Date:Tuesday April 3 2007
3rd April 2007
The Clarets face Plymouth Argyle tonight in this rearranged match originally postponed from Saturday 10th March due to the Pilgrims FA Cup exploits.
Can we beat the Pilgrims? It is now 18 League matches without a win and we are currently 19th on 42 points but only 3 points clear of 22nd placed club,Southend and the relegation zone. We still have a couple of games in hand over most of the clubs below us and a superior goal difference but we badly need a win to steady the frayed nerves of the Clarets fans and decrease their increasing calls for our manager to be sacked.
The woeful performanace against Luton last Saturday in a poor, dire match between two struggling teams does not auger well and the team simply have to start playing with more confidence and begin to look like scoring.
Everything that the gaffer tries at the moment does not appear to bear fruit. He made a number of changes to the starting line-up for Saturday's match with little effect in performance although our new loans, Coughlan and McVeigh put in creditable debuts with Caldwell as always a rock in defence. Our main problem at the moment is scoring with Ade Akinbiyi and Andy Gray up front continuing to under perform with Lafferty being unable to reverse the trend.
The last match against Luton was considered a 'must win' game and we failed to get all three points having to settle for a point in a dull 0-0 draw. By definition, the match tonight must be another such game and probably its even more critical now that we can get our first win under our belt since last November when we beat Leeds 2-1 at the Turf.
Somehow Steve Cotterill has to find that extra spark to instill in the team and more than anything the lads have to come out fighting with spirit and passion.
Luton's new manager is on record as saying he tried to frustrate the Clarets in a defensive 4-5-1 line-up hoping that eventually the home crowd would get on their backs and start booing their own players. Sadly some of the Clarets fans obliged and I hope they have read what Blackwell said and reflect what harm they might be doing.
No matter how the match goes tonight we have to hope that Ian Holloway does not try similar tactics and that if he does the Clarets fans dont fall into the same trap. We have to ensure we dont undermine further the confidence and morale in the team. Our future in this division might be at stake and I dont want to hear any more booing. I certainly dont want to hear the disgraceful taunts of our own players, either particularly the abusive remarks aimed at Wayne Thomas and Ade Akinbiyi last Saturday. There is no need for it and all it does is give the opposition confidence at the expense of our own player's morale.
Come on you Clarets, surely we can win one sometime. This is nothing but a nightmare and its certainly demoralising to have to write 18 match reports so far and not be able to say we won. Law of averages surely must come into the eqaution at some point and I dont care how we win as long as we get three points tonight.
The Clarets have no fresh injury concerns with only Foster (Achilles) and Mahon (Groin)unavailable for selection. It will be interesting if the gaffer decides to start with the same line up and 16 he had against Luton or whether we can expect to see the return of Wade Elliott. It is believed that Brian Jensen will continue in goal in preference to Coyne. With both Paul McVeigh and Graham Coughlan putting in solid debuts, Steve Cotterill may be tempted to have them in the starting eleven again. Ade Akinbiyi had a very poor game on Saturday before being substituted by Lafferty and maybe its time to rest the striker who continues to underperform. An attacking 4-4-2 with perhaps Gray and Lafferty upfront might be more fruitful.
There are again far too many options to predict the line-up for this match but i suspect it could look something like this:
Jensen, Thomas, Coughlan, Caldwell, Harley, McVeigh , Djemba-Djemba, McCann, Jones ,Gray, Lafferty
Subs: Coyne, Duff, Garreth O'Connor, James O'Connor, Akinbiyi
The lad made a solid start in his debut last Saturday with some nice flicks and touches. It will be interesting to see how well he performs in this match. He could provide that extra bit of flair so sadly lacking in the team in recent weeks.
Plymouth manager Ian Holloway is waiting on an appeal for defender, Mathias Doumbe after his red card at Ipswich and David Norris is also suspended
If the appeal is unsuccessful, Hungarian Krisztian Timar could replace Doumbe.
A popular favourite with the Pilgrims fans,he was Holloway's first signing in July 2006. The former Manchester United striker could be a danger and its hoped former Pilgrim, Graham Coughlan will help keep him in check.
The Clarets came away from Plymouth back in October with a point in a fairly dull 0-0 draw.
Plymouth are currently 13th on 52 points and will feel safe from relegation but unlikely to be pushing for a play-offs place. They might think there isnt much to play for this season and that might be to our advantage. Their away form has not been too good in recent matches. They suffered a 3-0 defeat by Ipswich in their last match with two 1-1 away draws against Sheffield Wednesday and QPR before that. On our current form it is hard to see how we are going to score let alone win but maybe this will be the turning point 2-1 Clarets
Birmingham (A) Saturday 7th April @ 3pm
Date:Tuesday April 3 2007
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