A Joe Edwards goal after just 48 seconds proved the winner as Yeovil Town beat Crewe Alexandra by a goal to nil at a sunny Huish Park this afternoon.
Edwards’ third goal of the season, a low shooting effort from twenty yards, suggested that Yeovil might go on and win comfortably but they couldn’t take any further chances and keeper Marek Stech was equal to everything that the visitors could throw at him as the Alex threatened a leveller.
The win lifted the Glovers into fourth spot in the npower League One table but also came at a cost as they lost defenders Byron Webster and Nathan Ralph to first half injuries and with the playoffs less than a fortnight away, manager Gary Johnson had to constantly shuffle his pack today with the end-of-season matches firmly in his mind.
That was the case with his initial teams selection too. Nathan Ralph came in for a rare start along with Latvian defender Vitalis Maksimenko who made his full Glovers debut. It meant that Angelo Balanta dropped to the bench with Richard Hinds as Ralph slotted into left back, Sam Foley into left midfield and Joe Edwards in the centre of the park.
The goal was the first action of the game and it was a beauty. Ed Upson chipped a delightful pass through to James Hayter who chested it off to Edwards forty yards from goal. He burst through the Crewe backline and hit a low shot from twenty yards out that keeper Steve Phillips had no chance of saving.
Stech made his first great save on eleven minutes when he tipped over an acrobatic volley from Kelvin Mellor and he caught Chuks Aneke’s header from the resulting corner. Paddy Madden, keen to stretch his lead for the League One Golden Boot, hammered a shot just wide as Yeovil looked for a second.
On nineteen minutes, Byron Webster went off to be replaced by Lewis Young with Luke Ayling switching to centre back, a position he was superb in all afternoon, and Young taking Ayling’s berth at right back. Then the other full back, Nathan Ralph, limped off and Balanta came on, Edwards dropping to left back with Balanta playing ahead of him. It meant that only Maksimenko of the defenders was still playing in his starting position in the back four.
In between the Yeovil troubles, ref Brendan Malone also came off injured to be replaced by fourth official Adam Bromley in a half that was exciting but never really caught fire. Yeovil were playing the better stuff but Crewe were by no means overawed by Yeovil’s attacking prowess.
Hayter poked wide from a Foley cross before Stech saved superbly from both Max Clayton and Matt Tootle in the space of thirty seconds. Then at the other end, Hayter could have doubled Yeovil’s lead but twice just failed to get onto the end of crosses from Young and Balanta, a matter of inches each time.
After half time, Balanta was withdrawn for Gavin Williams and both Ayling and Upson went close with headers for the home side. Clayton then flicked wide when a better connection would have seen an equaliser for Alex.
Stech’s next save was his best as he clawed an Aneke header off the line with the 188 Crewe fans in the 5,293 crowd, already celebrating the goal. As it was, the near miss seemed to galvanise the hosts and they started creating chances again. Williams chested before volleying over, Hayter dragged a left foot shot wide and Madden fired a free kick way over the bar.
As the match closed, Crewe sub and former Premier League striker Nathan Ellington almost grabbed a leveller after a twisting run but his shot went over. Yeovil’s closest effort of the second period came when Ayling, searching for his first Glovers goal after 135 games, had a bullet header cleared off the line by Tootle.
The final action of the entertaining spectacle was at the Yeovil end with Mark Ellis heading over from a Harry Davis free kick and Stech once more denied Crewe with a near post block from Ryan Colclough.