Blake penalty ended run of draws

Robbie Blake - scored from the penalty spot
It proved to be a typical game against Millwall under Dennis Wise, who thankfully restricted himself to the dug out, and it took a penalty on the hour to turn the game our way. The decision, an easy one for the referee to give, was contested by the entire Millwall team but the delays made no difference to Blake who hammered the spot kick home past their loan keeper Graham Stack.

The win was our first at Turf Moor against them since they had won promotion in 2001, a year after us, with the other three all ending in draws. The first of those three games, in December 2001, was the most tedious as Mark McGhee brought a side to stop the Clarets, then top of the league, from playing any football.

We went into the game having won our previous six games whilst Millwall were riding high in the table. Many were predicting a classic but Millwall considered a point would be a good return and they came with that intention. We struggled to get to grips with it and failed to create enough clear openings during the game and had to settle for a point in a goalless affair.

Stan Ternent tried to change things, he withdrew Ian Moore and brought on Paul Weller in a five man midfield to counter the visitors but it made little difference on a day when the home crowd were constantly upset by the antics of Steve Claridge who seemed to have the referee in his pocket.

A season later, and officially in a game with no away fans and certainly no atmosphere, the two teams shared four goals and both held leads. It was during that strange period when someone thought Dean West could take penalties and here was his one success as he fired in at the cricket field end with a shot that went in via the underside of the bar.

With just over an hour gone we had gone from a 1-0 lead to 2-1 behind and again Stan decided to make changes. Glen Little and Alan Moore were both playing well and getting wide so off they both came to be replaced by strikers Ian Moore and Robbie Blake and the two of them, along with Gareth Taylor and Dimitri Papadopoulos, were all but getting in each others way.

All looked lost until Ian Moore scored a superb solo goal five minutes from time to earn the point, and it brought with it a terrific celebration from Arthur Gnohere. He’d been wound up all game by Claridge and so raced to the Millwall bench, where Claridge now sat after being substituted, and waved two fingers at him to let him know we had scored a second. Poor Arthur got stick from one bench and then from the other and was fined by Stan for his actions.

The 2003/04 game was another that falls into the best forgotten category and again it was Ian Moore, this is one team he did seem to score goals against, who earned us a point, equalising after the visitors had gone in front through Noel Whelan.

Games against them haven’t always been such miserable affairs, I’m sure no one who was there will forget the 4-3 win towards the end of the promotion season in 2000. We were three up at half time with goals from Ian Cox, Andy Cooke and Steve Davies and it looked all over when Paul Cook added a fourth straight after half time.

In the end, defending proved to be difficult with rioting Millwall fans behind the goal and they pulled three back and in the end we were hanging on for the points in a 4-3 win.

The biggest win was back in our first season in the 3rd Division in 1980 when a Steve Taylor hat trick saw us to a 5-0 win with the other two goals coming from Billy Hamilton and Martin Dobson. Another result like that would go down very nicely tomorrow.