As part of the build-up to Saturday afternoon's League Two match against Forest Green Rovers at Huish Park, Yeovil Town manager Darren Way spoke to the BBC. With questions from BBC Somerset reporter Dan Albutt, Darren gives his views on the two week break from football, his side's recent form, recent dissent at Huish Park from fans, and the challenge he thinks Forest Green will provide. Read that interview via the link below.
Yeovil Town Under-18s are having a successful season this year, with a number of players starting to show strong qualities that provide some hope for the club's Academy system that was reformed three-and-a-half years ago. They currently lie in third place in the South West Youth Alliance, behind leaders Oxford United and second placed AFC Bournemouth, in what will almost certainly become their best finish for the main league since the relaunch.
They are also getting the plaudits from the League Football Education body, which is a joint venture by the PFA and the Football League. In their November 2018 Goal Of The Month selection, they include three of Yeovil Town's goals. First up in the video below is Devon Arnold's long range shot into the roof of the net against Swindon Town. They then feature the FA Youth Cup strike from Gabriel Rogers against Cambridge United. The three minute video also returns to the Swindon Town game right at the end, with a first time volley from Declan Rose also included. Watch the video below.
Yeovil Town manager Darren Way has said that he has two of his strikers back 'running' on the training ground again, after both suffered injuries last month. Alex Fisher suffered a groin injury, whilst Olufela Olomola had a hamstring strain during the November FA Cup defeat against Stockport County. During the two-and-a-half matches that have followed since both limped off during the first half of that cup match, the Glovers have not scored a goal and have lost all three games.
The initial prognosis on both players just before the Macclesfield Town match was that they would be out for around two-to-three weeks, which might make Saturday's match against Forest Green Rovers a little too early for them to return. Way tends to hint in that direction, with his mention of 'running' stopping short of stating that they were in full training this week. He explained to BBC Somerset their situation:
"We're looking good. Alex Fisher is back running, which is nice to see. Olufela Olomola is back running - again, because I think we've missed those two forwards as a front line. The two centre-halves, as far as Gary Warren is concerned he's back now. Omar Sowunmi is getting there. So the spine of the team is really important, and we need that as soon as possible."
Defender Omar Sowunmi is expected to return sometime around the end of the year. There is still no firm comeback date for midfielder James Bailey's comeback from a knee injury he sustained on Boxing Day 2017. Goalkeeper Nathan Baxter had a hip-flexor problem two weeks ago that saw him return to Chelsea for treatment, but that was only expected to see him absent for around three or four days. There is a question mark over defender Bevis Mugabi, who went off with a shoulder injury during the last League Two match, with no questions asked as to his current fitness.
Way's side are currently on a run of just one win in eleven League Two matches, stretching across two-and-a-half months worth of football. On top of that came the club's early exit from the FA Cup. With the last game against Port Vale producing what many fans saw as the club's worst performance of the season, concern has been raised by fans, with a number showing dissent during the last three fixtures. Way believes it's the first time his side has ever experienced bad form:
"I just feel it's probably been the first time this squad has faced bad form. But I've had to remind the players that the run of form we had at the start of the season was very good. I said to them that they've created history. I think in the last game there was a confidence issue, and I want to make sure that this group, from winning 6-0 at Newport and winning 4-0 at Notts County, and I know we have had one or two injuries, but I want to make sure they keep believing in themselves. I've taken a lot of the bullets, and making sure that the players see a leader. That's one thing that I'll continue to do. It's not the first time I've been booed. I think I got booed when I got appointed. So those same individuals perhaps find their frustrations towards me. I understand it, because that's football."
League One side Blackpool have played down online claims that they are looking to target a deal for Yeovil Town winger Wes McDonald. The report was made by national sports website HITC, who also named League One side Blackpool, alongside fellow League One side Bradford City and League Two side Colchester United. The HITC report from Tuesday stated that all three clubs were trying to recruit the former Birmingham City Academy player, who is out of contract in January 2019.
Blackpool first team manager Terry McPhillips knows McDonald well, as he was the assistant manager to Gary Bowyer when the winger turned up to a pre-season trial at Bloomfield Road. His exit from that trial was the spark for Yeovil Town to take him on for their own pre-season trial, which turned into a half-season deal.
McPhillips had confirmed that he saw McDonald in action over the summer, but has told the Blackpool Gazette that he has not had any further contact with McDonald or his agent since their decision to part company:
"Wes came here in pre-season and we liked him. Last season he did really well for Birmingham U23s. He's a diminutive, quick winger and he's a good lad. He's got an eye for a goal too. But no, not really. We had a chance to sign him back then and to be fair to him he just missed out. It was close as close can be. The answer is no, because we haven't done any work on Wes. I know his agent so I'm not sure where it has come from. But he's a great lad, he's a good player and I won't be surprised to see him go on again."
The Blackpool manager's recollection of the summer decision-making contradicts HITC's account, which claimed that Blackpool were interested in signing him, but that no deal was agreed. McPhillips appears to suggest that he had 'missed out' on a deal, rather than not been able to agree one.
Assuming Blackpool are playing this one with a straight bat, it would once again point to HITC being primed by a player's agent, or similar source, in an attempt to drum up interest, rather than that interest actually being there. That said, McDonald only has a month left on his Yeovil Town contract, meaning that his future at the club does need to be resolved.
Yeovil Town have given a first professional contract to Academy full-back Daniel Ojo. The defender becomes the second player to be signed on professional terms, with Gabriel Rogers having been given a contract yesterday. Like Rogers, he has been given a deal that lasts until June 2021 - a two-and-a-half year term.
Ojo has made one appearance for the first team so far, starting in the EFL Trophy Group Stage match against West Ham United Under-21s, but has sat on the bench on three other occasions, with the September match at Crawley Town representing the one time he was named on a League Two teamsheet.
He is a former Charlton Athletic Academy player who was brought into the club eighteen months ago, as part of their scholarship programme. He generally plays as a left-back in the Under-18s side. Daniel has said of his new deal:
""It's an honour for me to sign a professional contract and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue improving. I've loved my time so far at Yeovil and this is the next step in the journey for me. The gaffer has been great with me and it's time now to repay the faith. I've got to keep working hard every day and hopefully, get as much game time as possible."
The best of luck to him and Gabriel over the coming two-and-a-half years.
Yeovil Town Reserves went out of the Somerset Premier Cup on Tuesday night, as Western League Premier Division team Shepton Mallet gained a comfortable victory. In a match that had been switched from Huish Park to Shepton's Playing Fields, the Glovers fielded a side entirely drawn from their Academy set-up, with the majority taken from their Under-18s line-up.
Shepton got their noses in front 35 minutes into the match when Kailan Gould produced a lobbed shot that gave the home side a half time lead. They then extended their lead in the second period through Francois Callen and James Billing to win the match 3-0. Yeovil's side was missing a few players through injury, whilst the exclusion of Gabriel Rogers and Daniel Ojo, and the use of Tyrique Spencer-Clarke as a bench warmer was presumably down to the trio's first team squad duties. As such the squad selected omitted some of the Academy's more talented players, and that won't have helped their cause.
Final Score: Shepton Mallet 3 Yeovil Town Reserves 0.
[Yeovil Town drawn at home but match switched to the Playing Fields, Shepton.]
Yeovil Town winger Wes McDonald is being linked with a trio of Football League clubs, in the first entry onto the rumourmill for the turn of the year. The former Birmingham City academy product is supposedly being chased by League One sides Bradford City and Blackpool along with League Two side Colchester United. The reports are carried by hit'n'miss national sports website HITC, who claim their reports come "from sources close to the club".
McDonald is known to be only at Huish Park on a short term contract, that runs until January 2019, and so would be able to seek a new club once his current deal expires. As yet Yeovil Town have not extended those arrangements, despite him having made 11 appearances for the club so far. The exact expiry date of his half-year contract wasn't publicised at the time of his signing, but in the past such deals have run far enough to take in the New Year's Day fixture, and then end.
The claim that Blackpool are interested may go back as far as a trial that McDonald had for the Tangerines over the summer. At that time they were managed by Gary Bowyer, and Glovers boss Darren Way said he made his move after Bowyer decided not to offer a deal. Since then, Bowyer has left the club and his assistant Terry McPhillips, who presumably would have viewed McDonald's trial, has taken over the reins.
Bradford City would have had some scouting reports sent to them during the first half of the season, given that Omari Patrick is on loan at Huish Park, and that may have resulted in McDonald's presence in the Glovers line-up being mentioned. Patrick's loan future is also up in January, and with the Bantams currently at the bottom of League One, they need fresh blood. Colchester United's claimed interest might have stemmed from general League Two scouting knowledge. McDonald did not play in the 3-1 defeat at the Community Stadium in early October as he was halfway through a two-month lay-off, having suffered a hamstring strain at the tail end of August.
Of course it's worth noting that HITC's track record is very sporadic. They were the website that claimed that Darren Way was being lined up for the vacancies at Shrewsbury Town (in October 2016) and Oldham Athletic (in September 2017), but neither materialised into anything that looked like a concrete approach.
They were also the outlet that penned a huge number of articles on Tom James over the summer, linking him with a myriad of clubs, none of which included the actual bid that was known to eventually be lodged by West Bromwich Albion in August. As such, we'd take the above with a huge pinch of salt, even if the trio of clubs listed would tend to be realistic for the winger to be connected with.
As expected, Yeovil Town's squad that is playing against Shepton Mallet in the Somerset Premier Cup tonight, is formed entirely from the club's Academy Under-18 side. The Glovers are playing a Second Round tie that is technically a home match, but has been switched to Shepton's Playing Fields ground instead, with Yeovil conceding home advantage.
The team chosen for the match can be confirmed as follows:
Yeovil Town: 1. Kacper Kowalczyk 2. Lewis Dix 3. Tom Hayes 4. Hong Wan 5. Anele Ncube 6. Declan Rose 7. Kelvin Lichowe 8. Callum Watts 9. Devon Arnold 10. Daniel Neild 11. George Calverley
Subs: 12. Harvey Wilkinson 14. Tyrique Spencer-Clarke 15. Tai Fleming 16. Alex John
The names of Tommy Scott, Daniel Ojo, Sam Wright, Hong Wan, Harry Haughton, Nestor Shako, Gabriel Rogers, Archie Sturdy and Neville Nzembela are listed on the squad sheet for the Shepton Mallet programme but do not appear on the final teamsheet.
Jamie Harrison is named as tonight's manager. The game will be played without any extra time - if scores are level after 90 minutes, the game will go immediately to penalties.
The Green and White Supporters Club have set their travel plans for the League Two match against Cambridge United. The match takes place at the Abbey Stadium on Saturday 15th December 2018, with a 3.00p.m. kick-off. Departure times and prices are listed as follows:
Cambridge United : Saturday 15th December 2018. Huish Park: 8.00a.m. Adult Members: £28.00; Member Concessions: £26.00 Adult Non-Members: £30.00; Non-Member Concessions: £28.00
To place your booking, send a text message to Paul Hadlow on 07736 044570. If you want to call him please only do so after 6.00p.m. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember in all cases to ensure you make clear which match you are booking for, your full name (and any other names you are booking for) and a contact telephone number. You may be asked to pay a deposit of £5.00 to reserve your seat for the trip.
The Football League is holding a Fans Forum next week to discuss the EFL Trophy competition. The meeting will take place at Wembley Stadium on Monday 10th December 2018 and will feature a panel that includes League Chief Executive Shaun Harvey as well as other interested parties such as managers, players and Club CEOs. The event is starting at 7.00p.m. with doors opening an hour earlier, and is invite only.
They are also allowing a limited number of supporters to attend the event. The League have allowed for up to six fans from each of the 48 participating clubs. Some clubs appear to have put out messages asking fans to volunteer to attend, whilst others have selected representatives from within their supporters groups. The EFL's expectations are that the fans representatives will be sourced from either a known or official supporters group. The implication is that any fan attending will have to pay their own travel costs.
At present, there isn't much detail about what the format of the forum will be. However, it's likely that the League are looking for constructive suggestions on how the competition could be improved, with the inclusion of EPPP Category One Academy Under-21 sides having raised hackles with fans, whilst the elongated Group Stages have seen crowds plummet, with several clubs admitting that they were recording an operational loss on staging the ties, saved only by an increased prize fund pot from sponsors Checkatrade, and a commitment by the EFL to underwrite any losses clubs incur in staging ties with ultra-low crowds.
The deadline for participants wanting to attend this forum is today. It's not clear how Yeovil Town's own fans' representation at the event is being selected, or if the Glovers plan to send any officials to have their voices heard.
Tuesday evening sees Yeovil Town play their Somerset Premier Cup Second Round match against Western League Premier Division side Shepton Mallet. The match was drawn as a home game for the Glovers, but they have conceded the advantage and will play at Shepton's Playing Fields ground, with a 7.30p.m. kick-off on Tuesday 4th December. This is situated at the following address:
Address: Playing Fields, Old Wells Road, West Shepton, Shepton Mallet. BA4 5XN
The ground is situated on the west side of Shepton, just off the B3136. Most fans travelling from Yeovil will travel up the A37 and continue past the A361 and the right-hand A371 junction that lie just south of Shepton, staying northbound on the A37. Just as you approach the edge of the town, take the first exit off a roundabout, signposted A371 towards Wells, taking you into Cannard's Grave Road.
At the next roundabout take the second exit onto the B3136 towards Glastonbury and Wells. Stay on the B3136 as it forks with the A371 again. Turn right at the junction of Old Wells Road near the King William Public House. Approximately 300 yards up the Old Wells Road turn left into the playing fields.
The expectation is that Yeovil Town will field an Academy Under-18s side for this fixture, although this has not been confirmed. A rule change for the 2018-19 Somerset Premier Cup means that the tie will be settled without the use of Extra Time. If the tie is level after 90 minutes, then it will go straight to penalties.
As yet, admission prices haven't been revealed, but for Shepton's league fixtures, Adults get in for £ 6.00, whilst Concessions are available at £4.00. Expect those prices to be the maximum that would be charged on the night.
Yeovil Town supporters seeking to bump up their historical programme collection should take note that there is a large bundle of FA Cup programmes on eBay that are available for bidding this week. A total of 54 programmes are being offered up by an exiled Glovers fan, that can hopefully go to a new home. The collection covers matches between 1957 and 2015, mainly from the club's non-league era.
The eBay listing is described as follows:
"A collection of FA Cup programmes that should be of interest to any football historian, programme collector or Yeovil Town fan. 49 FA Cup programmes featuring Yeovil Town as a non-league club, dating from 1957-58 to 2000-01. As a non-league team, Yeovil beat a record 20 Football League teams in the FA Cup.This collection includes eight of these famous games and two matches where they went on to achieve giant-killings in the replay.
There are four matches as a non-league club against top flight opposition: Arsenal (1970-71), Norwich (1979-80), QPR (1987-88), Arsenal (1992-93). In addition the collection includes 5 FA Cup programmes featuring Yeovil Town as a Football League Club themselves, with three against top flight opposition.
Generally all are in good condition. Some are in mint condition, some have small tears and marks. If you would like to know the condition of a specific programme, please ask."
If you want to bid on the collection, head via the link below. Bidding will close on Saturday 8th December 2018.
Yeovil Town Under-18s player Gabriel Rogers has been given a professional contract by the club. The 17 year old, who is currently a Second Year Scholar within the club's Academy system, has been given a two-and-a-half year deal that will see him on the club's books until June 2021. With the exception of one FA Cup match, he has been named on the club's teamsheet for all first team fixtures this season, and has got onto the pitch on four separate occasions, with one of those coming in a League Two match at Newport County in September.
Rogers becomes the first Academy player to be given a contract with the club since Ollie Bassett was rewarded in December 2015. He is a former Torquay United and Exeter City youth product who came into the club at Under-15 level. He has said of the decision to offer him a full-time deal:
"It's a dream come true to sign my first professional deal and is something I've dreamt about for a long time. I know that the real hard work starts now but I'm looking forward to kicking on and hopefully gaining more experience. The gaffer has been brilliant with me this season and has given me an opportunity, so I'll work as hard as I can to be successful for him and this football club."
With Yeovil Town having experienced yet another blank Saturday, now seems an appropriate time to take stock of the club's situation. On the back of three poor performances and results, the latest Taff's Gloversblog suggests that the Glovers Board should be answering two key questions, whilst this week has also brought further concerns on the subject of attendances. There's also a look forward to January, where once again change is likely to be on the cards. Read that blog via the link below.
League Two side Cambridge United have sacked first team manager Joe Dunne today. The 45 year old former Colchester United boss has been relieved of his position after a total of 40 games in charge, which saw him record 14 wins - an overall win ratio of 35 percent. He leaves Cambridge with them in 21st place in the League Two table and three points above the relegation line.
Cambridge's overall form had been rather flakey. During November, they were knocked out of the FA Cup by National League North side Guiseley by a 4-3 scoreline, and although they won at the start of the month against Grimsby Town, then topped their Checkatrade Trophy Group by beating Colchester United, they were beaten by Crewe Alexandra last weekend. Perhaps where eyebrows might be raised is that they stood in fifth place in a six game form table, having picked up ten points from their last six matches, with their lowly place in the actual table stemming from an earlier poor run of form that had briefly put them in the relegation zone.
Cambridge's Director of Football Graham Daniels has said that lack of consistency is what led their Board to make the change, and his view was that the U's should be higher up the League Table:
"On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Joe for everything he has done for Cambridge United. Results have however dictated the need for change. We believe we have the talent in this squad to be further up the table. Whilst the team has shown its ability in patches during the season we have struggled to find consistency. As a result the Board came to the conclusion that the team would benefit from a change of leadership. We have already started the search to recruit a successor to Joe."
Dunne's assistant Mark Bonner has been given the Caretaker Manager role, with no specific timeline put on recruiting a replacement. Cambridge don't have a game today, with their next match being a Checkatrade Trophy Second Round tie against Northampton Town at the Community Stadium, before resuming League Two activities next Saturday with a trip to Tranmere Rovers.