We had the first taste of pre-season at Huish Park last night on a glorious summer evening as Yeovil ran out 2-0 winners over Newport County. Here are Ian’s conclusions from a confidence-boosting evening at home…

Huish Park was looking resplendent. We all know our home has been in desperate need of some tender loving care for a long time and we’ve seen a lot of the work that has been done over the Summer through social media. Last night more than 2100 supporters got to see it first hand for the first time and to say it looks impressive is an understatement. The refreshed seats, the dugouts have transformed pitch side (and make you feel closer to the players and staff), the carpet, as much as we love it, has been replaced with modern wooden flooring. And, there’s more to come behind the Thatchers Stand too. The pitch is looking impressive too, and complemented some of our excellent passages of passing play. 

Frank Nouble is everything we’ve been looking for. For so long we’ve needed a ‘sticky’ striker. Someone strong, who can hold off defenders and keep the ball to alleviate some pressure on our defence. Nouble has that about his game, as well as some explosivity too. He’s formed a good partnership with Rhys Murphy already from what we’ve seen, and last night he and Olly Thomas seemed to strike it off too. I don’t want to look back, but you can’t help but wonder where we might be had Mark Cooper been allowed to sign Nouble a few months earlier…

Frank Nouble celebrates his goal with Jordan Maguire-Drew, left, and Jordan Young.

Jordan Maguire-Drew is purring. If you ever lose your keys, give JMD a call, I think he can unlock anything. We saw flashes last season before injury derailed his season, but during pre-season he’s been on another level. He’s shown how good he is against smaller teams and against Newport County he showed other assets of his game. I can’t recall a set piece that wasn’t dangerous, the deliveries were pinpoint and caused the League Two side all sorts of problems in the box. He’s looking sharp, knows where his teammates are those relationships are strengthening. We knew he was good, but I think he’s the man to make us tick when August 5th rolls around.

What a difference a year makes. Last summer, although there was optimism (isn’t there always in Summer?), we struggled to score goals throughout our pre-season. We couldn’t create clear openings but for Tom Knowles (#DFILWF). This summer it’s been a totally different story at the top end of the pitch. We’ve got experience in Murphy, Hyde and Nouble and I’m excited about Olly Thomas too. Combined with that there’s the likes of Jordan Young, Sonny Blu Lo-Everton, JMD, Matt Worthington, Alex Whittle and Zac Bell who are all contributing in those attacking areas. There’s massive depth up front and the patterns of play taking shape and creating chances.

A case for the defence. Other than the defeat at Wimborne pre-season has been pretty much immaculate. We’ve conceded five goals (but scored 18) and huffed and puffed against some teams, but that’s to be expected. The only questions that have been asked on social media have been around the defence but against Newport County we looked like a good defensive unit. Morgan Williams, a goal scorer on the night, was in the middle of a three and provided that pace that helped to cover Jake Wannell and Jamie Sendles-White who aren’t necessarily as quick. In the case of Wannell and Sendles-White, they had their best performance so far in a three and as a pair later in the evening. It’s natural that as these players gain fitness, they improve and we’ve seen that in the culmination of a good performance where we kept a football league side at arms length – despite their ‘official’ version of events.

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Derek Hamilton
10 months ago

This performance, along with others pre season, has led me to reasses Mark Cooper and previous criticisms. A good decision by MH to keep him on. It may be pragmatic or it may be inspired, but if the ball is hitting the back of the net, who cares.