We 'Threw One In' again

Nik Michopoulos - substituted after conceding three goals
The Owls currently find themselves second bottom in the Championship, with only Millwall fairing worse so far this campaign. After spending two seasons in League One, the Owls were promoted back to the Championship in May, as they beat Hartlepool United, 4-2 in a dramatic Millennium Stadium Play Off final.

In what is surely a season where survival is the main objective, Paul Sturrock’s Sheffield Wednesday have struggled immensely of late, picking up one point from the last 21 available and failing to score in each of their last seven games.

However, Wednesday have picked up a handful of points in games where Burnley have failed to do so this season (Leeds at home and Norwich away), so Burnley supporters would be foolish to think that this is a home banker……remember the last meeting between the two sides in April 2003?

Let’s keep this as short as possible. It was a terrible way to end the season’s football at Turf Moor and was made more embarrassing by the fact that we were outplayed by a side already relegated, yet cheered on by the best set of away fans to visit Turf Moor in the league that season. The football played that afternoon was of a very poor standard and appeared to mirror what we had witnessed a number of times previously that season; a ‘THROW ONE IN’.

Sheffield Wednesday found themselves 2-0 up inside of five minutes, as firstly, McClaren fired a tame shot towards goal from the right hand side of the area. Nik Michopoulos only had to keep his eye on the ball, but was left clutching thin air, as the ball bounced low off the sandy surface and into the goal.

Arthur Gnohere became the next Claret guilty of taking his eyes off play, as he allowed a weak Brian Barry-Murphy cross to trickle across the goal face. Neither he nor Michopoulos dealt with it and Westwood stroked the ball into the roof of the goal.

Midway through the first half, Ian Moore kicked out stupidly at Barry-Murphy, leaving referee, Mark Clattenburg, no choice other than to dismiss the Burnley forward for violent conduct.

In the remaining twenty minutes of the first half, both sides unbelievably changed their keepers, with Beresford replacing Michopoulos within minutes of Burnley going 3-0 down and Chris Stringer taking the place of the injured Kevin Pressman.

Burnley were handed a lifeline on 42 minutes when a deliberate handball in the box saw the Clarets awarded with a penalty, which Robbie Blake dispatched with aplomb. 3-1 down at half time and back in the game, everything to play for; that was until Wednesday closed the game out within a minute of the restart, as a deflected Paul Evans strike left Beresford embarrassed in the Burnley goal.

Back came Burnley though and this time it was Stringer’s turn to drop a clanger as he let, what looked like an easy catch from a Robbie Blake strike, slip through his hands and into the middle of the goal.

Steven Haslam compelled more misery upon the Clarets on 66 minutes and Arthur Gnohere’s afternoon got even worse just seven minutes later as he put through his own goal.

Mid-Conga, the Owls fans were soon able to celebrate their side’s seventh goal of the afternoon, when Alan Quinn sent a superb strike from 30 yards beyond Beresford’s lunging dive. It was a fantastic goal and if you’re going to ‘go out’, you should try and ‘go out in style’. Wednesday certainly did that afternoon!

Gareth Taylor - his goal was not enough for the Clarets in early 2002
Looking further back at meetings between the sides, 2001/2002 saw the Clarets go down 2-1 at home to the Owls, due to a Shefki Kuqi strike, scored in the second of seven minutes of added time. Gareth Taylor had brought the sides level on 75 minutes after McClaren had given Sheffield Wednesday a first half lead.

Following a start to the season which had seen us top of the league on 50 points at the turn of the year, Burnley no longer looked the same side. We looked poor and however late they got their winner, no one could deny Wednesday their victory. Following the game, David Clark wrote:

“A promotional blip or a cause for greater concern, we will have to wait and see as the Clarets dropped to fifth spot, their lowest position since early November. Certainly next week’s Cup game against Cheltenham needs to be a morale booster, or the bitter wind that swept the stadium yesterday will be a warm one compared to the one ringing around the Turf in the next few weeks”.

He couldn’t have been closer to the truth and as we all know, the following week Burnley crashed out of the FA Cup against a Cheltenham side, managed by Steve Cotterill and fielding Messrs Yates and Duff. It really was the start of a terrible run, one which would see the Clarets slide down the table and miss out on a top six spot by a solitary goal, come the last game of the season.

Our home game with the Owls in 2000/2001 provided Burnley with a rare home victory over Wednesday, as Steve Davis rose highest at the back post to head home from a Micky Mellon corner. After three near misses in the first half, Davis got the goal he deserved and with it, lifted Burnley to the dizzy heights of seventh in the Nationwide First Division and left Sheffield Wednesday scrapping in the relegation zone.

Ironically, the Clarets go into this fixture, lying seventh in the Championship, with the Owls finding life difficult in the bottom three. Turf Moor has recently become a fortress for the Clarets and there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t be going into 2006 with our seventh home win in succession.