UNITED and Yeovil served up an enjoyable encounter on another beautiful night in the Riviera, but the pre-season plaudits went to the Gulls with a 2-0 victory.
Jordan Chapell notched the first goal seven minutes from time as both teams showed they have the attacking talent to cause problems in their respective divisions in the campaign ahead. Young substitute Daniel Sullivan added Yellow gloss with a neatly-taken second for United in the dying moments.
The big story in Alan Knill’s team was the inclusion of two trialists for the occasion, as the manager decided to assess the talents of former Bournemouth and Crawley defender Shaun Cooper.
The other trialist was a very familiar face, with striker Scott Rendell given permission by his current club, Luton Town, to try and impress Knill. Rendell, therefore, rekindled an old strike-partnership by joining Elliot Benyon in the vanguard.
Martin Rice again started in goal, behind a back four that included Cooper, Dale Tonge, Aaron Downes and Thomas Cruise. The midfield quartet comprised Billy Bodin, Lee Mansell, Ben Harding and Courtney Cameron.
The visitors from Yeovil, fresh from a pre-season tour in Portugal and still revelling in the glory of promotion to the Championship, named a strong starting line-up, as their own preparations for the new campaign cranked up a notch.
An enterprising start from both sides had the Plainmoor crowd cooing in the evening sunshine and the first moment of real significance was a superb block by Downes after a clever turn and shot from the towering former Liverpool forward Michael Ngoo.
The Glovers continued their threat with a dinked free-kick finding the head of Ngoo and his knock-down was perfect for strike-partner Paddy Madden, but the normally deadly Irish finisher lifted his shot a fraction too high.
United were still moving the ball nicely in spells and when Cameron dropped inside from the left flank, his pass released Bodin to dance past his full-back and steer a curling shot narrowly past Marek Stech’s far post.
In the steamy conditions, referee Brett Huxtable gave the players a drinks-break midway through the first-half, allowing the coaching staff from both sides a chance to dish out some additional instructions.
Within seconds of the resumption, Yeovil created space on the left for Sam Foley to whip over a cross to the near-post and the Gulls were grateful to see Madden’s header flash wide. The same pair then combined in similar fashion but the save was easy for Rice.
United were suddenly under increasing pressure and when the bouncing ball fell to Foley on the edge of the box, he sold a quick dummy before guiding a shot against the post and away to safety.
The next Glover foray was a deep corner for the mountainous Byron Webster to head back across goal but Tonge was positioned perfectly to head clear. Moments later, the Yellow full-back got forward to deliver a cross for Cameron, who skewed his shot off target.
Madden was next to have a strike on goal and United needed another firm block from Downes to force a corner. Yeovil were playing with real purpose but when they did hit the net with a header from Ngoo, the assistant’s flag was fluttering happily in the sky to keep the scores blank.
The Gulls responded with their best attempt of the half, as the quick feet of Cameron created room for Benyon to lash the ball goalwards from a tight angle, and Stech needed strong wrists to beat the ball clear.
Ed Upson popped up to whip curling a shot wide and then a skidding drive from Kevin Dawson, which was well fielded by Rice. Cameron came back with a neat one-two and a low shot sent inches past the post. The first period ended with Ngoo’s stabbed effort at the back-post being turned away by Rice.
Neither side made a change at the interval and Cameron was quickly to the fore with a fine run down the right, but Yeovil cleared the cross. Rice was then called into action, denying Dawson with a low save.
The same Glover skipped past Cruise in the next attack but Rice narrowed the angle superbly to block with his legs. Two minutes later, a marvellous hooked clearance from Cooper prevented a certain goal for Ngoo.
The pattern briefly changed with an excellent sweeping pass from Rendell almost finding the dart in behind by Benyon, as Yeovil decided the time was right to make numerous changes. Before that, however, Rice had to fist clear a Madden strike.
While Yeovil made five alterations on the hour-mark, United stuck to just three, removing Rendell, Cruise and Cameron for the fresh legs of Ashley Yeoman, Kevin Nicholson and Chapell. A few minutes later, Harding and Mansell were replaced by Nathan Craig and Damon Lathrope.
As always with multiple substitutions, the game lost its rhythm for a spell but Yeoman did his best to re-inject a spark with some neat touches, and then Benyon had a flicked header comfortably saved.
Knill turned back to his bench for the final 15 minutes, introducing Niall Thompson, Kirtys MacKenzie and Sullivan for Bodin, Downes and Benyon.
A corner from Craig had Yeovil stretched in the next attack as a strong Cooper header was cleared to Lathrope, who was unlucky to see his rasping drive hacked clear by a sea of green and white legs.
The first goal arrived after the otherwise Webster slipped at the wrong time to allow Chapell a free run down the left channel and he slid an assured finish beyond the advancing Stech. It was confident stuff from the young winger and the Yellow Army were rightly satisfied.
A super cross from Thompson picked out the head of Sullivan in United’s next foray, but the youngster turned his effort over the bar.
Yeovil suffered a horror moment in the final seconds, as Sullivan made amends by springing the offside trap and he was given the freedom of TQ1 to saunter past Stech and tap home for a happy conclusion to proceedings.
United [4-4-2]: 13 Martin Rice; 2 Dale Tonge [32 Jake Hutchings 83], 5 Shaun Cooper, 4 Aaron Downes [30 Kirtys MacKenzie 76], 21 Thomas Cruise [3 Kevin Nicholson 58]; 10 Billy Bodin [15 Niall Thompson 76], 7 Lee Mansell [capt] [20 Nathan Craig 64], 8 Ben Harding [6 Damon Lathrope 64], 11 Courtney Cameron [12 Jordan Chapell 58]; 9 Scott Rendell [14 Ashley Yeoman 58], 26 Elliot Benyon [31 Daniel Sullivan 76]. Substitutes [not used]: 33 Conor Thompson.
Yeovil [4-4-2}: 1 Marek Stech; 2 Luke Ayling [14 Lewis Young 85], 4 Danny Seaborne, 5 Byron Webster [capt] [19 Joey Jones 85], 3 Nana Ofori; 7 Kevin Dawson [16 Joel Grant 58], 6 Joe Edwards [18 Billy Clifford 58], 8 Ed Upson [17 Junior Konadu 58], 11 Sam Foley [13 Sam Hoskins 58]; 9 Paddy Madden, 10 Michael Ngoo [15 Kieffer Moore 58]. Substitutes [not used]: 12 Gareth Stewart [GK].
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 1,168 [111 away]