As usual, defensive selection issues dominated Gary Johnson's thinking with Terry Skiverton the latest
to join the treatment table. That meant for a slight gamble with Colin Miles getting a starting place despite
having played little football this season, with Roy O'Brien moving out to the right-back slot and Paul Terry
going up the flank. That meant that Kevin Gall was sacrificed for a match against his old club.
A busy start by both sides saw the midfields battle it out without anything much happening to bother either
keeper. Colin Miles gave Richard Walker half a chance when he cleared a ball straight to the Rovers striker but
Roy O'Brien did well to close Walker down and stop any chance of a shot on goal. Yeovil were far too guilty
of conceding free kicks in dangerous positions but thankfully Rovers were doing little with them.
Rovers were predictably playing the Atkins brand of football with long balls being punted up for the two strikers,
though most were being dealt with efficiently by the Yeovil back line or going out for goal kicks. A very eerie
atmosphere for a local derby was developing with both sets of supporters waiting to see who would come out on
top of the midfield scrap to the extent that players voices could clearly be heard over the 9,200 strong crowd.
The first clear-cut chance though came the visitors way. Gavin Williams cut in from his left wing position, and chipped
a cross-cum-shot that Kevin Miller could only get his finger-tips to, and when Andrejs Stolcers tried to follow-up
the loose ball, Robert Ryan was forced to clear off his own goal-line.
As the game headed towards the half hour mark though, Yeovil worked their way into a deserved lead. Phil Jevons fired
a low ball across the face of the Rovers penalty area, Andrejs Stolcers pulled the ball back and as the Rovers defence
watched and admired, Paul TERRY fired through a crowd of players from 10 yards to put Yeovil 1-0 up.
They say teams are at their most vulnerable after scoring, so it was fortunate that Chris Weale was alert to his first
save of the evening, after Richard Walker squeezed around a Yeovil defender to poke an eight yard shot towards goal.
Wealey grabbed the ball at the second attempt.
But it was Yeovil looking the stronger following the goal. Gavin Williams was given the freedom of Bristol when
he got the ball just outside the home side's penalty area, having time to pick his spot, and only a finger-tip save
for a justifiably furious Miller stopped Yeovil doubling the lead.
At the other end, Junior Agogo almost netted from an acute angle, but Paul Terry anticipated the chip shot well by
heading the ball away from his own goal-line, with James Hunt spooning the loose ball well wide of goal.
As half-time approached though, the pattern and atmosphere of the game changed radically over the course of
two consecutive pieces of play separated by six minutes of injury time. For a local derby all seemed to be fairly
well controlled until Rovers midfielder Dave Savage decided he wanted to extract the shirt of Gavin Williams
a little earlier than the full time whistle. As the referee blew for a free kick, Savage lunged at Williams,
catching him a punch on the side of the head and resulting in a melee involving both sides and their respective
benches. The end result was obvious - a red card for Savage - with referee Phil Crossley deciding not to penalise
any of the other players involved.
Straight from the free kick, and clearly Steve Elliott hadn't taken enough deep breaths from his involvement
in the mass free-for-all. As the aerial ball came down, Elliott lost his head and gave Phil Jevons a clear elbow.
When Jevons fell to the floor, up went the linesman's flag and a second free-for-all erupted. The only debating
point was whether referee Crossley would have the bottle to issue his second red card but following consultation
with his linesman the Kent official made his decision clear and Rovers were down to nine men.
There was an evil atmosphere around the Memorial Stadium with Rovers fans inexplicably blaming the match officials
for their players ill-discipline. Missiles were thrown onto the pitch and two Rovers fans chose to invade the pitch,
eventually being escorted from the ground by stewards. Ten minutes of "injury time" later and with chaos reigning,
referee Crossley thankfully decided to give everyone 15 minutes to cool down by taking the teams in for the break.