Slade hopes Smith can give scouts the slip now
Weymouth 0 Yeovil Town 1
The Yeovil Town management will breathe a huge sigh of relief if Nathan Smith is still at Huish Park when the transfer window closes on September 1.
The left-back signed for the Glovers from Ryman League Division One side Potters Bar Town in March.
That was an instant promotion of five leagues – and the signs are he could climb even higher.
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On Saturday the 21-year-old lit up a low-key friendly at the Wessex Stadium with a run of three-quarters of the length of the pitch. Smith left the entire Weymouth team trailing in his wake before trialist keeper Richard Bernard denied him a maiden Yeovil goal with a great save.
Glovers boss Russell Slade and his assistant Steve Thompson are not surprised by the Londoner's audacity.
Slade said: “As he was going through and went past one, two and three and then was in behind, me and Thommo said: 'I hope there are no scouts watching.' That was our reaction – not 'is he going to score?'
“It would have been a fantastic goal. It is not very often you see left-backs burst 80 yards, confront the keeper and then, to be honest, wonder what to do with it next. But that was the scenario. He has so much promise.”
The real test is to come, of course, but Yeovil also have much promise as a developing side. They have a solid core of experience in centre-backs Terry Skiverton and Terrell Forbes and midfield dynamo Darren Way.
Slade knows he needs to add at least one more forward this week before the League One opener at home to Walsall. But if – and it is a big if – they can also steer clear of injuries then Yeovil can be competitive in the division.
Attacking midfielder Gavin Tomlin is another shining light and he should have given the visitors a fourth-minute lead but sliced wide after Skiverton had knocked down a Danny Schofield free-kick.
Paul Warne then played a one-two with Schofield on the left and cut inside, only to drive wide of the near post.
Weymouth replied with a Kevin Sandwith half-volley that flew well over before Chris McPhee pulled an ambitious effort wide from 20 yards.
The breakthrough came on 36 minutes when Tomlin produced a great spin away from Santos Gaia and released Warne on the left. The veteran turned inside the last defender but Bernard smothered his shot. Warne reacted to the rebound and slid a pass to right-winger Aidan Downes, who could not miss from two yards.
Warne could have grabbed a second four minutes later after good work from Lee Peltier and Tomlin, but Scott Doe headed his shot off the line.
Bernard denied Warne again from point-blank range before the break to ensure the former Oldham man's pre-season finished goalless.
“I was hoping Warney would get on the scoresheet because he deserved it,” said Slade. “He had two or three great chances to get himself a goal.”
Weymouth's best moments generally came through their midfielder and captain Anton Robinson, who was playing against two former Fisher Athletic team-mates in Kieran Murtagh and Tomlin. Robinson forced two smart saves from keeper Asmir Begovic in an energetic display.
In a disjointed second half Downes and substitutes Lloyd Owusu, Nathan Jones and Craig Alcock could all have doubled Yeovil's advantage.
Slade said: “We had some dogged opposition but we created chances and we were perhaps guilty of being a little bit wasteful at times.
“We got into some good positions but the final ball or the final cross let us down. The most important thing was we came through with no injuries.
“Over pre-season we have done better than a lot of people thought we might do. Some of the performances have been pleasing but I still think we have a way to go.
“It is early days but it is encouraging. We go into the first game with some know-how and some confidence.”
Weymouth (4-4-2): Bernard (Beale 78); Mawer (Webb 71), Doe (Bygrave 74), Gaia, Sandwith; Taylor, Robinson, Reed, Williams (Coutts 57); Beavon (Joseph-Dubois 31), McPhee.
Yeovil (4-4-1-1): Begovic; Peltier (Alcock 60), Forbes (Street 90), Skiverton (Brown 74), Smith (Jones 60); Downes, Bircham (Murtagh 60), Way, Schofield (Turnock 74), Tomlin (Fitzgerald 85); Warne (Owusu 60).