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29 December 2002 : Credit To Boring, Boring Barnet
The Glovers followed up Boxing Day's somewhat disappointing result against Forest Green Rovers with a 0-0 draw against a defensive Barnet outfit in front of another large crowd at Huish Park yesterday afternoon.

Credit to The Bees - after some right royal thrashings on the road lately they came to Somerset determined to take at least a point home with them and they did it with a determined defensive display. The Glovers dominated the match in terms of possession and territory, but too often the final ball was poor and lacking in quality. Barnet's determination not to lose was epitomised by the 90th minute dismissal of keeper Danny Naisbitt - with Andy Lindegaard breaking free of the visitors defence Naisbitt had no hesitation in cynically bringing down the Yeovil youngster to prevent an almost certain goal. The red card for the keeper and subsequent free-kick outside the box (which came to nothing) were no real consolation for the team or the 4,850 crowd.

Final score: Yeovil Town 0 Barnet 0.

"It was frustrating," Glovers boss Gary Johnson admitted after the match. "I was surprised that Barnet came here as a good footballing side only to see them slow up the game - really I was hoping for an open game but it didn't happen that way. We had 75% of the possession and I would have expected us to have created a few more chances. Credit to their defenders, they stood strong and we didn't have the flair to open them up except right at the end when their keeper came out and did what he feels is his job. Unfortunately it was just outside the area but as far as possession was concerned I was pleased with that - everyone got on the ball and they had to show a lot of patience against a team with a lot of men behind the ball and who were breaking up the game by taking their time. For a team like Barnet to respect us enough to come here and play for a draw and get it is a compliment I suppose, but you can't do that all the time and at some stage they will have to come out and beat teams."

"We're still top of the league by a couple of points. I think the supporters have to note that as well - sometimes they get a bit frustrated, not the majority just the odd one or two that you hear and they have to be patient as well but whilst we're up there just keep getting behind us all, keep the faith and lets get on with it and if we do go up we will all have been a part of it and no-one's tried to knock us back."

"Forest Green was a different game - their keeper made 10 world class saves, we've hit the cross bar and post a couple of times and if we had that many chances today at least one would have gone in. At least we got in to goal scoring positions but today we only had one or two clear cut chances despite all our possession but that happens sometimes. I'm not going to panic, we've got the best team in the league and our position shows that."

"We're not firing on all cylinders as far as goal scoring is concerned but we're still the top scorers. Chris Weale made one great save and he did his job and he has been doing his job regularly for us. The doom and gloom merchants might come out of their sleep and I'm ready for them because right now is when we need 100% of the support. I'm proud of our support and were going to win it for them."

Nearest challengers Doncaster and Chester both won yesterday to keep up the pressure at the top of the table, Donny seeing off managerless Leigh RMI with a narrow 1-0 home win to come within 2 points of Yeovil at the top, whilst Chester had a somewhat easier time beating Telford 4-1 at the Deva Stadium to close within 3 points of the Glovers with a game in hand. Fourth-placed Scarborough drew 1-1 at Southport to remain 7 points behind Yeovil.


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28 December 2002 : Cheerio Carl
Carl Alford
Carl Alford.


While Yeovil fans endured the frustration of a goalless draw in today's match at Huish Park against Barnet, it emerged after the game that striker Carl Alford has played his last game for the club. The frontman's contract has been cancelled by mutual consent and he is now free to find a new club. Ciderspace would like to wish Carl the very best of luck in the future - the big man will always be remembered here for his goals leading up to and including last season's FA Trophy Final.

Meanwhile mystery still surrounds the future of Yeovil's missing striker Abdoulai Demba absent again from today's squad in the match v Barnet. When asked if Demba was leaving, Yeovil boss Gary Johnson refused to comment today, merely saying that "at the moment, Demba isn't part of my squad."

UPDATE 29-12-02
Today's Non-League Paper reports that Alford is set to sign for Conference club Nuneaton Borough, with Boro fans helping to pay for the striker's wages. Well, someone has to keep him in pies.... "It really is a superb gesture from the fans who put their wages across the turnstiles every week," Nuneaton boss Steve Burr said. "Carl has turned down a lot of clubs in the Conference and wanted to come to us. I'm delighted we have been able to sign him." Good luck to Fat Boy Fat (yes, the gloves are off again now he plays for someone else!) in his career at Manor Park.


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27 December 2002 : Glovers Get Mown Down At The Lawn
After a couple of seasons respite, Yeovil Town's Boxing Day blues came back to haunt them at The Lawn yesterday as they suffered their third defeat of the season at the hands of Colin Addison's Forest Green Rovers side.

Glovers skipper Terry Skiverton had a mixed day - scoring at both ends, with his unfortunate opener being doubled by Kayode Odejayi. Skivo's second and more pleasing strike came in the last minute and was too late to grab the Glovers a point. The only saving grace in a bad day was that rivals Chester City slipped up by drawing 1-1 at Northwich Victoria.

After the game, manager Gary Johnson admitted: "It was a disappointing game, but they always are when you get beaten. But we were very poor in the first half. That was probably one of the worst first halves I've seen our talented team play. To be fair to them, they came out in the second half and they took everything on board. They took everything on the chin and on the nose that myself and Steve Thompson had thrown at them at half time and they came out and gave it a go."

"We can't leave it all to luck. We've hit the post a couple of times and the keeper has made what seemed like hundreds of saves. But by then we were already 2-0 down so we needed that luck or something that would turn the game round to being a 3-2. We scored one goal, but we didn't leave ourselves with enough time and their goalkeeper has had an unbelievable day."

"You've got to be a bit more clever when you're attacking - you've got to make sure that you create opportunities and chances. Forest Green's front two caused all kinds of problems in the first half on the break, but we've got to be better than that. It just was not very good. In the second half, yes they still got in behind us a couple of times, but that was when we were throwing men forward. It was the proverbial game of two halves."

"I kicked that touchline board over there a few times because it was so frustrating. We only needed one of those earlier chances to have gone in, but it seemed that every time we got a shot in, the goalkeeper was getting in behind them and when he didn't the post came to the rescue."

"I've spoken to the boys. I gave them a bit of stick at half time for their first half display. They've come out, they've done their job in the second half, bar getting two more goals. We'll be in tomorrow, we'll all look at it and we'll discuss it. The greatest thing I've got is a group of boys that don't like losing. But we have to come back very quickly."

Johnson made his first tactical change soon after the opening goal, with Roy O'Brien making way for Abdelhalim El Kholti as Yeovil switched formations to a 3-4-1-2 from the opening 4-4-2. Johnson explained: "We needed to give them something to think about. It was a bit crowded in midfield and I felt that I could foresake a defender for another player that was going to get forward, especially at 1-0 where I felt that they would try and slow the game up and block the game up, which is what they did. I felt that it was pointless having four defenders. We needed to go for it a little bit and in the second half we certainly did. In the first half we weren't playing well enough with either of our shapes to look decent."

"We've got to work hard and get our thoughts on Barnet. It's nice after a defeat that we've only got two days to mull over it, and it will be nice to get back to the green, green grass of home. It was quite a quagmire out there and it was quite heavy, but you have to play on these sorts of pitches. Our home pitch won't be like that as there's been some great work done with that, so we might be able to get back to our normal style of play. But on the other hand we have to be able to compete with sides who play on pitches like this and work hard. Forest Green worked very hard and they caught us on the break a few times."

A second substitution late on saw latest signing Kirk Jackson make way for Kim Grant and Johnson added: "Sometimes a player just isn't getting on the end of things. It didn't seem to matter where Kirk was - the ball was going somewhere else. We just had to give Forest Green something to think about."

"I was thinking of bringing on Jimmy Aggrey. But to be fair, we were creating a lot of opportunities without just bashing the ball in there. We were creating a lot of width, we were getting a lot of crosses in, but to bring on Jimmy, I would have had to have taken off another defender, and when we scored our goal, there was only about three minutes to go and I didn't want to waste another minute making another change."

Skiverton's goal came from a Lee Johnson free kick, and Johnson said: "I knew it would be a game where we could score against them from set plays and in fact we did. If Terry had done the same in the first minute as what he did in the last minute, then it would have been a completely different game. That's where the frustration comes in, because we had a couple of chances early on. Then Macca had that one at the end of the first half where it played pinball, which was unbelievable. Then in the second half, we must have had nearly 20 shots on goal."

But Johnson admitted disappointment in the way the two goals were conceded, adding: "I've just said to the boys that they've got to be able to read what the opposition are going to do. I thought Grayson did well in the first half. He kept coming off us, and winning all his headers. We've got to be there before him - win our headers before him and get in the tackles before him. We were a yard off the pair of them for the whole of the first half. In the second half they got in behind once, but that was with us having 20 chances at the other end."

The Glovers get an early chance to put Boxing Day behind them when they get back to Huish Park tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon, when Barnet are the visitors. Gary Johnson expects to select from the same squad, with Terry Skiverton having shown no reaction to a knee injury that made him a doubt for the Boxing Day fixture.


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24 December 2002 : Conference Letter To Feeders
Following on from the item here on Ciderspace concerning the Conference's expansion plans we now have seen a copy of the letter sent out to all clubs in the Premier divisions of the Southern, Northern and Isthmian Leagues. (The example below is to an Isthmian club.)

"In accordance with Football Association regulations last week the Football Conference provided the Secretary of The Ryman Football League with 7 (seven) days notice of approach to all member clubs of the competition's Premier Division. This letter is an invitation for the club to make application to be part of a newly formed Conference of up to 66 member clubs for season 2003/2004.

The Conference and the three Feeder Leagues have discussed re structuring for some time as have the Football Association with little or no progress during the past two years. The Conference believe that an expanded competition with either one additional or two new semi-regional divisions will enable clubs to play on a level basis and plan for the future development in a more stable environment within a single competition of up to 66 clubs at the top of the National Game.

At this stage the Conference have issued, in accordance with procedures, notification to the Football Association for sanction of rule amendments to allow for up to 66 member clubs for season 2003/2004.

Clubs seeking application at this stage are reminded that your current competition rules require you to provide written notification of your possible resignation from the competition, which in The Ryman Football League is the 31st January 2003.

On approval from the Football Association the Conference will provide all applicant clubs with a final invitation to form either one new national, or two regional divisions for season 2003/2004. The decision on the membership expansion will be based on the number of applicant clubs. Criteria for membership will be based on three key factors, current stadium facilities, club finances, community, and playing record. The specific elements of the criteria have still to be defined and are part of an ongoing process involving various football bodies.

If your club is interested in seeking membership of the Conference for season 2003/2004, please complete the enclosed application form, which should be return not later than Thursday 15th January 2003.

We look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Your sincerely

John Moules
Chief Executive

-----

We the undersigned on behalf of the above named club wish to be considered for membership of the Football Conference Limited for season 2003/2004 should the competition receive sanction from the Football Association to increase its membership up to 66 clubs.

We would as a club prefer to be considered for:

A single national division of 20 or 22 member clubs - YES/NO
or
A semi-regional division, North/South (40 or 44 clubs) - YES/NO
or
Either of the above options - YES/NO "

Ciderspace has generally been in favour of the F.A. Option C since the reorganisation of the pyramid came on the agenda more than a year ago. No scheme will be perfect, but it is our opinion that this one offered more than any other on the table to the Non-league game. The Conference proposals are very similar to Option C, and we wish them success, though given the byzantine politics of football we don't have a huge expectation that change is close.


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24 December 2002 : Alford Linked To Club Number Seven
Yet another club has been linked with out-of-favour Glovers striker Carl Alford. Following hard on the heels of Droylsden, Northwich, Weymouth, Stevenage, Southport and Margate, fellow Conference side Nuneaton Borough are the latest team to be linked with the Yeovil frontman.

Nuneaton manager Steve Burr is quoted in the Nuneaton Tribune as saying: "He [Alford] has already turned down Stevenage, Southport and Margate but would join us if we could agree terms." You and a few other clubs it seems Steve - time will tell.

In the meantime Alford has recovered from the bout of bronchitis which has kept him sidelined over the last week or so and is available for selection for the Boxing Day match at Forest Green Rovers. Glovers captain Terry Skiverton, who limped off after 28 minutes of the 2-1 win over struggling Stevenage on Saturday will face a late fitness test before the game. Forest Green will be missing midfielder Alan McLoughlin (back injury) and defender Lee Russell (ankle injury) but should welcome back playmaker Alex Sykes following his recovery from a stomach bug.

Yeovil striker Adam Stansfield will receive the best of late Christmas presents next week when the plaster cast protecting the leg he fractured way back in August is finally removed. Speaking to the Western Daily Press Glovers boss Gary Johnson said: "Adam will have his plaster off next week and that's great news for him and everybody at the club. Of course his work is only just beginning and he's got a long way to go, but he's kept himself in good shape. Adam has done a lot in the gym on his upper body and his other leg and he could beat anyone in a hopping race! Once he gets the plaster off he's got to build up his other leg and get the mobility back in the ankle, which hasn't moved for four or five months."

Good news then for Stansfield and the Glovers. He's still unlikely to play competitive football again this season, but at least there will be some light now at the end of a long dark tunnel.


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23 December 2002 : CHEATS - Its Official
Although the F.A. have yet to announce their verdict Mr. Steven Evans, ex-Boston "Cheats" United manager, has rushed to BBC Radio Lincolnshire to tell the world that he has been found guilty of attempting to impede the course of the F.A. inquiry, but is of course entirely innocent.

I have been notified by the Football Association that I have been found guilty of the most serious charges but I passionately maintain my innocence and an appeal will be lodged on my behalf immediately. I believe that the appeal body will consider fairly the numerous and quite extraordinary events in the conduct of the Football Association's investigation of this case and in due course I believe that I will be exonerated.
I am confident that had the FA not breached its own rules concerning the investigation into, and hearing of, these alleged offences, I would have been acquitted.
On the advice of my lawyers I have nothing else to say at this time, and not until the appeal has been heard. I intend to honour the FA rule that the proceedings are confidential, and I hope that all parties will now honour that rule.


Mr. Evans had previously admitted four charges relating to contract irregularities, making him a cheat already in the eyes of most football fans. Now, with the F.A. commission finding the charges of impeding the inquiry proven - the assertion being that he passed sums of £ 8,000 to several players for purposes we are sure can be explained away in his own mind if no one else's - we can but hope that a suitable sentence, expected in January, is forthcoming.

Ex-chairman of Boston "Cheats" United, Mr. Pat Malkinson was found guilty on two charges: one of contract irregularities and one of impeding the course of the inquiry. He stated:

My legal advisors are considering my options having regard to the way the hearing was conducted by the FA. Until I've received further advice from them it is inappropriate that I should make any comment.

Anyone minded to start a campaign on behalf of The Boston Two need not seek donations here.


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22 December 2002 : Johnson: Not Flying - But Getting Results
Yeovil Town manager Gary Johnson gave his usual Press Conference after Saturday's 2-1 win over Stevenage Borough and admitted his side had been tested against the relegation-threatened Home Counties side.

"We knew we would have to work hard to get the three points, said Johnson. "We said before the game that they are a better team than their position suggests. In the first half hour we were super and probably won the game in that first half hour because Stevenage were always chasing. When a team is down at the bottom with only a few points they can take chances. All players in this league have got ability and if you let them play they are going to show it. I can see why Wayne tells me every week how unlucky they are and I saw that today."

Kirk Jackson and Colin Pluck - both former Stevenage players - scored the two goals and Johnson commented: "Both of them were great goals. The first one was a great move and the second was a great set play and you know for a manager to get that goal just before half time is lovely. We deflated them a little bit, but having said that they came out quite well. We've won the game and three points is three points and we've got another goal to our goal difference. I wish Wayne all the best with his team and I think they will get out of trouble. I think they are good enough to get out of trouble and Wayne is good enough to get them out of trouble. When he gets his injured players back, he may get some consistency. They will take points off teams. They havent been doing it yet because of injuries and illnesses but they will beat teams."

Stevenage were reduced to ten men when Sam McMahon was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence and Johnson said : "They had the boy sent off because we had possession of the ball and we were keeping it, and so out of fustration people get sent off and people make bad tackles."

But Yeovil had to perform their own reshuffle when they lost skipper Terry Skiverton during the first half, but Johnson admitted: "Terry was a doubt before today's match anyway right up till kick off. The doctor looked at him and thought we might be able to start with him but to be honest all week we've put Aggrey in that position just in case Skivo didnt make it. I'm very pleased that we did, because Jimmy came in and did a great job for his first home game. He won his headers and looked solid and I think he knows that's a lot to do with the work we did this week."

"If we'd have played the football we played in the first half hour during the last half hour and won 2-1, you would come in and say how well we played because thats whats last in your mind. We did have a good 30 minutes and that won the game for us. They do sometimes drop back a bit but thats just natural as the game goes on. We seem to be the team to score the first goal and teams have nothing to lose then so they go at you, and you've got to have a bit of luck and your quality to get the goals you might need. We are just not scoring that third one to make it more comfortable."

"We didn't really create any chances in the second half until Jacko had his header. However when we made the change from 4-4-2 to 3-4-1-2, it gave us a few more triangles and we kept the ball a lot better."

"Three points is magnificent. At the moment we're not flying but were getting results. We created chances at the end, but we just want to get that extra goal for the last ten minutes of games. At the moment we arent able to do that. But we will keep going with our two goals a game and whilst we do that teams have go to score three to beat us and there are not many that have done that."


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22 December 2002 : Non-League Revolution?
The Conference is going it alone, reports The Non-League Paper, after the rejection of any change (apart from minor boundary alterations) when the F.A. options for Non-league re-structuring were voted on earlier in the year. The voting at the time produced serious complaints, as the option that received most votes, Option C, involving an expansion of the Conference, was not then chosen as the way forward.

The Conference has now formally informed:
The FA (December 16th) and the three feeder league Secretaries (December 17th), giving the required seven days notice, that they are writing to the 69 clubs in the top divisions of the Southern, Northern and Isthmian Leagues inviting them to join the Conference. The Conference board, which includes the chairmen of Barnet, Forest Green Rovers, Nuneaton, Southport, Stevenage, and directors of Northwich Victoria and Woking, voted unanimously in favour of this move.

Depending on the amount of clubs who respond favourably the proposal is to create either a Conference "Division Two", or a "Conference North" and a "Conference South" below the current national Conference division. Twenty-two favourable responses would trigger the first scenario, forty-four the second. As a guide to possible interest Conference Chief Executive John Moules confirmed that forty-two clubs from the feeders had put their names forward for promotion to the Conference this season by the required deadline of August 31st.

The Conference has altered its constitution to effect this move, and this now goes before the FA's Sanctions and Registrations Committee, and the FA's National Leagues System who both meet in January. The Conference board meets again on January 29th.

On a related issue John Moules has also sought urgent clarification of the possible changes to ground grading regulations occasioned by the £20 million rescue package offered to the Nationwide League. One of the strings attached is that Conference clubs gaining promotion will have a year to get their grounds up to the required standard. It is currently unclear whether this is intended to come into force this season, or next. Rumours from the League also suggest that the whole set of criteria for A Grade stadium status may be reviewed. At the moment Conference clubs without A grading are not allowed into the play-offs, as the League would not accept them. Moules has asked for these issues to be sorted out before the Conference board meeting on January 29th, so that the Conference can change its rules if necessary. Barnet, one of the clubs involved, has been informed that the Conference will alter the rules if the situation changes at League level. However given any changes by the League will require ratification by the full body of 72 Nationwide League chairmen Ciderspace suspects this may not be sorted in time for this season.


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22 December 2002 : Six Appeal For The Xmas Number One's!
Yeovil Town beat Conference strugglers Stevenage Borough 2-1 at a wet Huish Park yesterday afternoon in front of a 4,940 attendance to stretch their lead at the top of the Conference table to six points going into the busy Christmas period.

Yeovil began the game playing some excellent football and for the first 20 minutes completely dominated against the visitors. Former Boro striker Kirk Jackson fnally got the reward his early efforts deserved on 26 minutes, his left-footed strike from inside the box putting the Glovers 1-0 up. Stevenage came back into the game gradually, but their equaliser from Martin Williams on 43 minutes owed rather more to defensive errors than Glovers boss Gary Johnson would like to see, though credit must be given to the former Reading striker for his persistence. Colin Pluck's diving header from a McIndoe corner put the Glovers back into the lead on the stroke of half-time, and that was how the match finished, the second half rather petering out into a sterile midfield stalemate - though one always felt that Yeovil were capable of raising their game should they have needed to.

Final score: Yeovil Town 2 Stevenage Borough 1.

Results elsewhere went the Glovers way this weekend with both Chester and Doncaster dropping points on Friday night - Chester losing 1-0 at home to Hereford and Doncaster drawing 0-0 at home to 10-man Halifax. Yeovil top the Conference table with 49 points from 23 games; Chester remain 2nd with 43 points from 22 games, and Doncaster are 3rd with 42 points from 23 games. Scarborough join the chasing pack in 4th place with 42 points after their 1-0 home win over Farnborough yesterday.

Club captain Terry Skiverton limped off the pitch with a leg injury in the first half yesterday, it's not known yet whether he'll be fit for the Boxing Day match v Forest Green Rovers.


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20 December 2002 : YTISA Fanzine On Sale
Issue 14 of the YTISA fanzine, 'Independent Barmy Army' is now available for purchase and will be on sale at Huish Park for the Conference clash v Stevenage tomorrow (Saturday).

The fanzine contains the usual weird and wonderful mix of articles of the serious and not-so serious variety, including: Editorials from the editor and chairman of the YTISA; facts and figures from the Glovers' December's past and present; a topical tale featuring John Fry's visit to the panto; a Christmas message from Gary Johnson; a report on the YTISA's AGM, including the association's annual accounts and pen pictures of the committee; a quiz; part 2 of The Glovers, the YTISA's awards for the season so far; and top ten FA Cup classics amongst other bits and pieces. All this and more for just £1! Better value than a romantic night in with Ms Dynamite? Well, obviously not, but not bad for a quid.

If you're not going to the match tomorrow and you would like to reserve a copy of the fanzine, email editor Stew Bratherton at stewartbratherton@hotmail.com and he'll hold a copy for you.


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19 December 2002 : Johnson Looks For Moore
Telford United's Paul Moore has become the latest player to be connected with Yeovil Town, as Gary Johnson continues his bid to strengthen his squad as the Glovers go into a series of four matches in ten days in the Nationwide Conference.

Although it appears no formal bid has been tabled, the Western Gazette quote Johnson as admitting: "We know of him and he is doing very well. We are watching a lot of people at the moment."

Moore started his professional football career with Walsall in 1996 and played for Kidderminster and Bromsgrove before moving to the Bucks Head at the start of the 2001/02 season. He has yet to feature in a Telford match against Yeovil Town and has managed to score eight goals from 18 appearances this season.

One name to go firmly off the rumourmill today is Rushden wide-man Tarkan Mustafa who has signed for Doncaster Rovers today on a month's loan.

Yeovil go into Saturday's home match against Stevenage Borough with one likely addition to their squad, with Gavin Williams having shaken off a hip injury. Williams will almost certainly be the one change to the sixteen who face a Borough side deep in trouble at the wrong end of the table.

Guessing Stevenage Manager Wayne Turner's line-up could be as easy as picking the National Lottery numbers. Kirk Jackson will line up in a green shirt against his former side, whilst Stevenage have also disposed of Jean-Michel Sigere and Adrian Clark to Margate. Richard Pacquette is suspended, Matt Fisher is injured, whilst Martin Williams only made his comeback from injury in a County Cup game in midweek. Williams could easily find himself thrust into action earlier than planned, with Robin Trott, Gary MacDonald, Simon Wormull and John Dreyer the latest to fall ill in a virus that has spread throughout Broadhall Way. Simon Travis and Stuart Fraser are expected to return from illness, but there is no word on skipper Jason Goodliffe who missed last week's match through injury. New signings Justin Richards, a striker on loan from Bristol Rovers, and midfielder Leon Bell, signed on a free from Barnet, are expected to be in the squad travelling to Somerset.


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14 December 2002 : Jackson Grabs Debut Goal In Win At Wincham
Yeovil Town today bounced back from last weekends 2-1 defeat at Scarborough by gaining their own 2-1 victory at Northwich's temporary Wincham Park home.

The win completed a 'double' for Yeovil over Northwich Victoria, although they had some nervy second half moments. With Michael McIndoe's acute angle strike and a Kirk Jackson header - his first for his new club - the Glovers were cruising until Mark Devlin pulled one back unexpectedly during the second half. Goals change games, and this game certainly did that as the Vics threw bodies forward, but ultimately the Glovers held on.

The finale to the game certainly produced some scary moments for the large visiting support, but Gary Johnson said after the game: "It didn't need to be [scary] and we've said that in the dressing room. But when a team goes 2-0 up at half time, that can be a dangerous score. At 1-0 they are going to try and keep their shape a little bit longer, but at 2-0 they've got nothing to lose. Northwich bombed players forward, and our quality wasn't quite good enough in the second half to keep possession in the danger areas. That's why they were dangerous - because they had spare men, bombing forward and taking a chance."

Kirk Jackson's first goal for the Glovers was a well-taken back-post header from a Nick Crittenden cross and Johnson said of the goal: "I was pleased with that. He needed his first goal. It was a good header and a great cross from Nick Crittenden. I thought the first half was terrific. I thought we played a great game, we were very solid, had lots of possession and plenty of chances. Even in the second half we had lots of chances. It was only because Northwich got the one, that we had a little bit of a panic. But if you look back at it, there weren't really many chances as such. Northwich had plenty of long shots and plenty of balls that they got to first. That said, I was the same as you and in the second half I was a bit more worried. That was a shame really, as we don't like games like that - we like to win them and enjoy them. In this one we won it, but we still had a bit of work to do."

"We really had to try and take our goals on the break," he added. "Lindy could have had a chance, there was a great save from Locky, we hit the crossbar at that end and in fact Plucky hit the crossbar twice. All in all, you need that little bit of luck at the other end, and then it does become enjoyable. Credit to Northwich - they weren't going to lie down and let us walk all over them. They took a chance going forward and it nearly worked for them."

Michael McIndoe's opener was a fierce drive from an acute angle, leaving many of the travellers believing that McIndoe had intended to deliver a cross, but Johnson explained: "Macca meant it. He said he looked up and saw that there was nobody in the middle."

Despite the late onslaught from the Vics, Yeovil hand plenty of chances to score additional goals and could have had a penalty when Nick Crittenden went down inside the box leaving the question of whether he had been fouled. But Johnson admitted: "I don't know - we weren't near it, although we heard the shouts for the penalty."

Deep into second half injury time, Northwich were reduced to ten men when Chris Royle was judged to have used his elbow in an aerial challenge with Andy Lindegaard. Johnson said, "The referee was getting a bit dangerous in that you didn't know who he was going to book or send off. Luckily enough it was one of them. I felt the sending off was an innocuous sort of a challenge. There was a lot more like that during the game and unless you deliberately lead with your elbow, it's harsh. But anyway, fortunately, it's not my problem! At the end of the day, it's three very very good points. They are a mid-table team, we are away from home and we needed to win."

Johnson also revealed that a pre-match decision to keep the injury of a key player secret paid dividends: "Gavin Williams has got a bruised hip and he was doubtful even two or three days ago. He got injured on the Tuesday but I wanted to keep it quiet, with all due respect to the fans and to yourselves. I knew that people would guess that we would change our shape, which is what a lot of teams are doing to us to compensate for our play. That's happened in the last three or four games, so I am going to need to keep those teams guessing as to what shape I am going to play. Northwich never play three at the back - they always play 4-4-2. But they know that our midfield always run things, so they'd gone three in midfield with two wingbacks. We changed our shape today and it probably mucked them up early on."

Yeovil's win was complimented by Chester City's victory at Leigh RMI, although the leading duo stretched the top slightly with Doncaster drawing and Morecambe and Southport losing. The League Table positions remain largely unchanged. The Ciderspace match report of the game can be found here.


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12 December 2002 : Giles Going To Gravesend
Reports in the local press and on this website saying that striker Chris Giles has gone on loan to Ryman League Chesham United have proved somewhat inaccurate, or not to put too fine a point on it, are plain wrong! In fact the club's official website is reporting that Giles has indeed gone on loan, but to Conference rivals Gravesend, not Chesham. Somewhat bizarrely the striker is expected to play predominately in the Gravesend defence, and will not play in the Jan 4th fixture v Yeovil.

The Glovers travel to Northwich this weekend with a full squad to choose from, long-term injury victims Adam Stansfield and Tom White excepted - though the good news about central defender White is that he has now resumed training and is expected to be in contention for a first team place in around a fortnight to three week's time. Terry Skiverton and Colin Pluck return to the squad following their suspension in last week's defeat at Scarborough.

Yeovil have been drawn at home to Western League Premier side Odd Down in the quarter-final of the Somerset Premier Cup, the tie to be played in the week beginning February 17th.


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11 December 2002 : Johnson: Alford Can Leave
Glovers boss Gary Johnson is continuing his shake-up of the club's strikers. After signing former Stevenage frontman Kirk Jackson for an initial £20,000 a fortnight ago, Johnson has now let Chris Giles go on loan to Ryman League Chesham United; and told Carl Alford that his contract will not be renewed in the summer and that he is free to leave if he can find a club.

Alford, mainly used as a substitute this season, has been linked with various moves in the press over the last few weeks, with Unibond Premier outfit Droylsden, as well as Conference sides Northwich and Stevenage all said to be interested in signing the player. Ciderspace understands that only Droylsden have made a concrete offer however, which was accepted by the club but rejected by the player. "I gave permission for Droylsden to speak to Carl because I had already out of courtesy spoken to Carl to tell him I wouldn't be renewing his contract in June," Gary Johnson confirmed yesterday. "If he wants to leave that's up to him, otherwise he stays with us and is part of our squad."

In the meantime fellow striker Chris Giles has joined Chesham United, initially on a month's loan. Chesham are managed by former Glovers head coach Colin Lippiatt and the Yeovil connection doesn't stop there - Giles will be renewing the striking partnership first forged in Yeovil's reserve and youth sides a few seasons ago: Former Town forward James Bent signed for Chesham in the summer following a spell at Chippenham after being released by Yeovil last season. Giles will be used as a centre-forward by Chesham despite playing several games for the Glovers in defence. Gary Johnson commented: "We feel he trains so hard but he hasn't quite come through as a first-team regular and so it's good if he plays several matches at first-team level."

[Quotes sourced from the Western Daily Press.]


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8 December 2002 : N-n-n-n-n-n-n-nineteen
The Glovers long unbeaten run of nineteen games without a loss stuttered to a halt at the McCain Stadium yesterday afternoon, in-form Scarborough coming out on top with a hard-fought 2-1 win. The game was a contrast of styles, the Glovers passing football contrasting with the Seadogs far more direct approach - but in the end it was the home side's methods which proved more effective on the day and won the three points.

Scarborough took the lead on 20 minutes through a bizarre own goal, an attempted Roy O'Brien defensive clearance being somehow sliced into his own net. Abdelhalim El Kholti scored his second goal in as many games to equalise just before half-time, but substitute Bimbo Fatukan popped up with a 70th minute header to bring Yeovil's long unbeaten record to an end.

Speaing to a press conference after the game, Glovers boss Gary Johnson had the following observations to make: "We're not used to losing, so the boys are a bit down in there at the moment. We're all a bit down because when you are not used to losing, it comes as a big shock to you. But it was a great run, and one of the big things I've said in the dressing room is that it's important as to how we recover from it. We've had a talk individually - everyone had their say - on how we could have done better.

"Scarborough's reaction showed that beating us was a like a cup final to them. They played a very direct style and they took their chances. We didn't create enough chances - we've talked about that. I thought the boys worked very hard but we got caught by a couple of sucker punches - two mistakes really. One was a mis-hit that went in the goal, whilst the other was somebody not marking properly. I won't mention individual names, but they will know because I've already spoken to them about it.

"We've got to pick it up again now and we've got to look at the next six or seven games and try and get our run going again.

"Scarborough are a very direct side and sometimes against a direct side you have to play more football. I just felt that we didn't create any opportunities today. We're a side that scores something like 2.1 goals per game and we're the top scorers in the league. To be top goalscorers, you have to create lots of chances and today we didn't do that. We had the half chance where Abdelhalim El Kholti shot, it took a deflection and he scored the goal, but other than that we didn't really create any major chances. We had a few long shots but not enough and to beat these teams you have to create a lot more chances.

"I think Scarborough's style worked on the day, but I wouldn't say that they looked a better team than us. We didn't quite get our flowing football going, and perhaps that's credit to Scarborough. Sometimes you just get done by sucker punches. They got their first with the own goal when really we'd never looked in danger up until that point."

Asked whether losing Terry Skiverton and Colin Pluck from the defence on suspensions had made any difference to the result, Gary replied: "I think that all the lads battled. You can talk about whether Skivo and Plucky were in the team would have made a difference, but they weren't. You can't look at just one part of the field as to why we lost. That
part of the field is always dangerous if you make a mistake - if you make a mistake up front it doesn't stand out so much because the effect is not quite so big as it is at the back. But it's a squad game and we have to be good enough as a squad. I was pleased with Jimmy [Aggrey], especially given that it was his first game, and that he was up against two very strong blokes up front.


"The boys are like tigers in the dressing room at the moment, ready to rip each others throats out. That is the nature of the beast - they don't like losing. They'll all be mates in an hours time because they know they've got a job to do. The next seven, eight or nine games are going to be very important to us. We're still at the top, but we were always going to get beaten by somebody. That's happened today and we'll turn it around because the boys in there are good enough to put another
run together."


The result leaves the Glovers still top of the league on 43 points, 3 ahead of both Chester and Doncaster in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, though Chester have a game in hand. Donny enjoyed a good 2-1 win at Burton on Friday night, while Chester lost 3-2 at Morecambe in the FA Cup 2nd round yesterday, striker Ryan Sugden being red-carded for violent conduct. Scarborough move up to 4th spot on the strength of yesterday's win, on 36 points.

One unbeaten run comes to an end then, now is a good time to start another! Yesterday's game marks the end of a difficult run of games for the Glovers with matches against most of the top six sides coming thick and fast.... The Glovers now go on to play a run of games against mainly lower-half teams and will be hoping to get back to winning ways as soon as possible, starting with next Saturday's trip to Northwich. As Gary Johnson put it at the end of the post-match press conference yesterday: "I wish the next game was tomorrow because I hate spending the whole week at the club and at home having lost a game. We'll be very focussed and we'll soon see if we are championship material by whether we bounce back quickly. If we do, we'll know that we are championship material."


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5 December 2002 : Phillips' Future Still Up In The Air
The future of Weymouth striker Lee Phillips is still up in the air after his 3-week trial at Huish Park finally ended earlier this week. Speaking to the Dorset Echo after last night's friendly match at the Wessex Stadium, Glovers boss Gary Johnson said, "There's nothing new to say about Lee Phillips publicly. I'm going to have a drink and a chat with Geoff Butler right now and if there's anything to say then he'll be the one I'll be saying it to. Geoff and I are both agreed that he's a very good player and I've enjoyed seeing him at close hand at Huish Park. I rate him very highly just as Weymouth do but there's nothing new to add at this stage. What I will say is that both Yeovil and Weymouth have the boy's best interests at heart and so we'll see what happens over the next few weeks."

The main stumbling block to any possible transfer appears to be Weymouth's valuation of the player - the Terras have to pay Phillips' previous club Plymouth 40% of any fee, and turned down a £20,000 bid from Newport County earlier in the season. The player himself seems philosophical about the situation. Speaking to the Western Gazette Phillips said, "I am not sure what price they are talking if they are. But if they're talking more than £20,000 then I do not think I am worth that. I totally agree with everything Weymouth are doing. It is not their fault - it is what they have got to do. It is business at the end of the day. If it happens it happens, if not it is not the end of the world. I know I am good enough to play in the Conference and Gary Johnson has said that. But if one door closes another opens."

Meanwhile the Glovers make their longest trip of the season this weekend to play in-form 5th-placed Scarborough at the McCain Stadium. Central defenders Terry Skiverton and Colin Pluck are suspended for the game, so Gary Johnson is likely to introduce new signing Jimmy Aggrey to play alongside Adam Lockwood and Roy O'Brien in the back three. Speaking to the Western Gazette Aggrey said, "I have settled in very well and I really do believe this place is geared for success. I was at the game last Saturday and it was unbelievable. Having been at a league club [it was only Torquay, Jimmy! -ed] you would expect the crowd to be a lot smaller but that was not the case. The professionalism and atmosphere here is second to none and the potential for the club to grow is incredible - I am so excited about being given the chance to play in a winning side."

Also speaking to the Gazette, manager Gary Johnson said, "We have Chris Giles who could cover in that defensive position but I think he perhaps needs a bit more experience before I chuck him into a game like this. Jimmy Aggrey is a massive boy who has a lot of experience for a young lad. Scarborough are one of the teams who are on a decent run at the moment and they have a very good team. They are very direct and will certainly attack us - it is another big game for us."


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5 December 2002 : Glovers' Shirt And Man City Football Up For Grabs!
Yeovil Express chief reporter Steve Sowden writes:


A Yeovil Town football shirt signed by the first-team squad will be up for grabs at a special auction set to be held at Huish Park on December 21 in aid of the FAST (Fund A Scanner Today) Appeal.

The auction will take place in the Vice-President's Lounge of Huish Park at around 6pm - shortly after the Glovers' Nationwide Conference fixture with Stevenage Borough.

But the star lot - so far - at the auction will be a football signed by the players of Premiership outfit Manchester City FC which arrived at the Express offices yesterday (Wednesday).

Also included in the auction will be a number of items which did not sell in the FAST Appeal silent auction which closed earlier this week.

These include a signed photograph of England and Liverpool star striker Michael Owen and crib notes used by legendary football commentator John Motson for his commentary of the Premiership match between Chelsea and Newcastle United in September.

Express chief reporter Steve Sowden said: "A number of sporting items were not sold in our original auction, so I'm delighted that Yeovil Town FC has agreed to hold another auction at Huish Park on December 21 - plus also donate a signed shirt.

"By the time the auction comes around Christmas Day will be just four days away and hopefully some of the items up for sale could solve a few last-minute present headaches!"

Anybody wishing to make a reserved bid on any of the items below should write to the Yeovil Express, 46 Princes Street, Yeovil, Somerset BA20 1EQ, with your name, address, daytime telephone number, the lot number and your bid.

Alternatively you can e-mail stephen.sowden@countygazette.co.uk.

The closing date for reserved bids will be Friday, December 20, at 5pm.

The items up for sale at the auction on December 21 are as follows:

LOT 1: A copy of the book Botham's Century, signed by legendary former England and Somerset cricket all-rounder Ian Botham.

LOT 2: Football commentator John Motson's signed crib notes used for his commentary of the Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United for Radio Five Live on September 14, 2002.

LOT 3: Two signed photographs of former Eire and Liverpool defender, and Match of the Day pundit, Mark Lawrenson.

LOT 4: A signed photograph of England and Liverpool star striker Michael Owen.

LOT 5: A Yeovil Town FC shirt signed by the first-team.

LOT 6: An official football signed by the players of Manchester City FC.


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4 December 2002 : Mixed Glovers Find It Chilly At The Seaside
An experimental Glovers side lost 1-0 at the Wessex Stadium against Weymouth tonight. A first half goal by Crispen Riglar in the 32nd minute that was created by former Yeovil winger Matt Hale was the only strike of the night on a chilly evening when only around 150 foolhardy souls ventured outside.

Welcome surprise of the night was the sight of Tom White making his first appearance for the club since a knee operation and he managed 45 trouble-free minutes. He partnered Chris Giles in defence, alongside Craig Farley who was guesting for the Glovers.

Farley seems to be well-known to Gary Johnson, as the defender started his career at Watford around the time that Johnson was there as the Youth Academy Director. He moved on to play for Colchester United and has since played for Oxford City and Chesham United, although he seems to have departed upon the arrival of former Glovers Head Coach Colin Lippiatt, and has been in America recently.

The second half saw what is expected to be Yeovil's defensive trio on Saturday of Lockwood, Jimmy Aggrey and O'Brien take to the field and reports suggested that all three did a good mopping up operation, with Aggrey showing good confident skills with his feet. Perhaps his only blot on his copybook was to deliver a crunching tackle on Weymouth striker and Yeovil trialist Lee Philips with the minutes ticking out, that left Philips still on the deck upon the final whistle! The conversation on the training ground tomorrow at Huish Park should be interesting, hopefully Philips' injury is not too severe.

Carl Alford played in the starting line-up tonight, despite reports in the Manchester Evening News that he was on his way to Unibond League side Droylesden for a "five figure fee". The report is the latest in a bizarre series of recent press reports that have seen local newspapers and media outlets around the country covering Stevenage Borough, Halifax Town, Northwich Victoria and Droylesden all claim that Alford was signing for their respective clubs.

First Half Line-Up: (4-4-2)
Stephen Collis,
Craig Farley, Tom White, Chris Giles, Stephen Reed,
Andy Lindegaard, Colin Pluck (captain), Steve Thompson, Kim Grant,
Abdoulai Demba, Carl Alford.

Second Half Line-Up: (3-5-2)
Stephen Collis,
Adam Lockwood, Roy O'Brien, Jimmy Aggrey,
Craig Farley, Andy Lindegaard, Colin Pluck, Paul Henbest, Stephen Reed,
Kim Grant, Chris Giles

Second Half Subs: Ian Patchett (for Reed) and Gary Nash (for Grant)


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4 December 2002 : Internet Supporters' Player of the Month for November: Abdelhaim El Kholti
Abdelhaim El Kholti
Internet Supporters' Player of the Month for November: Abdelhaim El Kholti
Photo © 2002 Ciderspace


Abdelhalim El Kholti is November's Internet Supporters' Player of the Month. The French/Moroccan utility player only started 4 out of 6 games last month, 2 playing as wing-back and 2 as striker, but was voted as outright Man-of-the-Match in 3 of those matches, just doing enough to see off the continuing excellence of Michael McIndoe in 2nd place. In the ongoing Player of the Year table, Macca takes over at the top, with Terry Skiverton and Gavin Williams in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

Internet Player of the Month full results:

Player Score
Abdelhalim El Kholti 413
Michael McIndoe 411
Darren Way 371
Roy O'Brien 193
Nick Crittenden 137
Gavin Williams 119


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2 December 2002 : Bulls hit By Trophy Draw
Defending FA Trophy champions Yeovil Town have been drawn away to Conference rivals Hereford United in the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy, the tie to be played Saturday 11th January, 2003 at Edgar Street. The full draw is as follows (Conference teams in bold):

NORTHERN SECTION
Farsley Celtic v Gainsborough Trinity
Kettering Town v Altrincham
Chester City v Worksop Town
Leek Town v Southport
Alfreton Town v Spennymoor Utd/Halesowen Town
Leigh RMI v Vauxhall Motors
Rugby United v Telford United
Stalybridge Celtic v Scarborough
Northwich Victoria v Barrow
Wakefield & Emley v Burton Albion
Ilkeston Town v Harrogate Town/Burscough
Tamworth v Nuneaton Borough
Lancaster City v Morecambe
Colwyn Bay v Blyth Spartans
Halifax Town v Doncaster Rovers

SOUTHERN SECTION
Woking v Chesham Utd/Walton & Hersham
Dover Athletic v Gravesend & Northfleet
Stevenage Borough v Oxford City
Forest Green Rovers v Barnet
Windsor & Eton v Thame Utd
Aylesbury Utd v Kingstonian
Eastbourne Borough v Farnborough Town
Gloucester City/Merthyr Tydfil v Lewes
Dagenham & Redbridge v Bishop's Stortford/Marlow
Hayes v Crawley Town
Dulwich Hamlet v Margate
Canvey Island v Cirencester Town
Heybridge Swifts v Hendon
Worcester City v Newport County
Purfleet v Grays Athletic
Hereford United v YEOVIL TOWN
Sutton Utd v Havant & Waterlooville/Billericay Town


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1 December 2002 : Glovers Keep The 'Gate Shut
Yeovil Town extended their unbeaten league run to 18 games and made it two consecutive wins on Saturday when they defeated a resolute Margate side by a 2-1 scoreline. After a tentative first half that had seen a Abdelhalim El Kholti header cancelled out right on half time by a Lee Shearer equaliser, Yeovil took the game by the scruff of the neck during the second half, and thereafter it was only a matter of whether they could find their way past former Dover goalkeeper Charlie Mitten.

It took a penalty kick to divide the teams in the end - Nick Crittenden was upended by a defender and got up to take his own penalty for his ninth Conference strike of the season. Thereafter, Yeovil never looked back and gained their victory with little further pressure from their visitors, and probably should have weighed in with a third goal were it not for a linesman refusing to let a Colin Pluck header stand, despite most believing the ball to have crossed the line.

Whilst Kirk Jackson made his debut, speculation continues to surround his new striking team-mates with Carl Alford and Abdoulai Demba failing to even make the sixteen. Strong rumours circulating from both the Stevenage and Yeovil camps suggest a bid is in the offing for former golden boot winner Alford, though neither party has admitted to a concrete bid.

With both Chester and Doncaster both winning, the League Table remains more or less unchanged. The Ciderspace match report of the game can be found here.

Speaking after the game, Glovers manager Gary Johnson said "I thought before the game that we would have to be patient today because I knew they were going to sit with nine men behind the ball - maybe ten at times - and it works for them sometimes. It worked for them here last year when we couldn't break them down and lost 2-1. Although they did it again we won today by being patient. You have to be patient and not start booting the ball up field, but keep playing your football."


"I thought in the second half we dominated but I was disappointed in the first half. We gave away too many free kicks and we knew they would be dangerous from free kicks. They are a big strong side and I didn't feel they'd open us up from open play but I felt free kicks would be a danger, as it proved with the goal. In the second half I thought we dominated and played some clever football at 2-1. You don't need to win 3-1 necessarily when you've only got fifteen minutes to go and I thought we played some great possession football keeping it in the corners when we needed to. It was a professional performance because you can't turn on the Lord Mayor's show every time."

"In the second half we proved our worth, Colin Pluck's effort was definitely in - there's no doubt about that in my mind. I spoke to people down in the corner - I spoke to the two lads - they don't have to say that it went in as we've won the game 2-1."

The Glovers also had claims for a penalty turned down when Gavin Williams went to ground and Johnson added, "I don't feel Gavin dived. Gavin doesn't need to dive when he's on a slalom because when he starts dropping his shoulder he doesn't need to dive at all because he can go past people. I haven't spoken to him about that yet. It would have been nice to get a penalty at that point. But it was nice to see Critts score from the penalty spot under that pressure - big pressure at home, big game for us - he needed to get the goal and he stuck it away nicely."

"There are no teams in any league that absoutely out-play all the teams in the league, otherwise it would be pointless playing in it. Arsenal and Man Utd are having the same problem, and you have to nick some results and grind out results every now and again. But every three points we get now are three points we dont have to get later. Chester winning today proves even more how much we needed to win today."

Kirk Jackson struck the woodwork during his debut for the Glovers, but Johnson admitted, "Kirk had a quiet game in so far as a goalscoring striker was concerned. I think everyone sees why he's in there. He's got a great touch and he will create goals for other people as well as himself. Just the fact that he sets people up and having someone up there that can keep and retain possession helps. He's going to be fine - he's got to get into the full-time fitness - it will take him a couple of weeks to get flying. They had three big center-halves that were decent in the air and he was up their on his own. But you could say he made the first goal because while the three big ugly center-halves were trying to mark him, little El Kholti comes up with a great little header so Kirk could claim an assist."

[Quotes sourced from the Official Site and Richard Gibson.]


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