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"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/
League One club Yeovil Town swept to an expected comfortable win
against their non-league neighbours in a friendly last night, which left both
managers praising their clubs management for getting the fixture arranged.
A goal in each half from striker Ajay Leitch-Smith sealed
the win for the Somerset side who used last night’s occasion to ease into their more
serious upcoming pre-season programme.
Leitch-Smith said afterwards “It’s
always great to score a goal whoever you’re playing. The fact it’s a local
non-league side doesn’t make a difference to me, it will just give me more
confidence when we start facing better opposition".
Chirpy Glovers boss Gary Johnson was pleased with his side’s
performance, stating “Whoever you play
you’ve still got to go out and perform and win. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Manchester
Untied or a local smaller outfit like Bristol Rovers, you’ve still got to turn
up and we did that tonight”.
Ex-Bristol City boss Johnson - who is looking forward
to a return to Ashton Gate this season when Yeovil play their league match at
Bristol’s only league team - also added some words of encouragement for Rovers’ plucky youngsters “They did a good job considering the gulf in
class. There’s probably one or two there who could rise up a few divisions and
be at our standard in years to come so good luck to them. For now though, it was just a great chance for
them to play at a league club, with the ground and facilities we have and in
front of a big crowd for a friendly”.
Johnson added “They’ll
take that experience with them on their Tuesday night trips to Eastleigh and
Alfreton and remember what playing on a big stage feels like. It should give
them extra appetite”
Meanwhile Rovers manager Darrell Clarke pronounced himself satisfied
with the performance. “I was pleased. We’re
coming along nicely and to put up such a good show against a big club like
Yeovil, in their fantastic stadium is a great milestone. They were in the
Championship only last year and have the budget and players in their squad we
can only dream of having, so we’ve done well”
Clarke added “It was
great of Yeovil to offer us this fixture. They should be an inspiration to us
the way they’ve risen through from the non-league pyramid into the football
league and that’s got to be our aim in the next five to ten years too. Games
like this will just bring us along that path nicely”
Meanwhile Rovers defender Michael Smith is set to be the
latest in a long line of non-league superstars to join League One Peterborough.
‘Posh’ owner Darragh MacAnthony said “We’ve
got a strategic plan to identify the best talent from the non-league world as there
can be some quality players down there despite their lowly status. It’s great
to be able to offer these guys their chance to prove themselves at a much
higher level. Plus they often come cheaper than they would if they were at a
proper League club as the clubs are too small to have much negotiating power”
Luke Ayling made
the short journey up the M5 earlier this month, joining Steve Cotterill’s mini summer revolution at Ashton Gate and at the same time ending Brendan Moloney’s
relatively short stay in BS3. Ayling was one of Yeovil’s better performers in
their ultimately unsuccessful first season in the Championship, but he’s made
the move in an apparent attempt to bounce back at the first attempt.
Yeovil fan and
soon-to-be-married (to a ‘Dirty Leeds’ fan) Ben Barrett gave us this insight on
a Huish Park hero who served his time well in Somerset.
“When Yeovil Town fans favourite Luke Ayling
left to join Bristol City this week, to say I had mixed feelings would be an
Let’s get the rivalry bit out of the way,
City are a rival, have been for a while, and for as long as the blue half of
your city are pottering about in non-league always will be. Not just geographically, but also, both sides
have ambitions to be at the top of League One this season, so yes, losing Luke
to you stings, just a little bit.
However, there’s respect there, he deserves
his chance to be at a – and I hate this term – “big” club, honestly, just about
anyone is “bigger” than Yeovil.
Luke is a versatile defender comfortable at
full back, centre half or in the middle of the park. He was our longest serving player and one of
the fans’ favourites. As the song goes,
he was the “love of our life”… we’d even let him “meet” (hey, this is a family
blog) our wives and a part me of does “want long hair too”.
What we loved about was the fact that he
cared, he cared more than most. Not always the most technically gifted player,
can be found out aerially, can be a little bit flat footed against pace and has
found himself out of position once or twice.
But every time he pulled on the shirt he really cared, about his
performance, about how we felt in the stands… about Yeovil.
An upbringing at Arsenal alongside Jack
Wilshere probably does that to you.
Two years ago, when it seemed the whole side
were ready to leave, he along with Ed Upson and a couple others signed up one
more time, it was a signal of intent, a signal that Yeovil weren’t just a
stepping stone, we were an option for success.
The result was the finest season in our
club’s history, Luke was a massive part of that and that’s how I’ll remember
Don’t expect many goals; over 160 games and
just the three goals, all of which scored in the last 12 months. One in an extraordinary cup tie against
Birmingham, a last ditch equaliser against Wigan and a consolation against
Middlesbrough on the final day of the season.
Bristol City have got themselves a
Championship defender, one we didn’t want to lose, especially to a rival.
Luke goes with my biggest admiration; I’ll
overlook the red and white… well, until Boxing Day at least!”