On This Day In History 2nd May 2011 - Promotion Is Secured
Saturday, 2nd May 2020 13:00
Saints win at Brentford on the Saturday had pushed Saints to the brink of automatic promotion from League 1, now they had to play their game in hand and it was a Bank Holiday trip to Plymouth.
The mathematics for Saints to secure automatic promotion were simple, they were level pegging with Huddersfield on 86 points, but above the Yorkshire side on goal difference some 15 goals better off, a win down at Home Park whilst not making it 100% sure would make it 99.99% certain.
With the game being played on Bank Holiday Monday many Saints fans got on the road to Plymouth on the Sunday, I was one and we travelled down on the afternoon and checked into a Premier Inn hotel in the centre of Plymouth, it soon became clear we weren't the only Saints supporters in the place.
We spent the Sunday evening in the pubs around the marina and again there were many Saints supporters about mingling with the locals out for a drink as they had the next day off.
It was a good atmosphere and everyone was in good spirits.
On the day of the game we went to a pub near the ground, or at least we tried to, unlike Brentford with a pub on every corner, this was one with few near the ground and the one that was was only letting in home supporters.
So we found a little suburb about a mile walk and the pubs there were packed with Saints supporters all with the same thought.
The problem for the game though was like Brentford on the Saturday, Plymouth had refused to give us anymore tickets than the usual allocation, we had around 3,000 fans behind one goal, but there was a big block of empty seats in the corner not sold to the home fans that could easily have been given to us, whilst still allowing plenty of room for segregation.
We could have sold many thousands more tickets for this game, Plymouth couldn't give us as many as we would have sold, but they could have given us perhaps a thousand more, again like at Griffin park two days earlier it was galling to see thousands of empty seats.
Argyle were managed by ex Saints loanee Peter Reid and they were on the verge of relegation, this was also their game in hand and they were 5 points short of safety , anything less than a win and they were down, even that would still see them needing a miracle on the final day.
Ironically they could stay up if they beat us, won their final game and then we beat Walsall on the final day, if that happened then they would have a Great Escape of their own given that they had already been docked 10 points for administration.
This being the case the first half was tense but it was us in the driving seat and having the ball and making the chances, but it would be the stroke of half time before a goal came, many were heading into the concourse for a drink when a Danny Butterfield cross was met by who else but Rickie Lambert to head home and cue mass celebrations both in the stands and under them in the away end.
Sadly Plymouth fans attacked any Saints fans who dare show themselves in the home sections.
Half time saw wild celebrations in the concourse with singing, dancing and beer going everywhere.
Those that didn't linger at half time would see Saints double the lead when this time Adam Lallana provided the cross and Ryan Dickson headed home just 4 minutes after the re start following a goal mouth scramble where Radhi Jaidi had hit the bar with a header.
On the hour the game was put beyond any doubt when Rickie Lambert fired home a penalty.
It looked like becoming a real rout when David Connolly hit the bar with a fearsome drive that bounced down onto the line but was not deemed over.
But the final goal of the game would be in stoppage time when Yannick Bollassie scored a consolation, that merely stopped the celebrations for a second and only meant that Huddersfield now only had to turn around a 17 goal difference on the final day and not 18.
Cue wild celebrations again with the Saints team celebrating with the Saints supporters as the home fans poured out of the ground now knowing that relegation was now confirmed, their faces were probably as grim as those in Yorkshire where the Huddersfield fans also knew that barring a complete miracle and Walsall's ability to get somewhere near double figures at St Mary's they were in the play offs and we were up.
I would like to say that the trip home was one big convoy of celebrating Saints supporters, it probably was but after a weekend starting in London and ending in Devon with copious amounts of alcohol and a lack of sleep, i was in the land of nod before we were clear of the City, waking up two hours later to find we were on the M27, I think I was probably better off not knowing at what speed the driver had been going.
Photo: Action Images
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