So, here we go again. It doesn’t feel like five minutes ago that City supporters were applauding Jamie Cureton’s late consolation goal, but it has been a summer that was somewhat less fraught than last year, with a few departures plus a few new faces, while City embarked on a somewhat less ambitious global tour to Scotland and welcomed our friends from Fluminense to the Park. City have nailed their colours to the mast in pre-season, despite what on the face of it appears to be a disappointing set of results, in stating that a promotion push is on, starting with a local match against a side that has fallen spectacularly from grace in the last couple of years.
Given the financial turbulence of last summer, with the well-documented PFA loan and transfer embargo, the breathing space afforded both by some serious financial rationalisation plus the Matt Grimes transfer cash has allowed Paul Tisdale to build what looks on paper to be a stronger squad than he had at his disposal last August. Lee Holmes, who impressed the City faithful with a number of effervescent displays on loan from Preston at the tail end of the season, put pen to paper on a permanent contract, while City were also able to capture highly rated keeper Bobby Olejnik, Cheltenham central defender Troy Brown, Brentford midfielder Manny Oyeleke and Will Hoskins, a striker who was hot property a couple of years ago until injury problems got in the way. Possibly the best bit of business achieved by Tisdale and City was to retain the services of Christian Ribeiro. The club’s player of the year turned down the overtures of Swindon and Birmingham to repay the faith shown in City by signing a new contract. Out of the door went the likes of Liam Sercombe (Oxford), Scot Bennett (Notts County) and Jimmy Keohane, while rumour has it cult hero Clinton Morrison could return to the club.
For the Yeovil visit, which will be a poignant one coming as it does five years to the week since the tragic passing of Adam Stansfield, Tisdale faces the usual opening day selection dilemmas. With Jordan Moore-Taylor not quite ready to return from his foot injury it’s likely that Ribeiro will continue in the centre of defence rather than his stronger position on the right, that space being filled by Arron Davies. Tom McCready has impressed in the Liam Sercombe role and he is likely to start alongside David Noble and Ryan Harley, while there will be a battle to see who lines up alongside Tom Nichols up front, with Hoskins thought to not yet be fit enough to start for a few weeks. One of Jamie Reid, Ollie Watkins, Alex Nicholls or David Wheeler are likely to be given the nod.
After successive relegations, one could be forgiven for thinking the only way is up for Yeovil. Pre-season has been turbulent, although the appointment of a seasoned campaigner in Paul Sturrock will provide some stability and see Yeovil installed if not amongst the favourites than at least favourably in terms of a return to League One. Sturrock has been given a mammoth rebuilding task, with no fewer than 15 signings made during the summer, while former City keeper Artur Krysiak had an uncertain summer in the midst of his marriage, eventually being told he still had a future at Huish Park. He is hoping to line up at the Park although may end up warming the bench. Amongst the bevy of new faces are the likes of Ben Tozer, Marc Laird and Shaun Jeffers, all of whom will be looking to bring their depth of experience to a side hoping to gel quickly.
The last time the sides met was in the ill-fated 11/12 season, although City had the slight upper hand that year – a 2-0 win in the League Cup set up a lucrative tie with Liverpool, while both league matches ended in a draw – 1-1 at the Park (Logan equalising Williams’ strike) and 2-2 in Somerset, with goals from Upson and Blizzard sandwiching strikes from Jake Taylor and John O’Flynn. Yeovil hold a slight Football League head to head lead with two wins to City’s one (three draws).
Supporters match in the morning – http://www.exeweb.com/2015/08/04/adam-stansfield-memorial-trophy-game-this-saturday/