It's a good start for us in the new league

Last updated : 23 February 2003 By Peter Heywood

A watery sun did little to warm the spectators who had to huddle together for protection against an icy east wind for nearly all the match. But it was just a pleasure to get in a home game at last after all the postponements this season. The pitch had been rolled, but inevitably it cut up badly during the match, making it difficult for the teams.

However both sides combined to produce an entertaining game which got off to a spectacular start. Before many people had arrived for the scheduled 11am kick off, the Clarets actually led 3-0. For some reason the game started fifteen minutes early (not for the first time this season) resulting in more than one proud parent having to be informed that their son had just scored.

After recent experiments in formation, Pash reverted to 4-4-2, bringing in schoolboy James Heywood for his début at this level. So the Clarets lined up:

James Salisbury; James Heywood, Ryan Townsend, Liam Eves (capt), Tom Ince; Stephen Richardson (Mark Rasmussen 60), Richard Chaplow (Darryl Avery 72), Joel Pilkington, Matthew O’Neill; Damien Hindle, Robert Grimes (Rhys Carpenter 80). Subs not used: Michael Hale, Marc Pugh.

This was the second successive game against the Cumbrians. Having beaten them 2-1 away a fortnight ago, the Clarets soon carried on from where they had left off. After only four minutes they took the lead with a fine goal. Knocker O’Neill, indulging in a spot of wing wizardry that the afternoon’s Golden Gamble star Leighton James would have been proud of, tied his defender in knots before sending over a superb cross. Hindle headed down perfectly for Chaplow to hit a fine half volley on the turn past the despairing keeper.

After 11 minutes it was 2-0. Chaplow, showing excellent awareness, played an inch perfect through ball over the defence for Hindle to race on to. Damo at the moment is on fire. Needing no second invitation he bore down on goal, went round the keeper, and slotted the ball home in fine style for his sixth goal in his last four games.

Incredibly, two minutes later it was three as Robert Grimes nipped in at the near post to score from close range. When, after more jiggery-pokery on the wing, O’Neill almost lobbed a fourth it looked as though we may be about to witness a rout.

However, this Carlisle team is made of stern stuff, as would be expected of any team coached by Billy Barr. They rallied well, and gradually began to force the Clarets back. After a couple of close shaves it came as no surprise when they pulled a goal back in the 31st minute. Salisbury could only push away a low cross shot, and the ball was knocked home from close range.

Carlisle, who in recent weeks had won at Tranmere, were clearly spurred on by this success, and ten minutes later made it 3-2. With the Clarets defence getting into a terrible mess, the ball was lobbed over the stranded Salty and into the net from 25 yards.

3-2 at halftime then, with the interval spent by the coaches in rallying their respective troops. So much rallying did Carlisle do in fact that the referee had eventually to go across and summon them back on to the pitch, locked as they were in some strange kind of Cumbrian bonding ritual.

Anyway it seemed to work as for much of the second half the Clarets, now watched by Steve Davis and Glen Little who had both been doing a spot of light training, were definitely on the back foot. But the defence, ably marshalled by Captain Liam, was having a much better half. Both schoolboy fullbacks were having good games, and Ryan Townsend was in commanding form. With the midfield ever willing to scrap it out the Cumbrians were gradually repulsed as the game began to turn slightly in Burnley’s favour.

Chaplow and Avery both went close before the clinching goal was scored in the 77th minute. Joel Pilkington, showing the determination and persistence he had demonstrated all game, chased a through ball. With defenders converging on him he kept going, fought off two challenges and slipped the ball past the goalie for 4-2.

Carlisle ‘s spirit was broken, and although Heywood did have to make a remarkable goal line clearance the result was never now in doubt. Indeed the Clarets came closest to adding to their total with further breakaways.

So three points and four games now unbeaten. The Clarets finished second last season in this same division; this time they have every chance to go one better. Terry Pashley was understandably pleased with the team’s efforts: "It was a good game to be fair. We started very well and went into a 3-0 lead, but we let them back into it just before halftime. In the second half it was more even and they probably shaded it. But the lads stuck at it and kept going, so it’s a good start for us in the new league."

Next Saturday the youth team are off to Stockport for what will be a tough fixture. The Clarets won there 3-2 earlier this season, but lost the return 3-0. Three more points would be very welcome news indeed.