Yeovil Town maintained their unbeaten start to League One with a 2-1 victory over fifth placed Doncaster Rovers at Huish Park this afternoon.
Second half goals from strikers James Hayter, against his former club, and sub Gozie Ugwu made it ten points from four games for Gary Johnson’s men who drop to second place in the early table after Tranmere beat Colchester 4-0 today. Billy Paynter’s late goal was a mere consolation for the travelling Yorkshiremen.
The manager’s starting eleven was increasingly familiar as he chose the same team for the fourth game running, putting his faith in the lads who had produced a great performance in midweek in defeat to West Bromwich Albion in the Capital One Cup.
The game stopped as soon as it started when Richard Hinds sustained a facial injury after colliding with a Doncaster attacker and had to go off for treatment and a new shirt too. To be truthful, the first half wasn’t full of attacking, free flowing football but the pattern of play wasn’t helped by some inconsistent, fussy refereeing from official Dean Mohareb.
Sam Foley headed wide on seven minutes from Keanu Marsh-Brown’s cross and Reuben Reid hit the crossbar with a looping header ten minutes later, giant defender Rob Jones heading behind for a corner before the waiting James Hayter could convert the rebound. Foley, impressive all afternoon, then had keeper Gary Woods back-pedalling furiously to keep out a sliced cross to the far post.
Doncaster had chances of their own in the first period but keeper Marek Stech barely had to break sweat. Cotterill hit the outside of the near post with an inswinging corner and Jones, a nuisance from set pieces with his 6’7” frame, headed over from a corner. The final chance of the half fell to Reid who blasted a rising shot just wide from long range.
Manager Gary Johnson’s words at half time seemed to have an instant effect. By the time of the first goal ten minutes in, the Glovers could, and possibly should, have been ahead already. Marsh-Brown fed Foley on the left but his cross at pace was just in front of Hayter. Three minutes later, the same pair again caused trouble in the Donny defence who had to concede a corner to relieve the pressure.
On 55 minutes came the breakthrough. Reid played in down the right flank produced a cross worthy of a winger and Hayter met it perfectly in the middle to give Woods no chance. Befitting of a man who had spent five years with the opponents and only left in the summer, Hayter celebrated his third goal of the season with due reserve.
The top scorer then nearly set up Marsh-Brown but the winger was denied by a last ditch clearance effort was cleared off the line and less than a minute later, Foley’s blocked shot came to Ed Upson whose curling effort from twenty yards grazed the post. Reid then almost doubled the lead with an impudent chipped effort on the hour and Marsh-Brown’s dinked effort was again cleared when it looked in all the way.
Doncaster’s only threat seemed to come from the long throws of Tommy Spurr and Cotterill’s corners with Yeovil’s defensive ramparts Richard Hinds and Byron Webster dealing well with the aerial threat of Billy Paynter and Chris Brown. Midfielder David Syers tested Stech with a header from a tight angle but otherwise, it was the home fans who were the happier.
Hayter was replaced by Gozie Ugwu on 78 minutes, the striker getting a standing ovation from both sets of fans and it was the Yeovil fans back up on their feet five minutes later. Doncaster boss Dean Saunders threw his last dice pushing Jones up front for the final seven minutes and going to three at the back when his defensive partner Jamie McCombe was short with a back header and Ugwu raced on and lobbed the keeper though the ball took an eternity to finally crawl over the line off the inside of the post.
Stech then pushed a free kick from Cotterill around the post before Donny grabbed a late goal on 87 minutes. Sub Iain Hume drove a low cross across goal and Billy Paynter thumped a shot into the roof of the net to make it 2-1. It was too little too late and the result leaves the high flying Glovers level on points with leaders Tranmere Rovers but with a worse goal difference.