Yeovil Town made it seven League One wins in a row when they came from a goal down to beat Preston North End 3-1 at Huish Park tonight.
Chris Beardsley had given the visitors a 29th minute lead against the run of play but a stirring late comeback from the Glovers saw goals from James Hayter, sub Nathan Ralph and Paddy Madden as Gary Johnson’s men continued their astonishing recent run that has seen them move to within four points of the top of the table.
The Glovers remain in seventh place in the table with other teams around them winning tonight but another three points on Saturday when they entertain Scunthorpe United would really put the Glovers into a fantastic position as they enter the final ten weeks of the campaign.
Gary Johnson named an unchanged side at the start with League One’s top scorer Paddy Madden looking to add to his prolific recent form that has seen him score eight times in his last five games. Graham Westley’s visitors though came after a spell of rotten form that has seen them plummet from playoff contenders to relegation-haunted, just three places outside the bottom four.
With former Yeovil skipper Paul Huntington returning for the first time since leaving Huish Park, it was his colleagues that were the busiest in an opening twenty minutes that was almost one way traffic at times. Lilywhites winger Jeffrey Monakana looked dangerous in sporadic bursts but the real action was at the other end as Town, boosted with that great run, switched play from flank to flank with ease.
Kevin Dawson and Madden both went close in that period and the top scorer then went even closer with a flicked header that landed on top of the net from Ed Upson’s ball in. Madden then returned the favour, setting up Upson but both his shot and that of Joe Edwards following up were locked by some resolute blocks.
So it was a surprise that when the first goal came it was for the away side. The ball was played into the right channel to Chris Beardsley who span his defender and fired past Marek Stech into the corner of the goal.
Upson then almost curled in an equaliser on 34 minutes before sharpshooter Madden netted but was adjudged offside from a flick-on by Dan Burn at a free kick. Before half time arrived, Upson and Madden both shot over and Burn headed a looping Luke Ayling cross straight at visiting keeper Declan Rudd.
Preston nearly made it two early in the second half when Beardsley’s diving header from a Lee Holmes cross was saved well by Stech but Yeovil soon resumed their dominance and forced several corners and free kicks in the final third but these came to nothing.
Nathan Ralph and Lewis Young came on for Sam Foley and Kevin Dawson on the hour and twelve minutes later Town finally got the goal they deserved. Madden turned provider slipping the ball to strike partner James Hayter who finished well for his eleventh goal of the season.
Yeovil’s tails were up and their high tempo and workrate were affecting how their opposition were playing, forcing hurried clearances and niggly fouls in daft areas. One of those occurred thirty yards out, wide left, when Joe Edwards was pulled down. Upson swung in a free kick and amidst the penalty area kerfuffle, Nathan Ralph lashed in his first goal in the green and white colours.
Hayter was then replaced by Kwesi Appiah on eighty minutes and after Westley had thrown his last dice by making a late double change, Yeovil added insult to injury with a late third. For most of the match, referee Roger East had been forced to chivvy along the Preston side who had wasted time at goal kicks, throw ins and free kicks all game. Adding six minutes at the end, Yeovil added a fine third through Madden who had run through walls all night for his team and ended up creating his own goal with a dummy just outside the box before poking home goal number seventeen of the season and his ninth in the last six games.
The remainder of stoppage time passed without major incident and Yeovil’s great run continues on for another game.