Venue: The Memorial Stadium
Sat 13th December 2003, 3pm kick-off.
Scorers: Nick Crittenden (43, 1-0)
Attendance: 9,812 – including an official 1,250 Glovers supporters
Referee: Clive Penton (Sussex)
Assistant Refs: John Flynn (Wiltshire), Malcolm West (Cornwall)
Yeovil: Rodrigues (37, unsporting behaviour), Skiverton (62, unsporting behaviour), Pluck (77, unsporting behaviour). Red card : Edwards (70, violent conduct)
Bristol Rovers: Haldane (35, unsporting behaviour)
Yeovil Town : (4-4-2)
1. Chris Weale
2. Adam Lockwood 4. Terry Skiverton 12. Hugo Rodrigues 5. Colin Pluck
20. Gavin Williams 8. Lee Johnson 24. Paul Terry 10. Nick Crittenden
9. Kevin Gall 18. Kirk Jackson
13. Steven Collis 7. Adam Stansfield (79, for Gall) 17. Jake Edwards (59, for Jackson) 22. Lee Elam 23. Jamie Gosling
Bristol Rovers: (4-4-2)
1. Kevin Miller
18. Sonny Parker 20. Christian Edwards 5. Adam Barrett 3. Ijah Anderson
11. Wayne Carlisle 7. David Savage 14. Graham Hyde 30. Ryan Williams
26. Lewis Haldane 10. Junior Agogo
21. Ryan Clarke 2. Danny Boxall 6. Kevin Austin 8. Robert Quinn 16. Andy Rammell (71, for Haldane)
Jeremy Gear’s View Of The Game
It’s Goodnight Irene and its goodbye Bristol Rovers!
As the Rovers theme tune echoed around a wet and windy Memorial stadium, the opening lyrics of Elton John’s recent football anthem were ringing through the ears of Nicky Crittenden. “Catch a star, if you can, wish for something special”. He must have caught the star and made his wish, as 43 minutes into the first half, the “left” winger let fly with a stunning shot that not only won this game, but will probably win goal of the season for all those who saw it, if you didn’t make sure you watch it on the telly, it will probably get your vote too!
This was the first league meeting between the two sides, and probably one of the most anticipated and looked forward to matches of the season. Strange then that the fixture, from a Yeovil perspective at least, has been overshadowed by that other game coming up in January. Gary Johnson would no doubt have told his players before the game, and probably earlier this week at training to put that match out of their minds, focus had to remain on this game to maintain their charge on division 2.
Yeovil started brightly, an early Kirk Jackson cross was well taken by Kevin Miller, the Rovers keeper. Then, in typical derby match fashion Paul Terry made a tremendous crunching tackle out on the right and came away cleanly with the ball. Darren Way he’s not, but Terry, over recent matches has proved to be an excellent addition to the Yeovil squad and has shown his versatility, and consistency in varying positions over the past few weeks.
Rovers first attack on 7 minutes should have given them the lead. Ryan Williams, on loan from Hull, tore down the left wing and struck a wicked low cross into the box which needed the slightest of touches to knock it beyond Chris Weale. Fortunately the ball was cleared and it was Yeovil who turned defence into attack: Kevin Gall put the home defence under pressure, and from the resultant corner a Rovers defender headed clean against his own bar whilst trying to clear. The ball rebounded to Terry Skiverton who, surprised, couldn’t direct his header goalbound, but straight into the grateful hands of Miller. Yeovil now were beginning to take the game by the scruff of the neck, a succession of corners came to nothing but an inswinging free kick from the right was met by Colin Pluck, unusually not by his forehead, but by his boot. He steamed into the box unnoticed from the back of the area and couldn’t quite direct his attempt goalwards. Lee Johnson, not his usual penetrating self, stung the hands of Miller with a rasping drive from distance. Unable to hold the ball, Miller parried it straight to Gall, who shot straight back at the keeper. On 28 minutes Gall had another go at breaking the deadlock, he instinctively took the ball wide, to the by-line, but unlike last week could not direct his cross into the path of a teammate giving Miller an easy save.
Wayne Carlisle, the Pirates midfielder who this week was put on the transfer list, then tested Chris Weale with a low teasing cross which the Yeovil keeper did well to smother. Yeovil attacked again but the best they had to show for their efforts was a succession of corners. The swirling wing made defending difficult against the inswingers, but still the Glovers failed to beat the Rovers defence, well marshalled by Christian Edwards, if not as much by Miller, who at times gave the impression he had butter on his fingers.
As the half drew on, it was only a matter of time before someone went into the ref’s book. First was Lewis Haldane, the promising rovers forward, who took out Gavin Williams in the Yeovil box; and then Hugo Rodrigues, who brought down Junior Agogo on the edge of the other. The respective free kicks failed to trouble either keeper. One that did however came on 39 minutes, a Lee Johnson set piece floated into the danger area and was met well by Adam Lockwood, his header beat everyone but it shaved the top of the bar.
As the halftime whistle approached Yeovil’s possession appeared to bear little fruit, the cutting edge was missing and the final defence splitting ball was absent. Dead balls presented the best opportunity for a goal, that was until with 2 minutes left: Kevin Gall picked up the ball, just in the Rovers half. Lee Johnson screamed for the ball to be sent his way, but Gall swivelled, turned, and passed as Nick CRITTENDEN overlapped down the left channel. Without changing his stride Critts took the ball on, held off the challenges, cut inside and let fly with a superb shot from 25-30 yards that curled into the top corner of the home sides net to send the 1000 visiting fans wild and the 8000 plus home ones in to a stunned silence. The goal, as it proved was worthy of winning this game, in fact, it was good enough to win any game and sent Yeovil in at half time good value for their lead.
Half-time: Bristol Rovers 0 – 1 Yeovil Town
The second half was a different affair, tighter, with more possession if not actual cutting edge going to Bristol. On 57 minutes Yeovil made a change, Kirk Jackson making way for Jake Edwards. One minute later the travelling contingent held their breath as Terry Skiverton, Yeovil’s undisputed man of the match, won the ball cleanly, but was adjudged harshly by referee Clive Penton of diving in with both feet. Fortunately, the resultant card was yellow.
Rovers were now having their brightest spell, Haldane’s speculative overhead effort was comfortably held by Weale, and Ryan Williams free kick sailed high over the bar, reminiscent of Johnny Wilkinson, or so the Yeovil fans thought!
Ten minutes after making his entry, Jake Edwards’s contribution came to an end. After being bundled off the ball, the Rovers left back Ijar Anderson charged him from behind. Foolishly Edwards retaliated with a flick of his boot and caught the aggressor. After protesting he was the victim of foul play, his case went unheard and the ref sent Edwards off with a straight red, which in hindsight could and should have been avoided. To underline the team spirit within the camp these days, Jackson, his arch rival for the central striker’s role was seen to be running around the pitch towards the changing room no doubt to console his striking partner. Jackson knew straight away that with that dismissal Edwards had thrown away any chance he had of starting against Liverpool in January. The manager will be pleased to see that gesture from Jackson, but surely will have been disappointed, if not that sympathetic for Edwards who left the ref with no choice.
Rovers came forward again, this time, Adam Lockwood was felled with a head injury but the ref played on. The best chance of the half then fell to Wayne Carlisle who somehow blazed high and wide when well placed in the Yeovil penalty area. Gall, quiet by his standards but still full of running, was replaced on 75 minutes with Stansfield, with only one attacker up, the fresh pair of legs gave an outlet.
Rovers continued to push, Weale came for a ball which held up in the wind, but his punch fell straight into the path of Agogo, who with the goal at his mercy shot, only to see his effort blocked and deflected by Lockwood to deny the former Barnet man an equaliser and a point.
Not long after the whistle blew and Yeovil collected another welcome and valuable 3 points in a well contested entertaining derby match. Not at their best admittedly, but it’s gritty performances away from home like this that will make the difference come May. Forget the Rovers fans derision of their team, they weren’t that bad. It was just that they came up against Skiverton, who was a rock at the back, and Crittenden, who will who remember his spectacular goal forever.
One things for sure, the celebrations will be in Somerset tonight, so if Irene did get to sleep, she’ll sleep peacefully. The blue side of Bristol wont be making much noise tonight!
Full-time: Bristol Rovers 0 – 1 Yeovil Town
MOTM Vote Result:
Overall match rating: 6.5 / 10
45 votes received.