Match Details: 13/02/2016
Hartlepool United 2-1 Yeovil Town
Skybet League Two
Yeovil Goals: Francois Zoko (90)
Yeovil Line-Up: 1. Artur Krysiak, 2. Ben Tozer, 3. Nathan Smith, 4. Matthew Dolan, 6. Jakub Sokolík, 9. Ryan Bird, 11. Ryan Dickson, 14. Jack Compton, 24. Connor Roberts, 25. Liam Walsh, 39. Francois Zoko
Subs: 8. Marc Laird, 12. Chris Weale, 16. Tahvon Campbell, 18. Simon Gillett, 21. Alex Lacey, 23. Harry Cornick, 26. Darren Ward,
Substitutes Used: Harry Cornick for Jack Compton (26 mins), Tahvon Campbell for Ryan Bird (72 mins), Simon Gillett for Matthew Dolan (73 mins)
Bookings: Francois Zoko (Foul, 24), Ben Tozer (Foul, 38),
Yeovil Town suffered their first League Two defeat in four games this afternoon after they lost out to relegation rivals Hartlepool United. The loss came through frustrating and controversial circumstances, with referee Kevin Wright giving the home side a controversial second half penalty despite Jakub Sokolik's challenge on Nathan Thomas appearing to take place outside the box. Billy Paynter dispatched it, and the home side went further ahead when Adam Jackson headed home from a corner. The Glovers then suffered their sixth red card of the 2015-16 season when Nathan Smith was dismissed via an off-the-ball incident involving Paynter, and although Francois Zoko's header in injury time pulled a goal back, there wasn't enough time to make any late drama out of it. Wins for Newport County and York City, as well as obviously Hartlepool, will give the Glovers a reality check, having clawed their way above the relegation line in recent weeks - a reminder that the fight is not over, with sixteen games remaining.
The Glovers went into the match making one change to their starting line-up with Ryan Bird making his first start for the club for over two months, displacing Harry Cornick who dropped to the bench. There were recalls for swollen knee victim Darren Ward, and the previously suspended Alex Lacey, but they only got as far as the bench. One player missing from the teamsheet was Kevin Dawson, who had rolled an ankle on the training ground and will be missing over the next fortnight.
Hartlepool came into the match under the new management of Craig Hignett, and he seemed to have them fired up well when Jake Gray's shot just 20 seconds into the match grazed the top of the crossbar. The same player then had another effort tipped over the bar by Artur Krysiak for a corner, with the Glovers a little slow to get out of the gears. When they did, Ryan Bird looked lively, with his shot blocked by defender Adam Jackson for a corner. From another set piece play, left-back Nathan Smith was inches away from doubling his Yeovil Town career goal tally when he picked up a recycled ball and shot on goal, with the ball coming off the foot of the post and ricocheting out away from danger, meaning that both sides had struck the woodwork early on.
The Glovers suffered a blow midway through the half when Jack Compton seemed to be having problems with his hamstring, stopping at every opportunity to stretch his leg. It was therefore little surprise when he came off, with his former club loudly booing his substitution as he was replaced by Harry Cornick. At the other end, the pace of Nathan Thomas was causing Yeovil plenty of problems as he attacked the left flank, and it was just as well that his finishing wasn't up to the standard, after Billy Paynter released him on the counterattack, with the ball being wildly sent over the crossbar. Goalkeeper Artur Krysiak had to be at his best as the half drew to a close after Billy Paynter flicked on a ball into the box, Dan Jones got another touch on it, diverting the ball at close range, but the keeper was alert enough to palm the ball out for another corner kick.
The second half saw former Glovers midfielder Michael Woods create himself space, as Glovers defenders failed to close him down until his final shot, which went out for a corner. Yeovil seemed to get themselves back into the match a bit more after that, with a good counterattack by Francois Zoko only thwarted when Harry Cornick got himself into an offside position as the final pass went through. Liam Walsh, who had been his usual self during the match shot just wide of the target after the Hartlepool defence backed off him.
Then came the game's chief contentious issue. Nathan Thomas's pace had been causing problems, and when Jakub Sokolik challenged for the ball that seemed to take place outside the box - even the Hartlepool media saw it that way. Referee Kevin Wright had other ideas and pointed for a spot kick. Despite Yeovil protests, Billy Paynter stepped up and scored from the spot kick, to give Hartlepool a firm leg up in the match and a 1-0 lead. With their tails up, Thomas nearly grabbed a quick second, but once again his finishing was poor as he broke clear but then put over the bar.
Hartlepool did extend their lead in less controversial circumstances when they scored from a corner kick. Jordan Richards put in the set piece, and Adam Jackson rose well at the far post to beat Nathan Smith to the ball, and head home for the decisive second goal, with the ball going in via the underside of the crossbar. That put the home side in a very strong position, and their situation got even stronger when eight minutes after that, Yeovil were reduced to ten men. Pools striker Billy Paynter got involved in a spot of argy-bargy with Smith off the ball, and when he pushed the Yeovil left-back, he retaliated by putting his hand in Paynter's face. Smith got the red, whilst Paynter as the aggressor got off with a yellow. The fact that Craig Hignett immediately substituted Paynter suggested the Pools bench thought he was a little lucky, and with a 2-0 advantage they didn't want to take risks.
With all three substitutions having been made - two straight after Hartlepool's second goal - Ben Tozer finished the game playing as a centre-back. There was a small glimmer of hope with 92 minutes on the clock when substitute Harry Cornick's cross into the box was met by a good header from Francois Zoko to pull the game back to 2-1, but in reality there wasn't enough time to fashion an ultra-late equaliser. Not helped by some poor refereeing during the match, the Glovers were off the pace at times, and today should act as a firm reminder to anyone who thought that there wouldn't be further twists along the remainder of the season's fixtures. With Portsmouth, Plymouth and then a huge game against Dagenham to come, they will have to hold their nerve well over the coming fortnight's fixtures.
Link: 2015-16 Latest League Two Table.
Final Score: Hartlepool United 2 Yeovil Town 1.
Scorers: Billy Paynter (58 mins, 1-0, penalty), Adam Jackson (71 mins, 2-0), Francois Zoko (90 mins, 2-1)
1. Trevor Carson
19. Jordan Richards 6. Matthew Bates 26. Adam Jackson 20. Dan Jones
16. Nicky Featherstone 7. Nathan Thomas 14. Michael Woods 30. Jake Gray
10. Billy Paynter 33. Luke James
2. Carl Magnay (62 mins for Nicky Featherstone) 3. Jake Carroll 5. Scott Harrison 9. Rakish Bingham (63 mins for Nathan Thomas) 13. Adam Bartlett 17. Scott Fenwick (81 mins for Billy Paynter) 18. Lewis Hawkins
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 9. Ryan Bird 39. Francois Zoko (Capt)
12. Chris Weale (GK) 8. Marc Laird 16. Tahvon Campbell (72 mins for Ryan Bird) 18. Simon Gillett (73 mins for Matt Dolan) 21. Alex Lacey 23. Harry Cornick (26 mins for Jack Compton) 26. Darren Ward
Hartlepool Bookings: Nathan Thomas (foul, 52 mins), Billy Paynter (off the ball incident, 79 mins)
Yeovil Bookings: Francois Zoko (foul, 24 mins), Ben Tozer (foul, 38 mins). Red Card: Nathan Smith (violent conduct, 79 mins)
Hartlepool Match Statistics: Possession: 54%; Shots: 10; Shots On Target: 5; Corners: 5; Fouls: 7.
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 46%; Shots: 12; Shots On Target: 2; Corners: 4; Fouls: 15.
Referee: Kevin Wright (Merseyside). Assistants: Ryan Johnson (Manchester) and Scott Oldham (Lancashire). Fourth Official: Andrew Miller (Durham).
Attendance: 3,923 (with 124 Yeovil supporters).