Banditos Tamed !
24th February 2007
Steve Cotterill nicknamed the U's Banditos after their cheek of winning at Turf Moor back in September. This time the Clarets stage coach apparantly arrived in Mexico, sorry Essex to be greeted by a load of Colchester fans wearing sombreros and sporting healthy moustaches! Very droll lads but I think someone ought to tell you, you wont be playing at Cuckoo Farm until late 2007 or maybe 2008!
So the phenomenon that is Colchester, a team only promoted from League 1 last season and a small squad putting in an impressive performance in the League with one of the best home records in the Championship. Then we have their home ground, Layer Road, a small intimidating ground where many teams including the likes of Preston have come away with nothing. The U's have also beaten Wolves, Cardiff, Stoke and Derby there to date from the top teams, not to mention the number of matches where their goal tally has been four or five (4 matches).
Lets make no bones about it, to come away with a point in this match is no mean achievement based on the above Stats bearing in mind also we have now not won in 14 League matches. The point from a well-earned 0-0 draw yesterday sees us on 40 points remaining in 16th place. We are however now only five points clear of three teams in the bottom five. The nerviness about the R-word will therefore continue and it is imperative we get three points from our next match at home to Crystal Palace next Saturday.
Steve Cotterill decided to drop Harley to the bench for this match which is understandable in view of his current poor form. Chris McCann, who is rapidly becoming the side's Utility Man took over the left-back spot. Lafferty was also preferred over the lacklustre Jones who did not even make the bench.
There was also a welcome return for Graham Branch who was named on the bench
The team lined up therefore as follows:
Coyne, McCann, McGreal, Caldwell, Thomas, Elliott, Gudjonsson, J O'Connor, Lafferty, Gray, Akinbiyi. Subs: Duff, G O'Connor, Djemba-Djemba, Harley, Branch
Lets be honest for the purists and neutrals this would have been a yawn of a game but in our position we have to look for positives and it has to be said the defence did us proud despite two back-four injuries in this match with both Thomas and McCann being stretchered off to be replaced by Duff and Harley. The back-four was solid whatever the combination, with Captain Caldwell again shining in the centre role adequately supported by McGreal.
Although we failed to score in this match, at least this time Ade Akinbiyi, seemed to be playing more like his former self and getting into the action more. Indeed Ade had the best chance of the match when he forced a fine save from Dean Gerken midway through the second half.
As the first half got underway, the Clarets started brightly although Lafferty seemed to be having trouble keeping his footing on the slippery,muddy part of the pitch. Indeed, it was debatable whether the pitch was playable on that side of the ground.
'Lady Luck' seems to be deserting us in droves now and the lack of awarded penalties is fast becoming a farce. We again had our customary cast iron penalty turned down in a match to ensure that we have now gone 55 matches without a penalty. This time it was Joey Gudjonsson to be denied in the 30th minute when he burst into the box and fell after a blatant challenge.
More bad luck was to follow on 36 minutes as Wayne Thomas, struggling and suffering from a knee injury picked up earlier fell to the floor. A concerned Andy Mitchell was looking closely at Wayne's right knee before deciding to have him stretchered off to be replaced by Michael Duff.
Let's hope this injury is not too serious for Wayne who has had some wretched luck this season. There were some encouraging signs though in the second half when in a bit of pure farce, a walking Wayne Thomas was spotted trying to find somewhere to sit in the cramped dugout without any luck.
Honours even therefore at half-time with no goals to cheer for either side. Steve Cotterill though would claim the bragging rights for the Clarets effort in this scrappy first half.
The second half continued very much in the same vein as the first. The Clarets held their own and indeed put together some pacy attacks but that elusive goal was not to be.
Graham Branch replaced Elliott after 73 minutes to feature in only his second match this season. One also wonders whether Elliott is fast becoming the '70 minute man'. How often is he subbed after about 70 minutes raising questions about his stamina?
More bad luck struck on 78 minutes for the Clarets when McCann picked up a leg injury following a tackle and became the second Burnley player to be stretchered off in this match. Luckily, we had a left back in Harley who could replace him.
Apart from the penalty incident the referee, Boyeson had a fairly quiet game although he did add James O'Connor and Lafferty to his yellow card collection.
There were a few nervy moments towards the end of the match with Colchester pressing but there were no serious attempts on goal that Coyne and the defence couldn't handle. The final whistle blew with the Clarets securing their first point in three games and they would be the more happier of the two teams.
Well we are still not out of trouble yet needing 11 points before we reach recognised safety but there have been encouraging signs now in the last three matches and some bad luck has clearly not helped. Bring on Palace and three points!
Burnley: Coyne, McCann (Harley 78), Thomas (Duff 35), McGreal, Caldwell, Elliott (Branch 73), Gudjonsson, J O'Connor, Lafferty, Gray, Akinbiyi.
Subs Not Used: G O'Connor, Djemba-Djemba
Booked: J O'Connor 85, Lafferty 90
Colchester: Gerken, Brown, Watson, Duguid, Cureton, Izzet, Iwelumo (Guy 73), Garcia, Barker, McLeod (Ephraim 60), Mills.
Subs Not Used: Davison, Jackson, Baldwin.
Ref: C Boyeson
Its a difficult call this one, virtually all the back four could be considered for Man of the Match. I vote for John McGreal because this was a much better performance after some unusually poor performances of late.