A double from Paddy Madden gave Yeovil a 2-1 victory over Milton Keynes Dons at a blustery Huish Park this evening.
The brace, his fifth of the season, came either side of an Antony Kay header from a corner, but the big defender then received a straight red card for raising his hands to Madden as the Irishman tried to join an attack but was blatantly blocked. The incident incensed both benches and the final half hour was played amidst a raucous atmosphere as the Dons failed to score again to level the match.
The result lifts Gary Johnson’s side to seventh place in the League One table just three points off the playoffs and they leapfrog their visitors who lost for only the second time since October away from home.
Johnson had named an unchanged line up from the side that grabbed a fantastic 2-0 victory at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United seventeen days ago. It meant home debuts for Matt Dolan and Kevin Dawson with new Crystal Palace loan striker Kwesi Appiah having to be satisfied with a space on the bench.
The game started in difficult conditions and although there were brief lulls in the awful weather during the match, most of it was played in a swirling wind, driving rain, or both. The weather affected the way both sides attempted to play in a first fifteen minutes devoid of any real goalmouth action.
Dolan was set up by Kevin Dawson on three minutes but sent his swerving shot into the midriff of keeper David Martin before Madden headed into the keepers arms from Luke Ayling’s looping cross to the back post. The game suddenly sparked into life with Dolan going close twice with blocked shots and Madden pulling a shot wide from twenty yards.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though but Izale McLeod’s shooting was awry; one effort weakly hit was saved by Marek Stech while the next, a volley from outside the box, didn’t trouble home keeper Stech.
Yeovil took the lead on 25 minutes when Dawson slipped a ball inside from the right flank and Madden met it perfectly, sweeping the ball home into the corner of the net. Dons met the goal with a change, Ryan Lowe going off injured and being replaced by Chris Lines as Karl Robinson switched to a 4-5-1 formation.
The change paid dividends nine minutes later as Dons equalised. Ryan Harley curled in a corner and Antony Kay met the ball with a downward header for his first goal of the season, silencing the buoyant home crowd.
Byron Webster and McLeod were then booked for a scuffle after McLeod took offence to being fairly but firmly tackled by the big centre half who then produced the tackle of the match when he dispossessed a Dons attacker as he was about to pull the trigger in the penalty box.
The second half began with Ed Upson grazing the post with a deflected volley that went for a corner and Stech at the other end had to save from Adam Chicksen.
On sixty minutes came a double substitution from Gary Johnson with Appiah and Joe Edwards replacing James Hayter and Dolan before the match’s flashpoint came three minutes later.
Yeovil broke on the counter attack and Madden, attempting to get off the floor after a challenge, was unceremoniously shoved back down to the ground by Kay. After the attack came to nothing, ref Mick Russell consulted his fourth official who saw the incident and issued a straight red card to the former Huddersfield stopper.
Edwards saw his shot deflected for a corner and Madden lifted a shot over the crossbar but the winner wasn’t long in coming and duly arrived on 77 minutes.
Upson swung a long ball to the back post and Madden came up with a textbook header to score his 14th goal of the season, his sixth in three games and his fifth brace of a prolific season.
Former Manchester United and Newcastle star Alan Smith came on for Otsemobor as Robinson shuffled his pack late on but the Glovers held on comfortably with few scares for Stech and his gallant defence.
The result, Yeovil’s fourth successive win and fifth in six games, lifts them up to tantalisingly close to the playoff positions with a big match against Brentford coming at Huish Park on Saturday.