Match Details: 26/12/2011
Yeovil Town 2-3 Charlton Athletic
npower League One
Yeovil Goals: Jonathan Obika (8), Paul Huntington (50)
Yeovil Line-Up: 1. Rene Gilmartin, 2. Luke Ayling, 4. Bondz N'Gala, 5. Paul Huntington, 6. Dominic Blizzard, 7. Andy Williams, 8. Ed Upson, 10. Gavin Williams, 14. Max Ehmer, 20. Paul Wotton, 29. Jonathan Obika,
Subs: 9. Steve MacLean, 17. Alan O'Brien, 21. Gavin Massey, 24. Gareth Stewart, 37. Conor Clifford
Substitutes Used: Alan O'Brien for Gavin Williams (77 mins)
Bookings: Paul Wotton (Foul, 45), Ed Upson (Foul, 65), Luke Ayling (Foul, 71)
Yeovil Town narrowly lost out to League One leaders Charlton Athletic in a pulsating match at Huish Park on Boxing Day afternoon. A last minute Danny Green goal condemned them to defeat, despite having twice shocked their more illustrious visitors. Goals from Jonathan Obika and Paul Huntington gave Yeovil the lead twice, but the Addicks quickly hit back through Danny Hollands and Yann Kermorgant before Green's last gasp winning goal.
The Glovers went into the match making three changes to their starting line-up. Kieran Agard dropped entirely out of the squad, with his place in the side taken by Andy Williams. Just behind him was Gavin Williams, recalled to the starting line-up in favour of Conor Clifford who sat on the bench. The only other change was enforced as Kerrea Gilbert's suspension meant that the back four had to be reshuffled with Bondz N'Gala's own return from a ban allowing the defence to revert to the line-up they'd chosen in the Fleetwood FA Cup match.
The game opened up with Charlton attacking in numbers down Yeovil's wings, doubling up at times, and putting Luke Ayling and Max Ehmer under immediate pressure. Danny Green shot into the side netting in one of those attempts where if you were on the East Stand side of the ground, you were probably wondering if the ball had landed in the net as it struck the outside of the goal frame.
As it happens, it was Yeovil that took a somewhat against the run of play lead. A high ball into the box from Max Ehmer wasn't particularly well dealt with by the head of Charlton striker Yann Kermorgant. He only moved the ball as far as Jonathan Obika who turned his back to goal before beautifully executing a bicycle kick past former Holyrood Community School pupil Ben Hamer, who is now Charlton's first choice goalkeeper. The Addicks players tried to complain about the goal - presumably for either high feet, or for Hamer being blocked, but there didn't seem to be a lot wrong with Obika's superbly executed goal.
Despite that goal, Charlton continued to apply the pressure, and it took them eight minutes to find an equalising goal - a bit of a soft one scored from a Danny Green corner. Yeovil tend to put their entire team back inside the box when defending corners, but on this occasion it seemed to make no difference to the quality of the marking - Danny Hollands able to make a smart run into the back post, and plant home a header from around six yards out, with something that looked to have come straight from Charlton's training ground.
The visitors were the dominant force throughout the first half, although not quite in the way that their early spell had managed, as Yeovil began to block out their routes down the flanks, and the game dried up a little in terms of chances. Charlton's main avenue was from winger Danny Green - every cross he put into the danger area was curled and whipped with real venom and seemed to have the Glovers back four stretching every time. One of those almost put Charlton in the lead, as defender Michael Morrison's flick off the cross just went wide of the post.
At the other end, Yeovil's main opportunities came through Jonathan Obika. One of those was a real peach of a move, with around a dozen simple midfield passes knocked up, with Gavin Williams moving through as the fulcrum of the side. His ball through to Obika caught the striker off balance a touch, and he fired wide of the target as he shot first time from the through ball. The half ended through, with Bradley Wright-Phillips getting a rare moment of space after Paul Wotton had been dispossessed from a poor Rene Gilmartin goal kick. Bondz N'Gala got the toe-end of a boot on the shot from Wright-Phillips to send the ball skidding wide for a corner and to send Yeovil in level at the break.
Yeovil's best period of the game came at the start of the second period. Andy Williams shot just wide of the target as the team attacked the home terrace end of the ground. Willo's shot had taken a deflection on the way, and when Ed Upson's corner was swung in, Paul Huntington was on hand to plant a superb header home to put Yeovil back in the lead at 2-1. Once again Charlton protested about the goal, with keeper Ben Hamer having slipped as the corner came in, losing his positioning. Presumably they were trying to kid referee Brendan Malone into believing the keeper had been fouled - a clear view from behind the goal showed the only thing that needed to be reviewed was the type of studs Hamer had in his boots - he'd slipped under zero pressure from any other players, including his own.
Charlton are a good enough team to be top of the league without needing to complain to referees about things that didn't happen, and like the first goal, Yeovil held their lead for only a short amount of time. Yann Kermorgant was rather clumsily bundled over by Bondz N'Gala, with the centre-back probably a bit fortunate not to earn himself a card. Kermorgant nudged away some of his teammates who were itching to take the dead ball, as it rested 25 yards out. His direct free kick showed exactly why he was confident enough to do that - curling beautifully over the Yeovil wall, and into the left hand corner of the net, giving Rene Gilmartin utterly no chance of getting across. 2-2 and all to play for again.
Following the fourth goal of the afternoon, Yeovil began to defend deeper, as the two forwards gradually became wingers in much the same way that the Glovers had done in recent matches, leaving the player 'in the hole' - in this case Gavin Williams - as often the most advanced green-and-white player on the pitch. Rene Gilmartin was forced into a stunning save on his back post from Michael Morrison, as he had to readjust from a threat on his near post - rushing across to block the shot and send it spinning out for a corner.
The booking tally began to rapidly increase on both sides, as Ed Upson and Paul Wotton picked up their 10th yellow cards of the season. Rene Gilmartin saved again - this time a flying parry across the face of his goal from a Hogan Ephram shot. This was turning into a significant rearguard action, with often 21 players camped in the final 25 yards of the pitch, and Yeovil leaving no outlet further up to relieve the pressure when they did clear the ball.
Max Ehmer had to clear off his own line, with Gavin Williams having done the same earlier in the game, but as the game closed, it seemed as though Yeovil were making Charlton think a bit - using Andy Williams and Alan O'Brien to break on the visitors - an awful Rhoys Wiggins tackle on Willo to stop him breaking clear of the pack probably fortunate for Wiggins that it was committed inside the Yeovil half - its aim was to stop the Yeovil striker from breaking clean through the back of the high Charlton back line.
Just as it seemed as though Yeovil would come out of all of this with a point, they did what they have done in many matches against the bigger clubs in the division - concede in the final minute of the match. A long ball over the top allowed winger Danny Green the chance to run onto it, and no-one came in to close him down, allowing him the space to shoot across the face of Rene Gilmartin's goal and into the bottom left corner. The excellent home terrace, backing the team in the second period with a 'Green Army' mantra were stunned into silence as the Addicks stole the points at the death.
There was still time for Yeovil to threaten their own late equaliser - Andy Williams saw his shot saved by Ben Hamer, whilst Paul Wotton had a shot blocked by a defender's boot, and even Rene Gilmartin came running up deep into his opponents penalty box to create havoc on a late corner, where both sides pushed and jostled inside the crowded goalmouth, but Charlton held firm and held onto the win.
No disgrace in defeat for the Glovers. They competed far better than they had done in their previous home match against Fleetwood, and showed plenty of determination, contributing to a flowing game of football. The one criticism is their ongoing tendency to play too deep in their final third during the last quarter of games. Whether that's psychological or managerial instruction is harder to tell, but they do need to give themselves more attacking outlets in such circumstances, rather than entirely camp themselves in their own box.
Whilst it's possible to deny teams like Rochdale in such a manner, there is a habit of clubs like Norwich, Charlton and Leeds to grab such last minute winners over the years - they have that quality that can create goals just when it seems as though the result you want is going to happen. The question is whether the Glovers can keep the quality of their game raised during 'six pointers' against Bournemouth and Exeter - that will tell them whether slipping into the bottom four at the end of the Boxing Day game is a problem or not.
Link: 2011-12 Latest League One Table.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 2 Charlton Athletic 3.
Scorers: Jonathan Obika (1-0, 8 mins), Danny Hollands (1-1, 16 mins), Paul Huntington (2-1, 50 mins), Yann Kermorgant (2-2, 60 mins), Danny Green (2-3, 90 mins).
1. Rene Gilmartin
2. Luke Ayling 4. Bondz N'Gala 5. Paul Huntington 14. Max Ehmer
20. Paul Wotton
8. Edward Upson 6. Dominic Blizzard
10. Gavin Williams
7. Andrew Williams 29. Jonathan Obika
24. Gareth Stewart (GK) 9. Steven MacLean 17. Alan O'Brien (77 mins for Gavin Williams) 21. Gavin Massey 37. Conor Clifford
1. Ben Hamer
20. Chris Solly 5. Michael Morrison 6. Matthew Taylor 16. Rhoys Wiggins
7. Danny Green 37. Darel Russell 22. Danny Hollands 39. Hogan Ephraim
10. Bradley Wright-Phillips 36. Yann Kermorgant
13. John Sullivan (GK) 2. Andy Hughes (90 mins for Bradley Wright-Phillips) 9. Paul Hayes 17. Jason Euell 28. Leon Cort (90 mins for Hogan Ephraim)
Yeovil Bookings: Paul Wotton (45 mins, foul), Ed Upson (65 mins, foul), Luke Ayling (71 mins, foul)
Charlton Bookings: Danny Green (52 mins, foul), Darrel Russell (67 mins, foul), Rhoys Wiggins (88 mins, foul)
Referee: Brandan Malone (Wiltshire). Assistants: Richard Corp (Somerset) and Andrew Turner (Devon). Fourth Official: Adrian Tranter (Dorset).
Attendance: 4,977 (including 920 Charlton supporters)