28th November 2022

By Matt Partridge

Charlie Bateson’s early strike was enough for Yeovil Town Under-18’s to see off defending league champions Torquay United in an outstanding home performance at Alvington. 

Seeking a 5th successive league win, the Young Glovers knew they would have to put together a solid all-round performance to keep out the previously unbeaten visitors from South Devon. 

Setting up with a familiar 3-5-2 formation, Aidan Skiverton returned from injury to slot in at centre-back to replace the unfortunate Jacob Shore who, himself, suffered an injury in training earlier in the week. Josh Haskett started up front alongside leading scorer Bateson as Alex Stevens continues his return to fitness. 

Yeovil started strongly and took the lead in the 3rd minute when Bateson was quick onto a through ball and lashed a shot into the top corner despite the keeper’s best efforts, 1-0. 

Despite the blustery conditions, the game was being played at a level of high intensity and the central midfield pairing of Sam Hodges and skipper Jake Graziano were in a combative mood, snapping into tackles and preventing the visitors from having time or space to create any opportunities. 

Bateson and Haskett were industrious up front and utilised the advancing wing backs which nearly led to a second goal; Max Dyer’s cross from the left teeing up Mason Hunter who narrowly failed to get his shot away. 

As the half drew to a close, Torquay applied some pressure with a series of corners and possession up the pitch but Rob Hollard remained largely untroubled in goal and the home side took a deserved lead into the break. 

United manager and former Glover, Ryan Dickson, demanded an improved effort from his young side at the break and they created an early chance which Hollard managed to tip over. Not to be outdone, Yeovil went up the other end and Ethan O’Sullivan saw a shot well saved before Bateson had a header fly just over. 

Yeovil made their first change early in the second half with returning striker Benjani Junior replacing Bateson up front on 55 minutes. 

In a frantic spell, both sides picked up bookings as the battle for midfield supremacy heated up and Torquay had their best chance of the match when in the 65th minute the striker met a cross from the right but saw his shot sail over from 10 yards out. Seconds later Yeovil centre-back Harrison Foster fired in an opportunistic effort from 20 yards which clipped the bar and ran to safety. 

With 10 minutes remaining Hodges had to depart with an injury and Josh Sutton was sent on as the Young Glovers sought to preserve the lead. Torquay pressed in the final minutes and a characteristic and heroic clearance from Graziano resulted in a temporary halt as the skipper received treatment. 

Jack Clark came on for his home debut to replace Mason Alden in the final stages, before Benjani Junior had a chance to wrap it up but saw his effort blocked by the keeper. 

With resilient, determined and brave performances all across the field, Yeovil held on for a deserved win and claimed an impressive 5th clean sheet in the league this season. With the upcoming Somerset Men’s Premier Cup tie in mind, the onlooking first team manager, Mark Cooper will have been impressed by the application of the Young Glovers, who next week head to Bridgwater in a Gary Else Cup tie on 3rd December, kick off 10.30

Yeovil Town Under-18’s: 1 – Rob Hollard, 2 – Mason Hunter, 3 – Max Dyer, 5 – Aidan Skiverton, 6 – Harrison Foster, 7 – Sam Hodges 8 – Jake Graziano ©, 9 – Charlie Bateson, 10 – Mason Alden, 11 – Josh Haskett and 14 – Ethan O’Sullivan Subs: 12 – Dan Young, 15 – Jack Clark, 16 – Josh Sutton and 17 Benjani Junior. 

Team Manager, Matt Percival, was on-hand after the match to offer his views on this statement win. 

“They (Torquay) are a great side with a really good college programme. A couple of their lads made the England College team this season and so today was a great result for us. After the early goal we set-up to frustrate them and made it difficult for them to break us down.” 

After a 5th successive league win and 5th clean sheet for the season, Percival is starting to see some consistency and impressive performances from his young squad. 

“The lads have been working really hard to put this run together and we’ve beaten some very strong teams, so credit to them. The defensive unit is really starting to gel nicely now and I’ve also been impressed with the first-year players, of which we had 5 or 6 out there today. Players are really starting to understand their roles within the team and adopt the standards which we set within the squad.” 

December will be a busy month for the squad as they look to end the calendar year on a high. 

“We’re away at Bridgwater next week in the Gary Else Cup and then we’re hopeful we might have some involvement in the upcoming Somerset Men’s Premier Cup fixture before a return to league fixtures later in the month.”