Venue: Nene Park
Sat 2nd April 2005, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions: Sunny, light breeze
Pitch: Excellent for the time of year.

Scorers: Stuart Gray (82, 1-0), Billy Sharp (88, 2-0)

Attendance: 3,726 (including 1,053 Glovers)

Referee: Tony Bates (Staffordshire)
Assistants: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire); Mark Hutchinson (Nottinghamshire)

Yeovil: Bartosz Tarachulski (79, foul), Efe Sodje (86, foul)
Rushden: Mark Williams (69, foul), Peter Hawkins (83, foul)

Team Line-Ups

Yeovil Town : (4-4-2)
13. Steven Collis
16. Andy Lindegaard 4. Terry Skiverton 14. Efetobore Sodje 2. Adam Lockwood
7. Paul Terry 8. Lee Johnson 6. Darren Way 25. Arron Davies
10. Marcus Richardson 11. Phil Jevons

1. Chris Weale (GK) 3. Michael Rose 9. Kevin Gall (82, for Tarachulski) 18. Bartosz Tarachulski (51, for Richardson) 27. Andrejs Stolcers (60, for Jevons)

Rushden & Diamonds : (4-4-2)
19. Scott Shearer
2. Sean Connelly 6. Rob Gier 40. Mark Williams 3. Peter Hawkins
10. David Bell 11. Andy Burgess 22. Neil McCafferty 8. Stuart Gray
9. Billy Sharp 18. Adrian Littlejohn

17. Lee Worgan (GK) 7. Alex Hay (90, for Bell) 20. Philip Gulliver 21. Craig Dove 26. Jason Taylor (85, for Littlejohn)

Match Report

Gary Johnson promised a big shake-up in the Glovers preparation for this trip to Nene Park and he certainly delivered with four changes to the Yeovil line-up. Steve Collis, Efe Sodje, Arron Davies and Marcus Richardson got the nod in team selections that were not particularly surprising in the wake of the Tuesday night Notts County defeat. Perhaps the main surprise of the day was the placement of Adam Lockwood as left-back with Andy Lindegaard covering the opposite flank.

It was a good start by the new look Glovers. Darren Way volleyed just over the bar after Terry Skiverton had knocked the ball down for him on the edge of the box, whilst a Marcus Richardson headed flick-on put Phil Jevons in behind the Rushden defence setting him up nicely, but League Two’s leading scorer flashed his shot just wide of the post. Five minutes in and looking good.

Rushden appeared to be trying to play Yeovil on the break, as if they were the away side. They took some time in getting the measure of how to do that and it took them 15 minutes to drum up their first chance of any note. Adrian Littlejohn got free wide on the right, but his shot went across the face of the Yeovil goal, eventually finishing 5-10 yards wide of the target. Next another cross in from the right on a second breakaway saw Stuart Gray head narrowly over the crossbar, with Steve Collis probably covering his goalframe as much as he needed to.

Whilst Yeovil had dominated overall in terms of passing, their carving out of chances was somewhat sporadic and they tended to get as far as the 18 yard line before things got broken up by the cautious Rushden defence. Just before the break though, they did eventually come up with one more opportunity to break the deadlock. After Lee Johnson’s corner was knocked down by Marcus Richardson, Adam Lockwood volleyed at goal, but saw his attempt go wide. Not a bad first half for the Glovers, but they needed to work on getting more width on the field, and creating more chances for their striking pair to take advantage of. But defensively, they were looking vastly improved, with Efe Sodje immediately imposing himself upon the game.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 0 Yeovil Town

The second period started a little flat from both side’s perspective and it wasn’t long before Gary Johnson made his first change, swapping Marcus Richardson for Bartosz Tarachulski to a large roar of approval from the 1,053 strong travelling Glovers.

It is often said that games can be turned on single moments. For the Glovers that was the 55th minute when they had three opportunities to break the deadlock. First Arron Davies produced a superb curling shot that Scott Shearer tipped round the post for a corner. From Lee Johnson’s corner, Efe Sodje’s header seemed goalbound all the way until Shearer again saved the ball, although given the way it ricocheted off his legs, it would seem likely that he knew little about it. In the resulting melee Stuart Gray appeared to beat the ball down with his hand, but referee Tony Bates either didn’t see it, or saw it as ball-to-hand. Either way, three moments of what could have been, but that slice of luck was eluding Yeovil out there.

Thereafter, Yeovil seemed to just dry up, almost as if they knew it wasn’t going to be their day. Andrejs Stolcers replaced Phil Jevons in an attempt to liven things up. Mark Williams became the first player in the book for hauling back a Lee Johnson run whilst miles off the ball. Not an awful lot happened and with Yeovil not keeping much of a coherent shape to create any chances of note, and Rushden apparently not good enough to break down the Yeovil back four, a 0-0 seemed to be all the match was capable of producing.

But into the last 20 minutes the alarm bells started ringing. Andy Burgess volleyed a sweet long range shot over the bar. Adrian Littlejohn almost got his boot on a nearpost low cross, but found the speed on the ball eluding him as he struggled to get his attempt under control.

Yet still Rushden got closer. A Neil McCafferty right wing cross saw Andy Burgess hammer a shot from close range at the target but Steve Collis showed he is every bit as good as Chris Weale with a flying save for a corner. Sadly the ever-retreating Glovers couldn’t hold out forever though, and with eight minutes left calamity struck. Arron Davies appeared to duck out of a cross field pass that was intercepted by Rushden’s David Bell. He in turn fed right-back Sean Connelly, who demonstrated something that Yeovil had singularly failed to do all afternoon – a decent cross from the wings – and when the ball rebounded off a wrong-footed Efe Sodje’s shins, all Stuart GRAY had to do was to poke the loose ball home and past Steve Collis.

If Yeovil’s confidence had been ebbing away throughout the preceding 15 minutes, it basically got on the bus and got ready to go home at this point. Bartosz Tarachulski, who had picked up a needless booking for a hand in the face of Peter Hawkins a few minutes earlier was substituted for Kevin Gall – a swap that was already on the cards prior to the opening goal. Bartosz had barely contributed positively to the game, but that didn’t stop his sharp exit being a shock to the visiting supporters who chose to chant his name long after he had sat back down on the bench.

Three minutes left and a shell-shocked Yeovil side got another knife in the stomach as again more sloppy midfield play saw them dispossessed. Arron Davies lost possession to David Bell, who in a near identical play to the first goal exploited the gaps on the right flank, put in a low cross across the face of the Yeovil penalty area, and with Andy Lindegaard losing his man, allowing Billy SHARP to wrap the match up from close range.

Something in the region of 150 Yeovil supporters chose to vote with their feet, although they missed little in the way of action during the remaining portion of the game, nor the three additional minutes of injury time, before we were all put out of our misery.

Somehow Gary Johnson has to restore the shattered confidence of the Glovers side during the next five games – a lack of confidence that seems to have rippled straight through both players and supporters. Whilst that wasn’t the only problem out there today – a number of players appeared to abandon their shape on occasions, whilst the lack of width continues to be a concern. But this was a far improved performance in comparison with Tuesday’s match until the self-belief began to ran out like a hole in a leaking ship, and by the final five minutes of the match, the players looked dead on their feet. Hopefully a clear week away from it all will allow some heads to be cleared in advance of what is now a massive game next Saturday against Mansfield. The dream of promotion can still easily be done – three wins from five is all that is realistically needed – but it’s all about knowing where that first win will come from that will kick start Yeovil’s current fragile state back into life.


MOTM Vote Result:

Player MOTM Score
Efe Sodje 10 670
Steve Collis 3 310
Adam Lockwood 1 190
Terry Skiverton 1 150
Bartosz Tarachulski 2 130
Arron Davies 2 130
Phil Jevons 60
Darren Way 1 50

Overall match rating: 3.9 / 10
Performance: 3.6
Entertainment: 4.2

20 votes received.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 – 0 Yeovil Town