Yeovil Town gained a valuable home point against League One giants Southampton tonight in a tense encounter at Huish Park. The Glovers had to come from behind when Brazillian substitute Guly Do Prado scored early in the second half. The Glovers hit back through an Adam Virgo penalty, scored after Gavin Williams was upended in the box, and although Saints hit the woodwork twice, the Glovers held on for a point to stop their recent rot.
The Glovers went into the match making one tactical change. Luke Ayling came in as a right-back, as Adam Virgo was moved back into the centre of defence. Stefan Stam dropped to the bench, with the only change being that Luke Freeman dropped out of the squad under the 'five loans rule' with Cameron Stewart coming in onto the bench.
The game started with Southampton gaining almost exclusive possesion, albeit without doing anything with it. Despite the fairly inert start to the match, the Glovers had the first moment worth talking about; a penalty appeal waved away when Andy Williams appeared to be clipped by Saints defender Dan Harding, who once trained at Huish Park, but referee Simon Hooper declined to give the award. Williams chased Hooper all the way back up field complaining about the decision.
At the other end, there was more early controversy as Rickie Lambert burst through, unleashing a trademark bullet of a shot from the edge of the box which crashed against the underside of the crossbar and downwards, spinning outwards. Appeals went up for the goal, but perhaps mercifully the assistant referee was well behind with play and was probably in an impossible position to judge whether the ball was over the line. The benefit of the doubt therefore went with the defending side, and the match stayed goalless.
Midway through the first half, the rain began to come down, affecting the quality of play as both sides perhaps wished they'd chosen different boots on the night. Symptomatic of that was Luke Ayling's short headed backpass to keeper Stephen Henderson that landed in no man's land, but caused no danger, as Lee Barnard's attempt to intercept saw him land on his back on the sodden turf.
Shaun MacDonald tried a long ranger that had Kelvin Davies stretching, losing the wet ball, and palming it around for a corner. Then Dean Bowditch tried his luck, with the ball deflecting out for a corner. Overall, Southampton had the edge, and more of the possession, but this was a much improved first half for the Glovers based on what had gone before against Exeter City on Saturday.
The Glovers opened the second half looking far more authorative, as Shaun MacDonald thread a ball through to Andy Williams and as he raced through on goal, Kelvin Davies came rather recklessly off his line allowing the winger to round him. As Williams shot on goal, the Saints keeper was lucky that his defender Radhi Jaidi was well placed to head the ball clear of the goal.
Somewhat against the run of play, following what had been a bright start by the Glovers to the second period, they took the lead when the Yeovil midfield switched off. Morgan Schneiderlin was allowed way too much room to advance through the Yeovil half without being closed down and as he reached the edge of the box and was finally closed down, his ball was laid off to Brazillian substitute Guly Do Prado who slotted the ball low past Stephen Henderson to open the scoring.
To Yeovil's credit, they didn't fold, and in fact needed just nine minutes to find their feet again. Gavin Williams picked up play and ran into the box, before being chopped down by Saints defender Daniel Seaborne for a fairly academic penalty, leaving Williams requiring lengthy treatment. To everyone's surprise, Adam Virgo was the one who picked up the ball - a centre-back taking a penalty? We needn't have worried as he buried the ball into the corner of the net.
That set up an edgy finale, with both sides making tactical switches to try and force the other side's hand. Saints brought on Adam Lallana and played a 4-4-1-1 to match up with the Glovers. Then Sam Williams was introduced for Andy Williams, but unlike Saturday, the move was to allow the Glovers to go 4-4-2, with Super Gav moving to the right-wing. Unfortunately that didn't last long, as Gavin limped off, giving the crowd a first sight of winger Billy Gibson.
In five minutes of injury time Guly Do Prado fired in on goal and Saints struck the woodwork for the second time in the match. In the aftermath, as the ball was cleared, a foul was spotted leaving Rickie Lambert the chance of a 20 yard free kick deep into injury time. But he wasted it and Yeovil survived.
Whilst this was undoubtedly a point gained and a step forward from Saturday's awful performance, a bitter-sweet moment was learning that the Glovers had dropped into the bottom four on the final whistle, with Tranmere Rovers leapfrogging them just up the road at the Memorial Stadium. Hopefully this is a step back on the right path though for the Glovers, even if they will now have to prove that they can pick up points away from home to avoid staying in the relegation zone.
Link: Latest 2010-11 League One Table.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 1 Southampton 1.
Scorers: Guly Do Prado (56 mins, 0-1), Adam Virgo (65 mins, 1-1).
Yeovil Town (4-4-1-1):
13. Stephen Henderson
8. Luke Ayling 5. Paul Huntington 19. Adam Virgo 6. Nathan Smith
7. Andrew Williams 20. Owain Tudur Jones 25. Shaun MacDonald 11. Andy Welsh
24. Gavin Williams
10. Dean Bowditch
4. Stefan Stam 9. Sam Williams (87 mins for Andy Williams) 15. Cameron Stewart (78 mins for Andy Welsh) 16. Ed Upson 17. Craig Calver 22. Ben Roberts (GK) 23. Billy Gibson (89 mins for Gavin Williams)
1. Kelvin Davis
12. Danny Butterfield 15. Radhi Jaidi 19. Daniel Seaborne 3. Dan Harding
26. Alec Chamberlain 14. Dean Hammond 4. Morgan Schneiderlin 10. Jason Puncheon
9. Lee Barnard 7. Richard Lambert
24. Bartosz Bialkowski (GK) 5. Ryan Dickson 6. Jose Fonte 11. Guly Do Prado (46 mins for Alec Chamberlain) 17. Aaron Martin 20. Adam Lallana (71 mins for Lee Barnard) 21. Lee Holmes
Yeovil Bookings: Adam Virgo (31 mins, foul)
Southampton Bookings: Radhi Jaidi (20 mins, foul), Daniel Seaborne (64 mins, foul)
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire). Assistants: Paul Rees (Bristol) and Mark Russell (Gloucestershire). Fourth Official: Brett Huxtable (Devon).
Attendance: 5,854 (including at least 1,650 Saints fans)
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