Yeovil Town kicked off their eighth successive season in League One with a battling 1-1 draw against Coventry City at a sweltering Huish Park this afternoon.
Cody McDonald gave the Sky Blues the lead with a bullet header on nine minutes but a fantastic header from defender Richard Hinds, his third already this season, grabbed a deserved point against Andy Thorn’s men who were relegated from the Championship last season.
Manager Gary Johnson will be pleased with the point gained against what may well be one of the promotion candidates from League One this season although it could have been all three late on as Hinds volleyed home from a set piece but referee David Phillips ruled the goal out for a handball.
Johnson kept faith with the same starting eleven he has been utilising in the bus pre-season schedule meaning that six players made their Yeovil league debut and two more made their second debut (Hinds and Stech, previously with the Glovers). Lining up for the opposition was quality in the shape of Irish international Kevin Kilbane, Gary McSheffrey and Cody McDonald.
Hinds went close on six minutes when he shot over from a Jamie McAllister free kick and James Hayter volleyed well over a minute later after Reece Brown, brother of Manchester United’s Wes, headed out of the box.
On nine minutes, Coventry took the lead. McDonald was fouled 25 yards out by Byron Webster and from John Fleck’s set piece, McDonald produced a firm header into the corner of the net. It gave City the confidence to push forward and at this point, they looked quicker and stronger both defending and attacking.
The leveller wasn’t long in coming and from the Glovers latest scoring sensation Richard Hinds. Webster saw his header tipped over by City keeper Joe Murphy and from Ed Upson’s corner, Hinds met the ball perfectly to thump a header home for his third goal of the season, his second best return of his career already!!
Upson took a quick free kick and set up Hayter who found Reid but the big striker lashed his shot just wide but Yeovil almost fell behind on the half hour when City had a double chance to score. Home keeper Marek Stech saved well from McDonald and Fleck’s effort on the rebound was cleared from danger by the rapidly retreating Hinds.
Hayter then looked set to get a shot in on goal but Brown took the ball off his foot and cleared for a corner and two minutes later, Reid went even closer, controlling a long ball from Luke Ayling before beating his defender but seeing Murphy parry his effort behind for another flag kick.
If truth be known, the first half of the second period wasn’t overflowing with chances for either side as both sides took time to readjust to the pace of the game and the heat. Ayling had two opportunities within a matter of seconds with either foot but couldn’t quite finish while Upson volleyed well over from distance.
Gozie Ugwu was clattered by a poor challenge from Chris Hussey on the hour and went off without further ado, replaced by Keanu Marsh-Brown. The next chance came for City when McDonald curled wide of the far post when well placed while Upson then blazed over after a Marsh-Brown centre was cleared.
Adam Barton must have thought he’d given his side the lead on 76 minutes when his shot looked destined for the top corner but cannoned off the angle of the post and crossbar with Jordan Clarke firing the rebound high, wide and handsome.
If that was close then Yeovil went even closer to grabbing the win four minutes later. McAllister swung in a free kick and after controlling and swivelling, Hinds slammed the ball home but ref David Phillips disallowed for handball by the big Yorkshire defender.
Marsh-Brown was then thwarted by Murphy’s low save and Yeovil had one final scare in stoppage time when Hinds was barged off the ball by McDonald and with the goal gaping and only Stech to protect it, McDonald fluffed his lines and screwed his shot wide.