Yeovil Town manager Gary Johnson admits that tonight's visitors Stoke City will present a very different sort of test for the club's eighth pre-season friendly, as they prepare for the start of the 2012-13 season. Whilst the club have so far had seven matches against lower league opposition - with just two teams from the Football League - they will come up against a Potters side that last season competed in the Europa League, playing twelve matches last season at that level.
Speaking to BBC Somerset, Johnson believes that his side will still be able to stick to their own 'brand' of football, as they aim to keep up their on the deck passing style. However, he admits that a lot will come down to how his team cope when the visiting side gain possession:
"It's good that we've got a Premier League side coming down to Huish Park. I want us to be able to show our football against that type of opposition, because in my opinion if you've got a football team, then they can play against any opposition. It's when the opposition have the ball that you're in trouble. So we've got to make sure that we're nice and sharp, and nice and solid - and to make sure that we're committed, so that when they've got the ball, we try to get it back quickly."
Whilst recent summers have been dominated by the club bringing in large numbers of trialists, and the list of contracted players only known late on, this year Johnson has brought in a different ethic - forming a squad of eighteen players early on that has contained just two loan players. He said that bringing in those players at the start of the pre-season schedule has added to the excitment he feels in what he is working on:
"I got the tingle when I started getting the group together, early on in pre-season. We did get them in early enough, so that we did a lot of work with them as a group. There's no excuses now if we're not ready enough as a team, when the season comes round."
So far, the club have managed five wins and two draws in their seven pre-season friendlies, giving the potential chance to go through all nine matches unbeaten before the season starts. Gary admits that would be nice, but says that's not the be-all and end-all of the situation:
"Obviously we've got just a week or so to go now, and two pre-season friendlies to go, and it would be nice to keep our unbeaten record going. It's not necessarily the results that show whether it's gone well. It's whether you can see your shape, your pattern in your team and in your players. We've got that, we think. We've just got to get that fine-tuning now - that last little bit of work, that makes them match-ready for three points."
Tonight's match at Huish Park kicks off at 7.45p.m. with tickets still available from the Ticket Office.
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