Sunday, 18 August 2013

Burnley 17/08/13

Two weeks after Millwall and following a narrow victory in the cup at Southend and an equally narrow defeat at home to Birmingham, we travelled up to Burnley. I watched the Birmingham game on TV and there certainly didn't seem to be a gulf of class - we played well but didn't take our chances. I travelled up to my parents in Loughborough with optimism for our first ever visit to Turf Moor.

I woke up at 5:45 and after packing a bag and making a coffee to go, I made my bleary-eyed way to the station. I am lucky that the train station is only a ten minute walk from our house - meaning I can leave it fairly late before I have to head out. I say late, I left at 6:15 which is stll fairly early, collected my tickets and boarded the 6:34 out of Aldershot to London Waterloo. That early in the morning there was barely anyone on the train, and it was an easy, uneventful journey. I got to Waterloo and made my way to the underground. I had checked on an app on my phone for the best lines to get to St Pancras, which recommended the Northern Line to Leicester Square and to change for the Piccadilly Line. Unfortunately when I got there, with no real warning, the Northern Line was closed, and of course there is no phone signal under ground. Thankfully my few days working in London every so often covering for Westminster colleagues meant I knew I could get the Jubilee Line to Green Park to get on the Piccadilly Line there instead without too much delay. Local knowledge always comes in handy :)

I made it to St Pancras with plenty of time to get to train to Loughborough, a really quick service with only one stop beforehand - Leicester. I stumped up the 4 quid for wifi - always worth it as at those speeds you rarely get phone signal. I whiled away the hour and a bit with no problem and my dad met me at the station. We set off for Burnley at 9:45.


The roads weren't too bad - a few hold ups for roadworks but nothing too drastic. We made it into Burnley for just around 12:30 and headed over to the Cricket Club behind the away end. I had asked on Twitter for some advice from Clarets fans for where the best place for away fans to get a drink was. It always amazes me how friendly people are on Twitter, especially "rival" football fans. A few people recommended the Cricket Club and we headed there for a couple of pints. I had a chance to meet up with a long time Twitter friend, Nick - a Burnley fan. We had been talking on Twitter for a couple of years, and its always nice to have a real life "tweet up"! 3 pints of cider and some serious cheap food later (god love Northern prices!) and we headed round to the ground.

The Cricket Club

Soooo cheap

Me and Nick in the Cricket Club

The ground itself is very close to the town centre, almost in the middle of a housing estate. Its a very old-school stadium, with the outer perimeter wall and turnstiles and corrugated sheeting. Inside, we had half the stand behind the goal. Unfortunately the wrong side for us - we like to be top left of the goal but we had to settle for top right! The seats were wooden and if possible even WORSE than Leyton Orient!! Though there was a little more leg room.

After the injury to our goalkeeper Marek Stech against Brum we were all left wondering who would deputise. We were meant to be signing Wayne Hennesey, just on a one month loan, but he injured himself in a warm up for an international for Wales. Twitter rumours were rife, as always, with names of possible replacements. As it turned out, we had signed Sam Johnstone, a youngster from Man United, on a 3 month loan. A pretty much untried, untested keeper which was a little worrying, in my opinion anyway. "We've got the best keeper in the league!" our fans sang - I wasn't so sure.

The game itself was a fairly scrappy and largely uneventful affair. The first half was very forgettable with little incident to recall, apart from the glaring miss from Davis of an open goal about 3 yards out. He somehow managed to sky it over the crossbar. Overall we competed well and matched them, with few chances for either side. The only one additional minute of added time said it all - naff all had happened. Burnley did not look to be a good side, and certainly nothing to be afraid off.

Second half, and it couldn't be much worse, could it? Well again we competed well for up to 70 minutes, without really creating any clear cut chances. There were opportunities to shoot from range, but a lack of confidence seemed to be telling. Paddy Madden looked to be off his game, again a matter of confidence perhaps, and James Hayter certainly didnt look himself. The main blow was on 74 minutes when a cross-shot from a Burnley sub that should have been easily dealt with was pushed into our own net by the rookie keeper. And after that we fell apart. Burnley cut through our defence as if they were absent, and we lost all shape. Defensively we looked scrambled and shaky. In no small part due to the substitution of Tate, in my opinion. Johnstone in fairness pulled off some cracking saves, getting down well for a couple of shots and some good parries. It could have been a lot worse. But the sucker-punch came just a few minutes later as we failed to settled after the goal and from 2-0 there was just no coming back. Heads dropped and the game might as well have finished at 80 minutes for all we did in the final 10.

Oddly the tunnel was under the away end so the players - and Gary Johnson - had to walk over to our fans, applauding as usual. I don't think that would have been the case had the tunnel been along the side of the ground, or they certainly would only have made a fleeting appearance. Gary did not look happy, and rightly so. We didn't do the basic things and fell apart.

My dad drove me back to my parents through some torrential rain, which reflected the mood. Deflated and gutted - but not entirely defeated! No cause for panic so far, not from my view anyway. Gary has previously said to judge a side after 10 games. We are 18th in the league and I would be more than happy to finish there. Its a long old season and a couple of losses does not a season make. Onwards and upwards with Derby making the trip to Huish Park next.

I am missing the Sheffield Wednesday game as I am visiting family, so my next game is actually 40+ days away when we head up to Bolton. It seems like forever!

Until then, then!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Millwall 3/8/13

The season is finally upon us!

Living in Aldershot means that Southern games as a general rule are pretty easy for me to get to, especially London based games. I got a really cheap return train for just 15 quid, and that avoided the hellish sweat bath that would have been the tube. I got the train at 10:04 at Aldershot and an easy journey to Clapham, Peckham and then South Bermondsey saw me arriving at 11:30. 

I met up with my dad who had driven down to Stanmore and got the tube down to Canada Water and had walked from there. We decided to try and find a local watering hole, in spite of being warned off them, as neither of us were wearing Yeovil colours and neither of us have telltale West Country accents! We walked for miles (or so it seemed) down Old Kent Road before we finally happened across The Five Bells.

My Millwall supporting friend informed me afterwards on Facebook that this was DEFINITELY a Millwall only pub, but no one was any the wiser that we were Yeovil fans and we made it out unscathed :)

After that we headed down to the ground and had an ice cream from the van parked up outside the stadium. Very refreshing after our couple of mile trek, all for an illusive pub!

After meeting up with some friends we made our way into the stadium. 

It seems that we are not trustworthy now we're Championship, us big time Charlie's aren't allowed bottles on our pop any more :) Time to go back to keeping a spare lid in my pocket!!

Thankfully it was unreserved seating even though a big crowd was expected. My dad and I always like to sit to the top left of the goal, a little tradition we've had for the past 12 years or so watching The Town. It wasn't a bad view!

The pitch looked to be in superb condition, which you would hope it would be for the first game of the season, but its been particularly hot and dry round London way so it was good to see the pitch wasn't too firm or starting to cut up as the lads warmed up. It was the first opportunity I had to see the new boys, having been unable to make any pre-season games. Trying to pick them out while warming up was proving a little difficult, but it was much easier once they had their squad numbers on!

The game itself in my opinion was, for large parts, all Yeovil. We dominated the first half, though the better of the chances perhaps were falling for Millwall. They came back into it second half but just couldn't take their chances, and we were bossing large parts of the game. Some lovely flowing football from us at times while Millwall were pretty much just hoofing it route one. Outstanding games for Dawson, Seabourne and Upson, but everyone was well on their game and well up for it. I was very impressed with Seabourne, He looks a class act. Confident, calm and no nonsense. He worked well with Byron Webster who looked a lot more comfortable than he has sometimes in the past. Alan Tate seemed solid, and I think he will be a great addition to our defence.  I also really liked the look of Michael Ngoo when he came on for Paddy; he certainly isn't afraid to put himself about and he is a real physical presence which I think we are going to be in great need of in this division. He is a bit of a change to Paddy which I think we will really benefit from against some of the stronger, bigger sides. Millwall were very physical and a lot of their fouls seemed to be unnoticed by the referee, but thankfully none were too costly on our part. There was a definite penalty shout for Hayter when he was pulled back in the box, but we didn't feel too hard done by when Ed Upson's shot hit the back of the net in the 88th minute! I have to admit I did have a few tears in my eyes when Ed scored - absolute ecstatic jubilation and pride overcame me a little :)

The trip back home was an easy one for me as everyone seemed to be going the other way at South Bermondsey - to London Bridge whereas I was headed back to Peckham and then on to Clapham. I made it literally just as the doors were closing at Clapham and made it back home for 7:15, which isn't a bad time for a away game. 

Next up for me is Burnley away, very much looking forward to that and will of course be blogging about it afterwards!

The Brakesy xxx

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Season Begins

It seems like a long time coming, but at the same time the summer without football seems to have flown by. For Yeovil especially, - our season was extended with the playoffs - and of course the season starts earlier this year than last as there's no Olympics to contend with.

The season gets underway tonight with the first football league game in League One, Sheffield United vs Notts County. But of course for us Glovers fans, all eyes will be on The Den tomorrow as Yeovil embark on their first ever game in their first ever season in The Championship.

I have been to The Den before, which is a bit of a shame for the first game to not have been  "glamour" tie at a new ground, but its a chance for us to get some points on the board and familiarity is never a bad thing. We've made quite a few signings this close season and unfortunately I haven't been able to get to any pre-season games, unlike usual. So tomorrow will be the first time I set eyes on the new boys and hopefully get a good look at them and see what the potential is there.

I am getting the train down in the morning, which isn't too bad, just two changes to get to South Bermondsey and it was only £15 return which for London and back really isn't bad. It will be a great opportunity to catch up with friends that I generally only see in the football season, and to get back to normality of football on Saturdays. I've certainly felt a little lost the past couple of months, tending to sing Gary Johnson songs to myself as it draws closer to 3pm :)

Very much looking forward to the season getting underway proper, and I'll put up a match report here and a few photos tomorrow after the game.

COYG #bestinthewest :)

The Brakesy xxx