Yeovil Town lost 1-2 at home to Leeds United in this lunchtime's televised match, as a topsy-turvy game saw two Richard Naylor headers from set pieces win the game for the Yorkshire side. The visitors dominated the middle third of the match to an extreme, and Naylor could have easily bagged four or five goals during the game, but when Dean Bowditch netted midway through the second half, it was the Glovers who finished the match on top, and a Gavin Tomlin header had to be cleared off the line to deny an equalising goal.
The Glovers went into the match making two changes to their line-up, with midfield pairing Gavin Williams and Jean-Paul Kalala recalled into the side after suspension and a hip injury respectively. Due to the rules on loan players, Arron Davies and Luke Ayling had to sit in the stands to allow for the other five loans to slot into the squad.
Early action saw a strike by Terrell Forbes from a corner, and a volley from Gavin Tomlin easily saved by visiting keeper Shane Higgs. Jonathan Howson looped an attempt over the bar. But the pick of the chances came from Robert Snodgrass, who was allowed far too much room in the centre of midfield to march on 10 yards then unleash a shot from 25 yards that Alex McCarthy did well to parry out for a corner.
Howson really should have landed in the book when he grabbed two fists full of Gavin Williams' shirt as the Welshman broke free in midfield, even having a swipe at him after referee Kevin Wright blew his whistle. So when Neill Collins did the same to Gavin Tomlin minutes later, referee Wright really couldn't do anything other than to produce his first card. From the free kick, Steven Caulker headed just over the crossbar.
Leeds had done very little up front during the game, but they took the lead just before the half hour mark, after a serious of thunderous tackles in midfield finally saw referee Wright blow up for a a foul. Neill Collins took the set piece and the ball was put in at the far post, with Richard Naylor's looping header catching Alex McCarthy slightly out of position as it drifted over him and in under the far post. 0-1 and probably a little unjust for the opening period of play, although Yeovil's switching off at the free kick has to be pointed at.
The goal ignited Leeds, with Jermaine Beckford firing wide of the target, whilst a Max Gradel shot was brilliantly turned around by McCarthy for a corner. But from that corner, Yeovil's marking from a set piece was again found wanting badly. Neil Kilkenny's corner was sent into the near post, and for the second time in five minutes, Leeds centre-back Richard Naylor was given two yards of free space in the box to plant a near post header across the face of goal and into the far corner. 0-2 down and the Glovers were looking very rattled following that opening goal.
A couple of set pieces from Gavin Williams - who had a relatively quiet 45 minutes for the Glovers - were too long and went out for goal kicks, but otherwise they struggled to find a way back into the game. The half time whistle blew with the visiting side looking more than comfortable - a fair turnaround from the opening half hour's play.
The second period opened up with more of the same, with once again Yeovil failing to pick up Richard Naylor from set pieces. Every time a corner or a free kick was conceded by the Glovers they looked unable to pick up their markers - something that manager Terry Skiverton will surely want to look at after the game. Three free headers for the centre-back took him close to his hat-trick, with the third seeing Scott Davies having to clear off his own goal line to prevent the third goal. Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel also went close from the edge of the box, with Alex McCarthy rescuing the Glovers with two important saves. Then Craig Alcock lifted the ball over his own crossbar to prevent Jermaine Beckford from adding to the lead as Leeds looked rampant.
It took Yeovil 20 minutes to have any shot of any description during the second period. Andy Welsh had replaced Scott Davies on the left wing and that seemed to stretch Leeds, as Craig Alcock was crudely fouled by Robert Snodgrass, with again referee Kevin Wright incredibly lenient with his use of yellow cards. Gavin Williams shot the free kick into the body of Shane Higgs.
But a minute later, Dean Bowditch got himself into space after being put through by Gavin Williams, and the striker ran through a crowd of Leeds players and fired his shot to the far post to pull the game back to 1-2 and with 24 minutes remaining a case of game on. Suddenly the game looked stretched, after 20 minutes worth of one-way traffic, with the substitution and goal transforming the pattern of the match. Shaun MacDonald looped a shot over the bar after he squirmed clear of two markers, leaving Leeds defenders arguing with each other as to who was meant to be closing the Welshman down.
Referee Kevin Wright's inconsistent afternoon continued when he carded Gavin Tomlin for a faint trip close to the edge of the Yeovil penalty box - a far cry from some of the poor challenges committed by Leeds players during the first half that went unpunished. Andy Welsh's corner into the box saw Gavin Tomlin's header cleared off the goal line for another corner on the same side, as the Glovers went inches away from an equalising goal. So near, and yet so far.
Leeds looked nervous as all the pressure went the other way, and finally landed three late bookings as the referee maintained his inconsistency by going a little card-happy at the end. The Glovers couldn't find that equalising goal though, despite a valiant late charge, and will be left ruing their inability to deal with set pieces that ultimately cost them the game. Andy Welsh's introduction and the goal that followed transformed a game that was slipping away from the Glovers, but they couldn't quite find the second goal they needed.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 1 Leeds United 2.
Scorers: Richard Naylor (29 mins, 0-1), Richard Naylor (34 mins, 0-2), Dean Bowditch (66 mins, 1-2)
Yeovil Town: (4-4-2)
1. Alex McCarthy
2. Craig Alcock 5. Steven Caulker 6. Terrell Forbes 28. Nathan Smith
27. Scott Davies 20. Gavin Williams 21. JP Kalala 25. Shaun MacDonald
10. Gavin Tomlin 14. Dean Bowditch
15. Richard Martin (GK) 3. Nathan Jones 8. Keiran Murtagh 11. Andy Welsh (64 mins for Scott Davies) 16. Scott Murray 17. Aidan Downes 23. Danny Hutchins
Leeds United: (4-4-2)
12. Shane Higgs
26. Leigh Bromby 33. Neill Collins 6. Richard Naylor 22. Andy Hughes
14. Jonathan Howson 4. Michael Doyle 8. Neil Kilkenny 23. Robert Snodgrass
9. Jermaine Beckford 28. Max Gradel
1. Casper Ankergren (GK) 7. Paul Dickov 13. Mike Grella 16. Bradley Johnson (88 mins for Neil Kilkenny) 19. Ben Parker 24. Sanchez Watt (88 mins for Jermaine Beckford) 21. Shane Lowry
Yeovil Bookings: Gavin Tomlin (75 mins, foul)
Leeds Bookings: Neill Collins (22 mins, foul), Jermaine Beckford (84 mins, foul), Neil Kilkenny (86 mins, foul), Leigh Bromby (90 mins, timewasting)
Referee: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire). Assistants: Andrew Rodda (Devon) and Mark Russell (Gloucestershire). Fourth Official: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).
Attendance: 6,308 (including approx 2,000 Leeds fans)
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