Yeovil Town 1 Northampton Town 0 – Tuesday 12th February 2008

Following the unexpected Playoff Final of 2006/07, Russell Slade’s second season in charge of Yeovil turned out to be much more of a challenge. The core of the team – Mildenhall, Skiverton, Forbes, Jones, Guyett, Barry, Stewart – remained the same, and those who moved on seemed to see like for like replacements. The biggest loss was undoubtedly Chris Cohen, the player of the season sold for £1.2 million with Arron Davies to Nottingham Forest. Out also went Terry, Kalala, Morris, and Gray. In to replace them came Lee Peltier, Marc Bircham, Gary Dempsey, Paul Warne and Lloyd Owusu. Slade brought in Bircham and Dempsey to replace Kalala and Cohen in midfield, but both of them spent the first half of the season injured. Bircham, probably the biggest profile signing of the summer after playing over 150 times for QPR, did not work out and would make only 13 starts in two years at the club. Marvin Williams, a winger/striker signed from Millwall to replace Davies, was also injured early in the season and made very few appearances before moving on to Brentford. The other midfield signing, Ritchie Jones on loan from Manchester United, failed to make much of an impact.

The Glovers endured an uneven start to the season characterised by a new fragility at the back and a tendency to concede very late goals. Goals in the last few minutes against Tranmere, Leeds, Bristol Rovers, Millwall, Swansea and even bottom club Cheltenham all cost points in the first half of the season. The foundation of the team’s success in 2006/07 had been their resolute defence and ability to sit on a one goal lead. On only two occasions did Yeovil draw after scoring first (both early in the season), and they did not once lose in the league after scoring first, but in 2007/08 it became a recurring theme even though the defence was the same – the only difference was that Lee Peltier came in at right back in place of the numerous right backs needed to cover Mark Lynch’s serious injury in 2006. The key to the Glovers’ solidity appears to have been the two spoilers in midfield, Terry and Kalala, who were both gone. Matthew Rose was very capable in that role when fit, which wasn’t very often. I seem to recall him being known as Mr Glass at his previous clubs due to the frequency with which he was injured. To add to the injury problems, Steve Mildenhall suffered two extended absences to injuries sustained during games, both of which led to outfield players having to go in goal (Skiverton against Leyton Orient and Alcock against Walsall) due to there being no reserve keeper at the club. Three loan keepers were brought in at various times, all of them playing in the No. 31 shirt.

Despite these numerous injury setbacks, Yeovil were 8th at Christmas. With Gary Dempsey finally fit and available, winger Zoltan Stieber on loan from Aston Villa and striker Andy Kirk arriving from Northampton, things seemed to be looking up with the Glovers still in play-off contention, but it was all downhill from there. A 2-1 win at home to Brighton at the end of December was followed by a run of eight games without a win, as Yeovil slid from 8th down to 15th. With several key players still absent with injury, the squad became a revolving door of loan signings with players like Simon Church, Liam Bridcutt, Jean-Francois Christophe and Aidan Downes coming and then going again.

Without a win in 2008, the Glovers were getting desperate for any kind of result ahead of the visit of Northampton in February. A game fairly low on chances but which the home side had slightly the better of ticked into injury time, and with their last chance of the game an Anthony Barry corner was partially cleared, falling to Captain Fantastic Terry Skiverton who lashed home the ball with his left foot to secure a dramatic winner. It did not signal a change in fortunes but did halt the slide, as Yeovil limped on to the end of the season finishing in 18th, securing League One status by surprisingly spoiling the promotion party at Champions Swansea.

It was not the first time that Skiverton would pop up with a dramatic late goal. He scored a lot for a centre half, 44 in total at Yeovil. Not all of them with his head either, although he did injure himself more than once while scoring with a header. Memorable for most people would be the dramatic 89th-minute strike from outside the area to give Yeovil the 5-4 win in the FA Trophy replay at Doncaster. However he also scored many other crucial goals – in 2005, with the Glovers struggling to hold on to top spot in League Two, he scored both goals in a 2-1 win at Boston. In 1999, he scored the first two in a 5-1 demolition of Rushden at Huish Park. In 2002/03, he was the leading scorer for a time at the start of the season, as the Glovers tried to recover from the loss of Adam Stansfield on the first day. He scored 7 goals in his first 13 games, including a crucial injury time equaliser on the first day to complete a comeback from 2-0 down against Gravesend, and a late winner at Kettering a couple of weeks later, before celebrating the delayed return to Huish Park with another. My own personal favourite memory was when Yeovil went into the game against Doncaster in 2006 needing a win to avoid relegation, and Skivo scored in the 8th minute to send us on the way to a comfortable 3-0 win with a sublime shot from the edge of the area, off the inside of the post. What would turn out to be his last goal for the club was also a cracker – very similar to the one against Donny, the only goal in a 1-0 win over Tranmere in 2008. His best goal-scoring seasons were 2002/03 with 9, 7 in 1999/2000 and 6 in 2005/06.

He didn’t only play in defence either – in 2000/01, due to Warren Patmore’s troublesome hamstring and Barrington Belgrave’s suspension, he was deployed as an emergency striker at the end of the season as Yeovil attempted to chase down Rushden, donning Patmore’s No. 9 shirt at least twice. In one of his last seasons as a player he even had a go in goal, coming in to cover after Steve Mildenhall was injured against Leyton Orient as there was no keeper on the bench. The game was lost 1-0, but to be fair Mildenhall was injured in the process of conceding and Skivo did keep a clean sheet for the 30 or so minutes he was in goal.

Team that day: Scott Flinders, Lee Peltier, Nathan Jones, Scott Guyett, Terry Skiverton, Matthew Rose, Anthony Barry, Liam Bridcutt, Jaime Peters (sub. Marvin Williams 75), Lloyd Owusu (sub. Simon Church 68), Andy Kirk. Subs not used: Craig Alcock, Zoltan Stieber, Paul Warne

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