Yeovil Town 3 Southend United 1 – Saturday 20th November 2004
In our first couple of seasons in the league, Yeovil had some big games against Southend. In the first league meeting of the two teams in November 2003, it was the Lee Johnson show as the midfield maestro scored two goals and three assists in a 4-0 win. The return fixture was the penultimate away game of the season, when two goals from Dani Rodrigues kept Yeovil in the play-off race. In May 2005 of course, the two sides would meet in a top of the table clash with just two games to go, which will no doubt feature in a future throwback.
Southend’s visit to Huish Park in November 2004 was a critical time for both clubs. After a mixed start, Yeovil had briefly gone top of League Two with a 2-1 win away at Shrewsbury in September. However what followed was a run of just two points from five games, including defeat at Scunthorpe and the memorable night which saw a 2-0 lead given away against nine-man Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium. Dropping down to 8th, it was not clear whether the new signings of Jevons, Tarachulslki, Stolcers, Caceres and Rose would be enough to mount a serious title challenge.
In the opposition corner were Southend, who had started slowly after a disappointing season in 2003/04, only just avoiding relegation. With only two points from the first five games, from September onwards their form began to improve and by the time the two teams met they were into the playoff places, with four wins from their last six games. The Shrimpers had been boosted by the arrival of Freddy Eastwood in October, who would go on to score 24 goals in the season.
With the visit of potential promotion challengers in good form, it was a test of Yeovil’s mettle in front of just under 6,000 fans. The Glovers created several chances in the first half with Jevons hitting the bar, and the striker went one better just before half time, giving Yeovil the lead with a deft header from a Gavin Williams cross. Southend rallied in the second half and scored an almost identical equaliser, with former Bristol Rovers defender Adam Barrett heading in a free kick from captain Kevin Maher.
The game remained even before turning in Yeovil’s favour with just a few minutes to go. Gavin Williams, in one of his last games for the club before his move to West Ham, was pulled back in midfield by Maher, who was shown a very soft second yellow and was dismissed on 82 minutes. The resultant free kick was floated in by Lee Johnson and stabbed home by Scott Guyett for his first goal for the club. A minute after the restart Kevin Gall ran almost the entire length of the pitch with the ball and crossed for Bartosz Tarachulski to convert a diving header and give the scoreline a more comfortable look. A tough game against quality opponents who would be up there come the end of the season, had seen Yeovil come out on top.
After an indifferent run of form had seen the Glovers drop down to 8th, the Southend game perhaps gave a boost to the team’s confidence and signalled something of a return to form, as the win took them up to third in the table and began a run of 11 wins in 12 league and cup games over the festive period, which would take them to the top of the League Two table ahead of Scunthorpe early in the New Year of 2005. Southend would lead the table late in the season and also get to the final of the LDV Trophy at the Millennium Stadium. They were eventually promoted via the playoffs.
Team that day: Chris Weale, Paul Terry (sub. Andy Lindegaard, 77), Michael Rose, Scott Guyett, Colin Miles, Darren Way, Lee Johnson, Gavin Williams, Andrejs Stolcers (sub. Kevin Gall, 77), Bartosz Tarachulski, Phil Jevons. Subs not used: Steve Collis, Roy O’Brien, Adrian Caceres