Yeovil Town managed to squeeze their way into the Area Quarter-Finals of the Football League Trophy tonight, with a penalty shoot-out win over League Two side Torquay United. They were indebted to a 90th minute James Hayter goal that took the game to spot kicks, and also to a Marek Stech save that saw Thomas Cruise the only player to not score across the ten attempts made at the end of the match. Before that, it was Torquay who were in the driving seat, with Ryan Jarvis having twice put the Gulls ahead in the game, only to find Hayter twice peg the game back. In the end, Keanu Marsh-Brown was the hero, converting the tenth and final shoot-out penalty to give the Glovers a morale boost and send them through to a home match against Wycombe Wanderers.
Manager Gary Johnson made two team changes, both of which were enforced on the night. Striker Paddy Madden had already played in the competition for Carlisle United and so was unable to be fielded, whilst Joe Edwards was serving a ban for his red card on the weekend against Tranmere Rovers. They were replaced by Reuben Reid and Dominic Blizzard respectively, in like-for-like swaps, as Blizzard reprised his right-back role he performed at Leyton Orient. On the bench, Under-18s pair Mitch Brundle and Will Agbo got a chance to experience matchdays with the first team, with only 14 professionals available for selection. In the Torquay side, former trialise Aaron Downes started the game along with former Arsenal trainee Thomas Cruise, who has been widely expected to join the Glovers just over a year ago when he was released by the Gunners.
The Glovers got off to a reasonable start, with Sam Foley forcing Michael Poke to tip a shot around the post for a corner. In fact they were the better team throughout the opening 25 minutes, right up until the moment when Torquay took the lead. To be fair to the Gulls, it was a well worked goal, with Billy Bodin cutting the ball back across goal and thus putting it out of reach of Marek Stech and into the path of Ryan Jarvis for a 1-0 lead.
Reuben Reid should have provided a quick response when he fired at goalkeeper Poke, with Keanu Marsh-Brown unable to follow up. But the Glovers got their equaliser seven minutes before the break after Richard Hinds was fouled by Craig Easton. Jamie McAllister swung in the free kick, and Daniel Burn used his physical presence in the box to win the ball and disrupt the Gulls back line, critically leaving keeper Michael Poke out of position. Performing the classic goalpoacher's role, James Hayter managed to get his boot on the loose ball, and he nudged the ball home from close range for a 1-1 scoreline at the break.
The second period opened in a rather quiet pedestrian fashion, but one again it was Torquay who retook the lead with a flowing moove. Lee Mansell fed Danny Stevens, who provide an excellent pass through to Ryan Jarvis, who slotted home right footed past Marek Stech to put the home side 2-1 up. At that point Torquay looked like they were going to go on and win it, as the Glovers defence got the jitters, and that man Jarvis looked likely to get his hat-trick on the night.
With 20 minutes remaining though, Torquay withdrew Jarvis, whilst manager Gary Johnson threw his last roll of the dice, bringing on Byron Webster for Richard Hinds, whilst Gavin Williams replaced Reuben Reid, provoking a bit of a reshuffle as Sam Foley joined Hayter up front. All in all though, Torquay looked comfortable, playing keep-ball at times, and the game seemed to be fizzling out ... all until out of the blue, Keanu Marsh-Brown delivered a cross into the box just as the fourth official put up for three minutes of added time, and there was James Hayter to send the game through to a penalty shoot-out.
Whether the Glovers deserved to get that far was another matter, but they were able to regroup on the final whistle and choose their penalty takers, doubtless feeling better about the situation than the Gulls would have been. James Hayter and Ed Upson netted from the spot kicks, as did Torquay's opening pair. But then crucially Thomas Cruise had his attempt saved by Marek Stech and suddenly Yeovil had the advantage. They held their nerve as Gavin Williams and Jamie McAllister stepped up, with Torquay staying in the shoot-out up to the tenth penalty. But with the single advantage, Keanu Marsh-Brown had the responsibility to take the final one, and he made it a perfect five out of five for his side, to give them a Quarter-Final home clash against Wycombe Wanderers in December.
Final Score: Torquay United 2 Yeovil Town 2.
Scorers: Ryan Jarvis (25 mins, 1-0), James Hayter (38 mins, 1-1), Ryan Jarvis (57 mins, 2-1), James Hayter (90 mins, 2-2).
Penalties: Lee Mansell (1-0, scored), James Hayter (1-1, scored), Nathan Craig (2-1, scored), Ed Upson (2-2, scored), Thomas Cruise (2-2, not scored - saved), Gavin Williams (3-2, scored), Billy Bodin (3-3, scored), Jamie McAllister (4-3, scored), Rene Howe (4-4, scored), Keanu Marsh-Brown (5-4, scored).
1. Michael Poke
12. Daniel Leadbitter 4. Aaron Downes 5. Brian Saah 21. Thomas Cruise
7. Lee Mansell 18. Craig Easton 20. Nathan Craig
8. Ryan Jarvis 15. Billy Bodin 19. Danny Stevens
13. Martin Rice 2. Joe Oastler (81 mins for Danny Stevens) 9. Rene Howe (90 mins for Craig Easton) 23. Ashley Yeoman 29. Niall Thompson (72 mins for Ryan Jarvis)
Yeovil Town: (4-4-2)
1. Marek Stech
6. Dominic Blizzard 4. Richard Hinds 18. Daniel Burn 3. Jamie McAllister (Capt)
7. Keanu Marsh-Brown 8. Ed Upson 26. Korey Smith 14. Sam Foley
9. James Hayter 11. Reuben Reid
12. Gareth Stewart 5. Byron Webster (70 mins for Richard Hinds) 10. Gavin Williams (70 mins for Reuben Reid) 24. Mitch Brundle 23. Will Agobo.
Torquay Bookings: None.
Yeovil Bookings: Keanu Marsh-Brown (kicking ball away, 78 mins)
Torquay Match Statistics: Possession: 54%; Shots: 12; Shots On Target: 6; Corners: 1; Fouls: 13.
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 46%; Shots: 14; Shots On Target: 8; Corners: 8; Fouls: 4.
Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire). Assistants: Justin Amey (Dorset) and Paul Rees (Somerset). Fourth Official: Adam Hopkins (Devon).
Attendance: 1,280 (including 213 Yeovil fans).
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