Gall's double allows Yeovil to show championship potential

Rochdale 1 Yeovil Town 3
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The Independent Football

Matching away victories for both Yeovil and Doncaster, newly promoted from the Nationwide Conference: whatever happened to those ideas of respect and feeling your way cautiously amid unfamiliar surroundings? At this rate the "fifth'' division will be insisting on three of their number making the step up to the Football League.

To say that Yeovil looked at home in this elevated company barely pays sufficient tribute to a performance of measured control, aggressive running and sound organisation.

It would be reckless to shape championship predictions after one game but it is a certainty that Rochdale will not be the only team left gasping in their wake.

In suffocating conditions Yeovil's fitness was another arresting feature. "I've told them I hope we continue to play in 100C heat through the season,'' said their manager, Gary Johnson. "We looked the stronger in the second half and looked comfortable throughout. I just hope we look comfortable for the next 45 games because this is only the start.''

After waiting 108 years for League membership, Yeovil were always going to be pumped up on the first day. And Alan Buckley, Rochdale's new manager, had a point when he said that the scales were loaded in the visitors' favour because of the momentum that has endured following their record-breaking Conference campaign. Yet bookmakers are seldom shown to be wrong and their calculation that only Hull and Northampton are better bets to go up deserved consideration even before a fluent passing style and slick opportunism were revealed in the Spotland spotlight.

The assurance was apparent in every department, from Adam Lockwood's judicious timing at the back to Lee Johnson's diligent probing in midfield and Kevin Gall's finishing prowess. He scored twice either side of an impudent free-kick by the manager's son, and rendered Somerset's historic away-day truly memorable.

"We've played well against a team who battled hard and liked to pass the ball around, and it makes you think we can go a long way this season,'' said Gall. Rochdale found it hard to penetrate beyond Paul Connor's equaliser and a couple of enterprising runs from Leo Bertos. But Gall, the former Newcastle reserve, could easily have doubled his tally.

With Yeovil there is always the tendency to focus on the past and their giant-killing feats of FA Cup folklore. That could be about to change: the future appears full of exciting possibilities.

Goals: Gall (26) 0-1; Connor (45) 1-1; Johnson (55) 1-2; Gall (67) 1-3.

Rochdale (4-4-2): Gilks; Evans, Burgess, Grand, Simpkins; Bertos (Betts, 71), Beech (McEvilly, 71), McClare, McCourt (Doughty, 46); Shuker, Connor. Substitutes not used: Edwards, Townson.

Yeovil Town (3-5-2): Weale; Lockwood, O'Brien, Pluck (Rodrigues, 43); Gosling (El Kholti, 79), Williams (Lindegaard, 65), Johnson, Way, Crittenden; Gall, Jackson. Substitutes not used: Stansfield, Collis.

Referee: M Warren (West Midlands).

Bookings: Rochdale: Grand, Shuker, McClare, Connor, Burgess. Yeovil: Rodrigues, Gosling.

Man of the match: Gall.

Attendance: 4,611.