Venue: Reynolds Arena
Sat 21st February 2004, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions: Cold, breezy
Ground: Pitch badly cut up even before the game started

Scorers: Barry Conlon (20, 1-0), Lee Johnson (22, 1-1), Neil Wainwright (33, 2-1), Neil Wainwright (80, 3-1), Adam Lockwood (90, 3-2)

Attendance: 4,500 – including approx 200 Glovers supporters

Referee: Dermot Gallagher (Oxfordshire)
Assistant Refs: Paul Barnes (Cambridgeshire); Roy Burton (Staffordshire)

Yeovil: Johnson (34, dissent), El Kholti (86, foul). Red card: Terry (40, professional foul)
Darlington: Wainwright (45, unsporting behaviour). Red card: Teggart (65, violent conduct)

Line Ups

Yeovil Town : (4-4-2)
1. Chris Weale
3. Abdelhalim El Kholti 2. Adam Lockwood 12. Hugo Rodrigues 24. Paul Terry
6. Darren Way 8. Lee Johnson 20. Gavin Williams 25. Simon Weatherstone
9. Kevin Gall 26. Andy Bishop

7. Adam Stansfield (66, for Bishop) 13. Steven Collis 16. Andy Lindegaard (63, for Gall) 22. Lee Elam (81, for Weatherstone) 23. Jamie Gosling

12. Michael Price 17. Chris Hughes 4. Craig Liddle 21. Jonathan Hutchinson 5. Matthew Clarke 8. Ian Clark 22. Neil Maddison 16. Mark Convery 14. Neil Wainwright 13. Barry Conlon 25. Neil Teggart

2. Ryan Valentine (68, for Clark) 7. Gary Pearson (89, for Maddison) 18. Craig Russell 15. David McGurk (82, for Conlon) 24. Jack Norton

Badger’s View Of The Game

Coming into the game on the back of two good 1-0 wins, it wasn’t the greatest surprise in the world when Gary Johnson selected the exact same sixteen that had seen off Oxford United on the previous weekend. Nick Crittenden and Jake Edwards didn’t travel up, whilst Colin Pluck’s attendance was restricted to that of handling the team’s kit off the coach when he failed his fitness test.

Kicking off in a sparsely populated stadium, the Glovers started off in confident mood although their hosts looked a far more lively side than the inert team that had visited Huish Park earlier in the season. Darlington came into the match having won three out of their previous four games, and having briefly nosed their way out of the bottom two, before a midweek defeat saw them slip back into the relegation zone. They set off with real intent and Chris Weale had to palm one effort round his left hand post as the Quakers fired in an early shot on goal. But Yeovil had the best of the early chances when a Hugo Rodrigues header from a Yeovil free kick saw goalkeeper Michael Price beaten but the hosts were rescued by Craig Liddle’s header off his own goal-line.

Just 20 minutes in though, the home side took the lead. Goalkeeper Chris Weale has looked Premiership standard in these past few weeks but even he was proved to be merely mortal when he spilled a Darlington corner, the ball was stabbed towards goal, and Barry CONLON took advantage from close range to put Darlington 1-0 up. Wealey better hope that the touring West Ham scouts either didn’t fancy the long journey, or were off to the teabars when that one crept in.

One of Yeovil’s biggest problems this season has been the art of coming back into games when they go behind, but they had the perfect answer just a couple of minutes later. Andy Bishop set up Lee JOHNSON, who launched a perfect looping volley straight over the head of Michael Price, with the keeper a mile away from being able to keep the ball out of the net.

Darlington went straight on the back foot and Gavin Williams very nearly took advantage when he did a near action replay of his goal at Kidderminster; running straight through the middle of the home side’s defence, and planting a sweet shot that flew off the base of the left-hand post, with Price again well beaten. The Darlington keeper also looked unhappy with the large number of crosses being pushed in his direction, frequently resorting to punches to clear the danger and one such punch led to Adam Lockwood going close with a volley going just over the bar.

Despite Yeovil’s 10 minutes of extreme pressure, they went behind again just beyond the half hour mark and this provided the first of several huge talking points surrounding the supposedly Premiership standard referee Dermot Gallagher. As a ball was swung into the box, a fairly sloppy half clearance out of the area fell into the path of Neil WAINWRIGHT. The Darlington player shot through a crowd of players, and Chris Weale saw it late, with the ball creeping onto the corner of the net. Weale, aided by Lee Johnson and Darren Way, directed his fury to the match official over the decision to award the goal. A Darlington player, stood in a clear offside position obscured Wealey’s view and yet neither linesman nor Mr Gallagher seemed willing to consider that in making their decision. Lee Johnson got a yellow card for making his feelings on the subject known.

If Gallagher had incensed the Yeovil players by allowing that goal, then worse was to come just eight minutes later. The Oxfordshire referee was suspended by the Premiership six years ago after failing to send off Arsenal defender Steve Bould when he committed a professional foul on Chelsea’s Gianluca Vialli. Gallagher’s defence at the time was that he felt that another Arsenal player Gilles Grimandi, was in a position to tackle Vialli.

It was therefore somewhat ironic when Paul Terry tangled with Darlington’s Neil Teggart just outside the 18 yard line with the home player losing his footing and going down clutching the ball. A free kick perhaps but what wasn’t expected was for Gallagher – hopelessly behind play and close to the halfway line, brandishing a red card as he lumbered in towards the incident. Why Gallagher chose to wave the card whilst still 30 yards away from the players, why he didn’t consult his linesman, why he didn’t see Hugo Rodrigues standing goalside of Terry, and why he saw Teggart’s wide position as an “obvious goalscoring opportunity” perhaps only he will know. It was nothing less than a shocking decision but no attempt by the surrounding Yeovil players could undo Gallagher’s howler.

A still stunned 10-man Yeovil side saw Neil Maddison’s free kick strike the crossbar, and Barry Conlon fail to meet the rebound. Gallagher seemed to have gone to pieces over his earlier decision, and when Neil Taggart went down in the penalty box, it looked like things might go from bad to worse. Thankfully Taggart’s theatrics seemed to have influenced Gallagher’s thinking and he was only too happy to wave a yellow card for diving and award a kick in the opposite direction.

Half-time: Darlington 2 – 1 Yeovil Town

As Yeovil pressurised Darlington the second period but without any real end product, Gary Johnson, having played 15 minutes without any specific right-back, decided to firm things up a little bit by bringing on Andy Lindegaard to share the right flank with Simon Weatherstone, with Kevin Gall coming off.

Whether Johnson would have chosen that substitution if he had known what the now random actions of Gallagher would produce next is debatable. Neil Teggart fouled Lee Johnson, and with Gallagher no doubt dying to rectify his earlier mistake, it should have been obvious what would happen next. Johnson was already feeding Gavin Williams down the wing with a quickly taken free kick, when the match official pulled play back and red-carded Teggart, bizarrely claiming that the Darlington player had committed a two-footed tackle on Johnson. Why many referees seem to believe that balancing up one bad decision with another is another of the great mysteries of life. But at least Yeovil now had parity and could in theory attack again.

Adam Stansfield came on for Andy Bishop to put a pacey striker back on the field again. The game was now wide open. Chris Hughes had a shot deflected for a corner for the home side, whilst Adam Lockwood got a toe on the end of a Hugo Rodrigues flick-on as Darlington found the big man impossible to handle from set pieces.

But with 10 minutes left, it was game over. Darlington exploited the gap left by Paul Terry’s dismissal, and Neil WAINWRIGHT was given far too much space on that flank. Cutting inside without a challenge to be seen, he fired an excellent curling shot into the corner of the net with Chris Weale standing little hope of getting his hands on it.

Now was the time to throw the kitchen sink at the home side. Hugo Rodrigues was pushed up front as Yeovil operated a final attempt to get some pride back, and when Lee Johnson’s last minute strike crashed off the crossbar, Adam LOCKWOOD was the first to react, and his close range shot was deflected in off a Darlington defender and into the net. But there was little time to force an equaliser, and David Hodgson’s side got their fourth win in their last five, to see them rise clean out of the bottom two.

The Glovers mini-revival therefore was halted, but they will rightfully feel aggrieved at some dreadful refereeing standards out there that no doubt influenced the final outcome. That said, Johnson was to keep his side in for an hour after the game, conducting an investigation into some of the sloppy defending and a few individual lack-lustre performances that also contributed to their downfall. Perhaps Dermot Gallagher should have conducted his own lock-in to analyse his own performance, but he was the first out of the ground – having left the stadium in a big hurry, barely 10 minutes after he’d blown his final whistle. Perhaps one of his best decisions of the day, given the unanimous opinion of his performance from both managers at the ground.


Full-time: Darlington 3 – 2 Yeovil Town

MOTM Vote Result:

Player MOTM Score
Lee Johnson 5 630
Adam Stansfield 3 270
Adam Lockwood 1 220
Gavin Williams 1 180

Overall match rating: 5.9 / 10
Performance: 5.1
Entertainment: 6.7

10 votes received.