Football: Yeovil given the slip by Nugent

Yeovil Town 1 Cardiff City 2 aet: 1-1 at 90 minutes
Click to follow
The Independent Online
A BIZARRE error by the Yeovil Town goalkeeper, Andy Pennock, put his team out of the FA Cup last night as they attempted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the greatest day in their history by reaching the fourth round again.

Sunderland's 2-1 defeat on the giddy slopes of the old Huish ground in 1949 remains one of the competition's biggest upsets and the most famous of Yeovil's 18 successes over League opposition.

Their hopes of a 19th, revived by an 85th-minute equaliser from the substitute Matt Hayfield, and a couple of wild scrambles in the visitors' goalmouth, subsided again right at the start of extra-time. Pennock, dribbling the ball out of goal, allowed the Cardiff striker Kevin Nugent to nip in and place it past him into an unguarded net.

The Third Division leaders, six minutes away from defeat in the first match at Ninian Park, before Nugent saved them, were superior on the night and ought to have secured their visit to Notts County or Sheffield United without requiring an additional 30 minutes. They went ahead with a goal shortly before half-time by Jeff Eckhardt, who had once before been on the receiving end of a Yeovil giant-killing, in his Fulham days. He might still have been as Jon Hallworth, beaten earlier by Hayfield, was forced to make two saves from close-range in the remaining few minutes.

Praised after the original meeting as the best footballing side seen at Cardiff this season, Yeovil were handicapped last night by their own pitch, which was far too soft to permit the neat passing game they favour. It was all the more ironic that on the one occasion they needed the ball to stop dead, it skidded on to allow Nugent possession for the winning goal.

Nugent and his striking partner, John Williams, might have settled the 2,000 Welsh followers early on, but both frittered away chances. Nugent, then and later, could at least point to good stops by Pennock, while Williams, once known as "the Flying Postman", failed to deliver and was later substituted.

The home side's impressive midfielder, Ben Smith, would have made Cardiff pay had his chip from 18 yards landed a foot lower. Instead Yeovil went behind in the 43rd minute from a left-wing corner. Richard Carpenter's kick was headed down by Nugent and nudged in by Eckhardt.

Nugent could have ended the tie at the start of the second half but, after pulling away from his marker at the far post, headed limply across goal. Craig Middleton, working a neat move with the wing-back Mark Delaney, also miscued, and Cardiff were eventually punished for their profligacy. Yeovil defiantly exerted some pressure at the other end and a right-wing cross was allowed to reach Hayfield, who struck a jubilant drive past Hallworth.

Tony Pounder, another substitute, almost beat Hallworth from close in, and as extra-time began, a crowd only 500 below the ground record set when Arsenal came to Somerset in 1993 had found its voice and was sensing more glory.

Pennock's awful moment turned the mood and the tie. "He's distraught, and he's punishing himself because he feels he lost us the game," said Yeovil's head coach, Colin Lippiatt. "I wouldn't say the score was an injustice but we asked more questions of Cardiff as the game went on." Not quite enough, though, in the end.

Yeovil Town (3-5-2): Pennock; Brown, Hannigan, Cousins; Piper (Hayfield, 68), Thompson, Stott, Smith, Fishlock; Patmore (Pickard, h-t), Dale (Pounder, 78). Substitutes not used: Pitman, Mountain (gk).

Cardiff City (3-5-2): Hallworth; Mitchell, Eckhardt, Ford; Delaney, Middleton, Carpenter, Fowler (Legg, 91), O'Sullivan; Williams (Thomas, 75), Nugent. Substitutes not used: Jarman, Earnshaw, Kelly (gk)

Referee: M Pierce (Portsmouth).

Comments