Yeovil Town’s chances of automatic promotion suffered a severe dent when they went down to a Matt Smith goal at Oldham’s Boundary Park tonight.
Billed as a battle of the Johnsons, with the two sides managed by father and son Gary and Lee, the only goal of the game came in first half stoppage time from the Latics lanky striker who rose to flick home a header from a Lee Croft corner.
In a match lacking in real entertainment but sparking into life occasionally, it was young Lee who took the family managerial honours with the win that almost secures their own League One future.
The result leaves the Glovers five points adrift of an automatic promotion berth with two games remaining, needing a set of unlikely results to help them into the top two.Town’s boss Gary lined up against his son Lee for the first time as managerial rivals and was forced into two changes from the side that beat Stevenage 2-0 at the weekend.
Dan Burn’s red card saw him sit out for two games, the first of which was tonight, while midfielder Dominic Blizzard cried off ill. QPR loanee Angelo Balanta returned after his own illness to take up a position in right midfield, Kevin Dawson moving inside and Richard Hinds dropped into the back four in Burn’s place.
Sam Foley chested down and volleyed just wide early on and top scorer Paddy Madden scuffed a shot wide soon after and Balanta shot wide when in a good position on twenty minutes in a first half almost devoid of real exciting play.
Hinds proved his worth with a fantastic clearance off the goal line from Matt Smith’s header then the pair tussled in the box in a 50/50 battle with ref Jeremy Simpson waved away Latics optimistic penalty claims.
Smith then went close with a header from another Croft cross and with the home side playing at a high tempo reminiscent of his father’s teams, they went even closer just before half time when Marek Stech produced a brilliant one handed diving save to push David Mellor’s effort away for a corner.
The respite was brief though as Croft’s corner was nodded home from close range by Smith for a half time lead.Johnson senior shuffled his pack at half time withdrawing Balanta and introducing Gavin Williams and the Welshman had Yeovil’s first second half chance but his shot was way off target.
His night then got worse when he was shown a yellow card for tugging the shirt of Croft as he raced away.Jamie McAllister and debutant Vitalijs Maksimenko came on for Hinds and Foley with twenty minutes to go but the remainder of the game showed the odd bright spark but no sign of the two goals needed to realistically keep the Glovers’ automatic promotion hopes alive.
Madden shot straight at keeper Dean Bouzanis and Maksimenko headed down and over the crossbar from Ed Upson’s free kick.
Controversy arrived with four minutes left when Latics sub Kirk Millar lunged late and wildly at Byron Webster with a challenge that some referees would have issued a red card for but the official opted to show his fifth of seven yellow cards shown tonight.
James Hayter went close late on with a shot deflected over the bar by an Oldham defender but aside from Maksimenko’s late yellow card, there were no further incidents and the game ended with the extra Yorkshire pudding reserved for the 31-year-old Lee!