23rd January 2007
Dreadful, dire, dull, depressing, dispiriting, disappointing, dead-loss and diabolical!
Those are just a few D-words to describe this awful match in which Stoke came away with all three points in a 1-0 defeat at the Turf on Tuesday night.
So much was expected from this match, our first game at home this year after the original postponement of this fixture on New Year's Day and the latest postponement against Norwich only the Saturday before. Some were left wishing this match had been postponed again once the final result was known.
The team surely would be refreshed after a decent break, they would be on fire after a creditable performance away to Southampton. We also had there new home debutants hoping to shine, with Ade Akinbiyi, Eric Djembe-Djembe and Mike Pollitt in the starting eleven. The Clarets fans had also been buoyed by the news of a new signing during the week with Joey Gudjonsson, the 26 year old midfielder coming to the Turf from AZ Alkmaar in a £150,000 deal. Joey would be on the bench and we all sensed he would probably make his debut at some point during the game.
Althought the anticipation was high, I couldnt help think there was something wrong with the atmosphere at this match and I had a stange feeling for some reason it was not going to be our night.
Perhaps it was because the Stoke fans were herded into the Jimmy Mac Lower whilst we had to face an eerie silence from the Cricket Field End due to storm damage to the stand. It was a fairly cold night as well which didnt help. Something though was missing and not quite right. One wonders if this spread to our players, because I can safely say that in my opinion this was the worst I have seen them play this season.
They seemed to start brightly enough with continual pressure up to the time Stoke scored in what seemed their first attack after 25 minutes
Gifton Noel-Williams,almost put the Clarets ahead inside three minutes following a cross from Chris McCann but the shot was saved by Simonsen.
Right winger Wade Elliott also seemed to be having a good match. Noel-Williams also came close again after a superb pass from Djembe-Djembe. His shot on the turn however was deflected for a corner. That corner as did all the others we had in this match came to nothing. Why are we so awful at corners and set-pieces? Time and time again we get something like 10 corners a match but none of them lead to a goal or even come close. We have to make this pressure count
So the match seemed to be going our way, but we failed to make the pressure count and the inevitable happened. Our bette noire, Ricardo Fuller proved he still had awesome pace as he flew past the hapless Duff and from the by-line put in a pinpoint cross for Sidibe to convert from close range on 25 minutes. The Clarets never really seemed to recover from that blow and it has to be said that goal made our defence look woeful and so it proved for the rest of the game. It seemed that Stoke took two passes to get into a scoring position from their half compared to our twenty. In fact, we never really looked like scoring from the 25th minute and it`s difficult to remember even a shot on goal. Ade Akinbiyi tried his best but seemed to be limping a lot in the first half and didn`t look fully fit. However he didn`t actually get good service in the box. The strange sight of Lafferty coming on for the second half (having replaced McCann) with Ade and Gifton still on the pitch puzzled a few but any hope that the extra striking power would be fruitful proved to be a damp squib. The match from our perspective just seemed to deteriorate in the second half with the defence looking more hapless by the minute (despite Duff swopping places with Sinclair), the midfield looking tired and clueless and the attack almost non-existant. The appearance of new debutant, Joey Gudjonsson for Djemba-Djemba after 66 minutes and Garreth O`Connor for Wade Elliott on 71 minutes had no effect whatsoever and this was not a memorable debut for Joey who even got booked for his efforts with a yellow card after 82 minutes.
There was a bit of a last minute flurry from the Clarets more in desperation than hope, when in stoppage time a shot from Noel-Williams spun loose with Simonsen grabbing the ball on the line from Akinbiyi
Those that had still decided to stay on the ground were almost relieved to hear the final whistle after a terrible performance from the Clarets ; a result that has now it seems killed off any hopes of reaching the play-offs. Although I could never boo our own players off the pitch, you have to say you can understand why some did after that frustrating match that dashed so many hopes!
Pollitt: Harley, Duff, Thomas, Sinclair McCann (Lafferty 46),, Djemba-Djemba (Gudjonsson 66), J O'Connor, Elliott (G O'Connor 71), Noel-Williams, Akinbiyi.
Subs Not Used: Coyne, Foster
Booked: Lafferty 78, Gudjonsson 82
Simonsen, Wilkinson, Duberry, Higginbotham, Griffin, Hoefkens, Matteo, Russell, Lawrence, Sidebe, Fuller
Subs Not Used: Eustace, Sweeney, Pericard, Dickinson, Rooney
Ref: M Pike