Yeovil Town manager Mark Cooper is dreaming of one of the game’s big boys coming to Huish Park in the third round of the FA Cup.

The boss saw his side book their place in Round 1 with a 2-0 win over National League side Southend United and they will be Ball 71 in tomorrow’s draw – televised on ITV1 at 2.30pm – with the likes of Derby County and Portsmouth among the possible opponents.

But, with an eye on progressing in the competition, Cooper admitted his preference would be to one of the smaller sides left in the draw on home soil on November 4, when the tie will be played.

Speaking to BBC Somerset’s Sheridan Robins after the match, Cooper said: “You can get your Derby’s or your Portsmouth’s, but I would love to get to the third round and get a real big one.

For that to happen, we need a bit of luck with the draw. I have not seen any results, but I would like one of those lower than us at home. I’m not taking anything for granted but I would love to get to the third round.

Having gone ahead after just two minutes thanks to a stunning strike from defender Jake Wannell, the Glovers had to withstand an onslaught from a Southend side which have won seven of their opening matches in the division above and only sit fifth-from-bottom virtue of a ten-point deduction due to their well-documented off-the-field issues.

Cooper said: “We had a really good start and got a goal in front against a really good team who ask questions of you with the way they play.

So we had to be a bit different structurally with the way we changed three or four times in the first 20 minutes to get us a bit more comfortable out of possession.

Once we went to a back five and got some help in front of our full-backs so they weren’t one-v-one all the time.
They had plenty of the ball, but I thought we looked comfortably structurally and defensively.

For the second consecutive week, the boss praised his players for delivering the type of performance he and his coaching staff had worked with them on in training during the week, including seeking to nullify Southend’s top scorer Harry Cardwell, who has eleven goals already this season.

Cooper said: “We did a lot of work on defending crosses because they are lethal with  Cardwell. We had a set way with how we had to defend against him and trying to make sure crosses with in-swingers rather than from the byline that he could attack.

They were more difficult (crosses) for him to get power on and we gave Joe Day more room to come and work in and I think you saw Joe come and claim or punch a lot of balls in that area we had left clear.

Defensively as a group we defended deeper, but we always looked at threat (on the counter attack). The second goal was a clinical counter attack.”

Jake Wannell.
Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

Wannell, who scored his fourth goal with a thunderous early strike, was singled out for praise, with the boss adding: “He was brilliant today. He has never really been coached at any real level and he’s starting to show the work myself, Toddy (assistant manager, Chris Todd), and Marcus (Stewart, striker coach) have done with him.

He’s starting to pick it up and he looks an accomplished defender now and obviously he has added goals to his game as well.

Having deservedly gone in a goal up at half-time, Yeovil were faced with another attacking onslaught from the visitors and were indebted to a couple of important stops from ‘keeper Day before Jordan Young added a second on 67 minutes.

Cooper said: “Defensively as a group we defended deeper (in the second half), but we always looked at threat (on the counter attack). The second goal was a clinical counter attack.

Jordan got his confidence and a bit of arrogance about him, which I love. He has to be like that because he is really difficult to play against, he has such a low centre of gravity and twists and turns and he can be really pleased.

The pleasing thing with him is he is looking like he can last games now whereas before he was 60 minutes and he got cramp and now he looks really robust.

Jordan Young now has five goals this season. Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

With Huish Park still celebrating the second goal, the manager withdrew top scorer Rhys Murphy and Will Dawes, replacing them with Jordan Stevens and Bristol City loanee Zac Bell, as he sought to close out the game. On 83 minutes, club captain Josh Staunton replaced Frank Nouble to added even greater defensive solidity to the side.

Cooper said: “If you are 2-0 up, until there is a minute left you never feel safe. We put Jordan (Stevens) on because Frank (Nouble) and Murph (Rhys Murphy) had run themselves in to the ground.

It was important we always a threat and we had Jordan late on to give us that pace and we put Belly (Zac Bell) on to look after their best player, their left winger, Jack Bridge.

Then we put Michael Smith just in front of him and then Staunts (Josh Staunton) comes on to make sure we don’t concede from any crosses in to the box and he positions himself well in the six-yard box.

The victory stretched the club’s winning run to seven matches (eight if you count the midweek Somerset Men’s Premier Cup win at Keynsham Town, which is a first-team fixture), a fact which was not lost on the manager.

He takes them to Worthing, who are sat fifth in the National League South table and put second-placed Bath City out of the FA Cup today, next weekend.

Cooper said: “That is seven (wins) on the trot. I don’t care what level you are at, it still takes an awful lot of doing, so full credit to the players and fans and everybody connected with the club.

Today was the culmination of a lot of things and I think we are starting to show what we are really about as a club.
It is such a strong structural performance we looked a difficult side to play against.

You can listen to the full interview between Sheridan and the gaffer here

Mark Cooper also spoke to the club’s official YouTube, which you can watch here

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