Robbing Ref, Robbing Ref Marching through the Den!
Saturday 2nd October @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Millwall at the The Den on Saturday thanks mainly to a crass decision by the referee who decided to send Clarke Carlisle off the pitch for a foul after just seven minutes. Well if it was a foul then surely a yellow card at most was in order with the match only a few minutes old? The ridiculous decision effectively killed the game for the Clarets and spoilt the day out for the travelling fans. Was it even a foul? Brian Laws was livid about the decision and said after the game:
'It wasn't a sending off. I thought it was very harsh.
'I don't know whether the referee has been given a message to stamp down on any challenges whatsoever, but the first five minutes? Clarke's clearly not caught the player and his challenge was low.
'We've got to take a stern look at it and if we make the decision to go with the appeal then we've got to go with it.
'Maybe we take the risk but I don't want to lose him for four games.'
We simply have to sort this out and make referring decisions more consistent and fairer. We have got too soft in my opinion and it is about time referees try and remember why we are all here, to watch a completive game with most fans paying their hard-earned cash to ensure we do. Liberally showing red cards for something-and-nothing is a disgrace and Shroud should hang his head in shame. I hope Laws does appeal and we get some redress for this pathetic decision.
With Carlisle off the pitch, Laws had no option but to change things round and make his first substitution. Dean Marney was the one to go off and you had to feel for him. He was clearly unhappy at being substituted with only 8 minutes on the clock. We had to bolster the defence though and Michael Duff came on to partner Bikey. Things were going to get worse though for the Clarets in the back four. Bikey had earlier collided with Morison and needed treatment after clutching his rib. He carried on for a while but it was clear he had not fully recovered and was struggling. Laws had no option to take him off and within five minutes of the sending-off we had to make our second change in the centre of defence and make our second substitution. So on came former Millwall player, Leon Cort to play his first match of the season in the Championship.
Millwall fans, celebrating their club`s 125th anniversary now burst into life convincing themselves they would now have an easy ride and secure a win. The Clarets though gave them a shock and a bloody nose when the ten fighting men showed great spirit to take the lead on 22 minutes. Jay Rodriguez headed home from Eagles right-wing cross stunning the Millwall faithful into silence.
Our lead though was short-lived. Just four minutes later, Millwall had equalised. Scott Barron levelled for the hosts when he drilled home from the edge of the area to make it 1-1. The pressure was now on with the Clarets down to ten men with a makeshift defence. We fought though with spirit and determination and none more so than Brian Jensen. His saves continued to keep the Clarets in the game and we even had our own moments when we could have taken the lead again.
In the end then a well earned point but most Clarets fans came away thinking 'if only`. There is no doubt with eleven men we would probably have won our first league away win of the season but the daft ref scuppered that idea. Millwall were a pretty mediocre average team and Clarets fans will be hoping that come the end of the season these two points dropped will not have been vital to our promotion hopes. The result still keeps us well placed in the promotion chase and we only dropped one spot to sixth although the two leading clubs, QPR and Cardiff both won so they are now ten and four points clear of the Clarets respectively.
This was my first visit to the Den and I have to say I went there with some trepidation after hearing some of the horror stories about this intimidating place in South Bermondsey. In the end it all seemed a damp squib on that front. Yes, we were channelled from the railway station along the path with the tall railings that leads to the concentration camp, sorry North stand and back again after the game but we were not kept back after the final whistle and there were no incidents at all. This was the first time ever though I refused to wear colours and even kept stum on the train in case the Northern accent was recognised! It was all though a very strange, quiet experience and even on the ground the Millwall mob did not seem too loud or obnoxious. Guess we have to be grateful for that!
Clarets fans though had to endure Millwall`s 125th Anniversary celebrations in the pre-match build up and at half-time plus had to fork out £5 for a special anniversary programme. Rather amusingly we also had to suffer a number of so-called Millwall 'legends` being announced before traipsing on the pitch with most Clarets fans looking at each other and saying 'Who?` They clearly don`t have a Jimmy McIlroy do they? Even Teddy Sheringham didn`t make an appearance!
Brian Laws with no fresh injury worries or suspensions to worry about as expected selected the same eighteen that faced Hull City in the midweek game. We thumped them 4-0 so you would expect Laws to keep faith in the same team. Skipper, Graham Alexander had to be content therefore again with a place on the bench with Jack Cork taking on the holding midfield role. Clarke Carlisle was once more named captain.
In summary we lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Fox, Cork, Eagles, Elliott, Marney, Rodriguez, Iwelumo
Subs: Grant, Duff, Cort, Alexander, Wallace, Paterson, Thompson
On an overcast but so far dry day, the match got underway and it was the Clarets who started the brighter but we were soon suffering a catalogue of disasters. With Bikey already struggling with an injured rib, Carlisle on the touchline then mis-timed a challenge on Theo Robinson with the referee than having a moment of madness and flashing red at our unfortunate captain. Bikey retired soon after to be replaced by Cort so now we had a completely revamped centre back pairing with Duff having already come on following Carlisle`s red card. The game at this stage was only 14 minutes old!
Millwall`s winger Chris Hackett was looking a particular threat for the Clarets and we could have been behind earlier when one his crosses found Robinson but his weak header was easily mopped up by Jensen. From another Hackett cross, the Clarets defence could only half-clear and the ball fell to Alan Dunne but thankfully he pulled his shot just wide. On 22 minutes though, the ten-man Clarets took the lead. Tyrone Mears took a throw-in to find Eagles who put over a deep cross. Rodriguez was there to powerfully head home and score his second goal of the season.
A defensive blunder or two at the back four minutes later though ensured the Clarets lead was short-lived. The back-four should have cleared their lines but they eventually lost possession and Millwall pounced. A Morison cross was headed down by Robinson to find Barron who had the pretty easy task to shoot home from twelve yards out. This was the first goal that the Clarets had conceded in five games and it was now going to put the Clarets under considerable pressure for the rest of the match.
It would be inevitable now that with the Clarets down to ten men we would have to endure long-periods of pressure in defence. Our midfield engine room was now also depleted with Marney having been replaced by a defender so it would be hard to re-take the lead and our chances in attack would now be few and far between with Chris Iwelumo often looking a lost soul alone up front.
Jensen came to our rescue towards the end of the first half when Dunne looked certain to head home. 'The Beast` somehow dived to his left to keep out the downward header and ensure we went into the break on equal terms.
Brian Laws made no change for the start of the second half which is not surprising considering we had already been forced to make two substitutions in the first half and only had one more we could make. For the moment we kept our powder dry.
Millwall despite their one man advantage just could not get the breakthrough they needed to take the lead and that really is down to our resilience in defence and some stunning saves by Brian Jensen.
The Lions` full back, Alan Dunne was causing a lot of problems for the Clarets down the flank and he was involved in a Millwall build-up after 13 minutes play in the second half that had Clarets fans hearts in their mouth. Eventually it was Robinson who got on the end of a Hackett cross but for once the woodwork was on our side and his header hit the foot of the post.
Burnley were holding on by the skin of their teeth and nineteen minutes before the end of the game, Jensen came to our rescue again. Neil Harris who had just come on from the bench almost scored with his first attempt. Jensen though once more stood his ground and kept out his shot.
The Clarets were running themselves silly to try and keep Millwall out and tiredness and the odd bit of cramp was beginning to take effect but thankfully we managed to hold on. Laws decided to bring on Thompson for the last 13 minutes of the match with Iwelumo running out of steam and isolated up front. Millwall though kept up the pressure with both Duff and Cort being given a hard time in the centre of defence. They however seemed to get stronger as the game went on showing signs of understanding whilst continuing to frustrate the Lions.
Millwall`s substitute, Schofield came close to scoring the winner with Jensen having to get his finger tips to his curling shot but by now you just sensed we could hold-on and so we did. We even nearly nicked it ourselves in the dying seconds of the game when Eagles attempt in injury time flew past the post.
A well-earned point then in the end, but this was a match spoilt early on by one stupid decision by the referee. Burnley now have a well earned rest with the International break upon us but let`s hope Andre Bikey will be fir enough to play for Cameroon or at least will be back in action for the Clarets when we return to Championship duty against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday 16th October. One player who won`t be available for that match unless we can successfully appeal is of course Clarke Carlisle who now faces a three-match ban (four if we lose an appeal). Makes your blood boil doesn`t it?
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Robinson, Craig (Schofield 46), Barron, Mkandawire, Ward, Hackett, Abdou (Carter 79), Morison, Robinson (Harris 69)
Subs Not Used: Mildenhall, Smith, Henry, Laird.
Goal: Barron 26
Booked: Yellow cards for Dunne and Craig
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey (Cort 14), Fox, Cork, Eagles, Elliott, Marney (Duff 9), Rodriguez, Iwelumo (Thompson 76)
Subs Not Used: Grant, Alexander, Wallace, Paterson
Goal: Rodriguez 22
Booked: Straight Red card for Clarke Carlisle, Yellow card for Eagles
Possession: 53% Millwall, 47% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Kevin 'Should have gone to Specsavers' Stroud (Hampshire)