Evo-Stik Southern League Division One South & West: Yate Town 2 Didcot Town 1
10:53am Wednesday 27th February 2013 in Yate and Sodbury Sport
ROB COUSINS celebrated two years in charge of Yate by watching his side snatch a late victory over Didcot to move into the play-offs.
The manager could feel a sense of satisfaction as his latest recruit Karim Rendall scored an 86th minute winner shortly after he switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 formation.
It was one of Cousins' most significant signings, Matt Groves, who scored Yate's opening goal two minutes before half time, but they had to dig deep for the three points after Didcot's Elliott Osbourne-Ricketts equalised within seven minutes of the second half. On the same day in 2011 Cousins' reign began with a narrow 1-0 win at Andover, who were bottom of the table at the time and eventually relegated, and while there have been plenty of ups and downs ever since there is no doubt that the club is now in a much healthier position.
This was Yate's eighth home win in a row and although they struggled to get to grips with a physical Didcot side, they moved up a couple of gears when required to continue their superb run of form.
Cousins has built a reputation for developing a side which is pleasing on the eye, but they struggled to get the ball down and play in a scrappy encounter, particularly in the first half. They mustered their first attempt on goal in the 18th minute, but defender Tom Warren's tame volley from the edge of the box was saved comfortably by goalkeeper Marcos Belloi Pereira.
Didcot created most of the opportunities with Luke Carnell heading wide from Morgan Williams' corner, while the dangerous Osbourne-Ricketts could only hit the ball straight at Lubos Ancin to save low down from 20 yards when presented with a good opportunity following Geraint Bater's scuffed clearance.
However, Yate produced the one moment of quality in the half when Scott Wilson slipped a clever through ball to Groves, who coolly beat Marcos Belloi Pereira to give them a lead they scarcely deserved.
Didcot made a bright start and after a long ball over the top Ancin raced out of his box and collided with Warren, allowing Joel Meade to go round them and although he could not finish into a gaping net, Osbourne-Ricketts was in the right place for the simplest of tap-ins from three yards.
Yate were given a scare eight minutes later when Didcot captain Jamie Heapy headed into the net, only for his effort to be ruled out by an offside flag and Alex Stanley's drive from the edge of the box deflected just wide after Carnell headed the ball back to him from Williams' corner.
The Bluebells upped the tempo in the last 15 minutes and Groves showed a great turn of pace to go past Carnell before his shot was tipped around the post by Belloi Pereira.
Yate then found the winner when Ollie Barnes' free kick from the half way line caused a scramble on the edge of the box and after Scott Thomas' shot was blocked the ball fell kindly for Karim Rendall to slide home from ten yards.
There was time for more drama in stoppage time when Wilson chased down Rendall's punt forward and got to the ball before Belloi Pereira, who raced out of his box and brought the striker down before being shown the red card.
From the free kick Ibu Sarr played the ball through to Rendall and his cross-shot fell to Wilson, who looked certain to maintain his record of scoring in every home game, but Stanley cleared his shot off the line.
Yate Town: Ancin, Warren (c) (Barnes, 61), Cox, Seery (Greenwood, 66), Thomas, Bater, Groves, Purnell, Meaker (Sarr, 80), Wilson, Rendall. Subs not used: Murley, R Cousins.
Ref: Mr R Morris.
Att: 151 Gazette star man: Matt Groves - Showed flashes of his quality in a game which lacked much quality.