A 75th minute goal from Valerijs Sabala was enough to give Latvia victory in this historic match against Yeovil at Huish Park.
Sabala’s goal from a right wing cross was one of very few chances the visitors had in a match where the Glovers had by far the majority of chances but failed to convert. The match as a whole mirrored several of the home side’s Championship defeats this season; more possession, more chances but ultimately nothing to show.
Town manager Gary Johnson, himself of course the Latvian manager for two years previously, was able to welcome back Wigan loan signing Frazer Fyvie and had a new face between the sticks too, keeper Stuart Taylor who arrived on a month’s deal from Reading. In the Latvian side was Vitalijs Maksimenko, part of last season’s playoff winning Yeovil lineup.
After surviving an early penalty shout when Artis Lazdins went down right on the edge of the box, Yeovil soon settled down and went close twice to opening the scoring. Joel Grant couldn’t quite get on top of a Paddy Madden ball in and Joe Ralls cross shot narrowly missed the far post.
Played in a competitive spirit, the first half lacked any further scares for either keeper, with Taylor barely tested with anything harder than a back pass or two. At half time, Gary Johnson switched ten of the eleven players, just leaving centre half Liam Fontaine on for the second period.
The game immediately looked livelier with those ten fresh pairs of legs, Yeovil looking the more likely to break the deadlock. Sam Foley was at the heart of most attacks, creating a chance for Joey Jones who headed wide from a corner and Kieffer Moore who sliced a shot wide, although the striker was flagged for offside too.
Foley also tested Latvian gloveman Aleksandrs Kolinko early in the second period and both he and Kevin Dawson sent shots high over the bar during an extended spell of pressure.
Kolinko saved from Dawson and then watched as Liam Davis pulled an effort wide of goal but Latvia then against the run of play took the lead. A ball came over from the right and Sabala tucked the ball in at the far post.
Sub Daniils Turkovs shot wide on the counter attack two minutes later and the final chance of the game fell to Jones whose bullet header was cleared off the lines with four minutes remaining.