UNITED 2 - 0 Yeovil Town

Last updated : 17 January 2004 By Al Woodcock
Craig Farrell
Farrell: Back with a goal
The Cumbrians' revival is in full swing again after they deservedly defeated promotion contenders Yeovil Town 2-0 at Brunton Park to move within four points of second-bottom Darlington and seven of Southend and potential safety.

The match was a triumph for player-manager Paul Simpson who made two important changes to the starting line-up which paid off and he also had the satisfaction of notching the first goal in an impressive individual display by the 37-year-old. Peter Murphy switched to left-back in place of Tom Cowan and Lee Andrews was brought back to add some pace to central defence with Will McDonagh moving up into midfield to complete the reshuffle. 17-year-old striker Matt Fryatt was left out after receiving treatment on his troublesome achilles and Kevin Henderson came in up front alongside Andy Preece.

It was Simpson who had most of United's first half chances. He worked a decent opening for himself inside the 10th minute but unfortunately lacked a right foot to curl the ball past Glovers' keeper Chris Weale and had to have a poke with his favoured left which took the ball just wide of the far upright. A few minutes later he sent in a free kick that Weale did well to get behind and smother. But the veteran midfielder wasn't to be denied for long. On 21 minutes Henderson picked him out with a right wing cross. Simpson's first touch was excellent and he advanced to drill the ball low under Weale from 9 yards out and open the scoring.

Still he wasn't finished as a dangerous dipping effort that just cleared the cross-bar could have extended the home side's lead near half-time. Yeovil had been busy but well smothered up front despite the pacy Kevin Gall's rapid break early on when he slipped past Kevin Gray and drew out Matty Glennon but managed to slide the ball half a yard wide of the far post.

After that let off, United's defence coped a lot better with Glennon quick to come off his line, Gray his usual unstoppable self alongside the inspired Andrews who made some crucial tackles.

The second half saw United pinned back for long spells but they held Yeovil at bay. With Henderson and Preece starved of decent service, there were some anxious moments for Paul Simpson but his decision to take off the hard working Henderson and replace him with Craig Farrell just past the hour mark paid off handsomely. A through ball from McDonagh found the forehead of Preece who flicked on to the onrushing Farrell. Despite being out of the first team picture for almost three months, Farrell expertly slipped the ball around Weale and found the back of the net from a narrow angle as a covering defender tried to block.

The goal effectively sealed the victory as the Glovers were never going to come back from that. Indeed Preece found himself in a similar position to Farrell with 10 minutes remaining but having tried to wriggle round Weale he had to pass to Simpson whose shot was blocked. McDonagh collected the ball and fired at the keeper who had scrambled back into goal and he successfully clung on to his shot at the second attempt.

Yeovil threatened from a late corner when the defender Adam Stansfield climbed to head away from Glennon's reach but Paul Arnison standing on the line headed clear to seal the result.

Al's verdict: Brilliant stuff! After the defeat at York it was very necessary to hit back quickly and close the gap further. On this committed display, we look capable of making up in effort what we might sometimes lack in skill and organisation. Although Yeovil looked a handy side, Simmo had done his homework and our team looked better balanced and competed for every ball. Any one from Gray, Andrews or Simmo himself could have claimed the man of the match award, but Gray just doesn't shirk any challenge and won a number of important challenges. Preece had a quieter game than some he's had but he still fought for the ball well up front and Farrell will have been delighted to have made a point to his manager by grabbing the all-important second with a cool finish.