The classic scenario in such games is that the lower league home side produces a lot of effort before a couple of moments of quality wins it for the bigger team. That’s pretty much how it went, though an honest reflection is that United looked nervy for much of this match and, had Moore converted a good second half chance for Yeovil, an upset might well have been on the cards. The moments of quality when they came, however, were genuine quality, particularly the first that came with United’s first clear cut opportunity of the game.
United fielded a strong side with Rooney and Falcao both starting, while Van Gaal passed up the opportunity to give Lindergaard a start, preferring to keep De Gea in goal. The home side predictably tested the Reds early on with a series of high balls into the box. If this meant United spent more of the first half hour in their own half than they’d have liked, much of the ammunition was easily dealt with, although there was a certain edginess about United at the back with Blackett and McNair both looking vulnerable on occasions.
When United did create an opportunity, Wilson hit his shot straight at the keeper and the only other real effort of the first half came from Herrera, who was having a quiet game until that point, when he sliced his shot wide of Steer in the Yeovil goal. There were yells for a card from the Yeovil stands when McNair carelessly allowed the ball to bounce up and hit his arm when under no pressure, clearly without intent. A far more justified call came in stoppage time of the first period when Nugent, as the last man, clearly manhandled Falcao to the ground. Both appeals went unheeded by the referee.
United made changes at half-time, bringing on Evans and Mata and going to a back four, but Yeovil continued to see a lot of the ball, Moore spurning that excellent chance when he found himself through with only De Gea to beat but he could only produce a tame effort that failed to trouble the United keeper. It was as the game entered its final half hour United produced a moment of quality, pretty much out of nothing. With United still labouring to pass the ball through Yeovil’s midfield, Herrera took matters into his own hands, picking up the ball on the edge of the box and drilling a phenomenal strike into the roof of the net.
Yeovil continued to throw everything at the Reds and Di Maria, who’d come on as a second half substitute was forced to head off the line as the home side threatened once against from a corner. It was to be the home side’s last meaningful threat though, and Di Maria wrapped up the game for United in the closing stages when Rooney’s pass from his own half allowed the Argentinian to capitalise on the number of Yeovil players thrown upfield by taking the ball forward and comfortably placing the ball wide of the keeper.
There was still time for Herrera to test Steer with another shot but by that point the job was done, if not entirely convincingly, and Yeovil were left to gain deserved recognition from the home fans after clearly giving everything. Games like this can happen at this stage of the FA Cup, of course, and although this was an undeniably laboured performance from the Reds, the main thing was to be in the hat for the fourth round, which of course is already an improvement on last season.