Yeovil Town boss Mark Cooper admitted the season is “going better than anyone imagined” after seeing his side extend their lead at the top of the National League South to nine points with victory over Farnborough on Tuesday night.

A hat-trick from Jordan Young sealed the result after top scorer Rhys Murphy opened the scoring at Huish Park to stretch the club’s winning run to 14 matches in all competitions.

But, the victory came at a price with defender Jake Wannell limping off in the first half, Young picking up his fifth booking of the season meaning he will miss next Tuesday’s visit to his former club Chippenham Town, and the boss also revealed after the game that he expects midfielder Jordan Stevens to be out for an extended period.

Asked about the form by BBC Somerset’s Sheridan Robins, Cooper said: “It’s probably going better than anyone imagined. To be like that at any level takes some doing and we are really respectful of all the teams we play and I am not sure that went the other way tonight with some of the stuff I witnessed on the sidelines.

But I will say I thought Farnborough were a really good team and caused us problems and good to them – the players – but nine points clear at this stage of the season. We have a lot of work to do.

One assumes there’s no love lost between Cooper and his opposite number, visiting boss Spencer Day, with the pair having some ‘exchanges’ on the touchline during a match which saw some full-blooded tackling.

Jake Wannell goes off with an injury which led to his substitution.

The loss of Wannell after 26 minutes meant Yeovil had to re-organise at the back with the experienced Michael Smith moving in to the middle as on-loan Bristol City full-back Zac Bell filled the vacant right-back berth.

Cooper said: “When you break a partnership which has been together for so many games now and been outstanding it is going to be uncomfortable. You are taking (Wannell’s) height, aggression, aerial ability and left foot off the pitch, and of course it’s going to rock us but Michael Smith looked like he had played there at a top level. Of course, it’s a big miss for us because he’s been outstanding.

Asked why he brought on Bell rather than club captain Josh Staunton, a more natural central defender, the manager said: “We like to defend really high and I wanted to keep us as close to the halfway line as I could when we were out of possession. Belly has got remarkable pace and that meant Michael Smith could get tight and he knew he had Belly’s pace to have him covered.

Zac Bell.
Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

Cooper added: “You are never going to get your ideal line up every game, players are going to have to be flexible but I think it showed we are a little bit open at times. Some of our play was outstanding again, we went 2-0 up and then gave a rubbish goal away right on half-time which I think was a foul on Michael Smith and I said to the players at half time ‘we need to play with the ball and not make it a basketball game.’

We needed to control the game with the ball and make sure we do not let them play to their strength which was running in behind with Smith playing centre back and Dawesy at left-back and I thought for 20 minutes we were brilliant. We controlled the tempo of the game unbelievably well and got to 3-1 and then I probably made a mistake and tried to lock it up and went with three in midfield, one up top and two wide and we couldn’t get to their centre half to stop the ball coming forward. We conceded too many chances when it was 3-1, but then we get the fourth one which finishes the game.

Referee Richard Eley handed out five yellow cards with the first coming to hat-trick hero Young which his manager was less than impressed with. He said: “A ridiculous tackle, that he didn’t need to make, he’s made two horrendous tackles in two games and got booked for both and he didn’t need to do that. We miss a key player (against Chippenham) but someone else gets a chance to step up.

But, the boss did have praise for the 24-year-old whose hat-trick included an outrageous second half free-kick which deceived visiting keeper Jack Turner on its way in off the post.

He said: “Some of his play is above the level and that is why I wanted to bring him to the club and pay a small fee for him because I knew that there was real potential there. You can see that he is far and away above the level.

The Glovers’ attention now turns to the FA Trophy as they prepare to make a quick return to South Devon to take on Gary Johnson’s Torquay United at the weekend.

Cooper admitted that some of the challenges on his players against Farnborough mean he will have to make changes, but insists they will be heading to Plainmoor looking for another win.

He said: “There was a few hefty tackles out there which is football. Frank (Nouble) took a pasting, but he got up and got on with it and he was outstanding tonight. I have nothing but positive things to say about the players, even if we had lost that game I would have been full of admiration with the way we played with an unfamiliar back four. Some of the football we are playing is really good and to be where are at this stage of the season is brilliant for everyone.

We are going to have to rest some players, but whatever team we pick we want to go and win. We don’t want to throw our winning run away. There will be some players playing that have got a point to prove and need to play, so we will be strong but there will be one or two who will not play.

Finally, asked specifically about how long he expects to be without Stevens, who injured his hamstring coming on as a 72nd minute substitute in the 3-1 win at Torquay United last Tuesday, the boss said: “Too long. It’s too many now. We have got to make sure he looks after himself, repairs and strengthens himself because we can’t have three or four hamstring injuries in six months. We can’t afford to be losing players like that for that amount of time.

Jordan Stevens.
Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

Listen to the full interview here:

Watch the Interview with the club here – where Mark Cooper admits he’s trying to ‘bolster’ the defensive ranks at the club.


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Essex Glover
8 months ago

What was Mark’s problem with their manager? His post-match comments about us were
nothing but complimentary.Not sure about winning the league by 25 points though!!

8 months ago
Reply to  Essex Glover

His problem was with a member of the coaching staff rather than the manager. Got a bit feisty on the touchline.

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