Yeovil Town 3 Brentford 0 – Saturday 2nd February 2013

Yeovil went on a remarkable run over the winter of 2012/13, winning eight in a row which took them from 12th up to 3rd in League One. The run included impressive victories away at Portsmouth, Sheffield United and Coventry, and big wins at home over Leyton Orient and Brentford. Following the mid-season arrivals of Dan Burn and Paddy Madden, the team had a very settled look with a strong starting XI. Recently arrived was Madden’s compatriot Kevin Dawson, who made his league debut at Sheffield Utd and would be ever-present on the right wing for the rest of the season, scoring the first goal in the memorable playoff win at Huish Park.

Of course scorer of the decisive goal against Sheffield Utd and a key member of the team was Ed Upson, who arrived without much fanfare in the summer of 2010, but by 2012 was the heart of the midfield and had become an assist machine in the mould of Lee Johnson. He scored one of his best goals for Yeovil in this 3-0 win in February 2013, which took the Glovers up to 7th. The other goals came from Madden, and Dan Burn right at the end.

Probably crucial to Upson’s development was that he was given time to develop and grow into the team. Rising through the youth team at Ipswich, he never made a league appearance for them, and following brief loan spells at Barnet and Stevenage he was released in the summer of 2010, when he was signed for Yeovil by Terry Skiverton.

In his first season, he was bedded into the team slowly, mainly as a replacement when Shaun MacDonald was not available, making 16 starts. He actually scored his only goal of that season on one of his first starts, as a very patched-up Yeovil side took an early 2-0 lead at Hartlepool in the FA Cup but ended up losing 4-2.

The following season he was given the No. 8 shirt and was first choice in midfield, forming a partnership with Paul Wotton in the first half of the season and making 45 appearances in all competitions. He began to develop an eye for goal, scoring five times mostly from long range, including this absolute stunner against Wycombe, as well as other long range strikes against Hereford and Fleetwood, both in the FA Cup. He also scored in the first minute of a 2-2 derby draw against Exeter.

However a midfielder’s job is to create goals more than score them, and in his first full season Upson got a creditable 9 assists, the most in the team and just ahead of Andy Williams with 8. Assists have become a very useful way of a measuring a player’s contribution especially in attacking areas, and it can also highlight the value of those who might possibly be under-appreciated if they create a lot more goals than they score. For example, Kevin Gall contributed 14 assists in 2003/04 and 12 in 2004/05, which may indicate why Gary Johnson kept him in the team even when the goals dried up.

Assists are still not very reliably recorded, and tend to be spread throughout the team much more than goals but looking at the available data a team needs at least one player who is going to get in double figures to have a good season, and high teens is a very good return. Anything over 20 would be exceptional – a midfielder who gets 20 assists is much harder to find than a striker who gets 20 goals. In many seasons, Yeovil have not had a player in double figures for assists and have not had once since Sam Foley in 2015, although Tom Knowles should get well into the teens this season (2021/22) if he doesn’t get injured.

Some of our most successful seasons have seen Michael McIndoe get 23 (2002/03), Lee Johnson get 20 (2003/04), and Chris Cohen get 13 (2006/07). Sam Foley got a very impressive 13 in 2014/15 despite playing in a team that got relegated. King of the assist makers is undoubtedly Lee Johnson, who got around 80 in 4.5 years at the club, so consistently almost 20 a season. By contrast, in the years that Yeovil have struggled, we have not had anyone in double figures – in 2007/08, Anthony Barry came out top with 6. What were the wingers doing that season? Things did improve under Skivo, with Andy Welsh contributing 10 in 2009/10 and 12 in 2010/11, so perhaps he was under-appreciated a bit.

This brings us back to Ed Upson, whose incredible 6 goals and 18 assists in 2012/13 represents one of the best returns we’ve ever seen for an attacking midfielder. Not quite as good as Lee Johnson’s 11 goals and 17 assists in 2004/05, but that’s a high bar.

Like Johnson Jr, Upson also specialised in spectacular goals, memorably scoring two from long range against Bristol Rovers in the JPT, as well as the only goal in a 1-0 win over play-off rivals Tranmere. He would continue to raise his game at Championship level, securing 5 goals and 3 assists in half of a difficult season before moving to Millwall in January. With his contract running out, he had shown that he was capable of playing at a higher level than Yeovil and taking a transfer fee rather than allowing him to leave for nothing at the end of his contract was probably the right choice. He did leave us with some good Championship memories though, scoring Yeovil’s first Championship goal at Millwall on the first day, as well as two more long range efforts against Nottingham Forest in a 3-1 win.

He played in the Championship for two years, before being relegated to League One with Millwall. He remained with the Lions for another year, before spending two years at MK Dons and three at Bristol Rovers, all in League One, and it looks like he’s still got an eye for goal. He has since played for Newport and just moved to Stevenage so who knows, perhaps as he gets towards the end of his career we will see him again!

Team that day: Marek Stech, Luke Ayling, Jamie McAllister, Byron Webster, Dan Burn, Matt Dolan (sub. Joe Edwards 24), Ed Upson (sub. Dominic Blizzard 82), Kevin Dawson, Sam Foley, James Hayter (sub. Kwesi Appiah 74), Paddy Madden. Subs not used: Gareth Stewart, Richard Hinds, Lewis Young, Gavin Williams

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