A stunning comeback inspired by the introduction of second half sub Ryan Bird saw Yeovil Town earn a fantastic 3-2 win over Luton Town at a stormy Huish Park this afternoon.
Craig Mackail-Smith’s stunning dipping volley gave the Hatters an early lead and when Paul Benson tapped home on 17 minutes, it seemed that Yeovil were heading for a fourth successive league defeat. But Stephen Arthurworrey pulled a goal back before the break and Bird, introduced on the hour, took just three minutes to equalise before smashing home a sensational winner with eighteen minutes remaining to give the Glovers their first points of the new season.
Manager Paul Sturrock made three changes to the side that lost 1-0 at York City on Tuesday night. Wes Fogden’s broken finger ruled him out so Matt Dolan’s return from suspension was particularly timely. Up front, the twin strike force of Ryan Bird and Mark Beck dropped to the sidelines with Jack Compton moving into midfield and Shaun Jeffers coming in up top.
Yeovil’s last home game was decided by a late winner but against John Still’s men, it was an early strike that hit them. And what a strike too as prolific forward Craig Mackail-Smith let the ball bounce before hitting the perfect dipping shot over Artur Krysiak and into the net.
Ryan Hall’s volley was deflected away for a corner on seventeen minutes but the relief was only short lived as after the corner was partially cleared, the ball was played back in for an unmarked Paul Benson to tap home. Two very different goals from two experienced strikers with over 300 goals in their lockers.
Yeovil gradually started to gain a foothold in the game with Matt Dolan testing Hatters keeper Mark Tyler twice and Jeffers also shooting at the former Yeovil loan keeper. Mackail-Smith, Luke Wilkinson and Danny Green also went close as the game opened up and shortly after, on 37 minutes, Yeovil handed themselves a lifeline. Connor Roberts found time and space for the cross from the right wing and Stephen Arthurworrey headed home.
Before half time, the Glovers could even have grabbed the leveller but Alex Lacey headed wide against his old club and Dolan’s left foot thunderbolt was tipped behind for a corner.
With Hatters captain Steve McNulty withdrawn at half time to save him from a red card after a final warning from ref Simon Hooper, the momentum was definitely with the home side. Yet it took a superb save from Krysiak to preserve the 3-1 score line as he flung himself full length to keep out Benson’s effort.
At 2-1 down with thirty minutes left, Yeovil made a change that went a long way to change the match. Jeffers was withdrawn to bring on Ryan Bird and the striker took just three minutes to level the score line. Harry Cornick found Stephen Arthurworrey and his ball in found Ryan Bird who slid home his first goal in Yeovil colours.
Jakub Sokolik fired high and wide on seventy minutes but the comeback was completed two minutes later with Bird’s second and Yeovil’s third. Arthurworrey made a barnstorming run down the right flank; his attempted pass through found Bird via a ricochet and the striker thumped home an unstoppable drive into the corner. Credit should also be given to ref Simon Hooper who allowed Yeovil the advantage when Arthurworrey was fouled in the build up.
As the weather turned from sultry sun to stormy showers, the game became more stretched but lacking in any more clear chances. Luton came close in the 89th minute when Scott Griffiths cross shot bounced off the top of the crossbar with Krysiak back pedalling. But a late Luton goal would have been harsh in a Yeovil side that had fought tooth and nail to get back into a game they were seemingly out of.