That play off win

Last updated : 16 September 2005 By John Robertson & Tony Scholes
Gary Cahill - gave away the penalty last season
The Clarets have been poor on the road this season, but will be hoping for success against an Argyle side, who have made an equally poor start to the campaign and remain managerless following the sacking of former Hibernian boss Bobby Williamson a little over a week ago.

Consequently, Argyle coach and former Dundee legend, Jocky Stock is currently in charge of team selections and he said that he was impressed with the commitment that his team had showed in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at home to Crewe.

Last season the Clarets were deprived of a point and a clean sheet as they went down to a last minute penalty at the recently revamped and very green looking Home Park stadium. The game was poor on the eye and it was one which Argyle dominated for large periods. Burnley struggled to cope with the long balls which were hurled forward to the likes of Micky Evans and Stevie Crawford in attack; an effective ploy if you have the personnel in the team to adopt such a strategy - there was no doubt that Plymouth had been well trained in the aerial game.

Despite the relentless pressure that Plymouth applied, the Burnley rearguard coped with everything admirably. It was in midfield and attack where we struggled to get a grip on the game. With John McGreal, Paul Scott, Joel Pilkington, Amadou Sanokho and Mark Yates on the bench, Steve Cotterill was left watching his players trying desperately to hold out for a point, after being unable to throw any attack minded players into the action.

A poorly dragged shot by Robbie Blake was the closest the Clarets came to scoring on an afternoon where Burnley couldn’t muster a single shot on target. Plymouth on the other hand had a superb claim for a penalty turned down by referee Lee Probert, as Micky Evans was fouled inside the box. Evans was shown a yellow card for simulation, but everyone else in the ground new that the man in black had made a poor decision.

After surviving a couple of penalty claims from the opposition in the first half, Probert had no other alternative than to award a penalty when Gary Cahill handled inexplicably in the last minute from a Plymouth corner kick. There could be no complaints as Argyle home favourite Paul Wotton rifled home the spot kick, leaving an impressive Jensen with no chance in the Burnley goal.

Adrian Heath wins the ball during that play off win
One game that sticks in the recent memory of Burnley fans is the second leg of the Division Two play offs of 1993/1994. Plymouth, managed by former England shot stopper Peter Shilton, had ended the campaign in 3rd place, a massive 12 points ahead of Burnley who ended in 6th place. It had been a strange season for Burnley - superb at ‘fortress Turf Moor’ but on the road we had been poor, winning only four games all season. After drawing the first leg at home 0-0, the Clarets were clear underdogs going into the second tie.

Early on in the game, disaster struck as Dwight Marshall was given time and space to unleash an unstoppable shot high into Marlon Beresford’s top corner. Burnley now appeared to have no chance, but all that was about to change. John Francis had taken an awful lot of racial abuse at the start of the game but he took it in his stride and scored two marvellous goals in as many minutes to turn the game on it head. The Plymouth defence just couldn’t deal with ‘Super John’, particularly through the middle where his pace carried him past defenders with consummate ease.

In the dying minutes, a most unlikely Burnley victory was wrapped up when Ted McMinn cut in from the left hand side before sending a shot that could only be parried by Nicholls in the Plymouth goal. Warren Joyce was in the right place at the right time to stub home the loose ball, sending the away contingent behind the goal home with thoughts of Wembley and first division football.

That was the last Burnley win at Home Park although the previous victory had come only a year earlier when John Pender was the unlikely scorer of both goals in a 2-1 win.

Apart from last season we have only played two other games at Plymouth since that wonderful play off victory and both ended in draws. It was 0-0 in the 1996/97 but a year later, on a ground with no seats, we drew 2-2 with the goals coming from a David Eyres penalty and loan striker Gerry Creaney.

That proved to be Eyres’ last goal for Burnley, he played just one more game before moving on to Preston in a £70,000 deal.