It had been moved to a Sunday lunchtime but that hardly mattered as Turf Moor filled in readiness for a tie that had for some been eagerly anticipated and for others something to dread.
The BBC were there with their patronising thoughts (cue Lineker and Hansen) but Peter Schmeichel seemed set to enjoy it. As it turned out it was anything but a classic on a poor Turf Moor surface and it all ended without a goal and that meant a replay nine days later at
There’s a difference between Premiership clubs and Football League clubs and so whilst they wandered off to Dubai for a nice break, we were also back on the road but for two tough away games against two sides that were destined to meet in the end of season play offs.
Just three days later, and having learned that a replay win would give us another home tie against Leicester, we were off to
For a good hour or so we played well although we did have some early good fortune when a
It came courtesy of a Jean-Louis Valois free kick on the right hand side and just over twenty yards out. He curled it round the wall and into the top corner giving Lee Camp no chance in goal. Had we found a new free kick specialist – alas no, we were not to see anything like that again from the Frenchman.
It all seemed to change when George Burley decided to make a change and he brought on striker Mr Karren Brady. Suddenly we were on the defensive and in the end we had to settle for a draw after the aforementioned substitute slotted in an equaliser after
Still that was three away games unbeaten in succession on the road and one more to come before the replay and that was our shortest league journey of the season to Deepdale and Preston North End.
Before we got anywhere near
It’s been a highly charged atmosphere in recent seasons but perhaps with thoughts on Ewood it all fell a bit flat. If anyone ever thought that Preston was as big a derby as
We didn’t play well at Deepdale, but we defended well and we never looked as though we would concede a goal once Richard Cresswell had ordered and early taxi.
It had 0-0 written all over it, that was until referee Graham Laws produced one of the most ridiculous decisions of the season and awarded
Poor Lee Roche looked staggered, Steve Cotterill was fuming and Eddie Lewis had conned another penalty. It was probably the worst decision I saw all season (that’s
Amazingly Laws went and did the same thing again a week later giving Wigan and equally ridiculous penalty that enabled them to beat
We couldn’t dwell on it for too long as three days later we made that short journey down the M65 for our FA Cup replay on what was to be an emotional night of highs and lows for us as we all stood (yes stood) in the Darwen (pronounced Derrwin) End at Ewood.
There were memories of our last visit still ringing in my ears, but this time we were not to be humiliated again. It followed a similar pattern in the fact that we fell a goal down from a wickedly deflected shot that was going straight to Jensen. It hit Micah Hyde but there was nothing he could do about it.
They were fortunate to be in front and we fought to get back into the game. Half time was approaching and then we had one of those wonderful moments we’ll never forget. We won a throw in on the right hand side that was taken by Michael Duff. He and Hyde worked a routine that saw the ball played to Micah just outside the box on the right hand corner. He turned as he allowed the ball to go across him and volleyed into the top corner.
The Darwen End erupted, our first goal against them in 22 years and we were right back in this tie. Now could we go on and beat them in the second half?
We played well in that second half too and although we didn’t particularly look as though we might go and snatch it, a couple of early saves apart, we didn’t really look as though we might concede.
Then with just over four minutes remaining disaster struck. It came out of the blue, it was fortunate and he would never get a goal from that situation again if he tried another hundred times.
I knew we were beaten, I felt numb and just slumped to my seat. This was without doubt the lowest moment of the entire season for me, we didn’t deserve it but we were about to go out of the cup in this hell hole.
I cannot quite honestly remember anything that happened in the last few minutes, I just couldn’t take it in as I stood in a stunned and silent Darwen End. The final whistle sounded and our cup run was over.
The heads lifted, and as they broke the players came over to the fans and lifted the entire
Steve Cotterill spoke afterwards of his disappointment at not being able to give the fans the win they had craved. We are still waiting, we are closer and our time will come, make no mistake about that.
Our pride was restored after 2001 and Steve lifted the heads of every
We’d still a lot to look forward to, including Ade Akinbiyi’s