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Match Report: Yeovil Town 0-1 County
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John Rooney’s 21st goal of a stellar season ensured that County claimed third spot in the National League, with a battling 0-1 win at Yeovil Town on the final day of the regular campaign.
Midway through an even first half, Rooney’s deflected effort from distance set The Hatters on the way to a sixth straight away win, an eighteenth game unbeaten and a home tie in the play-off semi-finals next month.
With County knowing that a result which matched or bettered Hartlepool’s in their clash with Weymouth, boss Simon Rusk named a starting eleven which showed two changes to that which started in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Woking.
Jordan Keane earned a first start since the 1-1 draw with Hartlepool in March as he replaced Ryan Rydel, whilst Harry Cardwell returned from injury to replace Elliot Newby.
Following a moving minute’s applause in memory of Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins, who’s family were in attendance at Huish Park, a well-balanced first half ensued in which both sides exchanged chances both prior to, and following, the opening goal.
Striker Joe Quigley sow a looping half-volley tipped behind by an alert Ben Hinchliffe early on, whilst at the other end Ryan Croasdale saw his stooping header fly over the crossbar.
On the midway point of the half, and with Hartlepool already a goal to the good at home to The Terras, County moved back into third spot in the live league table when Rooney dribbled past Lawson D’Ath after collecting the ball from distance, advanced to the edge of the area and saw his curling effort deflect in off Mike Kelly to give the visitors a crucial lead.
Quigley saw an instantaneous effort swirl wide of the upright in response, whilst Hinchliffe clutched onto a Reuben Reid header from close range.
Alex Reid could well have doubled the County lead approaching the interval, but the former Stevenage forward saw his effort from inside the area fly over Adam Smith’s crossbar – but The Hatters held onto their lead up until the half-time break.
The second half got underway with an early warning shot by the Glovers, as Joe Quigley looped a clever header off the underside of the crossbar and into the arms of a grateful Hinchliffe.
County looked to hit the home side on the break as Darren Sarll’s side started the second half strongly, with John Rooney’s attempted lob almost catching out Smith from distance, before the back-peddling stopper managed to bat away the strike.
County settled into the second half as it rolled on, with Rooney almost capping a fine team move on the hour mark when he fired Tom Walker’s set-back narrowly over the crossbar.
Ryan Croasdale sidefooted another effort inches wide from the edge of the area as The Hatters sought to put the game to bed, before Alex Reid curled one equally narrowly over the crossbar into the final twenty minutes.
The hosts continued to press as an increasingly tense second-half reached its conclusion, but The Hatters stood firm to see out any lingering Glovers pressure and clinch third spot in the National League.
A sixth straight away win for Rusk’s men sets up a National League play-off semi-final at Edgeley Park, against the victors of Hartlepool United vs Bromley.
County line-up (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan , Palmer, J. Jennings; Southam-Hales, Croasdale, Keane, Walker; Rooney; Reid (Minihan, 89), Cardwell (Bennett, 79).
Subs: Fitzsimons, Williams, Newby.