Match Details: 20/02/2016
Yeovil Town 1-1 Portsmouth
Skybet League Two
Yeovil Goals: Francois Zoko (73)
Yeovil Line-Up: 1. Artur Krysiak, 2. Ben Tozer, 4. Matthew Dolan, 6. Jakub Sokolík, 11. Ryan Dickson, 16. Tahvon Campbell, 23. Harry Cornick, 24. Connor Roberts, 25. Liam Walsh, 26. Darren Ward, 39. Francois Zoko
Subs: 8. Marc Laird, 9. Ryan Bird, 12. Chris Weale, 18. Simon Gillett, 19. Brandon Goodship, 21. Alex Lacey,
Substitutes Used: Brandon Goodship for Tahvon Campbell (68 mins), Simon Gillett for Harry Cornick (85 mins), Ryan Bird for Francois Zoko (90 mins)
Bookings: Ben Tozer (Foul, 64)
Yeovil Town had to settle for a point this afternoon against promotion-chasing Portsmouth this afternoon, despite a second half goal appearing to set them on their way to all three points. In an end-to-end encounter, Francois Zoko had given the Glovers his sixth goal of the season and his second in consecutive games when he stabbed home from inside the box. Things seemed to be going Yeovil's way with ten minutes to go when Pompey defender Christian Burgess lost his head, picking up two bookings in a couple of minutes, and leaving the visitors down to ten men. But with six minutes left, Gary Roberts fired an equaliser from inside the box to level the scores. With Dagenham and Redbridge, York City and Hartlepool United all losing it was a point gained, but given that moment that Burgess went down the tunnel, the feeling was that it could have been all three.
The Glovers went into the match making three changes to last weekend's line-up against Hartlepool United, with two of those being forced. Nathan Smith started his three match suspension and was replaced by Darren Ward, whilst Jack Compton's hamstring injury meant that AFC Bournemouth loanee Harry Cornick was restored to the side. The one tactical change saw Ryan Bird drop out against his former club, with Tahvon Campbell given a start.
The first half was a frenetic end-to-end encounter in which both sides battled hard, with both concentrating on closing each other down, and with clearcut chances at a premium. When those did break out there wasn't too much evidence of the goalkeepers being tested, even if there was enough action to keep the crowd interested. Liam Walsh set up Francois Zoko ten minutes into the match but the striker's shot went over the bar, then at the other end, Kyle Bennett sent a dangerous shot just wide of the left, with the same player firing over the bar when he spotted an opportunity to get the ball past Artur Krysiak after the Pole had punched the ball out from his goal, leaving him out of position.
As the half closed, Yeovil began to worry Pompey a touch, with Tahvon Campbell firing wide after Liam Walsh once again became the principle creator as he threaded a ball to the West Bromwich Albion loanee. Then the temperature on a cold day was turned up as Michael Smith and Connor Roberts got involved in an off the ball incident that appeared to be much the same as that which saw Nathan Smith red-carded following an altercation with Billy Paynter. This time Roberts seemed to get a hand in the face - nothing particularly vicious, but it showed the inconsistency of refereeing when Mark Haywood decided to dish out a finger wagging and a word with the captains, rather than the approach that last week's officials took to the same sort of problem. Yeovil then had the best chance of the half, with a Liam Walsh shot taking a deflection off Christian Burgess, with the defender having to bail himself out from scoring an own goal, as he cleared the ball off his own goal line.
Pompey returned for the second period by creating an even higher tempo - if that was possible from the first half. Gary Roberts forced the first goalkeeper save of the game early on when Artur Krysiak had to palm the ball wide of the posts as he shot from 15 yards. The Glovers had a fifteen minute period in which they struggled to get control of the midfield area, with Portsmouth bossing the possession and putting them on the back foot, meaning that they had to almost play like an away side on the counter-attack. Despite that, they could have easily gone ahead just beyond the hour mark when Harry Cornick's ball found Francois Zoko in the box - unfortunately the striker shot at the goalkeeper, when from that range any direction towards the corner would have left Pompey floundering.
With seventeen minutes remaining though, Francois Zoko got himself another opportunity inside the box and this time didn't disappoint. A Liam Walsh corner was only half cleared by Pompey and when Ryan Dickson returned the ball back into the area, a number of players tried to get their boot on the ball, with it finally running to Zoko, whose shot wasn't the cleanest you'd see, but did enough to loop past Portsmouth keeper Ryan Fulton and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Portsmouth needed to battle back, and they battled back a little bit too aggressively. Christian Burgess got involved in an incident involving Francois Zoko, where he appeared to run into the back of the striker, and whatever contact was made between the two players didn't seem to go down well with the defender, who spent the next minute mouthing off to referee Mark Haywood as he received a yellow card. Burgess then tried a rash looking challenge 30 seconds later and missed, but when he connected with Ryan Dickson a minute later for a nasty looking challenge, it was clear that the centre-back had lost the plot. Out came a deserved second yellow, and referee Haywood had little choice other than to send him down the tunnel - Burgess didn't even wait to see the card raised before he trotted off.
With nine minutes remaining, that should have put Yeovil firmly in the driving seat, but in an unwelcome twist to the game, it only took Portsmouth three more minutes to draw level. The frustration was where it was scored from, with a ball into the box seeing Gary Roberts getting time to strike a well hit goal from pretty much on the penalty box, leaving questions of who was marking or closing him down. That late goal gave a slight air of disappointment to the finish - in theory a draw against a club of Pompey's stature was no disgrace whatsoever, although when 1-0 up and with a man advantage, there was the feeling on the final whistle that it could have been two more points than what they had to settle for. With Dagenham, York and Hartlepool all losing though, the extra point on the board is not to be sniffed at.
Link: 2015-16 Latest League Two Table.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 1 Portsmouth 1.
Scorers: Francois Zoko (1-0, 73 mins), Gary Roberts (1-1, 84 mins)
1. Artur Krysiak
24. Connor Roberts 6. Jakub Sokolik 26. Darren Ward (Capt) 11. Ryan Dickson
25. Liam Walsh 4. Matt Dolan 2. Ben Tozer
23. Harry Cornick 39. Francois Zoko 16. Tahvon Campbell
12. Chris Weale (GK) 8. Marc Laird 9. Ryan Bird (90 mins for Francois Zoko) 18. Simon Gillett (85 mins for Harry Cornick) 19. Brandon Goodship (68 mins for Tahvon Campbell) 21. Alex Lacey
27. Ryan Fulton
2. Ben Davies 6. Christian Burgess 4. Adam Webster 3. Enda Stevens
8. Michael Doyle 33. Ben Close 26. Gareth Evans 23. Kyle Bennett
11. Gary Roberts
21. Michael Smith
7. Adam McGurk (80 mins for Michael Smith) 10. Marc McNulty (71 mins for Kyle Bennett) 14. Kal Naismith 15. Adam Barton 18. Ben Tollitt (41 mins for Gareth Evans) 20. Matthew Clarke 35. Alex Bass
Yeovil Bookings: Ben Tozer (foul, 64 mins)
Portsmouth Bookings: Christian Burgess (foul, 80 mins). Red Card: Christian Burgess (second bookable offence, 81 mins)
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 46%; Shots: 7; Shots On Target: 3; Corners: 3; Fouls: 7.
Portsmouth Match Statistics: Possession: 54%; Shots: 9; Shots On Target: 2; Corners: 8; Fouls: 10.
Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire). Assistants: Adam Bromley (Devon) and Andrew Quin (Devon). Fourth Official: Ronald Ganfield (Somerset).
Attendance: 6,051 (with 2,088 Portsmouth supporters).