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Matches of Yesteryear - Yeovil v U's 4/11/03
Written by wessex_exile on Friday, 13th Dec 2019 16:58

Ahead of a tricky trip to Scunthorpe tomorrow, our Matches of Yesteryear series returns to the EFL Trophy in November 2003, back when it was known as the LDV Vans Trophy.

Yeovil Town v Colchester United

Tuesday 4th November 2003

LDV Vans Trophy (2nd Round)

Attendance 3,052

Match #29 of the series, and we are at Yeovil for the second round of our 2003/04 LDV Vans Trophy cup run. Sounds familiar? Well it should do, this cup run has already featured in the Matches of Yesteryear series, with games against both Northampton and Southend already covered. This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, as I managed to be at all six matches of this cup run. To ease the burden on clubs and their supporters, this competition is regionalised into Southern and Northern sections. However, this was of little benefit to the U’s faithful, facing a long trip to Cheltenham for the first round, and then an even longer trip to Yeovil for the second round – let’s face it, most of the clubs in the Northern section were closer! However, these were perfect for me and the other south west exiles.

This was Yeovil’s first season in the football league, having smashed their way to the Conference title by a whopping 17 points, scoring 100 goals and with a goal difference of +63 in the process. The points margin at least was, and possibly still is, a record for that division. For the U’s, one league above, this was Parky’s first full season in charge, and an opportunity for him to start putting into practice what he had learned gaining his UEFA A and B Licences, and the whole concept of sports science, diet, training etc. that he had been exposed to at Reading. It was working too, and coming into this match we were 3rd in the league, after winning 1-0 at Wrexham on the previous Saturday (by a curious coincidence, Yeovil’s opponents in the FA Cup 1st round the following Saturday).

The U’s lined up:

1….Simon Brown

22..Greg Halford (Scott McGleish 71’)

5….Scott Fitzgerald (Pat Baldwin 90’)

19..Alan White

25..Sam Stockley

12..Craig Fagan

6….Thomas Pinault

17..Bobby Bowry (Richard Johnson 77’)

3….Joe Keith

8….Wayne Andrews

16..Rowan Vine

Before we move on to match, it’s probably worth reflecting that this was our first visit to Huish Park since that terrible day in the FA Cup almost exactly three years earlier, when we were well and truly hammered 5-1, all the goals coming in the second half. Quite a few on the pitch this evening played that day, including Simon Brown, Scott Fitzgerald and Alan White, so we had plenty to prove, and with the added determination that we weren’t going to be giant-killed again.

I was living in Salisbury at the time, so a trip to Yeovil was the simplest of journeys on the train, albeit both of Yeovil’s train stations happen to be about a zillion miles outside the town itself. But, there was a perfectly good shuttle bus from Yeovil Junction into the town, and a late train home that evening that should be comfortably achievable. I also had time for a couple in The Bell before the match, to be the scene of some epic celebrations a few years later on that fateful day in May 2006.

I was also fortunate to meet up with James in the pub too, another former visitor to the U’sual shores (JAS if anyone remembers him – he’s the one kneeling down in the photo), and I know his dad quite well too. It won’t come as too much of a surprise that the open away terrace on a cold winter’s evening wasn’t exactly crammed – about a hundred or so I reckon, but considering this was only the second round of what was even then quite an unfashionable competition, not a bad turnout from both us and the Yeovil fans.

As for the match, or at least what I can recall, the U’s were under considerable pressure right from the start, and you would have had difficulty telling which team were the higher league side to be honest. It certainly didn’t come as much of a surprise when Jake Edwards put the Glovers ahead with just 11 minutes on the clock. They had other chances too, with Gall and Edwards keeping our rear guard like rabbits in the spotlight for much of the first half. However, very much against the run of play, four minutes from half-time Wayne Andrews levelled for the U’s, to at least give us something to keep warm jumping up and down for.

The second half continued in a similar manner, albeit the U’s were starting to push out more, and hold a higher line. Gary Johnson was the first to change things around, replacing Colin Pluck (plucking Pluck if you will) with former youth player Steve Reed. Whether this was a tactical masterstroke, or just plain coincidence, Yeovil restored their lead 8 minutes later when that thorn in our side Gall put the Glovers 2-1 up. This then was probably the turning point in the game, with Johnson pretty much immediately substituting Jake Edwards with more defensively-minded Adam Stansfield, and shifting to one up front. Suddenly, relieved of pressure on the defence, the U’s starting to be able to play their own game. Parky made his own attacking substitution, replacing Halford with Scott McGleish, and it paid off before too long, with Scotty equalising for the U’s.

I know Parky took off Bowry for Johnson at about the same time as the goal, I just can’t remember if it was immediately before or after the goal (think it was the latter). From here to the end it was all U’s, with Yeovil struggling to get to grips with the game following their formation change. However, though plenty of chances came our way, it wasn’t to be, and normal time finished 2-2. Parky bought Pat Baldwin on for the start of extra-time, as fresh legs for Scott Fitzgerald, but despite plenty of huffing and puffing from both sides, there were no more goals, and thus on to the dreaded penalty shoot-out – never usually a positive thing for the U’s back in the day.

The penalties were taken at the far end, in front of what is known these days as the Thatchers Gold Terrace, where Yeovil’s more vociferous supporters stand, which wasn’t a good start as far as we were concerned. However, it certainly didn’t faze Simon Brown, who superbly saved Gavin Williams opening penalty. Rowan Vine, Kevin Gall, Scott McGleish, Adam Lockwood and Wayne Andrews all then comfortably converted to leave things poised 2-3 to the U’s after three kicks. Then came Simon Brown to the rescue again, with another excellent save to deny Darren Way, leaving Joe Keith to convert our fourth out of four to send the U’s through 4-2 on penalties.

What was really funny about this was that Gary Johnson had brought on Jamie Gosling in the dying seconds of extra-time, presumably as his fifth and final penalty taker, and he never actually had the chance to take a kick thanks to Joey – in fact I don’t actually think he touched the ball at all, is this some sort of record?

Yeovil Town 2 Colchester United 2 aet (2-4 penalties)

After the match, Gary Johnson wasn’t a happy chap, and is reported as saying "We are all disappointed because we should have been four up in the first-half. The game should have been over. We outplayed them, but we didn't outscore them. I don't want to keep on meeting the press after a game saying that although we played very well we lost".

He added "We only scored two goals in the penalties, while our keeper didn't get close to any of theirs. Chris (Weale – their goalkeeper) will be practising saving penalties all this week and the penalty-takers will be practising taking them. We've got to have more mental toughness in such situations".

Having mentioned above that there was a handy late train I could get back home after the match, suddenly after unforeseen extra-time and penalties, that wasn’t looking that optimistic for me. Having legged it back to the pub as soon as possible after the match, I was lucky enough to pick up a taxi from there and get to Yeovil Junction just as my train was approaching – phew!

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