Marlon does it again

Last updated : 26 January 2003 By Tony Scholes

Back in October he turned in a superb performance at Huddersfield in the Worthington Cup, without which we would probably have gone out. It took us into the 3rd round of that competition for the first time since the 1982/83 season.

And today he did it again by producing another excellent man of the match performance that saw us reach the 5th round of the FA Cup for the first time in as long.

It was a day of records as apart from seeing us reach this stage since the days of Alan Stevenson, Martin Dobson, Billy Hamilton and Trevor Steven it also provided Stan with his 100th win as manager of Burnley and also took him further than he has ever gone before in this competition as a manager.

In the results it was 3-0 and looks to be a comprehensive victory but it was anything but and with just a bit of luck for Brentford we could well have found ourselves out of the competition tonight.

A trip to Brentford isn’t quite as good as it used to be, yes there are still pubs on all four corners of the ground but only three of them open their doors now. I didn’t let superstition get the better of me and chose the two I didn’t visit the last time we played there.

It was pleasing to hear Stan in the build up to the game say how much he enjoyed the FA Cup, I really was beginning to think I was on my own. I needn’t have worried though because there was a real cup type atmosphere outside Griffin Park.

Queues had formed by the time we arrived at 1:00 p.m. for the few remaining tickets in the home end and the West London club were hoping for an attendance approaching 10,000. They were not to be disappointed.

I did manage to speak to a Brentford fan who was there when we beat them in the 3rd round in 1965 in front of that crowd of over 30,000. He told me that as disappointing as it was for his team to lose that night he will always remember that Burnley performance as one of the best he has seen in over 50 years of watching his football there.

But finally into the ground, cup atmosphere soaked up, and I was really looking forward to the game. And it got its next boost when Burnley took to the field wearing Claret & Blue, yes we looked like Burnley for once away from home.

There was not much cheering from the gentleman in front of me but I was to learn that he was in fact a Preston fan who had forsaken his own club’s league game to support another Lancashire club in the FA Cup. Good for him I thought.

One player missing from the starting line up was Glen Little who had to settle for a place on the bench with Stan selecting the same team that had started at Palace a week ago.

I was soon to learn that the game itself was not to live up to the pre-match atmosphere, in fact it is fair to say that at times in the first half it was pretty dire stuff.

Burnley did have a spell on top and Robbie Blake did force goalkeeper Paul Smith into two smart saves, one from a free kick. Brentford on the other hand did create a few scares with their direct style and on a number of occasions Burnley had to clear after a bout of head tennis in the box.

Marlon made one good save but other than that was well protected by the continuing good form of central defensive partnership of Driss Diallo and Arthur Gnohere.

Burnley played with no width and the midfield was not having the best of days. They seemed unable to hold the ball at times and this only resulted in Brentford being able to get too many balls into our box.

When the half time whistle blew it was hardly surprising that the scoreline remained goalless and to be honest the best entertainment during that first forty-five minutes was the sight of one Burnley fan sat under cover putting up his umbrella to protect himself from Rocky who was sat behind him. We are not sure who the gentleman was despite Rocky repeatedly asking him, "Who are ya?"

There was no doubt that the game needed a boost, probably a goal to get it moving, and it got just that with six minutes of the second half gone. Branchy has been in good form recently but had not played at all well in the first half but he put Robbie Blake through with an excellent ball although perhaps the defender could have done better. Blake made no mistake as he knocked it into the bottom corner to the keeper’s right.

Surely that would be the goal that would give us a lift. It didn’t but it did lift Brentford. We did help though by constantly giving the ball away but as the balls fired into our box one after the other the two central defenders and the goalkeeper stood firm.

There was one incredible incident midway through the half when Brentford must have had about five efforts on goal as the ball ricocheted around our box. It all came from a corner that should have been a goal kick and we were incredibly fortunate not to have conceded following that bad decision.

Marlon made two stunning saves, one to tip over an effort and one from point blank range that really was a special save. Driss and Arthur were doing their bit too and somehow we hung on, somehow it was going to be one of those days for Brentford when no matter what they tried they weren’t going to get a goal.

And they knew it wasn’t going to be their day when the Clarets hit two more goals in the last four minutes to give the game a misleading scoreline. The first from Cooky, another not to play at all well, was hit home from an angle after Glen (on as a sub for Blake) played the ball into his path.

The second was Glen’s and after running onto a pass from Tony Grant he turned one defender before hitting the ball home.

Football can be a cruel game and there is no way on earth that Brentford deserved to lose this game by three clear goals.

But they did, and we achieved what we set out to do and that was to reach the 5th round. Already the speculation has started as to who we want. My choice would be a home match and NOT against the team who play their home games close to Junction 4 on the M65.

With no disrespect to them I would not complain if it was Rochdale at home. We have to wait until Monday lunchtime for that and this time later (at 1:00 p.m.) so most people are back in work and unable to listen to it.

So all we need to do now is watch or listen to that draw to find out what awaits us. We will be ball number 10 in the draw.

The teams were,

Brentford: Paul Smith, Michael Dobson, Leo Roget (Mark Williams 41), Ibrahima Sonko, Scott Marshall, Andrew Frampton, Kevin O’Connor (Matt Somner 24, Mark Peters 78), Jay Smith, Stephen Hunt, Stephen Hughes, Rowan Vine. Subs not used: Robert Traynor, Alan Julian.

Burnley: Marlon Beresford, Dean West, Driss Diallo, Arthur Gnohere, Graham Branch, Tony Grant, Paul Cook, Lee Briscoe, Ian Moore (Alan Moore 67), Gareth Taylor, Robbie Blake (Glen Little 80). Subs not used: Nik Michopoulos, Mark McGregor, Dimitri Papadopoulos.

Referee: Keith Hill (Royston, Herts).