THREE POINTS IS THREE POINTS
Yeovil made sure of three points today, but the one nil score-line flattered Rochdale. Yeovil did much more than the score suggests and it would have been robbery if Rochdale had taken anything from this game. But, at one to nil anything can always happen.
Rochdale’s manager, Steve Parkin, had his work cut out to maintain his winning start, after his team beat Torquay last week. But with injury problems, international duty, and suspension, Parkin needed all his experience to shuffle his team. Against one of the tightest defences in the league Parkin was pushing his luck to suggest his team could sneak a win with a defensive 4-5-1 formation.
Gary Johnson had similar problems but shuffled Adam Lockwood across to left back in place of suspended Colin Pluck, and brought Paul Terry into the right back position. Lee Elam came back onto the right wing and Gavin Williams retained a more forward position behind Kevin Gall.
The game promised to excite, even referee Mr Probert promised a good performance, letting the game flow in the opening minutes. It was the third minute before he blew up for any infringement.
Mr Probert’s leniency brought a smile to the Yeovil contingent as he waved away an appeal following a Rochdale dive following a Rodrigues challenge. But, for the rest of the game Mr Probert continually ignored challenges from behind on the Yeovil’s makeshift centre forward, Williams. How Williams could be penalised when his head was held under Burgess’s armpit was beyond the comprehension of the majority of the 5806 crowd.
The game began relatively quietly, Chris Weale looking commanding, punching two early crosses. The later set Lee Elam away down the right, but the attack fizzled out as the final ball disappointed, an outcome that was to be repeated on too many occasions.
Yeovil maintained pressure and came close after 11 minutes: Elam sent in two good crosses but Crittenden could only hook the second cross wide of the far post. A minute later Yeovil grabbed what turned out to be the winner. Skiverton picked out Gavin WILLIAMS on the edge of the Rochdale box with a pinpoint, route-one, thirty-yard ball. And with one sweeping move pushed the ball onto his right foot and shot inside the far post. Edwards, the diminutive Rochdale keeper, scramble post-ward but was well beaten by the accuracy, rather than the power, of the shot.
At the back Yeovil looked dominant and composed. Even when Elam lost the ball in his own box Rodrigues was on hand to block at the near post.
The game entered a very quiet period, punctuated by slow free kicks and injuries and Parkin’s problems increased when Beech had to be replaced by Townson after just twenty-two minutes. The game dragged as Yeovil toiled on the right wing, winning throw-in after throw-in. Rochdale won two free kicks in the Yeovil half as a result of Mr Probert’s charity, but the Yeovil goal was never in danger.
The game suddenly came to life after 30 minutes: Lockwood, Crittenden and Gall combined well down the left, but Gall’s cross was weak. The Yeovil midfield now dominated, but the final ball often let them down, often expecting far too much of Gall up front. Williams’s break after 38 minutes found Gall, but his first touch let him down and the Rochdale defence recovered to block his shot. Seconds later Lee Johnson sent in a powerful shot that flew just wide of the far post. Lee Elam then was in place to head for goal, but his header was too high.
Mr Probert afforded Rochdale two corners as they enjoyed one of their better periods and finished the half with a flourish.