Glovers Graduate with distinction against Oxford
After last weeks dramatic penalty save in the dying minutes against Kidderminster, Chris Weale’s purchase price increased by a few more pounds today after pulling off two stunning saves, one in each half. A fine afternoon for the young keeper who was voted man of the match, not just for those two pieces of magic, but for the way he commanded his area against the aerial and muscular threat of the Oxford attack.
To be honest, any one of the starting eleven could have got the vice presidents award today. Gary Johnson, who over the past few weeks has made mention that not all his best players reached the level of performance he knew they could, would have been delighted today to see his team play with the gusto and swagger we have become accustomed to. The back four played with terrific strength, despite lacking the presence of the skipper Skiverton and Colin Pluck who broke down in the warm up. Paul Terry, joked Johnson, was dragged away from his second pint of lager in the players lounge and warmed up as the coin was tossed, Hugo Rodrigues, Adam Lockwood and El Kholti made up the quartet. The midfield, bossed as usual by the hugely impressive Darren Way, was ably supported by Johnson Jnr, Simon Weatherstone, perhaps having his best game for his new club, and Williams who crafted skilfully all afternoon. Up front Gall was all pace and terrier like and was unfortunate to have two goals disallowed. Plenty of opportunities came his way today, and maybe, at last he has a striking partner to balance out and compliment his style.
Andy Bishop, on his home debut will be delighted to have scored the winner. Making comparisons to his predecessors, Bishop, similar in build possesses more pace, especially from a standing start, and seems to have more awareness of his surroundings which in return, allows him to link better with his midfield and attack. He looks a handful and is the sort of player who, with his power gives something for opposition defenders to think about. This will no doubt take the pressure of Gall, who may prosper if this new-pronged attack can gel.
Yeovil nearly took the lead within the first minute, a corner swung in by Williams was met by the head of Paul Terry, who should really have hit the target from close range. Maybe he would have if he’d only been on shandy!
Goals win football matches, and as close as Terry was down one end, Matt Robinson, whose previous clubs apparently include Sherborne cubs and Queen Camel, his home being Alweston, came even closer and his wicked left foot curling free kick was destined for the top corner. But Weale had other ideas, and he flung himself and tipped the ball spectacularly over the bar and into the large contingent of Oxford fans in the Copse Road end. Goalkeepers win football matches too!
Several times in the first half Yeovil used the flanks with more cutting edge than previous weeks. Johnson picked his passes with precision and not once did he give the ball away. Support was always available, and with Gall energetic he gave an outlet and options as the Glovers pressed forward.
Oxford had a good chance in the 22nd minute when the influential Basham fired a good low ball across the face of goal but no striker could get on the end of it. Seconds later Yeovil’s midfield put Gall through, but unfortunately Woodman, the Oxford keeper anticipated Gall's threat and rushed out of his area and saved well. Darren Way mopped up another Oxford break before releasing El Kholti, Abdoul dummied himself before again threading a fine ball to Gall who couldn’t capitalise.
Then came the winner, on 29 minutes, and typical of the way the Town were playing. Johnson sprayed the ball to his left and into Darren Way's path, the cross came in and the defence failed to clear. Andy BISHOP with the eye of a predator took his chance with relish and slammed the ball home to give Yeovil a welcome 1-0 lead. He could have added to his tally 10 minutes later when this time, another cross from the left, by Williams on this occasion, was met by the Bishop's head but he could not get it on target, instead narrowly missing the bar. Williams again down the left weaved his way into the box, forced a corner, which the keeper did well to punch off his line and clear the danger.