Yeovil Town suffered their second consecutive home defeat this afternoon, as a solitary goal settled their fate against Sheffield United at Huish Park. The winning Chris Porter goal came just before the break, with a big question mark over whether the ball crossed the line, as a poor performance from referee Keith Stroud and his assistants became the talking point amongst Glovers fans. The dismissal of Curtis Haynes-Brown in the dying seconds of the game for two bookings compounded a frustrating day for the Glovers who could easily have drawn the game, but instead suffered a 0-1 defeat for the second home match running.
The Glovers went into the game forced into two changes from the side that drew 1-1 against Walsall last weekend. Centre-back Bondz N'Gala's hamstring problems meant that he had to drop out of the squad, with Curtis Haynes-Brown shuffling into the back four as a left-back, with Max Ehmer moving across the line. However, whilst that was known about, the exclusion of Jonathan Obika from the squad was a little more unexpected, with the striker having picked up a problem in training during midweek, as Steven MacLean took his place.
The first half was one of few chances - Andy Williams shot wide of the target, whilst an Ed Upson header from close range went wide of the target. Meanwhile Alan O'Brien's pace down the left wing almost got him through the Sheffield United defence, with his cross inches away from connecting with Gavin Williams who was sliding in from the opposite flank.
However, much of the first period was all about referee Keith Stroud. Controversial on many past meetings involving Yeovil Town, the Hampshire official took centre stage with 45 minutes worth of baffling decisions, frequently favouring the opposition. Paul Wotton was booked for a series of fouls, whilst Steve MacLean landed in the book for slamming the ball into the ground, with the Glovers players showing their frustration at some of the decisions that were going against them.
Stroud did give one key decision Yeovil's way when he chalked off a Matthew Lowton 'goal' as the full-back headed home from a free kick - Glovers keeper Jed Steer was clattered in the build-up leaving him on the deck as Lowton headed home. However, four minutes before the break there was further controversy, as the Blades opened the scoring through a Chris Porter goal. The build-up was down to sloppy Glovers passing in midfield, as Paul Wotton lost possession. However, as Porter bundled the ball home from close range, it was highly questionable as to whether the ball went over the line - the linesman taking his time in raising his flag, with most on the home terrace convinced that Stroud and his assistant had dropped a clanger in awarding the goal. One for the Football League Show for sure.
By the time half time arrived, Mr Stroud had put five players in the book although his easiest was his fifth, as Lecsinel Jean-Francois cynically took out Andy Williams just before the break - a tackle so bad that Williams couldn't continue, replaced by Anthony Edgar ahead of three minutes injury time, and a resounding chorus of boos for the hapless match officials.
The loss of Andy Williams saw Alan O'Brien pushed up to partner Steve MacLean during the second period, with Anthony Edgar taking one of the wing slots. Ed Upson hit over the bar from distance, with the Glovers managing a bit more penetration than they'd managed during the opening 45 minutes.
However, this was a bit of a stop-start game of football, with Mr Stroud insisting that absolutely everything was done to his liking, delaying the flow of the game. There was also a very lengthy stoppage when Blades holding midfielder Nick Montgomery went down with an ankle injury, leading to a cricket-style tea break, where Yeovil's players went for an impromptu team-talk, and Sheffield United's players got out the practice balls. Unsurprisingly Montgomery was replaced on a stretcher.
The Blades came close to doubling their lead when Paul Wotton lost possession in midfield for the second time in the match, allowing Stephen Quinn to weave his way through - thankfully the greasy surface was seeing players struggling to stay on their feet, and Quinn slipped as he shot, and Jed Steer saved well.
Paul Wotton did better at the other end of the field - his sharply taken free kick almost caught the visitors out, forcing keeper Steve Simonsen into his first meaningful save. Max Ehmer tried to convert the rebound, but a linesman's flag made his missed attempt irrelevant. But Yeovil were building up a head of steam - or at least trying to do so as much as the match officials would allow them to - another Ed Upson long range shot going just over the bar shortly afterwards.
As Rory Fallon and Billy Gibson were introduced in the closing stages, and the heavens opened, Anthony Edgar gave Yeovil their best chance of the match with a SuperGavesque weaving run inside, and an excellent shot that bounced just in front of the keeper with Steve Simonsen doing well to judge the shot in the midst of some torrential rain towards the end of the match.
But the last word fell to referee Keith Stroud. Having dished out seven yellow cards, there was always a danger that any further ones might result in a red for someone. And so it proved - seven minutes into injury time, Curtis Haynes-Brown tripped Blades substitute Jordan Slew, and whilst some referees might have shown a bit of common sense, that was never likely with a referee who had taken centre stage throughout. Yeovil were down to 10 men, and despite injury time continuing as far as eight and a half minutes, that wasn't enough time to get Yeovil an equalising goal.
Frustration once again for the Glovers against the bigger clubs, with once again the match officials showing signs of giving the opposition a helping hand - no doubt the slow-motion and freeze-frame will be compulsory for those viewing the BBC's Football League Show tonight. Aside from the controversial winning goal, Sheffield United created few chances to test Jed Steer, although in fairness the Glovers were a little lacking at the other end as well. Once again, Yeovil weren't outclassed by any stretch of the imagination, but have come out empty handed against the big guns.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 0 Sheffield United 1.
Scorers: Chris Porter (41 mins, 0-1)
Yeovil Town: (4-4-2):
1. Jed Steer
2. Luke Ayling 5. Paul Huntington 14. Max Ehmer 19. Curtis Haynes-Brown
10. Gavin Williams 20. Paul Wotton 8. Edward Upson 17. Alan O'Brien
7. Andrew Williams 9. Steven MacLean
11. Anthony Edgar (45 mins for Andy Williams) 12. Abdulai Bell-Baggie 23. Billy Gibson (85 mins for Alan O'Brien) 24. Gareth Stewart 37. Rory Fallon (82 mins for Steven MacLean)
1. Steve Simonsen
2. Matthew Lowton 19. Harry Maguire 15. Neill Collins 3. Lecsinel Jean-Francois
11. Ryan Flynn 8. Michael Doyle 4. Nick Montgomery 28. Stephen Quinn
17. Richard Cresswell 21. Chris Porter
25. George Long (GK) 10. Daniel Bogdanovic 12. Jordan Slew (63 mins for Chris Porter) 20. David McAllister (57 mins for Nick Montgomery) 7. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (87 mins for Ryan Flynn)
Yeovil Bookings: Paul Wotton (foul, 22 mins), Steven MacLean (dissent, 28 mins), Curtis Haynes-Brown (foul, 31 mins). Red Card: Curtis Haynes-Brown (second bookable offence, 90 mins
Sheffield United Bookings: Ryan Flynn (foul, 35 mins), Lecsinel Jean-Francois (foul, 42 mins), Richard Creswell (foul, 63 mins), Michael Doyle (foul, 71 mins)
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire). Assistants: Andrew Rodda (Devon) and Andrew Turner (Devon). Fourth Official: David Woolford (Hampshire).
Attendance: 5,001 (including 1,396 Sheffield United supporters)
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