The Young Glovers fall to a narrow 1-0 defeat and suffer injury woes against the Young Gulls in their latest South West Counties Youth League match.
Yeovil returned home for the first time since early October to take on Torquay who sat just a point ahead of them in the league table. Having seen a crop of youngsters line up and perform well for the first team in the midweek Somerset Premier Cup win over Larkhall Athletic, the Young Glovers had to shuffle the side with Borges (ankle injury) and Haste (illness) watching from the side-lines and Deemer and Andrews unavailable. There was also a debut for striker and former academy player Connor Bent.
The game began at a frenetic pace with chances at either end. A Bent header dropped narrowly wide following an excellent cross from Hunter at right back before Lye made a tremendous block at the other end to deny the Gulls striker. After a good spell of attacking football from Yeovil culminated in a Sheppard-Cozens free kick which drifted just wide, it was Torquay who opened the scoring via a contentious penalty decision. Lye went to deal with a cross from the left but saw his waist high footed clearance catch the stooping striker in the head resulting in a booking and coolly converted penalty, 1-0. The striker was clearly caught and had to leave the field of play, but other than opt not to deal with the ball it was hard to see what else the defender could do.
Yeovil arguably fashioned the better chances as the half wore on with a smart break from Benjani Jr. teeing up Bent whose shot went just wide. Skipper Graziano then tried his luck from distance before a Benjani snap shot was punched clear by the visiting keeper. Torquay enjoyed attacking spells of their own and a smart spin and drive from the right side zipped narrowly over. Entering the final minutes of the half, Finlay Skiverton had an initial shot saved before his second effort was deflected behind. The Glovers suffered an injury blow from the resulting corner when midfielder Sheppard-Cozens was forced off with a head injury. Returning striker John took the field in his place and the half ended with another near miss as the impressive Bent went on a driving run down the left, sending in a cross which just evaded the advancing Skiverton.
Torquay seized the initiative in the early passage of play in the second half, and the Glovers were indebted to a goal-line clearance from Dyer and then a well-timed tackle from Lye as the Gulls burst forward. At around the 60th minute the home side were to suffer a further setback when goalkeeper Smalley made a reflex save from a shot from distance but seemed to inure his knee in the follow up play and had to leave the field. Unable to field a substitute keeper, Lye was forced to go between the sticks and Aidan Skiverton came into central defence in his place.
Head Coach Mark Challen was having to encourage his depleted side from the side lines and would have been encouraged by some resolute defending from his back line. A unit now largely made up of schoolboys put in a positive performance; of particular note was Dyer, who made another outstanding block in the box and Armstrong, a centre back playing left back, who was full of industry and endeavour.
Yeovil were however struggling to work the keeper at the other end, and their plight was made harder when Graziano was forced off with a calf injury; the skipper was replaced in midfield by McAlastair. Challen made a string of substitutions to try and mix things up as Bateson and Sutton were given valuable minutes on the pitch with Benjani sent further forward and Finlay Skiverton dropping into midfield to try and shore things up and offer something different from a deeper role.
As the match drew to a close, both teams had gilt edged chances. Torquay’s number 9, who was a handful all morning, went on a marauding run into the box but was finally checked by the Yeovil backline. Yeovil then put together their best attacking move of the match with some nice interplay between Finlay Skiverton and Hunter down the right helping to set up Bent, whose low shot went just wide of the far post.
Not the result the Young Glovers were hoping for and a growing injury list which will surely test the squad in the weeks to come.
Team: 1 – Smalley, 2 – Hunter, 3 – Armstrong, 5 – Dyer, 6 – Lye, 7 – Benjani Jr, 8 – Sheppard-Cozens, 9 – F Skiverton, 10 – Bent, 11 – Alden, 14 – Graziano © Subs: 15 – John, 16 – A Skiverton, 18 – McAlastair 19 – Bateson and 20 – Sutton.
Next Saturday (20th November) sees a friendly fixture at home against Youth Alliance side, Forest Green Rovers. Check the twitter account @ytfcacademy for further details in due course.
On a side note, there has been plenty to celebrate in recent weeks within the U18s and EDPD set-up. Competing as Yeovil College in the South West Regionals 7-a-side tournament, a team made up of core players from the U18s squad went unbeaten to win the competition and qualify for the College Nationals which will take place in April in Nottingham. Congratulations also to goalkeeper Callum Smalley and left back Oliver Haste who have qualified through the first phase of respective school boy and ECFA trials.