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Only Kidding: Burnley Report
By: Tony Butcher
A COLD, cold night down Lancashire way with around 250 Town supporters noisily clucking away behind the goal (to the right as seen on TV). Whole sections of the Burnley stands were closed, with barely discernible patches of humanity dotted around the vast acres of claret and blue plastic.
Burnley 4 Grimsby Town 0
14 Jan 2003, FA Cup 3rd Round Replay
Iâ€™m afraid that the vital details regarding the colour of the Town bibs and how wildly the players practised their shooting have been lost in the mists of time.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, as shown. The fifth man? It didnâ€™t look like Allaway, and is alleged to have been Young, which means despite having 6 goalkeepers, there was none on the bench. The sight of Chettle and Livvo together in defence filled many with inertia. Tailor made to negate Taylor, who, unfortunately, was absent. This meant Burnley had Jack-be-Nimble (Blake) and Jack-be-Quick (I Moore) up front. Whoops. Macca-less and, maybe, hopeless, Town had sent out a relatively strong reserve team. This was a night to endure rather than enjoy.
Town kicked off towards the Burnley supporters, which was the highlight of our night. Town players moved in strange and unusual ways, like theyâ€™d never met before. Burnley started like they had at Blundell Park, a whirling dervish of flicks and tricks. Parker was clearly targeted for early attack and he generally coped with some strong tackles, though his positional play was somewhat awry. There was plenty of helpful pointing by the older players, that is everyone else on the pitch.
Within the first five minutes, there were several moments of danger for Town as wingers raced clear. Almost moments, wasted by poor crosses, over elaboration and some decent tackles. But no shots so far, just Ali Bongo tomfoolery around the fringes. Then, suddenly, a shot! With Groves pointing the way for Parker to run back, Burnley followed Grovesâ€™ advice and tipped the ball into the empty space. Blake filled the empty space, cut in from their left, spun around and, from 20 yards out, whacked a low drive towards the near post corner. Coyne soared to his right, jutted out his right arm and the ball diverted off his forearm, up and backwards over the bar. A rather good save as he didnâ€™t see the ball until late.
Then, back to type. Burnley surges, Burnley crosses, clarets to the left of them, clarets to the right, but nothing to get hung up about. More crosses, more blocks, the occasional slice of cheese as Burnley danced around the edges of the Town penalty area. I Moore managed to glide free on a breakaway but woefully wellied his shot wider and wider still from 10 yards. Branch, from the right edge of the penalty box, sliced eight yards wide. A Moore wafted a shot uninterestingly high from outside the area. Constant pressure, but Burnley didnâ€™t look like scoring. Town, on the other hand, didnâ€™t look like theyâ€™d get inside the Burnley half. As in the first match, the game plan seemed to be "whack it up to big Soamesy, Diggerâ€™ll do it". The result was possession tossed away like a stodgy pancake, allowing Burnley to turn and run through the midfield and at the defence. Oh, a shot from Town. Soames spinning inside the penalty area on the right and hooking a shot higher than it was wide - and it was Poutonianly wide. In the context of a cold Tuesday in Burnley, that was exciting.
Dull: the game had the tension of a geography lesson on a wet Tuesday in June and the fascination of the Inner Ring Road in Scunthorpe, unlikely to be the subject of a sonnet. After 25 excruciating minutes, Michopoulos fly kicked the ball down the centre of the pitch. I Moore and Chettle challenged, the ball ricocheting off Moore onto Chettle and out to the centre right. I MOORE reacted first, took one touch and pummelled a smacking great drive from 25 yards into the corner. Just a little bit of curl being enough for the ball to bend around Coyne and in. Well, all you can say is - he hit it and it went in. These things happen, just ask Phil Jevons. Cue loud music over the tannoy, accompanied by gruff Grimsby growls, with added grimaces.
The goal changed nothing. The game pootering along with Town frequently cutting out the middle man and passing directly to a claret. More crosses, more, quite frankly, poncing about by Burnley. Shoot, goddammit, and get it over with. Unnecessary delay in reaching the inevitable. Despite the deluge, there were no more leaks in the cesspit, no more Coyne saves, just a couple of sprints off his line to smother at the feet of onrushing strikers. The nearest Burnley came to scoring again was a cross from Little, drifting slowly, lovingly through the empty area. I Moore belatedly decided that a strikerâ€™s job is to occasionally go inside the oppositionâ€™s penalty area, trotting gaily through the flowers and hurling himself towards where the ball had been seconds earlier. He fell like he tripped over the kerb, Mr Grimsdale, as the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
The last five or so minutes were Townâ€™s best of the half, that is to say, they approached adequacy with a nod towards the acceptable. Groves won possession inside the Town half on the right, turned around, ignored the exhortations to hoof it from the yelling yellow bellies and played a subtle pass to Barnard in the centre circle. Barnard, about whom the best one could say previously was "he took a couple of throw ins", rolled the ball to Mansaram. Flash cut infield and surged down the middle, forcing Soamesâ€™ marker to come across and backtrack.About 25 yards out, Mansaram laid the ball to Soames on his left, who burst into the area, awaited the arrival of the Greek plopper and seemed to shin his shot a foot or so over the bar. Promise, if not delivery. Burnleyites also panicked unnecessarily when Gallimore crossed onto the roof of the net and when a Cooke cross rolled behind everyone. There you are, Iâ€™ve described every single Town "attack". Thatâ€™s all the news thatâ€™s fit to bin.
Half time: Burnley 1 Grimsby Town 0
Over. Gone. Finished. That was the first half. Town had looked what they were: a mish mash bunch of odds and sods, thrown together with no rhyme or reason. Some people booed, most shrugged and resigned themselves to the reality, not the dream. Poor old Groves, his legs move but we all fear when heâ€™s playing. Slower, slower by the day, heâ€™s only there because thereâ€™s no one else around. Itâ€™ll be Graham Rodgerâ€™s turn for a comeback next. Which brings us to the pensioner pairing in defence. They performed better than Santos and Ford had done, being, at least, stout (all puns intended) and concentrating; not much got past them. The problems were down the flanks, with Parkerâ€™s positional play and the Crazy World of Galli and Barney on the left and, principally, in midfield where Groves and Campbell had the helpless air of a procrastinating sloth. Burnley were better, thatâ€™s it.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"If Livvoâ€™s at centre back, the rest writes itself."
The report continues in the second half.
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