Walsall 0 Yeovil Town 2 – Tuesday 21st March 2006
The second half of the 2005/06 season proved to be very tough, as Yeovil fought to avoid relegation in their first season at League One level after the loss of several key players during the transfer window, and others about to run out of contract in the summer.
The Glovers had appeared to turn a corner with an excellent 3-0 win at Chesterfield courtesy of a hat-trick from Arron Davies, being played up front as opposed to his usual wide position. However, a run of one win in ten games culminating in a very disappointing 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Bournemouth had seen Steve Thompson’s men drop down to 20th – from 10th in the middle of January – and relegation was looking like a distinct possibility.
On Tuesday 21st March came a vital game in hand, away at Walsall who were 19th, one place above Yeovil. Thommo opted for a 3-5-2 formation, with Lockwood, Guyett and Skiverton at the back, Amankwaah and Lindegaard as wingbacks and Nathan Jones on the bench. In midfield was Paul Terry in a holding role and Cohen just in front of him along with the on-loan Marc Wilson. Up front were Matt Harrold and Arron Davies who were, in the absence of Jevons our only realistic options although they did form a decent big man / little man partnership. Interestingly Wilson, on loan from Portsmouth, would only make one start for the Glovers, with the more attack-minded Craig Rocastle being preferred in the final run of games. Wilson joined Stoke from Portsmouth in 2010 and played six years in the Premier League.
In the Walsall side that day was future Yeovil loanee Kevin James, and their substitute goalkeeper would also go on to play for the Glovers, one Rene Gilmartin.
The game got off to a very bad start as in the early stages Amankwaah was scythed down by Walsall’s teenage winger Ishmel Demontagnac, had to be substituted shortly after and would miss the remainder of the season. He had been one of the stars at League One level for Yeovil, scoring their first goal at that level against Blackpool.
However, Yeovil took control and scored with an excellent team goal on 24 minutes, some superb work from Andy Lindegaard to get inside the area teed up Matt Harrold to score his 7th of the season. It was 2-0 not long after, as a mistake from defender Ian Roper let a Marc Wilson header bounce over his head and into the path of Arron Davies.
From this point the home fans in the 4,464 crowd really began to turn on the Walsall players and every single mistake, over-hit pass or poor finish was booed furiously by the Saddlers fans. They did create a couple of chances in the first half which were wasted, but the second half was all Yeovil and they could have scored several more, including capitalising on some catastrophic mistakes from the home side, in particular keeper Andy Oakes who almost let Davies in several times.
With the Glovers continuing to threaten, a miserable night got even worse for the Saddlers as Demontagnac picked up his second yellow for another foul on Harrold and was dismissed on 89 minutes. At the final whistle, the home side were booed off the pitch while Yeovil celebrated with the 200 or so travelling fans. Coming into the business end of the season, the two teams were heading in opposite directions – Yeovil were struggling with the loss of key players and significant injuries, especially in defence; the 1-0 defeat at Port Vale had seen them without Skiverton, Miles and Guyett in addition to the loss of Sodje in January. Despite this they were beginning to find some form and seemed to be showing the confidence since Chesterfield that they could stay up, and were playing well even when not winning. After the Walsall win, a 2-2 draw against Tranmere, a valiant 2-1 defeat at Bristol City and a comfortable 3-0 at home to Doncaster would push them closer to safety. Following two narrow defeats over Easter, the Glovers finished the season on a high with a thrilling 4-3 home win over Gillingham, a 2-1 win at play-off bound Huddersfield and a creditable draw against promoted Colchester on the last day. After a real rollercoaster of a season which had seen the departure of their long-term successful manager as well as two of the players who had been most key to their success since 2001/02 in Darren Way and Lee Johnson, Yeovil finally managed to pull themselves over the line and finish in a relatively comfortable-looking 15th on 56 points. Walsall went in the opposite direction, finishing bottom, five points adrift of safety.
At the end of the season, several more players were released or left at the end of their contracts, including Chris Weale, Phil Jevons, Colin Miles, Adam Lockwood, Kevin Amankwaah, Kevin Gall, Stephen Collis. Steve Thompson also stepped down, as Russell Slade was eventually appointed the new manager and Thommo reverted to being assistant once more.
Team that day: Stephen Collis, Adam Lockwood, Terry Skiverton, Scott Guyett, Kevin Amankwaah (sub. Nathan Jones 19), Andy Lindegaard, Paul Terry, Chris Cohen, Marc Wilson, Matt Harrold, Arron Davies (sub. Kevin Gall 90). Subs not used: Michael Jordan, Danny Webb, Phil Jevons.
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