Date:Sunday April 23 2006
Walking round Bermondsey in Claret & Blue would not normally be recommended but after this match it would not have been the violence we might have feared but the sound of pointing fingers and hysterical laughter by the Lions fans!
We were all cheering ourselves up having been undefeated in the last six games and now faced a club in all sorts of problems in the last away game of the 2005-6 season. The last time we won away was against Luton way back in November and with only three wins under our belt all season on the road, surely it was time to secure another three against the bottom club with a stackful of injuries, no manager, makeshift, experimental team.Quite clearly there was 'Trouble at'h Mill...Wall'
The Millwall fans having seen their club relegated and losing their latest manager, Tuttle were not in a good mood! There had been fans demonstrations last week and even some booing during yesterday's Millwall Player of the Season Awards on the pitch before kick-off! There was a heavy police presence but on the flipside a very low gate with only 7780 being bothered to turn up. 300 brave, truly dedicated Clarets fans had made the journey south and deserved something better from this match
Surely with all the Lion's problems the Clarets could muster a win. All it needed was a continuation of the form of the last six games since the arrival of Gray and Mahon. What we got was a reminder of how badly we could play bringing back nightmares of that dreadful period between January and March 2006
So what experimentation would Steve Cotterill introduce for this game? Well it was confirmed that McCann and Bardsley were still injured but it was also confirmed that Ricketts was still with us and had recovered well enough to play. Do not get me wrong Steve, but unless you intend to negotiate a permanent transfer for next season, I can not see the point of experimenting with someone who is here on loan and preumably will soon be going back to Leeds? This is especially true when we have a young lad on the bench who will hopefully feature many times next season and needs experience in these end of season matches with nothing to play-for.It was not to be though and Kyle Lafferty again found himself warming the bench!
The full line-up and bench for the Clarets was therefore:
B Jensen, M Duff, J McGreal , F Sinclair, J Harley, A Mahon, J O'Connor, M Hyde, G Branch, M Ricketts , A Gray
Subs: D Karbassiyoon, W Elliott, G O'Connor, K Lafferty, J Spicer
I have to say, I did not see much evidence of experimentation in this line-up more a response to injuries but lets not split hairs.
Millwall started the most brightly in this match, pressing strongly in the first few minutes with the Clarets looking very shaky in defence. It was only poor shooting and control by the Lions that allowed the Clarets to survive this period.
The Clarets got one or two openings with Ricketts in particular looking on form but it all seemed to soon fizzle out and we should be thankful to the Beast for having an easy time snuffing out most of Millwall's attacks.
Nothing very memorable in this match at all so far and on 38 minutes our problems were compounded with John McGreal having to leave the pitch injured to be replaced by John Spicer. Well we were then entertained to some experimentation at long last,albeit forced, with John Spicer taking on the role of experimental right back and Sinclair moving to centre back. Certainly been a utility player season for Spicer who could now add cameo right back to his goalkeeping exploits at Luton.
So there everybody was at the end of the first half, counting down the clock and seeing whether they could find the ideal length of matchstick to keep their eyelids open when disaster struck for the Clarets.
James O'Connor lost the plot in the last minute of added time and attempted a sloppy header back to the keeper only for Williams to pounce on it and volley a right-footed shot into the net from about 18 yards.
The second half was just as dire as the first for the Clarets. In fact, I think I must have finally succombed and fallen asleep because I dont remember any shots on goal or indeed any action worth talking about. This was also apparant by the number of corners with nine Millwall corners to precisely zero for the Clarets! Not that we would have scored from any corners. I am not sure Andy Gray turned up for the match and I dont remember Phil Bird on Clarets World mentioning Alan Mahon's name more than a handful of times.
Elliott came on for Ricketts after 63 minutes which had precisely no effect whatsover and referee Penton added Lions' Williams to his yellow card collection in the final minute to supplement Branch and Spicer but that was it. Dreadful, terrible game and nothing to show for it as the final whistle blew.
Steve Cotterill said this after the game
'We didn't get a performance at all. We never really started'
'We were poor today. We've gone on a great run, and we didn't look like that today. We were poor in midfield. Their full backs had too much time on the ball. We just didn't go and play today.
'We haven't put on a performance for the people that travelled to see us. We have gone on a good run, but it has come to an abrupt halt today'
Too true and when we anaylse this season, I am not sure we will find much comfort compared to last season
1. We are unlikely to finish higher than last season and will struggle to finish 13th
2. We will be woefully short of the 60 points we got in 2004-5. We will get 56 points if we can beat Luton in our last match of the season next Sunday
3. We did not have any decent Cup runs that saw us beat the likes of Liverpool, Aston Villa and Wolves in 2004-5
4. Our away form has been dreadful with only three wins against Wolves. Leicester and Luton and none at all in 2006
I for one want to put this season quickly into the dustbin of history and look forward to 2006-7. The possibility of Steve Jones coming from Crewe to supplement the other excellent signings of Gray and Mahon with hopefully more new players to come will cheer us all up in the close season. We need some positive noises and action coming out of the Burnley FC camp in the next few months. Now that we have secured the services of Steve Cotterill for another 4 years and have cleared our debts, thanks to the Turf deal finally going through, I am confident that this miserable season will not be repeated. It better not be!
Date:Sunday April 23 2006
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