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Season 2006-2007 : Yeovil Town vs Cheltenham Town : Friday 6th October 2006
Coca Cola League One : Yeovil Town vs Cheltenham Town

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Venue: Huish Park
Friday 6th October 2006, 7.45pm kick-off.

Conditions: Fine rain during much of match
Pitch: Good but very greasy

Scorers: John Melligan (88 mins, 0-1)

Attendance: 6,220 (including 237 Cheltenham supporters)

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Assistants: Guy Beale (Taunton), Roger East (Wiltshire)
Fourth official: Andrew Turner (Devon)

Yeovil: None
Cheltenham: Craig Armstrong (foul, 60 mins)

Team Line-Ups

Yeovil Town : (4-2-3-1)
1. Steve Mildenhall
24. Mark Lynch, 4. Terry Skiverton, 6. Terrell Forbes, 3. Nathan Jones
7. Paul Terry 14. Jean-Paul Kamudimba
10. Wayne Gray 11. Chris Cohen 30. Kevin Cooper
29. Marcus Stewart

Subs: 2. Anthony Tonkin 5. Scott Guyett 8. Anthony Barry (64 mins for Kalala) 18. Daniel Webb 27. Ishmael Welsh (82 mins for Cooper)

Cheltenham Town :
12. Scott Brown 2. Jeremy Gill 6. Keith Lowe 5. Gavin Caines 33. Mickey Bell 22. John Melligan 19. Craig Armstrong 14. David Bird 7. Brian Wilson 9. Stephen Guinan 17. Kayode Odejayi

Subs: 34. Will Puddy (GK) 15. Michael Townsend 16. Adam Connolly 26. Michael Wylde 30. Sosthene Yao (90 mins for Melligan)

Match Report

Russell Slade made just one change to last week's side that won at Brentford, with Arron Davies dropping out of the sixteen due to an international call-up for Wales the next day. That allowed Wayne Gray to regain a starting position within the side as a wide midfielder, whilst Daniel Webb was recalled to the bench following his recent ankle injury.

The early stages of the game saw Cheltenham take the game to Yeovil without the visitors really providing any true threat. The only early chance materialised when Cheltenham's John Melligan cleverly rolled the ball between his legs, turning his marker in the process and seeing him through on goal, but he sliced the chance well wide of the target. Otherwise Cheltenham were managing plenty of crosses into the box, but Glovers captain Terry Skiverton was in a dominant mood and it is difficult to recall an aerial ball around that period that didn't result in a Skivo header clearing the danger.

The Glovers weren't really achieving anything in the opposition half to speak of, although they were not helped by some pretty dodgy looking offside decisions being given by the Cowlin Stand linesman, combined with referee Phil Dowd's tendency to break up play for the slightest of niggles. Dowd was less concerned with Cheltenham's general slowdown of the play, almost as if the Staffordshire official fancied a quiet night - there are not too many officials that would tolerate a throw-in to be switched amongst three different players before reaching for his notebook, but Dowd didn't seem as bothered as the Westland Stand were about that.

Despite Cheltenham's clear territorial advantage, they were struggling to create direct chances to threaten Steve Mildenhall's goal, and their best two attempts of the first half came through deflections off Yeovil defenders. Gavin Caines shot on goal from the edge of the box only to find the ball ping off Paul Terry's thigh. The end result was nasty for Mildenhall as the ball looped over his head, and in the end he opted for safety first, punching the ball over his own bar. Then Brian Wilson twisted and turned his way in front of the Glovers penalty box, refusing to let the increasing number of Yeovil defenders crowding him out daunt him, and his shot took a deflection off Terrell Forbes, totally wrong-footing Steve Mildenhall, but fortunately going wide of the right-hand upright for a corner. Gavin Caines sent a long range free kick a mile over the crossbar, whilst David Bird hit another long-ranger cleanly, but put his attempt a yard wide of the target.

The attacking prowess from the Glovers just wasn't there. It took 23 minutes for them to force their first corner, 26 minutes for their first shot of any note and even that was a block-off from a defender's attempted clearance that ricocheted back off a Yeovil boot and wide of the goal. It was 37 minutes before visting keeper Scott Brown had to make a save, and again it appeared to be slightly unintentional - Chris Cohen's free kick from under the Cowlin Stand, missing everyone in the box, and Brown being forced to make a very late decision to dive for the ball as it threatened to creep in at the far post.

Yeovil at least began to wake up and apply some pressure towards the end of the first period though. They began to get some territory in the Cheltenham half at last putting them on the backfoot. But without having created a meaningful clearcut intentional chance during the first 45 minutes, Russell Slade was going to need to do some serious thinking during the half time break. At least the scores were still level - that was the one positive from the half.

Half-time: Yeovil Town 0 - 0 Cheltenham Town

Slade will have wanted a response from his players as they attacked the Westland Stand end of the ground during the second half, and he almost got it, just 90 seconds into the restart. Marcus Stewart got space on the left flank and when he played the ball across the face of the box, Wayne Gray got an outstretched shin onto the ball, causing it to spin up over keeper Scott Brown. As if in slow motion though, the ball span and dropped onto the top of the crossbar, out of play, and Cheltenham were saved.

The pick-up in Yeovil's play from the first half performance was obvious, and Mark Lynch got into a forward position seven minutes into the half, delivering a back-post cross to Chris Cohen who slid the ball back across the face of goal and just wide of the post with the keeper well beaten. Another six minutes later and Cheltenham were being forced to clear the ball off their own goalline - Terry Skiverton's header from a Chris Cohen corner was blocked on the left-hand post by Mickey Bell. A minute later and Marcus Stewart put one wide as he shot on the volley as Wayne Gray put a ball into the box. This was far more like what had been hoped for but until the break hadn't been delivered.

Jean-Paul Kalala was withdrawn just beyond the hour mark with Anthony Barry replacing the midfielder - quite possibly the intermittent groin problem JP has had is catching up with him, as he didn't look too surprised to have to leave the field. Cheltenham's timewasting as the game wore on was beyond believe, particularly when noting that a supposed Premiership-standard referee was like a wet blanket in his lack of interest in dealing with the growing problem. At one point, with two balls on the pitch, a Cheltenham player stared at the secondary ball a yard away from his feet as if it was something he needed to avoid treading in before a chorus of boos from the Huish Park crowd persuaded him to move ... and vaguely kick it half a yard into more open space. This was one team seriously taking the proverbials and a weak referee inclined to stand there and do nothing to justify his supposed "Select" status as an official.

As the game wound into the final 20 minutes, Wayne Gray twisted and turned inside the penalty box, firing in a shot that Scott Brown got down well to make a good save look easy. Six minutes later, the game's most controversial moment saw Yeovil denied a clear free kick by Mr Dowd and the Main Stand linesman, who appeared to have swapped from his first half appearance on the Cowlin side, meaning that Yeovil's attack got 90 minutes of his officiating. Wayne Gray was clear through on goal was clearly pulled back by Mickey Bell. Directly through on goal, if Gray had crashed to the floor, a certain free kick and a probable red card would have resulted. As it happened, Gray tried to stumble on, lost his momentum and eventually sliced the ball out of play. Advantage, what advantage? The situation perfectly demonstrates why strikers have to "go to ground easily" to get any decision out of bottling officials rather than try and stay on their feet. Why should the defender benefit from a foul that if committed by a striker would have the half-awake linesman flagging like mad and the referee whistling in disapproval?

To add insult to injury the hopeless Main Stand linesman raised the blood pressure of the home fans several steps further by penalising Marcus Stewart after they had screamed for a Yeovil free kick with a Cheltenham player climbing all over the Yeovil striker's back. Go figure that one out! Next Marcus Stewart ran from inside his own half to win an up'n'under ball, and up went the flag for offside. This was getting silly!

During the final 10 minutes of the game though, despite the Yeovil pressure it was the away side that were suddenly starting to look a threat, after spending most of their time in their own half during the second period. Kayode Odejayi broke up field producing a fine crossfield ball through to Brian Wilson. His long range attempt clipped the corner of post and crossbar as it flashed across the face of goal and this should have served as a serious wake-up call to the Glovers that players like Odejaki could punish severely if too few players were left at the back. Yet minutes later, Cheltenham struck the woodwork a second time when a free kick from Mickey Bell was headed towards goal by Stephen Guinan only for the ball to come off the foot of the left hand post. As the ball was scrambled clear, in came Bell to follow up on the loose ball but Steve Mildenhall reacted superbly to block the ball on his near post. From a half of dominance since the break, the Glovers were suddenly looking shakey.

With just two minutes left, that sudden state of mind was to see the Glovers punished. Mickey Bell got himself space down the left flank, and whipped in a cross to the back post where John MELLIGAN was lurking and ready to plant a low diving header into the back of the net from eight yards out for a sickening sucker punch hit by a side that up until the 80th minute had barely threatened during the second period, nor looked as though they had the desire to do so. But the Glovers had been punished for taking their foot off the gas in the final moments of the game, and like the Forest home game, it looked like another big crowd would be going home seeing Yeovil lose to a late goal.

The Glovers did their best to find an equaliser. Substitute Ishmael Welsh, who had come on in the closing minutes for Kevin Cooper, put in a dangerous cross that Cheltenham could only half clear to the feet of Marcus Stewart, but it rebounded off the Yeovil striker's shins and for once in his life all he could do was to 'backpass' the ball straight into a grateful Scott Brown's arms. Four minutes into injury time, Paul Terry put Brown at full stretch, saving low down to his right and as he spilled the save, four Cheltenham defenders were in there ahead of any Yeovil player to ensure that the visitors kept their clean sheet and of course their three points.

Overall this wasn't a good enough Yeovil performance. The first 45 minutes were more or less a write-off, and though the second half showed for 35 minutes what the Glovers are capable of, they strangely went to sleep during the final 10 minutes and forgot that Cheltenham, if given the chance, were capable of forcing their own game upon Yeovil just as they had during the opening period. The dreadful performance by Mr Dowd and one of his linesmen didn't help matters, but the Glovers never showed enough on the night to suggest that they deserved anything too much out of this game.

Full-time: Yeovil Town 0 - 1 Cheltenham Town
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