Super Yeovil undone by England Internationals
What an incredibly proud day it is to be a Yeovil Town supporter. For 45 minutes the most famous of FA cup giantkillers had their illustrious opponents, the world famous Liverpool FC well and truly on the back foot and gasping for breath. A superb exhibition of hardworking, fluent passing football made a mockery of the gulf between these two sides. If that overworked Martian had come down from outer space and was asked the perennial question, (as he always is on these occasions) which was the Premiership side he would have replied in a cosmic flash that it was Yeovil.
Liverpool, who have such a history, looked a poor advert for top-flight football, disjointed and lacking penetration. Gary Johnson has always said that his club has the mentality of a second division set up, tonight he can raise his sights, along with his glass of well-earned champagne, even higher!
In the end, the difference between the two sides came in the second period, one piece of clinical finishing from an England centre forward, that and keeping possession when it counted was all that divided the two teams.
When the disappointment ebbs away, today's game will go down in the memory of all who came, contributing to a record Huish Park crowd of 9348. 1700 or so made the trip from Liverpool, famed for their passionate support, either the undercurrent running through their club, or the Yeovil performance stunned them into a silence, to be honest, they like their team didn't get going, even when they scored the celebrations were muted, maybe, secretly they wanted this to be the game that could relieve their beleaguered coach Gerard Houllier of his duties.
Talking of coaches, today wasn't just about the match, for Somerset's premier club and its followers it was a day to expect, predict, anticipate and most of all remember. Like Christmas the build up, and its almost been four weeks is the best bit. Everyone turned up early to savour the atmosphere and when the 2 black, shiny buses pulled up outside the main entrance hundreds gathered round, rubbernecking style to take a look at the under-fire occupants. By noon, the Westland Stand was full in both fan and voice. Off the pitch, there were just as many famous footballers, Brooking, Aldridge, Hansen, Lawrensen, Claridge, Lineker, Schmichael and for Radio Bristol, Mark Shail! The same Mark Shail who missed the corresponding fixture against Arsenal 11 years ago through suspension.
Yeovil kicked off and attacked the home end, within a minute they made their intentions perfectly clear as Way and Crittenden combined to swing a teasing cross into the box which had Dudek at full strength and requiring the attention of the Liverpool physio.
When Liverpool broke, Pongolle was tracked all the way back by Nick Crittenden who timed his tackle superbly to deny the forward a sight of goal. Darren Way returned to the starting line up, and he was upended by Smicer on twelve minutes, which resulted in the games first yellow card. Paul Terry, December's player of the month, quite rightly kept his place in the side following Ways return, moving out to the right of midfield. Gavin Williams occupied the "hole" behind Kevin Gall, who played the lone striker role. Kirk Jackson was surprisingly left out, and sat on the bench.
Yeovil's next shot on goal had Dudek flapping. A Johnson free kick down the left was smacked in hard and the Reds keeper managed to parry the ball away before in nestled in the top corner. At the end of the game Johnson wore Danny Murphy's shirt. His performance today suggested that he could wear it every Saturday as he dictated the midfield and was the creator of all things good. On 18 minutes Yeovil played some superb one touch passing football, it ended when Darren Way shot into the crowd after the ball wouldn't come down quick enough. If he'd scored, it would have been replayed for years. Chris Weale then pulled off a fine save from a Smicer cross, taking the ball low when as it curled away from him. Yeovil's best spell then came. Following successive corners the ball was cleared to the edge of the area and Gavin Williams struck a goal bound shot hard to Dudek's left and the Pole pulled of a magnificent save to deny Yeovil' playmaker. Moments later the ball swung over to the far post, and Colin Pluck turned, connected and struck his effort which was gratefully smothered by keeper and defender.
On 32 minutes Paul Terry took an awful knock to his leg, he did well to get back on his feet and play for a further few minutes before he crumpled to the ground. He was immediately replaced by Andy Lindegaard. Terry has been a revelation of late, and no disrespect to Andy Lindegaard his holding presence down the right was missed. Moments later, from that side Diouf, the world cup star from Senegal was rightly booked when he dived in the area to try and gain his side a penalty. Liverpool's best chance of the half came just before the break, a superb ball from Henchoz down the right found Harry Kewell. His foray into the box saw him pull back to the edge, but Diouf, under pressure from Lockwood snapped his shot wide. Crittenden then shot from distance but his effort lacked power and pace and was easily held by Dudek, and that was the last chance before the half time whistle blew.