Football: Nugent keeps a clear head

Cardiff City 1 Nugent 84 Yeovil Town 1 Dale 54 Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 12,561
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The Independent Online
AFTER SEVEN years and more than 100 goals, Carl Dale bade a reluctant farewell to Cardiff City in the summer and signed for Yeovil Town.

The Cardiff manager, Frank Burrows, felt the 32-year-old striker was past his best and gave him a free transfer. It was a decision that almost returned to haunt him as for 30 minutes Dale's goal threatened to add Cardiff City to Yeovil's list of FA Cup victims.

But an equaliser six minutes from time from Kevin Nugent earned Cardiff a replay and saved their manager's blushes. "It was sod's law," Burrows said afterwards. "If I was a gambling man, I would have had pounds 100 on Carl to score their goal.

"No excuses - we were at home but we weren't good enough to win and Yeovil deserved their draw."

In light of their respective FA Cup records, this game had "giant killing" written all over it - Cardiff's failure against the likes of teams such as Hayes, Enfield and Weymouth being highlighted by Yeovil's success over 18 League sides.

Yeovil's impressive 18-match unbeaten run may have taken them to fifth place in the Conference but they were sure to be tested in front of an intimidating crowd at Ninian Park.

Cardiff set up camp in the Yeovil half from the outset with Jason Fowler sounding out a third-minute warning as a 30-yard shot flashed wide.

Despite Cardiff's pressure, Yeovil should have taken a surprise lead midway through the half when Steve Thompson's 12-yard shot was deflected over by Mark Delaney.

On the half hour, Yeovil's Swansea-born goalkeeper Tony Pennock scrambled Danny Hill's shot around the post as Cardiff kept up the pressure.

Yeovil's defence and midfield worked tirelessly to keep Cardiff at bay with the strikers Warren Patmore and Dale being forced to live off scraps.

The game was turned on its head 10 minutes after half time when Yeovil went ahead. Dale had just missed a relatively simple opportunity when Ben Smith's corner from the right was well met by Patmore. His goal-bound header was blocked but Dale swept in the rebound.

Cardiff appeared to have equalised three-quarters of the way through the match but Jeff Eckhardt's low header from Delaney's cross went past Pennock's right-hand post.

As Cardiff laid siege to the Yeovil goal the pressure finally told on their defence in the 84th minute. From Fowler's corner on the right, Cardiff's 12th of the afternoon, Nugent headed the ball home.

Cardiff almost snatched a dramatic winner in the 90th minute but Nugent's header was superbly cleared from under the bar by Kevan Brown and Yeovil had deservedly earned a replay.