YEOVIL striker James Hayter admits that Rickie Lambert has achieved what every League One player dreams of.
The former AFC Bournemouth star, who is from the Isle of Wight, played against Lambert in League One during the Saints star’s Stockport days, a decade ago.
When they last played against each other, in December 2006, Lambert helped League Two Bristol Rovers produce an FA Cup upset by winning a second-round tie 1-0 at League One Bournemouth.
Now Hayter is the underdog. He will try to end Lambert’s FA Cup dream by avenging that result when he plays his first game at St Mary’s tomorrow.
The 34 year-old said: “I played against Rickie Lambert a lot over the years for Bournemouth and he’s done what everyone else at that level dreams of doing. Going on to do well in the Premier League and then scoring for England on his debut has been a great story.
“He was always a handful with that ability of his at free kicks and he’s managed to make the step up every time Southampton have won promotion.”
Hayter was a Championship player with Doncaster when Lambert fired Saints to promotion from League One and has played against Lallana a couple of times in the second tier.
“Southampton have really kicked on in the last few years, since I played against them last with Doncaster but, like Rickie, Adam’s been good enough to progress with the club,” said Hayter.
“He looks so comfortable at the highest level, he’s brilliant on the ball. I’d left Bournemouth by the time he went on loan there but I know him to speak to and he’s also a very down-to-earth lad.”
Lallana and Lambert both scored important, long-range goals when Saints won their third-round tie, 4-3 against Yeovil’s Championship rivals Burnley. It was a below-par performance that has given Yeovil a little hope.
“We saw a video of that game before we played Burnley recently,” continued Hayter. “Southampton were going well after two great strikes from Clyne and Lambert, but Burnley created chances and could have scored more.”
Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, Hayter’s former Cherries teammate, both scored in Burnley’s recent 2-1 win at Huish Park.
But Yeovil’s form has improved since the turn of the year and gives the underdogs more cause for optimism.
Hayter is also in good form, having scored four of his five goals for the season in the last three games.
He netted twice in the 4-0 win at League One high-fliers Leyton Orient in the third round, before netting another brace in last week’s 2-0 win at Birmingham.
“I hadn’t scored as many as I’d have liked before Christmas, but managed to get a couple of goals after getting back in the team and Saturday’s win at Birmingham was a big one for us,” said Hayter, who signed for Yeovil 18 months ago. “It’s going well at the moment so we’ll go there confident and will enjoy it,” he continued.
“This game is a chance to forget about the league and have a good go, but getting a result will be a tough ask.”
Hayter would love to be in the hat for the fourth-round draw with the Cherries, for whom he scored 107 goals in 406 appearances, including a record 130-second hat-trick against Wrexham a decade ago.
Yeovil’s tie is arguably as tough as Bournemouth’s against Liverpool, but Sandown-born Hayter will have plenty of support tomorrow, with several of his friends and family expected at St Mary’s.
Hayter’s parents, Richard and Mary, will make the trip across from the Isle of Wight, while his brother Ben, who lives in Southampton, will be there with his wife, Nadine, a Saints fan.