Yeovil Town returned to winning form as they narrowly beat fellow promotion candidates Tranmere Rovers at Huish Park this afternoon. An Ed Upson free kick just short of the hour mark divided the two sides as they saw off Ronnie Moore's side who threatened throughout the afternoon, but only managed to truly test Marek Stech on one significant occasion. At the other end Upson later hit the crossbar, and whilst the game was predictably tense, a single goal was all that was needed, as the home side leap-frogged their opponents and into fifth place in the League One table.
The Glovers went into the match restoring their first choice starting line-up as James Hayter and Jamie McAllister returned from injury. They displaced the men who had covered for them in midweek, with Nathan Ralph dropping to the bench, and Kwesi Appiah disappearing out of the first team squad as his one month loan spell ended on a low note. New signing Wes Fletcher was included on the subs bench, although did not get onto the field at any stage, with the Glovers playing out a full 90 minutes without making a change.
They started off well, with Paddy Madden putting a one-on-one wide of the post, whilst a Jamie McAllister free kick also went narrowly wide of the target. Tranmere were offering almost nothing during the opening 20 minutes, with only Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro showing little glimpses of what they were capable of.
It was only during the latter stages of the opening 45 minutes that the visitors began to level the game out, with Akpa Akpro predictably providing their main outlet. After a couple of set pieces had put them close, the striker latched onto a long ball up field, getting behind the Glovers back four first the first time in the match. Thankfully Marek Stech was equal to his shot on goal, saving with his legs and out for a corner. At the other end, as the game drew in for the half time break, Paddy Madden did the same, with James Hayter feeding him only to find former Yeovil trialist Owain fon Williams blocking the attempt.
On the balance of play that would have been a deserved lead at the break, but some of the signs from the visitors suggested they were capable of making their own chances. That pattern continued through the opening period of the second half, with Tranmere a bit of a contradiction - strong and physical, yet inclined to drop to the deck at the slightest touch - something that referee Darren Sheldrake was a little eager to indulge during the afternoon.
The twist in proceedings though was that it was a Yeovil Town set piece, rather than a Tranmere one that was to open the scoring. Just short of the hour mark, Sam Foley was fouled by full-back Danny Holmes, who picked up a deserved booking for the offence. Up stepped Ed Upson, whose angled free kick dipped up and then down over the wall, leaving keeper Owain fon Williams somewhat stranded as he attempted to stop the ball going in via his near post.
Upson almost doubled the lead five minutes later, as his excellent lob over the Tranmere keeper struck the crossbar, whilst a James Hayter overhead kick and a Dan Burn header threatened to also increase Yeovil's advantage. However, Tranmere's double substitution saw them change their tactics in the final 25 minutes, and the end result was an edgy tense affair, not helped by referee Darren Sheldrake and his Main Stand linesman at times making decisions that enraged many of the Glovers fans inside the larger-than-usual crowd.
A tense finish saw substitute Cole Stockton fire wastefully wide, whilst Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro wastefully headed over - Tranmere's failing throughout the 90 minutes was that when they got their chances, they put them wide of the goalframe, and as such Marek Stech had a relatively quiet afternoon. Four minutes of injury time couldn't change that, and so ensured that Yeovil climbed above their opponents in the table - finishing the day in a comfortable 5th place in the League One table, and securing their seventh consecutive home win.
Yeovil Town: (4-4-2)
1. Marek Stech
2. Luke Ayling 5. Byron Webster 18. Daniel Burn 3. Jamie McAllister
22. Kevin Dawson 8. Ed Upson 20. Joe Edwards 14. Sam Foley
9. James Hayter 17. Paddy Madden
12. Gareth Stewart 4. Richard Hinds 6. Dominic Blizzard 10. Gavin Williams 15. Lewis Young 16. Nathan Ralph 21. Wes Fletcher (none used).
1. Owain Fon Williams
2. Danny Holmes 4. Ash Taylor 5. Ian Goodison 14. Zoumana Bakayogo
20. Michael O'Halloran 17. Max Power 24. Paul Corry 22. Abdulai Bell-Baggie
25. Mamady Sidibe 26. Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro
33. Jason Mooney 3. Paul Black 6. Liam Palmer (64 mins for Michael O'Halloran) 12. Danny Harrison 16. Cole Stockton (43 mins for Mamady Sidibe) 18. David Amoo (65 mins for Abdulai Bell-Baggie) 23. Donervorn Daniels
Yeovil Bookings: Paddy Madden (74 mins, off the ball incident)
Tranmere Bookings: Zoumana Bakayogo (9 mins, foul), Danny Holmes (58 mins, foul), Ian Goodison (74 mins, off the ball incident), David Amoo (80 mins, foul)
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 53%; Shots: 13; Shots On Target: 7; Corners: 5; Fouls: 14.
Tranmere Match Statistics: Possession: 47%; Shots: 5; Shots On Target: 1; Corners: 4; Fouls: 8.
Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey). Assistants: William Bull (Hampshire) and Dean Treleaven (West Sussex). Fourth Official: Andrew Bennett (Devon).