Yeoman 68, 88
Royal Marines 0
UNITED comfortably passed their first test of the pre-season campaign, as the Royal Marines were swept aside in a 4-0 victory for the Gulls.
Billy Bodin steered home the first very early into proceeding and when Aaron Downes headed a second on 14 minutes, it was worrying for the Marines, but you don’t do their job without being able to resist an onslaught.
The third goal did not arrive until 68 minutes, when Yeoman, who could have notched four or five, converted with a neat header. The excellent Yeoman added the final gloss with an easy finish two minutes from time.
The United starting line-up was missing goalkeeper Michael Poke, who has picked up a thigh injury in training, so Martin Rice adorned the gloves behind a back four of Dale Tonge, Downes, Kirtys MacKenzie and Kevin Nicholson.
Skipper Lee Mansell has a slight ankle problem and began on the bench as a consequence, leaving Nathan Craig and Damon Lathrope to fill the central midfield slots. New signings Jordan Chapell and Courtney Cameron started on the wings, with Bodin playing just in behind main striker Elliot Benyon.
The other intriguing name on the Yellow team-sheet was that of midfielder Ben Harding, the former Northampton star who is expected to complete a deal with the Gulls early next week.
The interesting inclusion for the Royal Marines was full-back Steve Stacey, who was a trainee at Plainmoor more than two decades ago.
On a glorious evening of summer sunshine, United took just four minutes to slice through the visitors and the catalyst was a weaving run down the right flank by Cameron, who fed the ball inside for Bodin to slide a simple finish by the hopelessly exposed Tony Baxter in the Marines’ goal.
The Gulls then settled into a composed spell of possession football, forcing the Marines to work extremely hard in energy-sapping conditions, although fitness is naturally a strength for the visitors.
Chapell decided to up the tempo with a burst through the middle and his low shot was turned wide by Baxter, but the subsequent corner from Craig was met with a thunderous header from Downes to double the Yellow lead.
United’s next real opening stemmed from a lovely turn and cross by Nicholson for Bodin to attempt an audacious volley, which was deflected wide. A fabulous ball from Lathrope then found Benyon, who rounded Baxter but saw his final effort hacked clear off the line.
The dancing feet and outright pace of Cameron was a joy to watch, as the Marines struggled to contain the former Aston Villa winger, but it was Chapell ghosting inside from the opposite flank who was next to produce a decent save from Baxter when his clipped shot was turned wide.
A sloppy pass from Downes presented the Marines with their best chance on 37 minutes but Mike Scott flashed his low drive inches past Rice’s far post.
United boss Alan Knill made three changes at half-time, removing Rice for youth-team stopper Conor Thomson. Thomas Cruise came in for Downes at centre-back and Mansell replaced Cameron in midfield. The Marines also changed ‘keepers, with Baxter making way for Karl Little.
The first real shot in anger for the second-half came from the right boot of Mansell but his ambitious long-range effort drifted beyond the top corner, and Knill swiftly made three more alterations to the team.
Bodin, Chapell and Benyon were all withdrawn, allowing run-outs for Yeoman, Niall Thompson and Daniel Sullivan, who very nearly scored with his first touch, but the flying header from Craig’s cross was just off target.
Sullivan then combined with Thompson with a driven low cross that only just evaded the run of Yeoman. Craig’s next pass did find the young striker but Yeoman was denied a goal by a decent block from Little.
United’s next two substitutions saw Harding replace Lathrope and youngster Jake Hutchings gave Tonge a rest. Yeoman continued to find good positions, this time racing on to a Sullivan pass, but a moment of hesitancy was enough for the Marines to recover.
Sadly for the visitors, Yeoman got his goal from the subsequent corner, steering a comfortable header into the top corner after a whipped Craig delivery to the near-post.
Harding quickly imposed his style with a strong challenge in midfield and then a threaded pass to Sullivan, who was thwarted by another smart save from Little. The resultant corner was headed against the post by MacKenzie.
The movement of Yeoman was proving too much for a tiring defence but Little was again up to the task producing a fine block from an angled shot. Minutes later, Little rushed off his line to save his legs after Yeoman latched on to a Mansell pass.
The final act was a surging run down the right from Thompson ending with a cross to Yeoman, who slid the ball home from two yards.
No more goals for the Yellows but that will do for starters.
Gulls [4-4-2]: 13 Martin Rice [33 Conor Thomson H-T]; 2 Dale Tonge [32 Jake Hutchings 66], 30 Kirtys MacKenzie, 4 Aaron Downes [21 Thomas Cruise H-T], 3 Kevin Nicholson; 12 Jordan Chapell [15 Niall Thompson 60], 6 Damon Lathrope [8 Ben Harding 66], 20 Nathan Craig, 11 Courtney Cameron [7 Lee Mansell H-T]; 10 Billy Bodin [31 Daniel Sullivan 60], 26 Elliot Benyon [14 Ashley Yeoman 60].
Royal Marines: 1 Tony Baxter [13 Karl Little H-T]; 2 Steve Stacey [12 Tim Bradshaw 79], 3 Chris Bryan, 4 Sam Woodin, 5 Rick Charles, 6 Olly Kennedy [14 Kunle Atiba H-T], 7 Mike Scott, 8 Shea Saunders, 9 Duncan Williams, 10 Tom King, 11 Richard Griffin. Substitutes [not used]: 15 James Beverley, 16 Jase Kilner.
Referee: Brendan Malone