Yeovil Town produced a battling, if shaky, second half display as they snatched a 2-1 victory over Portsmouth at a soggy Fratton Park this afternoon.
First half goals from Dominic Blizzard and Byron Webster gave the Glovers a two goal advantage at half time but a double change in the home side by former Yeovil star Guy Whittingham breathed new life into the hosts and Paul Benson grabbed an early reply in the second period.
Marek Stech in the Yeovil goal then pushed two shots onto the post amid almost incessant late pressure but the Glovers held on for their sixth away success of the season, a win that leaves them just three points off the top six.
Despite the toil of playing three games in eight days, manager Gary Johnson stuck with the same starting eleven that lost 3-0 at Bournemouth on Boxing Day with youth teamer Will Agbo making up a five strong subs bench alongside fellow youngster Mitch Brundle. Keanu Marsh-Brown didn’t travel with the team meaning that Reuben Reid and Gozie Ugwu were the only regular outfield players in the dugout.
Stech was to prove vital in the latter stages of the game but he earned his corn in the early stages too saving well from Pompey top scorer Izale McLeod after a quick Yeovil throw in had lost possession.
Yeovil’s midfield started to get more into the game and Ed Upson and Gavin Williams both threatened the Pompey goal from range before the visitors took the lead on fourteen minutes. Jamie McAllister, not for the first time this season, caused havoc with a well-delivered free kick into the box and the home defence could only clear to Dominic Blizzard who scored his first goal of the season with a carefully threaded finish into the corner past Simon Eastwood.
Yeovil looked fairly comfortable at this point, so much so that Whittingham’s men started losing their cool and came in with some hefty, cynical tackles on the lively Glovers attack. Lubomir Michalik was one of three first half yellows for Portsmouth but in truth it could have been more as referee Fred Graham missed other poor challenges on Yeovil players.
The away side continued to press with Williams enjoying another good game curling a free kick over the crossbar. McAllister then forced Eastwood into a superb save as he arrowed a free kick towards the top corner and Dan Burn headed a corner straight at the Pompey keeper.
The second goal had been coming a while and it arrived seven minutes before the break. Again McAllister delivered a good set piece and amongst some shoddy defending, Byron Webster spun and lashed home his third goal of the season to double the Town lead.
Two more yellow cards came before the interval with James Hayter harshly booked for diving while Adam Webster found his way into the refs notebook for a foul on Williams shortly before a cloudburst drenched the home pitch right on the half time whistle.
As the second half began, Whittingham made two brave changes, taking off top scorer McLeod and club captain Brian Howard to cheers from the home supporters in a strange fashion. Youngsters Ashley Harris and Scott Allan came on and their introduction seemed to invigorate a side stale in attack and wobbly in defence during a poor first half.
Eastwood tipped over a Paddy Madden shot in the second minute of the half and Richard Hinds got a header in from the ensuing corner but most of the second period was spent watching Pompey press and press down the flanks via Mustapha Dumbuya. After Ricardo Rocha was booked for another poor challenge on Williams, Portsmouth pulled a goal back on 53 minutes when Paul Benson tucked home from close range after a corner was headed back across goal by Adam Webster.
The goal lifted a crowd that had booed their side off at half time and Yeovil’s efforts on goal became more and more sporadic as they had to defend against a side that threw everything at them to equalise. Liam Walker hit a free kick over the bar, sub Johannes Ertl headed a corner at Stech, Allan dragged a shot wide after another corner and Benson then saw his effort from Walker’s cross pushed onto the post by Stech.
Darel Russell shot wide when he was allowed time and space to shoot, Walker then made Stech work to save his free kick before the big Czech stopper saved his best till last with a great save to push Michalik’s header on to the post in stoppage time. Madden was replaced by Gozie Ugwu in the final minute and Yeovil held on to end 2012 on a positive upbeat note.