Scunthorpe 3 Yeovil Town 4 – Saturday 1st October 2005
Most Yeovil fans who were alive at the time will have no problems remembering the incredible 4-3 top of the table clash against Scunthorpe in February 2005. The Glovers were 2-1 down at the break, but managed to turn it around in the second half thanks to a Lee Johsnon free kick, a header from Rory Fallon who still had directions to the ground written on his hand having only signed on loan that afternoon, and of course the incredible 35-yarder from Arron Davies that sealed the deal.
However, what some may not remember was that the next time we played the Iron in October of the same year also ended 4-3 to the men in green and white, this time having to come back from 2-0 down.
The meeting took place in League One, with both teams having been promoted from League Two in 2004/05. At the time of the match, both sides were in mid-table. Yeovil had recently lost Gary Johnson as manager, with this being Steve Thompson’s third game in charge (of this spell). He won his first game at home to Port Vale, but then the following Tuesday the Glovers surrendered a 1-0 half time lead to lose 4-1 away at Southend. Although a poor performance at the time, especially in the second half, Southend would go on to win the league with their strike force of Shaun Goater, Freddy Eastwood and future Glover Wayne Gray bullying a lot of defences that season.
It looked like it might be another one of those days, as Yeovil were 2-0 down inside the first 20 minutes. The hosts boasted a potent strike force of 19-year olds Andy Keogh and Billy Sharp, both of whom would go on to play in the Premier League. The Yeovil defence was at sixes and sevens, with Liam Fontaine struggling at left back and Nathan Jones having a severe off day in midfield. Although he would go on to be our captain and one of the most consistent players under Russell Slade, his first season’s performances were much more up and down and this one was definitely a down. After Sharp and Keogh both scored, Jones was hauled off after 25 minutes as, without much to lose Steve Thompson re-organised his attack, bringing on Matt Harrold to partner Bastianini up front and putting Jevons on the left. As great a player as Phil Jevons was for us, he did occasionally present a bit of a selection headache – if you partner him with a target man, you have no pace up front and a possible shortage of goals. If you partner him with a quicker man, you have no height. It was less of an issue in League Two, as Davies and Gall could both join from midfield, but in League One we were seeing a lot less of the ball. As time went on, Jevons was increasingly played in midfield with Harrold and Davies providing the best combination of physical presence, pace and finishing as a partnership. Arriving as a 21-year old from Brentford in the summer of 2005, Matt Harrold started mostly from the bench at the start of the season and it was this game that saw him come of age as a Yeovil player. He only stayed one season at Huish Park as he was not a part of Russell Slade’s plans after the arrival of Wayne Gray and Lee Morris, but would go on to have a long Football League career at the likes of Wycombe, Bristol Rovers and Southend.
Gary Johnson had put a lot of faith in Bastianini to bring both physical presence and goals, but he took time to settle and was not really a physical player. Although he will probably go down with many Glovers fans as an expensive mistake, he did have his qualities and was involved in all four goals at Scunthorpe, providing direct assists for three out of them. He probably felt the pressure of being the main man and who knows, if any of his attempted lobs from the half way line had gone in instead of fractionally over the bar, his career at Yeovil might have been a very different one.
Crucially in this game, Bastianini missed some early chances to the frustration of his team mates, but became much more productive when being less selfish and creating chances for others, playing excellent balls to Harrold for both of his goals.
With the score still at 0-2, the home side got in behind the Yeovil defence again only for Skiverton to slide in with a perfectly timed tackle from behind inside the area – mis-time that, and we could well have been 3-0 down and down to ten men, but it became the turning point of the match.
The comeback started with Jevons’ ball to set up Way in the 26th minute, and Jevons himself lashing home a loose ball to level the scores before half time. Scunthorpe were rattled and were much more timid after half time, allowing the Glovers to take a 4-2 lead. With 25 minutes still to go, there was still time for them to pull one back, with Sharp scoring his second from close range after a goalmouth scramble. The game became end to end and very bad tempered – both Skiverton and Way were ordered off the field to receive treatment despite having been fouled, as both had to have blood-stained shirts replaced and Skiverton re-appeared with a Terry Butcher-style bandage on his head. Very late on Keogh slid in a rebound and the ground erupted as it took quite some time for both fans and players to register that it had been disallowed for offside. There was more incident in injury time, as substitute Wayne Corden picked up the ball unmarked on the edge of the box and crashed his shot off the crossbar, it landed inside the area but Yeovil were able to clear and hold on for the win, sending us from 21st up to 15th in the table.
The following week the Glovers completed their third consecutive game against fellow promoted sides at home to Swansea, which they also won 1-0. The result took us up to 8th and finally gave us some breathing space after a very difficult start to life in League One.
Team that day: Chris Weale, Kevin Amankwaah, Liam Fontaine, Terry Skiverton, Efe Sodje, Darren Way, Lee Johnson, Nathan Jones (Matt Harrold, 25), Arron Davies, Pablo Bastianini (Paul Terry, 73), Phil Jevons. Subs not used: Steve Collis, Adam Lockwood, David Poole
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