Venue: Haig Avenue
Sat 23rd November 2002, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions: Cold but sunny for much of first half; cold but overcast thereafter
Pitch: Grassy, but soft and slippery after several days of rain

Nationwide Conference :
Southport 0 – 1 Yeovil Town

Att: 1,602

Referee: Mr G Simpson (Leeds)
Assistants: Mr D Stewart, Mr B Simms
Fourth Official: Mr P Fearon

Yeovil: Skiverton (44, foul), Crittenden (75, dissent), Pluck (83, dissent)
Southport: Thomson (28,foul), Clark (64, foul)

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

1. Chris Weale

2. Adam Lockwood

4. Terry Skiverton

5.Colin Pluck

10. Nick Crittenden

6. Darren Way

8.Lee Johnson

11. Michael McIndoe

20. Gavin Williams

19. Abdoulai Demba

24. Abdelhalim El Kholti

Substitutes: 9. Carl Alford (74, for Giles), 12. Chris Giles (21, for Demba), 15. Steven Reed, 18. Kim Grant (90, for El Kholti), 22. Steve Collis

Southport: (4-4-2/5-3-2)
17. Kevin Welsby, 14. Andrew Scott, 6. Martin Clark, 4. Mark Winstanley, 2. Chris Lane, 7. Steve Pickford, 10. Steve Soley, 20. Neil Gibson, 3. Dean Howell, 9. Peter Thomson, 12. Steve Whitehall
Subs : 1. Steven Dickinson, 8. Mark Lloyd-Williams (71, for Whitehall), 11. Steve Jones (59, for Gibson), 18. James Connolly, 19. Tony Sullivan (78, for Scott)

Scorers: Michael MCINDOE (45, 0-1)

This report courtesy of Robin Evans:

After a very one sided meeting at Huish Park at the start of October it looked as if Southport may slip away from the leading group in the Conference. However, since that day the Sandgrounders have picked up 10 points from a possible 15 (to the Glovers 7), and began the day knowing that a home win would bring them within one point of Yeovil. With this in mind, the phrases “must win” and the proverbial “six pointer” will have been banded around by both sets of fans during the build up to this match.

Yeovil made a positive start with Abdelhalim El Kholti, partnering Demba up front, missing a shooting chance in the first couple of minutes after good work from Gavin Williams.

The visitors continued to press, and for the first ten minutes looked comfortable, having had a number of excursions into the Southport penalty area. The home side made their first real chance after 8 minutes, and this petered out to a goal kick for Yeovil. A McIndoe corner led to an El Kholti shot which was blocked. The loose ball came to Lee Johnson, and his low shot headed toward the corner of the goal but was stopped by keeper Welsby diving to his right.

Southport gradually eased their way back into the game, and about a quarter of an hour in had a shot from Pickford and a header from Thomson to boost their confidence. Although seeming to play a 4 – 4 – 2 formation, wing backs Lane and Howell were always keen to move forward, and Winstanley often dropped back to cover, or to make a line of five across the defence. Most of the best moves made by the home side involved wing back Dean Howell and striker Peter Thomson, and these seemed to be the players who may give Yeovil problems.

Just before the twenty minute mark Whitehall made good progress into the Yeovil area, but a timely tackle from the reliable Skiverton halted the danger.

Abdoulai Demba made one on two runs playing wide on the right, but he always seemed to be outnumbered by Southport defenders. On one occasion he cut back inside and was fouled, but Michael McIndoe’s free kick sailed over the crossbar. Midway through the first half Demba was replaced by Chris Giles.

Pickford fired another shot over the bar, but although Yeovil had more possession and the best of the early chances Southport had probably done enough to balance the game. A Darren Way throw in to Nick Crittenden earned a corner, which Lee Johnson took, but Chris Giles header went over the bar.

McIndoe and Giles seemed to combine well, and El Kholti – whether on the ball or not – was constantly weaving between the home defenders. When he received the ball, however, he was often dispossessed by the larger Southport players using their strength (not necessarily unfairly) to push him aside. Perhaps ironically, it was actually Southport striker Peter Thomson who received a yellow card for pushing at the other end of the field following what looked to be a fairly tame exchange.

For the last fifteen minutes of the first half both sides tried to push forward and had some chances, but neither really looked like making the breakthrough. A McIndoe corner was well taken by Welsby; a run from Thomson was halted by a good Lockwood clearance; a promising Southport attack was ended by Gavin Williams kicking the ball high over the Yeovil bar for a corner; Giles played in Williams at the other end, and he beat one man and shot low just past the post; after a low cross from Howell, Thomson flicked the ball over the goal; a Giles header went wide of the Southport net; a Gibson free kick failed to find a decisive touch from the Southport forwards. Reading these notes back it sounds like real end-to-end stuff, but the truth is that after Yeovil’s good start the game had settled down and, rather than going all out for that killer strike, it looked more as if neither side wanted to lose.

In the 45th minute skipper Terry Skiverton was booked for a foul, which looked from where I sat as just a fair challenge, but now each side had one booking in what had not been a dirty game, and I do not feel either was deserved. The fourth official showed one added minute, and the free kick was taken by Gibson and held comfortably by Chris Weale. The Yeovil (and England!) keeper had done all that was required of him in the first period, although it was perhaps rather less than he had expected.

With the seconds ticking away, the players readied themselves to come off of the field after a reasonably even, but inevitably scoreless first half. Fortunately, no-one thought to tell the script to Michael McINDOE, and when he unleashed a twenty five yard shot into the top corner of the Southport goal the away fans were elated and the home fans simply stunned. I hope that not too many Yeovil supporters missed this moment, as many people had already began to join the queues for refreshments or toilets! Perhaps the best compliment came from a couple of Southport fans who, when leaving the ground after the final whistle, told me that they could have no complaints at being beaten by “such a superb goal”.

Half time: Southport 0 Yeovil Town 1

The second half started much as the first, with Yeovil making the best of the opening exchanges. Skiverton pushed forward for a Johnson free kick, but his headed flick on was taken by Welsby. At the other end, a Gibson free kick went straight to Chris Weale.

In the 52nd minute Adam Lockwood was spoken to after giving away a free kick just outside the penalty area, but the referee did not produce a card. The resulting free kick was dealt with comfortably by a Yeovil defence, who had looked solid and reliable throughout the match.

A promising move saw Nick Crittenden get a shot in, but the ball again sailed over the bar. With the exception of McIndoe’s goal, both sides had suffered in this respect, and had this been a rugby match it would have been fairly high-scoring.

A Southport throw-in was hooked across the area, but Steve Pickford failed to connect well and headed well wide. A McIndoe pass through the home defence was chased by El Kholti, but keeper Welsby narrowly beat him to the ball diving well at his feet. El Kholti returned the compliment moments later by feeding the ball to McIndoe, but it was his turn to go for the rugby conversion by putting the ball onto the terrace.

Southport replaced Neil Gibson with Steve Jones, and his first duties were to help defend a Yeovil free kick. Lee Johnson played the ball in to El Kholti, but his shot, almost inevitably, cleared the crossbar.

Chris Giles was brought down on the edge of the area in the 63rd minute, and the challenge saw Martin Clark receive a booking. Lee Johnson took the kick, but the ball was collected by keeper Welsby.

As the match reached the last twenty five minutes, it was clear that both sides were suffering from the heavy pitch. The home crowd were criticising Southport for failing to clear from their defence, and although Yeovil were the side pressing forward they were not finding it too much easier, with Giles, like Demba before him and Alford after him, losing his footing on the slippery surface more than once. It was clear that the pitch, which looked good from the comfort of the stands, had suffered from several days of fairly heavy rain, and although the weather was dry for the match conditions were not good underfoot.

A loud penalty appeal from Yeovil was ignored by the referee when McIndoe seemed to be unfairly obstructed by a defender. A certain amount of physical contact is to be expected, but McIndoe was manoeuvred well away from the ball by the Southport man who did not seem to want him to get within two yards of the ball. I have seen several penalties awarded this season alone for far less – including one against McIndoe himself!

Yeovil continued to press, and Lee Johnson fired a pass across the Southport box which needed just a touch from Chris Giles to give the Glovers a two goal lead, but he failed to make contact in front of a seemingly open goal. If the club obtain a match video I suspect Chris will be forced to sit through that moment many more times!

With twenty minutes remaining Southport replaced Whitehall with Marc Lloyd-Williams, who was the top scorer in Europe last season. A few minutes later Yeovil took off first half substitute Chris Giles with Carl Alford taking his place.

Just inside the last fifteen minutes Southport had what had probably been their best chance of the game, with a penalty area scramble seeing several last gasp blocks and finally ending with a clearance a and few sighs of relief. With twelve minutes remaining Southport declared their intentions by bringing on additional forward Tony Sullivan for Andy Scott, in an effort to use the extra front man to get back into the game.

After Yeovil had been awarded an 82nd minute free kick Colin Pluck received an unnecessary yellow card, which was presumably for something he said, although his apparent “time wasting” a couple of minutes earlier may not have helped his cause.

Southport pressed hard in the final five minutes or so, with a Sullivan free kick being crossed by Lane, but Weale comfortably collected the looping header from Lloyd-Williams. Lloyd-Williams then had an on-target free kick comfortably saved by Chris Weale. The same Southport sub probably came closest to scoring for the home side with three minutes left when his low shot was well stopped by Weale, but the ball spilled loose and as the Yeovil keeper regathered two forwards charged in to challenge for the ball. Weale received treatment, and the first hint of trouble in an otherwise well conducted match occurred as several of the Yeovil players took exception to the challenges, but all was quickly calmed down and Weale was soon able to continue.

Three minutes of extra time saw another good cross from Lane, but his forwards failed to connect. A few precious seconds were taken up when Kim Grant was brought on instead of El Kholti, but fine defending by Yeovil throughout the game had ensured a clean sheet was kept.

Final score: Southport 0 Yeovil Town 1

Not the greatest or most exciting game to feature Yeovil this season, but possibly one of the most important and with the right result against a good Southport side. An excellent, hard-working team performance by Yeovil, with particular mentions for El Kholti, scorer McIndoe and the defence as a whole, saw the Glovers retain their three point advantage at the top of the Conference.

There may not have been six goals today, but this was a BIG win! Do not lose sight of the facts that (a) Southport were, until today, unbeaten at home in the Conference; and, (b) just seven days ago Southport defeated second division Notts County 4 – 2 in an FA Cup tie. I still believe that when the play-off positions are decided at the end of the season Southport will be there or thereabouts, and that the Glovers have “done the double” over them with an aggregate score of 7 – 0 is a testament to the quality of Gary Johnson’s squad.

Robin Evans

Internet Man of the Match Voting Result:

Player MOTM Score
Abdehalim El Kholti 6 600
Michael McIndoe 4 547
Darren Way 3 267
Chris Weale 1 93
Terry Skiverton 80
Lee Johnson 1 67
Chris Giles 67

Overall match rating: 6.7 / 10
Performance: 7
Entertainment: 6.4

15 votes received.