Yeovil Town could only draw 1-1 at home with relegation rivals Walsall this afternoon as both sides squandered chances to pick up the win they needed to ease their fears of the drop. In a nervy encounter, Jonathan Macken put the Saddlers one up from a corner, before an equalising goal just before half time, credited to Andy Williams, but in reality an own goal from Andy Butler, levelled things out. The second half saw both sides miss chances to grab the win, but Yeovil will feel that they let two points slip the most.
The Glovers went into the match making one change to their starting line-up from Tuesday night's heavy defeat at Southampton, with Andy Welsh restored to the eleven after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury. Alex Russell dropped to the bench, meaning that Andrew Tutte moved into the centre of midfield, whilst Welsh occupied a right-wing slot, although a degree of swapping between and Dean Bowditch on the opposite flank made for plenty of fluidity in the formation.
The first half had a degree of farce to it at times. Yeovil's tactic was to try to exploit what appeared to be a fairly sluggish Walsall back line. The ball was frequently pumped over the top of the visiting defence for players to run onto, and that as a tactic appeared to work very well. Unfortunately no-one in Yeovil's attacking line-up appeared to have their shooting boots on, with Andy Williams particularly guilty of missing a glut of first half chances.
All that started with Andy Williams receiving the ball from the Andrew Tutte on the edge of the box. His turn was skillful, but his shot was wide of the target. Then the lone striker fired over the crossbar as the Glovers started well. However, it was the Saddlers who grabbed the lead, shortly after Julian Gray had created Walsall's first chance, with Stephen Henderson putting the shot around the post for a corner, having seized upon some dithering from Max Ehmer. From the corner delivered by Matthew Richards, there was more defensive dithering before Jonathan Macken stabbed home from just inside the six yard box as the Glovers once again conceded from a set piece, and the Saddlers took the lead against the run of play.
Once again Andy Williams spurned another chance after he took advantage of a dreadful back-pass by Matthew Richards, but he took his shot too early, slicing wide of the target - on another day that could easily have been his hat-trick, but instead the Glovers remained 0-1 down. In fact, some defensive jitters and the growing impatience of the sparse Huish Park crowd threatened to see Walsall grabbing a second, as Max Ehmer allowed himself to get out-muscled by Jonathan Macken, but Stephen Henderson smothered the ball.
In the lead-up to the half time whistle, Dean Bowditch had penalty appeals turned down as he slipped past Walsall keeper Jimmy Walker but hit the deck. However, referee Roger East waved away the appeals, sparking fury from the Glovers bench. Bowditch had moved into a front line position just before the break, with Andy Williams moving out into a wide position, and the irony of that when matched up against the misses he'd made was that it produced an equalising goal, as right on half time Luke Ayling's cross was met by the head of Williams. Even so the ball rebounded off the post and then off the body of Walsall centre-back Andy Butler and into the net. In all probability an own goal, but at present it has the name of Williams on it. Nothing less than the Glovers deserved at the break, but if they were more clinical they could have been ahead by some distance in an error-strewn half.
The second half continued along much the same lines - Yeovil having more of the play, although without quite as many clear cut chances. A glut of corners all seemed to end up with the same end result - a Walsall defender getting easily above his Yeovil counterparts and clearing danger every time. The Saddlers were coping a little better with Yeovil's forward runs with sluggish centre-back Olly Lancashire replaced by Emmanuele Smith at the break.
Still Dean Bowditch, Ed Upson and Andy Welsh all sliced chances wide of the target, with the Press Association stats showing by the end of the match that the Glovers had put 12 of their 17 shots wide of the goal. Some shooting practice needed in training over the coming week? Oli Johnson was a little more unlucky, as his shot was parried by Jimmy Walker then hacked off the line by Tom Williams.
And yet still Walsall could have easily done a smash'n'grab. Argentine substitute Emanuel Jorge Ledesma was put through by Darren Byfield after Adam Virgo was robbed of the ball inside his own half. Ledesma's shot flew past Stephen Henderson, crashed off the underside of the crossbar, and then close to the goal line and back out again. So close to Yeovil losing the match entirely.
The game ended with referee Roger East losing control of the match somewhat as a series of niggly moments saw four players - two from each side - land in the book, as Ed Upson and Sam Williams joined Luke Ayling's earlier yellow - almost certainly a two match ban for the right-back's 10th booking of the season. More controversial though was Walsall centre-back Andy Butler remaining on the pitch - the match referee allowing Butler to get involved in two skirmishes after his yellow but without taking action to produce the necessary red.
Not that it would have probably mattered. Both sides were so guilty of mistakes and missed chances during the afternoon, that even with a man advantage the Glovers probably wouldn't have taken advantage of the opportunity. A point isn't a disaster, and keeps the Glovers in 19th place in the table. But when it easily could have been more than that, it was a frustrating afternoon.
Link: 2010-11 Latest League One Table.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 1 Walsall 1.
Scorers: Jonathan Macken (0-1, 18 mins), Andy Williams (1-1, 45 mins).
Yeovil Town (4-4-1-1):
13. Stephen Henderson
8. Luke Ayling 19. Adam Virgo 14. Max Ehmer 6. Nathan Smith
11. Andy Welsh 18. Andrew Tutte 16. Ed Upson 10. Dean Bowditch
12. Oli Johnson
7. Andy Williams
1. Richard Martin (GK) 2. Craig Alcock 9. Sam Williams (84 mins for Oli Johnson) 15. Alex Russell 17. Craig Calver 21. Antonio German 23. Billy Gibson
29. Jimmy Walker
2. Darryl Westlake 5. Oliver Lancashire 32. Andy Butler 28. Tom Williams
18. Julian Gray 14. Richard Taundry 23. Marco Gbarssin 8. Matthew Richards 11. Alex Nicholls
10. Jonathan Macken
4. Clayton McDonald 6. Emmanuele Smith (46 mins for Oliver Lancashire) 9. Darren Byfield (61 mins for Richard Taundry) 12. Paul Marshall 21. David Bevan (GK) 30. Emanuel Jorge Ledesma (for Jonathan Macken) 15. Jamie Paterson
Yeovil Bookings: Luke Ayling (41 mins, foul), Ed Upson (82 mins, retaliation), Sam Williams (89 mins, retaliation)
Walsall Bookings: Matthew Richards (69 mins, dissent), Emanuel Jorge Ledesma (82 mins, foul), Andy Butler (89 mins, foul)
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire). Assistants: Mark Pottage (Dorset) and Ceri Richards (Carmarthenshire). Fourth Official: Ron Ganfield (Somerset).
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