Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Show Me the Way to Go Home: Burnley Report
By: Tony Butcher
BLACK NIGHT (a long way from home) in the Burnley bowl with a seemingly permanent drizzle hanging over the town like a scowl. The ground filled up rapidly with the three non-Town stands completely full.
Burnley 1 Grimsby Town 0
23 Nov 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
The Town support, spread lazily across the entire stand behind one goal (to the right as seen on television) numbered perhaps 200. There were no positive expectations, just silent duty. "Why do we bother, eh?" was the most optimistic comment before the game.
The Town players warmed up with light jogs overseen by John Cockerill. There wasnâ€™t much enthusiasm in their warm up, nor in the aimless wandering and kicking that followed. They were particularly disorganised and bored looking. The pre-match entertainment consisted of a parade of 1960s Burnley players (who got a polite round of applause from the Town support) and two mascots that were supposed to be bees, one of whom amused the kids by flopping across the pitch like a seal. No, we didnâ€™t throw him a fish as a reward.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. Neilson played at right back, with Butterfield at right midfield, much to the relief of the Town support, who feared a return to the dark days of Butterfield in the centre/Pouton on the wing. At least weâ€™d lose professionally now, rather than as a rabble. Oh yes, Pouton was pronounced Pooton, as usual. The Burnley team didnâ€™t contain any physical, sartorial or tonsorial oddities, which is a shame. However they did have, at centre back, Arthur Gnohere. Now how would you pronounce that? We know how it could be pronounced, though the tannoy came up with "Arthur No-hair" (but we donâ€™t care). Accurate, as he didnâ€™t have any. Perhaps all players should be described that way, oh what a parlour game that that would be with our lot.
Town kicked off towards the heaving throng of monochrome fanatics. Well, the empty end, and it started with a miss. In the first minute Boulding wriggled free down the left, near the bye-line at the edge of the area. He crossed beyond the far post to Broomes, unmarked around the corner of the 6 yard box.
Broomes took a while to control the ball then flashed a shot hard into the ground, which bounced towards the penalty spot off the â€˜keeperâ€™s chest. Allen ran in and poked the ball away from the â€˜keeper, but the referee awarded Burnley a free kick for "foot up". This rather perked the sullen Townites up, perhaps the players were interested after all, perhaps weâ€™d come to spoil someoneâ€™s party again. Stray thoughts of success and happiness lasted two more minutes.
Burnley were awarded a free kick about 25 yards out, near the right corner of the Town penalty area. In the penalty area Taylor started to drift beyond the far post as Broomes watched the free kick not being taken. Cook eventually floated the ball to the totally unmarked TAYLOR who, a few yards out, looped a header over Coyne and into the centre right of the goal. Utter rubbish marking from Broomes. Again. WAKE UP BOY, youâ€™re being paid enough.
Start spreading the news, weâ€™re losing again. We might as well have stood up and gone home there and then.
Burnley spent the next half an hour ripping Town apart down the flanks, especially the left. They play a simple, but effective game. Two tricky wingers and crosses into the box. They didnâ€™t lump it forward, they passed and moved into space. They were a confident team playing to their strengths. Or perhaps being allowed to play to their strengths. Chapman had a particularly torrid evening, though he was assisted by the Burnley right winger, Little (who isnâ€™t), trying to beat him three times on every occasion, rather than cross the ball. With the ground being Â¾ full, and the Town end being so empty, the game had a very odd feel to it. It was almost like watching your neighbourâ€™s television through their patio doors.
During this purple patch for the clarets they peppered the Town goalmouth with crosses, most of which went high over everyone in the box. There were a couple which whizzed low through the area (one from the right, and one from the left), but Town allow the opposition to do that every game, itâ€™s almost a FIFA regulation. Each one followed "give-and-goes" down the flanks, the ball being passed inside the full backs, neither of whom had the strength or pace to match the Burnley wide players. And neither of whom received too much help from Jogging Danny B or Boulding, though in his defence the Jogging One did make some decent tackles, mostly when he drifted infield though.
Despite the flow of attacks, Coyne didnâ€™t have many saves to make. His "stand out " moment in the first half was when Burnley broke away very quickly down the Town left. Moore played a one-two with the right winger, knocking the ball beyond Chapman towards the corner flag. Little (I think, though it may have been Taylor. Itâ€™s not that important really as it was "one of them") returned the ball back into the centre of the penalty area, about 16 yards out. Moore, unmarked, swept the ball first time, at head height, straight to Coyne, who punched it away for a corner. A very bad miss, as all he had to do was steer the ball low across Coyne. The corner, taken from the Town left, was swung into the centre of the 6 yard box and Coyne, under heavy pressure, tipped the ball over for another corner. The Burnley supporters made noise, we awaited the inevitable second goal. Mmm, when would it arrive?
Town did have some attacks, and they were enough to get us out of our seats. The principle name to remember here is Boulding, as he seemed to be involved in all Townâ€™s best attacking moments. A ball was played over and between the Burnley centre backs and their right back for Boulding to scamper on to. He collected the ball, twisted one way, then the other, before hitting a low drive from about 10 yards out and 8 yards wide of the goal. The ball deflected off a Burnley defenderâ€™s studs, skidded off the turf and over the goalkeeper towards Allen. Unfortunately, Allen failed to grow 6 inches in that second and the Burnley defender headed clear. Boulding did the same again a few minutes later, crossing towards the far post to the unmarked Butterfield who failed to control the ball and was easily dispossessed. Any more Town? yes, but not involving Boulding this time. Pouton went on one of his trademark barnstorming surges down the centre (no step-overs involved) and thwacked a low drive from about 20 yards which went straight into the goalkeeperâ€™s midriff. Wow, Pouton on target, a rarity indeed. How nice that a televisual audience of tens could share the moment.
Burnley seemed to switch off after 30 minutes, as if they realised one was enough. Town got more and more of the ball and, amazingly, started to string long passing sequences together. I counted four consecutive passes once before someone hoofed the ball on to a Burnley defenderâ€™s head. Pouton and Willems succeeded in disrupting the flow of the game (which was generally towards Coyne, at speed) with lots of small fouls, mainly trips. Willems, especially, was adept at the "innocent" foul; so thatâ€™s what he learnt at the Ajax academy (apart from hitting free kicks into the wall). Burnley had three or four more close-ish efforts, being a couple of far post headers from deep crosses (both of which went a couple of feet wide) and a scramble in the area after a corner was half cleared. The ball was returned behind the defence with Groves and another defender waiting for Coyne to come out. He didnâ€™t and Cox, their other big and fast centre back, swiped at the ball inside the 6 yard box. The ball was scuffed out for another corner somehow. Burnley probably had a few more efforts, but the neighbours had pulled the curtains by then and the programme became a fascinating document to read as half time approached.
Just before half time, a deep cross into the right edge of the Burnley penalty area was headed on by Boulding to Allen on the corner of the 6 yard box, he turned the defender, got to the bye -line andâ€¦the linesman flagged for offside as Allen crossed and Rowan tapped the ball in (the Burnley players had stopped playing when the flag went up). Being perfectly positioned at 90 degrees to the Burnley back four, and wearing black and white spectacles, I can categorically state I thought Allen may have been onside, possibly. The linesmen and referee had been quite poor throughout the 1st half. Little decisions were often wrong, particularly throw ins. The acme of their indecision and general rubbishness came when the ball was headed out of play and neither ref nor linesman would make a decision; for about five seconds they stared at each other as the crowd started to emit a low rumble, which intensified as each second passed. The refereeâ€™s arm slowly, slowly pointed for a Town throw, so the linesman mimicked him.
Half time: Burnley 1 Grimsby Town 0
And then it was half time. The game had interesting moments, but wasnâ€™t very engaging (for a Town supporter). Town looked like theyâ€™d turned up hoping not to lose, whilst the Burnley players expected to win. There was very little attacking intent from Town, with only the strikers and whoever had the ball raiding forward. The rest sat back in their defensive positions, keeping the defensive "shape". It was a lack of ambition and the football of fear. Despite the players concentrating on defence they were torn apart frequently by Burnleyâ€™s simple style, all about wingers and crosses. Town were lucky that Burnley were so wayward in their crossing, and after 30 minutes decided Town werenâ€™t going to score. In short, Town just werenâ€™t good enough. They werenâ€™t playing poorly, just being overrun. As usual this season.
Well that was 45 minutes over, tomorrow (and the second half), is just another day. Town might just fluke a goal. Thatâ€™s football.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"I say this every week. Why am I here?".
The report continues in the second half.
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