After a couple of draws in their opening two pre-season friendlies, Yeovil Town suffered their first defeat of the campaign at home to League One side Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
Having held their opponents at bay in the first half, Chris Hargreaves’ men were undone by two goals from the visitors’ Ryan Hardie and Finn Azaz in the opening 15 minutes after the restart, before Matt Worthington and Plymouth wing-back Bali Mumba saw red for a scuffle.
Here are Marcus Duncomb‘s conclusions on a difficult afternoon at Huish Park…..
Our trio of centre-backs are very solid. It seems as though Chris Hargreaves is set on lining up with a back three/five, depending on which way you look at it. The three centre-backs of Josh Staunton, Morgan Williams and Max Hunt were all key players last season and know each other well. This showed against a very strong Plymouth side who struggled to break us down in the first half after putting six past Torquay United in midweek. I think these three will be important.
Don’t expect the cards to disappear. Under Darren Sarll, Yeovil were no strangers to cards – in fact we consistently had the most cards in the leagues. It seems like that might not change immediately. When Matt Worthington and Bali Mumba got into a scuffle the whole Yeovil team and dugout instantly went into defend their teammate – this was only a friendly! We also saw Chiori Johnson, who had a tough afternoon, foul tricky wing-back Mumba time after time and he almost certainly would have been booked if it weren’t pre-season.
Chris Hargreaves wants runners in his side. The midfield trio was made up of Worthington, Sam Perry and Tom Knowles slightly more advanced. Yeovil fans already know all about the work rate of Worthington and Knowles – they are probably the two Yeovil players who have clocked up the most distance over the past two seasons and Perry is no different. Up front, Alex Fisher never gives up and his work rate in that position has been much missed over the past few years while Malachi Linton’s quick pace and eagerness to press gave Plymouth defenders little time on the ball. Let’s see if they’re still doing this come Boreham Wood away in April..
We don’t really know where Charlie Wakefield fits in yet. Wakefield hasn’t been fully fit to start a friendly and the only position we’ve seen him play is right wing-back. Yeovil fans know that Wakefield can offer so much more than a wing-back. Last season while we mainly saw him operate on the wing, he did also feature up front and very occasionally at wing-back towards the end of games. There are no out-and-out wingers in Hargreaves’ current system and Knowles has been placed in the no.10 role while we are waiting to find out where Wakefield’s long-term future is. Surely he wouldn’t have signed the contract extension if he was told he’s going to be a backup wing-back?
It will be interesting to see how we play against weaker opposition. Our final two friendlies against Dorchester and Weston-Super-Mare are more likely to give us an idea of how we are going to play. Against Plymouth we probably had about 20% possession and so it was really an exercise of defensive structure. We barely saw Yeovil with the ball, but when we did it looked promising. One particular move in the first half started with Grant Smith and ended with a Knowles long shot going narrowly wide. But the ball never went in the air once and it was all played along the ground nicely through most of the team, beating the Pilgrims’ press.
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