Venue: Huish Park
Sat 18th October 2003, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions: Sunny but fresh
Ground: Perfect

Scorers: Gavin Williams (pen, 5 mins, 1-0)

Attendance: 4,892 – including approx 100 Darlington fans

Referee: David Crick (Surrey)
Assistant Refs: John Flynn (Wiltshire), Steve Tomlinson (Hampshire)

Yeovil: None
Darlington: None

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 6. Darren Way (90) 3. Abdelhalim El Kholti
17. Jake Edwards (67) 9. Kevin Gall

Subs: 7. Adam Stansfield (67, for Edwards) 10. Nick Crittenden (90, for Way) 13. Steven Collis 18. Kirk Jackson 24. Paul Terry (74, for Rodriguez)

Darlington: (4-5-1)
12. Michael Price
21. Jonathan Hutchinson 4. Craig Liddle 5. Matthew Clarke 2. Ryan Valentine
14. Neil Wainwright 11. Ashley Nicholls 22. Neil Maddison 7. Gary Pearson 18. Alan Morgan
10. Danny Mellanby

6. Fabien Bossy 8. Ian Clark (85, for Hutchinson) 9. Clark Keltie 16. Mark Convery (62, for Wainwright) 19. Mark Sheeran (73, for Maddison)

Noddy Elms’s View Of The Game


Yeovil Town picked up full points from this afternoon’s encounter against Darlington. But, despite controlling the vast majority of this game, Gary Johnson can hardly be happy with Yeovil’s inability to put the ball in the back of the net. Against a side that looked lucky to have conceded only seven goals in the last two games Yeovil could only hit the back of the net once, and that from the penalty spot. Darlington were poor and will, realistically, count themselves lucky they escaped a real pasting.

Yeovil started the game positively enough and should have scored after two minutes: Skiverton’s header found Pluck and Rodrigues in the Darlington six-yard box, but the Yeovil defenders could only blast over. The next attack won a throw-in down the right hand touchline. The throw towards the Darlington area reached the edge of the box and Darlington’s Valentine looked to have a simple job to clear up field. But the bounce of the ball seemed to surprise Valentine and having hit his hand, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Gavin Williams had little difficulty in sending Price the wrong way and put Yeovil in front: Yeovil 1 Darlington 0. From the kick-off Yeovil sat back and Darlington enjoyed a lengthy five of domination, but Yeovil’s eight-man defence was far too resilient for a poor Darlington attack.

Yeovil eventually came out of their shell and Darren Way found Lee Johnson on the edge of the Darlington box. But Johnson’s shot would only trouble the spectators at the back of the Westland Stand Terrace. The Darlington defence was often its own worst enemy: giving the ball away in dangerous positions, a trait that Yeovil were also guilty of. Unfortunately for both sets of supporters neither side could capitalise on such errors.

Yeovil now controlled the game and Kevin Gall’s pace caused the Darlington defence major headaches. But why Yeovil expect the nippy Welshman to chase across midfield when his pace could be better used up front is beyond me: after all he is a striker. When Gall does beat the offside trap, and the offside flag, he appears blinded by the goal-scoring prospect like a rabbit caught in headlights. Gall is in desperate need of a boost of confidence, when that happens let’s hope he regains last season’s goal scoring touch.

Every Yeovil player were involved in one or another attack: Pluck threw in a cross that unfortunately eluded his strikers. Johnson’s corner found Edwards but his header fell comfortably into Price’s arms. The next Yeovil attack found Johnson in the box, but his shot was well blocked. Lockwood then did well to get in a cross after 39 minutes, but this time Skiverton’s header flew straight into Price’s arms. Chris Weale then almost created an assist when his long kick beat Clarke and Gall beat Price to the ball, but Gall could only flick the ball into the Darlington’s keepers arms. Surprisingly Yeovil held only a slender 1-0 lead as both teams left the field at half time.

Half-time: Yeovil Town 1 Darlington 0

Yeovil started the second half by playing keep-ball, after eight minutes they put together a serious attack. Kevin Gall broke through the Darlington defence but his shot was blocked and Edwards, following up, could only blast over the bar. Minutes later Gall broke down the right and found El Kholti with space in the Darlington box. But the Yeovil man took far too long to control the ball and then missed his shot.

Gall seemed to be through as he latched onto Williams’ through-ball, but this time the offside flag was up. Given Gall’s speed that must be a cardinal sin. Linesmen rarely watch the back line when the ball is played and many poor decisions are made. But Gall needs to take account of that, relying on speed rather than timing.

Although the Darlington attacks were poor, and few and far between, there was always a nervous air around the Yeovil contingent of the 4892 crowd. The alarm bells rang loud as Valentine charged from the halfway line to unleash a powerful shot from outside of the Yeovil box. But, despite this being Darlington’s best effort, the shot drifted wide of Weale’s right-hand post. Yeovil’s best second half effort fell to Adam Lockwood. He met Johnson’s corner with a header, but, like most of Yeovil strikes, was off target and the ball dropped over the Darlington crossbar.

If a Darlington score was ever a reality they would need to beat a Yeovil defence was masterful, despite the odd scare, Weale was rarely called into action . Skiverton has returned to the heart of the Yeovil defence as if he has never been away. Rodrigues, now playing his best football, has benefited most from his return.

Both managers made the, almost, obligatory substitutions and as if to signal his intentions, and the disregard for the Darlington attack, Johnson replaced Rodrigues with Terry who slotted into the midfield as Yeovil switched to a 3-5-2 formation.

Stansfield replaced Edwards, but there was little change on the goal-scoring front. Stansfield soon beat the Darlington defence, but the Yeovil attack just petered out. Minutes later the Darlington keeper was to thwart the Yeovil attack, tipping a Stansfield shot round a post. At the other end Pluck needed to be on hand to head off the line as a Darlington corner flew in.

As the game edged toward 90 minutes Lee Johnson put The Gaffer’s intentions into effort on the field: but he failed to find Stansfield in a great position with what should have been a relatively easy pass. Minutes later he linked well with Gall but his shot flew wide.

Underling Yeovil’s performance the Yeovil crowd whistled for the end of the game, reflecting their nervousness, and their disapproval of the afternoon’s performance.

Final Score: Yeovil Town 1 Darlington 0.

Despite three points: a below par performance in front of Yeovil’s lowest home league crowd of the season. If The Gaffer’s spending power depends on the size of home gates, he’d better spend any money now before the Board change their mind. Not convincing, and definitely not entertaining.

Noddy Elms

MOTM Vote Result:

Player MOTM Score
Hugo Rodrigues 11 364
Colin Pluck 10 332
Darren Way 6 264
Terry Skiverton 7 236
Gavin Williams 7 238
Abdelhalim El Kholti 1 100
Lee Johnson 2 88
Adam Lockwood 1 52
Kevin Gall 2 44
Adam Stansfield 2 40
Chris Weale 1 24

Overall match rating: 4.7 / 10
Performance: 4.9
Entertainment: 4.5

50 votes received.