By Matt Partridge
Young Glovers win opening game of 2022 with a 4-1 result against Wimborne Town
A new-look Yeovil Town U18s took the field at Alvington under the guidance of head coach Matt Percival, who has taken the reins following the departure of Mark Challen in late December. It was a winning start for the home team, with a comfortable 4-1 win over Wimborne Town which sees the Young Glovers take a winning record into the second half of the season.
Setting up with a 4-1-4-1 formation, the home side signalled their intent early with some fine interplay in midfield during an attacking opening spell. The opening goal came in the 12th minute after some good pressing from Benjani Jr presented the ball to Hodges out wide who was able to pick out the advancing John to slam home, 1-0.
In a rare attack, Wimborne had an early opportunity to equalise but a shot from the edge of the box drew a fine low save from the returning Callum Smalley in goal.
Yeovil continued to dominate possession and Graziano was beginning to dictate play from a deep-lying midfield role. Benjani Jr and Borges combined to set up John, who’s shot was saved at the near post, before Graziano crossed for Borges who shot straight at the keeper when well placed. The pressure told in the 40th minute when Graziano won a free-kick on the edge of the box and duly floated a delivery to the back post where Haste was on hand to send a towering header inside the far post, 2-0.
To their credit, Wimborne responded well to this setback and grabbed a late first half goal when the young striker struck a low shot past Smalley to make it 2-1.
Yeovil started the second half in positive fashion and grabbed a third goal in the 52nd minute when John, who was impressive throughout down the right flank, beat his man and crossed for Hodges to side-foot home to make it 3-1.
The home side continued to look largely untroubled at the back with Ridout and Haste providing a solid central defensive partnership. Borges, Benajni Jr and Graziano continued to work hard in midfield and put together some fine runs driving Wimborne back, with a decent final ball often the only thing missing from this period of play. John and Bateson then saw shots untrouble the visiting keeper as the match headed into the final quarter.
Percival made a series of changes, giving the whole squad a run out and chance to impress with Hollard coming on for Smalley in goal and Zold, Gould, Goddard and debutant Liu entering the fray. England College player Haste was on-hand, following a corner, to grab his second and Yeovil’s fourth in the 75th minute as the game entered the final stages. A 4-1 home win was the final score as the Young Glovers secured their 5th league win to kickstart the new year.
Team: 1 – Smalley, 2 – Hunter, 3 – Sutton, 5 – Ridout, 6 – Haste, 7 – John, 8 – Borges, 9 – Hodges, 10 – Benjani Jr, 11 – Bateson, 14 – Graziano © Subs: 12 – Hollard, 15 – Zold, 16 – Gould, 17 – Goddard, 18 – Liu.
Speaking after the game, head coach Matt Percival saw a lot of positives from his young team.
“We’re at the half way point of the season, having now won 5 and lost 4 in the league so it’s about looking to kick on to finish the season strongly.
“I thought at times today we looked really good and we’ve been working hard in training at different ways to break teams down depending on how they set-up and whether they’re pressing high or looking to drop off.“
With some new faces and a change in formation, Percival was pleased with what he saw on the pitch
“Joshua John was excellent today down the right-hand side, regularly isolating the full back.
“Sam Hodges did a great job up front, holding up the ball and linking play and also Jake Graziano played very well in an important deep lying midfield role.“
Looking ahead, Yeovil have plenty to play for in the coming weeks.
“On Wednesday we have a round of 32 knockout-match in the College Cup away at Truro and Penwith College. Then it’s back to league action away at Torquay on Saturday who we’ll also be facing later in the season in the semi-final of the Gary Else cup. In April, competing as Yeovil College, we then have the 7-a-side Nationals to look forward to.“