5th February 2023

By Matt Partridge

Charlie Bateson continued his hot scoring streak as Yeovil Town Under-18’s edged out Wimborne Town Under-18’s in 4-3 cup thriller.

The Young Glovers knew they had to get a win to preserve their chances of progressing in this season’s Gary Else Cup and came out on top against their Dorset rivals, showing great desire and determination in a thrilling encounter at Alvington. 

Setting up with their customary 3-5-2 formation, the home team saw Josh Sutton slot into the right side of defence in place of the suspended Ethan O’Sullivan. Jordan Witcombe (goalkeeper) and Mikey Archibald (right-wing back) were given home debuts and Jack Bareham got the start in central midfield with Mason Hunter missing out through injury. In something of a new-look squad, the Young Glovers were having to shuffle the pack following the loan deals for Rob Hollard and Sam Hodges (to Gillingham Town) and Benjani Jr and Jake Graziano (to Sherborne Town). 

Wimborne Town came into the match in fine form, having dismantled high-flying Bridgwater Town 5-1 in the cup a few weeks earlier, and took a 7th minute lead when an initial shot was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Witcombe before the striker reacted quickest to put the visitors up 1-0. 

Yeovil looked a little rattled early on and nearly went two down when Jacob Shore misjudged a header allowing the advancing striker to crash a shot off the bar in the 10th minute. 

Fresh from a hat trick in the previous week’s friendly at Sherborne Boys, striker Bateson hauled the home side level in the 12th minute after great work down the left from Alex Stevens, 1-1. 

With barely time to take a breath, Wimborne retook the lead when their powerful number 9 let fly from distance and saw his low shot nestle in the bottom corner with Witcombe beaten, 1-2. 

Bateson showed his class moments later after Harrison Foster played a long ball out from defence. The striker took the ball perfectly in his stride before finishing smoothly past the advancing keeper to make it 2-2 in the 18th minute.  

However, once again Wimborne seized the initiative and went 3-2 up with a back post header following a corner in the 24th minute. 

Bateson though would not be outdone and grabbed his hat trick just three minutes later when he latched onto a through ball down the left and danced around the keeper before slotting home the equaliser, 3-3. The home crowd were certainly getting their money’s worth in terms of entertainment! 

The chances kept coming for both teams as the half drew to a close with Bateson denied by an outstretched goalkeeper’s leg and then Max Dyer seeing his shot well saved from a good position. 

As the side left for the dressing room it was clear that manager Matt Percival was happy with the attacking football on display, but would need an improved rear-guard action from the backline to secure the much-needed win. 

Soon after the restart Bateson was again the main threat seeing two chances well saved after more fine industry from Stevens in midfield. The defence grew in confidence as the second half progressed, limiting the opposition to half chances and snuffing out any danger with a more resolute performance. Harry Lock came on for Archibald in the wing back position and Bareham and Mason Alden were beginning to dictate matters in midfield with the latter going on an impressive run in the 65th minute before seeing his shot fly over.  

The home side were pressing for a winner, with Bateson denied further goals by two offside decisions, before a great opportunity arose when the Young Glovers won a penalty in the 71st minute. Defender Shore stepped up to take responsibility and confidently dispatched his spot-kick low to the keeper’s right to make it 4-3. 

In the closing minutes Josh Haskett, who had put in a very industrious performance up front, saw a shot fire just wide. Filip Nowak came on in defence to replace Sutton and help shore up the backline and Yeovil comfortably held on to get the three points. 

After the match we caught up with manager Percival for an update on the season. 

“It is a bit of a new-look squad now with some of our second year students having made the move up to men’s football. We only had two second year players out there today but the first years are stepping up well and this is all part of their development”. 

And he was pleased, on the whole, with today’s performance. 

“Wimborne are a good side and have improved since we last played them. They are opportunistic and will punish you if you make a mistake, so we needed to be a little more diligent in the first half defending our box. Credit to the lads though as they came back well each time. Charlie Bateson was excellent today, very clinical, and Jacob Shore had a strong second half, showing good aggression and desire since his return from injury”. 

Looking ahead, it’s a big week for the squad. 

“We’ve got Boreham Wood in the National League Cup on Wednesday. It’ll be great for the lads to be able to play at Huish Park and a good step in their development. Then on Saturday we’re away at Torquay which will be a tricky game. There’s a bit of pressure on us as we need to get a result, but we’re looking forward to it”. 

Team: 1 – Jordan Witcombe, 2 – Mikey Archibald, 3 – Max Dyer ©, 5 – Jacob shore, 6 – Harrison Foster, 7 – Mason Alden, 8 – Jack Bareham, 9 – Charlie Bateson, 10 – Alex Stevens, 11 – Josh Haskett, 14 – Josh Sutton  Subs: 15 – Harry Lock and 16 – Filip Nowak 

The U18s are next in action on Wednesday when they host Boreham Wood in the quarter finals of the National League Cup. The match will be held at Huish Park with a 12pm kick off. Next Saturday the Young Glovers then travel to Torquay United in their final Gary Else Cup fixture to determine whether they will progress to the semi-finals.