Venue: Huish Park
Sat 14th February 2004, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions: Sunny, mild for time of year
Ground: Perfect except bare in goalmouths

Scorers: Andy Bishop (29, 1-0)

Attendance: 7,404 – including approx 1,200 Oxford supporters

Referee: Phil Crossley (Kent)
Assistant Refs: Steve Castle (West Midlands) and Simon Hollick (Devon)

Yeovil: Way (81, unsporting behaviour)
Oxford: Whitehead (68, unsporting behaviour), Ashton (77, unsporting behaviour)

Line Ups

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

7. Adam Stansfield (90, for Gall) 13. Steven Collis 16. Andy Lindegaard (87, for Weatherstone) 22. Lee Elam 23. Jamie Gosling

Oxford United: (4-3-3)
1. Andy Woodman
2. Scott McNiven 21. Paul McCarthy 29. Jon Ashton 5. Andy Crosby
3. Matthew Robinson 27. Paul Wanless 8. James Hunt
11. Mark Rawle 15. Julian Alsop 23. Steve Basham

7. Chris Hackett (73, for McNiven) 17. Jefferson Louis 12. Dean Whitehead (61, for Wanless) 9. Lee Steele (44, for Basham) 18. Matthew Bound

 Jeremy Gear’s View Of The Game

Glovers Graduate with distinction against Oxford

After last weeks dramatic penalty save in the dying minutes against Kidderminster, Chris Weale’s purchase price increased by a few more pounds today after pulling off two stunning saves, one in each half. A fine afternoon for the young keeper who was voted man of the match, not just for those two pieces of magic, but for the way he commanded his area against the aerial and muscular threat of the Oxford attack.

To be honest, any one of the starting eleven could have got the vice presidents award today. Gary Johnson, who over the past few weeks has made mention that not all his best players reached the level of performance he knew they could, would have been delighted today to see his team play with the gusto and swagger we have become accustomed to. The back four played with terrific strength, despite lacking the presence of the skipper Skiverton and Colin Pluck who broke down in the warm up. Paul Terry, joked Johnson, was dragged away from his second pint of lager in the players lounge and warmed up as the coin was tossed, Hugo Rodrigues, Adam Lockwood and El Kholti made up the quartet. The midfield, bossed as usual by the hugely impressive Darren Way, was ably supported by Johnson Jnr, Simon Weatherstone, perhaps having his best game for his new club, and Williams who crafted skilfully all afternoon. Up front Gall was all pace and terrier like and was unfortunate to have two goals disallowed. Plenty of opportunities came his way today, and maybe, at last he has a striking partner to balance out and compliment his style.

Andy Bishop, on his home debut will be delighted to have scored the winner. Making comparisons to his predecessors, Bishop, similar in build possesses more pace, especially from a standing start, and seems to have more awareness of his surroundings which in return, allows him to link better with his midfield and attack. He looks a handful and is the sort of player who, with his power gives something for opposition defenders to think about. This will no doubt take the pressure of Gall, who may prosper if this new-pronged attack can gel.

Yeovil nearly took the lead within the first minute, a corner swung in by Williams was met by the head of Paul Terry, who should really have hit the target from close range. Maybe he would have if he’d only been on shandy!

Goals win football matches, and as close as Terry was down one end, Matt Robinson, whose previous clubs apparently include Sherborne cubs and Queen Camel, his home being Alweston, came even closer and his wicked left foot curling free kick was destined for the top corner. But Weale had other ideas, and he flung himself and tipped the ball spectacularly over the bar and into the large contingent of Oxford fans in the Copse Road end. Goalkeepers win football matches too!

Several times in the first half Yeovil used the flanks with more cutting edge than previous weeks. Johnson picked his passes with precision and not once did he give the ball away. Support was always available, and with Gall energetic he gave an outlet and options as the Glovers pressed forward.

Oxford had a good chance in the 22nd minute when the influential Basham fired a good low ball across the face of goal but no striker could get on the end of it. Seconds later Yeovil’s midfield put Gall through, but unfortunately Woodman, the Oxford keeper anticipated Gall’s threat and rushed out of his area and saved well. Darren Way mopped up another Oxford break before releasing El Kholti, Abdoul dummied himself before again threading a fine ball to Gall who couldn’t capitalise.

Then came the winner, on 29 minutes, and typical of the way the Town were playing. Johnson sprayed the ball to his left and into Darren Way’s path, the cross came in and the defence failed to clear. Andy BISHOP with the eye of a predator took his chance with relish and slammed the ball home to give Yeovil a welcome 1-0 lead. He could have added to his tally 10 minutes later when this time, another cross from the left, by Williams on this occasion, was met by the Bishop’s head but he could not get it on target, instead narrowly missing the bar. Williams again down the left weaved his way into the box, forced a corner, which the keeper did well to punch off his line and clear the danger.

Half-time: Yeovil Town 1 – 0 Oxford United

The second half started with promise, Bishop worked hard and held the ball up before releasing Gall, but the whistle had gone and the Welshman’s effort was offside. Oxford had the chance to level in the 51st minute, Steele swung the ball into the box and Rodrigues took no chances and knocked the ball out for a corner which local boy Robinson took. His sweet left footed cross caused panic but Lee Johnson was on hand and on the line to clear. Minutes later, Johnson, by now in control of all things good from Yeovil, fed Paul Terry who ran through the heart of the Oxford midfield to again release Gall who slotted home to the delight of the Huish faithful and Gall himself who was glad all over. Even the PA man thought he’d scored when he turned on the music but once again, the goal was ruled out for what must have been a marginal offside decision. Gall bellowed at the linesman and suggested that when the ball was played he was onside. One for the cameraman to prove later!

Yeovil continued to press, long range efforts from Williams and Way failed to trouble Woodman, before Paul Terry, with a delightful piece of skill in the right back position, spun away to feed Darren Way. His surge forward which left Rawle in his wake continued deep into Oxford territory, once again Gall latched onto the through ball and just as he was about to pull the trigger, defender Ashton smothered and blocked well.

Gall had another chance to score but shot weakly at the keeper, a minute later Weale made his second cracking save. A thunderous shot from sub Whitehead 20 yards out had goal written all over it, but Weale somehow got his hand to it and deflected the ball athletically to keep his side ahead.

As the half wore on Oxford continued to try and outmuscle the Glovers, the ref, Mr Crossley from Kent could have protected the home side but on countless occasions allowed niggly challenges to go unpunished. Eventually as if with licence to foul Ashton was at last booked for climbing all over Williams, who went down injured. Spurred on seemingly, Williams went through a colourful purple patch, in as many minutes he crossed tantalisingly 3 times from the left but for all his work Yeovil could not get that second killer goal they richly deserved to make the game safe.

Back to their competitive best the Glovers were never going to get beat today, until the bitter end Terry and Way made crucial tackles and blocks, and as the whistle went for full time the look on Way’s face said it all. He punched the air with delight and shook hands enthusiastically with all his teammates who received warm applause from the great crowd of 7404. Gary Johnson took to the pitch and punched his fists in rhythm with the Westland stand chanting his name. The tension had gone and Yeovil were back, beating one of the fancied sides to gain automatic promotion. With play off and promotion rivals Doncaster, Mansfield, Huddersfield, Torquay, Hull and Lincoln all to come, beating Oxford will have done the confidence no harm at all. The vital ingredient now will be to keep Dr Jeckyll or Mr Hyde well and truly locked up for next Saturdays trip to relegation threatened Darlington.

Jeremy Gear

Full-time: Yeovil Town 1 – 0 Oxford United

MOTM Vote Result:

Player MOTM Score
Chris Weale 37 721
Gavin Williams 11 332
Hugo Rodrigues 9 214
Andy Bishop 2 112
Paul Terry 3 110
Abdelhalim El Kholti 4 90
Darren Way 3 79
Lee Johnson 2 47
Adam Lockwood 2 36

Overall match rating: 8.2 / 10
Performance: 8.3
Entertainment: 8.1

73 votes received.