Venue: The Williamson Motors Stadium
Sat 13th Nov 2004, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions: Dry and sunny, but bloody cold

Scorers: Alun Armstrong (19, 1-0), Colin Miles (46, 1-1), Bartosz Tarachulski (55, 1-2), Alun Armstrong (73, 2-2), Clark Keltie (86, 3-2), Bartosz Tarachulski (90, 3-3)

Attendance: 3,698 (including 268 Glovers fans)

Referee: P J Joslin
Assistants: R T Hewitt, N D Swarbrick
4th official: J E Carter

Yeovil: Lee Johnson (26, unsporting behaviour)
Darlington: Clark Keltie (88, dissent), Clyde Wijnhard (89, unsporting behaviour). Red card: Brian Close (90, deliberate handball)

Yeovil Town : (4-4-2)
1. Chris Weale
7. Paul Terry 5. Colin Miles 17. Scott Guyett 3. Michael Rose
9. Kevin Gall 8. Lee Johnson 6. Darren Way 20. Gavin Williams
18. Bartosz Tarachulski 27. Andrejs Stolcers

Subs: 10. Adrian Caceres 13. Steven Collis (GK) 14. Roy O’Brien 16. Andy Lindegaard (74, for Stolcers) 24. Yemi Odubade

Darlington : (3-5-2)
23. Sam Russell
4. Craig Liddle 27. Brian Close 5. Matthew Clarke
2. Ryan Valentine 28. Adrian Webster 22. Neil Maddison 8. Ian Clark 16. Joseph Kendrick
3. Clyde Wijnhard 19. Alun Armstrong

Subs: 14. Craig Russell 7. Neil Wainwright (57, for Kendrick) 10. Clark Keltie (71, for Webster) 1. Michael Price (GK) 11. Mark Convery (78, for Clark)

Robin Evans’ View of the Game

With the home side wearing black and white hoops with black shorts, the Glovers lined up with an unusual mix of their red and black striped tops but white shorts. An injury to Phil Jevons saw an opportunity for recent “supersub” Bartosz Tarachulski to start up front, and Kevin Gall – the other match changing substitute at Wycombe seven days ago – began on the right of midfield, with Gavin Williams switching to the left flank and Adrian Caceres dropped to the bench. Yemi Odubade was a welcome addition to the list of Yeovil substitutes.

Darlington chose to play with three at the back, with wing backs Joe Kendrick and Ryan Valentine dropping back to help out when needed. A formidable (and not cheap!) front pairing of Clyde Wijnhard and Alun Armstrong emphasise how much the Quakers have improved since their relegation struggle during most of last season, and this time around their expectations for leaving League Two are directed toward League One rather than the Conference.

Former chairman George Reynolds is no longer involved with the club, allegedly now concentrating on avoiding becoming a guest of Her Majesty so we find ourselves watching from the same stand of the same ground as last year but our view is now the Williamson Motors Stadium rather than the Reynolds Arena. I was sure we would still see a game with no injuries and great excitement, so with a safe, cracking game in prospect [ouch! -ed], I tried to warm my hands to make notes in the bitter cold.

The first notable effort was a Andrejs Stolcers shot in the second minute after a Gavin Williams cross from the left, but this sailed over the bar. Darlington earned the first corner of the match four minutes later after Colin Miles defended a good ball into the area from Armstrong who had been put away on the right by strike partner Wijnhard. Good control from Stolcers was let down by a weak shot which goal keeper Sam Russell took easily. With ten minutes gone a speculative long ball from Darren Way was poorly controlled by a Darlington defender and Kevin Gall nipped in for a good effort which was stopped by Russell. Way was on hand five minutes later to make an excellent tackle to end a promising Darlington attack, and then Miles was called upon to dispossess Wijnhard in a good central position.

Although Ian Clark then shot wide for Darlington, the first quarter of an hour or so had been slightly better for Yeovil, who had enjoyed more possession with the home side tending to attack on the break. A free kick awarded to Darlington in a dangerous position changed matters when Ryan Valentine fired the ball across for Alun ARMSTRONG to come in near the back post and head the ball home. 1 – 0.

The goal, which although not exactly against the run of play was certainly not indicative of the two sides play so far, acted as a bit of a wake up call for the Glovers who pushed forward. Darlington still looked like they could be dangerous on the break, and midway through the half Kevin Gall chased back to execute an excellent tackle. There were uneasy looks on the faces of the travelling supporters when Darlington were awarded a free kick in the same place as the one which created the goal, but this time the Glovers defended well.

Lee Johnson, pushing forward, sparked the game into life when he latched onto a poor back pass by Matt Clarke and took the ball around diving goal keeper Russell. With the goal seemingly at his mercy, the outstretched hand of the prone custodian appeared to catch the ankle of the Yeovil midfielder who crashed to the floor. Referee Mr Joslin was well behind play and, rather than point straight to he spot, charged up to speak to his assistant. With the away bench, players and supporters calling for a penalty, and the home support seemingly expecting the same, the referee reached into his pocket but instead of producing the expected red card for Russell he bizarrely produced a yellow card for Lee Johnson for diving! An astonishing decision given that Johnson seemed to have the goal at his mercy, and one that so incensed Gary Johnson that he had to leave the half time talk to Steve Thompson as he was so angry.

The incident seemed to spur the Glovers on, and a very good attacking spell followed. The excellent Paul Terry fired a ball across the area, which a defender managed to block. A Michael Rose free kick was blocked by the Darlington wall. A Colin Miles volley was well stopped by Russell at the cost of a corner. A great cross from Rose was headed toward goal by Scott Guyett and tipped over for another corner with a fine save.

With Yeovil pressing hard a Darlington break was always a danger, but fortunately when this happened Joe Kendrick shot high and very wide. The home side were packing their defence, crowding midfield, and looking for chances to break away quickly, and so far this – although largely thanks to a controversial decision – was working effectively.

Yeovil were looking to restore parity before the break and a Paul Terry cross just missed Bartosz Tarachulski before being cleared for another corner. Tarachulski then won the ball well, passing to Lee Johnson who then found Gavin Williams. Williams’ shot was blocked, and the rebound volleyed over by Johnson.

Into the last five minutes of the first half Tarachulski played in Stolcers on the left. His shot was well taken by Russell. A couple of minutes later Tarachulski again played in Stolcers on the left, and this time he beat Clarke before his powerful shot went over the bar. An excellent Darren Way shot was deflected for another corner. A minute before half time Tarachulski found Rose on the left, and his superb low cross was met by Stolcers who fired wide when he really should have hit the target.

Darlington reminded the crowd that their were two teams on the pitch when Wijnhard shot into the side netting, and Way put Kevin Gall through on the right flank but he shot over. The sides left the field with Yeovil, who had actually shaded the first half without playing at their best, a goal behind.

Half-time:  Darlington 1 Yeovil Town  0

Yeovil won a corner in front of their away supporters within the first minute of the second half. Lee Johnson floated the ball across, and Paul Terry’s effort had the crowd rising to celebrate before it was cleared off of the line. Tarachulski headed the ball back across and this time it was Kevin Gall who went for goal only for the supporters to again rise before another goal line clearance, but before we had retaken our seats Colin MILES headed the rebound into the net for an equaliser. 1 – 1.

A minute later another Yeovil free kick earned a corner, and then it was the turn of Darlington to earn a free kick at the other end. After a few quiet (but very cold) minutes, Gavin Williams made a good interception on the left in the Yeovil half. He played a simple ball to Lee Johnson who ran on toward the home penalty area before sliding the ball through to Bartosz TARACHULSKI in space on the Yeovil right. He took the ball into the area before calmly curling his shot past Russell into the far corner. 1 – 2.

Darlington made a change with Neil Wainwright replacing Joe Kendrick. A Gavin Williams long ball over the defence was chased by Kevin Gall but his volley, under pressure from two defenders, lacked power and was taken easily by Russell. Just over an hour into the contest Paul Terry brought down Clyde Wijnhard at the cost of a free kick, and the home side created a bit of pressure as they tried to get back into the game. Terry then played an excellent ball to Gall, but his teasing cross was well defended by Darlington.

Having established a lead Yeovil seemed to be sitting very deep and allowing the home side to come on to them. With a little over twenty minutes left this seemed dangerous as an Armstrong shot went dangerously across the face of goal. A second substitution saw Clark Keltie introduced and Adrian Webster withdrawn, just before Darlington squared the game when a Wijnhard shot was well parried by Chris Weale but fell to Alun ARMSTRONG who prodded home from close range. 2 – 2.

Following the goal Gary Johnson made his only change with Andy Lindegaard replacing Stolcers. Good work from Tarachulski won a corner for the Glovers, and the Quakers won a corner at the other end before the final substitution of the game saw Mark Convery on for Ian Clark. Coming up to the last ten minutes the game could go either way, and a Darlington free kick just right of centre about ten yards outside of the Yeovil area was blocked by the defensive wall, but not properly cleared and a good cross by Neil Wainwright was fired wide by Armstrong. Substitute Lindegaard ran at the Darlington defence and appeared to be shoved over, but with nothing given the resulting break saw Weale forced to make a good save at the other end. After what was apparently an “off the ball” incident Tarachulski was laying prone in the centre circle and needed to leave the field for treatment, but nothing improper was seen by the officials.

Into the last five minutes a good Darlington attack was finished with a fine cross by substitute Wainwright which fellow replacement Clark KELTIE rose to head home to give them the lead. 3 – 2. A booking for over celebration (removing his shirt) followed, but that did not bother the Darlington faithful as their place in the next round looked assured.

Yeovil needed to press and in doing so gave Darlington room to break, and a great saving tackle by Lindegaard in the Yeovil area in the 88th minute was needed. Darlington wanted to hold out for the dying seconds and Wijnhard found his name taken following a handball, although the caution may have been for the time wasting associated with the offence. With the ninety minutes just about ended Yeovil swept forward and a pass toward advancing players was stopped by defender Brian Close, who momentarily mistook himself for the legendary cricketer of the same name and took a excellent diving slip catch with the football instead of a cricket ball. Referee Mr Joslin had no option other than to produce a red card for the offence which denied a clear goal scoring opportunity, and Darlington had to see out the final seconds with ten men.

Lee Johnson stepped up to take the free kick in what would be the final attack of the game. Darlington formed a wall, but Johnson’s free kick was powerful and low and was headed just inside the post for an equalising goal… until keeper Russell dived brilliantly across the goal to tip the ball away, heroically giving the home side a win… until Darren Way raced to prevent the ball from going out of play, and slid the ball back across the area for Bartosz TARACHULSKI to slam the ball home. YYYEEESSSSS! 3 – 3.

Darlington restarted. The whistle blew. See you all on Tuesday week.

What an incredible finish to a game that Yeovil certainly did not deserve to lose. My choice of man of the match was Paul Terry, who was excellent throughout, although it would be unfair not to mention the contribution of Bartosz Tarachulski who proved that you don’t need to hit Darlington with a stick, just a large Pole.

Robin Evans

Full time:  Darlington 3 Yeovil Town  3

MOTM Vote Result:

Player MOTM Score
Bartosz Tarachulski 9 960
Paul Terry 340
Lee Johnson 220
Gavin Williams 1 120
Kevin Gall 60

Overall match rating: 7.9 / 10
Performance: 7.2
Entertainment: 8.6

10 votes received.