It started on the Friday night with a televised game against
Without ever looking spectacular, Mick McCarthy’s team rarely gave us an opportunity to get back into it and with just over ten minutes to go Steve Cotterill decided to liven things up with the introduction of new man Ade Akinbiyi.
It was Ade’s debut in a Claret & Blue shirt and with the clock ticking down it wasn’t going to last long. It turned out to be a lot shorter than any of us could have imagined. In the space of just over two and a half minutes he had a poor header saved, was wrongly pulled up for a foul and was then sent off for three seemingly unprovoked attacks on
We are quick to criticise referees but
He would miss the next three games, including two against former clubs Leicester and Wolves, and it was Leicester next on the following Tuesday where this time we were hoping to get a little bit further than we had done on New Year’s Day.
The lack of action left you wishing it had been finished with back in January, being polite you would call it tedious and apart from a John Oster effort that hit the bar a goal was never very likely.
The 0-0 result was never really going to be any different and it left us still without a home goal in the league all year, goals really were proving difficult without Blake and this was the longest goalless run at home I’d ever witnessed.
Steve Cotterill made a move into the transfer market ahead of the game against Rotherham, bringing in Dean Bowditch on loan from
Surely the run without a goal would come to an end, and it did, but incredibly it was the bottom club who went in front after just four minutes as Phil Gilchrist beat John McGreal in the air to head home past
It was all rectified within the next ten minutes though with two goals from the unlikeliest of sources. John Oster set up Tony Grant to equalise and shortly afterwards it was 2-1 as captain Frank Sinclair headed home an Oster corner.
It all fell flat after that and even the referee Paul Robinson gave it up at half time. He was replaced by Neil Yates, now a Clarets Mad message board regular. The only thing I can recall from that second half was Graham Branch coming on with around twenty minutes to go for a dreadful Pete Whittingham and receiving some dreadful abuse from the crowd.
If little happened in that second half then as far as
And so on to
We dominated the first half and could, should, but somehow didn’t get ourselves in front and needless to say we paid the price when the home side went in front after Jensen fumbled a ball.
A goal down at half time was hard to take but there were positives. We had played as well as we had done in ages and Akinbiyi had not only lasted the full half, he had played well.
The second half was not quite so good and a mistake by Gary Cahill let the Blades in for a second and that was about that – par for the course here. We did pull one back and it was Ade with his first
In the next few days, leading up to the transfer deadline we were amazed to hear that another club in our league wanted to sign Ian Moore. It couldn’t be true surely but it turned out that four of them did.
There was his old club Forest, promotion chasing Sunderland,
He’d scored six goals all season, a third of them against lower league opposition in the cup, and we had managed to get a fee for him as well as getting him off the wage bill for the next few months.
We were also in the market that week and right on the deadline day we paid
Watford turned up on the Saturday with their new manager Adrian Boothroyd (not even their own fans had heard of him) looking up alongside his number two, the seventy year old former Spurs boss Keith Burkinshaw.
If Boothroyd was still looking up at half time then he is a long way from reality as we stood head and shoulders better than his
Through a whole load of good luck and a bit of wayward finishing they had kept the score down to that and then did come back at us in the second half. They pulled a goal back after making a triple substitution but it wasn’t enough and we added a third in the dying minutes when Ade got through down the right hand side and squared the ball for Jean-Louis Valois to knock into the empty net.
We couldn’t repeat the win three days later though against West Ham and it was the visitors who won it 1-0 with a goal that owed everything to a dreadful back pass from John Oster.
It was Gillingham next and that meant a meeting with a familiar figure by the name of Francis Stanley Ternent who was now managing the
He, needlessly to say, received a warm welcome from the
It wasn’t just the fans who were angry, the manager clearly was as well. “I’m not happy with that at all,” he fumed. “We didn’t play at all and it looks as though we have got our points on the board and that’s it.”
He demanded that it had to be better the following week and for half a game it was against another struggling side
We needed a win and got it against QPR on the following Tuesday. It was Akinbiyi again with what was an almost identical goal to the one he’d scored three days earlier. This time there was no come back from the opposition and the points were ours when he got his second of the night in the second half.
Just a few weeks earlier we could have won at
It’s not often a side creates four clear cut chances in a game, four that can almost be described as sitters. We did, and we missed the lot and you can take your pick which was the worst. There was O’Connor and Akinbiyi in the first half, Roche and Oster after the break.
We lost it 1-0 when
It left us with two games to go and the last home game was won against
There was no relegating
That was after the players and management team had returned to the Turf Moor pitch to take a final bow – Gary Cahill getting his own extra one as the fans thanked him and wished him well.
Just Millwall then, south
The players were back up the tunnel quickly, well let’s face it
Two of those who started – Mo Camara and Tony Grant – were released the following day along with Oster, Valois and Roche. Steve Cotterill was down to nine again and ready to add more signings.
It had been an OK sort of season, not very exciting at times and certainly never a season where we threatened the top six. There again we were never in any sort of relegation danger and after the previous season we had to be thankful of that.
I’m sure most of us would have settled last August for a thirteenth place finish, just one place below a top half finish for the first time in three years.
See you all at