Clarets pick up a point in first Turf Moor game of the year

Last updated : 11 January 2003 By Tony Scholes

It is not many weeks since Ipswich were far too close for comfort to the bottom clubs but having seen their performance against us at Portman Road I rate them one of the better teams in the division.

They played well again today but so did the Clarets and there is no doubt that we thoroughly deserved the point and we have certainly played worse than this and won.

These days Stan has no luxuries when naming his side with some many players injured and suspended. Today he was back to one goalkeeper with Marlon, fresh from signing a new monthly deal, ruled out. Back game Nik Michopoulos who has thankfully returned from Crystal Palace and also in for his debut was our Guinea international Driss Diallo.

And what a good debut he had. He looked assured and comfortable and will perhaps best be remembered on his debut for a fantastic goal line clearance in the second half. He was the only player to find himself in the flood warden’s note book, a dreadful decision as it wasn’t even a foul.

But it wasn’t just Diallo who played well, there were good performances in all areas of the Burnley team. We started the game positively and took the game to Ipswich and only a stunning save from Andy Marshall prevented Ian Moore giving us the lead.

It looked only a matter of time before we did go in front but half way through the first half it was Ipswich who scored the first goal. It really did look as though the Burnley defence was asleep as Ipswich knocked in a corner from the right wing but closer observers (and I was reliant on them today) did tell me that it was a clever worked move from Ipswich.

But it resulted in Counago being able to knock the ball in from close range with no Burnley player able to get near him. The goal changed the game for a while and certainly for the next ten minutes or so we seemed unable to get much right.

The shock of being a goal down wore off though and by half time we had definitely got back the upper hand and as the half time whistle blew it was somewhat difficult to believe that we were trailing.

By this time Diallo had been yellow carded in farcical fashion, apparently for winning the ball cleanly. There can be no other explanation, there had not been an infringement of any kind. He had also seen off the Ipswich goalscorer after an accidental clash of heads.

Half time brought the usual draw with guest and today the realisation that I am never going to win the thing. Today’s guest was Billy Rodaway who was the first player to play for the Clarets in all four divisions of the league, and that has only been matched since by Joe Jakub.

I know Billy well and hoped he would bring me some success but if you cannot win when a mate is making the draw then it is definitely time to realise you are never going to have a chance at all.

Burnley kept going forwards at the start of the second half and the big worry was that it might just be one of those days when we couldn’t find the net. We were certainly producing some excellent attacking play but perhaps weren’t testing keeper Marshall quite enough.

But Marshall was to play a significant part when we did finally draw level. Or did he? After some excellent close work Alan Moore released his namesake Ian in the box. Marshall came storming out to his left, brought down Ian Moore and referee Hall pointed to the spot.

That’s how I saw it from my vantage point in the Upper Tier of the Harry Potts Longside, a cast iron bang to rights penalty. But from this distance it is not always the easiest to see exactly what has happened.

Back to my closer observes both in the Jimmy Mac and that corner of the Bob Lord. They confirmed yet another horrendous decision by referee Hall but what did we care. After what seemed a debate between Captain Cook and Robbie Blake as to who took it Black continued with the duties and promptly gave Marshall no chance as he hit it low and hard to his left.

Twenty-four minutes left and we were level and for the remainder of the game we attacked Ipswich. But incredibly it was our visitors who created and missed most of the chances that came.

Two misses in particular from Darren Bent took some believing and it was also during this period that Diallo performed his heroics on the line. We did have our own chances though and none better than the one that fell to Dimitri Papadopoulos (on for Alan Moore). Quite how he missed it I don’t know but it was the Greek striker who hit the back of the net rather than the ball which ended up going harmlessly wide.

His opportunities are limited but he has made a habit recently of coming on and getting but missing clear cut chances and again it wasn’t going to be his day. Twice we were through and won free kicks on the edge of the box but nothing came of them.

It was just that every time Ipswich attacked they seemed to create a good chance, thankfully most of the play was down the other end.

It all ended in a draw though, as it had at Portman Road, and just like the first game it had been enjoyable with the result perhaps the fairest one.

Ipswich didn’t play as well as they had in the first meeting Road but I will stick with my view that they are one of the better sides in this division. It was another enjoyable ninety minutes of football with both sides looking to win the game.

They were in the Premiership last season and despite selling some players can still turn out with quality in their side such as Matt Holland and Herman Hreidarsson. But Burnley have once again proved that they can be a match for any side in this league and could just have snatched it.

I always thought I was Paul Cook’s biggest fan but even I couldn’t give him the Man of the Match award today. The sponsors did though and their decision was greeted with some surprise by the crowd.

There were a lot of good performances today but in the end my choice was between two. I thought Ian Moore returned up front and gave us an excellent game. His runs were a feature of our attacking play today.

But my choice comes from the back four and is left-back Graham Branch. Of course Branchy is crap at the back, I have been told that on many occasions. I still don’t think the position does him any favours but he was outstanding this afternoon and highlighted his performance with some excellent tackling. A double effort in the second half was fantastic.

Now I warned about this referee yesterday and it would be so easy for me to criticise him now to justify my previous comments. But I really do wonder what he is doing on a football pitch, he seems to have no basic knowledge of the game whatsoever and we would have had more consistency with some random selector making the decisions.

His decisions constantly leave players baffled and the one fortunate thing today is that he got as many wrong one way as he did the other. And maybe we got the better of him this time by benefiting most from his worst decision of the day.

Football deserves better than Andy Hall and although he didn’t turn in a Barry Knight sort of performance I really do believe you would be hard pushed to find a referee in the Football League who is as consistently bad as this man.

I believe he is now one of the full time officials being fast tracked towards the Premiership, clearly the common sense approach is not what they are looking for.

But to end on the Clarets and after the frustrations of the last two games at Brighton and Grimsby it was good to see us play the way we did today. On this sort of form we will win on Tuesday and go to Brentford in the 4th Round of the FA Cup. Unfortunately though with Burnley this season it has been difficult to work out what sort of form we are taking into each game.

It is Ipswich’s first league visit for almost 27 years, if they can help provide us with this sort of game then I hope they don’t wait quite so long again before calling in at the Turf.

The teams today were,

Burnley: Nik Michopoulos, Mark McGregor, Driss Diallo, Arthur Gnohere, Graham Branch, Glen Little, Tony Grant, Paul Cook, Alan Moore (Dimitri Papadopoulos 74), Robbie Blake, Ian Moore. Subs not used: Gordon Armstrong, Earl Davis, Matthew O’Neill, Andy Payton.

Ipswich: Andy Marshall, Fabian Wilnis, Matt Holland, Thomas Gaardsoe, Herman Hreidarsson, Jermaine Wright, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Darren Ambrose (Matt Richards 60), Pablo Counago (Darren Bent 38), Marcus Bent. Subs not used: James Pullen, Nabil Abidallah, Richard Naylor.

Referee: Confusing this one, didn’t see anyone in particular performing this role but the name of Andy Hall of Birmingham was listed in the match programme.