Yeovil Town U18’s were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Swindon who finished the match with 9 men
The U18s took on Swindon Supermarine at the weekend knowing that a win would take them above their counterparts to 4th in the South West Counties Youth League. Despite the visitors being down to 9 men late in the game, it wasn’t to be and the Glovers will see this as two points squandered with only 4 league matches left to play.
Head coach Matt Percival sent out a changed team from the previous week, with Aidan Skiverton returning to centre-back in place of the absent Max Dyer. Josh John returned to the starting line-up with Kory Retallick missing through injury.
Under bright skies but blustery conditions, the Young Glovers were slow out of the blocks and conceded within 2 minutes when caught in possession in defence. The striker was then able to slot the ball past Callum Smalley in goal to make it 0-1. The home side nearly suffered a further setback and Skiverton was forced to make a goal-line clearance following a short pass back.
With a lead to protect Swindon were able to keep Yeovil at bay during the opening 30 minutes, restricting the home side to half chances with Mason Hunter shooting wide from distance, Finlay Ridout seeing a header drift wide of goal and Charlie Bateson and Joshua John making some penetrating runs down the wings but seeing any opportunities snuffed out. The visitors were compact and well-organised in defence but looking a threat on the counter-attack as the half drew to a close.
Swindon began the second half as they finished the first and Yeovil were indebted to a fine save from Smalley in the 55th minute who stood up strong to block a shot from the advancing striker. This warning seemed to sting the Glovers into action and they created their best chance of the match to date when, in the 60th minute, a pass from Hunter fell to John who was free on the right but saw his shot sail over from 12 yards
The home side were beginning to get a grip of the game in the midfield and got their equaliser in the 70th minute when Benjani Jr won possession 30 yards out and drove toward goal. Having seen his initial shot saved, the youngster continued his run and was in the right place to fire home the rebound, 1-1.
Percival sent on Rio Mapletoft for Bateson for the final twenty minutes as the Young Glovers went after the win. A second goal nearly came following their best move of the game; Skiverton confidently brought the ball out of defence and the midfield worked the ball up the left before John saw his close-range effort blocked by the keeper. Shortly after, a delicious ball from the right by Jake Graziano was swung over to the back post but Mapletoft couldn’t apply the final touch.
With twelve minutes to go, Swindon lost their striker to injury and were down to ten men with no available subs to bring on. Tamas Zold came on for John, Edward Gould came on for Josh Sutton and Bateson returned to the fray in place of Sam Hodges as Yeovil sought that elusive winner. Their chances seemed to improve in the 83rd minute when Bateson was through on goal but hauled down by the last defender. A subsequent red card put Swindon down to 9 men but the free kick came to nothing. Despite the pressure, Swindon held firm for the final minutes to grind out the draw that keeps them 4th in the league, one place above Yeovil.
The team now switch their attention to a semi-final tie in the Gary Else Cup on Saturday 4th March when they travel to high-flying Torquay United.
Team: 1 – Callum Smalley, 2 – Callum Deemer, 3 – Josh Sutton, 5 – Finlay Ridout, 6 – Aidan Skiverton, 7 – John John, 8 – Mason Hunter, 9 – Sam Hodges, 10 – Benjani Jr Mwaruwari, 11 – Charlie Bateson, 14 – Jake Graziano © Subs: 15 – Tamas Zold, 16 – Rio Mapletoft and 17 Edward Gould