MCINDOE (51, 1-2), Nick CRITTENDEN (54, 1-3), Stuart Whittaker (67, 2-3), Carl ALFORD (70, 2-4)

This report courtesy of Robin Evans:

The match this afternoon saw both teams anxious to gain all three points, but for very different reasons. The Glovers, riding high in second place in the Conference, looked for a win to take advantage of points dropped in the game between leaders Chester and third-placed Doncaster. By contrast, the Railwaymen began the day sitting uncomfortably in the bottom three, and needed a win to try to kick start their season and to begin climbing away from the relegation zone.

Leigh RMI played a 4 – 4 – 2 formation, and the visitors played their usual 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 line up, with a now fit Kim Grant replacing Abdoulai Demba, who was unavailable for family reasons as his wife is due to have a baby.

Yeovil started brightly with a shot from Gavin Williams being parried by Leigh goalkeeper Coburn as early as the second minute, although no doubt Gavin will have been disappointed not to have scored from what seemed to be an excellent opening. Just a minute later another attack earned the first corner of the game, and Lee Johnson’s precision found Darren Way at the near post, and he flicked the ball on with his head to Terry SKIVERTON, who shot powerfully into the net from close range for an early lead.

Yeovil soon pressed forward again and a McIndoe throw in was flicked on by Howard Forinton, but Williams failed to get sufficient power into his shot which was saved comfortably.

In the 8th minute the home side had their first real chance when awarded a free kick on the left outside the Yeovil penalty area after a foul on Maamria. Whittaker played the ball into the area and it was flicked on to Ged KIELTY, who stabbed the ball past Sheffield to level the scores.

The Glovers reacted by pressing hard, and on 11 minutes Way threaded a good looking pass toward Grant only for the busy Monk to just get a foot in to prevent a clear chance. Williams and Johnson were controlling the midfield, and Darren Way shot just right of the Leigh goal on the quarter-hour following a Johnson corner.

Leigh RMI were largely penned back, but one opportunity fell to Ward following an uncharacteristic miss from Skiverton, but with only Sheffield to beat the striker shot wide. Darren Way proved that missed kicks can happen at both ends when Lee Johnson fired a good ball over the home defence, but Way’s attempt came to nothing as he missed contact with the ball.

Midway through the first half Maamria disputed a decision and was spoken to by the referee, but no card was shown. A free kick for a foul on Crittenden was taken by McIndoe, but cleared for a corner. He then took the resulting corner, finding Terry Skiverton and his looping header went over just the bar. Leigh RMI found their way back into the Yeovil half, and earned a 24th minute free kick in a very similar place to the one from which they scored, but the now alert Yeovil defence prevented a repeat performance.

A heavy challenge on Forinton by Maden resulted in a short lecture from the referee but again no card was shown. Gavin Williams brought down Salt in the Yeovil half, and Heald’s free kick was deflected just wide of Sheffield’s left hand post for a corner.

The game became rather scrappy for a while, with few chances although a 32nd minute header from Lockwood after a McIndoe corner went across the Leigh goal without the decisive touch from a Yeovil forward. A string of corners failed to create a breakthrough, but Skiverton came extremely close when a flick on from Williams was headed goalward and only cleared off the line by a Leigh defender.

Yeovil continued to press and Leigh’s best chance during this period was restricted to a shot by Kielty from 30 yards which was high over the goal. A good ball in from McIndoe was flicked on by Forinton to Crittenden, who controlled the ball, turned and shot just wide. Forinton had presumably taken a knock as he was replaced in the 39th minute by Carl Alford in a straight swap.

Leigh had another half chance when Monk found Salt wide on the right, and his cross was met by Maamria who failed to hit the target. Leigh made a straightforward change themselves on 41 minutes when Paul Williams replaced left back Andy Heald.

Yeovil continued to apply pressure into the three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half, but failed to break through.

Half time: Leigh RMI 1 Yeovil Town 1

The second half started fairly scrappily, with five minutes or so of long balls by both sides, and a lot of ‘head tennis’ between the defences and the midfield area, although Yeovil largely retained their territorial advantage.

On 51 minutes the game exploded when good work by several Yeovil players on the right found Kim Grant centrally on the edge of the penalty area. His pass found Michael McINDOE on the left, and he capped his excellent performance when a fine shot beat Coburn to restore the advantage.

Two minutes later Nick Crittenden fed the ball through to Gavin Williams, who was brought down by Neil Fitzhenry. The referee did not produce a card, but had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Nick CRITTENDEN stepped forward and his low, hard shot was saved by Coburn diving to his right, but Crittenden pounced onto the rebound to fire the ball into the net and give Yeovil a 3 – 1 lead.

Just two minutes after the Yeovil penalty, Dino Maamria appealed for a penalty at the other end. Referee Mr Kettle waved away his claim but once more no card was shown. Carl Alford created a chance by outpacing Fitzhenry to a long ball, but shot over. Leigh made a further change with Ged Courtney replacing striker Chris Ward.

Yeovil created more chances and maintained control, but Stuart Whittaker impressed on the Leigh left flank. On loan from Chester, his runs gave acting left back Nick Crittenden a fairly torrid time in the second half, and he reminded me of Michael McIndoe but where the Yeovil players support Macca well, Whittaker seemed to suffer from a lack of support with only Maamria usually available for his crosses. On more than one occasion Whittaker beat Crittenden, but finding no outlet for the ball retained possession allowing either Crittenden to recover or another Yeovil player to make the tackle.

On the hour Courtney attempted a chip over Sheffield, but shot over the bar. A minute later Yeovil made a second substitution with the introduction of mystery man Abdouleigh Elkholti to replace Kim Grant. The French-Moroccan player took his place on the left side of midfield. Perhaps surprisingly, rather than Williams moving forward to act as a striker the 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 formation was retained with McIndoe playing alongside Alford in front of Williams.

The spelling of Elkholti’s name was supplied by Yeovil officials, but with the proviso that it may be incorrect. However, this is probably better than the alternatives offered, as the straight-faced Roy O’Brien tried to convince me that the new player had the unusual first name of ‘Hadapoo’, whilst chairman John Fry suggested that Abdoulai/Abdouleigh was really Demba in disguise?!

Leigh tried to get back into the game with Salt threading a 64th minute pass through to Maamria, but Sheffield dived to collect the ball from almost at the Leigh striker’s feet. McIndoe retaliated within a minute with a good long shot which was well saved by Coburn. Leigh came back with a good effort from Courtney blocked by Skiverton for a corner. From the corner Kielty headed just wide of the right hand post.

The 67th minute saw Dino Maamria cross a fine ball which was met by Stuart WHITTAKER who headed in from close range to halve the deficit. It has to be admitted that this was a quality cross with a very clinical finish, but the Yeovil defence may feel less than happy at allowing Maamria to get the cross in at all, as there seemed to have been an opportunity to have prevented this.

Just two minutes later Lee Johnson broke away, and provided an excellent pass to free Gavin Williams. As Williams rounded the goalkeeper he was brought down. Referee Mr Kettle had no hesitation in awarding a second spot kick, but after some delay produced a yellow card for Leigh goalkeeper Coburn.

Following the letter of law suggests that the decision should have been either a penalty and red card, or no penalty at all. Mr Kettle’s decision seems inconsistent with recent performances by his peers as I’m sure both our own Chris Weale and Lee Butler of Halifax would testify. Be that as it may, the referee’s decision – however baffling – is final, and once again Nick Crittenden stepped forward. Once again his shot was hard and low. Once again Coburn got his body behind the ball and saved the penalty. The difference on this occasion was that Crittenden was beaten to the rebound by team mate Carl ALFORD who took great delight in blasting the ball into the net to restore Yeovil’s two goal margin.

A minute later Leigh appealed once more for a penalty, but were awarded an indirect free kick in the area very near to the penalty spot. Anxious moments for the Yeovil defence dragged on as the initial effort was deemed to be subject to encroachment, so a second effort found Whittaker touch the ball to Maamria who blasted into the wall of green shirts.

A frustrated Ged Courtney found himself in the referee’s book for a foul as Leigh struggled to try to salvage the game. Elkholti then showed flair with a 79th minute cross, which saw a mix up in the Leigh defence, but followed Courtney into the book just a minute later when cautioned for a foul. I wonder whether a record was broken today as Elkholti took just 19 minutes from his Yeovil debut to his booking?

Leigh were not prepared to roll over and die, and a good volley from Durkin was well held by Sheffield. Soon after a shot/cross from Courtney went across the Yeovil goal beating defenders and attackers alike. Maamria turned and shot into the side netting from on the floor following a corner.

Yeovil pushed forward again and a good ball from Crittenden found Carl Alford unmarked on the edge of the box, but his snap shot was not powerful enough to beat Coburn.

With three minutes of normal time remaining Leigh replaced Durkin with Neil Fisher. Nick Crittenden failed to clear from the edge of the area on 88 minutes, and Whittaker got a good shot in which was well held by Sheffield. A minute later Darren Way was replaced by Andy Lindegaard. Darren had been unable to travel with the team yesterday (Friday) due to illness, and had only joined the squad today, and this was probably a factor in this change.

Three minutes of stoppage time failed to provide further incident and the referee concluded the match.

Final score: Leigh RMI 2 Yeovil Town 4

Yeovil achieved much with this victory: three successive wins, ten matches unbeaten, and leadership of the Nationwide Conference.

To Leigh’s credit their heads never went down even when two goals adrift. Yeovil were much the better side throughout the contest, but the teams did not look two leagues apart. However, this is still a very real possibility by this time next year.

Robin Evans

Internet Man of the Match Voting Result:

Player MOTM Score
Michael McIndoe 4 529
Terry Skiverton 4 447
Gavin Williams 4 306
Adam Lockwood 2 224
Nick Crittenden 2 165
Darren Way 1 94

Overall match rating: 7.2 / 10
Performance: 6.9
Entertainment: 7.5

17 votes received.