Venue: The Avenue, Dorchester Town FC
Sat 7th September 2002, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions: Overcast and breezy.
Ground: Good covering of grass, thinning in goalmouths.

Nationwide Conference :
Yeovil Town 2 – 1 Northwich Victoria

Att: 2,154

Referee: Mr A Williams

No bookings.Red card: Weale (50, professional foul) Northwich: Royle (55, foul), Ingram (60, dissent), Allan (67, 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

23. Howard Forinton

18. Kim Grant

Substitutes: 9. Carl Alford, 13. John Sheffield (51, for Grant), 14. Roy O’Brien (87, for Johnson), 16. Andy Lindegaard, 19. Abdoulai Demba (66, for Forinton)

Northwich: (4-4-2) Gibson, Royle, Ingram, Walsh, Rioch, Norris, Owen, Devlin, Garvey, Blundell, Allan
Subs : Matthews, Taylor (83, for Devlin), McGuire, Street (72, for Norris), Quinn

Scorers: Terry Skiverton (23, 1-0), Jon Allan (33, 1-1), Kim Grant (40, 2-1)

his report courtesy of Noddy Elms:

Many of Yeovil Town’s successes this year have been earned through sheer determination and grit. But today’s performance went well beyond that. The quality of their football in the first half was at times well beyond Conference level.

They were deservedly leading 2-1 at half time against a capable Northwich Victoria side. But the events of the second half made this the proverbial game of two halves. Despite the odd scare in the first half many of the 2100 crowd justifiably expected Yeovil to go on to take three points comfortably. However, if football were predictable it wouldn’t be the spectacle we know it is.

The second half was as different as chalk is to cheese. To the neutral spectator – if such a species exists – the game may have appeared finely balanced at 2-1 with Northwich looking capable of pulling back an equaliser. But as Yeovil pushed forward for a third decisive goal, they left themselves exposed at the back and Northwich broke quickly. Yeovil’s keeper, Chris Weale, was left too much to do to beat Northwich striker Owen to a long clearance. The inevitably happened: Weale committed himself and touched Owen as the Northwich striker pushed the ball past him, referee Mr Williams had no hesitation in awarding a penalty and dismissing young Weale.

Gary Johnson, Yeovil’s manager, made the obligatory changes by bringing on substitute keeper John Sheffield. But few would have expected the man who had taken such criticism last season to do any more than go through the motions and pick the ball out of the net. However, we now know the character of John Sheffield and he may now have added has name to Yeovil Town folklore. While strikers win games, any incident that knocks a team off a winning course, or otherwise, is crucial at the end of the season. This may well have been such an incident. Sheffield’s first touch was to save Blundell’s spot kick and he instantly became a Yeovil hero for the day. But the game was not over.

The game opened with Forinton chasing a lost cause to create Yeovil’s first attack, Nick Crittenden was just unable to force his way past his marker from Forinton’s pass. Gavin Williams then put McIndoe through to win the game’s first corner. Grant was then provider for Williams. But none of these attacks came to anything more.

Northwich, for their part, exhibited patience and a great deal of skill when on the ball: Blundell concluded their first real attack but volleyed wide from the edge of the Yeovil penalty box. Yeovil’s Skiverton headed from under his bar, but there was no real danger. Northwich won a succession of corners but the Yeovil defence held fast. Both teams played attractive football approaching the opposition’s penalty box, but neither were able to create a clear cut chance until the 14th minute: Skiverton was slow to challenge Blundell and Weale had to be alert to tip over his shot from outside the box.

While Yeovil had the better of the middle section of the first half: Way and McIndoe combined to put Forinton through; Forinton and Grant worked well to set up Skiverton at the far post; the Northwich defence were well marshalled and it wasn’t until the 22nd minute that Yeovil broke through. MacIndoe’s shot was cleared for a corner. He took it short to Johnson and received it back. MacIndoe picked out Terry Skiverton in the six-yard box and he completed the formalities off his thigh: Yeovil 1 Northwich 0.

Yeovil continued to exude an added level of confidence: even Colin Pluck was shooting from the edge of the box. Skiverton was on the end of Johnson’s cross after good work by Crittenden. The Northwich equaliser after 31 minutes was, if not against the run of play, out of the blue. The Yeovil defence, usually so secure, taking responsibility. Lockwood over-committed himself and missed a defending header: while Skiverton and Pluck stood and watched, Northwich’s Jon Allen reacted quickest and unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside the box. Weale could do no more than watch the ball sail into his goal: Yeovil 1 Northwich 1.

Although Northwich pushed forward for the next few minutes: Skiverton often resorting to desperate defending, it took Yeovil only seven minutes to regain the lead. Good movement by Crittenden won a right wing corner: McIndoe produced his standard left footed in-swinger that Grant glanced onto the underside of the Northwich bar and over the goal line: Yeovil 2 Northwich 1.

Grant should have added his second three minutes later when Williams set him through, but with a clear shot on goal could only manage to blast high and wide. Before the half-time interval Williams should have added a third, but shot over. At the other end Northwich flashed a cross across the Yeovil goal, but no forward was following up.

Half Time: Yeovil Town 2 Northwich Victoria 1.

Northwich opened the second half on top, Skiverton again providing the final clearing boot.

Within minutes Yeovil were down to 10 men when Weale was dismissed. Sheffield replaced Grant and was immediately staring down the barrel of Blundell’s penalty. Although it was an accurate shot there was too little power on it, and Sheffield dropped to his right to smother the shot and become the instant hero.

Yeovil’s objective was to hold on to their lead. As Northwich pushed forward Yeovil’s two wide midfielders dropped back to add strength to an embattled back five. Johnson and Way worked tirelessly in midfield and Williams attempted to fill the gap between midfield and lone front man, Demba.

In possession Yeovil moved as a unit and often Demba was forced to slow down his attack to allow time for Williams or MacIndoe to join him. And, in truth, there were more attacks than their circumstances allowed. The best chance of the second half fell to Yeovil and Williams. Demba beat Gibson to a through ball and opted to play the ball back to Williams. However, Demba’s ball was unkind to Williams who had to backtrack to recover it. William’s final shot was disappointingly over the bar with Gibson back tracking towards his goalmouth.

For all of Northwich’s efforts in the final minutes John Sheffield had won the psychological battle with that penalty save and was, in truth, rarely troubled again. The introduction of Taylor for Devlin added extra impetus to the Northwich attack, but inevitably Lockwood or Skiverton were on hand to provide the final decisive intervention. Despite two nervous minutes of extra time Northwich were unable to raise themselves game beyond the controlled, patient game. That will hold them in good stead for the rest of the season but against a gritty, skilful Yeovil side of ten men, it was not enough.

Final Score: Yeovil Town 2 Northwich Victoria 1.

Yeovil exhibited two assets today that will hold them in good stead for the coming months: skill and grit. In the coming months when injury and suspension restrict The Gaffer’s choices he will have to turn more and more to his heroes-in-waiting. He has many, and they also have a rich vein of high quality grit running all the way through them. That is Yeovil’s most valuable asset.

Noddy Elms

Internet Man of the Match Voting Results:

Player MOTM Score
Terry Skiverton 18 600
Michael McIndoe 15 467
Colin Pluck 6 208
Darren Way 5 179
Jon Sheffield 2 83
Gavin Williams 83
Nick Crittenden 1 79
Kim Grant 1 50

Overall match rating: 7.7/10
Performance: 7.7
Entertainment: 7.9

48 votes received.