Replay after Clarets throw away another two goal lead

Last updated : 05 January 2003 By Tony Scholes
Arthur Gnohere - defended well alongside Ian Cox
All the pre-match talk was about whether anything like the scoreline from the league game could be repeated and the way we started it did look as though we could score as many. The domination was such that we could so easily have been five goals clear as Grimsby cleared countless efforts off the line, and we found ourselves 2-0 up with first goals of the season from Alan Moore and Paul Weller. Moore had scored our previous FA Cup goal, at Cheltenham, but another defeat never looked on the cards the way we started.

Earl Davis had been recalled from Stalybridge and was in the squad for the first time but Stan, even with Graham Branch and Paul Cook having done no training, managed to keep all the youngsters out of the starting line up. In fact, as has been the case in recent weeks, those young players who were on the bench remained there throughout the ninety minutes.

The need for good cup runs has never been more important than now given the current financial situation in football but it was clear that whoever lost this one was going to go out without having made anything with Blundell Park once again attracting a less than sizeable crowd.

With Burnley you never know which one you are going to get, the one that turns in excellent performances or the one that seems capable of very little. Today though we got both.

I can’t recall a game away from home where we started so well and the Grimsby defence, capable of conceding goals as easily as us, were given a torrid time. It took us 14 minutes to take the lead and that was astonishing, we could certainly have been two or three up by then as the home defence struggled to cope.

They couldn’t handle the way we were running at them and Robbie Blake, Ian Moore, Paul Weller and Tony Grant were giving the Clarets total domination.

“We want six”, chanted the Burnley fans when Paul Weller volleyed in number two and somehow you just believed it was possible. Burnley in this sort of form are irresistible and add that to Grimsby’s reluctance to involve themselves in defending and even memories of Penrith were coming into mind.

But this is Burnley 2002/03 style and nothing can be taken for granted. We continued to be the better side for another 15 minutes or so but then the game started to change. By the time the influential Paul Weller had to be substituted eight minutes before the break Grimsby had been allowed back into the game.

There was no more pushing forward by Burnley, and you sensed we had decided a two goal lead was more than good enough. The last ten minutes or so of the first half were awful and we really had handed the initiative back to the home side. Whether we suffer from short term memory loss or not is unclear but certainly at half time the supporters were referring to Brighton, and the possibility of it happening again. Maybe the players didn’t think it could happen.

Paul Weller - substituted in the first half with a calf injury
So out we came for the second half and in truth turned in an abysmal second 45 minutes. Blake and Ian Moore had started the game so well, in the second half they were appalling whilst Dimitri Papadopoulos failed to take the opportunity of a rare start and gave no indication that he is worth starting with.

Grimsby got back into the game just before the hour with a penalty decision that seemed to baffle most people inside Blundell Park. Apparently given against Mark McGregor the decision did seem to surprise the home players just as much as ours.

To suggest that this decision changed the game though is far too simplistic. It certainly reduced our lead but we were already second best and going worse. But for the defending of our best central defensive partnership of Coxy and Arthur we would probably have conceded much earlier than this.

But we don’t learn and nothing changed, we went deeper and deeper (much to Stan’s annoyance) and somehow you just knew it was going to happen. We don’t seem to be a side that can prevent bad teams scoring late goals against us. There was Bradford, then Brighton and now Grimsby, three downright bad sides but they have all done it.

Once again it was embarrassing when it happened as scorer Darren Mansaram was allowed to go walk about with the ball unchallenged before hitting a shot from outside the box. A well struck shot for sure but this was awful defending.

Suddenly the easy passage to round four had gone, we were level with around three minutes to go. Urged on by the Burnley fans we immediately made our intentions clear by replacing a striker (Papadopoulos) with Gordon Armstrong.

There were no late scares but once again it felt like a defeat, once again it was a stunned and angry away support that left the ground. We can look on the positive side in the knowledge that we are in Monday’s draw but we should have been guaranteed a fourth round place.

We should have been collecting our first win at Blundell Park since the FA Cup win of 1974 but now we have to wait ten days to have another go at the Turf, a game that should never have been needed.

The way the game was going in its early stages Paul Weller was setting himself up for man of the match. The game didn’t change with his departure, it already had changed, but certainly he was missed in midfield.

However the player who was dragged off before half time in the league game, Arthur Gnohere, returned to find a Grimsby side without Kabba somewhat easier. He and Coxy were put under pressure in the second half and stood up to it and Arthur gets my choice.

The referee had a card free day although he was at times a bit nit picky. Those with better views of the penalty incident did suggest he had got the one major decision of the afternoon wrong, no surprise there then that is usually what happens.

But whatever we achieve in this season’s FA Cup there is no doubt that we should have been through already, I just wonder whether the lessons will have been learned after once again getting it badly wrong away from home after setting ourselves up for a win.

The teams were,

Grimsby: Danny Coyne, John McDermott (Jonathan Rowan 85), Simon Ford, Georges Santos (Steve Chettle 54), Tony Gallimore, Terry Cooke, Stacy Coldicott, Paul Groves, Stuart Campbell, Darren Mansaram, David Soames (Christopher Thompson 75). Subs not used: Shaun Allaway, Iain Ward.

Burnley: Marlon Beresford, Mark McGregor, Ian Cox, Arthur Gnohere, Graham Branch, Ian Moore, Paul Weller (Paul Cook 37), Tony Grant, Alan Moore, Robbie Blake, Dimitri Papadopoulos (Gordon Armstrong 90). Subs not used: Nik Michopoulos, Earl Davis, Andrew Waine.

Referee: Graham Laws (Whitley Bay).