Johnson hails Upson transformation

07 May 2013 09:08

Yeovil manager Gary Johnson hailed Ed Upson's transformation from villain to hero after his late header sent them to the npower League One play-off final at Wembley.

The former Ipswich midfielder, not renowned for his aerial ability inside the box, popped up with the goal that knocked out Sheffield United with just six minutes remaining. The man of the match had helped cancel out the Blades' 1-0 lead from Friday with a splendid through ball for Kevin Dawson's opener after five minutes.

And Johnson revealed that he had told the long-serving Upson of his disappointment at his first-leg display, saying: "We've been talking about heroes and villains and there was a villain out there who turned into a hero which was fantastic."

He added: "He (Upson) was one of those who had a bit of a lack of concentration in the first leg that led to their goal. He thought I might have left him out all week, along with a couple of others. But I gave those villains the chance to be heroes and that is what they did.

"Ed came up with something and credit to him. His mum and dad didn't call him Ed for nothing! I love them all to death and when I smack them I feel very sad, it is like smacking your little un, you don't really mean it! But I may have to smack them a bit more to get our promotion because we've come this far - we have to get this promotion now."

And Johnson, who tasted Championship play-off final defeat with Bristol City at the hands of Hull in 2008, is determined to make sure Yeovil reach the second tier for the first time in their history.

"When you've come this far you can't be this close to the Championship and blow it," he said. "We have beaten a big club in Sheffield United. Their lads on the day couldn't cope with the mentality and the mental toughness of our team. When the book comes out we'll have to look at the last chapter and see how we do at Wembley."

Chris Morgan believes Sheffield United will learn from their seventh play-off defeat as the club prepare for their third successive season in League One. The 35-year-old's side were inches away from celebrating an equaliser when Jamie Murphy's curling effort rattled the crossbar.

But, despite introducing Dave Kitson to boost their attacking threat, the Blades struggled to test Marek Stech as time was running out. And Morgan admitted the timing of the Glovers' winner was tough to take.

"It's a cruel game but football has the knack of kicking you right where it hurts when you least expect it," he said. "But I can't criticise the players, they have hearts the size of lions and will learn from this."

Source: PA