Match Details: 08/03/2008
Yeovil Town 2-1 Cheltenham Town
Coca Cola League One
Yeovil Goals: Own Goal (9), Andy Kirk (73)
Yeovil Line-Up: 2. Mark Lynch, 4. Terry Skiverton, 6. Scott Guyett, 8. Anthony Barry, 10. Marcus Stewart, 12. Matthew Rose, 14. Paul Warne, 16. Jaime Peters, 19. Craig Alcock, 24. Andy Kirk, 31. Scott Flinders,
Subs: 5. Scott Guyett, 9. Lloyd Owusu, 15. Liam Bridcutt, 20. Marc Bircham, 32. Marvin Williams
Substitutes Used: Liam Bridcutt for Paul Warne (73 mins), Marc Bircham for Matthew Rose (80 mins), Marvin Williams for Jaime Peters (85 mins)
Bookings: Mark Lynch (Foul, 58), Marvin Williams (Ungentlemanly Conduct, 90)
Yeovil Town relieved a significant amount of pressure off their shoulders at Huish Park this afternoon with a well-deserved 2-1 win over Cheltenham Town. An opening 'own goal', inspired by some determined running by Andy Kirk was cancelled out by a Steve Brooker strike midway through the second half. But Cheltenham only regained the balance for nine minutes as Andy Kirk put the Glovers in front again to secure three valuable points.
The Glovers went into the game being forced into yet another late change to their line-up. Left winger Martin Woods had been named on the teamsheets, but after some problems during the warm-ups, he was withdrawn and Marc Bircham, who only returned to training on Friday, was drafted into the sixteen. A bulk-standard 4-4-2 was employed and for once this season that formation hit the mark right from the very start, with the Glovers enjoying the lion's share of the first half.
Cheltenham left-back Alan Wright though must be sick of Yeovil. Last May, it was his own goal as a Nottingham Forest player that let the Glovers back into the game in THAT match at the City Ground. Less than a year later, he doubled his 'Yeovil tally' in illustrious fashion as he provided the final touch on a move that was all about Glovers striker Andy Kirk. The former Northampton poacher forced his way down the left wing - and "forced" is the only word for it, with Cheltenham's Andy Gallinagh twice losing out to Kirk's determination as he ran through the Robins defence like a steam train. Both former Glover Andy Lindegaard and Wright ran in to close down Kirk's run, and as he looked to unleash a shot on goal, Lindy and Wright got in each other's way.
The press reports are giving Wright the final honour of who touched the ball last, even if the tannoy announced Kirk as the scorer. Perhaps Wright's need for lengthy treatment and his subsequent substitution for concussion gave an idea of just how hard the ball had hit him. As for Lindy, he may have been one of Yeovil's most versatile players over the past six or seven years, but Cheltenham really were doing us a favour by playing him in a left-wing position, where he was to have a quiet return to his former club.
By half time, the Glovers should have been cruising to the tune of around 4-0. Playing towards the Carlsberg Stand, Kirk and Marcus Stewart were at times superb in their mutual understanding. Jaime Peters provided the foil for their clever interchanges, with the nippy winger often the man to part the Cheltenham defence with his off the ball running. All three could have easily scored - Stewart's looping header from a wonderful Mark Lynch cross just cleared the bar, Kirk shot over the bar, and Peters should have got more of a boot on an excellent opportunity that visiting keeper Shane Higgs gratefully scooped up. By half time Cheltenham were largely chasing shadows, and perhaps the only frustration was that it was only a slender 1-0 scoreline.
The second period was a somewhat different affair. Perhaps it was the wind that Yeovil were now playing into. Perhaps it was Robins manager Keith Downing's decision to withdraw the concussed and beleagured Wright and to adopt a 3-4-3 formation to try and push Yeovil onto the back foot. Perhaps the Glovers were increasingly conscious of how slender their lead was. But for the opening 20 minutes of the second period, the Glovers looked far more tentative in their play, with more than a touch of the defensive jitters.
Oddly enough, in terms of end product, Cheltenham were showing little signs that they were capable of pulling a goal back - that was until Ashley Vincent's cross was missed by Terry Skiverton, who managed a golf-like "air swing" with his boot, and Steve Brooker accepted the back post gift to produce an angled drive into the far corner and an equalising goal.
Thankfully the scores only stayed level for a matter of nine minutes. A Craig Alcock long throw saw Yeovil re-gain the lead as Skivo and Shane Duff battled for the loose ball, and when it dropped to Andy Kirk he produced an instinctive near post touch to force the ball home from close range. This time there was no Robins defender within sight of him to take away this strike.
Taking the lead again appeared to put Yeovil tails back up again, and although they never reached the dizzy heights of the first half showing, they managed to largely extinguish any thoughts of a second Cheltenham comeback during the closing stages. In fact it was the Glovers that came the closest to providing the fourth goal of the game. Anthony Barry saw a long range effort pushed onto the post by Higgs, then late on Kirk broke the offside trap and drew Higgs out of his goal, but the keeper got a palm onto the shot and so any debates over who could keep the match ball were made irrelevant.
The result pushes the Glovers back up to 16th in the League One table, but most importantly it opens up a large gap between them and any lingering thoughts of the 'R' word, with nine points between them and 21st placed Gillingham. With only Crewe picking up a point today and the whole of the bottom five clubs all losing, it is hard to imagine a better set of results. Perhaps another win or two is necessary to absolutely confirm League One football next season, but at least Tuesday's match against Millwall will take place with a great deal less pressure hanging on the result.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 2 Cheltenham Town 1.
Scorers: Alan Wright (1-0, og 9), Steve Brooker (1-1, 64 mins), Andy Kirk (2-1, 73 mins)
Yeovil Town: 4-4-2
31. Scott Flinders
19. Craig Alcock 4. Terry Skiverton 6. Terrell Forbes 2. Mark Lynch
14. Paul Warne 8. Anthony Barry 12. Matty Rose 16. Jaime Peters
10. Marcus Stewart 24. Andy Kirk
Subs: 5. Scott Guyett 9. Lloyd Owusu 15. Liam Bridcutt (73 mins for Paul Warne) 32. Marvin Williams (85 mins for Jaime Peters) 20. Marc Bircham (80 mins for Matty Rose)
1. Shane Higgs
2. Jeremy Gill 20. Andy Gallinagh 4. Shane Duff 22. Alan Wright
27. Michael D Agostino 24. Craig Armstrong 14. David Bird 17. Andy Lindegaard
7. Steven Gillespie 29. Steve Brooker
Subs: 9. Paul Connor (57 mins for Andy Lindegaard) 10. Damian Spencer 12. Scott P Brown (GK) 18. Ashley Vincent (57 mins for Michael D Agostino) 32. Alex Russell (46 mins for Alan Wright)
Yeovil Bookings: Mark Lynch (foul, 58 mins), Marvin Williams (timewasting, 90 mins)
Cheltenham Bookings: Andy Gallinagh (foul, 43 mins), Alex Russell (dissent, 74 mins)
Referee: Steven Cook (Surrey). Assistants: Andrew Laver (Hampshire) and David Phillips (Sussex). Fourth Official: Brendan Malone (Wiltshire).
Attendance: 4,588 (including 326 Cheltenham fans).