With exception to the final score, there were plenty of positive aspects to Yeovil's performance against a very strong Portsmouth side. Despite facing a far more formidable opposition than in their previous four pre-season friendlies, the Glovers' display looked much improved across the pitch, as they exhibited solidity in defence, energy in midfield, and whole-hearted determination in attack. The entire match served up to be a pleasurable spectacle, as both sides evidently adopted a predominantly attack-minded approach, resulting in numerous chances at both ends after rapid and fluid bursts from the midfield.
Within the first few minutes, both teams immediately sprung to life and set the quick pulse, by which the rest of the match would consistently abide. With an abundance of household names playing, the Huish Park faithful was always going to take special pleasure in any errors they made, and it was no less than Glen Johnson, the England international left-back, signed on a season-long loan from Chelsea, who was the first to be mercilessly mocked after being skilfully rounded by forward livewire, Wayne Gray. But within moments, it was the choir of Pompey fans who were rejoicing, as Ivica Mornar's ruthless fourth-minute strike capped off a delightful flowing move, initiated by a rampant sprint from Mornar, who found Lomana Tresor LuaLua on the right flank, who in turn whistled in a pinpoint curling cross for the bald Croat to bury. Mornar, trying to prove himself as a frontrunner rather than benchwarmer for Pompey, should have doubled his tally, but he contrived to skew the ball horribly wide from 15 yards.
Although Portsmouth comfortably controlled the possession in the first half with Congolese international LuaLua, former Croatian international Mornar, and the Bulgarian Fratton favourite Svetoslav Todorov providing prosperous outlets on the wings, they failed to manufacture a healthy number of goal-scoring opportunities. In fact Yeovil were able to create just as many chances, with Matt Harrold's low drive unfortunately rebounding off an upright, as Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper, Dean Kiely, was beaten, and Arron Davies' audacious effort sailed just over the bar.
The second half followed the same exciting pattern as the first half, but whereas Portsmouth had controlled proceedings before the break, now Yeovil were in charge. The Glovers' youthful and fearless midfield duo of Chris Cohen and Arron Davies looked ever-impressive, showing strength in skill and spirit, never directing a pass astray, always looking to push forwards, as they created chances for both themselves and fellow team-mates. Yeovil were rather unlucky not to be at least on level terms, as they managed to create no less than five good efforts on goal within the first twelve minutes of the second half, forcing substitute goalkeeper, Jamie Ashdown, to make a string of competent saves.
His first tasks were fairly elementary, merely having to swipe aside Scott Guyett's goal-bound header from Davies' corner, then Gray's powerful cross, accurately aimed towards Harrold, who was dangerously lurking inside the six-yard box. But then he was required to make some smart saves, as he blocked both Gray's low shot from 18 yards and Cohen's volley from 6. Therefore, it would certainly be an understatement to say that Portsmouth's second goal, which surely sealed their victory, cruelly came against the run of play. Richard Hughes, having recently come off the bench, capitalised on a well-taken free-kick and nodded home from close-range.
LuaLua, synonymous to a genius wizard, ever menacing Yeovil's backline with his many tricks and spells, was revelling in attack, as he rifled a lethal snap-shot just over the top-right corner, followed by firing another effort wide. Just as the match began dramatically, so it finished in the same fashion, as the referee decided to award Yeovil a penalty in injury time, after adjudging that Daniel Webb had been felled inside the area. But, perhaps predictably, Ashdown dived low to his right to make an outstanding save against Cohen's firm and well-placed spot-kick.
That almost summed up the match. It wasn't Yeovil's day. But we should remember that it was only a friendly, and I believe that on occasions like these it is more important to put on a good performance than to grab the right result. Yeovil should take enormous heart from this productive pre-season friendly, as, while there were uncertainties previously, now we feel safe in the knowledge that the Glovers are more than capable of playing proper football.
Final Score: Yeovil Town 0 Portsmouth 2