Sunday, 27 April 2014

Brighton 25/4/14

Going into this game, there was still a mathematical possibility that we could avoid relegation, albeit only really clutching at straws. I think most fans were resigned to relegation at this point though, and that was palpable in the stadium. There was no more worry - no more desperation. This was a game we were going to enjoy win lose or draw, in a superb new stadium and live on Sky. All I wanted was for us to give a good account of ourselves, and it was a chance for me to say goodbye and thanks for the memories to the squad that will no doubt will be unrecognisable come next season.

I took a half day from work and headed down to Brighton, arriving at around 4:30. I managed to park up on a side road only a few hundred yards from the stadium, which I think was blocked off shortly after I arrived with temporary barriers. But if you're already parked there, what can they do? :) Getting there early paid off!

Dick's Bar at The Amex

I met up with my good friend Matt and had a couple of drinks in the stadium bar, Dick's Bar. The bar was huge, and served pies and hot dogs as well as a good selection of drinks on draught. It was also clearly very popular, with a one-in-one-out system being employed the closer we got to kick off. The stadium itself was very impressive too - they have managed to avoid the usual boring soulless "bowl" design of most newer grounds, with one side higher than the other with an extra tier of seats and a curvy exterior. There was also great leg-room and fancy padded seats, not that we sat down, of course!

We were allowed to sit wherever we wanted with unreserved seating, and we were also allowed to stand for the whole game. We've been very lucky with that this season - there have been very few times where we've been told we had to sit down. I expected the rule to be enforced a lot more at this level.

Right from the off, the atmosphere from the Yeovil end was akin to a party, with relentless singing and jumping around with green balloons flying about overhead. Looking at our fans, you'd never guess in a million years we were all but officially relegated.

Brighton still have a shot at the playoffs and really needed a win if they were to continue with that hope. But for large parts of the game, they seemed to be wasting time with few ideas when they really should have been throwing themselves at us. We played well, especially in the first half with a thundering shot from Palazeulos hitting the crossbar and several chances just wide. We looked good going forward, and were defensively resolute with some cracking challenges particularly from Webster and the ever calm and collected Duffy. Brighton looked good on the break, but with no real end product or firepower, hitting the bar and missing open goal chances where it looked easier to score. The possession was fairly even for most of the game, with end to end play that would no doubt have been thrilling for a neutral. It's typical that we had to wait until the penultimate game to get a decent referee - who played advantage well and was fair and on the ball. There were a few poor challenges, each penalised correctly, but he let the game flow and was largely invisible - the sign of a good referee. We gave a good account of ourselves, especially in the first half, and held our own. But in the 78th minute, Brighton substitute Lua Lua broke the deadlock just minutes after his introduction with a cross-shot that bounced and beat Marek Stech. From there, Brighton were on top, sealing our fate with a goal in injury time making it 2-0 and continuing their dreams of the playoffs.

The Amex

But the game was largely unimportant. For the fans, it was a chance to have one last party away from home. It was a chance to sing our hearts out - incessantly. It was a chance to say goodbye to the players who so very nearly kept us in this league, dragging out our fate until the 45th game of the season. And it was a chance to give a standing ovation and rapturous applause to our outstanding management team who made sure that we weren't just in this league to make up the numbers. We may have finished bottom, but that's not the whole story. We've rarely been outplayed, outclassed or outdone in this league. And I have no doubt in my mind that we'll be back.

Me with previous guest blogger Lou
I want to wish Leicester and Burnley all the best for the Premier League and offer commiserations to Barnsley who had their fate sealed yesterday. You guys get to play us again next season!

So this is where I say goodbye. I hope you've enjoyed reading about Yeovil's Championship story through this blog, and I hope you have as fond memories as I have about the past 11 months and our achievements. Nothing can take that away from us - we are the famous, the famous Yeovil!

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