Venue: Sixfields Stadium
Tues 3rd February 2004, 7.45pm kick-off.
Conditions: Occasional rain, strong swirling wind
Ground: Somewhat soft, but a good quality turf
Scorers: Chris Hargreaves (58, 1-0), Martin Smith (70, 2-0)
Attendance: 4,363 – including approx 350 Glovers supporters
Referee: Mick Thorpe (Suffolk)
Assistant Refs: Tony Conn (Hertfordshire), Martin Darlow (Bedfordshire)
Yeovil Town : (4-4-2)
1. Chris Weale
24. Paul Terry 12. Hugo Rodrigues 2. Adam Lockwood 3. Abdelhalim El Kholti
16. Andy Lindegaard 8. Lee Johnson 6. Darren Way 20. Gavin Williams
9. Kevin Gall 17. Jake Edwards
7. Adam Stansfield (75, for Gall) 13. Steven Collis 15. Steven Reed 19. Chris Giles 25. Simon Weatherstone (30, for Terry)
Northampton Town Town: (4-4-2)
21. Lee Harper 30. Des Lyttle 4. Ashley Westwood 5. Chris Willmott 24. Chris Carruthers 9. Marc Richards 6. Paul Reid 11. Paul Trollope 20. Chris Hargreaves 13. Magno Vieira 19. Martin Smith
2. Luke Chambers (50, for Westwood) 7. Martin Reeves (81, for Smith) 16. Lawrie Dudfield 17. Greg Lincoln 25. Derek Asamoah (68, for Viera)
Badger’s View Of The Game
When you are trying to dig yourself out of a hole in football, the last thing you need is more injuries. Physio Tony Farmer must be putting in some serious hours at the office as wingers Nick Crittenden and Lee Elam continued to be unavailable for the trip to Sixfields. But on top of that, Gary Johnson had to select a side without club captain Terry Skiverton and fellow defender Colin Pluck. With Roy O’Brien on the long term injury list, the Glovers were down to their last two centre-backs and midfielders Paul Terry and Abdel El Kholti occupied the two full-back positions, with Gary Johnson hoping to use Abdel’s pace to track some of the speedier attacking Northampton players.
The Glovers nearly started their make-shift line-up with a freak goal. Five minutes into the match, a Chris Willmott backpass seemed to be comfortable until Cobblers goalkeeper Lee Harper was caught like a rabbit in the headlights watching Kevin Gall bear down on him. His panicked kick sliced off his boot and curved like a boomerang only to curl round his right-hand post for a corner.
A second corner was won shortly afterwards when Gavin Williams made a sharp run, laying the ball off to Darren Way. His shot took a deflection off a Northampton defender before running out of play.
It took Northampton 21 minutes before they could really find their feet under the early Yeovil pressure, but the home side gradually pushed the Glovers onto the back foot, largely due to some powerful runs from striker Martin Smith. Smith’s first attempt went into the side-netting for a goal-kick, whilst his second attempt went wide by a yard.
The Glovers were by this time having to keep all bar Edwards and Gall firmly behind the ball, and this tactic stifled Northampton, forcing them into errors and making the home support increasingly restless and critical of their side’s performance. Chris Carruthers forced an excellent save from Chris Weale as he had to deal with a deflected shot that changed direction, forcing the ball out for a corner.
Northampton’s runs were coming almost exclusively down Paul Terry’s flank and when it became apparent that the right-back was struggling with a reoccurrence of his Liverpool match injury, Gary Johnson could wait no longer and replaced him with Simon Weatherstone, with Andy Lindegaard moving back into the right-back slot allowing Weatherstone to take the wing position.
Yeovil were operating largely on the break at this stage and one typical move saw Kevin Gall and Darren Way break up field. Some strong tackling by both sides saw the ball squirm wide to Gavin Williams, and his shot was well held by Lee Harper at the foot of his post. A minute later, a Williams corner was headed down by Hugo Rodrigues and Adam Lockwood tried to make his strike at goal with his right foot, when he really would have been better off trying to stab the ball home with his left. The ball instead hooked over the crossbar from a narrow angle.
The half finished with Martin Smith getting into a right old battle with Andy Lindegaard and Hugo Rodrigues with all parties putting in some strong challenges as Smith bore in on goal, and Rodrigues did just about enough to put Smith off his shot, with Chris Weale again being brought into action with an excellent save. Yeovil went straight up the other end, and Kevin Gall saw his best chance of the half skid across the face of the goal with Harper well beaten.
Half-time: Northampton Town 0 – 0 Yeovil Town
The second period opened up at a frantic pace, with the ball being whipped from end to end as both sides tried to establish the dominant position. Kevin Gall sent a cross-cum-shot zipping across the face of the Northampton goal and when Williams returned the ball from the opposite wing, both Edwards and Gall were merely inches away from connecting with the ball at point-blank range.
Straight up the other end and Chris Weale was put into action. A ball lobbed over the top of the Yeovil defence fell straight into the path of a Northampton attacker, but Wealey covered the angle well and blocked the ball for a corner, no doubt impressing the large number of scouts – including Peter Bonetti and Ray Clemence – believed to be watching him.
The end to end ding-dong battle continued though. From that same corner, Gavin Williams broke out of defence as the corner was cleared and he and Lee Johnson raced the length of the field. Williams provided the square ball just at the right time and it looked to be a sensational goal right up to the point when Johnson’s shot slammed into the side netting.
Back the ball went yet again! A minute later, it was Chris Weale impressing once again, as he turned around a shot by Chris Hargreaves as the Cobblers got another corner. Sadly, from that corner the Glovers luck ran out. Hugo Rodrigues cleared his lines from the kick, reaching Chris HARGREAVES on the edge of the area. No-one moved to close the Cobblers midfielder down and he smashed his shot through a crowd of players and into the net from 15 yards out.
To their credit, the Glovers did not let the goal get to them. Gavin Williams had a shot deflected by a defender for a corner, whilst a Williams corner saw Hugo Rodrigues have his header blocked by another Cobblers defender close to his goal-line.
But in pushing up for the equaliser, the Yeovil back-line was cruelly exposed by a Northampton side that had showed no interest in adding to their lead until they broke and got their second. Twelve minutes after that first strike, a superbly timed pass by Paul Trollope split the Yeovil defence, leaving Martin SMITH on his own with only Chris Weale to beat. He did so with confident ease to leave a somewhat imbalanced 2-0 scoreline on the cards.
As if to prove that they still had their heads high, the Glovers came at Northampton straight from kick-off and produced their best move of the game. Lee Johnson ran through the Northampton midfield, laid the ball off wide to Simon Weatherstone, whose quick cross into the centre was met first time by Kevin Gall only for Cobblers keeper Lee Harper to make a flying save. This was Gally’s last contribution of the game though, as he was replaced by Adam Stansfield as Gary Johnson looked to give fresh options to Yeovil’s attack.
The Glovers, however, were being frustrated by some dreadfully poor decisions from the line, with the Main Stand linesman the main culprit, flagging for offsides that never were, and refusing to see some of Northampton’s more boisterous play as worthy of a free kick. On Yeovil plugged, with Northampton rarely gaining any advantage into the Yeovil half. Adam Stansfield had one good chance to reduce the deficit after he was thread through on goal by Gavin Williams, but like many of Yeovil’s chances at Sixfields, the shot landed in the side netting.
So another defeat continued the Glovers poor form, but those who were there in Northamptonshire would vouch that the scoreline did not do justice for what was a much improved performance by the players. It seems weird to report, but this was a far better performance than Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Macclesfield. The passing was crisp, the movement was good – this was the Yeovil we all know. The only downside was the slight unwillingness to shoot at times, and the tendency for those shots that were put in on goal, to land half a foot wide of the woodwork. But this was a vast improvement on recent weeks, and the playing camp must use this as a platform to get themselves back on the form that we know they are all capable of.
Full-time: Northampton Town 2 – 0 Yeovil Town
MOTM Vote Result:
Overall match rating: 6.3 / 10
28 votes received.