Late, late Clayton strike ends winless run
A late, late goal from Adam Clayton deep into second-half added time ended Town’s 10 match winless streak, sealed Sky Bet Championship football in the 2014/15 season and looks to have condemned Yeovil to relegation.
A goalless half gave way to an exciting second 45 minutes at Huish Park and after Nahki Wells netted his seventh goal in Town colours, Yeovil went for it – opening up the game. Tom Lawrence did equalise for the hosts, but in the final minutes of the eight added on at the end of the game Adam Clayton broke home hearts with a lung-bursting strike.
Yeovil’s plan of attack wasn’t fancy, but it was the more effective of the two in the first-half. The Glovers got the ball forward at every opportunity and got good numbers forward to compete for knock-downs, getting the ball wide whenever possible. From any free-kick on the pitch, giant centre halves Shane Duffy and Byron Webster were sent forward.
That route gave the home side the two biggest moments of the first-half, and the 500 Town fans behind the goal showed were thankful to Alex Smithies for keeping the score level.
The ‘keeper could do nothing about the first big chance in the sixth minute, but got lucky. Experienced striker James Hayter had already headed over the bar in the opening three minutes and he almost converted with another header three minutes later, only to see the ball cannon off the joint of crossbar and post with Smithies watching on.
The second chance was even better, but dropped to Yeovil in fortuitous circumstances. An attempted clearance from Anthony Gerrard cannoned into centre half partner Murray Wallace and dropped perfectly for Manchester United loanee Tom Lawrence. The skilful attacker tried to round Alex Smithies, but Town’s Captain – making his 200th League appearance for the Club – read his intentions and smothered the ball expertly.
Smithies also had to tip a Lawrence free-kick over the crossbar in the first-half as Yeovil made a high-tempo start, but as the half wore on the tempo slowed and Town came into the game, albeit not creating anything of note.
The best move of the half fell to Danny Ward, who curled over after an excellent period of passing encompassing Town’s entire midfield – but he curled high and wide on his weaker right.
Ward was involved in a worrying few moments when the second-half got underway as he dropped like a stone to the floor after a challenge. After a prolonged period of treatment he walked off the pitch with the help of Town physio James Haycock, but he had to be replaced.
Town’s best chance to date fell to the wrong man in the 53rd minute in Jonathan Hogg. Scannell – Ward’s replacement – latched onto a poor header from right back Luke Ayling and squared towards Wells, but as the ball ran free Hogg raced onto it. The former Watford man has many qualities, but he hasn’t scored in 31 League starts for the Terriers and he powered his shot wide of target from 18 yards with the goal at his mercy.
As chance would dictate the next chance fell to the same player on the edge of the box moments later – and he fired wide on his left.
Yeovil fought back with Dawson firing wide before Lawrence was denied a penalty after Gerrard lunged in to block an expected shot; referee Stuart Attwell, who had garnered criticism from the home end all afternoon, wasn’t interested.
For the first time on the afternoon, the game was getting stretched. Both sides had moments, but the biggest came in the 69th minute when Town took the lead.
From a Yeovil attack, Town broke down the right through Adam Hammill. The winger drove straight at home skipper Jamie McAllister before delivering a powerful low cross into the area, where goal-poacher Nahki Wells was in the right place to bundle home despite the close attendance of Duffy.
However, it didn’t take long for Yeovil to equalise. Gary Johnson threw big centre back Webster into a makeshift striker role and his presence led to Town conceding right on the edge of the box. Up stepped Lawrence to smash the ball past the wall and Smithies to restore parity in the scoreline.
Town actually looked the side more likely to score in the final minutes of the game as Yeovil threw bodies forward, with Hammill and Scannell both having efforts that were saved or deflected wide. However, the eight minutes of added time – due to Ward’s knock – were uncomfortable viewing.
Then the goal came. Substitute Duane Holmes did well in the centre of the park to shield the ball and set Hammill free; the winger drove into the area and was tackled, but the ball fell to Adam Clayton, who gleefully slammed the ball past through a crowded area and into the net.
Town’s team vs. Yeovil (4-2-3-1):
Alex Smithies (c); Paul Dixon, Murray Wallace, Anthony Gerrard, Calum Woods; Adam Clayton, Jonathan Hogg; Adam Hammill, Oliver Norwood (Duane Holmes, 67), Danny Ward (Sean Scannell, 50); Nahki Wells
Ian Bennett, Peter Clarke, Oscar Gobern, Tommy Smith, Harry Bunn
Murray Wallace 65