Today saw Yeovil travel the long old road up to Blackpool. I opted to take the train, to save myself a fortune in private company car mileage. My train left Aldershot at 7:34 and I happened to be sat across from a couple of Yeovil fans. Small world! I arrived in Blackpool at 12:25, to be met by my dad and our good friend Matt. We headed down to the seafront - which was a little brisk but not too windy or cold. We had a quick pint and a burger in the Wetherspoons, The Alfred and Lion, which is a very nice pub with a homely feel even though it's standard Wetherspoons chain fare. And you really can't argue with £7.99 for a double bacon cheeseburger and a pint of Strongbow :)
We made it to the ground around 1:45 and got our tickets, and although we paid for a specific seat (the padded ones, lavish!) the stewards weren't bothering to check tickets anyway and we ended up sitting wherever we liked, just to the right of the halfway line about halfway up. Considering it was less than an hour to kick off by the time we took our seats, the ground was absolutely dead. Apart from Yeo fans, obviously, we bloody love getting in early :)
Rumours were rife, on the internet, in the pub, and in and around the ground that on-loan YTFC striker Ish Miller had had a falling out with Gary Johnson and had been sent back to Forest. My heart absolutely sank. Where would goals come from now? Some Yeovil fans may not have rated his work rate over a whole game, but you can't argue the stats. His goals have kept us in the fight. Without them, we would have been down a long time ago.
The team news filtered through after a while and it was true - Miller was dropped. At the very least. Lawrence up front with Hayter. Lawrence shows a lot of promise, but he is just a rookie kid. I was worried. This game was so massive - lose and we were all but relegated.
After the 4-1 drubbing at home to Barnsley on Saturday - the worst we have played all season - we needed to come out brightly, and that we did. Apart from a great early save by Dunn, we looked good. A few early shots and some good tackles and blocks and we settled into our stride, piling on the pressure. Blackpool were rattled and look panicked, especially at the back and they seemed to resort to very "physical" tactics very early on - or perhaps that's their usual style? The referee should have given at least 4 bookings in the first half alone for poor challenges and clear manhandling. Perhaps we were going to be playing the officials yet again today too. But wait!
I couldn't see it myself but in a goal mouth scramble, the ref awarded Yeovil a penalty! A few bodies were on the ground, and I wasn't sure if it was a foul but allegedly it was for handball, in the 16th minute. A penalty, to Yeovil.
This was it, this was the chance - this is what we needed. We absolutely had to bounce back from Saturday and we needed to capitalise on our early pressure. A ref finally on our side? A bit of the rub of the green! Up stepped James Hayter. I love Hayter, have I mentioned that before? Well, I really do! Calm, collected and professional, he slotted home the penalty in the top left corner with the keeper floundering. Aint nobody gonna save that! 1-0 up and well in charge of the game. I was confident. But not too confident. This is Yeovil - we don't hold on to leads (*cough* Leicester *cough*)
Soon after the penalty, Liam Davis had a shot from range which forced a great save from the Blackpool keeper. Davis hit his shot like a bullet and was really unlucky to not see us go 2-0 up. We really needed that second - 1-0 is such a dangerous scoreline for us. It's far too easy for us to throw it all away. But Blackpool seemed to fall apart after our goal, with their confidence shot. Their pass-back to the keeper from the halfway line under no pressure spoke volumes. Our tactics seemed to be to lump it upfield to Hayter, who's 5'10" if he's an inch, and not the most sprightly. I worried that these tactics were going to be our downfall. After all - there was no Ish Miller. But the Blackpool centrebacks just couldn't deal with Hayter. He ran them absolutely ragged, especially in the first half. We went into half time 1-0 up, and to a chorus of boos from the Blackpool fans. They couldn't be that bad in the second half, surely? They were making us look good!
Well no. This is Yeovil. We sit back on leads, we invite pressure and we seem to lose our shape in the second half of pretty much every game I've seen this season. Blackpool were the brighter immediately after the break, with so much space in midfield, but entirely out of nowhere we had some lovely build up play and Lawrence found the ball at his feet. 2-0 to the Yeovil after a class strike that really warranted cementing our lead in the 74th minute.
Soon after though, in the 78th minute, Lawrence became the villain. Cheaply giving the ball away leaving Blackpool with a clear shot at goal, albeit 25+ yards out. Grandin scored an absolute wordly. Couldn't argue with that, Dunn had no chance and we'd left ourselves wide open. Was this it? With this the collapse I was so afraid of?
I rocked slowly back and forth in my padded chair. The minutes ticked by painfully slowly. 84 minutes. Hours passed. 85 minutes, what? How was that only a minute?! Wave after wave of Blackpool attacks with us sitting in our own goal mouth. Even Lawrence was backmin our own area. The last few minutes were painful and we begged the ref to blow the whistle during injury time, heart in mouths. Finally, he blew and the Yeovil faithful jumped put of their seats and punched the air, hugged each other and let out a MASSIVE audible sigh of relief. We'd done the double over our first team in our Championship foray, and had, for now, kept the dream of staying up alive!
My men of the match today were Hayter, for an unbelievable work rate and a cracking penalty, and Ralls who worked tirelessly from start to finish - always looking to create with some pinpoint through balls and working from box to box for the cause.
Next up for me is Charlton away after we play Bournemouth at home on Saturday... currently still on the train back from Blackpool due home at gone midnight...
It ain't over til the fat lady sings - and I ain't singing just yet :)