Attack, attack, attack! Examining Yeovil’s EIGHT strikers

Despite sitting relatively comfortably in mid-table, Yeovil Town have struggled in front of goal so far this season.

There are only three teams in the league who have hit the back of the net fewer times than the Glovers*, and Darren Way still hasn’t found an attacking combination he’s happy with.

The solution? Well, apparently you just have to sign as many strikers as possible! After an unusually busy transfer window, Yeovil now have EIGHT forwards in their squad.

Signed from Bolton Wanderers in the summer, Tom Eaves was one of the three strikers at the club before the January transfer window. Unsurprisingly, he has therefore had the most game time out of Yeovil’s attacking players and is currently joint top goalscorer.

However, opinion on Eaves is split and very much arbitrary; he can go from being a fan’s favourite one week to being a useless waste of space the next.

In my opinion, the 25-year-old is best utilised as a classic centre-forward as he can be dominant in the air and can hold the ball up well. Playing him out wide is a waste, and he doesn’t seem to have the technical ability that Darren Way thinks he does.

I have been wrong on the matter before though…

Veteran Francois Zoko sits alongside Eaves in the scoring charts, with both players on seven goals for the season, although the former Carlisle man has a better strike rate having made fewer appearances.

Zoko exhibits both the positives and negatives of a 33-year-old striker; on the one hand, he has bags of experience which comes in handy, but on the other hand, his pace and energy is fading.

It’s therefore no surprise that he has been most successful in the EFL Trophy and when he has come on as a substitute in the later stages of games, where he is afforded more space and time on the ball against inexperienced and/or tiring sides.

Recently, Eaves and Zoko have been used as the wide men in a 4-3-3 formation, with Omar Sowunmi playing centrally. Sowunmi joined the Glovers as a defender, but then-manager Paul Sturrock decided to stick him up front.

After spending months sat on the Glovers bench, it was unclear if Sowunmi had a future in Darren Way’s team, but an EFL Trophy appearance and goal against Reading led to him earning a run in the side in his new position.

Frankly, Sowunmi doesn’t seem to have any attributes of a good forward aside from decent heading ability when given the right ball. In my opinion, he needs to be sent out on loan in order to become accustomed to playing up front.

Shayon Harrison could act as a possible replacement for Sowunmi. Highly rated by Spurs fans and manager Manuel Pochettino, the signs were good when the 19-year-old youngster signed a loan deal in Somerset.

However, the 19-year-old has been restricted to just three substitute appearances for Yeovil so far and has therefore not been able to make an impact.

In my opinion, he needs to be given a real chance sooner rather than later, otherwise it will have a detrimental effect on his confidence. There have been numerous occasions at Yeovil where the longer a striker has gone without scoring, the less likely he has looked like scoring.

We saw it most notably with Jordy Hiwula, who struggled at Yeovil but quickly found form when he hit the ground running and scored on his debut for Walsall. He ended up netting nine goals in 19 appearances for the Saddlers, in contrast to his solitary FA Cup goal for Yeovil.

If Harrison continues being restricted to substitute appearances, the same thing could happen and the Glovers could miss out on another potential goalscorer.

Another player who can’t seem to break into the team is Brandon Goodship, the former Bournemouth youngster who recently penned a permanent contract with Yeovil.

Many Town fans were hoping that Goodship would not return to Huish Park, and it’s easy to understand why after his unimpressive and uneventful loan spell from the Cherries last season.

However, I think there is enough reason to give him a second bite of the cherry. After all, he has left his boyhood club, a decision which shows a great deal of commitment to the Glovers.

There are more positives: the fact that the deal is permanent and we therefore have total control over the player, the fact that he showed occasional glimpses of promise last season – his goal against Dagenham and Redbridge was a fantastic finish – and, if nothing else, it will further increase the competition for a place up front.

It would certainly be devastating for the lad if he fell below Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, who has been brought in on loan from Barnet, in the pecking order. Akpa Akpro is an experienced and well-known striker, and on the face of it looks like a coup.

However, Darren Way should know by now that this doesn’t guarantee success. Two other experienced and well-known strikers that Darren has signed in the past are Leroy Lita and Izale McLeod. Neither of them lasted long at Huish Park.

There have been times during Akpa Akpro’s career where he has found himself in blistering form at clubs such as Tranmere Rovers and Shrewsbury Town – that’s where he’s gained his reputation as a goalscorer – but it’s worth remembering that we haven’t signed that player.

We’ve signed the player who has only scored one goal all season for the Bees. Compare Akpa Akpro’s record this campaign with John Akinde’s, who has 19, and it’s easy to see why the Frenchman has found himself at Yeovil as opposed to Barnet’s starting 11.

Despite my disapproval of Akpa Akpro, I would still much rather have him in the side ahead of fellow loan signing Kabongo Tshimanga, who has joined Yeovil temporarily from MK Dons.

I don’t have anything against Tshimanga, but his record of just nine goals in 50 appearances isn’t exactly impressive, especially since he has spent the vast majority of his career in non-league.

Ordinarily I would be less pessimistic about a new signing, but we have what seem like significantly better options in the squad. Personally, I simply can’t see Tshimanga scoring, and with a name like that, Dave Linney will probably think that’s for the best!

That leaves Owain Jones, a 20-year-old Swansea loanee who signed alongside Akpa Akpro and Tshimanga on deadline day.

Because of the fact that he has no professional appearances to his name, I haven’t a clue about what he’s like as a player except that he has the most Welsh-sounding name ever.

I’ve heard from Swansea fans that he can be used as a winger as well as a striker, so he may fit into one of the wide positions well in Darren Way’s famous 4-3-3 formation. However, similarly to Tshimanga, I can’t see why Darren sees this signing as necessary considering the other options we have.

That’s not to say I won’t give him a chance, as is the case for all of the new strikers. I have my own opinions about their abilities, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have an open mind if and when their chance comes.

And, of course, you may have a different opinion to me entirely. If that’s the case, feel free to let me know who you think should be starting up front for Yeovil by tweeting me or commenting on Facebook. You definitely have a lot to choose from!

 

* Yeovil have scored 30 league goals, Leyton Orient have scored 28, Crewe Alexandra have score 26 and Accrington Stanley have scored 24. Doncaster Rovers are the highest scorers in the league with 58.
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