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04/01 Burnley 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made by either team at half time. And it showed as the game continued in the same tremendous tunnel of tat. Burnley seemed to be playing out time, happy in the knowledge that Town were never going to score; Town to ensure that the defeat didnâ€™t reach epic proportions.
Grimsby Town 2 Burnley 2
04 Jan 2003, FA Cup 3rd Round
There was an air of a winter afternoon in Wonderland, nothing better to do, not that interested in what your doing, simply a way of spending some time away from relatives. Joyless fun, and boy was the afternoon joyless.
After a period of time which cannot be quantified, due to terminal ennui having set in, Santos limped off clutching his left hamstring, to be replaced by Chettle, who at least looked eager to please. This was probably after about 10 minutes, but if you want to put your anorak on please look elsewhere for these minor details of history. Not one moment of football occurred in those first minutes of the second half. Players moved about in front of us, the ball sometimes went in the same direction as the humans. The crowd began to realise how cold it was and the shivering and shaking began. Then, the arguments, as parts of the crowd began to take out their frustrations on individual players, then each other. Just as the crowd mood was about to explode into a horrid torrent of abuse directed at the players, the refereeâ€™s random decision generator came up with the jackpot. I couldnâ€™t see the refâ€™s eyes spinning, but I assume they were.
Town had a half break away down the left, with the ball being switched to Groves in the centre. The Man for All Seasons passed sideways to McDermott, which brought forth a rumbling roar of frustrated angst from the "get into them" brigade. McDermott duly continued the patient build up by passing to Cooke, underneath the police box. Cooke cut inside and dinked a left cross into the penalty area towards Campbell ("Hello Mr Campbell!"), who was standing on the penalty spot. McGregor challenged Campbell who fell rather feebly as he tried to turn. The ball rolled to another Burnley defender and they cleared. Play stopped, the refereeâ€™s arm was horizontal and pointing towards the penalty spot. After a second or so the crowd realised it was, in fact, in reality, honestly, a penalty. Wahey! we hadnâ€™t even asked for it either. As the crowd settled, the players lined up along the edge of the penalty area. Who would take it? Yes, who? No-one appeared to know, last of all the team.
Then the red sea parted and a little man strode forward, ball under his left arm, waddling towards the penalty spot. Cooke! As he put the ball down Gallimore walked forward with the air of a man in charge. He stopped suddenly, mouth open, aghast that someone had taken his toys away. COOKE trundled forward and cracked the ball into the bottom right hand corner as the â€˜keeper dived left. The crowd chuckled at such fortune.
Burnley continued to treat the match as a done deal, often getting into exceptionally dangerous positions, but lackadaisically wasting the opportunities, mainly by miss-hitting shots straight to Coyne. The only moment when they remotely looked like scoring again was when a long shot, miss-hit, straight at Coyne, hit a big divot in the box (no, Santos had departed by then) and bounced up weirdly, but slowly, allowing Coyne time to re-adjust and clutch. Apart from a cross to the near post in injury time, wellied clear by Groves, that was the extent of the Burnley attacks. Promises, but no kisses, just misses.
It may be tempting to assume that Town roared forward, the momentum with them, and excitement followed. But it wasnâ€™t like that at all. Town had some opportunities, but they were isolated moments of clear air in a sewer. Town tried, they clearly never gave up, but there was little cohesion and no football played. Soon after the goal Town should have scored again. Gallimore swung in a deep cross from the left. Groves, just outside the penalty area, at the near post, flicked the ball on. And now was the hour for Cooke to score a goal. Unmarked, in the centre, 18 yards out, Cooke hit a first time volley straight at Beresford, who parried the ball out to Groves, just inside the penalty area. Groves drilled his shot a few inches wide of the right hand post as defenders converged on him, an open goal briefly glimpsed through the claret. With about 20 minutes to go, Soames was replaced by Thompson, last seen about this time last year. Thompson did little but drift around and tumble, like a slimline Ashcroft; all swishes, sways, flicks and falls. But he was involved in the next opportunity. Thompson dribbled down the left touchline, knocking the ball briefly out of play. The linesman didnâ€™t flag, so Thompson continued, cut inside and threw himself at two defenders. The result was a free kick to Town about 20 yards out near the corner of the penalty area. Cooke or Campbell took it (who cares ultimately eh?) and Chettle, at the near post, flicked it on. Groves steamed in and, from about seven yards out, headed firmly towards goal. For the merest of microseconds the ball seemed to have a clear path to goal, but Coxâ€™s mighty chest intervened and the ball bounced off for a corner. Cooke swung the corner away from goal and Thompson, eight yards out, beat his marker and flicked a header a few inches wide of the near post.
Other than that, there were crosses which always seemed to result in a scuffed clearance that went straight to a Burnley player. Thompson was an ephemeral presence, intent on showing off his silky smooth skills, with flicks with the outside of his boot, spins and overhead kicks. He reminded many of those players who looked magnificent playing for Hereford against Torquay, live on BBC1, in the second round of the FA Cup. Campbell was at least observed in the second half, though his contribution was such that even he was beating the ground in frustration at his ineptitude. With about five minutes left McDermott was replaced by Rowan - another forgotten son, with Town playing in a 3-4 3 formation. A forward line of Thompson, Rowan and Mansaram was an interesting experiment during a reserve game, I am sure, but not one which filled the departing moaners with any hope. The game was gone, lost, awful, shocking, dreadful, dinners were on tables when Town won a throw in, under the Smiths/Stones/Findus Stand. Gallimore lobbed it to Mansaram, about 20 yards out in a big muddy bog. Mansaram turned infield and meandered across the face of the box. He beat one player, came to another and beat him, all the time going laterally. The crowd were beginning to grizzle, expecting a shot or at least a pass out to Cooke. By this time Mansaram had gone beyond the other corner of the penalty area. Instead of passing, he came back. Oh, here we go, a Keystone Cop ramshackle journey across the pitch, to a land that time forget. Woooah! MANSARAM lifted his left leg, and whacked a supreme shot low into the bottom left hand corner. A foot like a traction engine. Bang, bang itâ€™s in. What a shocker, what a stinker for Burnley.
Not much else happened in the three minutes of added time, except the smiles came back to the Town fans faces. Lucky, very lucky. An almost indescribably bad performance, collectively and individually, but undefeated. Burnley have only themselves to blame for not winning 8-0, for without seeming to reach the heights of "good" they had the beating of Town. Mere adequacy was sufficient to outclass the men who wore black and white, who should not be described as a team. More a disparate, desperate rag tag and bobtail outfit of losers and boozers.
Town got away with it, we would all do well to forget about the performance.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Of all the players in all the world thereâ€™s one that stood out for his consistency. Mention in dispatches to Mansaram who never gave in and did save Groves from an aural bashing with his unexpected late delight. However, throughout his 85 minutes on the pitch, John McDermott was back to his old self. The moment that sealed the accolade was in the second half when he tracked back during a breakaway and flipped the ball away from an attacker as he was about to shoot. We shouldnâ€™t take him for granted.
G Laws . What an odd man. Or was he an android with a random decision programme? Didnâ€™t book anyone, or at least didnâ€™t appear to book anyone and gave a very nice home penalty. He gets a 6 for being a homer. Weâ€™ve finally bagged us a homer. Letâ€™s hope heâ€™s an awayer at Turf Moor.
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