Former Yeovil Town striker Jonathan Obika came back to haunt his former club by scoring a 93rd minute goal that gave Millwall a somewhat fortunate 1-1 draw at Huish Park. Obika equalised with 20 seconds of the game remaining, after a 26th minute Dean Bowditch goal had given the Glovers what looked like three points and League One safety.
The Glovers team selection was an easy one to deal with. Same starting line-up, same formation, same substitutes. After a 3-1 win over Stockport County on Saturday, there was little motivation to change things around, especially after Gavin Tomlin and Dean Bowditch came through fitness tests on the day of the match. Millwall included Danny Schofield in their starting line-up, with Obika sat on the bench.
The game took a while to warm up with both clubs battling in midfield to try and impose themselves on the game, but with few chances for either side. But the Glovers managed to grab a first half lead with a well worked goal, 26 minutes in, with their new-look strike partnership combining well. A right-wing run and a pull-back by Gavin Williams found Dean Bowditch cleverly losing his marker and putting the ball into the roof of the net from close range to put Yeovil 1-0 up. Bowditch celebrated by signalling the number 10 as he peeled away, having reached double figures for the season - the first Glovers player to do so since Lloyd Owusu.
That was the signal for the Glovers to immediately get a stranglehold on the game, with their dominance in the match running right up until half time with their best spell of the match. A long range shot by Gavin Williams just curled wide of the target, then Dean Bowditch was pulled back on the edge of the box in a fairly cynical manner to stop him breaking through - perhaps surprising that there was no action from the match referee.
Talking of referees, Millwall's Jack Smith was a little fortunate to escape action when he kicked out at a Glovers player off the ball. Referee Mick Russell clearly saw the offence, but chose not to take any action. The crowd also saw it and made their feelings clear, booing Smith whenever he subsequently touched the ball. The Glovers were well on top by the break, and probably could have been further ahead by the time the whistle went.
Half time saw Millwall introduce Scott Barron as a substitution, and the Glovers seemed to react with Gavin Williams dropping much deeper so that Yeovil played with a 4-5-1 formation. Just eight minutes into the half Jonathan Obika became Millwall's second change of the night, surprisingly introduced to a small chorus of boos from Glovers fans, as he replaced Neil Harris.
The second period started much in the way that the first half had, with tenacious tackling, and both sides struggling to create chances. Two of them came in quick succession though as Shaun MacDonald's 40 yard run went unchecked leaving Millwall's players shouting at each other as to why no-one had closed him down. Then Gavin Williams tried an audacious lob when he spotted David Forde out of position when taking a free kick and almost caught the Millwall keeper out.
Nathan Smith picked up his 10th booking of the season, but fortunately timed that a lot better than his tackle, with the 10 booking amnesty having passed on Sunday, meaning that he will not be suspended. As the half wore on though, a game of cat'n'mouse developed. You hardly needed to be at the game to work out what would happen.
Millwall, desperate to get something from their trip to Huish Park, harried and pressed. The Glovers, desperate to conserve their lead, produced a brick wall somewhere around the 20/30 yard line with their two banks of four, and defied Millwall to break them down. By and large, the Lions failed and the Glovers succeeded, with Alex McCarthy having to make surprisingly few saves.
Four minutes of injury time were signalled, and still Millwall looked devoid of know-how. But how often does this happen? Player on as a substitute, against his former club. We probably could have written the script before a ball was kicked. With 93 minutes of the 94 played, Steve Morison put a cross into the box, Alex McCarthy tried to punch from a rare moment of pressure on his goal, but Jonathan Obika got in front of him, and headed home to leave the home crowd and players utterly deflated. Just 20 seconds later and it was all over, and the Lions had grabbed an improbable point and one that on the balance of play probably wasn't deserved.
But let's look at the bigger picture. From the time that Dean Bowditch scored, until Obika's equaliser, Yeovil bettered or matched a team in second place in the League One table, and got a point they probably would have accepted at the start of the game. The result also leaves them now eight points clear of the drop zone, which with just four matches remaining is surely enough to keep them in League One for another season. If not, then they are tantalisingly close to the finish line, with Southend United and Tranmere Rovers finding points very hard to come by, and neither gaining ground on Yeovil tonight.
Link: 2009-10 Latest League One Table.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 1 Millwall 1.
Scorers: Dean Bowditch (26 mins, 1-0), Jonathan Obika (90 mins, 1-1)
Yeovil Town: (4-4-1-1)
1. Alex McCarthy
2. Craig Alcock 5. Steven Caulker 6. Terrell Forbes 28. Nathan Smith
10. Gavin Tomlin 21. JP Kalala 25. Shaun MacDonald 11. Andy Welsh
20. Gavin Williams
14. Dean Bowditch
15. Richard Martin (GK) 8. Keiran Murtagh 16. Scott Murray 17. Aidan Downes (80 mins for Andy Welsh) 19. Luke Ayling 23. Danny Hutchins
1. David Forde
21. Jack Smith 18. Darren Ward 5. Paul Robinson 15. Tony Craig
25. Shaun Batt 26. Nadjim Abdou 40. Liam Trotter 7. Danny Schofield
20. Steve Morison 9. Neil Harris
13. John Sullivan (GK) 8. Gary Alexander 12. Chris Hackett (68 mins for Shaun Batt) 16. Scott Barron (46 mins for Liam Trotter) 19. Ashley Grimes 22. Ali Fuseini 30. Jonathan Obika (53 mins for Neil Harris)
Yeovil Bookings: Nathan Smith (foul, 69 mins)
Millwall Bookings: None.
Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire). Assistants: Kevin Johnson (Somerset) and Simon Knapp (Gloucestershire). Fourth Official: Richard Martin (Somerset).
Attendance: 4,713 (including 909 Millwall fans).
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