Yeovil Town 4 Shrewsbury Town 2 – Monday 3rd January 2005
Yeovil’s second year in League Two, 2004/05, was certainly not straightforward and was a rollercoaster of a season. It ended in success, but it was so tight at the top that it sometimes seemed like the Glovers would miss out on promotion altogether as they battled it out with Scunthorpe, Southend, Swansea and Macclesfield for three automatic promotion places.
The New Year’s fixture at home to Shrewsbury encapsulated the entire Yeovil season in one game – early promise, a setback mostly of their own making followed by a flurry of goals and ultimately, victory. You got to experience all the emotions in a very short space of time in 2004/05.
Pre-season optimism was high, having only just missed out on the playoffs by goal difference in their debut season, with a 74 point haul that would see the Glovers comfortably in the playoffs in most if not all previous seasons. In the end, they missed out on goal difference after winning 3-2 at Lincoln, and had the critical game on the last day between Mansfield and Northampton gone any way other than a late Northampton victory, Yeovil would have been in the hat. And that was after an inconsistent season, certainly not without its disappointments and harsh lessons, but still almost ending with the playoffs. If the majority of the team could be kept together with a few key additions then surely a more sustained promotion challenge was certainly a possibility. The obvious deficiencies in the squad – the lack of a 20-goal striker or a dominant target man, a left winger or a left back who wasn’t a centre half playing out of position, were all addressed with the arrivals of Phil Jevons, Bartosz Tarachulski, Adrian Caceres (and later, Andrejs Stolcers) and Michael Rose. Some of our established Conference players like Kirk Jackson, Adam Stansfield, Nick Crittenden and Abdou El Kholti all departed but that seemed to be the manager’s choice – none of the core of the team were swept up by other clubs as Weale, Skiverton, Lockwood, Miles, Way, Johnson, Williams and Gall all remained and we welcomed Scott Guyett, who had just won the Conference with Chester.
Ambitions took a dent in August, as hopes of a first day win in the Greater Manchester area for the second season in a row at Bury (just down the road from the first ever league game, at Rochdale) were squashed despite taking a 1-0 half time lead through Caceres, as Yeovil were brushed aside in the second half thanks mostly to a young striker called David Nugent.
Performances gradually improved, and Yeovil went top of the league in September with a 2-1 win at Shrewsbury, courtesy of goals from Johnson and Tarachulski. Results after that stuttered though, as it was followed by run of six games without a win as the Glovers dropped out of the playoff places into 8th. A 4-1 win at home to Chester signalled another recovery, as Yeovil turned things around slowly at first – a late 1-0 win at Wycombe, a late draw snatched at Darlington – but they eventually gathered momentum and went on a run of 13 wins in 15 league and cup games, including an incredible nine wins in a row in December and January. In this spell, Yeovil could not stop scoring but rarely kept clean sheets either, conceding 19 goals and scoring 41 – more the entirety of the 2007/08 season in just over two months. As momentum increased, there was a sense that no matter how many the opposition scored, Yeovil would just score more, as they went on a run of 3-2, 4-1, 5-3, 2-0, 4-2 and 3-0. In fact in eight of those 15 games, Yeovil had either conceded an equaliser or gone behind. We couldn’t really shut out games, it wasn’t what we did. Over Christmas though we were in an incredible run of goalscoring form – going 1-0 down against Cheltenham but winning 4-1, 2-0 down at Cambridge but scoring five second half goals to win 5-3, and coming back from 2-1 down with ten men against Shrewsbury. Arguably the best result of the lot (and one of the only clean sheets) was the 2-0 win at Swansea on New Year’s Day, in the last game played between the two sides at the Vetch, in front of over 11,000 including around 1,000 Yeovil fans. Swansea had been top earlier in the season and gone into the game in 3rd, but a team containing Lee Trundle, Andy Robinson, Paul Conner and Roberto Martinez could not break through the Glovers’ back line as late goals from Stolcers and Jevons nicked the points. That was possibly the moment that Yeovil really showed their mettle as title contenders, usually free-flowing but also showing that when it really came down to the wire, they could keep it tight if they needed to. They just chose not to most of the time, playing 2-4-4 (or 2-2-6) instead.
Just two days after Swansea came the visit of struggling Shrewsbury, who on paper looked like an easy three points although it did not turn out that way. Darren Way gave the home side the lead with a deflected long range shot in the first half, but all the drama was saved for the second half. Shrewsbury equalised through a debatable penalty in the 64th minute, before Colin Miles was sent off for one of the clearest red cards you will ever see after 72 minutes (surprisingly for his fearsome reputation Miles was only sent off on one other occasion, at Telford in 2002, but he certainly did like to collect yellow cards like they were Panini stickers)
Things went from bad to worse as just two minutes later, a swift Shrewsbury counter-attack saw them take the lead through David Edwards. They could not hold onto their numerical advantage though, as future Glover Luke Rodgers let his team down by tussling with Lindegaard on the touchline, and getting his side reduced to ten men just four minutes after Miles had been sent off. Paul Terry equalised with a header on 78 minutes, and in case you are losing track that’s three goals and two red cards in 14 minutes.
Yeovil were in the ascendency and on 84 minutes took the lead through an Adrian Caceres we’ll be generous and call it ‘shot’, although he possibly didn’t know much about it, Gall’s cross sort of hit him and went in. Although he was not the biggest hit at Yeovil, making only seven league starts before being shipped out on loan in his one and only season, he was in the right place at the right time for a crucial goal. Interestingly, by the time Guyett, Tarachulski and Jevons had been replaced by Reed, Davies and Caceres, Yeovil must have lost a combined two feet in height, and in addition to Lindegaard, Way, Stolcers and Gall already on the pitch probably represented one of the shortest teams of all time, even with Lee Johnson absent. With Miles off, Weale and Skiverton would have been the only players left on the pitch even close to six foot. It’s a good job Shrewsbury didn’t notice that and start lumping balls into the box. In the 89th minute Caceres then turned provider for Kevin Gall to sprint clear and wrap up the points.
Crucially, as good as Yeovil’s Christmas had been, leaders Scunthorpe’s was bad. Seven points clear on 18th December, they gained only two points from their four festive fixtures and Yeovil’s win over Shrewsbury saw them go top of League Two again after seven league wins in a row. On this occasion they would hold on to top spot for much longer, although there was still plenty of drama still to come in the season.
Team that day: Chris Weale, Andy Lindegaard, Terry Skiverton, Scott Guyett (sub. Stephen Reed 66), Colin Miles, Darren Way, Paul Terry, Andrejs Stolcers, Kevin Gall, Bartosz Tarachulski (sub. Adrian Caceres 77), Phil Jevons (sub. Arron Davies 66). Subs not used: Steve Collis, Nicholas Mirza.
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