Young Glovers produce an outstanding performance to upset the unbeaten defending champions Mangotsfield United with a 2-1 win at Alvington
After a difficult spell, which saw them exit the FA Youth Cup and suffer a disappointing loss to Swindon Supermarine in the league, the U18s were keen to roll up their sleeves and get back to work on the pitch. With many from the squad involved in the 5-2 victory over South Devon College in the College Cup match on October 6th, focus now fell on a visit from high-flying Mangotsfield United in the league.
The Young Glovers were able to welcome back Armstrong and Skiverton after recent injury and gave a debut to new signing Jack Sheppard in the centre of midfield.
The first real chance of the game fell to Mangotsfield after a cross from the right led to a shot which was comfortably saved by Smalley. Yeovil were growing into the game and on 15 minutes Haste made a bursting run up the left, playing a nice one-two with Andrews before being fouled in the box. Benjani Jr stepped up to take the penalty, looking to add to his midweek brace, but saw his effort well saved. A pivotal moment which could have seen heads drop proved something of a catalyst as Yeovil pressed forward creating a host of chances; Borges setting up Deemer whose shot was saved at the near post, a delightful flick pass from Graziano presenting an opportunity for Borges and an effort following a corner which rebounded off the crossbar.
In the midst of this the Young Glovers were forced into a change with Armstrong being forced off after a collision and being replaced by Dyer at the back. As the half drew to a close, the home side were indebted to a fine block from Graziano on the edge of the box as Mangotsfield threatened.
Yeovil were quick to get on the front foot early in the second half and saw a free kick from Andrews narrowly escape a final touch from Haste. Deemer then charged forward up the right and presented Borges with a great chance but the resulting shot was saved by the outstretched leg of the visiting keeper. The Young Glovers persisted with a high tempo passing and pressing game and got a deserved opening goal when Lye headed on from a corner and Benjani Jr. nipped in to stab the ball home, 1-0.
The visitors gathered themselves and put in a sustained spell of pressure winning several corners and then forcing Smalley into an outstanding save to help preserve the lead. Hodges came on for Borges in support of Skiverton up front and Yeovil continued to rack up the chances with another great run and shot from Haste which was saved down low and a shot from distance from Sheppard which sailed over.
In the 80th minute Yeovil grabbed their second goal after a corner from Andrews fell to Skiverton who smashed the ball home from 10 yards, 2-0.
Mangotsfield pressed for a way back into the game, but Yeovil were still the team on top with Haste and Graziano combining to set-up a good chance for Benjani and then Skiverton flicking on for Hodges whose shot was easily saved. The home side sent on Hunter for Deemer in the closing minutes before Mangotsfield grabbed a late consolation goal with a good finish after the ball broke loose, 2-1.
The Young Glovers kept their heads in a frantic finish and secured a well-deserved and pleasing victory.
Team: Smalley (GK), Deemer, Haste, Armstrong, Lye, Andrews, Graziano ©, Sheppard, Benjani Jr, Borges and Skiverton. Subs: Hollard, Hodges, Hunter and Dyer
After a performance that combined penetrating fast-paced football with a combative desire to battle in all areas of the pitch, Manager Mark Challen was quick to reflect on both the match and the merits of the Elite Player Development Programme: “We’re very pleased with the performance and the reaction after a difficult week. We’ve got schoolboys and players new to the system stepping up, and part of the success of the programme is about developing good character amongst the players.
“It’s a bit of a hybrid model as we’re preparing the schoolboys for next year when they’ll be studying and training with us every day and continuing to develop the first-year students who we’ve been tracking since our academy days and the second-year players who were part of last season’s Youth Alliance campaign.
“We are also always on the lookout for players with game-craft and who can deal well with pressurised situations, and it was a very pleasing debut today for Jack Sheppard who we’ve been tracking for a short period”.
Next up: Yeovil travel to face established Youth Alliance side AFC Bournemouth in a friendly on October 16th.
Report by Matt Partridge