Luke Ayling says being part of the Yeovil Town team that beat Sheffield United in 2013 was “the most surreal experience I’ve ever had.”
The current Leeds United defender spent a little over four years with Yeovil. He helped them gain promotion to the Championship for the first time in their history in 2012/13.
On that journey, the Somerset side met the Blades in the playoff semi-finals. It was United’s second successive campaign in League One. Prior to that, the last time they had been in the third tier of English football was in 1989/90.
Having won 1-0 at Bramall Lane in the first leg, the Blades arrived at Huish Park with confidence. But the Glovers won 2-0, thanks to Kevin Dawson and Ed Upson goals, sending them through to the final.
For the second year running United had lost in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Yeovil went onto beat Brentford in the final.
“I loved that playoff final. Well it was actually that whole playoff run to be honest,” Ayling told the Glovers’ official website. “The Sheffield United game before that, the home game was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had.
“We came back from their place 1-0 down, but there was no panic at all in our dressing room, which was a weird feeling looking back as we didn’t really play that well up there. But we came back and put on a really great performance. It was a baking hot day, Ed Upson really turned up, scored a goal and set one up.
“With the fans being on the pitch after, it was the first time I’d really done something in my career. Obviously, the final was brilliant, but that home tie against Sheffield United was massive.”
What happened to Yeovil and Sheffield United after?
To both sets of fans that tie must feel like a very distant memory. After a 12-month cameo in the Championship, Yeovil were relegated and Ayling left for Bristol City before later joining Leeds.
The following year they went down to League Two. That was the last time they met the Blades in competitive action, losing 2-0 at Bramall Lane but winning at Huish Park.
Last season they dropped out of the EFL for the first time in 16 years and returned to the National League.
As for United, four more years in League One followed before Chris Wilder became manager. He won the title with 100 points at the first time of asking and took them back to the Premier League in 2019.
They are currently seventh in the top flight. The Glovers are fourth in non-league.