Match Details: 23/01/2016
Yeovil Town 2-1 Crawley Town
Skybet League Two
Yeovil Goals: Ryan Bird (59), Tahvon Campbell (77)
Yeovil Line-Up: 1. Artur Krysiak, 2. Ben Tozer, 3. Nathan Smith, 4. Matthew Dolan, 6. Jakub Sokolík, 10. Shaun Jeffers, 11. Ryan Dickson, 14. Jack Compton, 24. Connor Roberts, 25. Liam Walsh, 39. Francois Zoko
Subs: 7. Kevin Dawson, 8. Marc Laird, 9. Ryan Bird, 12. Chris Weale, 16. Tahvon Campbell, 18. Simon Gillett, 19. Iffy Allen,
Substitutes Used: Tahvon Campbell for Jack Compton (56 mins), Ryan Bird for Shaun Jeffers (57 mins), Kevin Dawson for Liam Walsh (85 mins)
Bookings: Liam Walsh (Foul, 27), Ryan Bird (Foul, 84)
Yeovil Town lifted themselves out of the League Two relegation zone, as goals from two substitutes saw them on their way. Against a defensive-minded Crawley Town side, they had to bide their time somewhat, until Glovers top goalscorer Ryan Bird came off the bench and scored with his first touch from close range to entirely change the make-up of a cat'n'mouse game where Yeovil had dominated but had struggled to get past Crawley's back line. That was followed a quarter-of-an-hour later by the goal of the game, as West Bromwich Albion striker Tahvon Campbell scored the first of his loan spell - with his 25 yard strike undoubtedly influencing the decision that needs to be made on an extension to his loan deal at Huish Park. Crawley's Lee Barnard took advantage of a bit of defensive indecision to reduce the deficit in the final ten minutes, but Crawley deserved little from the game, and went home with nothing. Meanwhile the 2-2 draw between Newport County and Dagenham and Redbridge was a bonus - late goals at Rodney Parade lifted the club out of the relegation zone when the final whistle blew.
The Glovers went into the match making just one change to their starting line-up from the Tuesday night fixture against Carlisle United. That change was forced with Alex Lacey's three match suspension commencing, and with Darren Ward still having a knee problem from last weekend that meant that they had to utilise Nathan Smith as a stand-in centre-back for the day. Midfielder Marc Laird's promotion to the bench was the only other change to the squad in Lacey's absence, as they came up against a Crawley side featuring ex-Glovers Matt Harrold, Lewis Young, and on the bench, Gavin Tomlin.
Crawley's approach became quite clear from the outset as they stuck ten men behind the ball, leaving just Matt Harrold as a genuine attacking outlet. Their goal was to soak up the pressure and hope that they could push enough players up on the counter-attack to help Harrold out when they did actually gain possession. Yeovil struggled somewhat to break them down, getting themselves into a number of 'nearly' moments, where crosses went via the face of the goal, but with no-one to get onto the end of it, with one first half effort from Connor Roberts particularly showing how dangerous their approach play could be, but how difficult it was to get the right boot on the ball when it entered the crowded penalty box.
Yeovil's best effort of the half aaw Francois Zoko force Crawley keeper Callum Preston into a save from a header, and as the ball fell loose to Shaun Jeffers the rebound went well wide. Crawley took a good half hour to get into the match in any shape or form, but you could see what their tactics were as they tried to slow the game down right from the start, only showing speed on the rare occasions they got into Yeovil's half. Gwion Edwards produced a fine cross that seemed to just miss Matt Harrold and they even had a penalty shout turned down when Josh Yorwerth and Shaun Jeffers tangled inside the box - referee Christopher Kavanagh decided he wasn't going to get involved. As the first half saw more of an even contest, Roarie Deacon forced Artur Krysiak into his one-and-only save of the half, whilst at the other end a number of half chances evaded men in green'n'white. The concern at half time was that not enough good chances had been created and it was going to need that opening goal to break Crawley's rearguard tactics and force them out of their shells.
After just over ten minutes worth of a second half of more of the same, Darren Way decided to bring on two attacking substitutes, with Jack Compton and Shaun Jeffers replaced by Ryan Bird and Tahvon Campbell. Both players were to be highly influential, but particularly Bird who promptly netted with his first touch. Just 151 seconds into his time on the pitch, a Matt Dolan ball into the box wasn't dealt with by Jon Ashton and the ball fell into the path of Bird who gladly netted his eighth goal of the season from close range. 1-0 up and now Crawley would need to attack.
But that gave Yeovil plenty of gaps at the other end, and they nearly got a second goal when Ryan Bird turned provider - his ball through to Tavhon Campbell had to be tipped onto the crossbar. At the other end, Lewis Young looked dangerous against his own side in the way he counter-attacked against one Crawley move, but looked far less dangerous when he unleashed his final shot with the ball going well wide. Instead it was West Bromwich Albion loanee Campbell who showed him how to do it - he cut in from the flank and fired home a superb 77th minute goal to put Yeovil 2-0 up, as he ran with the ball before hitting a curling effort from 25 yards out. Not bad for your first ever professional first team goal, and with this match representing the final match of his first month's loan, not a bad time to do it.
In theory that should have been game over, but Yeovil never let themselves have it easy. Six minutes later, substitute Lee Barnard took advantage of some indecision between goalkeeper Artur Krysiak and his back line, as the experienced former Southampton striker converted a goal from a Josh Yorwerth through ball. In theory the 2-1 scoreline could have set up a nervous finale, but in the closing minutes it was Yeovil Town who - for 30 seconds at least - thought they had the opportunity to extend their lead. Francois Zoko was brought down in the 90th minute by Sonny Bradley and referee Christopher Kavanagh pointed to the penalty spot. With Zoko and Matt Dolan having missed critical penalties in the last couple of games, striker Ryan Bird was the man who picked up the ball and placed it on the spot, but that became irrelevant when Kavanagh trotted over to his assistant who advised him that the offence had taken place outside the box, and the match official allowed himself to be overruled. Thankfully that didn't matter, with Crawley failing to cause too much injury time panic.
The end result lifts the Glovers up to 22nd place in the League Two table - the first time they had been above the dotted line since the October 20th defeat against Mansfield Town. There may be still 19 matches to go, and with Dagenham and Redbridge showing much improved form recently they will be battling shoulder-to-shoulder with the Glovers, but psychologically speaking just being above that line will make a big difference when considering whether the club can successfully retain their Football League status in May.
Link: 2015-16 Latest League Two Table.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 2 Crawley Town 1.
Scorers: Ryan Bird (1-0, 59 mins), Tahvon Campbell (2-0, 77 mins), Lee Barnard (2-1, 83 mins)
1. Artur Krysiak
24. Connor Roberts 6. Jakub Sokolik 3. Nathan Smith 11. Ryan Dickson
25. Liam Walsh 4. Matt Dolan 2. Ben Tozer
14. Jack Compton 10. Shaun Jeffers 39. Francois Zoko (Capt)
12. Chris Weale (GK) 7. Kevin Dawson (85 mins for Liam Walsh) 8. Marc Laird 9. Ryan Bird (57 mins for Shaun Jeffers) 16. Tahvon Campbell (56 mins for Jack Compton) 18. Simon Gillett 19. Iffy Allen
12. Callum Preston 16. Jon Ashton 25. Josh Yorwerth 6. Sonny Bradley 14. Lewis Young 4. Simon Walton 11. Chris Atkinson 26. George Smith 7. Gwion Edwards 20. Roarie Deacon 18. Matt Harrold
9. Lee Barnard (78 mins for Matt Harrold) 15. Shamir Fenelon 17. Bobson Bawling 21. Gavin Tomlin (85 mins for Roarie Deacon) 22. Ross Jenkins (78 mins for Lewis Young)
Yeovil Bookings: Liam Walsh (foul, 27 mins), Ryan Bird (foul, 84 mins)
Crawley Bookings: Josh Yorwerth (73 mins, foul), Gavin Tomlin (88 mins, foul), Sonny Bradley (90 mins, foul)
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 57%; Shots: 7; Shots On Target: 5; Corners: 8; Fouls: 9.
Crawley Match Statistics: Possession: 43%; Shots: 5; Shots On Target: 3; Corners: 3; Fouls: 14.
Referee: Christopher Kavanagh (Manchester). Assistants: Kevin Morris (Herefordshire) and Brian Durie (Gloucestershire). Fourth Official: Daniel Leach (Oxfordshire).
Attendance: 3,423 (with 139 Crawley supporters).