ALBION just about negotiated the Capital One Cup second round largely thanks to a Shane Long double.
But the team coached by a four-time winner of the competition were given a right run for their money by the League One leaders.
Clarke, who lifted the trophy once as a player and on three occasions as a coach, saw his team fall behind on 15 when ex-Baggie Reuben Reid headed home.
Skipper Chris Brunt, making his first start of the season after fully recovering from a pre-season calf injury, levelled with a stunning 35-yard drive before Long earned his team a deserved half-time lead with his first in stoppage time.
Reid failed to net in his seven appearances for Albion before leaving 19 months ago – but clawed Town level three minutes after the break with another header.
Chances came and went at both ends before Craig Dawson poked the Baggies back in front with his first competitive goal for the club 17 minutes from time – to delight the impressive 1,242-strong travelling support.
Long ensured Albion’s name would be in the third-round hat when he smashed home his second from the edge of the area in the 81st minute.
With eight players unavailable due to various knocks and strains, Clarke rang ten changes from the 1-1 draw at Spurs, with Long the only survivor from the White Hart Lane starting XI.
It paved the way for summer signings Markus Rosenberg and Yassine El Ghanassy to make their full debuts for Albion’s first-ever competitive clash with the Glovers.
Clarke’s team selection was in stark contrast to that of opposite number Gary Johnson, who named the same side that topped League One on Saturday with a 4-0 romp at Scunthorpe. That meant former Albion winger Reid started against his former employers.
With a big crowd descending on Huish Park, the kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes due to congestion – but the Baggies were still quick out of the blocks.
With barely three minutes on the clock, Dawson’s header from skipper Brunt’s corner fell neatly for Gabriel Tamas, who fired wastefully over from 12 yards.
The action swung straight to the other end and Boaz Myhill was forced into an early save when he pushed wide Byron Webster’s header from Edward Upson’s free-kick. From Upson’s ensuing corner, Richard Hinds will feel he should’ve done better when he hacked wide from a good position.
Albion already knew they were in for a tough evening and the hosts went even closer in the seventh minute. From another Yeovil set-piece, the Baggies somehow survived an almighty scramble in their six-yard box, which ended with Hinds heading against the outside of the post from a tight angle.
The chances were coming thick and fast from corners and it was Albion who spurned a decent opening on 12. Brunt’s flag-kick dropped invitingly for Zoltan Gera, who missed the target with a right-footed snapshot.
But it was first blood to Town three minutes later. Upson swung a dangerous free-kick into the Baggies box and Reid ghosted in between two Albion defenders to glance a header into the helpless Myhill’s bottom left-hand corner.
The corner count continued to rocket and Albion went close on three occasions from a hat-trick of successive flag-kicks deliciously delivered by Brunt. From the first, Hinds almost gifted the visitors a leveller when he headed the ball into the ground in front of his own net. Mercifully, the ball bounced just over. Dawson then saw his goalbound header blocked by Luke Ayling and the right-back came to Town’s rescue again when he hacked Brunt’s centre, which was curling in, off the goalline.
It had been all Albion since they had fallen behind and they went their closest yet on 28. Rosenberg took aim from fully 30 yards and saw his right-foot rocket clip Dominic Blizzard and cannon off the right-hand post.
However, sloppy play by Albion on 35 enabled Keanu Marsh Brown to race clear down the right and from his centre, Myhill was relieved to see Hayter head over and wide.
Albion should have been level two minutes later. El Ghannasy ran at Ayling before delivering a terrific cross from the left which Long could only head over.
But they DID restore parity on 39 – and in style. Brunt had little on 35 yards from goal and unleashed an unstoppable left-footed drive which whistled past the flailing arms of Marek Stech and into the top left-hand corner.
Moments later, Keanu Brown tried to repeat Brunt’s wonder goal from a 30-yard free-kick – but was well off target.
Long-range efforts had suddenly become the order of the evening but Stech had little trouble saving Rosenberg’s low 25-yard strike.
Albion were piling on the pressure and Tamas flashed a header across goal from Brunt’s free-kick.
Yeovil’s resistance buckled in the first minute of stoppage time. Stech inexplicably fumbled Brunt’s corner and Long forced the ball home at the second attempt after his initial effort was blocked on the line by Sam Foley.
However, Albion’s lead was wiped out three minutes after the break. Foley whipped in a terrific cross from the left and the unmarked Reid had little trouble in planting a close-range header past Myhill.
The tie had a real edge to it now and Brunt couldn’t repeat his earlier heroics when he shot straight at Stech from 20 yards after Long had robbed Webster and fed Gera.
But Reid was having a brilliant evening and it took a wonderful one-handed save from Myhill to keep out his right-foot curler from the edge of the area. Albion only half-cleared Yeovil’s ensuing corner and after Hayter swung in a cross, Reid was again denied by Myhill.
The Baggies broke upfield and El Ghanassy outstripped the Glovers’ defence, only to be denied by Stech in a one-on-one. Rosenberg pounced on the loose ball and with Stech desperately trying to get back into position, the Swede saw his right-footed shot blocked on the line by Blizzard.
On 64, another Albion chance went begging when Long flashed a header just wide from El Ghanassy’s left-wing centre.
Long’s work-rate was again to be admired and after he chased down a lost cause, the former Reading man out-muscled Webster before seeing his acute drive pushed wide by Stech.
However, the gravity of Long’s contribution was underlined from Brunt’s ensuing corner, which Yeovil only half-cleared. El Ghanassy let fly from 20 yards and his shot was deflected past Stech by Dawson from eight yards, making it 3-2 with 17 minutes left.
It was game over in the 81st minute when Long smashed an unstoppable shot past Stech from 18 yards.
And two minutes later he made way for teenage striker Saido Berahino to make his competitive debut for the Baggies.
YEOVIL (4-4-2): Stech; Ayling, Hinds, Webster, McAllister (c); Marsh Brown, Blizzard (Ugwu 76), Upson, Foley; Hayter (Young 76), Reid (Ince 76). Subs not used: Stewart (gk), Ralph, Nkumu.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Myhill; Jara Reyes, Dawson, Tamas, Jones; Thorne, Brunt (c); El Ghanassy, Gera (Mulumbu 74), Rosenberg (Fortune 76); Long (Berahino 83). Subs not used: Foster (gk), McAuley, Hurst, Yacob.
GOALS: YEOVIL – Reid (15 & 48). ALBION – Brunt (39), Long (45+1 & 81), Dawson (73).
BOOKINGS: YEOVIL – Keanu Brown (foul 43), Ince (foul 85). ALBION – Gera (kicking ball away 58).
REFEREE: D Sheldrake (Surrey).
ALBION STARMAN: Chris Brunt.
ATTENDANCE: 6,228 (1,242 Albion fans).