Match Details: 13/01/2018
Port Vale 1-1 Yeovil Town
EFL League Two
Yeovil Goals: Francois Zoko (11)
Yeovil Line-Up: 1. Artur Krysiak, 3. Nathan Smith, 4. Jared Bird, 7. Otis Khan, 10. Jake Gray, 11. Ryan Dickson, 13. Francois Zoko, 14. Sam Surridge, 15. Jordan Green, 17. Omar Sowunmi, 23. Tom James,
Subs: 5. Bevis Mugabi, 6. Lewis Wing, 8. Connor Smith, 12. Jonny Maddison, 19. Marcus Barnes, 22. Corey Whelan, 30. Alefe Santos
Substitutes Used: Marcus Barnes for Sam Surridge (59 mins), Lewis Wing for Jordan Green (74 mins), Corey Whelan for Jake Gray (90 mins)
Bookings: Sam Surridge (Foul, 38), Francois Zoko (Dissent, 70)
Yeovil Town were thwarted by a late penalty this afternoon, as for the third time in four matches this season, they ended up with a 1-1 draw with Tom Pope scoring. On this occasion, the big target man got his goal from the penalty spot, as an 86th minute challenge by Omar Sowunmi on David Worrall produced the spot kick. But that left Yeovil kicking themselves somewhat after they'd held the lead since the 11th minute when Francois Zoko had scored his 10th goal of the season from long range. Sam Surridge hit the post in both halves, but the visitors couldn't capitalise on their first half dominance.
The Glovers went into the match making two changes to their starting line-up compared to the side that turned out against Bradford City in the FA Cup on the previous weekend. Omar Sowunmi was preferred to Bevis Mugabi after he served his suspension, whilst Sam Surridge came in for Marcus Barnes. With Connor Smith also back from suspension, the Glovers had the luxury of filling a full bench. Vale started with Ben Whitfield in an advanced role, whilst they perhaps sensibly left James Gibbons - who had been sent off twice against Yeovil this season - on the bench.
They could have been ahead after just two minutes. A Tom James cross was met by Sam Surridge, only for keeper Ryan Boot to get a touch on the ball and push it onto the post. Vale's defence protested for an offside decision against Surridge, but the assistant stood firm, meaning it would have stood. From the throw-in that came out of that move, Jake Gray put a shot into the side netting.
Having made a dominant start, it was no surprise when Yeovil Town took the lead, even if the manner was slightly speculative. Francois Zoko got time to have a strike at goal from 20 yards out, and goalkeeper Ryan Boot seemed somewhat surprised, diving late as the ball ended up in the bottom corner. 0-1 up and on the balance of play, a deserved lead.
That dominance continued, as Jordan Green burst through, forcing Boot to partially smother the ball, but Sam Surridge poked wide on the rebound. Port Vale had done nothing, with their only chance of some respite coming when there were loud appeals for a penalty, with Tom James having blocked a ball into the box - the Valiants saw an outstretched arm, but referee David Webb presumably saw the defender's chest.
More Yeovil chances came as Jordan Green's shot was smothered by Boot, whilst the goalkeeper's poor kicking almost presented Sam Surridge with a goal, as the ball came back into the striker's path, putting him one-v-one with the keeper. On this occasion Boot redeemed himself by blocking the shot. Then Otis Khan fired wide, leading to an angry agitated home crowd turning up the volume to complain about the lack of inputs their own attackers were having in the game.
It took 41 minutes before they were calmed a bit, as Marcus Harness pulled off a shot inside a crowded box, only for Artur Krysiak to save the attempt. But this was Yeovil's half by a long chalk, as Francois Zoko tried his luck from distance just before the break. 0-1 up at the break, and it probably should have been more.
No surprise then to find Port Vale making a double change at the break. Ben Whitfield and Cristian Montano were withdrawn, and they employed a formation change, switching to a 3-5-2 in an effort to get some attacking intent and some crosses into the box. Initially that looked to have an effect as Marcus Harness saw deflected attempt go into the arms of Artur Krysiak. But at the other end once again Sam Surridge hit the post - doing everything right as he headed back across the goalkeeper from a Tom James cross, only for the ball to come off the inside of the post and straight into the grateful arms of Ryan Boot.
This was a bit more of a fragmented half, and a more even one, despite Yeovil still clocking up a reasonable number of attempts, with Jake Gray putting wide from a free kick, and Omar Sowunmi putting a header over the bar from a Tom James cross. But Port Vale were struggling to create clear-cut chances, with their best coming from a Michael Tonge header that Krysiak saved.
It was only in the final ten or fifteen minutes of the game that the home side started to look dangerous whilst Yeovil began to flag. With four minutes remaining, Vale got themselves a lifeline as Omar Sowunmi brought down substitute David Worrall inside the box. Up stepped Tom Pope to convert the spot kick, meaning that for the third time this season the scoreline was 1-1 and the Vale goalscorer was Pope.
That was how it stayed, even if five minutes worth of injury time provoked concerns that Yeovil might go home with nothing, with the home side on the front foot for the first time in the game. For 75 minutes, the Glovers had been the better side, but the late spot kick showed why they needed that second goal to kill the game off.
Link: 2017-18 Latest League Two Table.
Final Score: Port Vale 1 Yeovil Town 1.
Scorers: Francois Zoko (11 mins, 0-1), Tom Pope (86 mins, 1-1, pen)
23 Ryan Boot
5 Joe Davis 4 Tom Anderson 24 Nathan Smith 8 Danny Pugh
7 Marcus Myers-Harness 6 Antony Kay 32 Michael Tonge 11 Cristian Montano
31 Ben Whitfield 9 Tom Pope
1 Robert Lainton 10 David Worrall (66 mins for Marcus Myers-Harness) 14 Tyrone Barnett 15 Anton Forrester 21 James Gibbons (46 mins for Cristian Montano) 22 Dior Angus 28 Donovan Wilson (46 mins for Ben Whitfield)
1. Artur Krysiak
23. Tom James 17. Omar Sowunmi 3. Nathan Smith 11. Ryan Dickson
15. Jordan Green 10. Jake Gray 4. Jared Bird 7. Otis Khan
14. Sam Surridge 13. Francois Zoko
12. Jonny Maddison (GK) 5. Bevis Mugabi 6. Lewis Wing (74 mins for Jordan Green) 8. Connor Smith 19. Marcus Barnes (59 mins for Sam Surridge) 22. Corey Whelan (90 mins for Jake Gray) 30. Alefe Santos
Port Vale Bookings: Tom Anderson (foul, 51 mins)
Yeovil Bookings: Sam Surridge (foul, 38 mins), Francois Zoko (dissent, 70 mins)
Port Vale Match Statistics: Possession: 49%; Shots: 6; Shots On Target: 3; Corners: 4; Fouls: 12.
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 51%; Shots: 11; Shots On Target: 5; Corners: 5; Fouls: 11.
Referee: David Webb (County Durham). Assistants: Ian Dudley (Nottinghamshire) and Andrew Hendley (West Midlands). Fourth Official: Alan Clayton (Cheshire).
Attendance: 4,120 (with 103 Yeovil Town supporters).