Yeovil Town found winning ways at just the right time when they beat Notts County by two goals to one at Meadow Lane this afternoon.
Paddy Madden and Matt Dolan scored either side of an Alan Judge penalty during a mad six minute spell in a match made more difficult by an awful playing surface. The victory lifts the Glovers back into the top six and level with fourth placed Swindon Town on goal difference ahead of just five more games in the npower League One season.
Chris Kiwomya’s County side, in tenth place before the game, were the highest placed opponents left for Yeovil to face this season and although they threatened at times through Alan Judge and Enoch Showunmi, the away side were great value for their three points, generating more optimism for the 349 Town fans that made the journey to Nottingham today.
Yeovil boss Gary Johnson decided against a major reshuffle following Good Friday’s goalless draw at home to Walsall. Sam Foley dropped to the bench with Matt Dolan replacing him, the Middlesbrough loanee slipping into central midfield with Kevin Dawson pushing out wide.
Yeovil started in fine spirits showing no hangover from Friday’s draw with Angelo Balanta shooting at young keeper Fabien Spiess within thirty seconds and Ed Upson lashing a shot just wide before three minutes were on the clock.
Home striker Enoch Showunmi then leaned back and hammered a shot miles over the bar before Balanta dragged a shot wide and top scorer Paddy Madden flicked a Luke Ayling over from close range. Glovers gloveman Marek Stech, looking to add to his sixteen clean sheets this season, then held on to a header from Yoann Arquin and all this within the first eight minutes of the first whistle!
But the bright start belied what followed for most of the rest of the first half. Both sides struggled to cope with an awful pitch and the visitors also had to contend with three injuries in a stop start first half. Dolan tweaked a knee in a block tackle, James Hayter was then caught in the face when back defending for his team and Byron Webster also went down in the centre circle in pain.
The middle part of the half was forgettable at best but as the half time kettle boiled, at last some incident for the crowd to get excited about. Stech produced a brilliant, trademark, full stretch diving save to deny Showunmi’s downward header and Spiess held on to a right footed Dolan shot at the other end before the breakthrough came in first half stoppage time. Again, it was the influential Dolan at the heart of it, his shot saved by Spiess but hot-shot Madden dinked it over the prostrate keeper for his 22nd goal of the season.
If Johnson’s men had hoped to build on the lead, they would have been dealt a blow when, three minutes into the second period, County equalised. Home midfield general Alan Judge outpaced centre half Dan Burn but was brought down by the Fulham loanee defender, ref Fred Graham awarding a spot kick and deciding a yellow card was sufficient punishment. Judge converted the penalty for his eighth goal of the season.
But equally the County faithful had little time for celebration as within three more minutes, it was 2-1 to Yeovil. Kevin Dawson made a run across the front of the penalty box and was brought down twenty yards out. Dolan, still hobbling from his first half challenge, curled a stunning free kick over the wall, leaving Spiess unable to keep it out of the net for his first goal in senior football.
County then wasted a golden chance to level matters for a second time when former Bristol Rovers attacker Jeff Hughes spurned an absolute sitter, screwing wide from just two yards out with the goal gaping. Dolan then had one more chance before he left the pitch to be replaced by Sam Foley on seventy minutes, testing Spiess with a fierce shot.
Yeovil then had two scares to contend with in the space of two minutes. First up, talismanic midfielder Judge went tumbling in the box under a challenge from Webster but the official booked Judge for simulation. Then young County sub Tyrone Waite outwitted Luke Ayling and crossed for Showunmi to head wide of the goal.
Yeovil made two more late subs with Nathan Ralph replacing Balanta and Richard Hinds coming on in front of the back four to screen the defence, Hayter coming off. Judge went close in the dying moments with a cross shot that skirted the far post but the Glovers saw out four minutes of stoppage time with no further concern and took three massive points.