After four consecutive matches in which Yeovil Town have managed to pick not only the same starting line-up but also the same substitutes bench, there were some enforced changes necessary to the Glovers line-up for the visit of Northampton Town at Huish Park. Whilst Terry Skiverton's absence was to be expected with Scott Guyett replacing him, Jean-Paul Kalala surprisingly dropped out of the sixteen with an injury and Anthony Barry was the obvious replacement. Anthony Tonkin also dropped out of the squad with a virus meaning that Andy Lindegaard made his first showing within the first team squad since August following his comeback from a groin injury, whilst Daniel Webb and Bradley Thomas were also drafted onto the subs bench. The squad was about as thin as it could ever get.
Northampton arrived without top scorer Scott McGleish, currently out with a calf injury, and with the Cobblers not exactly a goalscoring machine even with McGleish in the side, it was no great surprise that they became the latest side to arrive at Huish Park and promptly stick 10 men behind the ball. On an extremely greasy pitch, both sides struggled badly during the first 15 minutes to get any serious possession without slipping on the turf, or misjudging the speed that the ball would head across the pitch. As such the early pattern was not unlike a hot potato being passed from one player to an opposition player and then back again. A long range shot by Northampton's Andrew Holt that went just wide was about the only time the goals got threatened during the opening period.
The pre-match rain though had stopped and so conditions were gradually improving, although it was the visitors that got the first true chance of the match thanks to a double error in the Yeovil defence. Nathan Jones, captain for the day, swung at the ball and sliced, and then Terrell Forbes managed to do the same, landing the ball right in the path of Ian Taylor, presenting him with a real gift around the penalty spot. The Cobblers player shot well, but an outstanding reaction save from Steve Mildenhall saw the ball parried away, with Scott Guyett to the rescue when the ball dropped loose.
A minute later play swung up to the other end, with Lee Morris providing a right-wing cross that a Northampton defender had to hack away when close to his own goal line. Then Morris was involved again with the striker pulling the ball back for Martin Cranie to hit, but he received it on his wrong foot and keeper Mark Bunn got down well to save at the base of his post.
Eoin Jess became the second player to be denied by Steve Mildenhall after he was allowed to twist and turn on the edge of the box, determined to get the ball onto his right foot, which the Yeovil defence somewhat charitably allowed him to. Shooting from just inside the box, Mildenhall parried the shot again and this time Terrell Forbes was the one who was forced to hack the ball clear.
On the half hour mark, it was Cobblers keeper Mark Bunn in action again after Lee Morris broke through the Cobblers back line, using both feet to weave in and out of their tackles, coming in from the left flank and shooting on goal but Bunn got down to save once again.
Pedj Bojic became perhaps unjustly the first player in the book when he fouled Arron Davies, 10 minutes before the break. He could feel perhaps aggrieved because two of his team-mates had committed far worse fouls earlier in the half but without punishment, and Bojic was perhaps a victim of the crowd's growing frustration with referee Rob Shoebridge's performance and his reaction to the crowd's displeasure was to produce a card. Nathan Jones could also feel hard done by though when Bojic was fouled right by the dugouts and the Cobblers player went down writhing in pain clutching his shinbone - strange given that Jones had actually nudged him from behind! Referee Shoebridge seemed to be fooled by the playacting and the demands from the Cobblers bench to even up the card count.
Talking of incompetant officials, Mr Shoebridge had chosen to come out for the game wearing a black referee's shirt - a mere slightest of shade different from Northampton's dark blue away kit and as the light faded, the effect was for the match referee to resemble a 12th man on the pitch for Northampton. During a lengthy period for treatment to a Northampton player four minutes before the break, Lee Morris lodged a complaint with the fourth official who called referee Shoebridge over and appeared to agree with Morris and the majority of the somewhat sarcastic home crowd, who didn't need to hear the conversation to know what was being said. After a lengthy delay, another loud sarcastic cheer went up as a yellow shirt came out and we finally had "eleven vs eleven" back on the pitch again!
That rather surreal and lengthy delay was not really reflected in the two minutes of injury time awarded at the end of the half. During this time, the Glovers forced three corners, pushing the Cobblers deep into their half, but the closest they came was when a Lee Morris ball into the box was flicked on by Leon Best but again a Northampton defender close to the goalline was able to head clear. As the ball broke clear, Arron Davies came in for the rebound and the ball shot wide of goal. Not the greatest of halves of football really, and Yeovil were going to have to up their game to beat a Northampton side that were looking relatively comfortable in quelling any Yeovil advances.