No real surprises as Gary Johnson's men arrived at Field Mill for their first ever competitive match against
Mansfield Town; the sixteen selected was exactly the same as that which travelled to Doncaster on Tuesday.
Conversely, Mansfield were coming into the game on the back of a whole host of injury and suspension issues,
including former Glovers trialist David Artell, who had received a knock in midweek.
Perhaps the real surprise was the way the Glovers started the game. In the previous three matches, Gary
Johnson has adopted a policy of caution to persuade his players to shut out any chances of conceding an early
goal. Yet Yeovil really took the game to Mansfield, creating three excellent chances just in the opening couple
Lee Johnson took a free kick from the edge of the penalty box, after a Mansfield player handled, but his shot
went into the defensive wall. Yet from the half-clearance, Kevin Gall got put through, and he forced a superb
fingertip save from Mansfield keeper Kevin Pilkington. From the resulting corner, the ball reached Gavin Williams
on the edge of the penalty area, and he rifled a shot that went inches over the bar.
It took the Stags quarter of an hour to get down the other end of the park, and good wing work by Junior Mendes,
who was to prove to be Mansfield's most dangerous player, saw the ball cut across the face of the Yeovil penalty
area, but Wayne Corden shot into the side-netting.
Despite Yeovil slightly shading the half, it was Mansfield who managed the first glaring miss of the half. A
mistake by Ronnie Bull on the half hour mark whilst inside the Mansfield half, saw the Stags gain possession through
Liam Lawrence, and his layoff to Mendes saw the quick-footed player draw out Chris Weale from his goal and strike
for goal. Somehow the ball came off the far post and Lawrence was running in too quickly to take advantage of an
empty net as the rebound zipped straight past him.
Three minutes later, the same player was involved in another great chance for the home side. After falling to
the floor in the penalty box following a challenge by Colin Pluck, the striker rolled around in agony ... until a
misplaced Yeovil defensive clearance landed at his feet on the corner of the area. Miraculously, Mendes made an
instant recovery and drew out Weale once again. But the Yeovil keeper did well to palm the ball further to the touchline
and when Mendes finally got room to make his cross, Adam Lockwood was available to force the ball away for a corner,
under pressure from Craig Disley.
This was cracking end to end stuff though, and when that corner was cleared, Yeovil raced straight down the other
end, and Gavin Williams forced a terrific save out of Kevin Pilkington as his 20 yard drive was forced round for
a corner. Straight from that, Nick Crittenden forced another excellent save from Pilkington from the edge of the area
for a second corner, to turn the pressure up.
Just when you were starting to wonder how on earth the game was still goalless, Yeovil ensured that it didn't
say that way. A Lee Johnson corner caused havoc in the Mansfield penalty box, and the Stags failed to clear
their lines. When the ball landed close to the opposite touch-line, a short pull-back was met by Kirk JACKSON
who tapped home from six yards out. Ironically up until that point, Jackson had been probably the most anonymous
player on the pitch, but that's what strikers are paid for, and he even found time during his celebrations to
blow his grandmother a kiss in the stands!
A flurry of bookings ended a five-star quality half, with Lee Johnson the Yeovil player booked in the middle of
a midfield battle that almost resembled a rugby scrummage. Somehow, referee Mr Friend's decision was to award a drop
ball. Jamie Clarke was the Mansfield player booked straight after when he cynically blocked a Nick Crittenden
run. But that short bit of intervention by the match referee should not detract from what had been a superbly
entertaining end-to-end first half, with both sides playing their part in some sweet passing football that looked
way above the stage on which they were playing.