WHEN the countdown to midnight begins on Monday, Yate Town fans might take a moment to reflect on a truly memorable year for the club.
The class of 2012 hit new heights by reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup, where they were cheered on by over 800 fans who made the short trip to Cheltenham for a dream tie.
There was something special about Yate’s cup run from the moment they demolished then Southern League Division One South & West leaders Poole Town 5-0 in the Preliminary Round back in August.
They followed that up in September by knocking out another team from their league, winning impressively 2-1 at Winchester City, before reaching the third qualifying round for the first time in their history with a shock 2-1 win over Conference North side Oxford City at Lodge Road.
Mike Bryant’s late winner then gave Yate a 2-1 win over league rivals North Leigh at home, but few gave them any hope of progressing past the fourth qualifying round when they were drawn against Blue Square Premier leaders Newport County, the highest team left in the competition at that stage.
However, Yate came within seconds of dumping Newport out in a thrilling tie at Lodge Road, where they led 3-1 with three minutes left after goals from Tom Knighton, Mitchell Page and Matt Groves before conceding twice late on.
The Bluebells weren’t to be denied, however, and recorded the most famous win in their history in the replay at Rodney Parade. Goals from Knighton, Scott Thomas and Groves gave them a 3-1 triumph after extra time.
Yate’s run finally came to an end in November when they lost 3-0 at Cheltenham, but they certainly gave the League Two side a scare with Jake Cox and Knighton hitting the woodwork with the score at 1-0 and a performance that won them plenty of admirers.
While Yate enjoyed success in the cup, they have struggled to match it in the league.
They began the year with outside hopes of a play-off push, but that quickly fizzled out after a spate of postponed games in February.
Yate finished the 2011/12 season in 13th after a run of four defeats and two draws, and they carried their poor form into the new campaign, losing their first four games before picking up their first points in style with a 5-2 triumph at Taunton in October.
Their FA Cup exploits took its toll as they lost their next five games to remain bottom after ten games, but a five-game unbeaten run leading up to Christmas raised hopes that they will quickly climb away from relegation trouble in 2013.