Att : 400
Lee JOHNSON (0-1), Chris GILES (1-2), Chris GILES (1-3)
Yeovil : None
Brockenhurst : None
Starting Line-Ups :
First Half: (3-5-2) Jon Sheffield (GK), Terry Skiverton (CB), Tom White (CB), Anthony Tonkin (CB), Nick Crittenden (RWB), Andy Turner (LWB), Darren Way (MF), Lee Johnson (MF), Michael McIndoe (MF), Carl Alford (CF), Barrington Belgrave (CF)
Second Half: (4-4-2) Chris Weale (GK), Terry Skiverton (CB), Roy O’Brien (CB), Jon Ashton (RB), Anthony Tonkin (LB), Andy Lindegaard (RW), Richard Parkinson (LW), Steve Thompson (MF), Lee Johnson (MF), James Bent (CF), Chris Giles (CF). Substitute: Faisal Mali (LW).
Gary Johnson’s first match in charge of The Glovers saw his squad record a comfortable win as the first of their ten pre-season fixtures kicked off in the heart of the New Forest. An excellent strike by new midfielder Lee Johnson, plus a brace from local lad Chris Giles gave Yeovil their winning start after Brockenhurst had equalised Johnson’s strike early in the second half.
The Yeovil manager made full use of his available first team squad and even drafted in Youth Team graduates Faisal Mali and Richard Parkinson in the second half. But the travelling supporters will have to wait to see new signing Colin Pluck and former Spurs wide-man Glenn Poole – both picked up knocks in training and were not selected. “We’ve got so many games in pre-season that it would be pointless to push anyone,” explained Gary. “They’ve both got a couple of little niggles but hopefully both of them will be fit to play for us on Tuesday.”
The Glovers began the match with a strong looking line-up and a 3-5-2 formation that used Nick Crittenden and Andy Turner as wing-backs. Anthony Tonkin took the third centre-back slot alongside Skiverton and White, whilst Lee Johnson made his debut to create a central trio of Darren Way and Michael McIndoe. Carl Alford’s strike partner was Barrington Belgrave.
In variable weather more akin to April showers than a hot July summer, the game began in scrappy fashion with incisive action rare, save for a corner which saw a Tom White flicked header strike the crossbar. Barrington Belgrave got the ball into the net shortly afterwards, but the whistle had long gone for a foul on the Brockenhurst keeper. Otherwise, hard work from the Brockenhurst midfield ensured Yeovil had little time or space to create.
The opening goal came out of nothing. Lee Johnson, who had previously little opportunity to show any flair, produced a gem of a strike from 25 yards out which looped over the Brockenhurst goalie and into the top corner to put Yeovil one-up after 21 minutes. If the midfielder can better that strike during the league season coming, then he will have done well.
Yeovil’s only real penetration in the remainder of the half came from the wings where they had some degree of space. Nick Crittenden tested the home keeper again with an angled drive which was well held under pressure, whilst Darren Way’s low cross into the danger zone was inches away from being turned in by Michael McIndoe.
As with most early friendlies, the half time break saw virtually the whole of the first-half team make way for a new team, and on this occasion a new formation. The more familiar 4-4-2 formation was adopted, as Steve Thompson joined Lee Johnson in the centre, Roy O’Brien replaced White at the back, and Tonkin shuffled out wide. Home-grown talents Andy Lindegaard and Richard Parkinson played the wide-men, whilst Chris Giles partnered James Bent up front. Chris Weale became the new man between the sticks.
The half saw one new face take the field, with former Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle defender Jon Ashton occupying the right-back slot. The 21 year-old was linked with a move to Huish Park 12 months ago, after leaving Argyle, but chose to sign for their Devon rivals instead. Now he is a free agent once again, and with popular right-back David Piper reluctant to break his position as Yeovil’s last part-time player, Johnson has given the Plymouth-born player a chance to prove himself.
“Dave Piper is probably on his way to Woking,” explained Johnson. “The way I work, I can’t have anyone missing eight sessions a week. He’s a good player, he’s done really well, but he’s desperate not to go full time. We’ll wait and see what happens, but it looks like I need to cover for that position. I’m having a look at Jon Ashton and I’ll be having a look at several people during the week.”
The new line-up found themselves wanting just eleven minutes into the half when the home side equalised. A move down the right-wing saw a pinpoint cross met at the backpost by a close-range header by Dave Goddard. It was a frustrating sight given how little both Chris Weale and Jon Sheffield had to do all afternoon, but Johnson was more philosophical saying, “Obviously, I don’t like to see us conceding a goal, but sometimes you have to just admit that it was a quality cross and a quality finish. That can happen regardless of who you are playing.”Johnson shuffled his pack another time midway through the half and this saw Youth team graduate Faisal Mali take the field as a left-winger. And he was involved in the build-up as Yeovil grabbed the lead back on 68 minutes when Steve Thompson’s left wing cross was headed home by Chris Giles who did well to keep his balance to make contact with a ball that seemed to be looping over his head. And with three minutes remaining, the same combination gave fruit once again, as Thompson’s low pass was slotted home from inside the box by Giles to seal the match at 3-1.
“You know they [Brockenhurst] are going to compete and that the fitness levels are going to be the same for the first half hour,” he added. “After that I would have been disappointed if we hadn’t got a grip on the game. I think that if our first half team had stayed on against their first half team, that things would have got easier for us in the second half. At the end, gaps started appearing in their half.”The win was merely academic, but the Yeovil manager believed it to be of some worth. “It’s very important that winning becomes a habit, he said. “The lads showed that they had a bit of fitness there. I’ve seen them all in training, I’ve seen them all in practice, but sometimes it’s useful to see how they perform in a proper game. Brockenhurst put up a good fight. They pulled it back to 1-1 but it’s good that we were able to up it again and get the goal back quickly. It’s all about having a rebound mentality, which is what I like to see.”
Although Johnson was pleased with the performance he believed there was room for improvement saying, “Every individual needs to think about something – maybe something that wasn’t quite right with them. I’ll discuss it with them on Monday both individually and as a team.”
The game itself was never a classic, and was frequently disjointed and full of mistakes that will hopefully be ironed out over the next five weeks. The match at Havant and Waterlooville this time last year was a similar tale, yet by August Yeovil were a transformed team as they began to gel together. The task for the players and management will be to go through that learning process once again as they attempt to turn what was a useful starting point today into the finished article for August 18th and the start of the season proper. Chertsey will tell us that little bit more.
Final Score : Brockenhurst 1 Yeovil Town 3
Youth team graduate Richard Parkinson gets stuck into a tackle
Former Exeter and Plymouth trialist Jon Ashton shoots towards goal