Sunday, 6 October 2013

Middlesbrough 5/10/13

With only a week between away games, it was a rare novelty that I had a football trip two weekends in a row. As I had spent the last one at my parents instead of travelling all in one day, I decided I'd do just that for Middlesbrough. I wanted to be able to have a Saturday night at home, in my own bed, and have the whole day Sunday rather than football taking up my whole weekend. Unfortunately housework doesn't do itself... ;) so the plan was settled - I would drive up and back to Middlesbrough all in one day.

I left the house around 7am, and with a stop at Tibshelf services halfway up the M1, I made it to Middlesbrough at around 12. I found some free on street parking just a short walk from the ground, and an even shorter walk from Doctor Browns - the away fans pub as recommended by Boro fans. After meeting up with my dad and a swift half of cider in the pub (can't be too careful when driving!) we headed on down to The Riverside.

Another very impressive stadium - it's quite clearly a a Premier League ground in the wrong division. We bought our tickets and were told we had to sit in our seats... guffaw :)

Being on the side of the pitch we couldn't get our customary top left of goal seats, but it was a pretty decent view from where we were!

The travelling contingent was much smaller this weekend -  probably due to Bolton away, Leicester at home on the Tuesday (another defeat...) and having been to the Riverside before in the cup fairly recently. There's something different about visiting a ground in the League though - we were finally on the same level, or so it seemed...

A bright start for Yeovil with the goal coming on just 4 minutes from Liam Davis. It was a beautiful strike too - as he sprinted past the defender to slot it home from outside the box. Absolute jubilation from the 236 Yeovil fans who had to be impressed by our early showing. But all too quickly, it fell apart. On just 8 minutes, Grant Leadbitter slotted home a well taken shot from a corner that we just didn't deal with. And that became the recurring theme. End to end didn't even begin to cover it, with both sides having chances and running at two poor defences. But it was Middlesbrough who capitalised and after scoring their penalty on 20 odd minutes - a definite penalty we couldn't argue with - they completely took over. It was embarrassing, to say the least. Middlesbrough absolutely cut us to ribbons with our defence stationary. It was quite clear, to me at least, that the issues were in midfield. Middlesbrough just has so much room, and we were chasing shadows to coin a popular cliche.

Our substitutions, in light of where the obvious problems were, were baffling. Andy Williams was taken off after half an hour and quite rightly so - he was absolutely dire. But he was replaced by Hoskins -  a little dink against massive midfielders and defenders -  a poor choice. And at the start of the second half, an ineffective Paddy Madden was replaced by.... KIEFFER MOORE. A completely untried forward from Dorchester. All the while we were still completely wide open in the midfield.

We did finally bring on Dawson with around 10 minutes to go. This should have been at least half an hour earlier, half time or even before. I don't know what Foley and Dawson have to do to get in this side. I really don't.

I go over all this in the video anyway so give it a watch if you like! Thought it would make a nice change. Sorry its poor quality though, it's clear that driving and making videos doesn't mix with all the road noise. If I do a video again I'll make sure I'm stationary first! Bear in mind this is also very raw after an embarrassing and gutting defeat so I am not exactly complimentary...

A very bad photo of me at The Riverside
The trip home wasn't too bad -  I stopped on the way to pick up some cider as I had a feeling it was going to be necessary to try and forget the absolutely dire performance. I made it home just before 10, after over 9 hours driving in one day and costing me around 100 pounds including petrol and the £27 ticket price. Just not good enough...

Bolton 28/9/13

Having not been to a game for what seemed like an eternity, the away trip up to Bolton finally came around. Since my last game away at Burnley in August, we'd played seven games - at home to Derby, Birmingham in the cup, Reading and QPR, and away at Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich. A draw and five losses (we lost on penalties to Brum). Ouch.

The prospect of Bolton Wanderers, who were on their own bad run of form, was therefore a promising one. I'd booked train tickets up to Horwich Parkway - the station right next to the ground - and arrived at 12;15. I met up with a couple of Yeovil fans on the train from Manchester. We all seemed cautiously optimistic...

I met up with my dad at the station and we headed to The Beehive - the pub recommended by Wanderers fans for the away contingent. It's becoming a recurring theme that Championship clubs do NOT like away fans in the pubs close to the ground. Fair enough - but we're only Yeovil! Our "firm" quota is pretty small, if not none-existent with very few arrests since joining The Football League. But I guess they have to have the same rules for all fans. The Beehive was only a 15 minute walk, and was full of Yeovil fans so it was worth seeking out. It also had amazing food - we got two meals for a tenner and they were absolutely beautiful. After meeting up with our usual crew we headed on down to the Reebok.

In The Beehive

A very impressive stadium and a little daunting to say the least. We bought our tickets and were told we had to sit in our allocated seats, and remain seated for the whole game. But we're Yeovil - we do what we want :) we picked our customary top left of goal seats, and of course, stayed standing. The stewards seemed to have no problem with it, at least!

It was my first viewing of the absolutely massive Little Old Yeovil flag - it's probably been aired at home games but I'd never seen it before. I also had the honour of holding one of the corners as we held it aloft over our heads during the warm up and before kick off.

Little Old Yeovil flag

It may be an impressive stadium but it sure was quiet. The Wanderers fans were almost silent, for large parts of the game. Perhaps they haven't had a lot to cheer about in recent months :)

The game itself was a largely uneventful and flat affair, particularly in the first half. Bolton hit the post early on, which was a big let off for us, and we were losing possession far too easily in the midfield. Bolton had probably the best of the chances, but possession was pretty much equal over all and it was hard to think of any events of real note in the first half. 

In the second half Yeovil had a bit more of a rush about them, but Bolton came out the brighter, putting pressure on us and forcing some good saves from Hennessey. But it was Yeovil who were the fortunate, with a gifted goal from Bolton keeper Bogdan. A shot from Ed Upson, which was a pea-roller from about 20 yards out, went under the keeper's legs as he bent to collect it. It was a delayed reaction from Yeovil fans, who had all turned to each other in dismay at the effort from Upson, and took a few split seconds to realise what had actually happened. Complete elation as everyone hugged and jumped around, and we were looking good for the win with just 10 minutes left to play. 

All we had to do was keep it tight, all we had to do was see the game out. But Yeovil Town cannot do that. We have to make things difficult for ourselves. With just four minutes to go in added time we gave away a free kick which we defended poorly, and allowed BWFC to head home the equaliser. As it turns out, the cross was way over the touchline and the goal shouldn't have stood - but it was only in replays that this became apparent. Bolton had a chance to nick the win in the dying seconds, with a header that was thankfully straight at Yeovil keeper Hennessey. 

It shows how far we've come that we were disappointed with a point away at Bolton, and I don't like to continually blame the officials, but we should have come away with three points from that game, and it was gutting to have given it away in the dying embers in the game.