Coming into the game on the back of two good 1-0 wins, it wasn't the greatest surprise in the world when
Gary Johnson selected the exact same sixteen that had seen off Oxford United on the previous weekend. Nick Crittenden
and Jake Edwards didn't travel up, whilst Colin Pluck's attendance was restricted to that of handling the team's
kit off the coach when he failed his fitness test.
Kicking off in a sparsely populated stadium, the Glovers started off in confident mood although their hosts looked
a far more lively side than the inert team that had visited Huish Park earlier in the season. Darlington came into
the match having won three out of their previous four games, and having briefly nosed their way out of the bottom
two, before a midweek defeat saw them slip back into the relegation zone. They set off with real intent and Chris
Weale had to palm one effort round his left hand post as the Quakers fired in an early shot on goal. But
Yeovil had the best of the early chances when a Hugo Rodrigues header from a Yeovil free kick saw goalkeeper
Michael Price beaten but the hosts were rescued by Craig Liddle's header off his own goal-line.
Just 20 minutes in though, the home side took the lead. Goalkeeper Chris Weale has looked Premiership standard
in these past few weeks but even he was proved to be merely mortal when he spilled a Darlington corner, the ball
was stabbed towards goal, and Barry CONLON took advantage from close range to put Darlington 1-0 up. Wealey
better hope that the touring West Ham scouts either didn't fancy the long journey, or were off to the teabars
when that one crept in.
One of Yeovil's biggest problems this season has been the art of coming back into games when they go behind, but
they had the perfect answer just a couple of minutes later. Andy Bishop set up Lee JOHNSON, who launched
a perfect looping volley straight over the head of Michael Price, with the keeper a mile away from being able to
keep the ball out of the net.
Darlington went straight on the back foot and Gavin Williams very nearly took advantage when he did a near
action replay of his goal at Kidderminster; running straight through the middle of the home side's defence, and
planting a sweet shot that flew off the base of the left-hand post, with Price again well beaten. The Darlington
keeper also looked unhappy with the large number of crosses being pushed in his direction, frequently resorting
to punches to clear the danger and one such punch led to Adam Lockwood going close with a volley going just over
Despite Yeovil's 10 minutes of extreme pressure, they went behind again just beyond the half hour mark and
this provided the first of several huge talking points surrounding the supposedly Premiership standard referee
Dermot Gallagher. As a ball was swung into the box, a fairly sloppy half clearance out of the area fell into
the path of Neil WAINWRIGHT. The Darlington player shot through a crowd of players, and Chris Weale saw
it late, with the ball creeping onto the corner of the net. Weale, aided by Lee Johnson and Darren Way, directed
his fury to the match official over the decision to award the goal. A Darlington player, stood in a clear offside
position obscured Wealey's view and yet neither linesman nor Mr Gallagher seemed willing to consider that
in making their decision. Lee Johnson got a yellow card for making his feelings on the subject known.
If Gallagher had incensed the Yeovil players by allowing that goal, then worse was to come just eight minutes
later. The Oxfordshire referee was suspended by the Premiership six years ago after failing to send off
Arsenal defender Steve Bould when he committed a professional foul on Chelsea's Gianluca Vialli. Gallagher's
defence at the time was that he felt that another Arsenal player Gilles Grimandi, was in a position to tackle Vialli.
It was therefore somewhat ironic when Paul Terry tangled with Darlington's Neil Teggart just outside the 18 yard
line with the home player losing his footing and going down clutching the ball. A free kick perhaps but what wasn't
expected was for Gallagher - hopelessly behind play and close to the halfway line, brandishing a red card as
he lumbered in towards the incident. Why Gallagher chose to wave the card whilst still 30 yards away from the players,
why he didn't consult his linesman, why he didn't see Hugo Rodrigues
standing goalside of Terry, and why he saw Teggart's wide position as an "obvious goalscoring opportunity"
perhaps only he will know. It was nothing less than a shocking decision but no attempt by the surrounding
Yeovil players could undo Gallagher's howler.
A still stunned 10-man Yeovil side saw Neil Maddison's free kick strike the crossbar, and Barry Conlon fail to meet
the rebound. Gallagher seemed to have gone to pieces over his earlier decision, and when Neil Taggart went down
in the penalty box, it looked like things might go from bad to worse. Thankfully Taggart's theatrics seemed to have
influenced Gallagher's thinking and he was only too happy to wave a yellow card for diving and award a kick in
the opposite direction.