SWINDON Town’s class eventually shone through as the club’s youth team beat Shrivenham 4-2 on Tuesday night.
The Robins youngsters kept the ball well and moved play around with ease against their Hellenic League opponents who, to their credit, battled for the entire 90 minutes and threatened their visitors at times.
Powerful forward Josh Cooke scored a brace for the visitors with Will Randall and Lee Marshall also finding the net – the latter with the pick of the goals as he chipped Shrivvy keeper Stewart Thompson from the edge of the area.
Sam Packer had levelled the game for the hosts, but with Randall, Tom Smith and Callum McCormick pulling the strings, Town always had too much, although Matty Bown did pull a good goal back as time ran out.
The Town youngsters played with three at the back against the non-leaguers and look set to use the new formation throughout the coming season, with academy director Jeremy Newton pleased with their display.
“We’ve got a new formation with the three at the back and that’s probably the way we will go for the new season, although obviously we can change that accordingly,” he said.
“The boys looked really sharp which was good to see and they worked hard for each other, which is what we really wanted.We played well and got some minutes in their legs which is important at this stage and we didn’t pick up any injuries which was good.”
After dominating the opening exchanges, Town’s first chance came as Callum McCormick arrived late in the box but he could only fire his effort wide of the mark, before a driven cross from Matty Evans forced Mani Randhawa to head over his own bar.
Lee Marshall had a shot cleared off the line and Ryan Wood headed over the top, before Swindon had the lead their early dominance deserved as Cooke headed home with the aid of a deflection of a Shrivenham player.
After slipping behind, the hosts began to work their way into the contest, despite not seeing an awful lot of the ball, and they were soon rewarded for their efforts as Sam Packer broke the offside trap and rounded Town keeper Aaron Moody to score.
Josh Fowler fired wide for Shrivvy and Town’s Cooke fired an effort straight at home keeper Stewart Thompson before the first half ended, but within minutes of the second period getting underway the visitors were well in control.
First, Randall rounded Thompson to slot home to give Town the lead, before Marshall produced a sublime effort to chip the Shrivvy keeper from the edge of the box.
Randall dragged another effort wide as he continued to assert himself on the contest, before Cooke doubled his own personal tally as he connected with a cross from pacey schoolboy substitute Tyreke Johnson.
Amir Gied had a header ruled out for offside for the visitors, before Bown’s consolation completed the scoring.
Despite ending on the losing side, Shirvenham boss Sam Collier was relatively happy with the display.
“We’ve only had two sessions so we always knew it was going to be tough, because they kept the ball well and I was really impressed with them,” he said. “We did what we wanted, worked hard and scored a good couple of goals so I’m pretty pleased with the lads.”