24/07/2011 : Taff's Gloversblog : The Summer Heats Up
24 July 2011 : The Summer Heats Up
Another weekend, another friendly for Yeovil Town as the pre-season preparations heat up with just two weeks to go until the season kicks off for real. This Saturday it was Championship side Bristol City who made the trip to Huish Park for what looked set to be a pretty competitive friendly. It was always going to be a tough test for us as Terry Skiverton looked to take a step towards finalising his plans, but it was the sort of test I think we need at this stage. Games at places like Truro and Poole are good because they are places you wouldn't usually go and they give the players a chance to face a different type of opposition, but the fitness and strength really needs to be upped a level or two now, and the sort of tests you get from higher league opposition can only help that.

As interesting as the match was likely to be, I was just as interested to see who made the Yeovil squad. There had been rumours in the week that three of our trialists - Jim Paterson, Kerrea Gilbert and Steve MacLean - had all left due to, apparently, a failure to agree personal terms on contract offers. I think we all know rumours fly around all over the place at this time of year, but I was still disappointed by this one. I'd been pretty impressed by Paterson against Inverness and he's a player with experience at this level, which is something it's hard to find when you have a budget as tight as ours. Steve MacLean had also looking pretty lively and again has genuine experience, and a good goal scoring record at this level. I never thought we'd be able to get that kind of player in on a free so it seemed to be a pretty good bit of business from Skivo and the club to get him in. The same goes for Gilbert really, he's played at a good level and looked good, by all accounts, at Truro.

The fact we apparently couldn't agree personal terms was not only disappointing but it was worrying. This close to the start of the season, we don't really have time to be looking at new targets so it really would leave us short of time. More so than that, though, it'd be a pretty worrying sign if the players with League experience would rather be unemployed than take the wages we were offering. So it was a pretty big concern ahead of this match. Thankfully, when the teams were read out over the tannoy MacLean was included. With us being particularly short of strikers, it was a relief to hear he was still with us for now at least. Also on the teamsheet was Diarra Tiemoko. Now I know nothing much about Tiemoko apart from the fact he scored two in the win at Poole in midweek, and to be honest that was enough to get me excited about seeing him. As you can probably tell, it doesn't take much! The other names of interest were that of goalkeeper Jed Steer (turns out he's a Norwich goalkeeper who has represented England at U19 level), Rui Marques (who I knew of as an ex-Leeds defender), Abdulai Bell-Baggie (a winger/forward released by Reading) and Max Ehmer, who has returned from QPR after last seasons brilliant loan spell.

I may have got too excited about Diarra too quickly, but he gave me reason to get maybe a little enthusiastic just minutes after this latest friendly got underway. There were only 6 minutes on the clock when a swerving long range effort from midfielder Paul Wotton was fumbled by David James in the City goal, and Tiemoko was on hand to fire it high in to the net. As a Yeovil Town trialist, if you score against Bristol City then people are probably going to want you to be signed. But to fair to the guy, he did more than just that. He worked hard up front but didn't fall in to the trap that so many strikers do of dropping too deep. He held his line well and always gave us an outlet up front.

He seemed to have a decent partnership with Kieran Agard in the first half, although it was obvious they hadn't played much together. I'd be lying if I said we saw a massive amount of them, but what we did see looked decent I thought. The reason we didn't see too much is because, to their credit, City tried to get the ball forward and by the latter stages of the first they were the main attacking force. Jonathan Stead looked particularly lively up front for the Robins, but Max Ehmer did a very good of continually pushing him out wide and holding him up. The thing that actually really pleased me in the defence was the way in which we got back in number despite playing with three centre backs and allowing wing backs Nathan Jones and Luke Ayling to push forward. I just worried it might have meant they had to work a bit too hard to support the three man midfield, which would leave us short at the back but thankfully they seemed to get back and N'Gala and Huntington offered Ehmer good support. They were a couple of dodgy moments, as there always will be against higher level opposition, but when it arrived we responded well. Nicky Maynard turned the defence to create a chance which well saved by Steer and moments later a close range effort from Stead was brilliant saved by the legs of the young keeper, although it may also have been partly been a block on the line which helped keep the ball out.

Other than that, though, we managed to keep the visitors quiet for most of the first half. They had plenty of the ball but created little with it and we had been very solid for 45 minutes. I think that's going to be one of the key factors this season; it's all well and good getting excited about quick strikers who know where the goal is but if we can't keep the ball out at the other end it'll all be for nothing. The problem we have in defence is that we don't really have anyone on the left flank at all, be it in defence or midfield. Jonesy did a decent job as an attacking wing back in this match but I really don't think we can do that for a full season. Firstly, Jonesy himself just isn't good enough now to fill that position consistently at League One level. Secondly, the lack of a left side is forcing Skivo's hand when it comes to formations. At the moment we're playing a 5-3-2 formation, but that's partly because we don't have a choice. We could go 4-3-3 but we're going to leave ourselves too open down the wings and it puts a lot of pressure on our three midfielders to create chances for the strikers. We're basically having to narrow ourselves because we don't have anyone to supply the width, and really even playing with these wing backs is limiting our width because they just can't do both jobs at the same time. But, as I say, despite this we did look solid for the first half. It meant Ehmer, Hunts and N'Gala had to work really hard but they managed to do in the first half.

To be fair, it continued in to the second half as well. Again City had a fair bit of the ball but again we managed to cope with it pretty well. There were a few half chances that went off target but Steer had little to do apart from a couple of pretty orthodox saves. What did impress me in the second half were the performances of Steve MacLean and Anthony Edgar. You really can just tell MacLean has got that bit of experience, he knows what he's doing and he looks like a man with goals at this level. He worked so hard, coming deep to pick the ball up and allowing players around him to get up. I know I said Diarra held his position well and didn't come deep but I think MacLean was sent out with a different aim to Diarra, and it was one he did well. Edgar was much the same, working really hard and battling for every ball. In a way he reminded me of Darren Way, battling for everything and not giving the opposition any space. That is something we really will need this season because without meaning to just sound negative there are going to be the sort of quality sides in League One this season who, given time on the ball, will just open us up. If you can hold teams up or even push them back, you give yourself a much better chance of putting a bit of pressure on and allowing the rest of the side to push up field a yard or two. It'll be interesting to see how he can keep his fitness up this season but he's young and should have trained hard during his time at West Ham so hopefully he can keep this sort of form going.

As the half wore on, and both sides missed further chances - Agard's soft shot which was comfortably saved by James was probably best - a couple of the subs looked decent too. Bell-Baggie was certainly lively, chasing everything down much like Edgar and showing a real turn of pace when the ball was played through to him. The only thing for me was that he didn't have the chance to show an end product, but that was just because of circumstance more than it was down to him. If he has that bit of skill to cut inside, or a decent cross in to the box, then he could be a real asset. He didn't get too long to show what he can do so I'm hoping he gets a bit longer against Cardiff City on Tuesday night because he certainly showed a few signs of potential. I didn't really notice Cian Hughton much if I'm honest, but I think that was because I didn't hear his name being read out so wasn't really looking out for him, but I was pretty impressed with Rui Marques. Like MacLean, you can tell he's played at this kind of level before. He looked comfortable from the moment he can on to the pitch and I thought he dealt with everything well. I'm not too sure what our long term plans are there but I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if he signed. People will say we've got three centre backs already but a fourth would add competition and also offer somebody should Ehmer's loan not stretch beyond six months.

Even with a few subs and the introduction of a few players unfamiliar with those around them, we held on for the win fairly comfortably in the end. City had a penalty appeal turned down, a header tipped over by Steer and a moment where the fans on the far side thought they had scored, not realising the ball had actually been poked wide from close range. The final whistle went not long after to mark our second pre-season win and hopefully give people a bit of a boost. I'm not getting carried away, I still think this season will be a pretty big struggle, but there were reasons to have that bit of a boost. We've got some individuals who are showing promise and we've got players on trial at least who have experience at this level. In fact it now seems as though Kerrea Gilbert is also still at the club and both him and MacLean have been offered deals. We still have a gaping hole on that left hand side but we are a bit closer to having a squad. Will it be a squad good enough to keep us in League One? Only time will tell. There are still probably a few too many holes to judge yet. I do think we're probably behind most League One sides both in terms of preparation and squad quality but who knows, if we can build something then maybe we can repeat the end of last season and keep our heads above water. What I do know is that we'll have fun along the way, even if it's not during matches and, with less than a fortnight to go until we kick off our season at Brentford, I can't wait.

If you want to see photos from this match, please feel free to see the full album here.


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31/10/2010 L1: Yeovil 3 Swindon 3 Taff Link
28/10/2010 Diamonds Aren't Forever Taff Link
24/10/2010 L1: Brighton 2 Yeovil 0 : Defeated And Depleted Cruncher Link
18/10/2010 L1: Yeovil 0 Sheffield Wednesday 2 Taff Link
13/10/2010 If .... Taff Link
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29/09/2010 L1: Yeovil Town 1 Southampton 1 Taff Link
27/09/2010 It's Just Like Deja-Vu All Over Again Taff Link
22/09/2010 More New Kids On The Blog Taff Link
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10/09/2010 Return Of The Talisman Taff Link
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02/09/2010 FLTR1: Yeovil Town 1 Exeter City 3 Taff Link
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27/08/2010 The Slowest Drip Cruncher Link
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22/08/2010 All Quiet On The Western Front (and the back) Cruncher Link
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09/08/2010 Get Over The Hump Cruncher Link
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31/07/2010 Positively Go Wing Forward Cruncher Link
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23/07/2010 Silence From The Boardroom Is Deafening Taff Link
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11/06/2010 That Was The Season That Was Taff Link
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29/04/2010 Glass Half Empty Taff Link
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01/04/2010 The End Of An Era Taff Link
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19/03/2010 From Hero To Zero Taff Link
17/03/2010 Another One Bites The Dust (Part 2) Taff Link
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11/03/2010 The Loan Arranger Bites Back Taff Link
04/03/2010 White Men Speak With Forked Tongue Taff Link
28/02/2010 L1: Yeovil 1 Franchise FC 0 Taff Link
26/02/2010 Singing The Blues Taff Link
23/02/2010 Stam Suffers An Unkind Cut Taff Link
19/02/2010 One Year On Taff Link
17/02/2010 L1: Yeovil 0 Colchester Utd 1 Taff Link
14/02/2010 L1: Yeovil 0 Gillingham 0 Taff Link
11/02/2010 Humble Pie Taff Link
05/02/2010 Darren Way Retires Taff Link
04/02/2010 Specualtion (sic) Is Damaging Taff Link
31/01/2010 Yeovil 0 Huddersfield 1 Taff Link
28/01/2010 The Welsh Connection Taff Link
24/01/2010 L1: Yeovil 2 Exeter City 1 Taff Link
22/01/2010 Exeter Preview Taff Link
18/01/2010 Orient Preview Taff Link
16/01/2010 Water Shame, Another Game Off Taff Link
05/01/2010 Snow Joke For Anyone Taff Link
30/12/2009 A Man For All Seasons Taff Link
27/12/2009 L1: Yeovil 4 Wycombe 0 Taff Link
22/12/2009 Draws Are Not Enough Taff Link
18/12/2009 Hartlepool Preview Taff Link
13/12/2009 L1: Yeovil 3 Norwich 3 Taff Link
11/12/2009 Bah, Humbug! Taff Link
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30/11/2009 Should I Stay Or Should I Go Taff Link
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23/11/2009 New Kid On The Blog Taff Link
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20/11/2009 How Green Was My Valley Taff Link
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06/11/2009 Up For The Cup Taff Link
02/11/2009 Premiership Giants 4 Plucky No-Hopers 0 Taff Link
30/10/2009 Hayward Back On Board Taff Link
27/10/2009 But It's Alright Now, In Fact It's A Gas! Taff Link
22/10/2009 Glovers On A Roll Taff Link
18/10/2009 L1: Yeovil 3 Carlisle 1 Taff Link
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11/10/2009 Slade alive!* Yeovil 2 Brighton 2 Taff Link
09/10/2009 Russell's Return A Reality Check Taff Link
05/10/2009 A Curate's Egg Taff Link
02/10/2009 Sweet FA From The FA Taff Link
28/09/2009 Braving the Lions Den* Taff Link
27/09/2009 L1 : Yeovil 2 Brentford 0 Taff Link
25/09/2009 Welcome Back Shaun Taff Link
20/09/2009 Patience Is A Virtue Taff Link
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14/09/2009 L1: Yeovil 2 Stockport 2 Taff Link
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06/09/2009 L1: Yeovil 0 Swindon 1 Taff Link
03/09/2009 Told You So Taff Link
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26/08/2009 Football's Gone Mad Taff Link
23/08/2009 That's Entertainment! Taff Link
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14/08/2009 No Smoke Without Fire Taff Link
12/08/2009 Don't Panic! Don't Panic! Taff Link
11/08/2009 Obika's Back! Taff Link
09/08/2009 Calm Down, Calm Down Taff Link
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02/08/2009 PSF - Yeovil 3 Tiverton 0 Taff Link
31/07/2009 Gary Roberts Ain't Our Friend Taff Link
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27/07/2009 In's, Out's and Maybe's Part 6 Taff Link
24/07/2009 And Then There Were None Taff Link
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